Making maps competitive

ScrajmScrajm Members Join Date: 2011-10-17 Member: 127859Posts: 276 Fully active user
edited March 2013 in Competitive Play
Scrajm´s 10 commandments.

1. Introduction.
After reading Cory´s post regarding maps, I discovered that UWE would like to have feedback regarding some maps created by them and their proxies. This is something I did not know they asked for, but considering their history of transparency and willingness to listen to their community, it didn’t come as a surprise. So I thought, well, why aren’t we playing some of the new maps more? I realized that I actually haven’t even looked at descent more than 5 secs before I judged it being bad. Same with docking. This is of course wrong of me, and now I actually feel ashamed for my behavior.

But the truth to the matter is that I believe there are some fundamental things that maps in NS2 needs in order for them to be playable in competitive games. And I feel that some of these maps lack this. So in order to remedy this, I wrote 10 things that I feel are fundamental for a map to be playable. The idea is that if a map lacks too many of these, I don’t like it. If it has most of it, it’s playable. If it has all, it’s awesome.

2. Ten commandments for a map to be playable
2.1 Both sides at all spawn points should always have somewhat easy access to exactly two additional res nodes.
Arguments:
Game is balanced around this already.
What I mean by this argument is of course to how the game is designed and balanced atm: with the current res flow and cost for getting techs and life forms, if you have access to more than or less than two additional, you either get a game which takes too long or just goes to fast. Also, if maps differ from this commandment, an already difficult game will be even more difficult to balance.

These two “naturals” mustn’t be too far away or too close to the spawn point
If they are too far away they get too difficult to defend for both sides and hence they will go down too often, resulting in a low res game which isn’t that fun to watch due to the super long game they will produce. If they are too close to spawn point, the other side cannot kill them easy enough which makes for stale game play (why attack something that is has such a low chance of succeeding, then it’s better to camp).

It’s nice for the casters
We want those moments where the casters can hype it up “WILL THEY TAKE IT DOWN?!” resulting in “WHAT A NICE SAVE!!” or “WHAT A NICE RT KILL”. Also, if they go down too often, it won’t be such a cool thing for the casters to highlight. We want them RTs to go down every now and then, but not too often.

2.2 If the map is big, the RTs should always be forward on to the map from spawn
Moving backwards gives aliens too big of a favor
Since aliens are supposed to be the mobile race, it’s important that a marine can move to save an RT at the same time as (s)he moves more central to the map. If the marine have to move backwards from the spawn point relative to the central points of the map to save an RT, it will result in aliens being able to start biting that RT and basically removing that marine from quite some time from the game since it will take a long time for him/her to get back in the map. On small maps though, this isn´t an issue since that marine will be back out on the map in no time anyways.

Makes the map feel too “big”
If you have to move backwards to save RTs, it will result in the map feeling overly huge. If you want big maps, you need to be able to save RTs and move forward at the same time.

Moving forward is more action oriented
And since that marine now will be essentially removed from the game, it results in more needless leg work, which is boring for the player. Chasing them skulks just isn´t that fun. Being in combat is what both players and viewers alike enjoy.

2.3 Both sides need a 2nd hive spot to expand into that cannot be too easy taken down, but not too easy to defend.
Giving teams options are almost always a good thing
If a second hive is too easy to hold for aliens, marines won´t be able to engage it, which is going to result in stale game where marines think it’s better to hold off and camp. This is boring for the spectators and boring for the players. If the hive is too easy to take down, marines will always make a push towards it which just makes predictable games. We want the marines to be able to choose: should we try to kill that second hive now when it’s dropped, or should we just expand ourselves and play a macro game?

Raising skill cap for commanders
When marines can make decisions about how they will play, aliens have to respond to that, resulting in a higher skill cap for commanders from both sides. If you know as the alien com that marines have the option to either push that hive or play macro, it requires the alien com to be able to decide what to do. It requires scouting from aliens in order to make proper responses. This is also good for creating meta games. If a team is known to play macro oriented, maybe aliens can cut corners some corners?

Gives casters tons of fun stuff to discuss
When marines can choose to push or to go macro, it gives the casters opportunities to discuss the strategy chosen by both parties, how it was executed, should they have done something different, what it resulted in etc. It’s just more fun to watch streams with casters discussing strats chosen from the teams!

2.4 All tech points should be equally viable for both sides to expand to, given the proximity
Makes games less predictable
If one tech point obviously is made for one team to expand to, it will of course result in that side always expands towards that way. This results in predictable games, which is boring for both viewers and players. We want games which vary. Predictable games removes: 1) Meta gaming 2) Strategic options 3) Casters being able to discuss the decisions taken by the teams

2.5 Where marines spawn, there mustn´t be more than two entrances, and no vents.
Skewing balance
If there are a lot of vents leading into marine start, one marine most likely will have to stay there and camp it in the beginning. This is extremely boring for this player. Even if aliens aren’t base rushing at this point, marines can never know. This results in that if marines want to play somewhat safe, they can at any given point in early game only have 4 marines on the field, resulting in skewing the balance on the field. Even when the obs is up and if one skulk repeatedly can move into the base and force a beacon, it will end up in marines loosing map control hurting them too much.

Reducing skill ceiling of the marine commander and player positioning
A marine commander and the players should at any given point be able to screen of the map making somewhat sure aliens can´t attack base. In real game play, this can never be 100% and that´s how we want it. But we want the notion that the better the commander and the players are, the better (s)he will place the marines, and reducing the likelihood of aliens successfully making a base rush. Having vents leading into base which the commander/players cannot do anything about removes this aspect of the marine positioning, reducing skill ceiling for both players and commanders.

