Yesterday ProPaintball broke news regarding the new anti-cheating chip that will be running in the pro paintball teams markers this weekend. Today we received an email from Virtue, the chip manufacturer (via a ProPaintball insider) with additional details and clarification.

This email is to address some of those concerns, but also to open the field to any questions that I can answer.

Just to give a little background on the technology and how things have been approached with the NPPL. For the last 18 months we’ve been developing this product and it’s been tested on the field in tournaments for about a year of that time. We approached the NPPL and ran a test for them at the RPL last month and presented the concept to them for consideration in the league.

Previous Use in a Tournament Environment

Aside from the every-day trial-testing that normally goes in development, the ROF-fi system has gone through extensive “live” field testing. Here are the teams & events we’ve tested in a tournament environment:

  • Russian Legion – Chicago PSP 2010
  • Damage – Chicago PSP 2010
  • Russian Legion – MAO PSP 2010
  • Damage – MAO PSP 2010
  • Russian Legion – World Cup 2010
  • Damage – World Cup 2010
  • Dynasty/Impact – London Millennium 2010
  • Frankfurt Syndicate – Vienna Ground Tour 2010
  • Damage – Texas PSP 2011
  • Russian Legion – Texas PSP 2011

FYI – the leagues and teams chosen were selected were based solely on where we had Virtue staff and teams available for testing. In none of these tests did we have a gun go down, the hardware worked as expected from the outset. For the most part we have been testing different antennas and software/database design on the computer to read and monitor the software as we never would have put the chips in this many tournament guns without high levels of confidence in it’s reliability merely to “test” it.

You can see some screen captures of the program in the attached files from Texas (for those wondering, only 4 RL guns are displayed in their captures because not all guns were chipped). Each screen capture is of a particular point the teams played. As we develop this further, we can add more visual elements – such as we can graphically display how much paint is in the air at a given point in the game. You’ll be able to actually “see” the flow of how much paint is being shot by each team as the game progresses.

Technical Concerns
The concerns raised about potential performance issues are certainly legitimate and appropriate questions to be asked. The chip itself is power-less when the gun is idle (which is actually most of the time the gun is on). And when it is running, the chip draws about 1/10 of the solenoid’s power. We’ve measured it between 20 to 30 milliamps. Reliability concerns are natural, but the chip will not melt the board or cause other performance degradation. The extra drain on battery is very minimal because it is idle most of the time, and when it does draw power, it’s an extremely “dumb”, low powered device. There’s not much going on in the chip for it to need to draw much power — this is why we have an antenna attached to the computer that is about 5 and a half feet tall.

Benefits
Just to convey some of the benefits… We started designing this as a way to make sure all guns could be monitored on the field. The goal is certainly not to circumvent our own enforcement device – why spend over a year of work making something to undermine it’s potential to contribute to the goal of high-end tournament paintball.

We believe in tournament paintball, and like every die hard paintballer, we want the sport to move forward. The sport has always lacked various forms of legitimacy, from cheater guns to a lack of statistics to tell the world what is actually happening on the field, other than a bunch of guys got shot out in the last 10 seconds of the game.

This technology addresses both of those issues. All issues of cheating aside, the simple fact has always been that teams have faced competitive pressures to cheat because everyone is suspicious that everyone else is cheating. A measurable, precise and universal technology like this would eliminate the perverse-incentives to cheat. You can maintain a level playing field that you can have confidence in. Every player’s rate of fire is monitored in real time.

The potential for statistics grew as we start getting gun data from each player. The obvious statistics such as:

  • How many shots each player fired
  • Who has the highest Average BPS

But we can also start drawing other stats, which paintball has never had before such as:

  • How much time you spend shooting vs. how much time you spend not shooting – and make a “Game Activity Percentage” to compare individual rates of activity for players and teams.
  • Who got the first shot off – compare each player at the start of the game for who was the fastest to get their gun off the net and start shooting – players can automatically ranked based in a [Editor: Email came through incomplete]

 

Unfortunately the tail end of the email was cut off which evidently included details on the new paintball stats. ProPaintball staffers received several phone calls yesterday from pro team/league owners, players and gun manufactures that were concerned and confused with the new anti-cheating chip implementation. Many of the teams or manufactures have not had an opportunity to test out the NPPL chip. Its worth noting that the teams mentioned above shoot paintball guns with room in the grip frames; Damage shoots DYE NT’s (tightest frame of the group, and sources say it fits without issue), Dynasty shoots EGO/GEO’s, and the Russian Legion and Frankfurt Syndicate shoots Macdev Clones. At the end of the day we have to take a wait and see approach.

Stay tuned.