Should edited amiibo be legal?

As we discussed in Skipping steps in 20XX,  amiibo behavior editing has now been discovered. A few prototypes have been released with particular edits and properties, and they’ve achieved a mixed bag of results. Many of them have performed at mediocre levels, but a select few have achieved some level of success.

Specifically, an edited Ridley amiibo was entered into Amiibo Action: Epitome of Laziness and won. Though we shouldn’t ignore the fact that Clockwerk’s Kirby placed second and is becoming a serious threat in the scene, and that Adam2qaz’ Mii Brawler took third, this is the first time that an edited amiibo has been entered into a tournament and placed first.

Before we launch into the possibilities that this indicates, we do have to remember a few things. First, Ridley is already a smart amiibo, currently placing in A tier (although I’d put him in A+, personally.) His AI is decent and his move kit is generally useful onstage, but he has offstage issues with recovery. Second, we don’t know just how far edited this Ridley was: Cloud said it had been edited since level 1, but we don’t know how he chose what to put in and what not to put in. Ridley would’ve been entirely up to discretion and not subject to the interpretive AI of the game until he was actually scanned in and started fighting.

Nonetheless, it’s still an unusual development. This Ridley isn’t head and shoulders above the other amiibo, and as Cloud himself said in Discord, editing isn’t really better than normal training at this point. There’s not necessarily a skill advantage for edited amiibo, although it’s easy to imagine editing an amiibo’s shield value to near-perfect parrying, as we saw in the tweet in Skipping steps.

Given this information so far, we ought to ask the question: Should edited amiibo be legal? We’ll start with the arguments against legalization, argue against them, and then move onto the arguments for legalization, and argue against those too.

Cons

  1. Not everyone can edit amiibo, so it’s unfair to those who don’t have that capability, so editing should be illegal to maintain fairness.
  2. The metagame could devolve into an edit-or-lose situation, ruining the scene.
  3. It’s cheating and shouldn’t be allowed.

Let’s start with #1, which is the strongest argument against legalization.

#1. Not everyone can edit amiibo, so it’s unfair to those who don’t have that capability, so editing should be illegal to maintain fairness.

It’s true that not everyone can edit amiibo so it would be unfair to people who can’t do that. However, let’s consider that this scene is focused around already expensive figures and then further purchasing hardware to compete in tournaments. Is it unfair that not everyone can afford a Bowser amiibo, the best amiibo in the scene thus far? Yep. Some people don’t have more than a few amiibo, but we don’t constrict the scene to the lowest common denominator of fairness. If we aren’t constricting the scene to account for people who don’t have the best amiibo characters, then why would we constrict the scene from people who use alternate training methods to make better amiibo?

#2. The metagame could devolve into an edit-or-lose situation, ruining the scene.

Right now it seems that editing isn’t an advantage that’s necessarily better than simple training. While the argument can be made that it will be as more people have access to the methods and improve upon it, that same progression also applies to normal training methods. Take a look at the Smash 4 equipment scene: after several years, a brand-new training method was discovered in the last months of the metagame. Reverse Feeding solved the problem of jumping and likely would’ve changed the course of the metagame forever had Ultimate not stepped in.

Rather, it seems more likely that if editing is to improve alongside normal training methods, then for the forseeable future they will stay at roughly the same level of viability.

#3. It’s cheating and shouldn’t be allowed.

All amiibo Powersaves tournaments rely on a cheating device to function. Every participant in a non-arena tournament is a cheater already. “Cheating” further is largely irrelevant after the establishment of the scene.

Having knocked down the anti-editing arguments, let’s line up and knock down the pro-editing arguments.

Pros

  1. There is no way to determine for certain if an amiibo has been edited or not, so banning editing from the scene would be ineffective.
  2. Editing is the natural progression and evolution of the training methods available to us.
  3. Behavior editing encourages trainers to tinker with their amiibo and discover behaviors not possible without editing, further deepening the metagame.

 

#1. There is no way to determine for certain if an amiibo has been edited or not, so banning editing from the scene would be ineffective.

This is true so far. It’s possible that in the future there may be a way to determine if an amiibo has been edited. In addition, the scene largely tends to follow its own rules out of courtesy to each other, and if an edit ban were established it seems likely that most trainers would follow it.

#2. Editing is the natural progression and evolution of the training methods available to us.

The primary problem here is what players define as “natural”. Is natural restricted to methods that can only be found in the game itself? Or is natural allowed a much larger definition?

Editing is modification through a third-party device, and isn’t found in the game itself. There is no in-game way to edit specific pieces of behavior data (the closest thing to it being Spirit additions), so it’s not reasonable to conclude that editing would be the natural progression, if we use the more restricted definition.

This demands the additional question: what difference does it make if the method is inside or outside of Smash Ultimate? Isn’t the goal to win amiibo tournaments?

#3. Behavior editing encourages trainers to tinker with their amiibo and discover behaviors not possible without editing, further deepening the metagame.

Trainers already have an idea of what they want their amiibo to do, and it’s not certain that there are behaviors not possible without editing. Most of the unusual amiibo-specific AI behaviors are due to their size restraints, not due to editing. Metagame depth is not an issue, as the game will end up with 80 characters and most of them have been proven to be tournament viable already.

In conclusion

It seems to me that the arguments for pro-editing are stronger than the arguments against. Primarily, the fact that editing is about as useful as normal training, and is indistinguishable at a technical level, solidifies the case for me. I am pro-editing.

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