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Teamwork

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For a lot of games, the biggest part of what makes it fun is the multiplayer. Though this is a personal opinion, I personally perfer playing with people instead of playing against them. I have however found that this is very problematic becaus, unless me and my team is fighitng anouther team of players, it's hardly ever a challenge, and when it is chalenging we usualy lose unless every player is equally skilled. For this reason I find it hard to avoid fun challenging team play. A friend of mine once said that the real chalenge in WoW was to find enought players who aren't idiots.(A full party of none-idiots is rare) I'm not saying we should get rid of the bad players, but I think there is much that can be done to make teamwork more fun. I got the idea recently and ahven't thought much about it, but maby you ahve some ideas. To begin with we need a way for the players to pair up with equally skilled players. Adopt-a-noob would help aswell.

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Skill-based matchmaking is nothing new in competitive games, although I don't know of anything along those lines in co-op.

Final Fantasy (the MMO one, forget the number) had a dynamic where player characters would be equalized for group play, so they could all get XP together even if they were at different levels, which was intended to encourage cooperation by making it better than solo play in any and every scenario (WoW players often find themselves forced to choose between playing with others or getting the most XP/hour, since soloing at your level is more fruitful than team play at a slightly lower one).

I agree with you on your thesis, for sure. I just finished playing some BF1943 on the old XBox, and the dumbed-down squad system really puts a dent in the Battlefield experience for me. I loved BF2, I was always setting waypoints and using the mic and consulting the map and using transport vehicles to deploy and running a mile out of our way to flank and you just don't get that in the new one, which is regrettable.

Cooperative play, whether in PvP or PvE, is always very rewarding for me. I've said before that I get just as much satisfaction from swinging the rear end of the Warthog around to pick up a guy who's hoofing it to the battle as I get from a headshot. When I play Rainbow Six with my neighbor, we hum our secret, private badass theme music while we run up stairs and rig explosives to a door, and I value that time as much or more than the actual gunfights.

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Though I woiudln't state it as fact, I don't think it's uncommon for people to enjoy teamwork the way I do. Games are basicly just interacting betwean a person, the machine and/or anouher person.(Or several people) When a player teams up with one or more players, they usually need to interact with the outher players to successfull, making the interaction more intense.(making it more fun, in my opinion) Same goes for playing against anouthe player, but it doens't allow the players to share victory.

But a lot of the time, team play is nothign about team work, becuas the players don't know eachouther, and a lot of the time they can't get along. I personaly wouldn't get mad at someone only becaus they failed, but I've heard a lot of people who don't like playing games becaus people shout noob at them. I think a rating system would solve a lot of this. If the game was designed so that it ranks you, you could put the good ranked people together and let them play as seriously as they like, while the "noobs" can have there fun, playign with people of equal level, and learning so they can assend to the higher level of play.

Letting good players play with outher good players also makes it easyer to creata crew of equally skilled players, which woudl be beneficial for a game comunity with a "guild" system.

Also: Adopt-a-noob, yes please.

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I think the main idea here is the word TEAM. A TEAM implies a group who is trained to function as a cohesive unit. If you join the military, everyone gets the same level and type of Basic Training, so that even if you're deployed away from your unit, you can expect the new people on your TEAM to respond to certain ideas about how to get things done in the same way.

What seems to happen with most online games is a large group of people want to join a team, but there is no real "training" beyond maybe everyone having played the single-player scenarios. I worked as GM for a very large MMORPG and I had to deal with complaints all the time, quite a few of which were related to interactions resulting from people who did not know each other having TEAMed up and then not liking the outcome of adventuring together. They usually ended up calling each other names, hence my involvement....

Clearly the thing that stuck out in my mind with all these encounters is that both sides of the issue lacked the ability to communicate with one another. My point earlier about basic military training is that the grunts are trained to respond to orders. Orders rely on specific vocabulary and terminology and this also gets ingrained into the grunts so that instead of thinking about what they are being told, they can simply respond to the order. The intention is to get them to the point to where when someone yells duck, they duck automatically instead of questioning the validity of the order right before getting their heads blown off.

So, in short, I think what is lacking here is not necessarily matching groups together based on their skill levels so much as a prevalent tendency in the online industry to ignore creating more effective mechanisms for players to learn to work together as a TEAM.

