Sunday, October 19, 2008

Catch-up mode

I read an interesting article recently about motivating players. Zoso points out that it never works out in practice to reward people based on individual performance, because it's just too hard to gauge accurately.

Did you kill 10 guys solo in Nordenwatch? Well, that's great, but maybe you're a bit of a scrub since you were actually not near any shrines and not contributing to the capture and therefore the victory. Unless those guys happened to be on their way from one shrine to the other, and you stopped them from getting there. In which case you're not a scrub, you're a total pro.

How can the game differentiate such a situation? Well, it can't. This is one advantage of handing out an identical reward to every player on the winning side (and a smaller reward to every player on the losing side). Over a large number of matches played, the best players will get rewarded the most, the worst players the least, and it will all work out brilliantly. Except, as Zoso quite rightly points out, that some games are a bit of a landslide because your team sucks very badly. You know, those games that end 500-20. If you only reward the win and not individual stats such as heals/damage, people will just give up and try to lose faster to get to the next game. That sucks.

Ever played a racing game? I was playing Need For Speed on PS2 the other day against my girlfriend. Due to the fact that I suck royally at racing games and because she doesn't, I'm not ashamed to say that I was being whooped good and proper. I spent an impressive amount of time racing the wrong way and attempting to turn around. She won the race easily, but somehow she never really got that far ahead.... thanks to my faithful co-pilot, catch-up mode.

Basically, in many racing games, players who are falling too far behind get to go *faster*. This is a neat game mechanic, since

a) It prevents you from giving up if you stack on the first corner
b) If the other person really is better than you, once you catch up they'll just pull away from you again, so it's not unfair to the leader

Catch-up mode would remove that "meh, next game" problem in scenarios, by keeping the game close and interesting. This would allow a "all winners get the same reward" system to work, which would stop individual rambo's from running around improving their personal score with no regard for the actual team.

Although of course with such a system, I'd still like to see a ladder ranking at the end like we do currently, since I like to stroke my e-peen as much as the next guy.


Chappo said...

But what kind of catch-up would it be? Would it give you bonus points/dmg/healing? At what point would this catch-up begin to take place? 200-10? And how long will it last? Until they opposing team caught up to the winning side's score?
It is an interesting idea, but it would have to be really well thought out; a lot of work just to make a couple more people try a bit harder. I will actually admit to using the 'afk' method in SP to get out of the scenario as we were getting absolutely rolled. :P

Melf_Himself said...

Naughty afker!

The details, for the most part, would have to be arbitrarily decided and fine tuned from experience (I'm not realistically thinking they'd put this into WAR, but I'm more thinking as a design exercise in general)

As a good starting point, I'd say:

No bonus to damage/heals
Extra multiplier for kills / capture points, and points cap faster
Catch-up effect takes place when 1 team is 75 points ahead. Catch-up effect is doubled at 150 point difference, tripled at 225, etc.

The reason I say no bonus to damage/heals is because I want to put the focus on winning the scenario

Crimson Starfire said...

That's a really good idea. Teams could actually use it as a tactic to gain that little bit of extra reward out of the scenario (i.e. win a little bit, lose a little bit, win...). It would definitely make things interesting.

Melf_Himself said...

Erm I don't think it would be used as a 'tactic'... once the other team catches up to you, the catch-up is turned off.

So it's always in the team's best interests to try your hardest at all times.

Crimson Starfire said...

I guess so. My thought line was, if you know you are going to overpower the other team, then you can start to lose a little bit so that you are behind. You then gain extra reward. You always stay that little bit behind so that you capitalise on the reward bonus, then take the match at the last second. I know such a scenario would never happen, but it would it be a clever strategy if it did.

Melf_Himself said...

Ah yes. Like Tom Cruise's slipstream maneuvre in Days of Thunder ;)