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multiplayer map / team composition

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This is for a 2d MOBA for Tablets (initially Android only, iPad too eventually) game, more details available at starbasecitadel.com.  I’m reasonably close to being done with my first major milestone which is an early, fully playable (though very buggy and lacking much features) prototype.  For the rest of this discussion I will make use of LoL terminology just as a point of reference.

 

As currently stands, there are 2 teams.  Each team has 1 starbase and the rest are all starships (currently each team just has a single all-round class of starship).  Planets are placed randomly around the map upon initialization, with about 1/3 assigned to each team or neutral.  One of each team’s planets is randomly designated as the Citadel.  The first team to capture the opposing team’s citadel wins the game.  

 

Planets you own produce armies on occasion, and to capture another planet, you go to one of your planets with an army, pick it up, and drop it on an enemy planet (making it “neutral”) or onto a neutral planet (capturing it for your side).  The benefit of owning planets is they can be upgraded with defense grids, giving your team a tactic advantage in fights near them as well as fuel and repair stations, which help your team project a deeper presence.  I haven’t implemented minions yet, but each planet will produce 1-2 minions periodically.

 

Currently, you join the game and are randomly assigned to any open slot on either team, possibly including the Starbase if it is available.

 

So this is all well and good :)  But I think the game just needs more depth and strategy to it, even out the gate.  So here is my new proposal (see attached image too), that adds a lot of structure to team composition and the map:

 

There will still be 2 teams.  However, instead of each team being 1 race as it is now, instead each team will consist of 3 races.  

 

Each Race will consist of 3 players, making a total of 9 players per team.   

 

Each team will have 1 Race designated as the team’s Primary race that consists of the following:

  Starbase

  Explorer Starship x2

 

Each team will also have 2 other races, in this configuration:

  Cruiser Starship x2  

  Support Starship 

 

Cruiser Starships are like all round offensive ships.  

You can think of Explorer Starships like Junglers, they have high sustain and are the best for soloing “jungle” camps, ganking, and mobility.

Support Starships are a cross between “support” champions in LoL (healers etc), and the Engineer in TF2.

 

At the game start, each race will have a Capital planet, with the Primary race’s capital being the Citadel.  

 

Capital planets, Citadels, and Starbases each will give a Racial proximity bonus to nearby starships of their race.    Citadels and Capital Planets will have a higher tier of defense grid than other planets can achieve.

 

Onto the proposed map:   Team A will consist of Maroon, Red, and Orange.  Team B will consist of Purple, Blue, and Cyan.  Each color represents a distinct Race.  Each planet that your team controls will periodically produce minions.  The arrows show the direction these minions move.  I put arrows for Team A’s left side, but it is symmetric, so the right side of the map is the same thing.  Team B will have minions too of course, again symmetric to what you see, create 2 “lanes” that go from the Citadels’s of each team roughly towards the left and right sides of the map and then back in again toward’s the other team’s Citadel.

 

There are Jungle areas which are encounters that can be fought over to get experience and buffs, and a “Super Jungle” which is a particularly tough one that isn’t winnable until later in the game when starships are leveled up enough. 

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A few quick questions:

- why do you assigne roles directly to players? Maybe someone doesn't want to be a starbase sitting around and waiting for anything to happen

- are you confident to fill up 9v9 maps quickly? If not, does your gameplay degrade if there are less players present?

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I think you are going for too many players on one team, because the communication between players is quite amputated on tablets. During LoL you can use audio chat or type some stuff, on tablets that is harder to accomplish. So having more players will only lead to more confusion that usually installs when people work for the same goal without communicating properly.

 

I would go for an iterative approach and release the game as it is and then expand upon the concept and test new things (so you would have a final playable version on the app store and a test version with the new stuff).

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- why do you assigne roles directly to players? Maybe someone doesn't want to be a starbase sitting around and waiting for anything to happen

 

 

You will be able to pick your role.  There will be different queues for each role, so if you queue as "First Available" (the default), you are always instantly guaranteed to be place in a game instance (unless every single game instance is full).  For some of the more in-demand roles there will be a queue where you have to wait until a slot is open to get in in some cases

 

 

 

- are you confident to fill up 9v9 maps quickly? If not, does your gameplay degrade if there are less players present?

 

 

I'm planning to pitch to publishers sometime next year, and if I find a good fit with a publisher who can help with polish and marketing, I am confident the 9v9 maps will indeed be constantly full or nearly full.   Whether that ends up being 2 full instances or 100's I won't venture to guess, but in general when you join, the chances will hopefully be that your instance is full/near-full.   

 

During periods of slower activity (3am), game instances will automatically be shut down so that players are assigned to a smaller number to keep them full.

