Interview with a Member of SOTAC

Hello avid readers, for my last article of the season I’ve been able to get an interview with a member of the Secret Order of the Altador Cup (SOTAC). Because of their rules preventing interviews he only agreed to speak under the condition of anonymity.

 

You are a member of SOTAC, what attracted you to joining them, and how did they go about recruiting you?

Because I cannot reveal who I am I cannot go into detail of how I was recruited; it wasn’t just due to some random neomail I got. But after I got referred to the person in charge of recruiting for the group, I began the process of joining. The process is long as it involves a bunch of steps such as letting them know your email address, being directed to a questionnaire that asks a bunch of questions just about you and your hobbies, agreeing to the main rules and guidelines for being a member and pretty soon they set up an account for you offsite in our own small forum. I found that process surprising because it wasn’t simply just signing up for a memo regarding what team we’ll be joining and whatnot, you’re really being let in to a community of great teammates and friends who care about you and not just your stats.

As for the reasons I had for joining it was kind of a tough decision. I was previously loyal to a certain team. I’ve formed a lot of great friendships and friendly rivalries with the good people at that team. Since I’ve been playing for so long I have experienced both being on a powerhouse fighting for first place, along with having no real expectation of being contenders. Being on a team like that is fine as it’s calm and it’s nice to spend time with your longtime teammates as you push each other towards each of your rank goals, but I really craved that other element of having that extra push from watching the podium positions in the standings, having the positive feedback of seeing your work translate to a lot of green in the daily matchups … long story short, I’m a competitive person. I’m used to trying my hardest to be victorious and to be strategic in that approach. Those are just my values. Other people reject invitations from ASGs because they value being loyal to their team more than that strategic and competitive drive, and I completely understand and respect those views. It was a hard decision for me to put one up over the other, but ultimately I still visit my old team whenever I can and I’m always playing attention to them and cheering for them during the cup. So it’s not like I’ve completely abandoned them; you could say that my heart is with my previous team and my mind is with SOTAC.

Do you know anything about the formation of SOTAC, its origins story so to speak?

Well I wasn’t personally with them during their formation. But my understanding of it is that the original members of SOTAC were all-stars on the Roo Island team of AC3, when they won the championship. Then they decided to move to a different team but to stay together as a group. Why did this happen? Like I said I’m not an original member but I suspect it was because at the time the Winner’s Curse was just becoming a pattern, as both HW and DC fell to 7th place the years immediately following their victories. And at that time everyone wanted to win, I mean getting 4th or lower resulted in a participation medal regardless of your rank. And also, loyalty wasn’t as strong of a force then as it is now. AC1 was all about people ditching their teams when they lost (because you had no other choice) and choosing another team you think would be successful in the next round. So with the influence of loyalty still developing, and the influence of the winner’s curse dominating everyone’s minds, it made absolute sense for people to leave their team after winning it all (I remember planning on leaving my team if they were to win). And if you’re in a tight group of friends all making all-star, why wouldn’t you want to make that decision of where to go next, together? That’s how I understand and rationalize the origins of SOTAC.

How does your group as a whole (and you as an individual for that matter) view the ACG’s?

We naturally dislike them, as they use means that break the rules in order to get what they want. And from what I’ve heard, achieving 1st in the cup is a part of their means; their end goal is just to see chaos and drama unfold on the boards about them which is basically notoriety and free advertising for more people to go join their site and use their programs. Staying within the cup though they’re the ones who we’re pretty much planning for and trying to put ourselves in the best position to beat. I’d call them supervillains but I think that’s just flattering them.

Do you view your group as different from the ACG’s, and do you believe the Altador Cup community should view ASG’s and ACG’s as the same?

This is one of the things that gets me going the most. It takes great restraint on my part not to yell at people who put us in the same category. I’m glad that now the term “ACG” exists. I don’t want Codex to be considered an ASG, as that puts them in the same category as us and Stealth when our groups are in fact completely different from each other, in both our goals and our means of achieving them. It’s impossible to know with certainty who is legit and who’s not; in any sort of grouping of all-stars there are sure to be some cheaters present. But in the general sense and in principle we are a group of legitimate all-stars who physically play as hard as we can to achieve the objective of the cup, while the ACGs are groups who not only use programs to automatically send a ton of scores, but also create a bunch of accounts as well as purchase and use old shell accounts to help saturate the team they choose with these automatic score-senders. I’ve heard figures as crazy as over 200 accounts belonging to one player, making them all max or be near the maximum amount of games played per day. So the means of going about things cannot be more different, along with the goals. As I’ve said before, the goals of the ACGs include pleasurable drama and attention toward their products. Where we simply want to organize our hard work and turn it into wins.

Did Stealth and SOTAC really just happen to pick the same team or was there some sort of plan to all of it?

Thank you for asking that. Not many people believe this but it was indeed a coincidence. Stealth leadership never made contact to SOTAC leadership. In SOTAC discussions we focused on what would be best for our group and our group alone. We made our final votes before the news that Stealth joined VP surfaced. Our news just got released way later since we find out as a group what the results are later. And even when that happened, the news stayed within the group as we tend to contain less moles. I hypothesize that that is because the process of joining SOTAC is more personal so we’re closer as a community but I can’t say that for sure since I have little idea of how things work over at Stealth.

That being said, however, a lot of us welcomed the fact that Stealth would be on VP as well since our main objective was more to try and beat the ACGs than it was to beat each other.

With it seeming apparent that the two of you combined can’t stop the ACG’s are you going to continue to play in the next cup (assuming there is one of course)?

