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Re-balancing game parameters around hueg teamsizes

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41 days ago
A topic that gets visited in the discord chats but rarely in the forum is that big team sizes alter how ZK plays in a negative way. This is my opinion. I appreciate that it isn't everyone's opinion.

My chief assumptions

- Huge team sizes are here to stay.

- Huge team sizes should be a good thing for ZK

- Huge team sizes break ZK balance. Specifically due to:

> Proliferation of tanky riot commanders stops raiding

> Proliferation of players getting +4/+4 intrinsic increases overall income for the map size way above what it was designed in mind for; mass intrinsic income moves too much income away from the need to hold territory.

> Unit density becomes extremely high

> In these situations, static defences and artillery trump as they require minimum of risk and player management.

> the list of 'viable' units becomes very low.


The levers I see that can be used to fix this are:

> increase map size (bigger map = lower unit density).

Unfortunately, I don't feel ZK is fun on maps above a certain size (caps out around 16x20). It becomes too unmanageable.

The best that can be done with this lever is to actively prevent maps that are small in large team sizes. Eg. It should be possible for players to vote in such a map, but the lobby should never autorotate to a map that is less than 16x20 type size.

You could tilt this further by making over-small maps for the team size require a higher percentage of votes than a map fitting the team size, and by including a warning in the lobby when it is voted ("WARNING: map is too small for number of players, will make game silly!")

> reduce commander power.

Frankly, ZK big teams played better when commanders were tied to income and were fragile, as there was much less of a 'built in wall of tanky riots' to defend with in the early game.

Another method might be to re-introduce "commander ends" for big team games. Eg. when a player's commander dies, all their units self destruct.

> decrease intrinsic player income.

By reducing metal income, you reduce unit density, which alleviates the map size issue at the same time.

I picture this being managed by an algorithm. The inputs would be team size and map surface area, with a minimum threshold of 8 players total.

After you exceed 8 players total, steadily reduce the intrinsic income of players (proprtional to map size - smaller map surface area equals bigger reduction in intrinsic income) down to a minimum of +1/+1

> make high end turtling weaker.

High end turtling is using terraform, caretakers, pop-up turrets, shields and heavy turrets to create obstacles that are ruinous to assault and very time consuming to remove with artillery.

If this was not possible, fronts would remain more elastic and games would remain relatively slippery slope.


Just my 2c, peace & love!
+4 / -0
quote:
Proliferation of players getting +4/+4 intrinsic

Your assumptions contain inaccurate data. Intrinsic income is +2/+2. Commander (vanguard module) income is +4/+8. Total initial income is thus +6/+8.

quote:
overall income for the map size way above what it was designed in mind for

I doubt any maps in ZK and broader Spring are designed for particular incomes, really.

quote:
I picture this being managed by an algorithm. The inputs would be team size and map surface area, with a minimum threshold of 8 players total.

This will be opaque and bad.

---

I think you are missing the forest for the trees. You say that commanders are bad for this reason and that. What if commanders are bad, period?

Consider: at 1200 valuation, armed commanders will, by value, be the major part of any unit composition in any ZK game during the first minutes, all the while having crucial bits of income tied to them. This means that if they are strong, they will be used offensively; and if they are weak, they will be targeted, which will mean that the second largest army component will be "things that counter commanders". Either way, it is what it is.

If you really hate the "wall of tanky riots", perhaps the solution is to replace the commander altogether, for example with a static.

---

However, i think that map design is much more of a problem here. There are too many maps with cleanly isolated lanes where everyone fights their personal front 1v1 (sometimes 1v2 or the other way) with no reinforcement or interaction from other parts of the game, except air and "support" plays such as skuttles or scythes, in claustrophobic conditions that eliminate maneuver.

These lane-shaped maps still form the majority of teamgame maps in ZK. Which, i think, goes against your thesis that these maps are "designed good, but ZK ruins them". No: they were designed exactly for this purpose.
+2 / -0
Thanks for the correction, that change passed me by

> Which, i think, goes against your thesis that these maps are "designed good, but ZK ruins them".

I think any given map has sweet spot for player counts to deliver different types of gameplay. And a threshold of player count that, if exceeded, tips the game into "turtle clusterfuck".

Not so much a matter of ZK ruining a map. To stretch a metaphor, I see it more like the map being like a table with a number of optimal seat configurations, which if all are exceeded, result in everyone struggling to access their meal. I recommend large tables for bigger groups of people, appreciate there is a maximum practical size for the table, and suggest therefore swapping the chairs for smaller chairs - or in extremes, stools - when the number of participants gets too big for the table.
+0 / -0
quote:
I think any given map has sweet spot for player counts to deliver different types of gameplay. And a threshold that, if exceeded, tips into "turtle clusterfuck".

I actually don't think that the "turtle clusterfuck" is primarily a consequence of the map or riotwall, but of lack of coordination and the psychological preferences of the majority of players in an unfiltered public mass game.

This is just what happens when you have NxN lobsters tossed into the pot, none of whom have a plan, and only half of them even comprehend the game.

There are three fundamental approaches i observe to this among the higher-ranked denizens of the pot.

