Combat++ Alt. Mode (Combat + Onslaught)

NousWandererNousWanderer Join Date: 2010-05-07 Member: 71646Members Posts: 258 Advanced user
edited July 2018 in Modding
Note: I am not a modder. I originally posted this in the Combat++ thread and Discord. After it received a positive response, I was asked to create a new thread to further discussion. Whether or not anything like this ever finds its way to NS2 is contingent on modders finding it interesting enough to code. This thread exists to help organize that process (if it happens) and to provide a discussion space to refine the idea further.


Combat's Problems:

The worst part of combat has been, generally speaking, the objective: killing the hive or cc isn't particularly thrilling, usually happens in overtime, and is more or less a war of attrition.

There are other issues as well. Teams rarely work together, and the center areas of each map usually devolve into spam by midround. Player dropped pve (e.g. hydras) usually results in distraction at best, frustration at worst. And while combat serves as a great intro to NS2's mechanical input requirements, a significant number of engagements aren't really representative of NS2 classic. There aren't many ambushes involving more than one ambushing player, so emergent alien packplay / teamwork doesn't develop. And because the maps are so simple, we usually see a lot of big clashes involving multiple players (where individual differences in player build are flattened in the chaos) as opposed to a series of distributed engagements around the map (where playstyle and build make all the difference). This limits combat's efficacy as both a training tool and as a game mode with fun rules.

So I'm wondering if something like UT2004's onslaught map control model could be effectively married to the combat player upgrade model.

UT2004 Onslaught Map Layout Examples:

crossfire.jpg

dria.jpg

tricky.jpg

How Onslaught Worked in UT2004:

-Teams: there are two teams, red and blue.
-Goal: your goal is to destroy enemy team's "power core" (which is located at their spawn) before they destroy yours.
-Detail: your power core serves as a spawn point and base with useful pve/vehicles/weapons.
-Limitation: power cores cannot be repaired once damaged.
-Limitation: you cannot damage the power cores initially; first you must "link" to them by capturing "power nodes" en route to the power core.
-Limitation: power nodes start off neutral, and it takes time to capture them (UT2004 uses the link gun for the capture process).
-Detail: once captured, a power node starts to serve as a mini-base for your team to help you push further.
-Limitation: power nodes can be attacked during the capture process. If destroyed, they revert to a neutral state.
-Limitation: you must establish a sequential link to the enemy team's power core, step by step. Depending on the map, there may be many possible routes to the enemy team's power core.

In the case of UT2004, these maps were wide open areas with vehicular combat. But because NS2 is largely comprised of hallways and rooms, it should be easy enough to envision how the same principle would work. Consider a map like Dria above. Let's say you're starting w/ the blue team (top left) and you want to attack the enemy base (bottom right). You could get there via the following link routes:

5-8-3-2
5-6-1-2

And so on for maps of increasing complexity. Simpler maps would require less linking of course. But as far as NS2 is concerned, that just means they'd be more combat-esque. There are other unique quirks as well, and you can read more about the mode here and here and here.

How it Could Work in NS2:

-Have the CC/Hive serve as the "power cores"
-Use specific rooms to serve as the "power nodes". The node could simply be the existing resource node model - although using harvesters/extractors to signal whether a room has been captured might be confusing, since they won't be producing resources.
-Option 1: require welders/gorges to build the node. This encourages upgrade diversity, and because the CC/Hive cannot be healed, it will obviate the need for gorges and marines to camp in base all game.
-Option 2: have a node start being captured once touched by a marine or alien, but allow welders/gorges to capture it more quickly.
-By introducing a control point mechanic, you incentivize a minimum degree of strategic thought. Camping in base results in losing the round because you aren't capturing. Fighting randomly in large, open areas of the map (for example a central courtyard) may result in an insufficiently supported push elsewhere. It's valuable to teach players that there are places they need to be, and that their presence is a priority. That basic capacity / map awareness translates to classic.
-Once a room is captured, you could use the existing lighting and infestation mechanics to signal whether it's alien or marine controlled.
-Option A: You could also allow a minimum degree of pve to spawn (perhaps on a timer) in the room after captured: armories/crags, etc. Thus, the longer a team controls a node, the stronger it becomes. But err on the side of weakness so that capturing nodes is never impossible.
-Option B: An alternate approach would be to allow players to spend their upgrades on specific pve that would spawn for that team in a room whenever it's controlled (perhaps on a timer, again). This would help reduce the number of players who just max out their personal upgrades by serving as an upgrade point sink. It would also teach newer players how the structures function without really ruining combat's flow or requiring a commander (i.e., another learning opportunity that combat currently does not provide).
-Using a link/control model would result in a greater variety of options over the course of a round. Perhaps you mount a significant defense along one path while a smaller subset of your team starts establishing links elsewhere. Perhaps you take the longer route, forcing the marines to address your progress once you start getting close, thereby allowing your team to apply greater pressure to the marine team's advancement elsewhere, and so on.