Makes base rushes too common
If base rushes are too big of a temptation for aliens, they will become frequent on this map, making the game predictable. We want base rushes to be somewhat uncommon, so when they do happen, casters can make a big thing of it. If it happen all the time, it´s just “*yawn* base rush again”

2.6 The chokepoints cannot be too choky.
If one point on the map is too chooky, all battle will be around that point
If there is a place on the map which is too important not to control, that maps battle will most likely always be around that point. This makes for predictable games, reducing the commanders tactical options. And again, we want games that vary, and we want options for the teams.


2.7 No hive should be able to get sieged from an absurd location.
If a hive is too easy to siege, it will result in predictable games
Competitive teams play to win. If there is too much of a temptation for an easy win just be sieging a hive, we will do it. This creates maps where game play gets predictable. And by know, you should know that predictable games are boring.

Hurting balance
If one hive is EZ mode sieging, that map will most likely end up in countless marine wins. How fun is that?

2.8 There cannot be too many or too few res nodes
Making balance more difficult
The game at the moment is balanced around having maps with about 9-10 rts. If you have more or less rts on a map, the game numbers needs to be balanced around that. Res flow needs to change, tech cost needs to change. But that would just be silly, having different game numbers for different maps. What you need is somewhat of a standard on maps so that balancing this games numbers has something solid to stand on. If one map have 5 rts, and the other 15, how on earth are you going to balance a game that feels balanced on both of those maps? The game is hard to balance as it is, don´t need to make it more complex than it already is.

Hurting game pace
If there are too many res nodes, it just results in game pace being way off. Late game 5 mins into the game? No thnx.

2.9 Spawns should always be far
Macro games often results in the better team winning
The longer a game drags out, the more encounters there will be. If a map is decided by 1 encounter, there will be quite a random factor involved who will win. Even a bad team can then win over a way better team. But if map instead is decided by 100 encounters it will result in a higher likelihood of the better team winning a majority of the engagements, resulting in that the better team should come off as a winner on that map. Also, the longer a game is, the more likelihood of both of the commanders to do good calls, and exploiting bad plays from the other team.

Makes balance more difficult
Balancing a game around both the fact that we can have close spawns and far spawns is just not that good. In the beginning of SC2, there were a lot of small maps like steps of war. But eventually they got removed, and bigger and bigger maps were introduced. Zerg just always lost on steps of war (a super small sc2 map). If you don’t have some form of standard on maps, like total number of rts, numbers of naturals, and a somewhat standard on spawn distance, the game just will never be balanced on all maps. You cannot have maps that differ too much in this sense; you can only balance numbers around some form of standard on the maps. Otherwise some maps will just always be biased towards one side.

Macro games are more fun to watch
Base rushes and egg locks shouldn’t occur to often. We don’t want predictable games. Both players and viewers also like longer macro games instead of rushes. Watching games ending in a rush is such a anti climax. I want to watch the games and analyze them. And longer games have more to analyze! There is nothing to analyze in a base rush / egg lock except that one side just failed.

2.10 No spot should be bile bombable where marines cannot kill the gorge
A game should always have soft counters for everything, and so should the maps
If a carablink fade faces a single 0/0 lmg marine, the fade should win. But the idea that a better marine can kill that fade if (s)he just plays well enough is a fun notion. Same goes with most things in NS2: we have probabilities and skill involved in most things. And a core pillar of this game is just that notion that if one just practices enough one have a higher chance of winning engagements, even when outnumbered and on bad odds.
That’s why we don’t want rooms where gorges can bile stuff without the marines ever being able to counter it with skill. Having to research GL to kill a vent gorge bileing your power node or pg is quite the opposite of how the rest of the game is played. You shouldn´t need a specific tech to be able to win an engagement in form of a hard counter (if I have tech x vs tech y, I always win), everything in a game should be soft counters (if I have tech x vs tech y, it raises my odds, but I can still lose if the other player is better than me). Having to research GL or JP to kill bile gorges, is a hard counter in a game with no other hard counters. Hence, there should be no place in on any map where a gorge can kill stuff without the marines being able to kill it.

Now, feel free to make counter arguments against any of these. Maybe I will change my mind, or maybe you will force me to sharpen up my arguments. In either case, I’m happy. I will however tomorrow or when I have time use these to analyze why I think docking and descent not are playable yet.

Post edited by Insane on
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Comments

  • xDragonxDragon Members, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Gold, NS2 Map Tester, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2012-04-04 Member: 149948Posts: 1,954 Fully active user
    2.11 - Spell competitive correctly.
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  • bizbiz Members Join Date: 2012-11-05 Member: 167386Posts: 415 Fully active user
    These are probably good general guidelines, but you can get balanced and playable games with absurd maps because the game is asymmetric and has weird things in it (eg. arcs, teleporting)

    What is competitive? As long as there are equal opportunities for victory with each side having advantages & disadvantages, and as long as the gameplay involves the skills NS2 is supposed to be about, then it can be competitive.... It may take a ton of expertise to design something non-standard that is competitive, but I wouldn't call it impossible

    There could be maps where marines are expected to win without getting a 2nd tech point
    There could be alien harvester locations that are expected to be held only temporarily
    There could be a map where arcs cannot roam freely but players can jump over the obstacles
    There could be a map where teams start with 0 rts or 2 rts
    etc.
    etc.

    lots of possibilities. not all maps must have the same pacing or flow...
    Zenu
  • statikgstatikg Members Join Date: 2012-09-19 Member: 159978Posts: 427 Fully active user
    2.9 Spawns should always be far
    Spoiler:
    Macro games often results in the better team winning
    The longer a game drags out, the more encounters there will be. If a map is decided by 1 encounter, there will be quite a random factor involved who will win. Even a bad team can then win over a way better team. But if map instead is decided by 100 encounters it will result in a higher likelihood of the better team winning a majority of the engagements, resulting in that the better team should come off as a winner on that map. Also, the longer a game is, the more likelihood of both of the commanders to do good calls, and exploiting bad plays from the other team.

