Ruleset Changes V1.4 - UCF

roboticphish

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Hi all.

Apologies for the delay in getting to you guys. There were a number of factors delaying the discussion and vote on this issue, and I'm going to do my best to go into as much detail as I can without overstepping my bounds.

First and foremost, the discussion on UCF was started back in October, in the second session the 5 held together. At the time, we were in a serious crisis regarding the direction we would take. We had no way to come out and just blanket support UCF, for a variety of reasons. There were some gameplay issues, which Nintendude's submission statement will go into with more detail. There were some precedent issues, most notably that this is the first software mod allowed in a unified Melee ruleset, and with that precedent established, future possible mods become easier to fight for. Finally and most importantly, there was the legal issue of software modification being a pretty big no-no in terms of our scene's health. For mods like 20XX and 20XXTE, this was a negligible concern. However, UCF gained massive and widespread popularity that meant it could not safely or simply be ignored. It gained this status in a few different ways.

Chief among these reasons was the simplicity and the minimal impact of the mod. No skins were changed, it didn't mess with stages or characters, and it changed two very, *very* small elements of gameplay in order to remove as much of the RNG factors of the controller lottery as possible. It was as unintrusive and simple a mod as we've had perhaps ever. Secondly, Netplay has taken our community by storm. For better or worse, the vast majority of players entering the scene in the last two years were introduced to the game through Netplay. And, with the introduction of Faster Melee, these Netplay players were becoming accustomed to practicing and playing on a setup that was better than vanilla melee in every respect. It polled the controller twice as frequently and implemented UCF codes too, after a time. How frustrating it must be for these players to go to a Vanilla tournament and see all of their hard work fall apart as they realized their practice had been unsuited to it the whole time. Finally, UCF was pushed hard by a significant portion of the visible top playerbase, including several of the 25 and a couple members of the 5 themselves. This legitimized UCF even in spite of setbacks like Shine 2017, and led to the UCF movement coalescing as a whole.

What this left us with, in October, was no way to justify or support using UCF as a national standard, but also no way to blanket ban it without crippling national attendance and turning away half of the current player base. It was only in the zero-hour of 2017, over the Christmas holidays, that we were able to have a meeting with some movement. This amendment is the product of over 10 hours of Christmas-week meetings on the issue.

The amendment is simple: Since we can't outright legalize and standardize UCF, this amendment turns UCF over to TO discretion. Included below are submission statements from each of the members of the 5:

Nintendude: Regarding UCF Standardization and Regarding TO Discretion

Sheridan: Regarding Both Votes

Juggleguy: I voted no to UCF for a few reasons. The first reason is there's a slippery slope that comes with software mods that I don't want to see the community go down. I hold vanilla Melee in a sort of reverence; we have played this game since its release without ever modding it for tournament gameplay, and who are we to do so now, especially if it opens the floodgates to other mods? The second reason is it increases the perceived barrier to entry for new players who are crucial to the sustainability of the scene. A 16-year old game played on CRT TVs doesn't need to introduce another hurdle to its own potential growth. I would rather see vanilla Melee played with its flaws than see the community fizzle out due to the final straw in lack of accessibility. The third reason is it places a huge stress on major TOs who need to be mindful of external legal factors when organizing large events, which often require contracts with several entities and sponsors. I'd ask everyone to please understand that the non-disclosure agreements from these make it difficult to be 100% transparent.

Shi: Due to the delicate nature of IP and Copyright Infringement laws and that different organizations have different needs and requirements, there is not a one shoe fits all solution to UCF. I firmly believe there needs to be a solution for the problems at hand but also understand there are constraints in the scope in which we can operate. Therefore my vote for the use of UCF is that it will be at the discretion of TO's to use it as they see fit with the needs of their event.

