Producer’s reaction to complex capture rules

“NOOOOOooooo!!!!!!11!!1!1././.-.-.-”

This, my friends, is a victory. Complex game rules are invariably bad. There are times when they are acceptable.

Our game has historically kept the player in the dark about all kinds of things. For some it was the je-ne-sais-quoi of the game. Knowing wtf just happened was a mark of a pro. Everyone else went to Planetside or WoW.

We are a PvP game, we’re about fighting and stuff. Capture – and victory – are bragging mats. Captures are mean’t to be truffles, not tic tacs.

Unfortunately, capture has always been a fairly precise science. If you look at the game’s history you’ll see that has never worked out well.

1.31 is going to have a progress bar for the capture of the facility you are in. That there, and well documented set of contributing factors, should be sufficient to allow for a complex rule set for capture.

So the producers are right to immediately say “No” to complex rules.

Firstly: The most important elements of the rules need to be exposed, and the capture bar can facilitate that. Perhaps some of the most important elements should be annotated on the capture bar so that players don’t get beat down by a complex set of invisible rules (“its on the wiki” is not a great way to learn about such an important mechanism).

But ultimately, we want captures to be seeds for fights.

Consider the current paradigm. I run into a building, I make contact with an object and then I stand there until a timer elapses and I capture the building. If I defend myself, the timer resets. If I die, the timer goes away and we have to start over.

Bob spawns in to a town and spends 2-5 minutes running to a facility. He sneaks into the building past careless defenders and starts his timer. Before it completes, you shoot him.

Context: Bob is no-longer in the capture building; he knows there is an alert defender in or at that building.

There is little incentive for Bob to return to where you are guarding. If you stay and defend, the chances are you will spend a long time thumb-twiddling. Which means there’s also little incentive for you to stay, because you know you wouldn’t hurry back here.

So rather than a fight, there was a shooting.

But if Bob had gotten the building to 95% and it’s going to take a fair amount of time to uncap it; well then there’s a reason for Bob to try again. If Bob can keep you from getting the counter back to 0, there’s value in his return. And while the counter is not zero, there’s value in your guarding.

It might take a little more. If Bob was only at 30%, well it might not be worth going back for the few percent left when he gets back. If you were Bob, wouldn’t you head to another depot first maybe?

Perhaps that should be discouraged with an extra rule that says “each facility  that is counting back to enemy ownership (didn’t hit 100% and there’s nobody capping it so the timer is going back down) slows down the capture of any other facilities”.

So that 30% is carrot AND stick.

A little hard to explain – but not actually all that complex?

This is, of course, more theory crafting – and this is an issue where the producers are coming at the issue from their own angle, and we haven’t yet sat down and gotten on the same page as each other; and the producers will be in charge of what ruleset goes live :) So those of you who hate my ideas, don’t sweat it just yet ;-P

If you want to add your own theory crafting comments, please do me one little favor and spend a minute thinking about how it will feel on both shoes. The rules have to try and stop the other guy being a dick, but you’re also going to have to live with them :) And the other guy is probably going to find a way to use them just as fast – if not faster – than you :)

21 Comments

– A unit has a Zone Of Control (radius N meters/km)
– Enemy and friendly units’ ZOCs cannot overlap
– A CP (town ABs) under unit’s ZOC belongs to that side

Capture is not needed. And Bob doesn’t spawn into a town but to his unit’s HQ. Where ever that is currently placed by the unit CO.

Sounds like a great idea for a shoebox game.

This goes beyond the single capture building and may therefore be beyond the scope of what you are aiming for, but… Wouldn’t it be better if the different facilities were connected so that you’d have to capture them one after the other? You’d have to start with the spawnable and then take one of the 1-3 other facilities that are “next” to that one to be able to proceed?

It would:
– Prevent unnecessary guarding.
The enemy has capture the spawnable. You know that the enemy can’t go for the W depot right now, so there’s no point in guarding it. Instead you’d go guard the N depot.
– Coupled with the capture system you are implementing for facilities it would create fights instead of people trying to avoid each other to capture some, at the moment, insignificant depot on the opposite side of town.

I know you have a lot of legacy code and structures to work your way through, but a continuation of the idea would be that you increase the “granularity” of the facility structure so there would be more capture points. That way the battle could “billow back and forth” more instead of taking big jumps. You’d fight for every street. :)

I keep thinking about the idea as if you should have to capture the spawnable first and then go on from there, but that’s not really the core of the idea. I think it’s more the idea that you should have to capture something that is close to where your own unit comes from. You could argue that the opposite side of town should be open for capture, since you can circle around the enemy, but then you’re back to square one, ie that some poor bastard will have to sit and guard some crappy shoebox factory on the W side of Brussels…

That makes no sense. It’s quite the opposite. Works best in a large scale game. Capturing fixed locations only works in a (prescripted) shoebox game.