    Makes balance more difficult
    Balancing a game around both the fact that we can have close spawns and far spawns is just not that good. In the beginning of SC2, there were a lot of small maps like steps of war. But eventually they got removed, and bigger and bigger maps were introduced. Zerg just always lost on steps of war (a super small sc2 map). If you don’t have some form of standard on maps, like total number of rts, numbers of naturals, and a somewhat standard on spawn distance, the game just will never be balanced on all maps. You cannot have maps that differ too much in this sense; you can only balance numbers around some form of standard on the maps. Otherwise some maps will just always be biased towards one side.

    Macro games are more fun to watch
    Base rushes and egg locks shouldn’t occur to often. We don’t want predictable games. Both players and viewers also like longer macro games instead of rushes. Watching games ending in a rush is such a anti climax. I want to watch the games and analyze them. And longer games have more to analyze! There is nothing to analyze in a base rush / egg lock except that one side just failed.


    I strongly disagree with this point. There can be more encounters in close spawns because of the opportunity for faster pressure, they just take place in a shorter period of time. I would disagree that longer games necessarily = better games. I think that with variable spawns comes variable strategies and the requirement for more dynamic play which results in more interesting play (one of the main themes of your post). Of course there is the issue of balancing for different spawns, but I think its definitely possible as long as the maps are given appropriate choke points and RTs are fairly placed.

    I don't think starcraft is a fair analogy because the zerg in that game were basically required to immediately expand which put them in a vulnerable position in the very early game, I'm not sure if aliens are equally vulnerable. I believe they have to tools (gorge) at the beginning of the game to deal fairly with close spawn situations. Obviously a map with close spawns would require a gorge defensible choke point.
  • FlipperFlipper Members Join Date: 2012-08-08 Member: 155120Posts: 188
    xDragon wrote: »
    2.11 - Spell competitive correctly.

    rude
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  • ScardyBobScardyBob ScardyBob Forum Admins, Forum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow Join Date: 2009-11-25 Member: 69528Posts: 4,983 mod
    edited March 2013
    Very good advice, but there are two parts I disagree with.
    Scrajm wrote: »
    2.5 Where marines spawn, there mustn´t be more than two entrances, and no vents.
    Skewing balance
    If there are a lot of vents leading into marine start, one marine most likely will have to stay there and camp it in the beginning. This is extremely boring for this player. Even if aliens aren’t base rushing at this point, marines can never know. This results in that if marines want to play somewhat safe, they can at any given point in early game only have 4 marines on the field, resulting in skewing the balance on the field. Even when the obs is up and if one skulk repeatedly can move into the base and force a beacon, it will end up in marines loosing map control hurting them too much.

    Reducing skill ceiling of the marine commander and player positioning
    A marine commander and the players should at any given point be able to screen of the map making somewhat sure aliens can´t attack base. In real game play, this can never be 100% and that´s how we want it. But we want the notion that the better the commander and the players are, the better (s)he will place the marines, and reducing the likelihood of aliens successfully making a base rush. Having vents leading into base which the commander/players cannot do anything about removes this aspect of the marine positioning, reducing skill ceiling for both players and commanders.

    Makes base rushes too common
    If base rushes are too big of a temptation for aliens, they will become frequent on this map, making the game predictable. We want base rushes to be somewhat uncommon, so when they do happen, casters can make a big thing of it. If it happen all the time, it´s just “*yawn* base rush again”
    Only two entrances are good, but I think vents in marine spawns are fine, under the condition that they are accessible by the marines. The best example is Sub Access on summit, which contains a spawn vent, but isn't really a problem since marines frequently mine it up and can chase aliens through it. I've also not seen any serious problems from the vents in Warehouse and Server Room on tram either.
    Scrajm wrote: »
    2.9 Spawns should always be far
    Macro games often results in the better team winning
    The longer a game drags out, the more encounters there will be. If a map is decided by 1 encounter, there will be quite a random factor involved who will win. Even a bad team can then win over a way better team. But if map instead is decided by 100 encounters it will result in a higher likelihood of the better team winning a majority of the engagements, resulting in that the better team should come off as a winner on that map. Also, the longer a game is, the more likelihood of both of the commanders to do good calls, and exploiting bad plays from the other team.

    Makes balance more difficult
    Balancing a game around both the fact that we can have close spawns and far spawns is just not that good. In the beginning of SC2, there were a lot of small maps like steps of war. But eventually they got removed, and bigger and bigger maps were introduced. Zerg just always lost on steps of war (a super small sc2 map). If you don’t have some form of standard on maps, like total number of rts, numbers of naturals, and a somewhat standard on spawn distance, the game just will never be balanced on all maps. You cannot have maps that differ too much in this sense; you can only balance numbers around some form of standard on the maps. Otherwise some maps will just always be biased towards one side.

    Macro games are more fun to watch
    Base rushes and egg locks shouldn’t occur to often. We don’t want predictable games. Both players and viewers also like longer macro games instead of rushes. Watching games ending in a rush is such a anti climax. I want to watch the games and analyze them. And longer games have more to analyze! There is nothing to analyze in a base rush / egg lock except that one side just failed.
    There should always be a minimum distance between spawns (I like the one RT between spawns that seems to have become the unspoken rule in NS2), but I don't think the most desirable situation is to always have the farthest distance between spawns. The threat of a rush is a valuable component in any strategy meta-game, that nerfing its possibility via distance will leave NS2 for the poorer.