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Original post by electricdragon
So, in short, I think what is lacking here is not necessarily matching groups together based on their skill levels so much as a prevalent tendency in the online industry to ignore creating more effective mechanisms for players to learn to work together as a TEAM.
And team in this context really has to involve long-term participation. You will notice in any team based shooter, that a group of people who play together routinely can massacre almost any a pick-up group of players (even if those players are individually much stronger).

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I think it can be summed up: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

With a pick up group, there is not real co-ordination, it is basically a bunch of individuals. Where as a group that has played together often they work as a whole, and this whole is more than the individuals put together.

There is no way I can think of to force this onto players. You can make mechanics that can be exploited by teamwork (such as combined arms, role and such), but this only makes the problem worse.

Although this may encourage the more hard core gamers, the more casual gamers will be discouraged (by the way I am using the terms "casual" and "hard core" as relative terms here, not as their demographic definition) by the need to have a set team that you exclusively work with.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this, it is just that this technique would not actually work to achieve the goals. Yet... It is the path that developers seem to be taking.

Even with a rating system, it still does not give you the communication and co-ordination styles of that player. It also doesn't give any indication as to what tactics they are capable of performing.

My solution would be to allow players to form guilds and structure their social networks better. Give them to tools to make guilds (with identifiers - like badges) and control the hierarchy within that guild as they wish (define rankings, privileges of that rank, etc) and also to make their own identifying markings (uniforms, colours of weapons, etc - a bit like the painting of units in Dawn of War) for each ranking and their guild as well.

As the only way you can know about a player is socially, then using this for matching is a far better way than a simple value (rating).

It is also better for player to identify with the game. If they can describe themselves as 4th centurion of the 5th company of the Axe Smasher guild, then it is a more engaging way of interacting with the game and its community (especially if it is know that the 5th company are known for their support tactics - and as the player can name their titles they can name them better than what I have).

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But can game design be used to "herd" people into useful cooperation? One of the Penny Arcade blogs (not fishing for a link, so you'll have to make do with hearsay) dealt with multiplayer in one of the Splinter Cell games. He made the observaion that the Spy/Mercenary dynamic was rewarding because when the spies are really good, it's more fun to be a mercenary, and when the mercs are doing a great job, it's a treat for the spies.

One of the Left4Dead previews was discussing the Director AI, and the guy was explaining how, in play testing, the 4-man teams would gradually start to "gel" and get better and better together. Even casual gamers would fall into a semblance of military organization, moving in formations, using cover fire and overwatch, and the individuals would choose weapons that complemented their strengths, and then adjust their role in the group accordingly.

I think that had a lot to do with L4D being pretty easy, at least at first. When I play co-op Halo, I usually set it to a difficulty that my mates and I can get through on the first try, because the challenge of the Covenent forces is really secondary to the exercise of playing the game together. The thing that makes WoW players rage is when the DPS pulls aggro off the tank and wipes the raid with a newbish mistake. If the game doesn't have arcane aggression rules and a secret set of pitfalls and tricks of the trade that are not intuitively obvious, then it'll be easier to avoid that kind of awkwardness.

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Team work is what really makes any game worthwhile and re playable. Working with the same group of people and getting to know how each play makes those games memorable. I laugh every time when my brother and I both reload or simultaneously throw grenades around a corner without talking to each other. The first thing I look at in a game is its multiplayer operations, specifically for co-op. Id really like to see some strategy games with a better than average AI so you can play co-op against them without really stomping on them or going 2 players against 4 AI's.

Chris

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From what I've seen so far, the common opinion is that good teamwork depends much on knowing your team and comunication. So that leavs me wondering, how could we enhance the game in these aspects.

I do think matching players of the same level would make a difference, because it let's people find outhers of equal skill which would also make it easyer to form balanced groups. I do think it would encurage people to creat groups if they are all equal in skill because anything ells would make the teamwork akward. Also, dedicated players probably want to play with outher dedicated players.

I do however see a prolbem ther. "Casual" gamers might get stuck with a groupe of people who don't actually play that much, making it hard for them to become more skilled. To avoid this you could let players to search for groups with a little higher averedg skill. If accepted into the groupe, they could learn form an entier group of more skilled players.

Also, voice chat should absolutly be featured for fast comunication. Also, one might add a temonology for things in the game, making shure everyone knows what it means. The terms should be frequently used in-game to make the players familier with them.(Obviously the terms must make sence and be fitted for a high paced game)

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[quote]Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
But can game design be used to "herd" people into useful cooperation? One of the Penny Arcade blogs (not fishing for a link, so you'll have to make do with hearsay) dealt with multiplayer in one of the Splinter Cell games. He made the observaion that the Spy/Mercenary dynamic was rewarding because when the spies are really good, it's more fun to be a mercenary, and when the mercs are doing a great job, it's a treat for the spies.
[quote]
I think I remember that strip (or at least something like it).