1) Relax and do exactly the same. Focus on your lane, but do it well.

2) Wallow in your lel and try to do something that exploits the miscoordination of the majority, that is, requires the other team to be coordinated while they can be expected to be not coordinated; or requires the exact player you hit with your thing to know what to do, when they probably don't.

3) Try to take a grand-strategy approach and somehow turn your lobsters into a team.

Some common strategies - such as raider-assisted multiple-commander fencer push at 50 seconds, or a Krow rush - actually implement several of these at once. I don't think krow rush games are usually "turtle clusterfucks". Succesful fencer pushes often result in the defending team doing a resign vote at 3 minutes (25% chance of success), after which it does stabilise with porc on their front - which is absolutely correct and necessarily due to the alternative being the fencers rolling in - except one of the teams is porcing in ruins of the other's frontline factories.


---

The culture solution to this is to clanstack. Shall we play a game?
+1 / -0
> I actually don't think that the "turtle clusterfuck" is primarily a consequence of the map

Ah, see, I think it is a direct consequence of map size verus player count. You wont get clusterfuck gameplay on a perfectly flat 20x20 map even with 16v16, because player density is too low and flanking is too viable. The front line likely won't form thick enough for things to bog down.

The same 16v16 game on a 10x10 flat map will become a nightmare of popup defences and artillery in 10 minutes flat.
+0 / -0
quote:
Unfortunately, I don't feel ZK is fun on maps above a certain size (caps out around 16x20). It becomes too unmanageable.

Why? The only negative I see to huge maps is lag. And I think that's exactly the reason huge maps never caught on in large team games.

I mean, we could improve the game's performace to not lag with reasonable system specs, but that would be unreasonable.
+0 / -0
quote:
Why? The only negative I see to huge maps is lag. And I think that's exactly the reason huge maps never caught on in large team games.


The same reason basket ball doesn't work well on a court eight times the size. The distances that player actions can affect do not scale up with distances involved. You can't throw a basketball from the midpoint into the net in an awesome display of skill, if the net is eight times further away than regulation. You can't even throw the ball half that far.

ZK works really well - is tuned for - maps around a certain size. Maps that are bigger or smaller than that range make most the unit roster less viable, or nonviable.
+0 / -0
quote:
You wont get clusterfuck gameplay on a perfectly flat 20x20 map even with 16v16

In my experience that's exactly what happens. Perhaps our definitions differ.
+0 / -0

41 days ago
I hope I'm not being too negative, but isn't this kind of missing the point? Big teams are popular because people like to play them as they are. Now the people who don't like them try to fix them to make them "better"? Not having to mex, only having to play one lane, not needing to raid and turtling being a viable strategy are the things that define big teams. What is the point of trying to make it feel like smaller teams, when you could just play smaller teams?
+3 / -3


41 days ago
quote:
Now the people who don't like them try to fix them to make them "better"?

But, i mean, it does feel really fun to dispel that spell in situ :P
+0 / -0
41 days ago
quote:
I hope I'm not being too negative, but isn't this kind of missing the point? Big teams are popular because people like to play them as they are. Now the people who don't like them try to fix them to make them "better"?

Isn't that exactly what you did when you introduced autohosts and the !map command? Before the !map command was a thing, sea maps were almost never played. Now sea maps are played all the time, even though I've never heard anyone liking them better then ground maps.

And speaking of bad and obscure systems, I swear there's a pattern to which maps the !map command suggests. It seems to suggest the same maps again and again.
+0 / -0
quote:
Now sea maps are played all the time, even though I've never heard anyone liking them better then ground maps.

Given the rate at which some maps like Small Supreme Battlefield, Folsom Dam, and Tangerine are not only picked but emphatically win votes, it seems that what people actually desire to play on does not necessarily match up to what you (or for that matter I) have merely 'heard'.
+1 / -0
CZrankpsaniac Yes. I touched big teams and now I try to tell others not to make the same mistake.

Is the big teams autohost a bad thing though? Remember autohosts didn't exist at all after the server switch, it was always DErankChesti or RUrankFirepluk host. The map vote works by suggesting maps that were voted for often more frequently. It seems the people like sea maps. It came in response to people complaining about !map/!start vote snipes, so now it's no longer about who starts the first poll.

If you want to criticize me, I would focus on things like the "Do you want to play Small Teams" pop-up. That's something I intentionally added to promote small teams instead of big teams.
+0 / -0
41 days ago
quote:

Given the rate at which some sea maps like Small Supreme Battlefield are not only picked but emphatically win votes, it seems that what people actually desire to play on does not necessarily match up to what you (or for that matter I) have merely 'heard'.

Small Supreme Battlefield is based off of the most iconic Supreme Commander map. Also, it's pretty. I think these are the subconcious reasons why that map is picked so often.

Look, I prefer to be swayed by rational arguments rather then statistics. (Mostly because humans are really good at misinterpreting statictics for furthering their agenda) And I haven't heard any rational arguments why lobster pot sea is good.
+0 / -0
You really can look into making a mod, like ZeroWars, but differ only slightly

My idea would be very tough Metal Extractor produce higher income of M&E. So the large game could be fun with more units.
Make it noob friendly but adovcate to link for much better efficiency is necessary.