    I also see value in giving a lesser FPS-skilled team the opportunity for winning via superior coordination and strategy. Watching a rush win isn't very exciting, but watching a stomp is even less so. Having the possibly for the 'worse' team to achieve an improbable victory, as long as it is rare, is a good way to keep competitive seasons and tournies unpredictable and exciting.
  • Evil_bOb1Evil_bOb1 Members, Squad Five Blue Join Date: 2002-07-13 Member: 938Posts: 915
    I have been working on a similar document for community mappers and it is nice to see we agree on a lot of things Scrajm. I will surely make reference to your post.

    @ScardyBob For my own document I have talked to people and this issue came out. The problem is that minimizing the distance between spawns results in less consequences for failing a base rush. As it is easier to constantly respawn and pursue the rush. While increasing the distance doesn't stop base rushes from happening. Its more about giving consequences to failed base rushes, than allowing base rushes to happen or not.
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  • ArgoshArgosh Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2011-01-21 Member: 78474Posts: 123 Advanced user
    I had a great read and recommend every single one of you to open up those spoilers.
  • ScardyBobScardyBob ScardyBob Forum Admins, Forum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow Join Date: 2009-11-25 Member: 69528Posts: 4,983 mod
    Evil_bOb1 wrote: »
    @ScardyBob For my own document I have talked to people and this issue came out. The problem is that minimizing the distance between spawns results in less consequences for failing a base rush. As it is easier to constantly respawn and pursue the rush. While increasing the distance doesn't stop base rushes from happening. Its more about giving consequences to failed base rushes, than allowing base rushes to happen or not.
    A rush stops being a rush after the first attack is repulsed. Even in tram or summit close spawns, failed rushes always had a pretty severe consequence (e.g. the loss of map control). The examples I saw when it looked like rushing had little to no drawback we're mostly due to the rushing team being more skilled (e.g. they were able to win 1v2's, 2v3's, 3v4's, etc).

    Also, distance has a pretty big effect on the effectiveness of rushing as a successful rush is dependent on speed and stealth. Its why you see way more rushes on tram and summit as opposed to veil. Maximizing spawn distance is a nerf of a rushing problem that I rarely saw in practice.
  • wirywiry Members Join Date: 2009-05-25 Member: 67479Posts: 507 Advanced user
    edited March 2013
    Lets use summit as an example. Marines have 2 IP's and are constantly sending 2 guys to pressure a hive that is barely a 30 second walk from the base. Killing every egg they can find.

    It makes the alien team having to constantly have some one in their base (sounds like fun!). To some extent it also reduces the need for scouting since you know that those two marines will allways come since it's the most advantageous thing to do. How fun is it, for either side to constantly have to walk down the same hallway and do the same thing for the entirety of the round. It isn't.

    Close spawns are shit.

    Also, Scardybob, I want to remember you saying that the imbalance is only noticable on the highest levels of play. (Sorry if I'm mistaken, but I'm also too lazy to find the quote).

    How do you suppose the league should handle the problem then? Only having cross spawns for div1 teams? Or make the div1 teams suffer because of some teams not knowing how to handle the imbalance?
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  • swalkswalk Say hello to my little friend. Members, Squad Five Blue Join Date: 2011-01-20 Member: 78384Posts: 1,904 Advanced user
    Nice post scrajm. And obviously I agree with evilbob, close spawns imbalance is all about the traveltime punishment for failed baserushes. It's not nessesarily to bring longer games, just balanced maps. But in practice it usually bring longer games when traveltime is longer. 30 seconds of traveltime changes ALOT in the gameplay.

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  • ScardyBobScardyBob ScardyBob Forum Admins, Forum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow Join Date: 2009-11-25 Member: 69528Posts: 4,983 mod
    edited March 2013
    wiry wrote: »
    Lets use summit as an example. Marines have 2 IP's and are constantly sending 2 guys to pressure a hive that is barely a 30 second walk from the base. Killing every egg they can find.

    It makes the alien team having to constantly have some one in their base (sounds like fun!). To some extent it also reduces the need for scouting since you know that those two marines will allways come since it's the most advantageous thing to do. How fun is it, for either side to constantly have to walk down the same hallway and do the same thing for the entirety of the round. It isn't.
    Res biting is also a tedious but necessary component of winning in NS2 that I don't see many complaints about. NS2 is full of similar boring, but necessary, actions that it seems silly to reject any of them based on their tediousness.
    wiry wrote: »
    Also, Scardybob, I want to remember you saying that the imbalance is only noticable on the highest levels of play. (Sorry if I'm mistaken, but I'm also too lazy to find the quote).

    How do you suppose the league should handle the problem then? Only having cross spawns for div1 teams? Or make the div1 teams suffer because of some teams not knowing how to handle the imbalance?
    Less the highest levels of play, but more when the skill difference between the teams is relatively close (which happens to occur mostly in the highest levels of play).

    However, my concern is more of keeping rushing (defined as a 4-6 player push to a single target) viable, but rare, rather then it becoming the dominant strat that effects overall game balance stats. For the sake of argument, lets say the chance of a successful close spawn rush is 1/100, while cross spawns is 1/1000. If we restrict to cross spawns only, then many teams would (correctly) not bother to do much to prepare for a rush as it would have gone from rare (1%) to very rare (0.1%). The strategic meta game becomes much less interesting and complex.