Yeah, it seemed like this year was our best chance as the two biggest ACGs chose HW and DC which are both huge teams, and both us and Stealth joined what was the smallest team at the time. That is, of course, only if the format stays the same and if TNT doesn’t get smarter about how to slow down the cheating groups (such as closing the sign-ups as soon as it all starts, as well as executing a method to detect score senders). Even if none of that changes though, and the ACGs are in position to inevitably take the cup next year, we’re not going to stop. We’re too tight as a community to stop what we have going on. It’s a great atmosphere to be surrounded by other players just as or even more crazy than you are, pushing each other to do well and even if we don’t beat the ACGs, being the best legitimate team is nothing to be ashamed of. But our level of success really doesn’t determine our odds of returning. We could completely flop and finish off the podium hypothetically and we’d be right back at it the next year, trying to get stronger and trying to make better strategic decisions to get back up there. Because that’s what the cup is all about!

Do you know of any members of SOTAC who SS in order to reach All-Star status?

No. Like I said before I can’t guarantee we’re cheater-free as you can’t know with complete certainty who is and who isn’t, but if anyone in SOTAC is found to be cheating they’re kicked out of the group. That’s what our rules state and that is what our principles are.

What do you guys think about the stigma a team gets when you guys do well with it, talking specifically about how teams fall into the third and fourth tier once you guys leave, do you guys feel the team helped pull their share of the weight or did SOTAC drag them to the top?

Thank you for bringing this up. This also tends to really get to me, when people refuse to recognize the loyalists’ hard work when it comes to achieving victory. To me, the questions “Who is responsible for the victory?” and “Would they have won without (group)?” are two completely different questions.

To me, everyone who put in effort for the team is equally responsible for that teams’ success. It’s mathematically true! After team size is adjusted the score includes everybody’s contributions. Using VP from AC6 as an example, Would they have won without Stealth? Probably not; would they have won without the loyalists? Most definitely not. People seem to forget that Virtupets, the year before Stealth joined them, finished 6th. They came a long way from what they were in cups before that, so when people say that Stealth won AC6 and not Virtupets, I find that to be really disrespectful to what the loyalists themselves were able to do not just during the year that they won but also the cups leading up to that.

Loyalists are our teammates and we make an effort to make that known by becoming friends with them and motivating each other. Every game and every player counts. When we leave a team, if they fall to a place further down in the standings than they were before we joined, that’s probably because any success we had the year we were together just drew in freeloaders and we can’t really control that.

In the first few cups you guys joined teams who placed in the first tier, since groups like Stealth showed that smaller teams could be more easily influenced is that what got you to start picking smaller teams in recent years?

Since I wasn’t with SOTAC at the very beginning I can’t tell you how the group’s thinking has changed over time. But even after Virtupets won in AC6, SOTAC proceeded to join Kreludor then Roo Island, and both are more mid-sized than small. Team size isn’t the only thing considered when discussing what team to join. This is the first year SOTAC has truly gone with one of the smallest teams available. It is however, quite a change from the first few selections, that’s true. I’d guess that Stealth’s actions just showed SOTAC that there are more good options out there than just teams that are already close to the top. But like I said size isn’t the only factor.

How far in advance does SOTAC pick the team they join, and is it democratic effort to decide, or does a leader make the decision?

Discussions for this year’s team began about a month before the cup started. It is a completely democratic effort. After we voted the top 7 teams that had votes were revealed followed by another round of discussions. We don’t know numbers of votes so while a team may seem popular in discussion there are many others in the group who aren’t active in them that vote so we really don’t know for sure who the team is until pretty close to when the cup starts.

If someone decides not to join the group team what happens to them?

Well when you join the group you’re agreeing to join whatever team is voted the group’s team regardless of whether you voted for it or not, so we haven’t had any cases of that this year. I imagine they wouldn’t be a part of the group anymore if they went against that agreement.

What would be your best estimate to the size of SOTAC?

It’s just over 100 as of now.

Would SOTAC ever consider using SS methods in order to beat these ACG’s?

No… we’re a legit group and we are going to stay legit. We’re not going to become the enemy in attempt to beat the enemy. Again I can’t speak for individuals but as a group that’ll never happen. The rule is, you’re found cheating and you’re kicked from the group; that rule will stand.

Assuming you guys play in the next cup what other methods would you use to try and beat the ACG’s?

Hope for a format change hope for smarter methods from TNT. Like I said, this was the year we had the best shot under this system really.

What do you think about the remarks the ACG group made about SOTAC in their interview?

In regards to the claim that we “invade” the chats and never talk to them causing them to go to their guilds: I haven’t really visited ViPZ often but from my experiences at the beginning of the cup they were very welcoming, and we always make an effort to work with the loyalists and motivate each other. I’m not sure how evident that may be on that one particular chat but I know that I personally have had good experiences teaming up with the loyalists of VP.

Recently our leader contacted the leader of ViPZ regarding this saying that if we were disruptive we are sorry and offered to tell us as a group to refrain from posting there. The person from ViPZ replied back saying that SOTAC has nothing to apologize for. It’s awkward when you’re a tiny team so have a ton of new people join like that and it takes getting used to but ultimately they encourage SOTAC to continue being on the boards without feeling like we’re disrupting anything. So as you can see we have their best interest at heart and we never meant to cause any unwanted disturbance.

Other remarks either have already been addressed or don’t deserve to be.