I wouldn’t allow Bob to capture anything by himself.
He should bring some players from his mission.
Ideally I think the ML should be the cargo we need to bring to the facility alive to capture it,
this will focus the mission on one objective at a time, instead of spreading out all over a town.

Good:
Nerfs moling.
Promotes mission teamwork.

Bad:
When you die, you may find yourself unable to get back to your ML and your team, several kilometers away (if MSP is down).
This can be fixed by separating missions from spawn locations = dynamic missions.

On the OP:
Perhaps take it one step further and give the facility a neutral state at some point in the capture proces, so the previous owner can no longer simply respawn and zerg it to win it back, like it is done all the time now.

How about making a bit more interesting, with objectives beyond staying in a house for a moment in time?
Blow up/defend a house, destroy/defend a cluster of tanks, infiltrate/protect a plane in a hangar, intercept/protect a train heading for the town with supplies, destroy/protect a roadblock, capture/protect a hill near town, shoot down a number of planes over an enemy city, protect a AI guided air resuply, prevent a (AI)ship shipment from reaching a town…

There are an enormous amount of interesting capture options, all incredibly easy for any user to understand with simple mission descriptions before entering the game.

Think of how interesting that would be, instead of just trying to reach a house, then jogging around in it hoping no one comes knocking on the door.

I just see the capture system as so very very limited compared to the options you have with your game.
Why make it stale and repetitive when you could make it fresh and vary the experiences – the user not knowing what the next mission might be, with the system in place you could add new objectives with new patches too, always keeping it fresh.

Time and money… but it’s a nice vision no?

What I am reading here is how an Individual Player will supposedly be ‘Motivated’ to return to a failed capture attempt with the new building-linked Capture Timers. While that might be true In Theory, the problem is, players are not motivated to fight over Captures or Capture Timers. In fact, with WWIIOLs take on Capture-The-Flag, players are motivated to Avoid the enemy and Avoid fighting if at all possible in order to successful capture a Flag Facility. And they still won’t be motivated to fight over Flag Facilities with these new building-linked Capture Timers. These new Capture Timers won’t remove or even reduce this ‘Avoid-the-Enemy’ motivation. As such, if Bob runs into difficulty at one Flag Facility, he’ll be more motivated to NOT going back to his failed capture attempt, but will be motivated to move elsewhere to find an easier target to Cap.

It’d be nice to be able to see the % of the town overall cap, and the overall Facility cap at the same time. Things can change in a hurry, and not being able to see that would suck. Should sit behind ramp and make him put that in the UI. So I (clearly the most important customer) :-P will be happy.

sms: tri-state capture ftw :)

nic: agreed, and I posted this for theory crafting; and if we can introduce a system that lets us add dynamic objectives, we can also do things I’ve been wanting to do for the air and navy folks. That said, capture is the desert not the main course. And an overly dynamic capture system might not lend itself well to generating fights.

jj: I’ll be sure and mention that to Ramp, I was actually thinking the same thing myself. To be honest, I think the facility capture status should be more prominent. Not as screen-blockingly-intrusive as the old dialog. Maybe something pinned to the top center of the screen. I felt that it should a distinct window that popped up when you started capping; but I wasn’t in work much while Ramp was doing it so I didn’t provide any input.

– As a player I’d like to know what slows my capture
– Its like failed capture penalty
– One solo player actions might has a negative impact on all inf in the area, which leads to channel flaming most likely
– What depot Bob choose to cap – one with known opposite guards or one with unknown guards? Penalty wont work. Bobs tries to stay alive and he avoids fight.
– Depot capture connection leads to capturing them in a row by squads – Bob keeps on sniping..
– Depots captured in a row leads to more attrition
– Depot tank attrition fight

sms

“I think the ML should be the cargo we need to bring to the facility alive to capture it”

As long as you get someone into the CP, you just make them leader of the mission.

In essence what we need is an element that can be moved to the CP that would initiate a capture routine. Like moving a flag, or a radio backpack. Any player can pick up the item and it can be dropped and passed to someone else, if someone falls dead it takes damage, after a number of deaths the radio becomes unusable and a fresh one should be collected from the MSP, the enemy should also be able to destroy radio’s that fall.