Advantages Over Combat:

I think this design solves a lot of combat's fundamental problems. It incentivizes more dynamic engagements, teaches people how to work together to clear a room (which is fundamentally what NS2 engagements are about) and makes the entire mode seem more purposeful without altering the basic idea: you're hopping in, leveling up, and fighting. The maps could be geometrically simple and still work perfectly. This mode would be a far more valuable learning tool for NS2 players than traditional combat is.

Currently, teams can camp in their spawn locations (marines in particular). But per the new mode's design, node rooms used to establish links are both 1) less defensible than the spawn is and yet are 2) crucial to hold. This has important consequences. Right now it's much harder for marines to effectively push the alien hive in combat. But if the marine team has successfully controlled the map via a link path en route to the alien hive, the push becomes considerably easier - and there is no question that it's earned. And this in turn provides the aliens with a concrete objective: push back or perish. The tug of war is far more palpable.

This design adds a strategic layer to the push aspect of combat both with respect to defense and offense while disincentivizing camping. And while welding a CC/healing a hive doesn't teach you much about the game (current combat), the envisioned game mode would encourage support roles to push in order to achieve the objective. The result is that all playstyles get a lot of useful practice that translates to classic. Also, because there are more avenues to push than standard combat, engagements will be more varied and thus more representative of the types of situations you find yourself in when playing classic. I think this would be superior both as a training mechanism and as a mode that people have fun with.

Discuss!

Post edited by NousWanderer on
White_WizardNintendows

Comments

  • White_WizardWhite_Wizard United States Join Date: 2018-01-01 Member: 234742Members Posts: 37 Advanced user
    Control Points / Power Nodes:
    - A marine captures a control point by turning on the power.
    - An alien captures a control point by disabling the power.
    - This lends itself to your point, "Once a room is captured, you could use the existing lighting and infestation mechanics to signal whether it's alien or marine controlled."
    - Perhaps, upon capturing a control point, marines automatically get a forward armory and aliens automatically get a forward crag. Marine structures can be altered to automatically die if unpowered for too long.
    - I like PvE being done by players spending upgrade points on structures. This is already how Combat++ is being coded and we could leverage the code (builder has a create mode that can drop structures). Aliens would of course require a Gorge to drop structures, but since their are not may techs for a Gorge to upgrade, they should have the extra upgrade points to spend.

    Thoughts on maps:
    - CC and Hive will have to be inaccessible to the opposing team until all power nodes are captured. This could be done via a door (or doors) or some sort of force-field mechanic. If doors are used, aliens may leave their base through vents that are inaccessible to marines. Marines will need a way to teleport out of their base (maybe a similar approach to the teleporter in eclipse). If a force-field is used, the force-field can allow friendly units to pass through.
    - When all power-nodes at control points are powered, the doors to the alien base become unlocked, or the force-field is suppressed. When all power-nodes at control points are unpowered, the doors to the marine base become unlocked, or the force-field is suppressed.
    - To make it intuitive with the powering/unpowering mechanic, maybe marine bases are protected by a force-field and alien bases are protected by doors. That way all control points being powered means that doors can open and all control points being unpowered means that the force-field cannot operate.

    Additional thoughts:
    - Players can earn xp by doing team based things like capturing control points.
    - Additionally, xp gain should be based around one's contribution to the team (building structures, welding, healing). Possibly still give xp for kills and assists, just very little or a lot less than combat.
    - Periodic events can occur that tell a team to push a specific control point (similar to battlefield). Say team 1 has control point A and team 2 has control point B and C. Team 1 may get an attack incentive to take control point A within a certain time frame. If successful, players that participated can receive additional bonus xp for helping with the assault.

    Final thoughts.. I think this has the potential to be a great game mode if done right.
    NousWandererskav2
  • skav2skav2 Join Date: 2007-05-28 Member: 61037Members, Reinforced - Gold Posts: 190 Advanced user
    Control Points / Power Nodes:
    - A marine captures a control point by turning on the power.
    - An alien captures a control point by disabling the power.
    - This lends itself to your point, "Once a room is captured, you could use the existing lighting and infestation mechanics to signal whether it's alien or marine controlled."
    - Perhaps, upon capturing a control point, marines automatically get a forward armory and aliens automatically get a forward crag. Marine structures can be altered to automatically die if unpowered for too long.
    - I like PvE being done by players spending upgrade points on structures. This is already how Combat++ is being coded and we could leverage the code (builder has a create mode that can drop structures). Aliens would of course require a Gorge to drop structures, but since their are not may techs for a Gorge to upgrade, they should have the extra upgrade points to spend.

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!