    From my experience, the 'close spawn' issue was less about spawn distance and more about the imbalances between the alien and marine spawning system. Early game alien egg-spawning rate is highly vulnerable to egg-locking even when you go 1 for 1 in kills with marines. In that case, it makes sense for the marine team to constantly push the alien hive to try to drive up the alien death rate higher then their egg spawning rate. Since marines can easily and cheaper increase their own spawning rate (via IPs), they could ensure they wouldn't get spawn-locked themselves. Increasing spawn distance (via cross spawns) can help this problem, since it reduces the alien death rate, but the better solution is to improve the alien egg spawning system.

    If anything, NSL needs a 'better alien egg spawn system' mod than a 'no close spawns' one.
    swalk wrote: »
    Nice post scrajm. And obviously I agree with evilbob, close spawns imbalance is all about the traveltime punishment for failed baserushes. It's not nessesarily to bring longer games, just balanced maps. But in practice it usually bring longer games when traveltime is longer. 30 seconds of traveltime changes ALOT in the gameplay.
    I guess I'm in the minority, but I don't think 'longer' games are a desirable goal of either watching or playing NS2. What I want to see and play are evenly matched games, where victory is neither easily achieved or completely unattainable until the very end. It just so happens that evenly matched games are typically longer ones, but that doesn't mean forcing longer games will make them more evenly matched (the old correlation does not equal causation argument).
    statikg
  • invTempestinvTempest Members, Constellation, Squad Five Blue Join Date: 2003-03-02 Member: 14223Posts: 233
    edited March 2013
    Forced cross spawns removes a lot of the variation that NS2 has to offer plain and simple. Teams should be able to work out strategies for any of those potential spawn locations but it seems to me that most people only complain about it because they lost a round or two because they were rushed. Not having close spawns means that is one less thing you have to potentially plan for. A good team will practice against close spawns and be able to react and change their strategy based on the location of the other team.

    I still remember in the beta when summit had fixed spawns and it was very boring and monotonous after 10 rounds of the same thing. Having this rule is just going back to that same boring and static play that we had a long time ago in the beta. I for one don't think close spawns is really an issue and the two spots (summit FC->Sub and Tram WH-> Serv) where it is should be addressed by changes in the map rather than restrictive and boring mods.

    Removing the early game "where did they spawn?" mechanic results in boring games (in my opinion) because it creates the same encounters time and time again.

    Lets stop dumbing the game down and actually learn to cope with close spawns - After all, the better team should know how to counter this if in fact they are "better".
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  • ScrajmScrajm Members Join Date: 2011-10-17 Member: 127859Posts: 276 Fully active user
    Only two entrances are good, but I think vents in marine spawns are fine, under the condition that they are accessible by the marines.

    I have always been annoyed with the vents into atrium, but never really bothered with the vents into sub. I think this condition adds alot and is more in line with my themes of the commandments, that both sides should be able to counter with good solid play.

    I have to say that about far/close spawns I am still unsure. I always hear good arguments from both sides, and I just like good arguments. The main argument about not having close spawn has always been that it removes some fun factors like

    1) Varation
    I still remember in the beta when summit had fixed spawns and it was very boring and monotonous after 10 rounds of the same thing.
    Forced cross spawns removes a lot of the variation that NS2 has to offer plain and simple

    2) Strategy
    Teams should be able to work out strategies for any of those potential spawn locations
    ... [M]y concern is more of keeping rushing /.../ viable, but rare, rather then it becoming the dominant strat that effects overall game balance stats

    These are valid points made by ScardyBob and Tempest. Two of the main themes made in the 10 commandments have been just that: strategy and variation. Waving this off with any solid arguments seems overly difficult. I also think this is why I am so divided in this issue. But I was hopeing that variation and giving teams the ability to choose different strategies would come from other aspects of the game rather the close spawns. Tempest accusses this of beeing
    ...dumbing the game down...
    , but I feel that we can "sacrifice" these for something more desirable: longer macro games with occosational timing pushes. This is of course only if you agree to the idea that long games (15-20 mins) is a good thing from the very beginning.

    ScardyBob seems to agree with that atm base rushes on close spawns are somewhat stronger than they should be. ScardyBob however argues that we might be able to keep the added variation and strategic depth from close spawns if we just balance the close spawn rushes to be less viable by, for instance, changing spawn system. This is an interesting idea. Another theme made in the commandments was that there should be some form of "standard" on the maps so the game numbers gets easier to balance. Spawn system might ofc change, but I wonder if its possible to change spawn system to someting that is balanced for both far spawn and close spawn at the same time? Maybe ScardyBob can make a suggestion on how this could be done?
  • InsaneInsane Anomaly Members, Super Administrators, Forum Admins, NS1 Playtester, Forum Moderators, NS2 Developer, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, NS2 Map Tester, Subnautica Developer, Pistachionauts, Future Perfect Developer Join Date: 2002-05-13 Member: 605Posts: 3,912 admin
    Thanks for this, this is exactly the sort of feedback I was talking about before.

    One thing that I think would improve the document (at least for me), is to use some real-world examples of where maps do things well or do them badly. Points like "the chokepoints cannot be too choky" are reasonable, but I think it would help to get everyone on the same page if you could define terms with reference to examples that you think are good and bad.
  • CrushaKCrushaK Members, NS2 Playtester Join Date: 2012-11-05 Member: 167195Posts: 1,182 Advanced user
    As a general rule of thumb, there should always be enough decisions for the player to make about where to go next in any given situation. Linear hallways are discouraged. NS2 does a good job at this for the most part and is constantly getting better at it (like the change to Refinery's Conduit-Smelting connection. Now only the west side of the map remains a bit linear).

    http://www.hourences.com/the-hows-and-whys-of-level-design-examples/
    Suggestions:
    Tech Path of Hive actually upgrades the Hive itself
    Give Gorges telepathic control over their Bait Ball for Overlord-style commanding of Babblers

    And please allow to turn rooms into emergency-lit or dark versions if infestations grows over an unbuilt or damaged power node socket.
  • ScrajmScrajm Members Join Date: 2011-10-17 Member: 127859Posts: 276 Fully active user
    edited March 2013
    Analyzing Docking with the Commandments as a Basis

    1.1 Introduction
    I will now use these guidelines to analyze why I believe docking is not fit for competitive (thnx dragon for your constructive contribution to this thread) play. I will also try to (as much I am capable) give suggestion of what changes can be made to fulfill these commandments better.

