In light of the recent exclusives.

We at Altador.com were given the unique opportunity to find out the backstory of the infamous score-sending group, NeoCodex. The opportunity was given to all writers on our site, but ultimately, Joe (Lady_elegant) took the opportunity to conduct interview, and posted the raw, uncensored result.

At Altador.com, we endeavour to bring you the best Altador Cup related coverage possible, and to do so all stories must be heard, including unpopular opinions. We do not condone the use of score-sending programs, autobuyers or other illegitimate gameplay means.

Thank-You

Tails.

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5 Ways to try to fix the Altador Cup

The Altador Cup has become a farce; all-star groups and automatic score-senders have fixed the cup, and TNT is too stubborn to admit the bracket system is the worst sport schedule system to have ever existed. However, staff and customers alike realise how important the Altador Cup is to Neopets as a business – For some customers, it is the only thing that keeps them returning each year, giving Neopets more revenue from advertisements and the possibility of more NC shop sales. However, nobody wants to compete in a fixed competition. Without some drastic changes, the cup is as good as dead. So without any further ado, five ways the Altador Cup can hopefully be salvaged.

 

1. Allocate more resources to the Cup.

TNT has a small team to work on the Altador Cup each year, but has it is right now the team seems to be extremely lazy. The infamous belittling editorial implied that TNT only bothers about the cup “when it approaches”, meaning probably the month-and-a-half before the cup begins – When we see spoilers of whatever small roster changes. Of course, an event as important as this should have more time and resources allocated to it than just the two months before it – Especially with the state it is in now. Time should be used to test any future scoring and scheduling solutions, rather than using the public as a guinea pig. Resources should also be allocated to art and other content, which will be explained below.

 

2. Overhaul Roster and Art.

 

In the first few years, we had massive roster changes, however since Altador Cup IV, we’ve said good-bye to “Dasher” Soley, Bertie Shurtz, Babolino, Gregorio Maille, Dorina Hals and Wan Dirx. That’s only six players, and of those six, only four were replaced by new characters, the remaining were from “team trades”, meaning no new art needed to be created, apart from an outfit update. The team transfer of Lamelle Turow from Lost Desert to Maraqua was met with anger from both sides of the story, not only was Maraquan fan favourite, Dorina Hals replaced by Lost Desert fans’ least favourite member, Turow was replaced by yet another Kiko – The easiest Neopet to draw, and the only thing needed on the game of the LD team was the change the colour of the kiko. This is just pure laziness.

These kikos look suspiciously familiar...

These kikos look suspiciously familiar…

Furthermore, Kiko Lake’s four kikos have exactly the same scoring sprites, apart from changes to match their colours, and how did they replace Kiko Lake’s original Peophin, fan favourite Helmo Timm? Recoloured her artwork to be purple, rather than using Erli Quinnock’s already present artwork for Brightvale – This here is the definition of pure laziness.

 

From left to right: Brightvale's Erli Quinnock, Kiko Lake's Erli Quinnock, Kiko Lake's Helmo Timm

From left to right: Brightvale Erli, Timm recolour Erli, Helmo Timm

 

The sprites from this year’s new comer Crade Talvos, the updated Derlyn Fonnet sprite and the trades of Coco Metrone and Ealyn “Hunkshanks” Hawkshanks do not run as they are supposed to. In addition, Metrone and Hunkshanks display their former team colours when running towards or away from the player.

Team Kiko Lake is in desperate need of an update, and along with other teams, such as Brightvale, Virtupets and Darigan Citadel.

The team rosters are becoming stale and predictable, sometimes aesthetic differences like roster change ups and art improvement make all the difference, and shows that this is an event that TNT actually cares about – like it used to.

PS. Please don’t ever show Derlyn Fonnet smiling ever again.

OH GOD, IT BURNS!

 

 

Changing up the games.

Yooyuball, Slushie Slinger, Make Some Noise, Shootout Showdown – For years, these have been the games of the Altador Cup. And of those games, only Yooyuball, the main game, has received any type of shake up. We can see by the daily scores, no human outside of Tyrannia wants to play the carpel-tunning inducing, keyboard breaking, button mashing Make Some Noise, or tedious and time-consuming Tapper rip-off, Slushie Slinger to earn a fraction of the points Yooyuball can give, in triple-to-ten times the amount of time you can earn the same amount of points in Shootout Showdown. These games need to be done away with and replaced or completely overhauled to make them new and exciting. What can they be replaced by? Well, we’ll have to let TNT’s imagination run wild at the possibilities.

