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Red vs Blue: online wargaming

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Well, I can't honestly say this has nothing to do with the other thread about online browser-based wargames. This post presents a detailed description of an online browser-based conquest game. Red vs. Blue features two superpowers that play on a small square grid. Each of them owns two special tiles: the base and the target. Each superpower's base contains an infinite amount of soldiers, and each superpower must conquer the other superpower's target tile. The game state is updated every ten minutes. Any orders given in between updates are remembered, and all are executed simultaneously when the update occurs. Each player is associated to a superpower, and may give any amount of orders he likes in each ten-minute span. Any player can see the number of units of each superpower and their position (but not their destination, if they are on the move). Each square contains a given number of soldiers. You can order one soldier at a time (and you can only give orders to soldiers which have not received orders yet). Soldiers with orders move to a new, adjacent tiles. Soldiers without orders defend their current tile. When enemy soldiers reach a given tile, they die on a 1 versus 1 basis as they kill each other (the tile may be left empty). Defending soldiers get a first round of dealing damage before they start dying (because they're fortified). When two armies move to face one another, they attack each other first, and any survivors then move on to their destination. You win by moving one soldier into the enemy's target tile. When one side wins, the game pauses for 1 hour, counting down, and the game resumes with a new randomly generated map. Maps, in addition to each superpower's special tiles and the default empty tiles contain three additional types of tiles:
  • Hilltop tile: defenders get a first round of dealing damage, during which each defender deals 1.5 damage (that is, for each two defenders, three attackers die before the actual fight starts). In addition to this, the defenders deal an automatic 0.5 damage each update step to units which are defending an adjacent tile.
  • Forest tile: defenders only inflict 0.5 damage during the initial free damage round (that is, for each two defenders, one attacker dies).
  • Water tile: units cannot move into this tile.

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But this would require both players to be online at the same time and has time to spare to finish the match? Won't that be a problem for most browser based communities who just log in 10-30mins a day?

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I agree. I think it should be hour-long rounds that let players issue orders once a day if they like, and there should be teams of players who can take over for each other.

The round length may have to be adjusted based on how large the battlefield is.

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Original post by sarahcovenant
But this would require both players to be online at the same time and has time to spare to finish the match? Won't that be a problem for most browser based communities who just log in 10-30mins a day?


I agree that the round duration should have to be adjusted, both to allow players to see the outcome of their orders live, and to reduce the impact of low-affluence periods.

Other than that, the game doesn't need all the players to be present to move on. The superpower with the most active players does get an advantage over the other one, but with enough players (and/or acceptable replacement AI) this could be reduced as well.

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Original post by ToohrVyk
I agree that the round duration should have to be adjusted, both to allow players to see the outcome of their orders live, and to reduce the impact of low-affluence periods.

Other than that, the game doesn't need all the players to be present to move on. The superpower with the most active players does get an advantage over the other one, but with enough players (and/or acceptable replacement AI) this could be reduced as well.



Will players be allowed to join in the game at any time? Or are the numbers of players locked in upon start?

Because, if one superpower is losing, won't new players keep joining the winning team instead? And players from the losing team will keep dropping out ("surrendering").

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I don't think the "defenders get an entire round" principle is very fair. If you send 400 units to a tile with 400 units, you lose all of your units and they lose nothing.

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Original post by GroZZleR
I don't think the "defenders get an entire round" principle is very fair. If you send 400 units to a tile with 400 units, you lose all of your units and they lose nothing.


No. The defenders first get a strike, so it will be 400-399. Then the attackers get one, 399-399, etc. The result wil be 1-0 for the defenders.

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Original post by sarahcovenant
Will players be allowed to join in the game at any time? Or are the numbers of players locked in upon start?

Because, if one superpower is losing, won't new players keep joining the winning team instead? And players from the losing team will keep dropping out ("surrendering").


Whenever a player joins, she is automatically associated with a random superpower. As for losing or winning, I'm not certain that, as long as there is defense available near the target tile, a team can be said to be losing. You can cut supply lines, wall in the enemy advance and so on.