Closing remarks:

To close this I just need to tell people what I think and what some of my fellow members have said in regards to the argument against ASGs. . Right now the cup is incredibly predictable, but that’s more of a function of the format telling you the standings day one than it is ASGs. The idea of an all-star group is a phenomenon that’s bound to occur in any sport; people just need to look at their values and decide what’s more important to them. We aren’t elitists, we are constantly looking to help grow our community and as long as someone works hard that opportunity should show up at some point. If someone values loyalty over being more strategic in team choice that’s completely fine, but to say that those who do not necessarily have those same values don’t deserve their success in the cup, I think is false. The cup is meant for players to organize and play hard together in order to achieve victory, and that is what we set out to do.

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Interview with a Member of Stealth

Hello avid readers. After posting an interview with a member of Codex yesterday a few of you wanted me to get interviews with the All-Star Groups (ASG’s) so that we could hear their side of the story, and what they have to say about the cup in general. Fortunately a member of Stealth reached out and agreed to do an interview, under the condition of anonymity, I would like to thank this person for their time and answering the questions that I asked.

You are a member of Stealth, what attracted you to joining them, and how did they go about recruiting you?

I joined Stealth in their first year for much the same reason as most of its members in the first year. I had heard about how SOTAC had somewhat helped LD to the top in ACV and I was simply looking to recruit an ASG to my own team. It was a pretty simple recruitment. Back then it was just a guild on neo and they invited all-stars to that guild.

Do you know anything about the formation of Stealth, it’s origins story so to speak?

Stealth origins are kind of shaky. Right before ACV I believe the leaders (who were friends) had the idea of creating their own all-star group. They came up with the idea too late as many allstars had already chosen their team. Because of this they simply invited many high-leveled Shenkuu members to the guild as a solid base once ACV was over. That’s when their first widespread recruitment occurred, and they sent neomails to tons of allstars.

How does your group as a whole (and you as an individual for that matter) view the Cheating groups?

I think I (and most of my group) view the ACGs much the same way that most of the AC community does. I understand that they’re just trying to build their own “community” for the AC, but the fact that it comes at the expense of the enjoyment for the rest of the AC players is wrong.

Do you view your group as different from the likes of cheating groups and do you believe the Altador Cup community should view these groups as one in the same?

I feel that our group is certainly different from the ACGs, but the power of all of the different groups has gotten pretty out of hand. Sure, it’s more heartening that our groups (for the most part) legitimately play the games and earn our scores; but I think the size of Stealth and SOTAC has made it get to the point where we impact the cup negatively. The unfortunate idea of making a nomadic group of high ranking players sway the results of the cup falls on the ASGs, but I think the ACGs took it to a level where the cup is no longer playable in the way it was in ACI-VI.

Did Stealth and SOTAC really just happen to pick the same team or was there some sort of plan to all of it?

Absolute coincidence that they joined the same team. VP was the best option.

With it seeming apparent that the two of you combined can’t stop the cheating groups are you going to continue to play in the next cup (assuming there is one of course)?

Personally, I doubt that I will continue playing in the next cup unless it has been revamped. To be honest, I think that the only thing that legitimate players can do to repair the cup (and for the most part I only point at the ASGs), is to have both Stealth and SOTAC simply join whatever team the large ACG joins and let the other unaided teams play for the podium. Sure, this means that whatever team the ACG joins is guaranteed first place, but at least it frees up room for the other 17 teams to compete for something tangible (a colored trophy) rather than simply fighting for a footnote (4th place). While that’s likely not a popular opinion, I honestly feel it’s the only thing the legit players have.

Do you know of any members of Stealth who SS in order to reach All-Star status?

I do not know of any members of Stealth who SS. Though I’m sure, as with any group, that they exist.

What do you guys think about the stigma a team gets when you guys do well with it, talking specifically about how teams fall into the fourth tier and lower once you guys leave, do you guys feel the team helped pull their share of the weight or did Stealth drag them to the top?

That’s a tough question. In ACVI, Stealth really didn’t bring too many all-stars to VP, so I don’t feel that the ensuing drop was Stealth’s fault, rather just VP being the smallest team to ever get the winner’s curse. MI’s loyal players pushed very hard when Stealth joined in ACVII, and they put up numbers that MI’s leaders hadn’t seen in years. I think the MI stigma was just because Stealth never revealed they joined MI (there was a lot of sabotage trying to make the public join KL), so some loyal MIYP players were claiming they were solely responsible for the rise to 2nd. AL was great because we got to work with new people who were not used to winning, though that was when people started understanding the sway ASGs and ACGs have which was what irreparably changed the AC.

How far in advance does Stealth pick the team they join, and is it democratic effort to decide, or does a leader make the decision?

Stealth goes through 3 rounds of voting where each member’s vote is worth the same amount. Totally democratic. While we don’t technically select the team until about 3 days before the cup starts, the vote was leaning heavily in VP’s favor about 2 weeks before it officially started.

If someone decides not to join the group team what happens to them?

Players who don’t join the group lose access to the boards, and sometimes they are not invited back the next year.

What would be your best estimate to the size of Stealth?

As of yesterday (7/27), Stealth consists of 71 members, 45 of which have already made allstar for this year.

Would Stealth ever consider using SS methods in order to beat these cheating groups?

While some members might consider SS methods, as a group Stealth is filled with legitimate players who would not consider that.

Assuming you guys play in the next cup what other methods would you use to try and beat the cheating groups?

To be honest, trying to beat the ACGs is useless. If 100+ allstars joining the smallest team can’t beat one cheater group joining a mid-table team that is fairly large, there is no point in trying to beat them in any other way if the format stays the same. Honestly, I think that the groups should join the ACGs team. I feel this can do nothing but good for the AC. It takes away the competition from the ACG and they will see they are fighting against truly nothing, possibly allowing them to disband (that should appease their ego). Some members of the ASGs won’t like this, and they’ll return to whichever land they originated from, which I don’t think is a bad idea. If the AC is ever going to return to its previous greatness, all of these groups need to dissipate or just get smaller.