Blur: Regarding both votes



You can find the text of the amendment here

VOTE HERE

I also wanted to add a last note, which is that the 'silver bullet' solution to the controller lottery has to come in the form of a visible hardware adapter. The arduino was a good start to this end, but because it is easily concealed and easily configured, there are logistical issues with it. The ideal solution is to make a hardware adapter for the connection between the GCC and the console that could be standardized and easily checked. Software mods have legal limitations; hardware does not. Again, apologies for the delay on this issue. We will be passing the amendment to legalize box controllers to the 25 very soon, so please keep an eye out for it.
 
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leffen

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^ and before more info on that (which really should be done asap, and imo not through a podcast) its pretty pointless to discuss this matter in too much depth.

I do however agree that UCF as a forced standard is not realistic, at least at this point, but that it should clearly be allowed at TO's discretion, since even if the hardware solution works many might not have access to it.
 

Nintendude

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My reasons for voting against UCF are independent of how it's implemented (although I agree with the points that the others brought up), so unless you happen to agree with all of it, I disagree that it's not worth discussing in depth.
 

emilywaves

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Regardless of the legal and technological restraints, isn't the point of the ruleset to provide consistency across the community? What's the point of allowing TO discretion, is this just saying it's not illegal?
 

TheCrimsonBlur

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Regardless of the legal and technological restraints, isn't the point of the ruleset to provide consistency across the community? What's the point of allowing TO discretion, is this just saying it's not illegal?
Some events are under different constraints than others. There is a very big difference in the hoops I have to go through when running an event through Twitch than through OXY, for example.

The idea of allowing discretion is meant to recognize that some events are able to experiment more freely than others. We are unable to standardize a software mod across all events, and so this is the best we can do if UCF is that important to people.

If you prefer to keep the game version unified across events, vote no. That'd mean vanilla, but like I mentioned in the final part of my statement, it does not mean the end of our efforts to improve the controller lottery. Exploring the hardware solutions should happen regardless of this vote, but this helps guide us in the near future.
 

TheCrimsonBlur

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What is the current status of the hardware adapter? Is there any additional information you can give us?
We're hopefully gonna have a full public talk about it when we do our show (eta Monday), but if you want more info, just ask Hax. Keep in mind a lot of this stuff is still a work in progress so he might not have all the answers yet.
 

Nihonjin

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Regardless of the legal and technological restraints, isn't the point of the ruleset to provide consistency across the community? What's the point of allowing TO discretion, is this just saying it's not illegal?
That's what I was thinking too and I concluded that this vote is nothing but symbolic.

The idea of allowing discretion is meant to recognize that some events are able to experiment more freely than others. We are unable to standardize a software mod across all events, and so this is the best we can do if UCF is that important to people.
Amendment passes
Certain major tournaments will not use UCF for whatever reason while almost every other tournament will use UCF because there's a demand for it.

Amendment doesn't pass
Certain major tournaments will not use UCF for whatever reason while almost every other tournament will use UCF because there's a demand for it.

If you prefer to keep the game version unified across events, vote no. That'd mean vanilla, but like I mentioned in the final part of my statement, it does not mean the end of our efforts to improve the controller lottery. Exploring the hardware solutions should happen regardless of this vote, but this helps guide us in the near future.
It will never be unified under vanilla ever again. That ship has sailed.
 

TheCrimsonBlur

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Amendment passes
Certain major tournaments will not use UCF for whatever reason while almost every other tournament will use UCF because there's a demand for it.

Amendment doesn't pass
Certain major tournaments will not use UCF for whatever reason while almost every other tournament will use UCF because there's a demand for it.
No.

Amendment passes
Some tournaments hosted by the 5 will use UCF, while others won't. Tournaments outside the 5 will and won't use UCF, at TO discretion.

Amendment doesn't pass
Every tournament hosted by the 5 will use vanilla.
 
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Nihonjin

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Now I'm definitely confused. If you truly believe we're facing potential legal problems as a community and UCF is a risk to the longevity of our game, why would any of you ever entertain the idea of using it?
 

an1bal

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This has been yet the hardest vote. Some latinamerican TOs abstained as UCF has not been used in any relevant tournaments in the region, but there are some really good points being made in the discussion. I have translated the 5s opinions as well to give a better idea of the reasoning behind the choices.
 