Let’s get this guy in on the action too.

 

Eliminate Bracket System

The bracket system is perhaps the single most epic failure in the history of Neopets – and the fact that they refuse to change it, and disparaged the public’s response to it is testament to the poor customer service Neopets is renowned for. Winning and losing doesn’t matter with brackets, causing confusion and vast amounts of anger. And I cannot stress enough that if this cumulative bracket system were implemented in any real sports, there would be huge riots. We need to change the format immediately.

Just “The in thing to hate on”, really now?

We could return to the double round robin, plus finals. The problem there is how long it will take, and the reason why we have the awful system we have now, plus there’s a bigger problem, which we’ll deal with later.

We could have an elimination style schedule, but that will leave many players unable to support their team.

Or, we could go to a single round robin system, plus finals – 17 days, plus 4 days of finals makes an even 21 days. Add in break days once a week, plus in between the end of the SRR, and first half of finals, and that creates an extra five days to create 26 days. Add in two extra teams (The MUCH requested Lutari Island and Neopia Central teams for example) will not only add some much needed freshness to the stale teams, but it also makes an even 28 days (or four weeks) of play – Enough to coincide with any four-week NC mall event TNT has planned.

Alternate finals systems could be in place too, to bring freshness to the finals system, such as the finals system that the Australian Football League (AFL) uses, giving even 8th place a shot at the title. The possibilities for better scheduling are endless, and all possibilities are better than the current bracket system.

 

Eliminate All-Star Groups and Automatic Score Senders

 

“We at Neopets support the use of bots.”

By far the major issue in any scheduling changes, game changes or anything cup related really is the influence of All-Star Groups and Automatic Score-Senders have. As soon as it is revealed who goes where, the fate of the cup is determined. How can we combat this?

We could take TNT’s current approach – Hunt down and freeze anyone who raises flags, be they legitimate and hard working, or illegitimate – But this is all futile, as cheaters have many different accounts, and can always make new ones when they get frozen.

We could close sign ups after the cup begins, but what happens to the dedicated players who may have been a little late due to real life situations, like school or work?

We could randomise sign ups, but that will infuriate many of those who are loyal to their teams.

What needs to be done is to actively work on fixing flaws in the system that the ASSs are exploiting by constant updating.

My personal idea is the “World Challenge” model – Only the first 3 games of the day count towards high score and Neopets in World Challenge, and any remaining go towards challenges. Similarly, only the first three games could go towards team count, and any remaining go towards personal score and prize points – TNT has the technology to make it happen, and with some tweaks and testing, it could certainly work for Altador Cup (Of course, it would have to be in secret). This would level the playing field regardless of how much or little one plays, and theoretically renders both ASGs and ASS groups ineffective.

 

The Cup is in need of a drastic overhaul, and if changes are not implemented next year, it is game over for Neopets’ biggest event.

Complaint: TNT and the future of the Altador Cup

In the most recent Neopian Times editorial, Krawk Island All-Star, chipperjones10810, asked why TNT is still using the bracket system with its apparent cumulative scoring system and the abandonment of the W/D/L scoring formula, despite the massive public disdain. He also asked why the round robin system has not been brought back.

TNT’s response was met with an extremely negative public backlash, with them calling the bracket system the “in thing to hate on”, implying people only dislike it because it is considered trendy to do so, rather than because it is flawed.

TNT says that the round robin system was just as unpopular as the bracket system – Which to me is completely ludicrous. The only complaints I recall ever reading about in the seven years that I have been heavily involved on the Altador Cup Neoboards were all involving how long it is. When the bracket system was introduced, I saw it as a response to the complaints towards length, and while in theory, it worked, in practice, it was an epic failure. The fact that the bracket system is now in its third year is completely baffling. Let’s face it. If this system were implemented in a real sport, there would be bigger riots than the French revolution.

In their editorial response, TNT stated that they would revisit the bracket issue when the AC comes around next year. TNT should be focusing more energy than “When it comes around again” on their biggest site event, and one of the only things left that keeps loyal customers returning. Without the Altador Cup, there would most definitely be an exodus of loyal customers of biblical proportions.