What do you think about the remarks the ACG group made about Stealth in their interview?

The ACG is free to think whatever they want about the ASGs. They’ve truly proven themselves to be the better “power” in the AC, but notoriety and respect are certainly different things to accomplish. I suppose doing nothing and winning against a dedicated group of players who legitimately put in the time must feed their ego, but messing with a game that people used to enjoy seems like a cruel way to go about feeding that. However, as you can probably tell I’m not overly pleased with what ASGs have done to the cup either. I suppose the best thing that can be said of the ACGs is that they aren’t disrupting the chat of HW this year the way that the SOTAC and Stealth members have to VP. I personally found it extremely rude that our members acted this way, and I remember feeling the same way about us last year when we invaded AL’s board. Finally, I disagree with his assumption that being in these groups isn’t fun. I’m not even sold on the idea of ASGs, but I keep coming back because the people in them are dedicated, supporting, and all-around great to be with. He can talk about his group keeping each other motivated (however much motivation you need to flip the switch and let it run for a few hours), but our group legitimately keeps each other motivated to play (and actually play for those few hours).

 

Interview with Keil of NeoCodex

Hello my tired readers (I’m sure your love of the cup is waning at this point), but thanks to Keil from NeoCodex, we’ve been able to get an interview with a high ranking member of the NeoCodex community.

 

How long have you been a part of Team Codex, and what got you into Team Codex in the first place?

I’ve been in Team Codex all three years thus far, but I consider myself not as involved during the first one since I was loyal to Roo Island previously.

 

How do the other members of Team Codex feel about you giving this interview?

I got the consent of the NeoCodex staff before going through with this. They gave me the condition to avoid spilling the beans on the really juicy details, but they don’t me mind sharing what generally goes on inside the elusive ACIX subforum.

As for Team Codex as a whole, they had no clue. Surely, they’ll be surprised when they read this article. After all, I made an Altador.com topic where we have discussions about your articles and analyze perceptions made about Team Codex through pubish-worthy literature.

HI TEAM CODEX! *waves incessantly like a toddler going home from preschool*

 

I remember (back when you guys were on Meridell in ACVII) that you guys wanted to show that the Altador Cup was rigged. Since your groups efforts have proven that the cup is not rigged why do keep entering?

The first year we only placed third and that only drove us to take gold the following year. However this year, Team Codex is driven by their own motivation. Other than to secure victory, everyone has different reasons for joining Team Codex. Some people want more gold trophies or prizes, some people love the camaraderie/community, and some people love the drama gurgling without any provocation on our part and more.

My personal reason is that I enjoyed the Altador Cup’s political strife. The opportunities to play my cards right and outwitting the other ACG’s and ASG’s is how I play the Altador Cup the best. I’ve read several boards about people accusing ACG’s scoresending because of power. I can’t speak for everyone, but I agree when it comes to myself. I self-indulgence when someone tries to outsmart me.

People accuse me of using the AC to get NP unfairly. Truth be told, I absolutely have no desires to amass neowealth anymore. I proved to myself that I can have over two billion NP in goods and assets in one account without being frozen. My account is still kicking to this day. I probably racked up over 20m NP worth of potential prizes with all the accounts I scoresent with. In the end, I’m giving those accounts to energetic and active members of Team Codex when the cup ends.

 

There seems to be this notion that Team Codex profits (makes money) off of people using the SS (Score Sending) technology that you guys’ use. Is this true?

Let’s get it clear: Scoresending using NeoCodex’s program is 100% free. Unlike other cheating websites, you don’t need to pay for exclusive access nor post X amount of replies to a forum. Once you make a NeoCodex account, you have access to FULL, UNRESTRICED capabilities of the program. If a player desired to not cheat for Team Codex, they can use our program against Haunted Woods. I don’t particularly mind. Most people who cheat probably use our programs out of convenience. The features that are not free/easily accessed pertain to other programs like Abrosia, the autobuyer.

The accusation originally started when the ACIX subforum was restricted to multiple requirements: X amount of posts, Advanced Subscription Rank (one level higher than normal member) and up, and a residency in NeoCodex for Y amount of time. Plain and simple, people were sore about the requirements, especially the lurkers who want to access information such as our team host without really trying. The frequent members of NeoCodex did joke along and acted as if paying money was required, but the intentions were more playful than coercive. Essentially, if you were active to begin with, you would never have to pay to receive any special benefits pertaining to Team Codex.

Another clarification: Team Codex does not profit. NeoCodex does. They money is used for site maintenance and other expenses. Even I don’t get money for initiating and maintaining Team Codex all month.

 

Does Codex have an ethical code, do you guys see anything wrong with what you’re doing?

Ah. The ethics question.

As a forum, we are 100%, absolutely, no exception against stealing. We ban anyone who hacks accounts, cracks emails, sells stolen goods and profit off the work of others without the consent of the original owner.

As for Team Codex, I cannot speak for them as a whole because I don’t know where their ethics lie. However I’ll tell you mine: Cheating is okay because the most self-gain you can achieve from playing the Altador Cup is not playing. This works two ways: 1. The value in your team is not the podium spot or results, but the people you play with/against. Treat them well because if you come back every year just to play the Altador Cup, you can psychologically trace your desire for the people (or drama) instead of the game. Let’s admit it: the game is a poor excuse of a month-long time waster. And 2. I maximize the utility in my time. Sad to say, but spending all day in tumblr is better than playing the AC all day for prizes that don’t reciprocate the effort you put in.

