Upcoming changes to softcore achievements

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Moderator

Joined Nov 12, 2017

OP

September 17 2021, 5:31pm, edited September 17 2021, 5:46pm

The contribution of points earned in softcore mode toward a user's rank on the main leaderboard has long been a point of contention within the RetroAchievements community. After some deliberation among RetroAchievements staff, a new framework for the main leaderboard and softcore points has been created. We don't know how long this will take to implement, and bugfixing is still our main coding priority, so we're not sure when these changes will roll out. When they do, things will work like this:

* Points as we know them will begin being referred to as "hardcore points", though the majority of users and some documentation will probably still refer to them simply as "points". Softcore achievements will not count toward this value anymore.
* A new value called "softcore points" that is the sum of the point values of all achievements earned by the user in softcore, but not in hardcore, will be displayed on user pages. This value won't be shown anywhere else.
* Softcore points will not contribute toward any leaderboard or other competitive site-based features.
* All current softcore restrictions will be lifted. Users earning softcore achievements will not need to comply with the sections of the User Code of Conduct which restrict how achievements can be earned. As such, explicit cheating will be allowed in softcore.
* Due to this relaxation of restrictions, usage of saves or passwords in hardcore that were obtained through softcore play will be punished more harshly.
* While cheating will be allowed in softcore, devs and support staff will not be expected to provide any kind of support for users who run into problems obtaining achievements while cheating. Cheat at your own risk.
* No self-unlock feature will be implemented.
* Tickets from softcore users will still be considered valid, but such tickets should not be submitted if any memory-modifying features have been used. Tickets submitted describing circumstances of memory modification may be considered invalid by the developer resolving the ticket. Softcore tickets describing issues which occurred on DuckStation standalone or a version of Retroarch older than 1.9.1 also may be considered invalid, since these emulators don't store hits in save states.
* Softcore manual unlock requests still require a ticket. Tickets describing circumstances of memory modification will be considered invalid for manual unlock purposes in all cases. Softcore manual unlocks will require a save state with the ticket to be considered valid - if possible, the submitted save state should be a state shortly before the achievement would have triggered, but if necessary, a state after the achievement should have triggered may also be submitted.
* Softcore points up to 10,000 will be added to the user's hardcore point total for the purpose of determining how many additional set requests the user has earned. Users will not earn additional set requests from softcore points after their first 10,000 softcore points. Current point requirements for set requests will be cut in half to ensure that current set requests that were earned through hardcore points will be retained by all users.

None of the above changes in policy will take effect until the softcore points are implemented. Current softcore restrictions remain in place - users found cheating in softcore will still be untracked from the main leaderboard until the implementation of softcore points is complete.

Joined Jun 7, 2019

September 17 2021, 6:11pm, edited March 16 2023, 8:27pm

i'll never reach 200k points caaameraaa

Joined Dec 14, 2017

September 17 2021, 6:20pm

rip softcore

Joined Dec 14, 2020

September 17 2021, 6:34pm

If you earn the achievement in hardcore mode, does that softscore score go away? Specifically I am thinking about when you sometimes need to use save states to practice and do it again for real. I did that once so far and, under the old way, it just looks/counts like you did it in hardcore. Im sure I’ll need to do it again.

If not then I guess there’s gonna be a fair number of practice shame points going around. I’d prefer to keep the softcore score at zero but some things need practice.

Developer

Joined Apr 25, 2016

September 17 2021, 6:48pm

Do we know for sure if event-related sets will be edited or removed from Completion/Mastery/percent-completion in some way to make them not count 'against' us? For instance I helped out with fixing a few things because I had helped fix some of the achievements in that set before, but it turned out it was for an event that didn't last as long as I thought it did, and it meant that I only got the "softcore badge" when I didn't really want it.

So now I have 1 softcore "Completion" that can never be a "Mastery" because that was a timed-event from November 2018, and I'd like to be rid of it. I could get rid of the points/"achievements" that were gifted to me, but I don't think it gets rid of the Completion and I certainly can't make it a Mastery.

---

Also, whether it needs to be privately given to devs or can be said here, I'd like to know what 'counts' as "a save file created in softcore". There are many times where I keep an in-game save-slot/file for dev-purposes and use a secondary save-file/slot for my own personal play of the game; and along with that, many times I use a savestate for my own personal game-save and reload that to restore my save-battery if I had to load a dev-savestate to fix something found way later in the game.

By habit, when I'm going in to test for a ticket, I edit-the-RAM quickly to disable achievement-gaining but keep the achievements active(since using Local Achievements mode no longer disables Official from working, which is all I want to do), and once I'm done I reload my personal-savestate to make sure my save-battery is back to what it was, and just restart the emulator if I want to play right away. But by the sound of it, that might count as "using a softcore save in Hardcore". I already have several very-long-game savefiles that were made/maintained in a similar way and I'd like to not lose my actual legit-progress or start over if they're already considered "bad".

At worst I could create yet-another separate-RALib-folder for personal-play for each separate folder I already have, but I'd prefer to not need to..

Moderator

Joined Nov 12, 2017

OP

September 17 2021, 7:08pm

"If you earn the achievement in hardcore mode, does that softscore score go away?"

Yes, it's calculated as total softcore earns minus hardcore earns. Earning in hardcore removes the points from the softcore tally.

"Do we know for sure if event-related sets will be edited or removed from Completion/Mastery/percent-completion in some way to make them not count 'against' us?"

I'll bring this up, I'm sure this can be handled.

"I'd like to know what 'counts' as "a save file created in softcore"."

Just don't be dishonest. Nothing's going to bite an honest player unintentionally.