    I will start by analyzing where the map fail to live up to the commandment, one by one, and try to explain why. A map can get “Good”, “To some extent” or “Bad”. After that, I will move on to giving improvement suggestions. I am unsure of the power distribution regarding maps and who has the power to decide changes (Wasabi, Dux, Mendasp, Cory, that crab guy?), but I sincerely hope that whomever has that power will be reading this and might be able to give a proper response.

    1.2. The map
    Docking.png

    2. Analysis and justification

    2.1 Both sides at all spawn points should always have somewhat easy access to exactly two additional res nodes.

    Bad
    Marines can spawn in terminal, café or locker. If you spawn in Café, you only have Bar, which in turn is too easy to hold. Terminal is too far away to be considered a “natural”. If marines spawn in terminal, the naturals should be the far side of east wing and café. Both of these are too far away to be true naturals, making both spawns for marines bad.

    If aliens spawn in departures, stab and east are naturals. Stab is ok distance, considering you can use vent, even though it might be costly with the cysts. East however is very far away. If aliens spawn in gen stab is ok distance, but maint is somewhat far. If aliens spawn in locker rooms, bar is ok using the vents (cysts still costly), but I´m unsure about maint from this spawn point though.

    2.2 If the map is big, the RTs should always be forward on to the map from spawn

    Bad.
    Docking is big. Hence, the RTs should be forward. If marines spawn in terminal, moving to café is just.. well, backwards. If the marines decide to go to east from terminal, there is also no way for them ever coming back to any central areas of the map for a long time.

    2.3 Both sides need a 2nd hive spot to expand into that cannot be too easy taken down, but not too easy to defend.

    To some extent.
    Marines can and always will expand into café or terminal, which is a bit too easy. However, when marines spawn in terminal, defending café makes that marine move “backwards”, essentially taking that marine away a bit. But if marines spawn in café, defending terminal is pretty easy, couse after a successful defence, that marine will soon be in combat again since terminal is almost on the way to courtyard. Aliens are ok.


    2.4 All tech points should be equally viable for both sides to expand to, given the proximity

    Bad.
    Aliens will NEVER expand into café, even with locker vs terminal. Aliens will also never expand into terminal, even with dep vs café . Terminal and café will always be marine territory. Marines however might be interested in taking gen from aliens with a term vs dep spawn, giving interesting options for the marines.

    2.5 Where marines spawn, there mustn´t be more than two entrances, and no vents unless marines can defend the vents.

    Bad.
    Both marine spawns have three entrances. No vents though!

    2.6 The chokepoints cannot be too choky.

    Bad
    The battle of this map WILL be centered around courtyard. Hold courtyard, and you should be able to hold the game. For instance, with terminal vs gen spawn, if marines hold courtyard, they can essentially attack both stab and main at the same time with the same squad. If you have 3 marines in courtyard, which takes less than 10 secs to get to from terminal, and the com scans stab seeing 3 skulks in ambush (cus they scouted well), those 3 marines can just move into maint without a hazzle at all. On summit directing three marines from complab to vent takes time, giving aliens time to set up a new ambush. On this map, this is not possiblel. Hence, aliens need to hold courtyard from the very beginning. But considering the distance from terminal and the layout of courtyard, marines will just have an EZ mode taking down aliens RTs over and over.

    2.7 No hive should be able to get sieged from an absurd location.
    Bad.
    On this map you can make 2 arcs in the base, just move them to court, up the ramp and siege locker. Imba.

    2.8 There cannot be too many or too few res nodes

    Good.

    2.9 Spawns should always be far

    Bad.
    The reasons for this should be obvious.

    Now, this commandment is essentially contested, which makes me wonder if I should analyze docking through this commandment. I urge the reader to take this with a grain of salt until a wider consensus has been reached.

    2.10 No spot should be bile bombable where marines cannot kill the gorge

    Good.
    I cannot find a spot where marines can´t kill the gorge. Now this might of course change the more we play it, but at this point, I think it is ok.

    3. Comments
    This map has some severe problems. 7 out of 10 got “bad” from me. Now, I am unsure if there are any way to cut the Gordian knot easily (probably overextending my English here), but I think there might be a few ways we can make this map at least to some extent more in line with the commandments.

    Before I give my suggestions, I would be very pleased if the reader could have in mind that this is just propositions on how it can be solved, and I am in no way suggesting that this is the only way to solve the issues at hand. If you have other ideas on how we can make docking more in line with the commandments, please feel free to post them.

    4. Suggestions:

    I will now give some suggestions:
    I am envisioning this map as somewhat similar to veil, but rotated 90 degrees (pi/2 to you mathematicians out there) counterclockwise.

    Make locker fixed marine spawn.

    Move locker room “west”, to about where back alley is now. At the same time make it so marines can’t just move straight into court. They should have to move through either maint or bar.

    Remove tech point in café.

    Move bar “east”, so when marines go from locker rooms spawn, they will move “forward” to the map through bar.

    Make terminal, dep or gen random alien spawn.

    Make landing pad an RT again.