Finally, TNT basically threatened “if you don’t like our changes next year, that’s it. We quit. No Altador Cup for anyone!” In the typical fashion of disdain for the customers we have all become accustomed to. Eighty-sixing the Altador Cup is a double-edged sword; it is not only the perhaps the only sure-fire solution to ending Altador Cup related complaints, and the worst mistake TNT could make, for reasons mentioned above.

So rather than abandon the cup, what are the solutions that we could implement? The most common suggestion is a single round-robin, plus four days of finals. The Altador Cup would be 21-22 days long. If the system was found to be too short, TNT could add more teams for worlds like Lutari Island and Neopia Central, or sub-worlds like Qasala and Neovia, or add in weekly break days to draw it out another week.

A possible solution to the effect of ASS groups on the scores could be to (secretly, of course) only count the first few games (Perhaps 3-10 games) by every player towards team score, and allow the play of any consequent games to count towards player total.

However, these suggestions are in vain, because rather than actively trying to find a solution to the complaints that we customers are making, or listening to and trialling possible solutions we suggest, TNT is throwing a tantrum, threatening to axe their most popular site event completely because they’re stubbornly trapped in their own superiority complex. Well TNT, without customers, you do not have a business. There’s a reason why even the founders now do not want anything to do with their own brainchild.

Haunted Woods, Altador grow while Mystery Island, Kreludor shrink

Haunted Woods, Terror Mountain and Altador have received the most new members this year, according to preliminary data collected and released by five Altador Cup fanatics.

The three teams have shown massive growth in team size, with Haunted Woods showing an increase of approximately 59% on its estimated team size last year.

The teams with the next biggest size increases are Terror Mountain and Altador with growths of approximately 53% and 47% respectively.

Roo Island, Darigan Citadel and Krawk Island have all shown signs of growth, while the remaining teams have shown a decrease in team size.

Hardest hit are Mystery Island and Meridell, showing a 38% and 35% drop in supporters respectively.

Team Kreludor is also hit hard, with its 32% decrease now making it the team with the fourth smallest fanbase this year, after Brightvale, Kiko Lake and Virtupets.

Other teams showing a massive decrease in team size are Lost Desert and Virtupets, with both teams showing a loss of over 20% of last year’s supporters.

Information collected regarding team size can be found here: http://www.neopets.com/~GDP

Editorial: RE: Innocent until proven guilty

Back in the day where freeloaders and trophy hunters were the huge problem in the Altador Cup, Team Lost Desert won it. During the duration of the event, I broke news of the most infamous All-Star Group, SOTAC’s presence in Team Lost Desert, and how the factions of the Lost Desert (i.e. Generalist SoLiD and YYB focused S.A.N.D.Y.) united against their seemingly elitist bullying tactics and loss blaming towards dedicated members and casual newcomers alike, discouraging potential future all-stars from playing, infuriating regulars, and permanently damaging our otherwise excellent reputation for good sportsmanship.

After it became public knowledge, and my team were crowned champions, people began attributing the hard work of many dedicated, long time Lost Desert fans, including myself, solely to the work of SOTAC. This naturally made many of us irate, as those hours of playing to all-star, years of dedication and steadily climbing the ladder seemed to have crumbled away in a scapegoat of “You only won because of SOTAC.”

“No we didn’t!” We’d preach, “All members of Lost Desert worked really hard to win.” This, naturally, included the vagrants of SOTAC too. I know many, many members of S.A.N.D.Y. reached all-star, many, many members of SoLiD reached all-star, and of course all of SOTAC. As far as we knew back then, the core members of SOTAC were legitimate players, I mean, we had many losses during our run for championship. The very notion that a band of vagrant illegitimate players influenced the way the cup worked back then was not something we thought about in our naiveté, let alone a band of legitimate players. Yes, I, and the rest of the ACV Lost Desert team know all too well of what it feels like to have our hard earned win

Recently published was an article by an irate Kiko Laker, furious over the Neonews media and public’s response to the sudden jump in Kiko Lake’s scores midway through last year’s cup, and too a lesser extent the flack Terror Mountain also received, because members of his tiny, but active group of Kiko Lakers worked really hard to win. This article has been a hot topic on our website. And I want to be clear, I am not irritated by the content, but rather the professional conduct of the reporter himself (An issue I have brought up with him before), but I digress. Apparently, at least 5 KLOWNs maxed out in Slushie Slinger are the only people on Kiko Lake that matter. Suspicion came to Kiko Lake after it briefly began to post scores higher than even the strongest legitimate powerhouse could fathom, similar to those of Terror Mountain and Altador an example of the latter of which can be seen below.