Joined Aug 30, 2015

September 17 2021, 7:24pm

Well, that's the first negative change/update I see on this site. I always thought the hardcore/softcore coexistence was one of the best features of RA, because earning double points not only looks fair, but it's really rewarding when you can make it, but softcore gameplay allow players to try a little more, and even reduce the stress of dealign with some bad implemented/merciless mechanics of some old games, like very limited lives and game over screens that makes you start from the beginning. It's important to say that most hard achievements are not obtainable when you abuse save states, because devs know where they put the triggers to avoid it... so this change makes less sense to me.

I always felt motivated to discovery and explore the library of old systems, but RA helped me to expend more time playing games that aren't so good/enjoyable or that are hard as hell. I even did replays to try new paths, something I never cared too much. I still can do it with this upcoming change? Yes. But the motivation will not be same.

About the leaderbords, It always seemed to me like a racing, with players varying their strategies to make to the top (like tyre and fuel strategy). In RA we had players who'd stick to hardcore no matter what, and in some cases this means less games played because they need time to master it, but they earn double score, and we had players who'd use softcore, earning less points per game, but (this is not a rule) allowing them to check more titles. Again, it looks like fair competition for me. The great thing it's that you can check on profiles what style the players have, because of the color scheme, so everybody knows how they earned their position. And, let's be honest, the "hall of fame" players would always be hardcore-only ones.

But now the leadeboard will be reduced to one strategy only, the competition will be tampered even more, and I don't know, it's not look like a good decision. I just hope that this doesn't reduce the size of the community. It's my two cents on this, the staff can do whatever they feel it's right/fair, and I'd still be glad this site exists.

Moderator

Joined Nov 12, 2017

OP

September 17 2021, 7:34pm, edited September 17 2021, 7:36pm

Unfortunately this is a situation of the dishonest impacting the honest. Originally, the vote years ago was to abolish points for softcore entirely, but that had obvious impacts on honest players who used the mode. Still, the time it takes to obtain one achievement in hardcore is far greater than the time it takes to achieve two or more achievements in softcore, allowing people who heavily abuse save states and outright cheat to dwarf other players on the leaderboards. It's a point we've been contacted about numerous times, because it's demoralizing to put in that much time and effort only to be slapped down in the rankings by someone who didn't even try.

"It's important to say that most hard achievements are not obtainable when you abuse save states, because devs know where they put the triggers to avoid it... so this change makes less sense to me."

I should note that after RetroArch 1.9.1, states can't be prevented by achievement logic. Hits are stored in them. There's no limitation on particularly brutal achievements being earned through heavy state abuse. Even before then, RALibretro could be used in this fashion.

Developer

Joined Sep 30, 2014

September 17 2021, 7:37pm

Its a start but i think that softcore mode should eventually be removed for non devs and even for devs the saves created on softcore mode should somehow flagged to prevent anyone from tampering with memory for games supporting battery saves.

"I'd like to know what 'counts' as "a save file created in softcore"."

Just don't be dishonest. Nothing's going to bite an honest player unintentionally.


There is no honor among the thieves or cheaters.

Moderator

Joined Nov 12, 2017

OP

September 17 2021, 7:51pm

We'll continue to explore options to protect the validity of the leaderboards and earned achievements as time goes on, but many of these decisions have repercussions we need to try to limit. I'm afraid I can't say more than that publicly, since anti-cheating methods are easier to circumvent when documented.

Developer

Joined Sep 2, 2018

September 17 2021, 8:26pm

I agree with most of the changes, but i think erasing softcore completely from competitive aspects is too much, i think there should be a softcore ranking, removing all aspects of it is not right when there's players who really enjoy that competition. Let people say they are the top 1 softcore player in the site, it's impressive in it's own way, retaining a rank will motivate people to continue playing and having a harder and more official leaderboard in the hardcore may motivate them to go for it.

Moderator

Joined Nov 12, 2017

OP

September 17 2021, 8:40pm

Unfortunately retaining softcore rankings would mean we'd still have to police those rankings, and there's no sane way to do so with the lack of restrictions on softcore play. At this time we're not open to softcore leaderboards or other competitive tracking features.

Joined Sep 13, 2021

September 17 2021, 8:51pm, edited September 17 2021, 8:57pm

Punishing the Good Folks indirect result of what the Bad Folks is never and has never been a good idea. Not having a leaderboard is just that, bad people got something taken away from the good ones.

All under the guise of "playing the way we want you to play" which as mentioned before by others is all well and good. But be careful how far you take that logic. Before you know it splinter achievement sites will start popping up, lines will be drawn, and you could be left with a dead community and nothing to show for all your hard work.

All discussions aside; THIS topic is the only real thing that can kill this community. So I urge you gifted people to tread lightly.

Joined Aug 18, 2018

September 17 2021, 9:29pm

based

Joined Aug 30, 2015

September 17 2021, 9:35pm

Maybe hardcore achievements should be worth triple points :( I was going to say that affftedio showed a good alternative route, but the route it's already closed lol

I don't know, even the lack of restrictions sounds to me that now using save states are the same thing as a invulnerability cheat on, and it's not like that.

And what Serathy said it's true, the first thing I thought when I read the topic was "oh boy, this will discourage some people here, I hope the site don't die". RA should be much bigger, restricting things never helps when you want to expand or even survive over time.


KickMeElmo About the save state abuse, I was talking cases like "beat Boss without receiving damage or losing a life" cheevos, that if you use save state in the middle of the fight the achievements doesn't pop because of the triggers. Doesn't that happen anymore?

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