 

If there isn't a full stack of players, the game does degrade in the sense the other Starship slots etc are played by AI Bots (at least in "normal/unranked" mode), which to most people is less interesting.  But the goal is most instances will be say 80%+ filled with players, and with AI Bots taking over as placeholders just during transition as players leave and new ones take their place.

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I think you are going for too many players on one team, because the communication between players is quite amputated on tablets. During LoL you can use audio chat or type some stuff, on tablets that is harder to accomplish. So having more players will only lead to more confusion that usually installs when people work for the same goal without communicating properly.
 

 

I am somewhat worried about in game communication too, but I really wanted to go higher than the standard 5 per team MOBA's for several reasons.  The first is it gives the game a more epic feel, but also simultaneously I think it can appeal to more casual mobile players more.  When there are just 3 or 5 people on your team, leaving the game makes a much bigger impact than when there are 9.   Normal (unranked) games will make it very easy for players to join within seconds, and then leave say 5 minutes later, without hurting their team.

 

That said, I plan on adding several kinds of pings in terms of which planets to attack, to retreat etc.  That should be much faster than typing (though less good than Bluetooth voice communication).  

 

Additionally, (haven't decided if this feature will make it to launch yet), but at least down the road, 1 player on each team will be the Admiral.  The Admiral's primary responsibility is dealing with exactly the problem as you describe-- coordination.  They will not be playing tactically, but strategically, giving instructions (pings essentially) to their team to help time attacks and retreats.  

 

 

I would go for an iterative approach and release the game as it is and then expand upon the concept and test new things (so you would have a final playable version on the app store and a test version with the new stuff).

 

This is something I've been torn about.  I am really tempted by such approach, but my fear is launching with the game as is (or even in a month or two) it would just be so unpolished and lacking features it would not attract many (any?) smile.png players.   In such a scenario, even if the game slowly gets better, there might just be so few players that new releases aren't able to generate sufficient buzz to increase the player base rapidly.

 

I think the chances of success would be higher coming out of the gate with a more polished product, hopefully with a publisher helping on the marketing side, even if it takes much longer to launch.    Maybe I'll split the difference here and open it up sooner than I was expecting as an early alpha work in progress, though that limits it to Android (iOS requires games to be "complete" / not marketed as alpha or beta).

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I'm not dead-set on doing the new map / composition as the next thing.  Some other possible big features to do instead could be (in no particular order):

 

- Admirals (an entire new kind of player that each team has 1 of, I'd create a new UI for them that is more strategic and based on pings and coordination)

 

- Economy system.  Allow ability to mine resources and purchase weapons, armor etc upgrades

 

- Experience system.  In-game leveling system.

 

- More starship types (Assassin-class starships, Spy-class starships etc, more differentiation for battle ships and support-class ships)

 

- Carriers / carrier groups.  (A new kind of starship that grants Aura bonuses and refueling to Starships of a compatible class that dock with it)

 

- Chain explosions.  Explosions themselves can do damage, often times causing chain explosions (domino effect).  

 

- Starship Collisions cause "bouncing" ( a friend suggested this one, if you hit another Starship you bounce of them smile.png)

 

- Pilots + Droid Units.  You can think of these as the LoL equivalents of Summoner Spells.  The idea here is each Starship player would chose 1 Pilot and 1 Droid Unit, each of which grant probably 1 passive bonus and 1 Active ability on a cooldown.

 

I still have hopefully less than a month or 2 to finish off what's needed to get a bare minimum alpha/demo.  But looking after that I'm pretty conflicted on where to go.  I see a lot of things that could really enhance the game but it's hard to determine the best sequence of anything here, whether along the lines of my original post, some of these ideas, or a new direction entirely.    If anyone has further feedback please chime in smile.png

 

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A strict team composition means taking away all the other theoretically possible compositions = less content/depth.

The casual gamer might be attracted to it though, especially if they can learn just one role and always do that.

I do suggest to allow both types of composition-games(aka free and fixed)

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That is a good point, it does hurt creativity in the meta-game.  Though it also prevents possible troll-type situations (all Engineers, all Spy's in TF2? A server I was on put a class limit for this various reason)

 

Btw, on this subject, LoL just announced they are adding in support for strict team comp (I think as an option, not a requirement):

 

http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=3951169

 

 

 

Lyte here, and in this post I’m excited to talk with you about Team Builder, a new feature coming to PBE in the near future where you can queue up for a specific role, champion and position and get connected with four teammates that also preselected their preferred role. The goal is to build a balanced team where everyone’s in agreement on where they’re going and what they’re playing, and in doing so help lay the foundation for good teamwork. 

 

 

 

edit: Looks like this is more flexible than I was thinking, they will even support things like double jungle etc.  So it is more along the lines of something to make Matchmaking easier (eg, make it a better user experience for you to get the roll you want, without really limiting the types of meta too much).  

Edited by starbasecitadel

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