The Offending Day

Their score was that of ASS heavy Altador’s just two days prior.

The juxtaposition of theirs against Altador’s scores and the increasing moral panic surrounding the ASS issue were enough proof for people to begin connecting the dots and suspect foul play on Kiko Lake. The very proud Kiko Lake squad was left feeling robbed of their victory by not unfounded accusations of cheating. But it is bigheaded of them to think they are the sole cause of their unusually high score.

Notable AC Fan, Francineh gave his two cents on the issue on a post on the neoboards which perfectly explains why it is bigheaded, and uses Terror Mountain as an example.

So, after having seen yet another post about how 6-7 people ‘maxing’ a game makes a big difference to the outcome that day, I feel its important, via the numbers to explain why 6-7 people, while somewhat helpful, are not nearly as statistically relevant as one might think. And they are nothing next to the cheaters.

Why? Well, the core of the Cup is some sort of average score. If you have a hyperactive small base, you can create a avg bigger than a slumbering huge base.

Lets assume the avg cheater (and possibly a utterly dedicated player) is aiming to max every single day of a 24 day Cup. That’s 24 days by 301 games = 7224 games. However, the Avg Acer is mabye a Rank 3-5… I know because I’d collected the data a few years back to prove it.
If its Rank 5, that’s 184 games. So, what does this mean? Effectively, your daily maxer is 40 times more helpful than your avg YYBer.

When you start adding up the fact that your average lawbreaker may well be running on multiple accounts, well, its [sic] easy to see why cloud computing has been hailed as the future. If you assume that they are ‘only’ using 5 accounts, then you have 200 times more ‘helpful’.

Now, these numbers might sound fanciful to some, but the massive effects DO match what the GPG page and score page told us last year. Its [sic] very hard to change an average with a small data set when a huge data set has already been presented. The GPG for players is at #.####

To make that rise rapidly, you would need hundreds of thousands of goals – which we did see last year with the TM and some other averages which suddenly spiked

Last year, Prytariel of Terror Mountain climbed the GPG leaderboard at an astonishing rate. One user on the Neoboards calculated over 15, 000 straight 15 point games using only her would be required in order to reach her final average in that short time her score climbed; a feat not possible by mere manpower alone.

I once complained of public scrutiny over having an ASG on my team the year we won, and I was not happy that people credited it as the sole cause of our success, but I did concede SOTAC did help because they were a part of Team Lost Desert. However,  my esteemed colleague complains of public scrutiny over unexplainable and suspicious jumps in scores in a time of rampant cheating, and seems to claim his little team of KLOWNs is solely responsible for its success.  This is the actual sad reality.

5 Ways The Altador Cup Has Been Irreparably Ruined

I think most of us can agree that Altador Cup is a dying sport. Three to four years ago, the cup was booming. Teams had to struggle to keep their team boards up on the front page. Nowadays, it takes more than a few hours to fall off the first page.

How did the Altador Cup become this way?

5. New Yooyuball

In ACVI, TNT gave Yooyuball a complete overhaul. Complete with power-ups, keyboard control and a whole lot of glitches. Ranging from opponents stealing from the goalie, lack of control over said goalie and, the big one: Keyboard only controls.

This took time to get used to (It’s my preferred method now), and it gave laptop players, and other players who can’t use mouse very well for various reasons, a chance to shine at Yooyuball, rather than slaving away at side-games to get their coveted All-Star rank.

Thankfully, come ACVII, this situation was almost completely rectified at a compromise: New Yooyuball was still around, but the glitches had been fixed, and mouse control was brought back once again, with the option to play by keyboard.

However, the implementation of New Yooyuball in ACVI was still enough to scare away a bulk of the players. The Altador Cup hasn’t been the same since.