Now for the juicy part: Does cheating cause harm to non-cheaters? No. I can write a guest article explaining this in detail at a later date, but the focus of this article is to know what goes on behind the most famous ACG and the people behind it.

 

What do you feel about people (myself included) who attempt to infiltrate your group in order to spy on you or harass you, do you feel like these people are warranted in their actions?

Honestly, it’s more publicity for us and also a huge ego booster. Spies give us power by acknowledging that we’re worth being spied or harassed on. In that respect, I contemplated on spying on the source of Moltara’s power (I already have accept to some of VP’s ASG), but with the flawed bracket system, investing energy into surveying a non-threat is a waste of time and effort.

I have no qualms with the action of spying since the top secret information is left with the Private+ members. Other than that we currently have no information worth leaking. People who try to grab the attention of the Altador Cup Neoboards fall flat on their face for not having worthwhile information to give outside of the initial: Who is Team Codex playing for?

To close the topic of spies: I can tell who’s spying vs. who’s lurking. I have decisive evidence to ban anyone from the thread who is considered a spy. But I don’t. Spies entertain us like foolish jesters in a medieval castle. They think they’re important and prideful for entering the presence of the royal court, but they’re just something used by the royal family to pass the time.

 

What are the decision making processes for joining team. I ask winning with Tyrannia made it seem like you’d stick with smaller teams (making Kiko Lake and Brightvale obvious choices) or did you decide to truly show how powerful you are by picking the fourth largest team?

First and foremost, I strongly believed Team Codex would get Gold without any huge problems a month before any announcements of the Altador Cup. It wasn’t until TNT revealed the same bracket system will be used that I closed my laptop and thought to myself: “Well damn, if we’re going to win regardless, how can I make this fun?” Being a part of SOTAC, I knew the direction of what team they wanted to take when someone first brought up the topic. I didn’t need to know what team they would pick because the sense of urgency made it evident they would pick a small team in hopes to yield large results.

I picked Haunted Woods since May 9. I know for sure we’d destroy everyone with a small team. Why not take a slight risk and go with a much bigger team? I was so happy that the ASG’s, no matter if intentional or not, all joined Virtupets. It adds more oil to the fire. At least we’ll have a challenge and on top of that, can prove that Team Codex is invincible. Ultimately, I was gravely disappointed in all the organized ASG’s teams in Virtupets. I commend them for producing exceptional scores throughout the cup, but disappointed that their power waned and couldn’t pose a risk towards the midpoint. I should have picked Shenkuu. At least the thrill of taking an even bigger risk would have keep me awake.

Does this mean there is a chance you could join a team like Krawk Island or Darigan Citadel in the future?

No because the Altador probably won’t last for another year.

That and there’s nothing else to prove for Team Codex. We beat everyone with a small team and we beat everyone with a big group. We proved we’re competent unlike other ACG’s *cough*. I do agree that joining an even bigger team would be the next biggest challenge, but it’s not worth achieving if the competition isn’t a challenge to begin with. It’ll just be an empty trophy to add to our lookups.

 

What do you guys feel about TNT possibly ending the cup after this year, and do you guys believe your actions had an impact on that decision?

Relieved. We don’t have to push ourselves to fire up tens of scoresender instances at one sitting anymore.

And yes, Team Codex as well as other groups impacted to that potential ending. A recent editorial revealed the possibility for scrapping the Altador Cup based on the incorrigible tournament style. In all honesty, the bracket system would not be a problem in an environment without groups having the ability to manipulate the scores. It’s just that TNT cannot fix the groups problem, thus cannot fix the tournament issue, and thus would scrap if absolutely unfixable.

 

Does Team Codex enjoy being hated by the majority of the neopian community or do you guys sometimes feel guilty?

Neither.

Hatred targeted at us is not something we particularly enjoy but it doesn’t decrease our morale either. We’re just able to translate those negative feelings to something positive and encouraging within our team. We make jokes, energize each other, and offer help even more so in times when the opposition is vocal about their ideals.

As for guilty portion, I think the guilt factor was eliminated because of the nasty attitudes placed upon us. Through hatred and opposition, we further justify our actions to push forward and get stronger. If we were playing against a team who had positive or even no opinions about us and were all earnestly playing their games, then maybe we’d feel guilty.

 

What would you say to the people that think you and your group are ruining the cup?

We’re not going to deny accusation. The only thing I’ll say is that it’s unfortunate that you are not sided with the best team out there. Results and scores aside, I’ve never felt the energy, passion, and love I’ve been graciously blessed with in Team Codex on the Neoboards or ASG site/forum since ACV.

There’s also the arguments that ASG’s objectively ruined the cup longer than us. It doesn’t matter what method you use, manipulating the scores ruins the cup no matter how you look at it. An ASG still prevents a team of earnest players from winning no matter how you look at it. If that doesn’t ruin the spirit of the Altador Cup, I don’t know what does. Now you’re probably asking yourself: how are you any different? We’re not. At least we admit it.

 

Since becoming widely known last year with all the neoboards discussing you, has your membership increased?

Taking statistics from this month alone, Team Codex has over 200 members recorded. This excludes the lurking population that probably adds another hundred. These numbers pertain to only the Altador Cup subforum, not even the NeoCodex forum as a whole. On top of the new vocal members, we go rows and rows of new lurkers for the general forums. One notable thing I would like to add is that our most active new members started off as curious Altador Cup supporters. A handful of them are now celebrating their first year anniversary with Codex.

 

Would you ever consider leaving Team Codex?

