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Snowballing and Turtling


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#21 Osidlus   Members   -  Reputation: 752

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 01:10 PM

Hey Starbasecitadel, you got that, here is just my little nuance...

1. The neutral forces should be like arch-enemy- it will not be a shame to lose against them.

2. The power should not be dependant on the power of players army they attack (we want them to prevent weak deciding about the winner and remove tediousity huh)
but the way they would attack should depend on the power of the players army/economy. To the weak they should primarily attack his army units and to
the powerfull they should use units that have a long range higher cooldown building strike (something like earthquake in space - Higgs -boson canon :-) ) so they will also be able to do some damage even to the powerfull base. The neutrals should have "hacked" radio so every player would be able to see the damages they caused to each player (transparency of the blinds). And it would be good even for the weak (after they lost some units) to see that even powerfull suffers.

3. Chance. Within the neutral attacking forces they should have a captain which is quite hard to get (is quick, high hp, special abilities etc.). The neutral forces should not attack until full losses but like 40% and than they turn away, (could be kind of snowball - if you are able to get higher percentage of them the power of their attacks grows slowlier). If you are able to get the captain ship you should be rewarded with some special component to one of your ships or even technology.

good luckPosted Image

Sponsor:

#22 starbasecitadel   Members   -  Reputation: 699

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 06:26 PM

Good ideas Osidlus. Posted Image

It's a tough balance to get right. The hard part it seems is giving the weak players enough of a chance to make a comeback, without having the game go on forever in an endless cycle of power shifts or be too random.

I got a couple of metagame related game design questions. These involve not my initial (limited in scope) game but the down-the-road Admiral interface version.

protectorates : problem #1 : social/guild (metagame)

This goes back to the first reply to the thread. I go back and forth on this one, it seems to have huge potential but I've ran into some serious issues too. The problems relate to the metagame. In casual play I think it might be fine, but imagine this scenario:

You have 5 highly-skilled Guild teams (I've made no provision for Guilds at all at this time, so assume these are voluntary player-formed organizations/teams). Each of these 5 Guilds is matched in a pre-made game (or Ranked team game if that is supported at one point). So you have have 5 teams, each team with 50 players of the same guild.

Now, the game is going on, and the weakest Guild/team which is on the verge of extinction agrees to become a Protectorate of one of the remaining teams. Basically, the fundamental problem here is social. You have an enemy Guild that is now playing under another Guild. Would they ask for Ventrilo server info? Would they be privvy to trade secrets such as they find out that this Guild always does a feint in their wormhole event or what have you?

Perhaps these questions could be addressed by keeping the Protectorate players segregated. Eg, while they are now aligned with a stronger Guild/team (for purposes of 1 single game), they still retain their own Admiral who gets orders from the primary team (the one they merged into)'s Admiral. In other words, the more powerful team could still have mechanisms for giving orders to its Protectorate, but there is a barrier in the sense the Protectorate doesn't gain 100% of the winning team's data (including Ventrilo most likely but that is controlled individually by the Guilds).

Also, I realize these social problems would probably not happen in the vast majority of games, which are pickup (random player) games. It is only Guild games and pre-made games (assuming these are supported) that these social issues are even a concern. In random games it is perfectly fine for 100% coordination/assimilation of the protectorate into the more powerful team because these players are independent anyways so there are no trade secret tactics.

protectorates : problem #2 : newly assigned player (metagame)

The second problem I consider minor, but still something on my mind a bit. It is that when one team is a Protectorate, in pickup games they will have turnover. In other words, players will leave for all the obvious reasons (parents came into their room and asked them to do dishes, they are late to class, lost internet connection, got a phone call, got bored). However, when a player leaves, a new player from the queue will replace them. The new player will probably be unhappy to be assigned as a Protectorate since it means they are guaranteed partial victory at best, without the possibility of full victory.

I don't see this as necessary a terrible thing, as I'm pretty heavily influenced by Netrek's player rotation which was effective. Yes, sometimes you would join on the winning team. Sometimes you join on a losing team. The best was you join a game that is in balance or was just about to start. But even so, it wasn't really a big deal if you joined a losing team. You would just lose, or possibly have a long but rewarding comeback, and still have fun. Then you would play another game or two, this time from the beginning (or 5 if you were an addict like me Posted Image).

So this issue isn't specific to having protectorates, this is an issue the game already will have regardless. But having protectorates exaberates the problem since there is no way to do a full comeback as a protectorate. Even if your combined team wins, you get only partial victory since you were randomly assigned as a protectorate player.


