Greedy Goblin

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Zerging noobs vs elite few

You might heard that Crowfall will have an interesting faction battle mechanic: Order wins if it beats Chaos, Chaos wins if it beats Order, Balance wins if both are equal. This is an attempt to prevent players flock to one side for more rewards. It's a nice attempt, but it only prevents Order and Chaos becoming overpowered. Balance can still be overpowered and players will flock to it. I think I have a better system which needs only two factions: the "zerging noobs" and the "elite few". Of course you might want to give them some roleplaying name.

The system works with rewards, not with actual gameplay, you can use it for any gameplay where "victory points" can be defined. In a simple deathmatch a killing blow can be a victory point. For a "capture the hill", time spent in the capture zone. The only requirement of my system is that the game properly assigns victory points to the players, meaning that the points properly measure contribution.

As I've mentioned the two sides differ in reward structure. The "zerging noobs" is a low-reward, internally cooperating group. In simple terms, everyone who wasn't AFK in the team gets 1 unit of reward for participation. According to your performance, you can gain up to one more units. You never have a reason to hate your teammate, even if he's AFK. He isn't taking your reward, actually he brings 0.5 units of reward to the pool, since the average member gets 1.5 pt and an AFK-er will surely get only the 1 participation point. He also takes up no slot. The side is called "zerging noobs" for a reason, they are much more numerous than their enemy. The team size isn't locked, anyone can join.

The "elite few" team size isn't locked either, also "anyone can join". However the reward structure guarantees that most won't. How? The total reward pool of the side is defined by the players on both sides, about 0.5 unit/player. So if 100 players are in the battle, 50 units of reward is available to the elite few, regardless if they win or lose. The reward is distributed among the members unequally according to their victory points. If Adam gained 2x more victory points than Bob, he'll get twice as much rewards. So the lowest member of the side will likely get less than 1 unit of reward, making him defect to the "zerging noobs" where he gets 1 unit just for being AFK. This way the lowest players keep defecting until sufficiently low number of players remain to distribute the limited reward pool.

How does this side get replacements? The best players of the "zerging noobs" will realize that no matter how good they are, their reward is limited to 2 units, while in the "elite few" it can be much higher if they are good.

Please note that faction victory isn't a factor of giving out rewards, while it can give out cosmetic rewards. The players are still motivated to win as their reward increases if they contribute more to the victory. The faction balance (50-50 winrate) can also be easily managed by the devs by changing the "elite few" reward pool size. I mean if they win too much, decrease the reward from 0.5/player to 0.45 and suddenly the lowest members are better off defecting to the zerg.


maxim said...

In my memory, noone really attempted the zerg vs few reward system in my memory exactly as you described (unlimited mass participation on both sides, different only by reward systems). So grats on thinking up something new!

No all that is new is good or even worthwhile, though.

Games are not made for the sake of reward systems, but rather for the sake of their mechanics. Reward systems exist to guide player through his interaction with the mechanics.
Occasionally games exist for the sake of stories (which are a form of reward system), but truly good story-driven games also root their stories in mechanics of player's interaction with the world.

Games that reward all players close to equally had so far had a radically different set of mechanics, compared to games with individual performance-driven rewards. Compare WoW combat mechanics (that support zerging somewhat well) to, say, Eve's market-playing mechanics (that are highly individualistic). Currently, i see no way to mesh these mechanics in a coherent whole that would be fun to play.

Flat Panic said...

If I understand the idea behind Crowfall correctly, the devs are able to make realms with different rulesets. Since this idea of your is actually new, you should send them a mail outlining your idea. If they can make it work, I'm sure they'll give it a try. Who knows? The "Goblin Worlds" might become a popular ruleset/battleground.

Of course, there's also the possibility that your idea doesn't take into account how players will use and adapt to it, so it may either be broken, or unplayable, or just plain not fun. Either way, Crowfall looks to be able to handle that eventuality too.

maxpowerdup said...

That reminds me of the old Aliens vs. Predator game. The best Ratio was 1 Predator vw. 3 Marines vs. 5 Aliens. Just add reward system and it should work.
Was a great game btw.

nightgerbil said...

Make a kick starter then take my money!
Honestly, don't dismiss the idea please, hear me out. Your good at business so you can hire the programmers. Most kickstarters are failboats because they are run by designers/programers who AREN't businessmen.

You may express a lack of time to do this, but you could appoint a project manager with enough support. Something to think on maybe? You have some interesting ideas about game design and for sure whatever you made wouldn't be boring.

Gevlon said...

@Nightgerbil: this isn't a game, it's a ruleset for games. You can implement it into any games with factions fighting.

It alone won't make a game any good, it still need to have good combat mechanics, graphics and story. Things I don't have.

So all I can do is put it here and hope any game designer who already has a game implements it to solve faction inbalance.

Anonymous said...

Sounds very good.

Roleplaying game could be "The Mighty Many vs. The Fearless Few".

While a colloquial referende might be something like "Host vs. Heroes".

Anonymous said...

Your idea reminds me of what is being done with Warhammer 40'000: Eternal Crusade. Free to play players are restricted to being Orks. In lore Orks are crude, dumb, aggressive and attack in massive numbers. People who have bought the game can be Space Marines, who are fewer in number but act as elite troops.

This seems like it'd lead to hordes of unskilled new players vs the smaller number that have bought the game. It's a good mix of lore, gameplay and business sense I think.

Anonymous said...

Gevlon says:
"It alone won't make a game any good, it still need to have good combat mechanics, graphics and story. Things I don't have.

So all I can do is put it here and hope any game designer who already has a game implements it to solve faction inbalance."

First, this idea is very good. But it's a "side" imbalance corrector, not a "faction" imbalance corrector. The difference is you can swap sides all day long, but you're forced to "choose" a faction. People will choose a faction for whatever reason... Caldari space has Jita and bluish space backgrounds... so it's the most popular. The design problem is forcing a faction on people.

What you're doing is looking at it from a "market forces" point of view, which is WAY BETTER than the way most designers view games, which is to use their own ego as the primary lens.

Let's take Eve for example. In theory, Caldari and Gallente are at "war" with each other and are different "factions." But are they? Nothing stops a new Gallente Citizen from going to Jita, or a Caldari one from going to Hek. Would you make a WW2 game that lets Germans travel to London unmolested? In "Eve", the faction war has all the appearance of tacked on crap.

What I'm saying here is "Game designers" aren't as smart as they think they are, and your "Market forces" approach is really quite good. You can apply this to anything, "Pond wars: Ducks in conflict!" for example. Notice how there are only ducks? Your duck can be on the "Zerging Noob" team or the "Elite Few" team. Your one little idea just drove a game design. It almost writes itself at this point. You make a new duck, join a "brace" if you want (A player group.) and jump into duck oriented combat matches. Pretty much anyone could come up with duck oriented combat moves all day.

As to the other stuff: Artists and programmers are hired by managers. They exist in large supply and just cost money.

The hard part is being a designer without ego or unrealistic preconceptions and being able to explain that design to the managers / artists / programmers.

Anonymous said...

As for who the managers are: