The 'Campaign To Rid This Game Of Abandoned Losses' thread.

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Scorpion0x17
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The 'Campaign To Rid This Game Of Abandoned Losses' thread.

Postby Scorpion0x17 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:53 pm

AKA: The thread where you name-and-shame players that you're certain have abandoned a game because they're about to lose.

Now, before I go any further, a note of caution:

This thread is in the 'Polite FS Discussion' part of the forums -it should NOT be used as an excuse to flame or troll other players!
Namers-and-shamers should have GOOD REASONS for naming-and-shaming someone, and the named-and-shamed should respond by finishing their match(es)!


So, if you have games in your active game list which you are sure have been abandoned by your opponent because they're about to lose, post the following details, in this thread:

  • Game ID - Host Server (e.g: 123456 - UK1)
  • Your player ID vs Opponent Player ID (e.g: Scorpion0x17 vs FredBloggs (red highlight shows the offending game abandoner))
  • A screen shot of the game showing that you are in a, clear, winning position, and that your opponent can not avoid a loss (this is most important - without this your claim is unsubstantiated, and you should be pilloried, and otherwisely duly shamed)

Note: The above example information is just an example, it does not represent a real game, and does not imply anything about any player named FredBloggs, if such a player exists.
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Scorpion0x17
Posts: 508
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:40 pm
Location: Cambridge

Re: The 'Campaign To Rid This Game Of Abandoned Losses' thre

Postby Scorpion0x17 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:55 pm

582656 - UK1
Peekee vs Scorpion0x17
Image
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Slow Dog
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: The 'Campaign To Rid This Game Of Abandoned Losses' thre

Postby Slow Dog » Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:24 pm

This thread is going to be nothing but trouble.

Like, your very first case:
Scorpion0x17 wrote:582656 - UK1
Peekee vs Scorpion0x17


You're not a clear, winnable position. If Peekee stays where he is, he's untouchable, whereas you've got a killable unit (i.e one close enough to a wall). Consider yourself pilloried.
Scorpion0x17
Posts: 508
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:40 pm
Location: Cambridge

Re: The 'Campaign To Rid This Game Of Abandoned Losses' thre

Postby Scorpion0x17 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:43 pm

Slow Dog wrote:You're not [in] a clear, winnable position.


Actually, I've tested it, and, yes, I am.

If Peekee wishes to prove me wrong, then I challenge him to do so.
trolling [verb]:
Posting with the intention of provoking a reaction.
Scorpion0x17
Posts: 508
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:40 pm
Location: Cambridge

Re: The 'Campaign To Rid This Game Of Abandoned Losses' thre

Postby Scorpion0x17 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:11 pm

Further proof:

Peekee's RL2 0.8s closer to, and firing at, the wall nearest to my RL3:
Image

And the result:
Image

In fact, his RL2 would have to be here:
Image
(approximately 3s closer) to kill my RL3!

(oh, and even if he was there, one or two steps further forward and he ends up caught in the blast too!)
trolling [verb]:
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wonderhero
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Re: The 'Campaign To Rid This Game Of Abandoned Losses' thre

Postby wonderhero » Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:41 am

What is the starting date of that game ? You have to give your opponents 2 weeks to take his turn. Maybe he is on holidays. Is not necessary to finish immediately a game when you are about to lose it. You have 2 weeks.

First picture is enough to prove that you are the winner.
Scorpion0x17
Posts: 508
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:40 pm
Location: Cambridge

Re: The 'Campaign To Rid This Game Of Abandoned Losses' thre

Postby Scorpion0x17 » Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:37 pm

wonderhero wrote:What is the starting date of that game ? You have to give your opponents 2 weeks to take his turn. Maybe he is on holidays. Is not necessary to finish immediately a game when you are about to lose it. You have 2 weeks.


True, it's not over 2 weeks old, however, I track the elo of players I've got open games with (primarily so that I can calculate my elo change when a game completes), and not only have I seen Peekee online several times within the last couple of days, but also his elo has changed during that period (and since I primed my turn in that game), so he is definitely a currently active player.

wonderhero wrote:First picture is enough to prove that you are the winner.


Yeah, I know. Slow Dog didn't think so though.
trolling [verb]:
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jonwong
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Re: The 'Campaign To Rid This Game Of Abandoned Losses' thre

Postby jonwong » Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:55 am

Oh, I now remember why I gave up on the game last year after just 5 games. I had maybe 2-3 abandoned games. I even have 1 possible newly abandoned game now; my first online game after a year, and it's abandoned! (Or he plays only in weekends). My first move was always rather devastating (see Turn-2 match with Hakim772), which could result in more abandoned games. Yes, I think a lot, but only took 5-15 minutes to submit my turn.

