A discussion of the role of the Fade
[Edit]I would like to apologise for any embarrasment that I may have inadvertently caused Buggeh by describing him as a halfway decent fade. <3[/Edit]
Whilst I discount much of what Savant says as well written, but incorrect, this post
is rather difficult to refute.
To summarise what he says -
A fade's utility is improportionate to the user's skill. At low levels of skill, the fade is a short lived waste of resources. In the hands of Mustang, it's a flying threshing machine. Consequently I believe that the skill requirements for the Fade are the fulcrum upon which the entire balance of NS rests.
My reasoning is as follows:
The entire kharaa game after 3-4 minutes of play (rough time to fades in 3.0 Final) appears to be dependant on the Fade. When commenting on clan matches, the primary aspect that people discuss is:
> When did fades appear?
> How many fades were used?
> How were fades killed or how did they avoid getting killed?
The entire analysis of matchplay is Fade orientated. Fade's usually account for a 30% to 70% share of all kills in games. To me, this suggests that the middle of the game is fade orientated. If I seem to be labouring this point, it's to try and reduce the chance that someone will derail the thread by arguing the toss.So, What's my point here?
Here I depict the current skill curve of Fades (which is based on observation, please feel free to disagree) with a suggested skill curve, which I feel would be more conducive to both general enjoyment and game balance.
I'm not suggesting for an instant that the skill aspect of optimum Fade usage should be attenuated and if you can read a graph, you'll already know this. Excellent fades, just like excellent skulks, Lerks and marines should significantly improve their team's chances of winning, in concert with tactics, strategy and communication. The suggested skill curve, if you examine it, doesn't change this dynamic. Top players would still retain the same impact on gameplay. The main difference is that average to good players would have an impact that would better reflect the resources they risk when they play.
What I am
suggesting is that if the current skill curve of the fade was altered, it would both promote more enjoyable public play and ensure that the competitive community gets what it needs, i.e. a steady supply of decent fades. If player classes are frustrating to play (and getting spat out by both teams and insulted is not fun), then people will not have the incentive to play. This lack of incentive goes a fair way to explaining why you find relatively few highly skilled fades. Without a decent fade or two, you don't have a clan. Period. This kind of gameplay dynamic is not conducive to the long term success of a game in either public or clan play.
Improving the enjoyability of the gameplay for players (thus increasing the incentives to play in the Fade role), is not the only reason why this would be a beneficial move. There's also the issue of balance. The more extreme the skill curve for the Fade, the more difficult it becomes to balance the game, since the impact of the game element in question becomes too variable to factor in.
One way of compensating for this is to provide the opposite team with a comparative dynamic, so then at least the demands on the teams would have some semblance of symmetry. One could argue that the Commander fits a similar role, but the Commander is always dependent on his team to provide him with the resources in order to demonstrate such skill. Even then, by placing a requirement on one player to be exceptional at the game for a team to function, not only do you create an extremely stressful environment for that player (perhaps regular Commanders will back me up on this assertion), but you also increase
the instability in the game balance.
Sensory chambers have caused a similar problem. Commanders already had to drop structures, make tactical decisions, research upgrades and deploy meds & ammo. The need for them now to be scanning constantly all the time simply puts an unreasonable demand for micromanagement on all but the very best of them. They already had their hands full
. (Why marines weren't given something like 5 res scanners (a la combat mode) as a new item I'm not sure, but that's a tangent I won't explore further here.) By further jacking up the skill requirement for Commanders, you are encouraging a skill curve even more similar to the Fade, which exacerbates all the problems I've detailed above.
At this point, I'm sure many of you are saying something along the lines of "WTH, he's suggesting we make fades MORE deadly? WTH is he smoking?"
Well, board rules prevent me from answering the second question, but I can put the first question into perspective.
Yes, I am
suggesting that we improve the accessibilty of the fade for competent to good players. Not too much, because then everyone would Fade and the hives would never get built.
Naturally, the Frontiersmen would equally require a buff. Making Catpacks and Hand Grenades free to research or available from the start would be one way. Giving them an expensive, single shot weapon that drained adrenaline would be another (careful use would allow you to pick Lerks or Fades off, or stop gorges from healing hives, blah blah blah, I'm sure you can think it through). There are loads of ways to buff marines. After all, the development team have found a way to do it in every other version of NS.
So, to restate it in a nutshell:The unusually high skills required to take the role of Fade are harmful to both the popularity of the game and to gameplay balance. Discuss.
Postscript: (Please forgive the rather questionable grammar and any spelling mistakes in this post, I am doing it surreptitiously whilst at work. I will attempt to clean it up later as I spot errors).