Admiral interface : supply / demand (metagame)

The next issue I'd mention is not related to protectorates, but is yet another metagame issue related to the Admiral interface. For the full version game, I was thinking of having 50 players to each team, eg 1 Admiral and 49 starship pilot players. With 5 teams that is 250 total players. I like that scale in terms of it would seem to give an epic feel, but not be so many players you are completely lost as just a number (though perhaps borders on that).

The big problem I see is one of supply and demand. There are going to be more than 1 in 50 players who want to be the Admiral. This is partially addressed by charging money for the right to queue as an Admiral. The game is fremium model after all, and what cooler upgrade is there than the Admiral interface? Even so, my worry is many players would chose to purchase the Admiral upgrade and still not be able to be assigned that position nearly as often as they would like, due to the odds.

One idea is reducing the number of players per team to 20, down from 50. That would substantially improve the ease of Admirals to play more frequently (getting into the game as a starship pilot will be nearly instant). But, with 20 players that is a less epic feel than 50 players per team. I want there to be enough players that you can spread out among the various sectors, often in groups of 2-5, so I don't know.

For now I'm tempted to leave the design at 50 players per team for the full (Admiral interface) version, and some of the ratios in terms of queues are probably too hard to predict without beta testers etc, but it is something to think about.

I don't need to answer these issues now as that is all for the full version which is way down the road. Still it is good to get some of it preliminarily mapped out so if anyone has thoughts please chime in Posted Image I'm on vacation in a few days until Oct 7 so won't be responding for a while, apologies in advance for delayed response.

#23 jefferytitan   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2242

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 06:49 PM

On that last point, you could have Admiral and Generals. A general has control but at a lower level, and also participates in the action. If you request to be an Admiral and there are no free slots, you get made a General, but get put in a priority queue to become an Admiral.

Alternately, you could allow extra Admirals, but their forces are 100% NPCs. Therefore the fighting efficiency is low, but they still get their go at wearing the hat.

#24 starbasecitadel   Members   -  Reputation: 699

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 12:57 AM

Alternately, you could allow extra Admirals, but their forces are 100% NPCs. Therefore the fighting efficiency is low, but they still get their go at wearing the hat.


Great idea! My only concern is that the other players involved would feel like the game is not as fun due to few players.

eg: There are 5 teams, 3 of which are full (50 players participating and 2 of which are Practice Admirals (just 1 player -- the Admiral -- on each of those two teams). It seems as this would diminish the playing experience of the players on the 3 full teams as 2 teams are already somewhat disadvantaged.

One possibility is to limit the Practice Admirals to only playing games with other Practice Admirals. So you might have games with 5 players-- each an Admiral, and that is it, for purposes of learning the new interface. After they have completed 10 such practice games they are then allowed to queue up in full games as Admirals.

Yet another possibility here is varying Ranks of Admirals. So, each Admiral has a Rank of 1 to 50. Their Rank increases via some formula (wins or ELO) and maxes out at 50. Their rank corresponds to the # of player slots reserved for their team. So at lower ELO pickup games you will more often see games with just 0-5 starship player-pilots per team (with the balance being AI bots) but that will go up to the max of 49 Player starship pilots as your ELO increases.


On that last point, you could have Admiral and Generals. A general has control but at a lower level, and also participates in the action. If you request to be an Admiral and there are no free slots, you get made a General, but get put in a priority queue to become an Admiral.


On this point, I actually did have some of thoughts of having Generals too. However, I had not thought of it in terms of you Queue for a combined Admiral or General spot, that is a great idea. I had originally thought of it as an entirely separate spot in the Queue. I've been rethinking this aspect of the game and here's the latest iteration:

There are 50 players per team. Each team consists of an Admiral as well as the Starbase commander. The Admiral is the leader of the team and performs diplomacy, strategic attack/retreat commands and has a lightweight resource management interface.

The Starbase commander controls the movement and attacks of the Starbase, the most powerful strategic, (slowly) movable asset of each team.

So that is 2 players of the 50 per team.

Next, you have 8 squads. Each squad is formed by 6 players: a General and 5 starship pilots. That totals the 50 players.

The paradigm here is the aircraft carrier, you can think of each General as a kind of carrier of which the pilots are substantially (though not fully) tied to.

There are 4 squad types. Either each team will have 2 squads of each type (default), or possibly the Admiral can pick which squad combinations to choose from at the beginning of each game (adding to the metagame complexity).

