Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

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Paul
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by Paul » Sat Sep 10, 2011 6:36 pm

Thanks - the percentage of players of any game active on its forum is always extremely low, so naturally that's one of the things we try to factor in - absolutely, we do have to consider the entire player base. Making those decisions is difficult as a lot of people are silent so we're looking for ways to engage those people.

I think making it obvious where they can post feedback of this nature will help though.
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IAMNIETZSCHE
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by IAMNIETZSCHE » Sat Sep 10, 2011 6:45 pm

Very happy on the new ELO implementation! As someone who has enjoyed playing this game competitively, I'm happy that mode7 has gotten around to improving the ladder system. I believe this is a good start towards catering to the competitive experience of Frozen Synapse, improving the long-term playability of the game.

The one problem remaining is the imbalances created by random map generation. At first I found this feature made the game a lot of fun, but as I and my competitors in tournaments and high ranked ladder matches have gotten a better understanding of the game, what I once perceived as small imbalances I now recognize as very large disparities that, while they might not ruin the fun of the game, can compromise the integrity of competitive play. Here is an idea i came up with on how to improve this without giving the game the dullness of symmetry while also increasing the strategic complexity of the game:

Allow players to take turns selecting unit composition at the start of the game for all modes with the exception of extermination, where unit composition is already symmetrical (and where this would obviously break the "scattered" position maps). This would get rid of a lot of the huge problems players see in the alternate modes, while adding a highly interesting dimension to to the game. Players would be able to tailor strategies specific to the map layout and the opponent's choices. The only problems I can see with the mechanic would be the countervailing advantages of possessing the first or last pick, especially with respect to the initial size of the army (meaning, I could imagine this not working as well on maps with less than 4 units apiece). In any case I believe this could vastly improve the balance problems people find in tournament play, while improving the game as a whole.

The only other suggestion I have would be to take explosives out of secure entirely. This is a problem because the side with the explosives has AOE weapons in a mode where you fight for control of specific territories, and is therefore obliged to bid the smallest zone on the map in order to have the attacking position (the grenade is the biggest issue here, but the rocket poses its own problems as well). It seems against the spirit of the mode for one side to purposely bid low, and, IMO, hurts the strategic aspects of the bidding process.

I would love to hear what other players think about these ideas.
IAMNIETZSCHE
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by IAMNIETZSCHE » Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:20 pm

after bringing this up in IRC, I realized that the idea would be near impossible to implement as the unit selection process could make the game take forever if players are in different time zones (doh! :-P). However, Jefis brought up the nice idea of selecting units from a randomly generated pool (I'm assuming the same for both players) such that it only took one extra turn.

In any case, I strongly feel that players should have some options to control their initial position, and that this should be done in a way that enhances the strategic depth of the game.
Jefis
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by Jefis » Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:38 pm

Ok my idea as I see it:

So now we have 2-5 units in a match and both teams randomly generated. My idea was to have 1-2 units extra to choose from in the beginning.
If the match is say 4 vs 4, both teams have randomly generated 6 units from which they will select 4 in the first turn. (IAMNIETZSCHE's version both teams have identical randomly selected pool)
I think this might solve some really unfair match-ups but still have the random element in the game, but then again give a little more control of your game.

This could be tested with custom game by randomizing and selecting the units before in irc or something...
Diomyr
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by Diomyr » Sun Sep 11, 2011 12:43 am

I agree partially with IAMNIETZSCHE and Jefis here. Unit composition in maps is a problem, but only sometimes game-breaking. I've felt many times that I was at a disadvantage, but I've never until recently had a game that I thought was rendered "unfun" or "broken" because of unit composition (it was a Disputed match against Meneth where he got stuck with 3 Snipers and 1 Machine Gun against my 4 (IIRC) Machine Guns on a map with some heavy cover around the centre). I admit that it may sometimes be unnerving to feel like you start in an already bad position, but unit diversity (and disparity) is what makes most games as interesting as they are. Allowing any form of unit manipulation would had depth to the game, yes, but it would also change the focus of the game from "playing your opponent" to "playing the map". What I mean is that players would become more focused on doing the best plays possible with view to achieving the map objective instead of trying to read and counter their opponents - the game may not be ready for this, balance-wise. I don't know this, of course, and am making no claims here, just pointing out the possibility.

My way around this would simply be to keep the game as it is and give players in competitive matches the ability to choose their matches - basically having both players play a map they both agree on. This could be time consuming from the player's point of view if they kept running into strange maps and would certainly delay any form of competitive play, but it's an easy, cheap and infallible way to have fair (or at least perceivably fair) matches.