    I think this would be a start. From there we might be able to come up with more fixes.
    I remind the reader of the goal here: to make the map more in line with the commandments. If you don’t agree with the underlying commandments, you probably won’t agree to these changes and ideas. If you however feel that any of these changes might further the discrepancy between the commandments and the map, please tell me and maybe we together can come up with a solution. I hope you enjoyed reading!



  • duxdux Tea Lady Members, NS2 Developer Join Date: 2003-12-14 Member: 24371Posts: 597 Advanced user
    Hi scrajm, thanks for the detailed observations on docking.

    I'd just like to point out that docking has always been a problem child since its earliest development stages. It was envisioned with its marine start being Landing Pad, hence the wonky setup down there and this was before random spawns got thought of, and a lot of the game mechanics as well. There are a lot of other factors in the design process of the map that I could talk about as well but I'd be here all day.

    So to address some of your points:

    I don't see lockers being sieged from the maintenance corridor as big an issue as it is made out to be. I am willing to fix this however, but I don't consider it as problematic as it is described.

    Terminal with Three entrances and the broken window, again, this is from Terminal not being designed (at the time) as a Marine Spawn.

    Docking was always intended to be big and quite open, Courtyard was always intended in the earliest of designed to be the central part that connects to everywhere. I don't think it was foreseen how good that would turn out to be.

    Generator I flipped 180 degrees last night, along with changing certain aspects of it to make it easier for both teams to play in and I'm in the process of connecting it all back up. I've deleted the lower half of Maint and you're a lot closer to the RT now so both Maint and Stab are good options to expand to and reduces Stabs effectiveness at attacking Gen.

    As for moving Bar and Locker, I'm open to this but it is all a lot of work for a map that has had a lot of time and effort spent on it already. But I'm willing to implement changes that will see this get played in competitions / gathers.
  • statikgstatikg Members Join Date: 2012-09-19 Member: 159978Posts: 427 Fully active user
    I like your ideas for how to better balance the map, however I feel that adding an RT into landing pad is going to be too much easy res for an alien team spawning in terminal, and too much easy res for marines if aliens don't spawn teminal.

    An alien team spawning in terminal could easily hold down landing pad, east wing and departures which would be 4 rts all difficult for marines to pressure. Since I believe the underlying point in your idea for the landing pad rt was so that aliens spawning in terminal would have 2 close rts, perhaps a better solution would be shift cafe to the southeast in accordance with onos bar and landing pad east as well (maybe shrink/remove part of landing pad area?)

    Perhaps an RT in courtyard would be appropriate given the reduced ease of access by marines to that area, and the lack of a really good strong staging area for marines in the south east side of the map. I am wondering if this would help balance the potential jackpot RT that is eastwing which is near impossible for marines to effectively unless they control the terminal TP.

    Regarding the issue with easy ARCability of both generator and departures, this could be addressed fairly easily if necessary by flipping the departures tech point onto the other side of the north point hallway.
  • 3del!3del! Members Join Date: 2009-05-11 Member: 67386Posts: 110
    ScardyBob wrote: »
    wiry wrote: »
    Lets use summit as an example. Marines have 2 IP's and are constantly sending 2 guys to pressure a hive that is barely a 30 second walk from the base. Killing every egg they can find.

    It makes the alien team having to constantly have some one in their base (sounds like fun!). To some extent it also reduces the need for scouting since you know that those two marines will allways come since it's the most advantageous thing to do. How fun is it, for either side to constantly have to walk down the same hallway and do the same thing for the entirety of the round. It isn't.
    Res biting is also a tedious but necessary component of winning in NS2 that I don't see many complaints about. NS2 is full of similar boring, but necessary, actions that it seems silly to reject any of them based on their tediousness.

    I don't agree that res biting is tedious. In a pub maybe, but in a comp game you have to play very strategic as a res biter. Sure, there are times when you're not attacked, and will bite the whole RT, but you're still concerned that there could be a marine sneaking up on you.

    The problem with close spawns really is what wiry said. Two marines will always push the main hive, only building/defending the one RT on their way there. This means that aliens will always have to defend their main base against these same two unlucky marines. The reason for this is that as the marine team, you want to attack different spots. Preferably as far from each other as possible, so aliens can't easily group up and clear both groups consecutively.

    Another thing that really bothers me, is that random spawns make for unequal opportunities. You can drop a second hive way way easier, if you spawn close. This is simply unfair for the team that happens to spawn cross as aliens, and if we want ns2 to become an e-sport, these imbalances need to be addressed imo. I mean imagine Blind casting the finals with Joe or someone else from esl-staff and commenting on ns2_veil pipeline spawn: "Well, basically aliens are in a very very bad spot here." Before the round even begins!
    In SC2 these kinds of imbalances were addressed very fast, even if it meant that each player (and the audience) knew where their opponent would spawn and if you ask me, so should it be done in NS2!

    I even think completely fixed spawns would do the game good. At least for the two rounds that are played on a map in a match, so both teams have totally equal winning opportunities. But in that case, the spawns must be clear before the first round is played.