If I had pressing real life issues, then it wouldn’t be a question. I live by the mantra: help yourself before you help others. If you can’t maintain yourself, then how the meepits could you help something bigger than yourself.

 

What do you feel about groups like Stealth and SOTAC that mostly play legitimately but join a different team every year in the hopes of winning the cup, do you see them as being as the same as your group?

Firstly, respect for the level of organization (email invites, maintaining a site, facilitating correspondence, moderating discussions, etc.) that is required to make a strong ASG.

Secondly, pity for spending over 50 hours on a game that net yields negatively on your real life more than positively in Neopets. I’ll keep ya’ll in my prayers.

Thirdly, gratitude for making this year’s AC memorable and further proving the power of Team Codex by contrast.

Fourthly, resentment when you invaded the loyal VP player’s AC board and ignored them while you chatted exclusively to your ASG, causing those poor players to recede into their guild because you all made them unwanted. Good job, you’ve done something even I don’t have the audacity to do.

I don’t consider them the same as my group because Team Codex is actually fun to be with. Although I have my level of involvement with ASG’s, I felt so stifled being in an environment where putting up a façade is common practice, and legit or not, saying or acting in a way that the ASG disagrees with will result in a quick expulsion. The notoriety and fame from being in an ASG is definitely not worth it when you have a different place that allows you more freedom to express yourself with even more emotional support to keep you motivated.

 

Why do you think TNT hasn’t been able to curve the boost you give to your team? Is TNT just that bad or are you guys just that good?

Let me put this out there: I have an insurmountable level respect the Neopets Team. I love their sense of humor, their tact, and even how they handle some of the back-end shady ordeals that you wouldn’t even think about without accessing their records database. I do blame Viacom’s inertness towards non-NC endeavors. A creative administrative group can’t fully reach their potential if the corporation rejects proposal after proposal of ideas we are thinking now.

As for the curving, I believe TNT did nothing with the formula or the scores we posted. The relationships I hypothesized last year (between score data and scoring system) and the one I fully tested and confirmed this year matches with negligible outliers. In short, nothing has been done numbers wise. They did change the programming to prevent us from scoresending the first few days, but their success waned along with VP’s initial remarkable results.

 

Does Codex always join the same team, or do some of you break into smaller factions and join other teams?

Um. There is information I only share among the higher echelons of the NeoCodex Ranks, specifically Private and up. If you want to know the truth, be an active member of NeoCodex.

But just to recap history, Team Codex has always been united for the first two years. This year, I did something different. Team Codex does not purely scoresend for Haunted Woods. I am certain we have at least one person scoresending for each team. You’re probably questioning whether or not I am on hallucinogens. The answer is no, at least not right now.

This year Team Codex is open to ANYONE joining ANYTEAM under the pretense that they would either cheat/play for Haunted Woods on a different account or support Team Codex’s morale by posting frequently and being an active member. Team Codex is Haunted Woods, but Haunted Woods is not Team Codex. The essence of Team Codex is the diverse group of people in it not limited by shortsighted limits of what a team can be. I am not blind nor ignorant to the supportive quality and influence of non-Haunted Woodians. Thanks to that addition to our team, we have people from Darigan Castle, Virtupets, and even Moltara posting on our boards and enriching the overall Team Codex experience.

 

What do you guys think of teams like Moltara, Tyrannia, and Mystery Island showing larger than average scores, do you think they’re legit or do they have smaller groups helping them out?

I do think all the teams have smaller groups, but what is lacking that prevents them from reaching Team Codex status is organization, planning, and fellowship.

Honestly, after the end of the second bracket, I thought nearly nothing of them. We have the Altador cup in the bag and any surprises and upsets don’t entertain us much since there is no sense of urgency that would change the final results. I’m not trying to invalidate all your hard work, but the monotony of the Altador Cup leaves me jaded to all things new and exciting.

Kudos to all those teams. You all either reallocated your time to other endeavors by scoresending or truly worked hard at achieving goals. Either way, I applaud you.

 

Parting Thoughts:

Regardless where you place in the final standings, make sure you take the time to recognize and thank all the people in your team. Legit or not, they are heavily invested in this game and probably suffered a lot of casualties or sacrificed something dear to make sure the team did its best. People may never show that weakness, but taking that one moment to say “you made a big positive influence in my (neo)life” would mean the world to them.

 

The Contradictory Nature of Virtupets

Hello my avid readers, Joe here. This year the two biggest Altador Cup All-Star Groups SOTAC and Stealth have decided to join Virtupetz together this year, in an effort to overpower the cheating groups. When I first heard of this my first expression was letting out a loud “Whyyyyyyy?” because to me it’s one of the stupidest things they could’ve done. Due to the fact that team size does play a role in how scores are determined if one takes into account the widely believed “average theory”. Taking into account that this team will be gaining more than 100 essentially guaranteed All-Stars (more then they gained when they only had Stealth join them in ACVI, and they were extremely powerful than). They’ve basically created a second unstoppable power house that no other team will really be able to compete against.

The concern will be the fact that one of two things will happen. Either they’ll fail and either Haunted Woods or Darigan Citadel will win, thus proving that ASS groups are unstoppable and there’s no point in even trying (effectively ruining the cup); or they’ll win 1st by completely crushing the competition thus showing that they only way in beating them is by having more than 100 All-Stars join your team. This isn’t the first time Virtupetz has been seen in a negative light (no one really says Virtupetz won ACVI, they say Virtupetz with the aid of Stealth won ACVI). For them to suddenly win (considering they were tied for last a year ago) would only give people more of a reason to not credit Virtupetz. If you’re a loyal ViPZ member that’s basically like being told there’s no reason to even play this year before the cup has even started.