D1

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Hi all.


Juggleguy: I voted no to UCF for a few reasons. The first reason is there's a slippery slope that comes with software mods that I don't want to see the community go down. I hold vanilla Melee in a sort of reverence; we have played this game since its release without ever modding it for tournament gameplay, and who are we to do so now, especially if it opens the floodgates to other mods? The second reason is it increases the perceived barrier to entry for new players who are crucial to the sustainability of the scene. A 16-year old game played on CRT TVs doesn't need to introduce another hurdle to its own potential growth. I would rather see vanilla Melee played with its flaws than see the community fizzle out due to the final straw in lack of accessibility. The third reason is it places a huge stress on major TOs who need to be mindful of external legal factors when organizing large events, which often require contracts with several entities and sponsors. I'd ask everyone to please understand that the non-disclosure agreements from these make it difficult to be 100% transparent.
^^^

As I am bound by NDAs as well, all I can say is I am echoing Juggleguy's statement.
 
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Marc

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I am currently on holiday, but thought this important enough to chime in. When is the deadline for votes?

It is already up to TO discretion to follow this ruleset or not. With the current proposal effectively no stance is taken on UCF. It (unintentionally?) adds legitimacy to any memory card mod, further distracting from the topic. It's toothless and not of use to the community.

To be clear, I think UCF (with further refinement) is a good thing for the competitive scene. That is not up for discussion here unfortunately.

I would like to explore whether we (25) think UCF as it is deserves preference over vanilla Melee. If so, we should not be afraid to express that and provide context. This wouldn't mean that vanilla is outlawed, just that we actually take a stance on the subject. If we decide it's not there yet, we could state why and point out what we would like to see first.

A way to go about it would be to run some polls and have discussion back here not directly tied to a proposal. Following that, a new amendment can be ironed out. As it is, I would vote to "resubmit with changes" or "yes" with the understanding that we have not actually voted on UCF yet. It's a symbolic amendment.

As an aside, we can't have a proper discussion about legal consequences without equal access to information. I know that's not always possible, but as it is the argument doesn't hold.

After more than 15 years in the community I can only say that our scene is still very grassroots. In Europe we have rarely benefited from any corporate involvement (be it Nintendo, Twitch or something else) and it doesn't outweigh keeping our game accessible or compensating for production randomness. I highly doubt a hardcore crackdown on specifically UCF is likely. If it's ever a deal breaker on its own, it is most likely worth it.

If we think UCF is a step in the right direction, we should empower the 99.9% of our scene that isn't bound to contracts to go with it. If we think it's not (yet), then we should prepare a good argument and roadmap for it. People will run it regardless, it is up to us whether we guide that process or take no stance as soon as it gets somewhat complicated.
 

TheCrimsonBlur

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It is already up to TO discretion to follow this ruleset or not.
It is not up to TO discretion to follow this ruleset for members of the 5. We are bound to the ruleset. As it stands now, we can't host anything but vanilla. This amendment changes that.

After more than 15 years in the community I can only say that our scene is still very grassroots.
Is it? I think from your vantage point in Europe, this statement holds true, but globally it is a mix. I'd hardly call:

Genesis 4 (Nintendo, Nvidia, Xsplit, HTC, ASUS, etc)
Smash Summit Spring 2017 (Monster)
Yahoo: Smash Rivalries (Yahoo)
CEO Dreamland (Nintendo)
Dreamhack Austin (Monster)
Dremhack Atlanta (Monster)
Dreamhack Montreal (Monster)
Dreamhack Denver (Monster)
Royal Flush (Tropicana Resorts)
CEO 2017 (Nintendo, Geico, Pokemon Company, Bandai, etc)
EVO 2017 (its EVO)
Shine 2017 (Geico, HyperX)
Smashcon 2017 (Geico)
GOML 2017 (Nintendo, Red Bull, Xsplit, ASUS)
GameTyrant Expo (literally in Utah Jazz stadium)
Red Bull: Gods & Gatekeepers (Nintendo, Red Bull)
The Big House (Nintendo)
Canada Cup (Xsplit, Hyper X, Zowie)
Smash Summit 5 (Monster)

as purely "grassroots"....