The 4 squad types are:
- explorer : high movement, high sustain, jungle bonuses, low damage
- planetary assault : best damage vs planets, bases and capital ships, slower moving, low sustain
- strike force: ship to ship combat, assassins, medium sustain
- development : low sustain, low combat ability, best in generating resource income and tech upgrades

The explorer squad type is the equivalent of the jungler from LoL. In the explorer's case, both the General and all starship pilots of that squad will have greater sustain, movement, and range than other squads. That comes at the expense of firepower. This is a sort of special squad type than the other 3 in that the players will have a much easier time roaming.

The other 3 squad types will much more closely resemble the aircraft carrier model. While starships can still act entirely independently, the logistics of that will be unfavorable. The starship pilots of these 3 squad types will gain bonuses from being within a range of their Generals or docking with their General's ships.

And of course, any type of squad can still do any function. Your explorers at times will be the only starships defending your Starbase, or you need them to push through a particularly nasty assault. Your planetary assault squad can still "jungle", it will just be less efficient etc. Just like in LoL sure, your support sometimes has to take a tower or try to carry, it is suboptimal but its all part of the game. A major part of the game is trying to make sure your assets perform in their most effective roles, and forcing the enemy's assets to perform in their least effective roles.

#25 Waterlimon   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2636

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 06:12 AM

An interesting mechanic would be that your factories and army produce wastes of various kinds, which radiate/pollute the air/ground/take space, so you need to take them away. If you dump them right outside your uberfort, they will still affect and you cant keep doing that forever either. So you need a long route to a far away dump to get rid of them without side effects.

The enemy might block that route so you need to keep it clear (and it might be a long route)


The best method would probably be to make the waste pollute the air near it (water doesnt really matter, im sure youve got water filters and stuff)

If there is trees or such you need to build, the trees inside your base would die if theres much waste nearby.



You could also use this mechanic to attack the enemy. For example:
-Dump lots of waste somewhere to stop the enemy from making a big base there (a small base might be possible though, but it wont do well)

-Load your dying resource transportation ship with tons of waste and send it on a suicide mission to the enemy base (if its their main base, they probably have machines or something to clean the waste, but if its a struggling forward base with just the minimal supplies, itll weaken)


To make the waste even more important, make it so that if you leave it for a long time somewhere, the radiation etc. will slowly wear off and it turns into an useful resource like fuel or something you can recycle and get all kinds of materials out of.

o3o


#26 Oolala   Members   -  Reputation: 854

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:40 AM

If it's a futuristic game, why not assume a shared economic environment with investors. If according to some metric a player becomes highly unlikely to win, investors in their side pull out for fear of being stuck with a losing bet. Their economy thus crashes. This could perhaps be a defeat condition [as opposed to being destroyed completely], or maybe just render the player in a death spiral where they quickly get swallowed up. This way a player is completely viable immediately prior to being deemed destroyed, instead of this slow grinding-down process a lot of rts's have. Helps with snowballing because the defeat condition is not a point of utter destruction, and thus it's only a matter of tipping the scales to put doubt in the minds of investors. Helps with turtling because it would be a relative level of success [one team that aggressively grows becomes more likely to defeat a player that sits there well defended] that determines a winner. Maybe against an extreme turtling player, just the act of branching out and growing while they sit there would be enough to cause collapse for them.

#27 starbasecitadel   Members   -  Reputation: 699

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 09:29 PM

An interesting mechanic would be that your factories and army produce wastes of various kinds, which radiate/pollute the air/ground/take space, so you need to take them away.


Thanks for the idea. I've never seen this or considered it, that's a pretty cool mechanic you came up with. Might even win some Greenpeace points too Posted Image I haven't gotten too detailed in some of these kinds of what I'd call planet-starship-logistical mechanics yet, have a real void there so this gives some food for thought..

If it's a futuristic game, why not assume a shared economic environment with investors. If according to some metric a player becomes highly unlikely to win, investors in their side pull out for fear of being stuck with a losing bet. Their economy thus crashes. This could perhaps be a defeat condition [as opposed to being destroyed completely], or maybe just render the player in a death spiral where they quickly get swallowed up. This way a player is completely viable immediately prior to being deemed destroyed, instead of this slow grinding-down process a lot of rts's have. Helps with snowballing because the defeat condition is not a point of utter destruction, and thus it's only a matter of tipping the scales to put doubt in the minds of investors. Helps with turtling because it would be a relative level of success [one team that aggressively grows becomes more likely to defeat a player that sits there well defended] that determines a winner. Maybe against an extreme turtling player, just the act of branching out and growing while they sit there would be enough to cause collapse for them.