    I think leagues could cycle through different fixed spawns per playday for example. This way you could even have close spawns in, even though they suffer from the mentioned monotonous gameplay.
  • SquishpokePOOPFACESquishpokePOOPFACE -21,248 posts (ignore below)Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2012-10-31 Member: 165262Posts: 1,669 Advanced user
    scardybob

    what r u doing

    scardybob

    STAHP
    To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to play Natural Selection 2. The gameplay is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of military strategy and advanced mathematics you won't even win a single game. Theres also the game's nihilistic outlook, which is deftly woven into the game. The maps and artwork draw heavily from Riddley Scott's Alien franchise, for instance. The players understand this stuff, they have the intellectual capacity to truly appreciate the depth of the game, to realise that it's not just great, that it also says something about LIFE. As a consequence people who dislike Natural Selection 2 truly ARE idiots. of course they wouldn't appreciate, for instance, the humour in the Marines' existential catchphrase "how do I get to be so good", which itself is a cryptic reference to the high degree of intelligence required to play the game as intended. I'm smirking right now just imagining one of those addlepated simpletons scratching their heads in confusion when spectating a game. What fools... how I pity them. And, yes, by the way, i DO have a Fade tatoo. And no, you cannot see it. it's for the ladies' eyes only, and even then they have to demonstrate that they are within 50 hive skill points of my own (preferable lower) beforehand. Nothin personnel kid.
    AurOn2pearlykPaLaGi
  • statikgstatikg Members Join Date: 2012-09-19 Member: 159978Posts: 427 Fully active user
    WHAT IS ALL THIS WORDS
  • HughHugh Cameraman San Francisco, CANS2 Developer, NS2 Playtester, Reinforced - Silver, Reinforced - Onos, WC 2013 - Shadow, Subnautica Developer, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2010-04-18 Member: 71444Posts: 1,779 admin
    SCARDYBOB YOU ARE THE KING
    The fastest way to contact me is via @hugh_jeremy on Twitter! Add me on Steam: Strayan. I do not check forum PMs.
    Keep up to date on what is going on with: Unknown Worlds | Natural Selection 2 | Subnautica
    Chat with the UWE team on Twitter | The best way to be notified about Subnautica updates is to sign up to our development newsletters
  • DarkomicronDarkomicron Members Join Date: 2010-11-24 Member: 75256Posts: 73
    Holy crap. I just logged in to say that. Sick math solving stuff here.

    Well done mate. Well done.
  • CrushaKCrushaK Members, NS2 Playtester Join Date: 2012-11-05 Member: 167195Posts: 1,182 Advanced user
    I hate integrals. I hate them so much.
    Suggestions:
    Tech Path of Hive actually upgrades the Hive itself
    Give Gorges telepathic control over their Bait Ball for Overlord-style commanding of Babblers

    And please allow to turn rooms into emergency-lit or dark versions if infestations grows over an unbuilt or damaged power node socket.
    SquishpokePOOPFACE
  • pearlykpearlyk Members Join Date: 2013-01-19 Member: 180732Posts: 88 Advanced user
    Logged in only to rate as awesome scardybob's post.
    call me arnaldo
  • FrothybeverageFrothybeverage Members Join Date: 2003-02-15 Member: 13593Posts: 848
  • ScardyBobScardyBob ScardyBob Forum Admins, Forum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow Join Date: 2009-11-25 Member: 69528Posts: 4,983 mod
    Yeah, sorry for going overboard with the math, but I wanted to make a basic model to help me (and others) understand the egg-locking vs spawn position issue.
  • 3del!3del! Members Join Date: 2009-05-11 Member: 67386Posts: 110
    From my experience I'd say that engagements don't necessarily happen more frequently on close spawns. I believe the problem is, that there are fewer engagement possibilities, before the marines are in a position to attack eggs. Also their first target is the Harvester in Alien Spawn, bringing them into a position where they can also attack eggs. Since Aliens don't have a reason to defend prior to this, since they won't bother trying to capture the RP between Alien and Marine Start, the engagement more often than not will take place in or very close to the Alien Start Hive.

    Let's look at an example:
    1. Cross Spawn - Marines spawn Sub-Access, Aliens spawn Atrium
    2. Close Spawn - Marines spawn Sub-Access, Aliens spawn Data Core
    Marines play 2-1-2 split (we'll only be looking at the 2 marines going to Ventilation at round start)

    In the first case, these two marines will build 2 RTs (Ventilation and Data Core) and then attack Reactor Core RT. First engagement will probably be either in Pipe Junction, Data Core, or Glass Hallway (in order of probability). Aliens can also avoid the engagement and attack Ventilation instead, forcing marines to either return to defend, or progress without dealing damage themselves while loosing their harvester.
    In the second case, they will build Ventilation and then attack Data Core RT, which happens to be in the Alien Start. First engagement will probably be in Pipe Junction or Ventilation. If Aliens would let marines pass into Data Core, to attack Ventilation, the Marines would most probably not return to save that RT, since destroying the Alien Harvester would be more rewarding. So the engagement will most likely happen in Pipe Junction. If this engagement is lost by Aliens, Marines can already attack Data Core.

    That being said, I still believe Aliens are in a better position, when they have close spawns, since they can more easily capture and secure their expansion Harvesters and Hive.

    tl;dr: The problem is not the frequency of engagements, but the number of engagement possibilities before Marines can attack Alien infrastructure.

    PS: A good Alien team will not get egg locked by engaging too frequently. When you realize that there are less than 4 eggs during a wavespawn, usually you avoid dying for a minute and all is good. But if Marines have easy access to Alien Spawn, they can take advantage of that.
  • joshhhjoshhh Milwaukee, WIMembers, NS2 Playtester, NS2 Map Tester, Reinforced - Supporter, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow, Subnautica Playtester Join Date: 2011-06-21 Member: 105717Posts: 1,437 Advanced user
    Dear Scardy,
    After 4 years of calc and stats, I promised myself I would never use any of that knowledge ever again in my life. You sir, have made me break that promise. For that, I hate you. Your black wizard sorcery is not welcome here. haha

    Anyway, props for the analysis. My thoughts are more along the lines of what 3del is saying. Engagement possibilities are limited in close spawns. (especially in the dreaded server/warehouse spawn).

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