Buff Missile Silo, make its tactical nuke deal 4001/4500 damage capable of killing a factory/singularity reactor in one shot.

Add Athena into airpad and gunship, air force really need its radar jammer to survive large game. Also resurrection is way easier and earlier for large battlefield.

Besides, I insist Bertha shall require energy grid to function.
Bertha range scale with E supply, 20 to shot 1200 ELMO, 50 to shoot 3000ELMO, 100 to full range.


+1 ignore the following
Maybe I shall play some more games to raise my rank to blue first. I wish I could have best environment to play games. Next time I will setup everything well - not surrounded by my mess and play sepcifically to win games, at least I can type in game now, and I will use a gaming mouse instead of trackball - I was so lazy to get my gaming mouse out. Use a monitor size greater than 13 inch did help.
+1 / -0
quote:
Is the big teams autohost a bad thing though? Remember autohosts didn't exist at all after the server switch, it was always DErankChesti or RUrankFirepluk host. The map vote works by suggesting maps that were voted for often more frequently. It seems the people like sea maps. It came in response to people complaining about !map/!start vote snipes, so now it's no longer about who starts the first poll.

You obviously didn't get my point. You said this:
quote:
Now the people who don't like them try to fix them to make them "better"?
But on average, autohosts made the teamgames better. Rememeber how we had to do !spec before every game? The only small positive of the old rooms was the control the players had over the chosen maps. But even then, getting people to vote anything other then game start was rough.
quote:

If you want to criticize me, I would focus on things like the "Do you want to play Small Teams" pop-up. That's something I intentionally added to promote small teams instead of big teams.

Look, human behaviour is shaped by the systems humans live in. By changing these systems,you can significantly infulence human behaviour. Don't take this personally, but "Do you want to play Small Teams" wasn't a very good system.
quote:
Big teams are popular because people like to play them as they are
I disagree. Small teams are unpopular because the mathematics of the current system will inevitably lead toward having one lobster pot.

That doesn't mean you should just give up at making the systems better! And I say that as a mostly large team games player.

I'll be exact CHrankAdminDeinFreund. If you want to improve autohosts, there's a simple fix.
While the autohost is doing a !map poll, and somebody types in !map X, it should replace one of the maps suggested by the autohost with zero votes with map X.
+1 / -0
quote:
Now the people who don't like them try to fix them to make them "better"? Not having to mex, only having to play one lane, not needing to raid and turtling being a viable strategy are the things that define big teams.


I prefer big parties to small parties, but I don't like the way that my house's narrow corridors get hard to move through when the house has too many people in. I still prefer big parties overall.
Now if you gave me the choice to have the same big party, but with wider corridors, it'd be the preferable outcome.

In ZK terms. People have a strong preference for playing in big teams.

That does not mean that people have a strong preference for the distorting effects high player density has on gameplay. It just comes with the territory.

Nobody has been presented with the choice to have huge teams but without the distorting effects high player density has on gameplay. So it is wrong to conflate the two.
+3 / -0
quote:
Nobody has been presented with the choice to have huge teams but without the distorting effects high player density has on gameplay. So it is wrong to conflate the two.

This postulates lack of knowledge, which works both ways. It could very well be that once the experiment is performed, the result is null (e.g. that the "distortion" is in fact "desired").

However, this is not a discrete space. I think one prediction of "players want zk with many players, but not with high density" is that in most cases, people should try to vote in larger and more spacious maps. This is a testable prediction, and in fact we have some data to test it against (outcomes of the auto-!map quad-votes).

How strong would you expect such a bigger/wider map bias to be?
+0 / -0
41 days ago
Honestly I think its not just large metal densities that break Zero-K: large amounts of metal in general break Zero-K.

Consider the fact that the overwhelming majority of units and defenses in the game are under the 1k bracket. Once the amount of metal across the sizes reaches the point where they can afford multiple striders and large defenses, the game largely starts revolving around a relatively small group of units. And I believe a great part of the reason why Zero-K tends to get static and boring at that point is that.

Aka: Zero-K has many units that are viable to build from the start, but few late-game units, those few late-game units are good enough to make the game revolve around them once they can be built, and that is tragic because they're few, therefore the game's variety is compromised.

I'd be interested to see what Zero-K would look like if striders, heavy units and large defenses were made smaller across the board. Maybe lobsterpots wouldn't revolve so much around things like merlin, funnelweb, cerberus, etc.

Another thing is that the scale of our game-ending superweapons has not kept pace with the "times", so to speak. Currently, on large 20v20 games, rushing a superweapon from the start of the game is perfectly viable, to the point where they often decide games, which is off course very lame. Game-ending superweapons should be so expensive that the're at most rarely built in any game size that is regularly played, which includes lobsterpots.
+2 / -0

41 days ago
Lack of power to penenstrate late game shields. Terraform. Porc contribute to it.

Players on narrow maps suffer the most. I suggest ban enlongated maps in large game 6vs6 and beyond by default.

StormSiege_v3

for example
+1 / -0
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