Yes, I think you can give mechanics that encourage diversification of roles, but this still will not solve the problem of players not being able to work as a cohesive unit.

In fact, this is exactly what I was talking about. These kinds of mechanics are good for players that know how to work together already, but a group of pick-up players who have never played together before will likely have all sorts of problems.

For instance, players might play the same class in different ways, so one player's Spy strategy is different to another player's Spay strategy, and so when they play with someone expecting one and the other is performed, the whole team goes out of co-ordination and they perform much worse than they could have.

This can get you "Coming and Going" (so to speak). If the roles are highly specialised so that they only really have one type of strategy the can perform. Like In WoW, your character is kitted out specifically for a particular role (and I do know that the same character can be kitted out in different ways), you can change that spec but for any one battle (or raid) you have to retain that spec.

In this case if the player does not perform that specific role to a certain level, then the team can not operate, like the DPS getting aggro because of a noob mistake).

If the role are too generalised, then what can occur is that too many potential ways of using that character become available and then communication breakdowns (or just players wanting to do what they are good at) will cause problems for the team.

There is a "sweet spot" where the problems of either are not too bad, but this is a very tight rope to walk. It can easily be pushed to where the balance breaks down and "casual" players can no longer be effective team members.

[quote]Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
One of the Left4Dead previews was discussing the Director AI, and the guy was explaining how, in play testing, the 4-man teams would gradually start to "gel" and get better and better together. Even casual gamers would fall into a semblance of military organization, moving in formations, using cover fire and overwatch, and the individuals would choose weapons that complemented their strengths, and then adjust their role in the group accordingly.
[quote]
I ahve actually seen this in operation. I have been a part of it as it occurred. When playing at a LAN, although the group were not well know to the others (we had never played any FPS together - they were mainly RTS gamers) we eventually fell into team work.

There were two things in our favour. This was at a LAN so all sorts of communication channels were available to us, and L4D is actually at this Sweet Spot I was talking about.

As an aside: The system we fell into was a Speed Run method where by we tried to run through the entire level without stopping. We would form a line, with the first 2 players taking out any threats that appeared. The 3rd player covered the rear and the last player covered the 3rd player.

The 3rd player covering the rear was so that any attacks on the rear would not slow down the player covering the rear, and allowed the 3rd and 4th players to cover each other.

This meant we became faster, had less players picked off and as the 3rd and 4th player could alert the first two players if any problems occurred between them as they could see each other.

We got this down so well that the Zombie players only got to spawn once, or twice if we were slowed for some reason.

Quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
I think that had a lot to do with L4D being pretty easy, at least at first. When I play co-op Halo, I usually set it to a difficulty that my mates and I can get through on the first try, because the challenge of the Covenent forces is really secondary to the exercise of playing the game together. The thing that makes WoW players rage is when the DPS pulls aggro off the tank and wipes the raid with a newbish mistake. If the game doesn't have arcane aggression rules and a secret set of pitfalls and tricks of the trade that are not intuitively obvious, then it'll be easier to avoid that kind of awkwardness.

If you play with the same group of people repeatedly, then you will get some measure of knowledge of how they will respond in a given circumstance. With pick up play (which is where the problem really lies) you don't have this advantage.

Sometime the problem lies not because of Newbish mistakes, but because the other players are doing what they know works and you are doing what you know works, but because you are doing different things, the whole group falls apart. If you were each to play with people who know what you are going to do, this would not happen as they know what the plan is and are following their role in it.

This is the problem with Pick-up playing because there is no way you can know before hand what strategies other players are going to be following, and what role they think they have in those plans.

I don't think that there is a solution to these problems. Player who play together and know the strategies of their other team mates will always have an advantage to players who are more casual in their playing (pick up players).

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Reading the abovepost made me think of a certain WC3 custom game. It's called "WoW arena" and it is somewhat like the arena PvP in WoW. The sugested amount of players is 3vs3, but I find that 4vs4 or 5vs5 works fine too.

