What's Happening

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Vampire Buddha: This should probably have been said before, but there's a forum thread about reworking this page slightly.
Is the computer really cheating when it simply utilises its inherently much better quicker thinking and reaction time? I would say it's not. You are playing a vastly superior opponent, but still using the same game rules. It's a common human thing to cry "cheat!" just because someone totally outmatches you.

In these cases the player is often actually the one cheating - since the computer is probably artificially crippled to make it even possible to play against it.

I would consider the computer a cheating bastard when it actually plays by DIFFERENT RULES than the player, i.e can see the whole map, gets free units etc.

If many of you agree, I will remove some of the "examples" where the computer is simply BETTER, not cheating. However I suppose this is hard to agree upon, since computers and humans have very different strengths and weaknesses and it's hard to agree on what's a "fair" game. The real issue here is whether or not the Willing Suspension of Disbelief is broken. One can accept different rules between players if the difference is explained somehow (Eg. your hero is fighting against an evil overlord with access to much better resources than you). However when the premise of the game is of equally matched opponents, any discprencies that pop up tend to be annoying.

I think I have an interesting subversion: The official web site for Mahjong Fight Club actually has an entire page dedicated to assuring fans that the random number generator is not rigged, the CPU doesn't cheat, and multiple CP Us do not collude with each other. Is this noteworthy enough to be put into the article?
  • I say yes, as a notable (or at least what passes for notable on this wiki) aversion of the trope. Of course, I have an ulterior motive, since I really want someone else to bite on my Dice Wars question two below this one.

If a game lets you cheat back, then what's that called? In Psychic Force, Wong can make swords appear and stop time, which is cheating, but if you win him as a playable character, you get to the do the same thing. It's one of the few fighting games I've played where the bosses don't get powered down when you get to play as them.
  • I say if everyone can do it it's part of the game. Might be a Game Breaker if it's too powerful, but doesn't smack of cheating to me.

Fellow tropers, flashgame addicts, I implore you; set me straight. Does DiceWars secretly weight the dice in favor of the player with the greatest board domination? I'm sure it's quite possible that it's just the psychological effect, but even my most restrained (subjective, mind you) analysis suggests that the computer quietly speeds up the game a little by giving the advantage to whomever is in the lead. Yes, this is all but off topic, but I know at least *someone* here will be able to put my mind at ease.
Willy Four Eyes: The yellow car from RC Pro-Am, anyone? Granted, the game wasn't Nintendo Hard, but it frustrated me to no end that there were specific races in the game that you were always predestined to lose (track #8 gets me every single time).
Andrew Leprich: Love the name, I have used that exact same phrase many a time.

Kendra Kirai: I think most gamers have, at one time or another. S'why I picked it. :) The other candidates were variations on the theme - Cheating Bastard AI, The Computer Cheats...

Kendra Kirai: Just thought the entry could use a litle bit of clarification on what constitues a Cheating Bastard.
Andrew Leprich: Edited this in as an example:In RPGs, the Useless Useful Spell never works on enemies, but when used against you, it is 100% effective. I'm not sure if this is applicable to this trope or a genuine form of Real Difficulty, so delete if necessary.

Krid: Since computer cheating is when the player's allowed actions and the computer's allowed actions are asymmetric, That's a prime example.
Devil's Advocate: The complaint about starting from the back row in a racing game (that one can complete the specified distance in less time than the computer, yet still lose, as the front-row starters effectively had a "head-start" in the race over cars which start further back) doesn't seem fair, since real-life auto racing works that way too. I'm removing it.

Morgan Wick: But in real-life auto racing, you can start higher up in the field.

—- From Tola.

In RPGs, the Useless Useful Spell never works on enemies, but when used against you, it is 100% effective.

Minor addition/related: such things are usually due to enemy characters having extreme stats(sometimes hidden, in that values or the formulas used aren't actually given), usually well in excess of what you can attain.

Partial Exception: Final Fantasy Tactics: Both allies and enemies follow the same formulas/rules for status, save when the character's class(usually only bosses have these, to prevent quick kills-the game has quite a few missions where killing the 'boss' ends the battle, so this is understandable), or equipment grants immnity. Of course, when you miss that 70%, whilst the enemy hits a 39%, you'll still be thinking 'WTF'...

