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Kohake

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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Quote:
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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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.

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.

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.

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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