Anyways, in this game it is very important to have a healer, because you'll be able to take much less damage if you don't have one. This means that the most common strategy is to get rid of the opnents healer. Usually this means killing them. Since the healer can heal him/herself this become rather difficult unless someone playes a charactter with high dps. The healers suspect this and usually try to have a backupp plan to avoid getting killed early. Then there are some characetrs specifyecd on preventing enemys from escape.(cc)

In a 3vs3 game, the most usefull combination is usually a healer, a dps and a cc. To take out an enemy as early as posible is a big help. For that reason, the dps and the cc should focus the same target, or the cc could keep the healer bissy while the dps kills some outher enemy. All the while, the healer must heal the one with least hp, even though they still need to stay away from the outher dps. The cc could also save the healer by keeping the dps of the otuher team bissy.

As you see, this takes a lot of structure. Still, I've seen people who've never met befor come togeather and formed a great team. This is probably because anyone who's played it aleast a few times knows that the healer is very important. For this reason, it's common to pause the game befor you pick your character in order to let the teams sort out who plays what role, and how they should play it. There is even a RNG that the players can use to draw lots on who plays what. It works out really well. I think it's because teamwork is just that important. Anyplayer who's seen the game realises the wight of a healer, and thus, anyone who cares about winning would spare a few minutes to goth rough the strattegy with his team mates.

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In that WoW Arena example, the strategies of the characters are so specific (and centred around a particular role combination) that it does not take long for a player to learn the role of any one part. Plus, before each game the players have time (as it is paused, they ahve as much time as they want) to talk through the strategy.

So by using limited possible strategies and communication time, this does solve the problem, and in the way I was saying: Knowing what the other players will do.

If you don't have many options, and you tell them what option you are going to take under what circumstances then it become easier to work as a team.

As you were saying, the healer heals the person with the lowest Hit points, the DPS tries to take out the other team's healer, and the CC takes out the DPS.

This is actually an implementation of Scissors/Paper/Rock.

DPS beats Healer
CC beats DPS
Healer beats CC

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Quote:
Original post by Edtharan
In that WoW Arena example, the strategies of the characters are so specific (and centred around a particular role combination) that it does not take long for a player to learn the role of any one part. Plus, before each game the players have time (as it is paused, they ahve as much time as they want) to talk through the strategy.

So by using limited possible strategies and communication time, this does solve the problem, and in the way I was saying: Knowing what the other players will do.

If you don't have many options, and you tell them what option you are going to take under what circumstances then it become easier to work as a team.

As you were saying, the healer heals the person with the lowest Hit points, the DPS tries to take out the other team's healer, and the CC takes out the DPS.

This is actually an implementation of Scissors/Paper/Rock.

DPS beats Healer
CC beats DPS
Healer beats CC


The roles for each character might not be as obvious as you might think. My favourit character, for example, is mainly a CC, but it has some aspects of a melee dps. However, I usally act as a spell dps by getting spell damage items. I say this to expalain that this isn't as straight forward as it may seem.

You have made a good analysis, but it's not quite true. The CC isn't usally able to kill anyone, but they are used for strategical purposes. The healer is somewhat like the king in chess, when it's lost, you're done for. The healers can heal themselfs, so to take them out you also need burst damage. To achive this, you should all focus the same enemy. The entier team must know what enemy to focus, when and how. This is were the CC comes in. Though they often can't beat outher players, they can prohibit outher players from doing there job, breakign down the enemys strategy.(No heal or no dps for example. Both can be big trouble for the enemy)

Like in chess, you want to take out the king, but you can't always focus on the king. For example, you might not want to focus your damage on the healer. Heack, you might want to spread out the damage and just scare away the healer so you can kill the one most convenient.

I might have spent a few to many words(that's me alright) but point is that the game does include quite a lot of strategy. It's not as simple as "I'm a dps, I should do damage". Most charactes can be used in nuberous ways, and very different syles of play is needed for differnet match-ups.

You said the teamwork works good because the players know how to play there character, and they have time to talk. I agree on this, but I would like to add a third aspect. The players don't only know how to play, they also know what ahs to be done. These may sun similar, but I see a differnece. Knowing what to do, and how to do it are two separat things. A player may have a lot of skill, but unless they know wwhat eeds to be done, they will be doing there best as a player, and not as a team member.

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{quote]The roles for each character might not be as obvious as you might think. My favourit character, for example, is mainly a CC, but it has some aspects of a melee dps. However, I usally act as a spell dps by getting spell damage items. I say this to expalain that this isn't as straight forward as it may seem.[/quote]
Yes, I agree, that the characters are not as simple as I presented them, but I did so for clarity rather than as a detailed description.