Randallw: I've noticed webcomic links in other topics to illustrate something. Would this be ok to show wonders in civilisation the second one.

guy: RTS AIs building faster is a manifestation of the big advantage AIs always have over humans: that of better micro. Where it takes you a half-second to begen gathering, the AI gives the order instantly, then orders production as fast as resources allow. It is cheating in the sense that it is not constrained by the interface, but it is mostly a matter of it being faster at thinking.

Daibhid C: A friend of mine once described giving up on a world-building game (can't remember which one), when he realised that the computer-controlled societies were essentially in collusion, and would happily sacrifice themselves if it meant one of them could beat him.
Tanto: Not sure we need "subversions" here. Subversion of this trope is "Computer plays fair", and that's not anything special or unique — it should be the default. It's closer to an aversion, really, and we avoid those if at all possible...

Blork: Removed this example as it's not a case of the AI cheating, just the player character getting weaker over time for reasons that make sense in context:

  • In a highly-deliberate example, Sid Meier's Pirates! simulates your character getting older by having the computer cheat. Over time, your ship moves more like a bored cow and you can hardly lift your sword, until you are forced into retirement.

Demetrios: I'm thinking of removing the Dungeon Siege II example. I played the game again recently and I killed the Familiar Surgeons with very little effort. My own Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? moment. So, should I remove it?
Tanto: We need a good RNG cheater example, as people have bitched about every game we've put in that slot.

Nerdorama: The Fire Emblem games cheat with their RNG, but only in the same way as the Pokemon examples (effectively, the CPU uses a different, skewed, RNG).
Agent CH: Rearranged the part about Super Smash Bros.. Moved the part about the computers ganging up on the player to Fake Difficulty, since that's not really an example of the AI having an unfair advantage.

Kalle: I don't know if the Pokeball example really counts — I mean, maybe it's just me, but I've seen that CP Us have been able to release useless Pokemon just as much as the player can, while the player can get a hold of an especially powerful legendary. It's really more random luck than anything (and the same should probably apply to Assist Trophies, too.)

Great Pikmin Fan: And now that "the computers go after you" is back. I know you hate it, but do you have to say they're cheating?
Uncola Man: I think it's worth including a computer version of Monopoly put out by Westwood, even if it's a bit old. The program lets you customize gameplay based on what House Rules you're used to. One of the options is whether or not the computer-controlled AI is allowed to cheat.

Anyone play Super Off Road? Not sure if this goes in Nintendo hard, since I played the NES version - but the 4th car (grey if computer, green if controlled by a player) would frequently drive at super speed (faster than possible with nitros, BUT whilst NOT using nitros!), and corner like it was on rails, and not go into the air over jumps. I think on later levels, ALL computer cars could drive like this.
Caswin: Are the examples listed as "blatant" really examples? Obviously, many of the genuine articles are blatant - otherwise they wouldn't be here - but the Legend of Zelda and Soul Calibur entries describe things like Ingo getting an in-story head start and the computer being granted handicaps the player is aware of ahead of time as instances of the computer cheating, which doesn't seem the same. If nobody objects...

Tanto: I certainly don't. This has definitely become another License To Whine page.
I think you should add that RA 2 AI can generate Spies without Battle Lab
Plasma Wing: Until someone actually hacks the game and provides hard evidence that The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard, I'm inclined to believe that most of the examples under Pokemon are purely psychological. You tend to remember when the computer gets lucky in an important situation, but you forget all the times you get lucky. Give people a License To Whine and they'll do it. I won't trim any examples until there's some kind of consensus about it, though.