Seems the only way I'm gonna enjoy this game is: single-player, multi-player with friends.

Players Abandon Game When They Feel Cheated By the Game

As I mentioned in another post tangentially, the game mechanics need to change to keep players interested.

How? Mechanics must provide enough control to players to give some hope/impression that situations are still winnable. Currently, planning for 5 seconds can mean a lot can go wrong. Too little control. There's also Dark games being broken without the Focus/Ignore Zone user interface, which is currently still buggy. If players feel they have too little control over their loss, they'll most certainly abandon the match. Or worse, abandon the game altogether!

If an opponent kills 2 out of 4 of my soldiers in first turn, despite me spending a good 1-2 hours on planning it, I'm gonna feel like the game cheated me. Especially in situations where the artificial 5-second block gave a counter-intuitive loss.

Counter-intuitive loss? Eg 2 soldiers, his and mine, are quite far away from cover (half-wall), both sighting each other. I stay still and aim, while he aims and walks towards the cover. While both soldiers are still quite far away from cover, his soldier shoots mine. So I'll be thinking: "Staying still gives me a 1 up. Aiming gives me another 1 up. Neither are in cover. What gives?". That didn't happen to me; I did that to a friend, who promptly abandoned the game. It's the "cover and 2x distance rule" that is unpublished, and rather counter-intuitive.

Artificial 5-second block too long? Eg A machine gunner wants to pop off an enemy before sprinting sideways for a nearby wall to avoid a shotgun chasing from behind. He figures the shotgun will catch up within 3 seconds, so he's gotta make that nearby wall in 3 seconds. Therefore, he calculates he can aim out the window for only 1.5 seconds before sprinting for the wall. He figures it takes 1 second to make the kill, so he sets his wait-timer to 0.5 seconds. He commits his turn. Alas, the enemy comes into view a little later (aim-walk), costing him 1.5 seconds to make the kill, not 1. The timer counts down for another 0.5 seconds, and he's 0.5 seconds late to the wall. He gets shot by the shotgun. If the player had a smaller time-block (less than 5 seconds), he'd be able to respond better.

(Artificial 5-second block too short? Eg 2 busy individuals playing async. Both teams are far from each other. It takes 2 turns to reach one another. Instead of taking 1 play session (say 1 day) for teams to contact, it takes 2 days. Both of them are asking Mode 7 if the game can allow a pause right at vital (and exciting) points in the game.)

From personal experience, if I lost anything (sports, games) in first turn so drastically, I need to gather up tons of good sportsmanship in my heart to go on. After a while, I do get used to it, even love a good beating. But that's me. Many of us would just give up feeling cheated by the game.

There may be some ways for us to reduce chance of folks abandoning games.

Publish Clear Rules of Game (like chess)

Remove the feeling of being cheated. Since the game is counter-intuitive in many areas, make a solid effort to publish accurate documentation. There's a good attempt here: Principles of Combat. However, note how Mode 7 does not support this community effort at all: "NOTE: The following has been determined by observation of games and not of source code, the implementation of this system is almost certainly different to that described here. This section does, however, describes a good model for the behavior of the game's implementation."

Heck, chess is counter-intuitive, does not mirror real life. The only reason why it works is because the rules are clear and published. And that's why chess has such an immense following (used worldwide as part of teaching curriculum).

Have a Robust Scoring/Ranking System

Create a robust scoring system. Eg, abandoning games should cause a HUGE hit to score. System should dutifully remind players which games are nearing time out, and remind them at least 3 times to submit turns for those games. I bet the system doesn't have this yet? If I missed the time out, I'd have plenty of reasons to cry foul! So much for having a robust scoring system, right?

Have Different Types of Scored Games, Ranked and Less Ranked

Let there be different types of scored games with different weightage. Ranked games. Unranked games. Timed games. Etc.

Online timed games add and lose the most points to ELO. Both players are online, and each player's "Time spent in Thinking factors into the final score. Yeah, it's a whole metagame that developers have to spend effort on. "How many points to award fast thinkers? How many points per kill?" And these games' maps cannot be procedurally generated, just as chess starting positions are never changed. In my last game with Hakim772, he had 3 soldiers (2 grenades 1 rocket) in a room, while I had a single grenade right outside. No wonder he abandoned the game!

Async play can also be timed, but let the time be in terms of days.

Some players just don't like being ranked. Let them have unranked games.

Have Symmetrical Starts, or a Robust Handicap Calculator

In general, heavily ranked games should have perfectly symmetrical starting positions, so that players don't feel cheated (search online for how many Frozen Synapse game owners consider the game "rather luck-based").