Its safe to say Virtupetz will sweep every team they play except for those days they’ll play Darigan Citadel or Haunted Woods (though they still easily could). Essentially the podium has already been decided and it will be filled with previous year winners. A simple look at http://www.neopets.com/~GDP will show just how small Virtupets is right now compared to the other two teams (they’re next to Kiko Lake and Brightvale in terms of team size) a team that small with this much fire power is essentially unstoppable.

Now for a little bit of personal part I’m upset that this will be why we’ll be having a repeat winner, that it took getting a group boost for two teams where neither has been second or higher since ACII; or a team that many already credit a group with their win.

So ultimately the questions is where do you, as the readers, fall on this subject? Are you going to be rooting for Virtupetz to win because it will mean beating the cheating groups? Leave a comment below and tell me how you feel about it.

The New Bracket System

Hello my avid readers, Joe here. Today I had two articles pre-written about how I felt the Altador Cup would be going so far, from how the brackets would be made up if TNT kept the first round to how they did it last year, to who would be dominating and already be podium contenders. And right out the gate both articles were invalidated because TNT changes things up. The brackets don’t seem to follow any real pattern, just that they were randomly created but at the same time seeming evenly balanced. And all the teams that are getting help from All-Stars Groups and Auto Score Sending groups (Haunted Woods, Darigan Citadel, and Virtupets) are at the bottom of their brackets, or hovering in the middle in the case of Virtupets (probably on Sloth’s orders). Their doesn’t seem to be in explanation as to what’s causing this as it isn’t just big and powerful teams at the bottom. The smaller Moltara is still below Krawk Island, and Faerieland has never really been a small team. It would appear that whatever new measures TNT has implemented to help counteract the cheating groups are working, at least for now anywayAt the time of writing this Brightvale, Faerieland, and Kreludor are leading their brackets, and until we actually see some first day results to see if this is really the trend (perhaps results and bracket standings are even more separated this year that the previous two), and of course teams like Brightvale and Terror Mountain have been known to start out strong and falter as the cup wains on, so it can’t really be said definitively at this point in time that the problems have been solved, but I’m extremely hopeful about this cup going forward.

But what could this new bracket system be using to determine placings? I feel legitimacy has something to do with it as the two cheating teams are dead last while the “legitimately” boosted Virtupets is higher than them. One thing of note is that the brackets haven’t moved at all since 12:24 NST when they were tallied-up for the first time. So all the brackets have been at a stand still for nearly 12 hours now. One could say that this means the podium could already be decided, but I certainly feel it’s too early to say that

 

So what do you guys feel about the new bracket system so far, do you feel like it’s a step in the right direction, or do you think the fact the brackets don’t move means their still is a power creep factor? One point someone on the Neoboards made was perhaps this is TNT’s way of saying brackets won’t update except for when daily results are posted. I don’t really think this is true because the brackets say they keep updating like every 20 minutes or so (so they’re clearly doing something). Or maybe the decrease in max cap has actually had a stronger impact than people first thought. Leave your ideas and opinions below.

What Made You Join Your Team

Hello my avid readers Joe here. Recently an issue has arisen as to what constitutes a “correct” reason for joining a team. Some people join a team because they think that team has a strong chance of winning, some join because of a friendly neoboard community, others simply join a team because of the general team aesthetics or a team member (I’ve heard rumors of Aldric Beign fan boys). This caused me to remember my own Altador Cup history when it dawned on me that in my 8 Altador Cups I’ve pretty much used every reason above at least once to justify a choosing a team. Also please forgive any grammatical errors you might find as I’m writing this from an unfamiliar computer today (spontaneous writing urges force me to be adaptive).

Altador Cup II: This year I chose Faerieland. Now you know when people say “Faerieland will always have free-loaders because of the theme” well I’m kind of living proof of that (at least partially) as I chose Faerieland because I believed it would be a popular choice, not necessarily a podium contender (I didn’t even know anything about the podium) but I figured considering it was the land with the Hidden Tower, and the fact that faeries just seemed popular, I kinda just winged it and chose them. I played an entire 13 games of Yooyuball, 1 game of Slushie Slinger, and 3 games of Make Some Noise (can you say future MVP). I feel I prove that everyone chooses without really thinking their first cup meaning every team will undoubtedly have a couple of new people who only joined because of some reason that only they really know.

Altador Cup III: This year I chose Shenkuu. After going through last year with arguably the worst team in the cup, I wanted a team that actually had a shot at doing well. Around this time I was big into guilds and the guild that I happened to be in at that time talked about joining Shenkuu because they had gotten 3rd place the previous year. This year I actually got to rank 4 which considering I was also taking drivers-ed course for my learners permit and taking a summer Algebra class. To me that rank 4 was a huge accomplishment (I also had gotten the highest rank in the guild since many stopped at rank 2 once they learned there were no more avatars).

Altador Cup IV: This year I chose Krawk Island. After coming so close the year before with Shenkuu I realized that I wanted a trophy and I made a conscientious choice that the best team to give me that chance would be Krawk Island. I also knew going into that cup that I would have almost no time to play since I would be going to summer camp after the third day. And that’s pretty much how that cup went. I played less than 10 games of YYB with no sides, went away, came back and saw that I had earned a gold trophy. I was shattered to say the least as I had finally earned what I thought I wanted only to find it extremely unfulfilling.

