So, the next generation of ASUS Republic of Gamers motherboards are shipping with something called Sonic Radar. It's a visual overlay that places a bespoke "radar" on the screen that "points" to the direction of sounds such as footsteps and gunshots. Essentially, it's the kind of thing that would make it far easier to locate and eliminate an opponent in a first-person shooter. Since it draws a visual overlay on the screen, we were concerned not only about its potential to unbalance gameplay, but also for the possibility anti-cheat systems may detect it as a hack and ban PC gamers' accounts.
We brought up our concerns with Senior ROG Staff Member Stanley Fei at the reveal event, (full story on p. 60 of PCPP#216) and he seemed genuinely surprised that we would even consider this 'feature' a cheat. Fei needed to return to the higher ups at ROG and discuss our concerns before providing us with the below clarification on just what ASUS intents to do with its new Sonic Radar.
PCPP: What is happening with Sonic Radar? Is it still going to be included now that we’ve made you aware of how it will cause issues with PunkBuster?
Fei: We will keep developing the idea of Sonic Radar. And, we are working with PunkBuster to have Sonic Radar fully certified, as is it a significant innovation in gaming we believed.
ROG is run by gamers, so how did this feature get through without staff realising what a potentially huge problem it could cause?
Since most of our members are gamers, our design propose of Sonic Radar is to provide gamers a new gaming experience with better odd to win. To do so, our principle is: we can use only the existing information in game, and we cannot distort the game to let people to get some information they are not supposed to know, like making the wall disappears you mentioned to me. By enhancing the current gameplay information, we think we are doing a some concept similar to Creative’s Scout mode. Gamer can identify enemy’s position from the surround sound detail, which has enhanced by Scout mode. Instead of enhancing the sound, we do one step further – we visualize the sound direction as well. Once again, we provide only the information supposed to be known, helping gamers to identify where the sound, if they missed it from hearing.
However, Sonic Radar is not designed for either PRO gamers or to use in any kind of e-Sport competition, but for most of regular gamers they play games just for fun.
If you are going to include the feature, are you going to warn gamers that they face being banned if they do choose to use it?
We are still evaluating this, while we’re collecting feedbacks from major game titles and cooperating with PunkBuster to resolve any potential issues.
What is ROG’s stance on cheating – the Sonic Radar feature suggests you support cheats?
ROG is made of gamers and we are staunchly against cheating. Sonic Radar does not automate or substitute any actions that require player skill, and does not distort gameplay. It merely adds a radar feature to show the sound direction which is just an enhanced information through visual display. We are not hooking games to extract information of enemies position but only processing sound information. As you cannot prevent people from rising the luminosity of their screen when play in the dark, you cannot prevent people from having a good audio system or raising up the volume to hear things better. We believe Sonic Radar does not constitute cheating.
Thanks for your time, Stanley.