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Original post by Sijmen
No. The defenders first get a strike, so it will be 400-399. Then the attackers get one, 399-399, etc. The result wil be 1-0 for the defenders.


Actually, he was right. The defenders get a full round (not a strike) meaning they kill 400 of the incoming adversaries.

Quote:
Original post by GroZZleR
I don't think the "defenders get an entire round" principle is very fair. If you send 400 units to a tile with 400 units, you lose all of your units and they lose nothing.


Indeed, and it is designed to be this way. Attackers get a large advantage of being able to strike at different locations. Consider a vertical front line with the same amount of soldiers on every side. An attack would have three attacking tiles move into a single adjacent defending tile, devastating the defenders. Finding 2n+1 attackers to fight n defenders is easy unless you're surrounded (at which point you will get wrecked anyway). Reducing this number to n+1 seems to me quite unbalancing.

Besides, this is really intended to look like the trench wars of WWI: sending small amounts of soldiers gets them killed because the entrenched enemy has a far better position (and machine guns), medium amounts of soldiers do manage to capture the spot but cannot secure a bridgehead, and only a coordinated movement of troops towards a given area can ensure that you can move past the initial conquest.

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Quote:
Original post by ToohrVyk
Quote:
Original post by sarahcovenant
Will players be allowed to join in the game at any time? Or are the numbers of players locked in upon start?

Because, if one superpower is losing, won't new players keep joining the winning team instead? And players from the losing team will keep dropping out ("surrendering").


Whenever a player joins, she is automatically associated with a random superpower. As for losing or winning, I'm not certain that, as long as there is defense available near the target tile, a team can be said to be losing. You can cut supply lines, wall in the enemy advance and so on.


Hmmm...I don't know man, are the two sides identical to each other? If they are flavoured, won't new players want to join his favourite side? Anyway random solves nothing, players will still join the winning team. If they get randomed into the losing team, they can simply start a new account until they finally got randomed into the team they want to play.

Also, most players would prefer to play with their friends? If so they will probably make new account until they get to the team with their friends in it.

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Original post by sarahcovenant
Hmmm...I don't know man, are the two sides identical to each other? If they are flavoured, won't new players want to join his favourite side? Anyway random solves nothing, players will still join the winning team. If they get randomed into the losing team, they can simply start a new account until they finally got randomed into the team they want to play.


The two sides are identical, except for their color (obviously, but that can be changed). In theory, randomization would only happen when the player first connects, the same color would then be used every time the player connects (no accounts, either).

Quote:
Also, most players would prefer to play with their friends? If so they will probably make new account until they get to the team with their friends in it.


That's true.

In any case, do you have any suggestions about how to solve the "I only join the winning team" while allowing people to join whatever team they want?

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After some thinking, I may have a variation that can be satisfying: when the player first connects to the game, he selects his color before seeing the playing field. This way, he may stay with his friends and choose his favourite color, but may not select the winning side.

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I would recomend useing a Scissors/Paper/Rock system that would enhance the tactical decissions. If you have 3 unit types adn they had an advantage over each other in the same manner as the S/P/R game then it could make the combats more interesting.

You could have:
Bombers that would beat Tanks
AA Turrets that would beat Bombers
And the Tanks would beat the AA Turrets

If each troop that is moved out of the Home Base could become one of these you could have an interesting battlefield.

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Quote:
Original post by Edtharan
I would recomend useing a Scissors/Paper/Rock system that would enhance the tactical decissions. If you have 3 unit types adn they had an advantage over each other in the same manner as the S/P/R game then it could make the combats more interesting.


The key to this design is its simplicity, and I might well scrap everything but Target/Base/Normal/Water tiles to simplify it even further. Adding two more unit types (and the required interface for controlling them) would reduce simplicity. While your suggestion is an atemporal staple of tactical games and would be welcome in many designs, I'll pass.