Selecting units from a pool is not without its problems, as far as I can see. For instance, there are some maps (or game modes) where having some form of indirect fire would make all the difference. With all honesty, in competitive play, having indirect fire adds so many variables for your opponent that I, for one, would choose them every time just for the pressure factor. I don't know exactly how starting unit composition is selected right now, but I'm guessing line-ups aren't totally random. So either you have the extra units chosen by the same measure and don't fix the problem much, or allow for complete randomness in the extra units and in that case you're adding a luck element in the (not rare) cases where indirect fire would make the difference, or a Shotgun would make all the difference, or a Sniper would make all the difference. What I'm trying to say is that having 1 or 2 more units to pick from could hurt games as much as it could balance them. And if the pool is the same for both players, most times matches would just end up being played by the same units on both sides, which in turn is boring. This is however an interesting suggestion. I'd like to run some numbers and consider this before taking a position.

As with IAMNIETZSCHE's suggestion to remove indirect fire from Secure, I disagree. Having them in Secure means that you have to adapt. If you think your opponent will bid to lose, then bid two squares in a relatively open area of the map and protect the zone with your unit's fire, not their physical presence. If you end up attacking, the point in discussion does not apply, and if you end up defending you're in a good position.
IAMNIETZSCHE
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by IAMNIETZSCHE » Sun Sep 11, 2011 1:26 am

Hey Diomyr, thanks for responding.

The pool selection idea may have its problems, but I don't think one of them would be to shift the strategic focus away from "playing the opponent" to "playing the map". If anything, I think it would add more synergy between the two and more metagame-y content on the whole. I'd personally make a point to scout the opponents unit preferences by looking at replays, considering how he thinks about using units together, etc. In my opinion there would be greater possibilities for varying styles and for reading them.

This is just a thought with regards to what i see as a real huge problem for competitive play. Thinking about how many matches I've looked at through doing FSL, I really feel like we are now seeing the strongest players use unit imbalance to great effect in a LOT of games, and these rarely turn out to be very exciting games to watch and present. I also don't find such matches all that fun to play, especially against players with a similar understanding of the game with whom I really want a fair fight. Thinking about the matches we've covered in FSL, the best games are the ones where the starting position is "fair" or at worst "unclear". Of course, all this could be solved easily by implementing a system whereby a competent tournament director can select maps for the tournament. I just think it would be a lot of fun to have that added ability to leave one's mark on the game. There are probably a lot of ways to achieve a better balanced game, I'm just very interested in what other players' ideas are.

As for the secure suggestion, that has more to do with personal preference on game design than it does with balance. I understand how explosives force you to adapt, I just prefer a game where both players are thinking more about the size of the initial bid as opposed to immediately bidding a tiny area in order to be the attacker.
jflatto
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by jflatto » Sun Sep 11, 2011 1:30 am

Paul wrote:Thanks - the percentage of players of any game active on its forum is always extremely low, so naturally that's one of the things we try to factor in - absolutely, we do have to consider the entire player base. Making those decisions is difficult as a lot of people are silent so we're looking for ways to engage those people.

I think making it obvious where they can post feedback of this nature will help though.

This is what I expected based on other forums for games that I am on. Paul, do you have any way to determine how many folks primarily play online versus folks who primarily play offline?

Personally, I would like to see the skirmish generator expanded to include more of the various modes available in the online games. It looks like the skirmish generator is currently capable of creating extermination mode (light only). Am I correct in this assumption about the capabilities of the skirmish generator??

Thanks.
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Cyron
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by Cyron » Sun Sep 11, 2011 6:49 am

IAMNIETZSCHE wrote:There are probably a lot of ways to achieve a better balanced game, I'm just very interested in what other players' ideas are.
Mine are fairly much diametrically opposed to yours :)

The games I find most boring to play and to watch, are the games where it's an even distribution of gunnery units. Nothing says "This will be a long, grindy game of annoying tactics like stacking & camping" than an evenly balanced map where we both have two MGs and an SG.

The thing that draws me to FS is the uneven nature of the maps and units. Just like a game of cards, you have to do the best you can with the hand you've been dealt, and try to fool and outplay your opponent.
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wonderhero
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by wonderhero » Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:11 am

Cyron wrote:The games I find most boring to play and to watch, are the games where it's an even distribution of gunnery units. Nothing says "This will be a long, grindy game of annoying tactics like stacking & camping" than an evenly balanced map where we both have two MGs and an SG.
Cyron wrote:The thing that draws me to FS is the uneven nature of the maps and units. Just like a game of cards, you have to do the best you can with the hand you've been dealt, and try to fool and outplay your opponent.
Cyron, nobody said that we have to fight only with symmetrical teams. We just want new options here.
My idea is to eliminate some imbalanced situations of random units setup. So until this will be improved I want a new option with symmetrical teams.