Most characters will need to be able to do something of the other types just to give them a little flexibility. If they didn't have this flexibility, then there would not actually be any gameplay in the levels and the game would be won or lost on the planning alone.

Quote:
You have made a good analysis, but it's not quite true. The CC isn't usally able to kill anyone, but they are used for strategical purposes.

When I use the term "beat", I don't mean like with a stick :) . What I mean is that they are able to prevent the target from performing its intended role. If this means killing them, then that is the result. But, it can also mean neutralising the target's powers, pushing them out of place, or anything that disrupts the purpose that the target intended.

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Though they often can't beat outher players, they can prohibit outher players from doing there job, breakign down the enemys strategy.(No heal or no dps for example. Both can be big trouble for the enemy)

So yes, they do beat them. As you say the CC can prohibit the target from doing their job.

Quote:
You said the teamwork works good because the players know how to play there character, and they have time to talk. I agree on this, but I would like to add a third aspect. The players don't only know how to play, they also know what ahs to be done. These may sun similar, but I see a differnece. Knowing what to do, and how to do it are two separat things. A player may have a lot of skill, but unless they know wwhat eeds to be done, they will be doing there best as a player, and not as a team member.

Yes. I agree. This was what my post was about. It is not enough to only know what to do (experienced player not used to playing in that particular group), and it is not enough to only know what the others are doing (new player, but has disused the strategy with the other players and they have told them what they will do in certain circumstances).

What you need is both.

In games that give too many options for players, then new players will find it hard to contribute to the team because they don't know what they are supposed to do.

Lack of communication and planning will make it hard for even experienced players to contribute to the team because they can't tell the other what they need doing, to what the other need doing.

But, too little options for players does not allow flexibility of strategy and makes the gameplay mechanical. Too much reliance on planning leaves little room for the skills of the actual players to contribute.

As I said, there is a "Sweet spot" where by there is enough flexibility in the characters, and enough communication opportunity.

I held Left 4 Dead up as a game that has this. Players can choose between a few different types of weapons, and these weapon types are clearly distinct. But they also have time before the level start to communicate with each other, and there are several breaks within a campaign where by they can regroup and readjust the strategies. Because they ahve time to do these, the limits of text chat are sufficiently mitigated (and they allow voice communication too).

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There are three results toward teamwork:

I) Cooperation [Positive Sum game]
In this situation, the players are able to communicate effectively with one another as well as having near "perfect intelligence" of what other players will do. You want to optimize this in order to have a good multiplayer game, and the gamers themselves have to learn to communicate in a civilize manner.

II) Self for self [Zero Sum game]
In this situation, most players want to get as much as they can without contributing to the rest of the team. This situation is where a GM needs to step in. Any later then this situation will cause players to leave the game. Each player in the team must know when they need to sacrifice a small amount for the rest of the team to gain a larger amount.

III) Disunity [Negative Sum game]
In this situation, so players are jealous or envious of other players and attempt to take away from other players. These players [whom destroy unity] should not be allow in cooperative games. PVP should not be in a teamwork type game, because PVP leads to Negative Sum.

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Quote:
Original post by Edtharan
Quote:
The roles for each character might not be as obvious as you might think. My favourit character, for example, is mainly a CC, but it has some aspects of a melee dps. However, I usally act as a spell dps by getting spell damage items. I say this to expalain that this isn't as straight forward as it may seem.

Yes, I agree, that the characters are not as simple as I presented them, but I did so for clarity rather than as a detailed description.

Most characters will need to be able to do something of the other types just to give them a little flexibility. If they didn't have this flexibility, then there would not actually be any gameplay in the levels and the game would be won or lost on the planning alone.

This is a very important point in my opinion. You made good point about everyone knowing what role thye are suposed to forfill, but it's not always that obvious. For example, as I mentioned I play a CC, but I usullay try to act DPS. Maby the outhers expect me to use more CC and we end up without any CC at all.

Quote:
Quote:
You have made a good analysis, but it's not quite true. The CC isn't usally able to kill anyone, but they are used for strategical purposes.

When I use the term "beat", I don't mean like with a stick :) . What I mean is that they are able to prevent the target from performing its intended role. If this means killing them, then that is the result. But, it can also mean neutralising the target's powers, pushing them out of place, or anything that disrupts the purpose that the target intended.