Altador Cup V: This year I chose Kiko Lake. This was also the first year where I discovered the Neo Boards (only took me 5 years). I remember looking at all the team boards during the off-season and thinking “where do I belong” which is hard thing to ask a 17 year old me. I remember Kiko Lake stood out to me because I had remembered them from the year before “the returning team that failed to live up to expectations after taking a year off). When I looked at the team bio I noticed everything about the team screamed “underdog” and I’ve always been a fan of underdogs. That year I got to rank 5 (my induction into the non-wood shields)

Starting with ACVI I found the KLOWNS board, these little funny people seemed to really understand me, while not taking the cup very seriously (which melded with my play style of doing what I want). Under this structure I was able to get rank 16 which shows (at least to me) that the secret to reaching a higher Altador Cup rank is by finding a group of people that you can do it with. Recently however an increase in summer activity (summer jobs and summer classes) and a decrease in interest leads me to believe I won’t be getting higher than rank 5 ever again.

Ultimately there isn’t a “correct” way to choosing a team, because ultimately you need to find a reason to keep yourself playing if that’s what you want to do. If your goal is to just join a team for the sake of joining then by all means join whatever team you feel appeals to you most. But how about you, what made you join the team(s) that you’ve joined in the past, and what methods do you think are the best to finding the team that motivates you to participate in the Altador Cup the most.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Hello my avid readers today I’m here to bring you an article that is personally very close to my heart, that topic being how the Altador Cup players base has become a vile cauldron of toxicity. For those of you who are unaware (some of you might be living under very heavy rocks) the presence that All Star Groups (ASGs) and Auto-Score Senders groups (ASS groups) have become a major influential factor in the final placings of the cup. One of the biggest factors leading to their strength was the fact that starting in ACVIII TNT decided to show daily scores, with these it became clear how big of an impact these groups we having, like how a Codex boosted Tyrannia was able to score a 23 in Make Some Noise on the same day all of Faerieland’s points equalled 18. When scores like these become a consistent occurrence it’s only natural to assume a team is receiving outside help (and usually it can be confirmed by a simple Google search to find these team’s home bases as they’re generally held off-site of Neopets) the problem I’m finding is how the community chooses to handle this issue.

One of the main ways people chose to handle this issue is by simply bitching about it. Around day 10 the number of “Tyrannia and Altador are cheating”, “These groups are making the Altador Cup unfair”, “Why isn’t TNT doing anything about it”. This is a problematic issue because at the end of the day it ends up promoting these sites. The problem  with all of this comes from the inevitable witch-hunt the results from trying to find these teams. Let’s take last year for example when a team like Kiko Lake showed what some would consider a questionable rise. What happens next is people will often go to the respective teams board (in the case of Kiko Lake this would be the KLOWNs board but all teams have a generally specified board).

This is ultimately a problem because the members of these groups are usually all legitimate players, and for them to be receiving the brute of this simply isn’t fair. To put it into perspective I will recount the night of June 27th right after the results from the previous day. Kiko Lake scored a 5 in YYB a 10 in SlSl an 8 in MSN and a 7 in SOSD members of SoLiD (the official Lost Desert support group) saying things like “at least me made their bots work harder” and “wow Kiko Lake should be ashamed that they feel the need to cheat to win”. This was especially disheartening because I can personally vouch for the fact that at least 5 separate members of KLOWNS maxed in Slushie Slinger. If there’s anyone here who here who has ever maxed (played that game during the day for the maximum amount TNT allows) Slushie Slinger it’s no easy feat at 601 games, and considering a game of slushie slinger takes twice as long as a game of Yooyuball but only awards half the amount of prize points, meaning a person will only earn a quarter of the number of prize points they could’ve earned had they simply played Yooyuball (not to mention saving half the time in the process). To watch as an entire community basically said “f*** you and everything you accomplished yesterday” it’s especially disheartening when you have to watch your entire team lose whatever motivation you have. It isn’t just the common man either, one of the main problem was that very influential figures like Herdygerdy from Jellyneo saying “The second sweep came from Kiko Lake against the Lost Desert, by large margins – the scores here are starting to look suspicious if you ask me. Seems there may be truth to the rumors that the cheaters on Terror Mountain came from Kiko Lake, and then went back to their home team.” Herdy from Jellyneo

“Lastly, Kiko Lake swept Lost Desert.  Honestly, I don’t think the Kikos get these scores legit.  I just don’t see how a tiny team could do that when on a good day normal powerhouses get 5’s and 6’s.” Platypus from Altador.com

The fact that these writers can so easily tell their readers that a team is cheating without providing any evidence is just appalling and a large portion of their audience is going to believe what you write, with or without evidence. The reality is every team will have legitimate players, and every team will have non-legitmate players, but at the end of the day the efforts of both go into what is displayed on the scoreboard. While it might be frustrating if you believe you lost because another team had an unfair advantage, you better at least have the decency to sack up and offer a good game to the opponent because considering how pointless actually playing can be, and how easily it can influenced, a continuation of this toxic atmosphere is the last thing we need.

Which leads me to my main point, and the point that I ultimately want to leave you with, is that at the end of the day everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Even on the teams that have verified ASG and ASS groups, there are still normal players who are trying to give it there all. Are they supposed to not play simply because they had the misfortune of being on a team that one of these groups chose, no, the simple knowledge of knowing their victory is basically going to followed by an asterisk for the rest of their lives means why even bother. For that part why should anybody on any team actually bother to play in the Altador Cup. If you do well people are just going to say “why are they doing well” “they MUST be having help”. The sad reality is even if a group doesn’t join your team any sign of progress that “can’t be explained” automatically means you’re cheating in the eyes of this community. And that is the root to the problem that we can actually fix.