I really want you to fool me with the following settings on Disputed game:
- your 3xSnipers+1xSG against my 1xSniper/MG + 3xSG or
- your 3xSnipers+1xMG against my 3xMG+1xSniper/SG/MG
If you have doubt, challenge me and I will give you 25$ if you win. I really want to see how your Snipers will collect the boxes. The same thing for Charge and Secure.
Of course I would like to defeat some newbies if they have such as advantage.
I hope FS will not become a game of luck.

Cyron be honest and tel me how many times you preferred to have any other units instead of 2 snipers in your team ? It's just a sample.

Ideal is to select your own team according to the given map. This will solve all imbalance problems.
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by wonderhero » Sun Sep 11, 2011 10:52 am

Some balanced, interesting and exciting teams compositions:
GL vs RL or GL vs SG or RL vs SG or 1xSG + 1xSniper vs 2xMG and the rest of team is symmetrical.

It was very entertainment when I met these situations.
Diomyr
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by Diomyr » Sun Sep 11, 2011 3:18 pm

wonderhero wrote:Some balanced, interesting and exciting teams compositions:
GL vs RL or GL vs SG or RL vs SG or 1xSG + 1xSniper vs 2xMG and the rest of team is symmetrical.

It was very entertainment when I met these situations.
If there could be a system that would generate these kind of choices, then I agree this would be much better. But this is inherently difficult to implement. How can the game offer balanced choices without being capable of analyzing the map? Unless there was an option to allow players (with tournament organizers in mind) to create the pools in advance. That could be interesting.
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by Cyron » Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:00 pm

wonderhero wrote:Cyron, nobody said that we have to fight only with symmetrical teams. We just want new options here.
My idea is to eliminate some imbalanced situations of random units setup. So until this will be improved I want a new option with symmetrical teams.

I really want you to fool me with the following settings on Disputed game:
- your 3xSnipers+1xSG against my 1xSniper/MG + 3xSG or
- your 3xSnipers+1xMG against my 3xMG+1xSniper/SG/MG
Firstly, I don't mind unfair games like that, because they're not exactly common. Am I going to win disputed with 3 snipers? Not likely, but I can live with that. And if it has to change? Change it by hard capping the number of snipers you can be randomly given in disputed, not by allowing people to take the randomness out of it
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TehShrike
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by TehShrike » Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:22 pm

I don't mind playing "imbalanced" games. Ian's post a few months back pretty much hit the nail on the head in my opinion. I've never turned a (randomly generated) game down because it was imbalanced, I play 'em all.

And what's more, I think most of the other top players do too - my impression of the hardcore FS culture is that the good players usually aren't afraid of playing someone else with units that take them out of their comfort range.

That said, I think Jefis' idea is the best I've heard as solutions to the imbalance "problem" (which is not a serious issue to me personally). If Ian were to spend development time attempting to cut down on the "someone gets screwed" games, I would want it to be on something like that (both players select N units out of N+M randomly generated units).
wonderhero
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by wonderhero » Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:53 pm

TehShrike wrote:And what's more, I think most of the other top players do too - my impression of the hardcore FS culture is that the good players usually aren't afraid of playing someone else with units that take them out of their comfort range.
No TehShrike, is not about "afraid", it's waste of time to play with too imbalance units composition. "Concede button" is the solution.
Who said "comfort" ? It's about "impossible to win".
Maybe it's fun for you to beat inexperienced players with these compositions. For me it's not fun.
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TehShrike
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Re: Mode7 you need to start supporting the game further.

Post by TehShrike » Sun Sep 11, 2011 10:53 pm

wonderhero wrote:
TehShrike wrote:And what's more, I think most of the other top players do too - my impression of the hardcore FS culture is that the good players usually aren't afraid of playing someone else with units that take them out of their comfort range.
No TehShrike, is not about "afraid", it's waste of time to play with too imbalance units composition. "Concede button" is the solution.
Who said "comfort" ? It's about "impossible to win".
Maybe it's fun for you to beat inexperienced players with these compositions. For me it's not fun.
No, beating inexperienced players when you have a unit/map advantage isn't fun. But I've had plenty of fun games where I fought against a good or better player while I had (in my opinion) a disadvantage.

I dunno - I never resigned any chess games. I've scraped some unlikely draws/wins out of chess tournaments. Maybe it's just habit for me to play it out.

Playing from behind, or with really sucky units, isn't a good feeling, but playing the game out usually feels worthwhile by the time I'm done with it.
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