1 MSP = 1 Flag/Radio (at a time).

It doesn’t remove the ninja cap, but it will make players work together harder in my view.

If the timer did not move in either direction when there were players of both sides in the facility would that encourage or discourage fighting for the facility?

Weskus: “Invisible” rules are a no-no. But the degree of effect any rule is having does not have to be publicized.

As long as capture is a precise and exact science, it’s going to detract from combat rather than contribute to it.

“Penalty won’t work. Bobs tries to stay alive and he avoids fight”.

I think this Bob hasn’t read how the new capture system works and is still thinking in old system’s terms :)

Consider this very simple variation of the rules: While depot 1 is enemy owned but partially capped it takes 3 x as long to earn a point of progress at depot 2.

If your Bob gives up on depot 1 instead of going back, it’s not going to do a very good job of meeting his goal of staying alive. He’ll be losing the advantage of the progress saved at the depot and he’ll have to avoid enemy to get to whichever depot he wants to start over at.

Even without these more complicated rules, if he got depot 1 to 95% there is plenty of value in him going back if he dies. Remember: the facilities’ progress bar doesn’t reset – it ticks down slowly.

sres/sms: Several people here to have the capture system require you be on a mission with its current objective set to the depot you want to capture. That is, of course, a goal for when we have the dynamic mission system.

sres: how do you deal with someone running off with your flag for newbish or griefish reasons? You’re going to want to know where that guy is, too, but you’re not going to second accounts to know where he is at the same time :)

Why not a Spawn Point, sres? The Spawn Point, specifically, the MSP (at least a modified and significantly more robust one) is as suitable an in-game representation that we can have for a Mission’s Center of Gravity. It would be an excellent ‘element that can be moved to the CP that would initiate a capture routine.’ KFS1, a couple years back, did a pretty decent outline for the methodology of moving an MSP around without requiring a Truck to reposition it (his MLSP or Mission Leader Spawn Point, thingy). Done up right and there’d no longer be a need for Depots or Depot Spawning, just (for now) fixed AB and FB spawning.

Three things though, that would need to be added to KFS1s MLSP idea before they could be utilized as Capture Triggers:
1) Limit how far an MLSP can be reposition (400-500m)
2) Limit how close opposing Spawn Points can be to one another (400-500m)
3) Require MLSPs to be significantly closer to a Capture Point in order to initiate a Capture Routine then they can be to an Enemy Spawn Point (Capture range of no more than 100m)

These three things would be very important for allowing a Defender a means of protecting his Capture Points. They would allow the Defender to use his MLSPs as a Blocking Force, denying the Attacker ready access to the Defender’s Capture Points without a fight (remember, no Depots so defending MLSPs would be used in their stead).

Do these basic things and I think there’d be an excellent foundation for a capture system that would readily promote combat and teamwork over the hide-and-go-ninja-cap game we have now.

Game solutions of course are for the present. Presumably, though, the game will continue to become more effective as a visual simulation of the real thing, with realistic-immersiveness being demanded by the market. Perhaps eventually that will include building models that are four-state and modularized according to the approximate destruction zone of a 75/88mm HE shell, so that they undergo combat destruction more finely in players’ nearfields. In a game future where that level of technology is in play, capture of particular buildings will be complicated by their tendency to attract big lethal ordnance, which this game has a lot of. But by the time that future arrives, the game also will have more client horsepower available and perhaps more server bandwidth, and more player population. Perhaps instead of making a quantum shift to zones of control or area capture, it will be possible to “simply” add more urban nodes to the mesh and apply the new capture technology to progressively more and more buildings within each major urban area…focusing on buildings with dominant positions or other operational or strategic significance, of course. Such a more complex urban mesh would allow the game to move toward something else that could be strengthened…supply line dependency in urban fighting areas.

I’m actually trying to get Sebastian to help me generate a database of “clear” spaces. I’m having a real hard time communicating the concept to him though, and his last communication was a terse “That would be really hard to do(*1). The host should load [all of] the terrain like the client and then it can query if a space is suitable(*2).”

*1 apparently ignoring my inclusion in the first email of code to do exactly that.

*2 apparently ignoring my inclusion of an example demonstrating a query for “any spaces west of Antwerp”.

I was asking Jaeger purely because he’s just re-worked the terrain merge too. I think I’ve found where it will plug in to the terrain merge process, so maybe I can put it in wording he’ll understand this time :)

Just remember: Hoomanz will take the path of least resistance.