Danel: I agree this page is a mess. A lot of it is, I think, psychological; the considerations of the Useless Useful Spell is also that it seems worse because of the asymmetry between the player and the computer. Usually, you can destroy the enemy in a few turns anyway, so such spells don't help much even if you hit; by contrast, the enemy would usually do very little damage to you with a normal attack. It's usually a few player characters versus a horde of enemies. Many of their spells will miss, but just a few hitting will still seriously hurt you.
Errick:If you're going to make a large number of changes to this page, could people put a ocmment on here summarizing the changes? The edit info page can be really hard to read when someone changes that much. Doubt it'll change anyhting but it is a bother when someone adds and deletes that much in one swipe and doesn't comment on the edit or explain any of the changes.
Icalasari: I have an interesting subversion. Should it be included? On Emerald, my Flygon would occasionally make the foe flinch in the battle frontier... While using Dragon Claw and holding a Lum Berry. The computer NEVER managed this, showing that you can (at least on my Emerald version) occasionally be considered the cheating bastard
Dausuul: I agree with the poster at the top. Divine Driving Skills, or flawless aim, or what have you, are not The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard - it's just the computer being better than you, because these simple mechanical tasks are child's play for it. I'm removing all instances of this from the generic examples list.

rsm109(-2): It's in a way the opposite of the usual AI programming challenge - for tasks like those, it's actually easier to program the computer to do it perfectly than to give it a realistic human level of skill.
endlessnostalgia: Added the following to the generic examples under the Fighting Games section:

  • ... can deal more damage when using the same character and the same attacks you use under the same circumstances.
  • ... can do combos that are impossible for the player.
  • ... can dizzy/stun the player more often than he is allowed to do the same.

I think they qualify since in most one-on-one Fighting Games, the player and the CPU are supposed to fight under the same rules and conditions, unless it is otherwise stated.
I suggest this trope be renamed "Screw The Rules, I'm The Computer"!

Peteman: I like the original name.
Plasma Wing: Cut several examples from Pokemon, one of the so called "worst offenders":
  • Later levels of the Battle Tower (usually 50 and up) also seem to include Pokemon with specific stats that exceed their possible limit, even with maximum EV training. It's pretty frustrating to have an entire fully trained team wiped out by a single Pokemon because its stats are inexplicably twice as high as they should be.
  • Fortunately, the Battle Factory in Emerald forces you to use three rental pokemon, all of which can be used from the other trainers. As an added bonus, you can even switch the three pokemon you're using after a battle with any of the ones the opponent were using.

The first example simply is not true. If you look at the stats of the rental Pokemon in the Battle Factory, you'll see that they are perfectly in line with what a Pokemon at that level with the right nature, E Vs, and I Vs can have.

  • The simple fact that the random computer opponents in D/P are allowed to use Shedinja is cheap enough. Shedinja has a ridiculous ability that prevents it from being damaged by anything but super-effective attacks. If you didn't know about this beforehand and don't have something super-effective against bug and your opponent sends out Shedinja, you'll automatically lose because the levitating exoskeletal bastard will be completely invincible to all your attacks.

How exactly is this the computer cheating? The player is perfectly capable of using Shedinja as well. In no way does the computer using Shedinja violate the rules of the game.

  • Computer enemies can use Protect or Detect far beyond their level of PP... and it always works, when for you the chances of it working are supposed to go down every time you use it consecutively. He got more than a little annoyed when the computer used Protect twelve times in a row (he counted), all but one of them succeeding.

Computer opponents cannot exceed PP limits. It may seem that way because they use Pokemon that have had their PP increased through the use of items, something the player is also quite capable of doing.

Overall, I see a lot of anecdotes and whining on this page, but little proof of the computer cheating. Beyond the computer having Pokemon with illegal skillsets and evolved at lower levels than they are capable of, there's little solid evidence that the computer is actually violating the rules of the game. As I said before, people tend to remember incidents where things go wrong for them but they forget all the times they got lucky. People will also misremember or exaggerate when something doesn't go their way. Hell, this page used to have an example where someone claimed the computer used a TM in the middle of a battle, which is completely impossible. I've heard lots of horror stories, but until someone hacks the game and proves beyond a doubt that the computer is cheating, I'm going to take them all with a grain of salt. Once again, though, I'm going to wait for further discussion before trimming anything besides examples that are blatantly wrong.

One more cut:

  • One of the NORMAL trainers managed to take out both a Mew and Mewtwo using average Pokemon. Those guys cheat no matter what.