But we can still have procedurally generated starting positions for ranked games IF and ONLY IF Mode 7 is able to calculate handicap. Eg, a player who wins from an advantaged start won't earn much points, and the loser in this case may even gain points.

Yes, it's a whole metagame (not Frozen Synapse itself), this scoring system. That's why chess tournaments and rankings is still so popular a thing to chase after. They have 15-minute blitz matches that tests your ability to make 80%-near-ideal moves. And then there are 45-minute matches that tests other stuff. And then async play for more depth. Etc.

Currently in Frozen Synapse, there's none of that (far as I can see).

Get More Players

The proportion of abandoned games will decrease simply as a direct result of having more games in play! The more popular a game is, the more interested their players, and consequently less abandoned games.

There are many ways to get more players. The foremost of which is the methods described above: have a robust scoring system, including handicap calculations. Once the game has the pre-requisite of a robust scoring system, it can start to organize tournaments to draw in the crowds. Without that pre-requisite, throwing in million-dollar prizes for tournaments will only get lots of people crying foul.

Sadly, that's the hard way to get more players. Took chess a long long time to gain traction too. Why? Market segment too small. You're targeting the top 10% of the bell curve who love to abuse their brain cells and think hard for thinking games.

The easy way to get more players is to lower barrier to entry. No, not price. People spend money on a whim if your product is popular (I spent hundreds on pretty games I'll never find time to complete). Instead, get a handle on making it popular.

Many ways to make it popular and more fun.

Introduce game mechanics to let players feel like they're in command of tight-knit synergistic teams. How? Figure out how to remove the artificial 5-second block, and let players play tightly orchestrated plans against overwhelming odds in single-player modes. Look at the various popular games in this genre: 4X titles, X-COM (many of my friends wouldn't give this up to play Frozen Synapse!), Starcraft, etc. This game mode wouldn't make Frozen Synapse the go-to game to measure tactical skills to be put on resumes. However, they do draw in the crowds by providing fun factor, as well as lowering barrier to entry for an easy welcome.

So which way is Mode 7 going for? The hard way: robust game design to make Frozen Synapse the next chess game? Or the easy way: add fun to the game to give an easy welcome to more players? Is Mode 7 doing anything at all for their beloved game?

Why Players Really Abandon Matches, or even the Game?

A possible train of thoughts below.

First case, a dedicated gamer. Possibly learned. Possibly good with maths and logic.

He's thinking that Frozen Synapse is tough, requires thinking, ala chess. He loses, but perseveres. He's thinking he just needs to invest time learning the game. He doesn't mind chess anyway, but Frozen Synapse is real-time and so much more fun, with action.

He realizes there simply is no learning for this game. He feels a tug back towards chess. The developers refuse to publish clear rules for it. He resorts to a wiki that sort of explains the rules, except that the explanation is not official. He tests it out, works somewhat, so he's encouraged.

However, he starts getting abandoned matches. He first moves are always devastating.

He spends a month with it, plays 100 matches, wins most. He spots the problems in scoring mechanisms and handicap calculations (lack thereof). He empathizes with the rage quitters. He starts to lose interest in Frozen Synapse.

He supposes the fact that the forums even need a Polite FS Discussion board shows that the player base isn't large enough to provide sufficient numbers of serious players. Most are currently rage quitters, or semi-interested dabblers, or discerning individuals who got distracted by other games... all of whom abandon matches every so often. He becomes one of them, even abandoning games he's about to win (I did that for Shogun 2 when I realized my un-improved troops can kill 1:100 at Legendary difficulty, but online play is something else).


Second case, the typical fun-seeker

A typical gamer wants fun.

He's thinking that Frozen Synapse is tough, requires thinking, ala chess. But he gets the impression that it's a real test of tactics in the REAL WORLD (urban warfare), and it's about time he does something useful with his time anyway.

He realizes there aren't clear published rules. He finds a wiki that sort of explains the rules, though explanations are not official. He believes he's chanced upon some rare tips and walkthroughs, and is eager to have serious fun beating unsuspecting opponents online.

Online, he wins some, loses some. His mind is more focused on fun than on tactics.

After a while, he gets bored. It's the same green and red men running around. He tries boasting to his friends in the army about his exploits in this game, but gets a whole list of fake and counter-intuitive aspects in Frozen Synapse shoved in his face.

He finally understands that Frozen Synapse isn't gonna prove he's a good tactician. Anyway, there aren't many opponents online (1000 world-wide?) who will let him prove that. Nobody is taking Frozen Synapse as a good measure of tactical skill.

He sees the rankings on online chess games. He decides he's not gonna spend his life being a chess geek, nor stick with Frozen Synapse that is nowhere near useful in training his tactics.