I am looking forward to the new capture rules and the possibilities it brings with it.

Absolutely true; but the right reward for the other guy can be considered as resistance to an otherwise easy path :) Caveat: Too much reward is a stick, and I don’t want to bruise anyone :)

Consider this very simple variation of the rules: While depot 1 is enemy owned but partially capped it takes 3 x as long to earn a point of progress at depot 2.

Ok…I took some time to consider this ‘simple variation’ and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’ll not have the effect that you think it will, at least if we’re only considering Bob. Your ‘simple variation’ doesn’t take into consideration the time it would take Bob to get back to get back to the Depot after being killed coupled with the choice of going back and attempting to cap a Flag Facility that mostly likely be actively defended or going somewhere else with the reduced likelyhood of running into trouble. Now you could have the Rate of Defense be slower then the Rate of Capture (which might not be a bad idea, regardless). This would give Bob both a bigger Carrot and a bigger Stick to return to the scene of the crime. Some play testing to figure out the optimal Rate of Capture and Defense and you might have something that might work to motivate Bob.

Unfortunately, this does nothing for the rest of the Attackers. And, once again, a ‘simple variation’ is posited that is focused on the efforts and actions of a solitary attacker rather then the actions of all the attackers. How about we consider your ‘simple variation’ with a Group of Attackers?

Based on your wording and presuming the present 2 minute capture timer remains the standard, things become interesting when two Depot Capture Timers were simultaneously initiated. Depot 1 would have the effect of tripling Depot 2s timer and visa-versa. What should have each been a 2 minute Cap for both Depots has turned into a 6 minute Cap. The Question becomes, though, what would happen to Depot 3? Would its timer be also only be tripled? Or would it feel the effect of BOTH? Would its timer duration be tripled, then tripled again? And if somebody does initiate Depot 3, would that also triple again the remaining time to cap both Depot 1 and Depot 2? If this were the case, this would provide some serious motivation to the Group of Attacker to focus on just one Depot at a time. And if the Defender had enough time to react (though, most often the defender does not react until AFTER a depots been capped since they are often unaware of a cap in progress, but that’s a different issue) it might generate some interesting, though mostly short-lived fights.

Now time to consider the downside to your ‘simple variation’ based on all we’ve considered before. What seems to me to be an inevitable downside would be how easy it would be for just a few guys to really screw over the Attack as a whole. The ML/OIC decide to focus on attacking Depot 1. The majority of the Attacker descend on Depot 1 and trigger the timer. At the same time, Winkin, Blinkin and Nod each jump into Depots 2, 3 and 4. Suddenly, what should have been a 2 minute cap has turned into a 54 minute cap.

Just seems to me that no matter how you abstract it, as long as the Game allows Individual Players to have extra-ordinary impact no matter how many ‘simple variations’ in you introduce they’re gonna bite you on the ass.

Ok – I missed a nuance which is that the offending depot is not being capped. And yes, it maybe only affects new caps. In and of itself, it clearly wouldn’t be enough – see your points about “returning”. Infact, on the whole it seems significantly more worthwhile making sure that timers are involved in activity. Consider if you halt timers when people get killed or get kills in that area or at least detract from them – that might make going back worth the little extra? Not enough to make it worth the sole attacker’s effort…

So should a partially captured depot be unspawnable? Will that simply make it trivial to capture and cause the players to all be at different flags? Reduced throttle windows?

Back to the “simple” idea :) If TeamX is capping Depot A and Bob runs into Depot B.

At this point, they are both capping, so there’d be no delay. TeamX should be capping faster, IMHO, because there’s more of them.

Now Bob gets shot, so the depot begins to slow down other depots that are being capped. If there is a reward for multiple people capping the same building, then the impact on TeamX will be felt less than it would for Jonesy at Depot C.

But to be honest, I think I prefer the idea of the number of “other depots attached to the same AB” all degrading each other. Not necessarily a straight integer multiplier. My thinking here is that if you have a bunch of guys simul-capping X depots, the total time to cap should be longer than if they all went depot-to-depot.

Why? Because the main reason to spread yourself thin like that is to inconvenience the other player.

BTW the current timer is 60 seconds; see “capture.timeS” in config.xml or Chrome link. I think it’s going to have to be much longer to feed fights; that wasn’t practical before because death = reset. Now I think we can probably significantly increase the 1-man capture time and introduce something for multiple people participating in a cap.

Seriously – I appreciate your putting so much thought into it. I look forward to your response :)

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