 

4. The Aging Population.

We’re not getting any younger, and Neopets, Inc. is struggling to get new players as older players either grow out of it, lose interest, or become too busy with their every day lives Admittedly, I am one of those people. A stark difference from when I first started taking the cup seriously in 2008 (ACIII), a 17 year old, bright-eyed individual who helped create the first of the Yooyuball-Only chat groups: S.A.N.D.Y. for Lost Desert. Now, I am 22, moved out of home, studying full-time, working part-time (At full-time hours, mind you). It’s difficult to keep up the dedication to both playing, and my column thanks to that.

TNT’s actually just making fun of us.

This situation is a recurring theme between the bulk of the dedicated players we saw three-to-four years ago.  We’ve grown up, moved on, still fanatical, but busy.

Again, TNT is struggling to bring a new crowd of younger players to take our place. There’s only so much advertising they can do.

 

3. All-Star Groups

Not that kind of All-Star Group!

My biggest regret as a reporter on this site was to make publically known the presence of All-Star groups. S.O.T.A.C. specifically, perhaps the most well-known, as they appeared on the winning Lost Desert squad, causing many people to credit the win of the already large and successful Lost Desert team to a ASG win.

The next year, Virtupets, who had been climbing up the ladder steadily since ACII, was dominating the cup. It came as no surprise to those of us who over-analyse the Altador Cup, until it became public knowledge that another ASG had joined Virtupets: “Stealth!”. The Virtupets win was credited to Stealth! by many.

Soon ASGs started popping up all over the place – people believed ASGs have the power to cause a team to win the Altador Cup due to S.O.T.A.C. and Stealth!’s successes in choosing already powerful teams to get the cup (hence the “trophy hunter” label put on to them by certain people…). In turn, the ASGs get over hyped.  People want to win, people discredit hard working teams with having outside help from a wandering band of all-stars (Not to be confused with cheating groups, which we’ll get to later).

It’s not nearly as much the ASGs’ fault as it is the general public.

 

2. Bracket System, No Finals.

In ACVII, along with fixing New Yooyuball, TNT introduced a new cup format to reduce length of the Altador Cup, from a Double Round Robin with Finals (34+4 Days) to randomised brackets.

This was perhaps the most unpopular thing in the history of the Altador Cup.

Not only did some teams have to face the same team every round, some never faced each other at all. Some had incredibly difficult rounds, while others breezed through. This lead many players to call unfairness (mainly Krawk Islanders who placed under teams which they saw as inferior to them: Lost Desert and Kiko Lake).

Come ACVIII, players were hoping for the best scenario – Reverting back to the Round Robin system, or at the very least, fix the glitches in the new system like they did with Yooyuball the year before. With a few very, very minor changes in the rules, promising that the horridness of last year was fixed, hopes were still alive.

“First the Worst” is now not the case.

Come the third day of play, it became apparent that the nothing had changed, as teams began to face each other twice. More bad news came break day, where it 1. Came on the last day of the bracket (As promised not to), and 2. Scores were not counting towards rank (as promised to). Not only that, but after the maintenance of that day, the rules were reverted back to last year’s rules. With that, people started an exodus of the cup.
One new feature that was included in this year’s format was the match score results. However, that leads to even more trouble…

 

1.   Automatic Score Senders/Cheating

Without a doubt, the biggest reason why the Altador Cup is ruined is because of these cheaters, which became more apparent thanks to the results showing the match scores. Every day we saw Altador (A.S.S. Group (Actually, the perfect name for them…) confirmed), Tyrannia (A.S.S. Group also confirmed) and, more recently, Terror Mountain achieve impossible feats against legitimate teams.

The day Terror Mountain went to the dark side.

The day Terror Mountain went to the dark side.

From day one, the effects of the masses of these cheaters has not gone unnoticed by players, but seems to have by TNT itself. TNT has even gone as far as to congratulate Altador and Tyrannia for making it as far as they have, and in turn, congratulating these

A.S.S. Groups for not getting caught.

More recently, we saw Terror Mountain’s Prytariel climb rapidly up the Top Score Senders ladder. One user calculated over 15, 000 straight 15 point or more games were required to achieve this feat at the score she’s settled on.

How to lose AC players 101: Show how much cheating does for a team, make it as clear as possible that something is wrong and don’t do anything about it.

Lesson learned: Cheating pays off on Neopets.