Good idea, and I was going somewhat down this path already possibly with a timer. Making it tied into the economy is a really nice touch-- first it is less "super obvious game mechanic-ish" than a timer yet it serves some of the same very helpful purposes. Also a big benefit that I really like is it makes strategy more dimensional which is what I'm looking for at this stage. In other words, there are multiple goals to manage.. the economy becomes more immediate and meaningful which is a good thing I believe. To give a parallel example of multi-dimensional goals, in LoL you are trying to kill other players but also to kill towers. Some times these goals conflict such as you sacrifice your life but taking down a tower, or vice versa. Too many distinct goals makes a game too confusing but at this stage I feel the game has too few and like this a lot.


Another issue I've been thinking about recently:


social interface

In desktop games, it is much easier to create a social interface: you can simply make chat windows where you can message individual players, teams, or All. Additionally, ventrilo is available.

I'm thinking of the need / importance for a social interface on this as a Tablet application.

My assumption (could be wrong though) is that typing on a tablet touch keyboard would not really work well. Since this is an iPad, the software keyboard pops up and it takes up most of the space, so you can easily get shot at and destroyed unless you first move to a safe position. Plus, the software keyboard is relatively annoying to type at compared to a nice desktop keyboard. Maybe it would work out fine but I have serious doubts.

In terms of things like pings, for that I do plan on making icons that are easy to click, perhaps with the following: "help, incoming enemies", "escort this resource mining vessel", "retreat", "group here for assault on base", "defend this location". So at least for those you won't need to type.

But it is more the social aspect that I'm wondering about, particularly for the Admiral interface where it would be nice to introduce more diplomacy.

Along the same lines, I'm wondering if a built in voice-chat (probably limited only to the Admiral, Generals.. perhaps also allowing starships to use it within a single sector) would make sense. Part of me thinks it could be awesome, but also it could be terrible if you had someone with a really annoying voice, or playing crappy music in the background. While you would be able to mute them, I'm still leaning against offering voice chat for these reasons (as well as technical feasibility and server bandwidth/CPU consumption).

Also at the extreme end of things, I'm considering changing the platform for the Admiral's interface (and probably Generals as well) to be desktop PC. Then they could at least be able to type effectively to other players and teams. That opens up a huge can of worms though.

Yet another possibility is that for Admirals and Generals, you would not have accelerometer support, thus making it easier to have an external tablet keyboard which would perhaps be recommended.

I'm curious if anyone has seen Tablet games that have come up with good solutions to these issues.

#28 starbasecitadel   Members   -  Reputation: 699

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 09:05 AM

I've been rethinking the social aspects after spending some time playing the current tablet MMOs this morning which I haven't touched in a while. I think the standard chat interfaces work better than I was expecting. Yes, it is somewhat slower to type on a tablet than on the PC but definitely much more feasible than I feared.

So that simplifies things quite a bit. I can keep the game as a single platform (iPad/tablet) and single client codebase. The Admiral and General interfaces will have some differences in UI but they will still be distributed as part of a single game client app. It would be nice to eventually offer integrated voice chat but that is bottom of the priority list.

Here's another social game design question, this time about the social metagame:

Carrier Group Cohesion (meta)

I've renamed the term "Squad" to "Carrier Group". A Carrier Group consists of a group that gains bonuses fighting in proximity to each other consisting of 5 players piloting individual starships and a 6th player acting as the General (who controls the Capital Ship / Carrier).

I'm wondering how much to emphasize the cohesion of Carrier Groups. Specifically, should they be able to Queue together? In Ranked games, would the competing Admirals see a list of Carrier Groups and compose their teams Carrier Group by Carrier Group (as opposed to Fully Premade or Player-by-Player picks)? Would your experience points / rank be additionally weighted by your Carrier Group's performance so that even if your team loses, if your Carrier Group performs very well you still gain rank?

I'm still tossing these ideas around but am leaning on emphasizing Carrier Groups for a couple of reasons.

* First, it gives the game another social aspect. People won't typically have 50 friends all playing this game to form a team with, but 6 friends is another story. Guilds will help out with forming full pre-made teams but the Carrier Group concept makes it easier to form quick, smaller groups.

* The Carrier Groups could also add a sort of mercenary element to the game which I think adds depth to the social aspects.

* Psychology plays a role too. In a 2-team game, you win and lose roughly 50% of the time. In a 5-team Free for all, you win roughly only 20% of the time and lose 80% of the time. That is a bit of a hit to the ego, and perhaps people will feel they are playing worse than they really are. But if your Carrier Group has a good game that gives you something to hold your hat on even if your team loses.

* With 50 players to a team, it could be easy to feel lost or overwhelmed. The Carrier Groups create a social mini-context and some additional structure within the game.




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