    Thoughts on maps:
    - CC and Hive will have to be inaccessible to the opposing team until all power nodes are captured. This could be done via a door (or doors) or some sort of force-field mechanic. If doors are used, aliens may leave their base through vents that are inaccessible to marines. Marines will need a way to teleport out of their base (maybe a similar approach to the teleporter in eclipse). If a force-field is used, the force-field can allow friendly units to pass through.
    - When all power-nodes at control points are powered, the doors to the alien base become unlocked, or the force-field is suppressed. When all power-nodes at control points are unpowered, the doors to the marine base become unlocked, or the force-field is suppressed.
    - To make it intuitive with the powering/unpowering mechanic, maybe marine bases are protected by a force-field and alien bases are protected by doors. That way all control points being powered means that doors can open and all control points being unpowered means that the force-field cannot operate.
    -

    YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

    - Thoughts on this. If you use doors / glass you could just have the spawn outside of the protected area. No need to have vents n stuff. Then again IDK how spawning works but I assume its not tied to the Chair / hive location.

    Love the protection mechanics idea being powered by the power nodes! Makes sense in a lot of different ways. The teleporter could be a good idea too. Though for marines I wouldnd mind if instant IP's were a thing to be used to spawn.
    Additional thoughts:
    - Players can earn xp by doing team based things like capturing control points.
    - Additionally, xp gain should be based around one's contribution to the team (building structures, welding, healing). Possibly still give xp for kills and assists, just very little or a lot less than combat.
    - Periodic events can occur that tell a team to push a specific control point (similar to battlefield). Say team 1 has control point A and team 2 has control point B and C. Team 1 may get an attack incentive to take control point A within a certain time frame. If successful, players that participated can receive additional bonus xp for helping with the assault.

    Final thoughts.. I think this has the potential to be a great game mode if done right.

    Dude stop. I already jizzed.




  • NousWandererNousWanderer Join Date: 2010-05-07 Member: 71646Members Posts: 258 Advanced user
    edited July 2018
    Good thoughts!
    - CC and Hive will have to be inaccessible to the opposing team until all power nodes are captured.
    Just a point of clarification: you mean all power nodes via one of the "link paths", right? As opposed to all power nodes that are possible to build on the map. They also have to be built in a sequence, so we'd need some type of logic preventing teams from jumping ahead and capturing unlinked nodes.

    But generally speaking, I think the node building idea has potential...although I have some questions.

    Aliens are going to be capturing nodes on their side of the map early on, but how can this be done if the nodes start in an unbuilt or destroyed state? Ideally we want 3 states per node: marine captured, alien captured, and neutral.

    All nodes should start in a 'neutral' state and it should take a comparable amount of time for either team to capture one. If a marine node is attacked and destroyed by aliens (either after being built, or during the building process), it should not immediately switch to an alien-captured state. Instead, a destroyed marine node should switch to 'neutral' and only then should the aliens be able to begin capturing it. And vice versa, of course.

    The timing is important, and since aliens are already more mobile than marines, we want to ensure that there won't be a cascading effect. So it may be necessary to introduce some new type of mechanism for the capturing process...
    This could be done via a door (or doors) or some sort of force-field mechanic. If doors are used, aliens may leave their base through vents that are inaccessible to marines. Marines will need a way to teleport out of their base (maybe a similar approach to the teleporter in eclipse). If a force-field is used, the force-field can allow friendly units to pass through.
    What if the CC or Hive structure had the forcefield around it, preventing damage, but the surrounding spawn area could be more open? In UT2004 Onslaught you could still attack enemies at their spawn - you just couldn't damage the power core until establishing a link. This came with downsides since it meant you probably weren't establishing the link that would allow you to win the round. On the other hand, it was occasionally useful to devote one or two members of your team to a forward push to slow reinforcements. It added a little depth and was a good aspect to the mode, in my opinion. It also required the players to make it all the way there without dying, which necessarily required passing through the zones of control that more or less correspond to the enemy team's "natural" nodes (for lack of a better term), so there was skill involved.
    Additional thoughts:
    - Players can earn xp by doing team based things like capturing control points.
    - Additionally, xp gain should be based around one's contribution to the team (building structures, welding, healing). Possibly still give xp for kills and assists, just very little or a lot less than combat.
    Definitely still give xp for kills and assists - just maybe lower the xp gain overall and give a healthy/comparable amount of xp for the support functions you just described (building, welding, etc.)?
    Periodic events can occur that tell a team to push a specific control point (similar to battlefield). Say team 1 has control point A and team 2 has control point B and C. Team 1 may get an attack incentive to take control point A within a certain time frame. If successful, players that participated can receive additional bonus xp for helping with the assault.
    This could be cool - maybe tie it in some way to the link structure of the map? In Onslaught there were nodes that didn't provide a link benefit (i.e. they weren't needed to establish a path to the enemy team's power core), but they did offer bonuses in the form of weapon, ammo, health spawns, etc.