But a CC can not only prevent a DPS from forfilling it's role. It can preevent a healer or even anouther CC from forfilling there role. (Rock, paper, nuke) But at the same time they can only keep the enemy in that state for a few seconds, making it very important with who to target, and when. It works best if it's planned on forhand so that when I for example silence the enemy healer, the dps is ready to take out the enemy with the least HP.(Which works even better if you spread out the damage so the enemy won't know who were going to focus)

Quote:
Quote:
You said the teamwork works good because the players know how to play there character, and they have time to talk. I agree on this, but I would like to add a third aspect. The players don't only know how to play, they also know what has to be done. These may seam similar, but I see a differnece. Knowing what to do, and how to do it are two separat things. A player may have a lot of skill, but unless they know what needs to be done, they will be doing there best as a player, and not as a team member.

Yes. I agree. This was what my post was about. It is not enough to only know what to do (experienced player not used to playing in that particular group), and it is not enough to only know what the others are doing (new player, but has disused the strategy with the other players and they have told them what they will do in certain circumstances).

What you need is both.

In games that give too many options for players, then new players will find it hard to contribute to the team because they don't know what they are supposed to do.

Lack of communication and planning will make it hard for even experienced players to contribute to the team because they can't tell the other what they need doing, to what the other need doing.

But, too little options for players does not allow flexibility of strategy and makes the gameplay mechanical. Too much reliance on planning leaves little room for the skills of the actual players to contribute.

As I said, there is a "Sweet spot" where by there is enough flexibility in the characters, and enough communication opportunity.

I held Left 4 Dead up as a game that has this. Players can choose between a few different types of weapons, and these weapon types are clearly distinct. But they also have time before the level start to communicate with each other, and there are several breaks within a campaign where by they can regroup and readjust the strategies. Because they ahve time to do these, the limits of text chat are sufficiently mitigated (and they allow voice communication too).

I storngly suport those breaks were the players can readjust the strategies. WoW arena has those. You play best out of 15 and after each round, all players will level up and get gold to buy new items. They can discuss what items they need to buy, and what skills they should pick. Aswell as how to use it most efficiently in the upcomming combat.

What I meant with "knowing what needs to be done" is that basicly everyone playing WoW arena knows that they need a healer, and they also know that they need DPS to take out the healer. This nakes teamwork betwean random people easyer, because if you for example play healer, your allies are expecting you to heal them, everythign ells is up to you. While experienced teams might go into details, the unexperienced will use more general strategy such as "you heal", "Get some defence" and "We should focus their DPS". While the more experienced teams will probably do better, even the unexperienced team will have a propper strategy.(And were not tryign to make a game were every plan is equaly good, are we?)

This "sweet spot" sounds like an interesting phenomenon. If I assume that WoW arena is in that sweetspot, then I think it's because everyoen has a role, but within that role it's up to the player to do there best. In L4D it's not hard to come up with a general strategy, but you don't know exactly what will hapend(Like in WoW arena) so you'll have to improvise. Same goes for WoW arena. The very basics of the game is to kill the enemy, and survive there attacks. So both players will have planed a way to attack and a way to survive. This would almost lead to a stale-mate, were it not for CC skills. They can be used ofensivly, to hinder the enemy's survival plan, or dfensivly, to hinder the enemys attack plan. So it's very common that your plan does not work quite as well as you might hade hoped, becaus the enemy will probably have a CC too. This results in an improvisation that makes use of whatever is left from the original plan.

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I think the question is how can we design games so that teamwork is more easily accomplished?

The last few posts in this thread are centered around how different games tend to develop into having different team play strategies, based on the mechanics of the games involved. The original post was centered around the negative aspects of playing with people you don't know well (if at all).

What I am wondering is how can the players learn the mechanics of the game and after time be able to fit a particular group role more easily? All the talk of the WoW Arena mechanics is great but what about for people who don't play the Arena? How do they learn what the roles are they need to fulfill?

Are there mAybe some general principles for designing ways to get new players up to speed so that when someone unfamiliar with the strategies involved gets randomly put into a group, everyone in that group can still have an enjoyable play experience?

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I think we might be underestemating of in-game information. Such as sugestions from the game on how to optemize your teamwork. Sometimes you could have the player not ethe efect of the team work, like in many shooter the game tells you when you got a HS. If the gamer pays any atention at all he will probably note how effective that strategy worked in comparison.

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