How exactly is this cheating? If anything, it makes it sound like you're cheating for using Game Breakers.

Trigger Loaded: Took out

  • For a classic example of cheating, try the original Punch-Out! games. Granted, most of your opponents have access to one hit kills, insane dodge reflexes, and too much health, but there's one ability in particular that makes the game extremely frustrating: if the computer hits you, he will restore his health meter equivalent to the amount of damage he does to you. This is particularly aggravating since you do very little to the later guys, and they can knock you down in a couple of regular hits.
    • When time runs out on the third round without a KO, there is a judge's decision. The judge awards the win to the player if you reach a certain point plateau; but some matches have NO winning amount, so the win will always go to the computer boxer instead. Strangely enough, Tyson CAN be beaten by decision.
    • In both NES and Wii Punch-Out! games, while the KO 10-count only ends for the player when he's fully standing, the judge will stop the count for the computer character as soon as he moves a muscle. The SNES game is fairer regarding this, to the point the last boss can be counted to KO while he's busy slapping himself for having fallen.

Because this doesn't fit the nature of the trope at all! You might as well claim that Contra cheats because the bosses take hundreds of shots, but you die in one hit. The trope only really applies if the computer is supposed to be bound to the same rules you are. The arcade nature of Punch-Out clearly doesn't.

The third point does have some merit, but it still doesn't sit quite right with me. Again, given the very arcade nature of the game.
Antwan: Civilization is now a notable offender. I noticed that I, II, and III seem to have a lot of ways to cheat. I'm not sure if the SNES version or IV does as well, but we'll see...
Mario Kart Wii: The examples of Mario Kart being a Cheating Bastard don't really seem valid - anyone who plays the game online will be able to testify that the same frustrations (such as blue shells, rapid-fire hits or losing the items you were saving) exist when playing human opponents as well as AI.
Heroic Jay: Removed blatantly false info about Chess Titans not allowing the play en passant (it's true the help file screws the point up, but that's not Cheating Bastardry, and the player can play en passant) and what I strongly suspect to be a false anecdote about the game calling a draw when it "can't win" (I've played Chess Titans a zillion times and never seen it. I think that what really happened was that the computer got stalemated - which, yes, IS a draw. Even if the computer is down to a single king and can't win, that doesn't mean he's guaranteed to lose.)
  • While technically true, it is declaring a stalemate early, considering that the other player is fully capable of winning, given more than 5 turns.
    • I'm not sure which version you're playing, but the version on my PC isn't allowing the player to perform en passant. Can anyone else give confirmation to either side? Also, the game seems to declare an instant stalemate whenever the player and computer repeat identical board conditions 5 times in a row, which is most noticable when the computer has only one piece left but can be engineered to happen when you have quite a few more pieces. Apparently, it assumes that if you repeat a move 5 times, something's gone wrong. The fact that when the game declares a stalemate, whether it has been legally stalemated or not, and the fact that once it has been declared a stalemate and recorded to your statistics, going back and legally winning the game (or just not repeating the same moves 5 times over) will not record a victory in your statistics, could be considered cheating... But then again, we're talking about a shipped-with-the-OS chess game, and it's not like the statistics actually do anything.
      • From Obvious Rule Patch, "Chess does not out-and-out ban infinite loops like Go, but does declare the game a draw if the same position occurs three times." How dare the computer follow the rules of the game?

Count Dorku: Does anyone know how to take screenshots in Dawn of War? Only I've specifically saved a file with 4 temporarily-downed Necron lords in a battle against 2 necron bases.
Cunny: Deleted the SFII Classic entry about Bison getting more destructive as he loses health. Has never appeared to be true.
Zeful: Removed the section for 4e Dungeons and Dragons (and consequently all tabletop entries because it's the only one) as the initial complaint is an intentional game design choice. Further it falls under My Rules Are Not Your Rules rather than The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard.
Ceiling Ninja: Possible addition to World of Warcraft - The Champions in the Argent Tournament Grounds are not subject to the global cooldown on the jousting moves - you can lose two shields at basically the same time.