 

Nothing suspicious here, move along.

 

It could be on purpose, but when we count of this, the Altador Cup is doomed.

 

The Big Question of The Altador Cup

As the Altador Cup enters its eighth year, fans, both veteran and newbies alike, are flocking to the Neoboards in anticipation for what is arguably the biggest annual event in Neopia.

The Altador Cup can be noted for its large fanbase, which no doubt brings in a lot of income for The Neopets Team through increased customer flow and advertisement revenue (due to fans who come to Neopets exclusively for the event), attention from corporate sponsors in Altador Alley, a dedicated section of the NC Mall, and, of course, the VIP passes, valued at 700NC (approx $7) over the course of four weeks, themselves coming with exclusive team themed items upon redemption. This increased income should be reason enough for The Neopets Team to continue to produce the event after each year.

On the Neoboards, the big question on everyone’s mind is: Who will be the winner? The traditional powerhouses (Darigan Citadel, Roo Island, Krawk Island, Kreludor, Lost Desert) have all claimed a title, along with two wildcard team who fought their way past to claim victory. Could Darigan Citadel, Krawk Island or even Lost Desert be the first repeat winner? Could Faerieland surprise everyone and take the cup after years as the doormat?

Winners

Former Winners

For me, the big question has nothing to do with who will win, but what gimmick will The Neopets Team implement in order to prevent the Altador Cup from becoming stale, and maintaining their brief increase in income? It should be noted that each year has brought something new and different to the Altador Cup. Roster Switch ups is the most basic way of bringing change, but even that is met with hostility, but the biggest changes are made to the tournament system itself.

The first year brought a knockout-style format with a Yooyuball-only focus. This system saw Kreludor get booted from the tournament early with a narrow loss to the team that would become the champions, Haunted Woods.

The second year introduced side games for extra points and an option for those who didn’t like Yooyuball, and more importantly, a double round robin system, where each team could face each other twice, and the best four would battle it out for the places on the podium in a 1v4, 2v3 format. The second tournament also saw the introduction of the newly discovered Shenkuu’s team, while Kreludor sat out.

The third year brought a revamp in the core game itself, with each character receiving their own sprites in game, and huge roster change ups with hard-to-animate Neopets, such as Rukis, Tuskaninnies, Peophins and Jubjubs being placed in the goalkeeper position, where the legs would remain static. Kreludor came back in, but Kiko Lake went missing. The finals were also given an overhaul, where instead of eliminated teams being forced to choose another, they would face off to determine their final placements.

make some noise blue techo fan shootout showdown jelly chia slushie slinger red tuskaninny yooyu game characters

A variety of  games to choose from.

The fourth Altador Cup introduced a new side game – Shootout Showdown, which changed up the balance in the side-game scores. The NC challenge was also introduced where players could obtain exclusive Altador Cup items by completing a series of challenges. Brightvale was also benched so Kiko Lake could play in the Double Round Robin format.

The fifth Altador Cup saw the introduction of the Moltaran team and the consolation bracket. The introduction of break days was also introduced between rounds, giving players a much-needed break from continuous and tenuous playing. The tournament also featured achievements which could be obtained after achieving certain tasks, or just randomly. Dasher Soley also had a short-lived retirement, but returned for a final year (As a quick fix after TNT realised a Krawk wasn’t represented anywhere else upon his removal).

The sixth year brought another complete overhaul of the Yooyuball game, where players had to play a glitchy, key-board only game, complete with power ups. The NC challenge was also replaced by the VIP passes we have today. We also saw the introduction of a sixth (!!!) Kiko amongst the team rosters, causing many players to call out TNT on laziness on account of the simplicity of animating and drawing Kikos.

Obligatory Meme.

Last year Yooyuball was significantly upgraded with the implication of both a keyboard and a mouse option, and a vast majority of the glitches. The tournament was also dramatically shortened when Double Round Robin system was replaced by the immensely unpopular bracket system, where some teams faced each other four times, and others did not face each other at all. Bonus days were also introduced.

Now as we enter into our eighth year, what can we expect in terms of changing it up. How will TNT work out the kinks in the bracket system? Will the Double Round Robin return? Can we expect the addition of another side game? In a matter of days, the answer will be revealed, and will no doubt be met with hostility and objections. Until then, we must wait.