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Original post by ToohrVyk
After some thinking, I may have a variation that can be satisfying: when the player first connects to the game, he selects his color before seeing the playing field. This way, he may stay with his friends and choose his favourite color, but may not select the winning side.


Hmmmm...what if after connecting to the game and realising that the color he chooses is the losing side, he deletes his account and start a new one? Or do you plan to lock IP address into 1 account for life?

This might be a viable solution but what if new players who are just "trying out" your game randomly chooses a color and then later their friends joined under a different color? They won't be able to switch to their friend's color then?

Is there anyway to make players feel indifferent joining the losing team? Maybe you can having 3 spaced out objective point instead of just 1. So that a color can lose without getting wiped out or pushed into a corner. Disadvantage is that players could lose through no fault of their own: the guys defending the other objective sux etc.

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Original post by sarahcovenant
Hmmmm...what if after connecting to the game and realising that the color he chooses is the losing side, he deletes his account and start a new one? Or do you plan to lock IP address into 1 account for life?


Yes. There are no accounts, only a binding between a color and an IP address.

Quote:

This might be a viable solution but what if new players who are just "trying out" your game randomly chooses a color and then later their friends joined under a different color? They won't be able to switch to their friend's color then?


All IP-color bindings are reset when the game ends (if one side loses). The player may then group with his friends for a full game.

Quote:
Is there anyway to make players feel indifferent joining the losing team? Maybe you can having 3 spaced out objective point instead of just 1. So that a color can lose without getting wiped out or pushed into a corner. Disadvantage is that players could lose through no fault of their own: the guys defending the other objective sux etc.


I'm not sure I understand how 3 objective points instead of 1 would help, but I am notoriously thick indeed. By all means, a defending power would have access to more units (shorter supply lines) and be able to strike back with more efficiency than a power lunging into the other's territory with only limited firepower and large losses. Moving the target tiles away from the base only makes them harder to defend (and thus, if the front line is broken, the enemy may well reach that tile faster than its defenders can).

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In fact, what I would be more concerned about is players changing teams to give idiotic orders to their enemy's troops, and then changing back to their original team.

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Original post by ToohrVyk
In fact, what I would be more concerned about is players changing teams to give idiotic orders to their enemy's troops, and then changing back to their original team.


Nice catch on that exploit. :P

But since IP and color are linked its not possible to switch sides? But about the use of proxies to start an account in the opposing color to give idiotic orders?

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Original post by sarahcovenant
But since IP and color are linked its not possible to switch sides? But about the use of proxies to start an account in the opposing color to give idiotic orders?


Exactly: your IP binds you to one side for the duration of the game, although you may change sides between games.

As for the use of proxies or other similar tactics, well, I'm afraid nothing can be done about that, but setting up something like this is difficult enough to be rare. As long as all players don't have a nice checkbox saying, in essence, "I want to give orders to the enemy troops" then I am happy with it.

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Original post by ToohrVyk
Exactly: your IP binds you to one side for the duration of the game, although you may change sides between games.

As for the use of proxies or other similar tactics, well, I'm afraid nothing can be done about that, but setting up something like this is difficult enough to be rare. As long as all players don't have a nice checkbox saying, in essence, "I want to give orders to the enemy troops" then I am happy with it.


Its not difficult. There are a lot of free proxies out there.

Edit: Hmmm...wanna try up a prototype and let us have some fun kicking each other's arses?

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I think I got a solution to the "too many on the winning side" problem: Once one side loses most of its networth, new players are only allowed to join the losing side. No one is allowed to join the winning side. As the game will be over soon there is no issue of "i want to play with my friends" since they can wait a couple of days before joining their friends on a fresh slate.

What do you guys think?

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It seems difficult to me to be able to tell that one side is losing or winning, since it mostly depends on their current positions, their strategy, and the activity of players. But if there is a simple rule that allows one to say that "one side will lose", we might find people exploiting it by placing themselves in an exotic, strategically sound situation that is treated as "losing" by the algorithm (so only their team can be joined) but is in fact winning.

I still believe allows people to join a color of their choice before showing them the current map is a good and easy option.

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