I highly doubt a hardcore crackdown on specifically UCF is likely. If it's ever a deal breaker on its own, it is most likely worth it.
I just listed almost every significant event from 2017. If this issue is a "deal breaker" for the parties supporting those events, many of those events would no longer exist, or would not include Smash in their games lineup. Assuming no "crackdown," some of those events would trudge on in a smaller scale, but forever be limited in partnerships opportunities.

Now, I'm not saying this issue is or would be a deal breaker, or that there'd be a crackdown, but rather that -if- it is, then a community-wide switch to a software mod has a much wider impact than you are making out.
 
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DarkDragoon

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Why are the 5 specifically bound to this ruleset but other TOs are not?
It's part of the grand experiment of it all. They are bound because they choose to be for the sake of making this document/process work and giving it weight. Other TOs can also choose to be bound by this document if they so desired, but as far as I know no one really has a reason to at the moment until I guess discussion of expansion of "The 5" comes up.

-DD
 

PracticalTAS

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I have voted yes on the amendment. It's clear to me that the focus of the amendment and this debate are the legal issues with using UCF, not the (valid) concerns some of the 5 have with UCF's implementation.

If any of the voters would like me to reply to the gameplay-related issues that have been brought up, I can. For the sake of it, here's the original change proposal that Kadano and I wrote and submitted. Obviously legal issues mean that it can't be used in this form, but the lengthy supporting evidence section makes for some good reading material if you want some background on what we've done with UCF and why.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_t78PxLhsehUMtEi4lRp1cHZCap9lRX4yjpPRu01iKo/edit?usp=sharing
 

Marc

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Is it? I think from your vantage point in Europe, this statement holds true, but globally it is a mix.
I would say so. Those events make up a very small percentage of the total, they are all in the same part of the world and in many cases come from grassroots origins. It also depends on how much a separate entity carries an event, I would still consider Syndicate mostly grassroots even though in 2017 we had 5 sponsors and several partners.

Coupled with how financially unhealthy our biggest events tend to be, I think our scene is not that "esports" even if select events are doing well. The lifeblood is still the local and regional level. Mind you, I do think our general level of professionalism is exemplary and we have had some really cool opportunities.

So this is definitely not to say that we shouldn't try to stay on good terms with the few corporate partners we do have, but it doesn't sit well with me that it colors the vote of a worldwide advisory council to the extent that we can't even openly articulate a stance on UCF.

If I get the gist of it, the 5 feel obligated to always follow this ruleset, but might not be able to uphold it for certain events with certain partners involved if something like UCF is favoured. This way of voting somewhat undermines the purpose of this room, though I suppose the ruleset itself is undermined if people don't run it at the biggest events.

I intend to vote in favour of the amendment to further open the door for UCF and experimentation. The community however would be justified in calling us out on shying away from a real decision or some form of guidance.
 

roboticphish

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Now I'm definitely confused. If you truly believe we're facing potential legal problems as a community and UCF is a risk to the longevity of our game, why would any of you ever entertain the idea of using it?
Because if you've been paying attention to the community discourse about this, the wider player base is moaning and ******** about not having UCF at majors, and some very prominent members of the community are fanning the flames and going after this issue like hounds. We're stuck between a rock and a hard place; UCF poses a risk to the longevity of our game, but so does taking a third of the player base and turning them into netplay-only lurkers.
 