He reaches for Skyrim. Diablo 3. Civ 5. Heroes of Might and Magic. Terraria, Minecraft, where the crowds are. Where things are more lively. And eagerly awaits the upcoming X-COM from Firaxis.
jonwong
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:45 pm

My first rage quitter since I came back to FS after a year!

Postby jonwong » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:21 am

Oh well. Talk about rage quitters, I just met my first today since I started on Frozen Synapse after a year.

Match ID 596171. Darumir. Rage quitted at GMT 09:45hrs.

He's not bad. He beat me 2 or 3 games today. Ok, fine I was busy reading/writing on this forum, but he really isn't bad. I was a double-feinter (search my other posts on feinting and double-feinting); he was a non-feinter. Because of that, he was fast enough to double-back behind my soldiers in all 2-3 matches he won.

Then I decided to get serious, and actually draw out 3-5 possibilities for each of his soldiers. In this match (596171), I feinted (not double-feinted), and ganged up 2 machine gunners to take out 1 of his, making it 2 machine gunners vs 1 left. He quit right after.

Bearing in mind that he was with me for all 2-3 matches he won, all over 2.5 hours (I was reading and writing on this forum throughout in meantime), it most likely is a rage quit. In the least, he could just text a "Wow. Great feint. I'm beat, after striving so hard and beating you 3 in a row. I'll finish the match that I'm losing, promise. Please allow me to collect myself for the shock. I'll feint you down next time. Thanks for the lesson.". Or something as simple as: "Wow, shock. Good one. Be back later.".

He's not communicative throughout the games. At the 2nd match, I asked him if he tried zones yet. No response. I was experimenting with it in first 2 games with him, completely messed up my maps. (Can we still NOT delete zones YET??).

For now, let's assume Darumir hasn't abandoned the game. He may not speak English, for all I know.

Back to topic of naming and shaming.

What's the point of naming and shaming such people? For every 1 good player (some Joel guy, Scorpion here on forum, etc etc), there must be 99 bad ones. Why should I spend my time neatly documenting and blacklisting 99% of the gamer base?

As I said, this game is really only good among friends, not strangers. I think I paid US$10 for 2 copies (last year, beta). But that's it. Judging from the forums and the lack of tightening of quality controls, I'm not going further with this Indie game, won't buy expansions and what not. Not unless someone convinces me that this game doesn't boil down to a "Get lucky guessing your opponents' go-go-go paths" (see this post about go-go-go in Frozen Synapse, and its lack of go-see-go).

For now, this game really does seem rather luck-based. 40% tactics, 50% psychology (guess my opponent's go-go-go paths), 10% urban tactics know-how. Why just 10% of urban tactics? Leap-frog and such can't be done right in 8 x 5-sec blocks (40 seconds total). Too coarse-grained. It may be possible in 16 x 2-sec blocks (32 seconds in total) given finer-grained control.

Back to work and study! Wait for Firaxis' new X-COM!

Scorpion0x17, in answer to your asking (in another thread) for a survey on why Frozen Synapse gamers quit the game for good, let me throw in my 2 cents here. Actually, in my few (long long) posts, I already threw in a lot of my thoughts and likes and frustrations with this game. Hope it's not too TL;DR for Mode 7 to make improvements. Sigh. Sad fact is only you, good Sir Scorpion0x17, even bothered to ask "why gamers leave Frozen Synapse". Mode 7 never asked that, did they?

And yes, I do agree with you that Peekee may have abandoned your game. I don't suggest your waste time analyzing whether or not he did. Just... just let us (you and me) have fun with this game. And be done with it. For $10, it's been worth it. Plus you and I may even mod it, or perhaps even rewrite it with better game mechanics in future.

Let the good ones gather. Let us either cooperate with Mode 7 or rewrite it ourselves. Let's make Frozen Synapse 90% tactics and 10% psychology.

It was fun while it lasted. At least I am proud to say I played the first successful implementation of Pseudo-True Real-Time Tactics. Historical significance. Conventional Real-Time Tactics (ala Starcraft) are too much of a click-fest. Conventional Turn-Based Tactics are nowhere near realistic nor intuitive ("What? He got that strong vantage point because he moved first?? I'm going back to playing White in chess!!"); problem exists with the upcoming Firaxis' X-COM too. Oh well.

Oh well. Sigh sigh. Back to treating games as mindless occasional feel-good fun. And back to chess for actual sense of accomplishment. Frozen Synapse fits neither end of spectrum. Content not as fun as Shogun 2, Anno series, even Jagged Alliance. Game mechanics affords no sense of actual accomplishment at all, compared to chess, GO (real tough!), and some Euro board games.

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