    Another thought occurs to me: what if certain nodes (like the ones just described) were secondary spawn points that both teams would fight over in order to reinforce front lines more quickly? Or perhaps a cleaner way to do it would be via phases or tunnels which spawn in these locations once captured, connecting back to the respective alien/marine bases.

    Post edited by NousWanderer on
    White_Wizard
  • White_WizardWhite_Wizard United States Join Date: 2018-01-01 Member: 234742Members Posts: 37 Advanced user
    Just a point of clarification: you mean all power nodes via one of the "link paths", right? As opposed to all power nodes that are possible to build on the map.

    Yes.
    What if the CC or Hive structure had the forcefield around it, preventing damage, but the surrounding spawn area could be more open? In UT2004 Onslaught you could still attack enemies at their spawn - you just couldn't damage the power core until establishing a link.

    Yeah I like this best because it requires less map work / custom entities. It can easily be accomplished with a damage override and nanoshield or umbra effects similar to spawn protect in combat.
    Another thought occurs to me: what if certain nodes (like the ones just described) were secondary spawn points that both teams would fight over in order to reinforce front lines more quickly? Or perhaps a cleaner way to do it would be via phases or tunnels which spawn in these locations once captured, connecting back to the respective alien/marine bases.

    I like the idea of forward loctations that aren't link stations. And I like the idea of phases and tunnels to connect them.
    NousWanderer
  • NousWandererNousWanderer Join Date: 2010-05-07 Member: 71646Members Posts: 258 Advanced user
    Yes.
    Cool. I added a few more concerns to that section of my post - could you look those over at some point? No rush ofc.
    I like the idea of forward loctations that aren't link stations. And I like the idea of phases and tunnels to connect them.
    Awesome. Yeah, they should still require a link to *a* node but they wouldn't necessarily offer any further link benefit. So there would be a time/effort risk/reward for attempting to take and hold them. See nodes #4 and #7 in Dria above for a good example of how they could be placed.

  • White_WizardWhite_Wizard United States Join Date: 2018-01-01 Member: 234742Members Posts: 37 Advanced user
    But generally speaking, I think the node building idea has potential...although I have some questions.

    Aliens are going to be capturing nodes on their side of the map early on, but how can this be done if the nodes start in an unbuilt or destroyed state? Ideally we want 3 states per node: marine captured, alien captured, and neutral.

    All nodes should start in a 'neutral' state and it should take a comparable amount of time for either team to capture one. If a marine node is attacked and destroyed by aliens (either after being built, or during the building process), it should not immediately switch to an alien-captured state. Instead, a destroyed marine node should switch to 'neutral' and only then should the aliens be able to begin capturing it. And vice versa, of course.

    Yes I started coming to this realization as well. Some thoughts:
    -There doesn't necessarily need to be any interaction with the power nodes. Capturing could be time based.
    -Visual clues too like infestation slowly filling the room and the power nodes becoming destroyed upon alien capture triggering the lighting effects.
    -For Marines, cysts slowly die as they take control and the power nodes slowly becomes resocketed.
    The timing is important, and since aliens are already more mobile than marines, we want to ensure that there won't be a cascading effect. So it may be necessary to introduce some new type of mechanism for the capturing process...

    This one I still need to think about.
  • NousWandererNousWanderer Join Date: 2010-05-07 Member: 71646Members Posts: 258 Advanced user
    edited July 2018
    It's imperfect because it could possibly be confusing (the mode has no resources!), but what if it just used the harvester + extractor models to start. If that's not good, then perhaps someone could devise a geometrically simple model for the mode. It could just be a simple pillar with a lightsource at the top (grey/blue for marines, orange/green for aliens).

    But assuming that harvesters/extractors are used, it might work like this:

    -The correct structure autobuilds on a timer once the node is touched by a team provided that at least one member of the team remains present in a radius around the structure
    -The structures can be destroyed or damaged during the building process to reverse a team's capture progress
    -You can give welders + healspray a bonus to the building speed
    -Both structures are 'unique' in the sense that we associate them with a team already (which solves the problem of trying to represent both teams using just a power node)
    -The uncapped resource node model is 'neutral' (which kind of makes sense because the resource node model is already 'shared' by virtue of the fact that both teams already build structures on them in classic)

    It'd just need to be reworked so that there's a neutral level of lighting which becomes marine-favored when the marines successfully build an extractor, and alien-favored when the aliens successfully build a harvester. On the alien side, infestation could emanate from the harvester, with a few cysts spawning around the room. And like you said, as the harvester is damaged, the cysts could pop and the infestation could retract back toward the resource node model.

    That said, I have no idea if that's feasible.
  • skav2skav2 Join Date: 2007-05-28 Member: 61037Members, Reinforced - Gold Posts: 190 Advanced user
    Wonder whats going on with this
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