Nihonjin

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Because if you've been paying attention to the community discourse about this, the wider player base is moaning and ******** about not having UCF at majors, and some very prominent members of the community are fanning the flames and going after this issue like hounds. We're stuck between a rock and a hard place; UCF poses a risk to the longevity of our game, but so does taking a third of the player base and turning them into netplay-only lurkers.
Okay, a few things.

First of, there is an legitimate problem with controllers. There's no viable workaround that doesn't involve spending ungodly sums of money and getting lucky or spending a moderate amount of money and getting super lucky. To act as if the people complaining are somehow in the wrong, when all they're asking for is for TO's to use a free, easy to use and readily available fix to the problem is absurd. Even more so when you consider the fact that no statements have been made as to why UCF is not being used. Given that context, they're entirely right to "***** and moan". I would to. I have.

And second, If UCF truly Russian roulette with Melee, then nobody should use it and we should come up with a public statement to make it crystal clear to everyone (without violating whatever NDA's are at play). I don't see how allowing certain TO's to run UCF at their discretion makes any sense because we're then taking both risks simultaneously. Both killing the community slowly by dropping attendance and poking Nintendorf destroyer of communities (or whoever) with a UCF stick.

Am I missing something?
 

roboticphish

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Okay, a few things.

First of, there is an legitimate problem with controllers. There's no viable workaround that doesn't involve spending ungodly sums of money and getting lucky or spending a moderate amount of money and getting super lucky. To act as if the people complaining are somehow in the wrong, when all they're asking for is for TO's to use a free, easy to use and readily available fix to the problem is absurd. Even more so when you consider the fact that no statements have been made as to why UCF is not being used. Given that context, they're entirely right to "***** and moan". I would to. I have.

And second, If UCF truly Russian roulette with Melee, then nobody should use it and we should come up with a public statement to make it crystal clear to everyone (without violating whatever NDA's are at play). I don't see how allowing certain TO's to run UCF at their discretion makes any sense because we're then taking both risks simultaneously. Both killing the community slowly by dropping attendance and poking Nintendorf destroyer of communities (or whoever) with a UCF stick.

Am I missing something?
Don't get me wrong. I actually really like and support UCF, I think it is a very elegant solution to the controller lottery and I'd love to see it at all our majors. I just don't like the idea of ******** and moaning when you don't have information, because it implies a lack of trust in the people who *do* know what's going on. My default position in just about everything is that if you don't have information, trust the people who do. But that's neither here nor there for the problem at hand.

As for your second point, statements have already been released that discuss the legal complications surrounding UCF, and as soon as we can get the MIOM show ready to detail hardware solutions (We're waiting on Hax to perfect his presentation on the matter, last I heard), that will give us another avenue. However, we're not all in equally dire straits from a Nintendo standpoint: for example, Shine doesn't have that Nintendo licensing agreement that, say, Genesis does. They're "free" to run a modded version of the game, because they're also not legally protected. A big part of the pull of the licensing agreement is the guarantee that you're legally protected if you follow x rules. Without that, you can do what you want, but if NoJ legal gets a wild hair up their ass and wants to shut you down, they can do so. The issue is that the 5's tournaments (which constitute more than 80% of the majors in a year) are not all bound by the same agreements, but some (particularly tournaments run by BBeS or MDZ) don't want to be held to the same legal standard as the others. So this allows for A) experimentation with UCF, B) partial community appeasement, C) buying us time while we get the hardware fix perfected, and D) maintenance of legal protection for those in a more precarious legal position.
 

Nihonjin

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Don't get me wrong. I actually really like and support UCF, I think it is a very elegant solution to the controller lottery and I'd love to see it at all our majors. I just don't like the idea of ******** and moaning when you don't have information, because it implies a lack of trust in the people who *do* know what's going on. My default position in just about everything is that if you don't have information, trust the people who do. But that's neither here nor there for the problem at hand.
That sounds way to authoritarian for my tastes and naively assumes that everyone has the greater picture in mind rather than their own self-interests.

If we followed your philosophy nobody would get paid out in the BEAST7 fiasco. But we *******, moaned, doubted everything they said and demanded information. Because we relentlessly hounded the staff we've forced them into action and we're now getting paid.

As for your second point, statements have already been released that discuss the legal complications surrounding UCF, and as soon as we can get the MIOM show ready to detail hardware solutions (We're waiting on Hax to perfect his presentation on the matter, last I heard), that will give us another avenue.
I'll be tuning in.

However, we're not all in equally dire straits from a Nintendo standpoint: for example, Shine doesn't have that Nintendo licensing agreement that, say, Genesis does. They're "free" to run a modded version of the game, because they're also not legally protected. A big part of the pull of the licensing agreement is the guarantee that you're legally protected if you follow x rules. Without that, you can do what you want, but if NoJ legal gets a wild hair up their *** and wants to shut you down, they can do so.
Legally, yes. But it would cause such a PR nightmare they'd reverse that decision immediately (case in point, Evo 2013 ). So can they really?


The issue is that the 5's tournaments (which constitute more than 80% of the majors in a year) are not all bound by the same agreements, but some (particularly tournaments run by BBeS or MDZ) don't want to be held to the same legal standard as the others. So this allows for A) experimentation with UCF, B) partial community appeasement, C) buying us time while we get the hardware fix perfected, and D) maintenance of legal protection for those in a more precarious legal position.
I figured out this much, hence my line of questioning. It's certain TO's that cannot afford to use UCF because of agreements with third parties. That's fine and fair. But don't then argue against UCF and paint it as if it's the most dangerous thing to ever happen in our community when that isn't even remotely the case nor the primary motivation for voting against it.

I'll likely going to vote in favor of the amendment while urging the 5 to work towards a solution that works as well as UCF, for TO's and third parties alike, without extra costs for players. It seems like that's already going on with Hax, so I'll have more to say after he's had his talk.
 

roboticphish

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That sounds way to authoritarian for my tastes and naively assumes that everyone has the greater picture in mind rather than their own self-interests.

If we followed your philosophy nobody would get paid out in the BEAST7 fiasco. But we *******, moaned, doubted everything they said and demanded information. Because we relentlessly hounded the staff we've forced them into action and we're now getting paid.
That's why I said it was my default position, not a universal one. I would prefer to naively think the best of people rather than cynically assume everyone's a piece of ****. Doesn't mean I think people are immune to criticism, but it does mean I give everyone the benefit of the doubt until there is no more doubt to give. If you were to ever find yourself on the ass end of a witch hunt, you'd probably grow to appreciate the people who do so. But regardless, that's all ethics and politics and way outside the scope of this thread.

As for the rest of your message, Hax released his PSA on the issue last night, so I recommend tuning into that if you haven't already.
 
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Nihonjin

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Okay, I've seen Hax's video on the arduino adapter. If that avoids any legal problems going forward and it solves the controller issue as well as UCF, great. I'm all for it.

That said, we're trying to create a standard so it's best to keep the differences between UCF & Arduino adapter to a minimum. The last thing we want is to create another PAL/NTSC situation where the outcome of a match can be decided by which mod's being used. Especially since UCF is going to be the more readily available version for people at home and small locals.

No 1.0 movement. No other additions beyond shielddrop, dashback and possibly snapback (though Hax said it can't be done) fixes.
 

Marc

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Can someone elaborate on why a community-produced hardware solution has apparently no legal issues whatsoever as opposed to a (minor) software modification?

What about our image? It is far more noticeable to external partners that we are using an unofficial hardware add-on than running a mod like UCF.

Besides that, my main concern is that this adds another logistical challenge to running tournaments. If it becomes the standard, a set-up is incomplete without the person bringing it buying (importing in our case) an unofficial adapter, which many players probably won't due to not caring about this or having cheaper solutions for their gameplay at home. The alternative is that TOs buy this in bulk, adding further pressure to already tight budgets.
 
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