Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New Fate/Another mode draft - Oddball

Most of you should know that I am the current developer of Fate/Another by now.

While I was pondering about the current problem regarding Deathmatch, there's a new game mode that popped up in my mind that may be really appropriate for Fate/Another.

Let me explain about the problem in Deathmatch. The biggest issue there is with Deathmatch mode is that defending instead of attacking is a lot more advantageous in many situations. This is mostly due to the fact that the defending team is able to acquire sight very easily of where they are defendnig utilizing wards. This means that the defending team can safely engage the attacking team while the attacking team has to fight in the dark. In other words, this is a risk and a penalty the attacking team must take on.

As such.. this led to many situations where both sides simply do not choose to engage in combat. Both sides would camp for a long time and one team would decide to attack only because they would get sick of being bored or they are forced to attack for a special reason (I.E: TA Assassination).
Over the years, several clever solutions were invented by the users such as Select Position (where one team would have a very ideal composition to penetrate a defense vs the opposing team having an ideal composition for defense) or enforcing a house rule (where teams spawning from the right side are required to attack the opposing team).

Even in the case of Select Position, many tournament games revolved around both sides camping anyways despite the fact that one team might have an ideal composition for penetrating a defense, simply because the advantage of camping over defending is not dismissable. After all, everyone plays to win.

This is an epitome of a systematic failure of game design in my opinion. The only reason that this system seemingly worked so far is because of the roles of certain characters which forces the enemy to attack, most prominently True Assassin but also Caster and Gilgamesh to a degree, and because people in general opt to battle rather than continue a camp game. There is also the point that despite such systematic failure, the game is well balanced enough for users to enjoy it but this does not invalidate the point I am trying to make.

Other games are systematically designed in a way that "attacking" is a primary factor of the game. For instance, there are games where one team has to attack the other to win (I.E: Counter-Strike), where there is a strategic value and huge merit to attacking (I.E: Starcraft), where players engage in attacking to increase their chance to victory (I.E: DOTA, LoL). Yes, creeping is part of attacking as well for the last example.

Therefore, I firmly believe an introduction of a mode, where engaging in a combat is a primary factor, should be something that Fate / Another players would desire. After all, they went as far as creating house rule to compensate for this part, so the demand for this is pretty clear.

So I'd like to introduce oddball (Or Battle for the Holy Grail, I don't know, something appropriate for Fate/Another).

The gameplay is as follows (Do not focus on the numbers, they are easily changeable):
  • A team is victorious if they win 2/4/6/8 rounds. They switch sides between rounds.
  • Team wins a round by gathering 150 oddball points. Points are awarded to a team periodically if one of the team member holds the oddball.
  • Oddball spawns 15 seconds after the match begins at the center of the bridge.
  • You gain more points if you stay in the center of the map (bridge), and less points more you stay away from the center. Square "zones" will be created (and be clearly visible) for scoring. (For now, assume 4 points per second if you are on the bridge or 1 point per second if you are close to the edge of the map. 0 points if you are literally at the edge.)
  • You are consistently revealed (by minimap ping, not by sight) and you also take periodic damage based on your maximum HP while you hold the oddball. Starts from 0.5% per second to 10% per second.
  • Players holding the oddball will be given a small experience gain (0.5% per second).
  • Players holding the oddball will not be able to use certain items such as Speed Gem, Ward Teleportation.
  • After the oddball has been dropped, players cannot retrieve it until after 2 seconds.
  • Players can choose to manually drop the oddball. 10 points will be deducted from the team the dropping player is in if chosen to do so.
  • All players respawn 15 seconds after death (Regardless of level). They will be revived somewhere close to the bridge but randomly positioned.

 The above list is an incomplete draft of what an oddball mode might look like but you should get the idea. It is a systematical way of having the players engage in combat very actively if they want to win. Originally, such modes would often be found on FFA-based games, most notably from Halo but with some tweaks, I believe this is something that can definitely be applied on Fate/Another.
There are several concerns and problems with this design. Let me list some that I can think of.
  1. Certain characters would be given an unfair advantage due to their skillsets.

    Solution->The only potential issue lies with True Assassin, Beamers, Tanks, and Caster.

    In case of True Assassin, his invisibility and movement speed basically makes it very difficult for other players to catch him. This is where the scoring system and the HP penalty comes from. Basically his ability to run is practically countered by the fact that there is less incentive to staying away from the center (which is where the majority of battle will happen), and because of the damage penalty, True Assassin would not be able to run for so long.

    For beamers, because the battles majorly happen on the bridge, the narrow space basically makes beamers easier to hit their targets. This is a good thing in my opinion. Using beams are often difficult in a game because it takes a long time to charge it up, players anticipate it and use protective scrolls in advance, and worst of all, players are "locked" into their position making them vulnerable for few seconds. A small incentive like this is probably favorable to beamers (and killing people from beams is where a large portion of fun in this game comes from)

    Finally, for Tanks, I do not think it is a big problem. Because of the penalty, sure it would be more advantageous for them to take the oddball but due to the nature of the gameplay, strategically deciding who would take the oddball would be a difficult thing to do as the pace of the gameplay will be very quick. Furthermore, as the oddball gives a small exp incentive, other players would benefit from taking the oddball. If anything, this could be a feature of playing a "tank" in this game, just like from Deathmatch.
  2. Camping would occur on the bridge itself

    Solution->In other words, this is a concern addressed to the casters and a bit about warding.

    For next Real version of the map, I plan to change the way territories are built so that the building cooldown is triggered base (like Dust Explosion). This should mitigate some issues with casters abusing their territories as ridiculously as they are now.

    Aside from that, I believe camping wouldn't be too big of an issue on this particular mode. If a team decides to camp, because of the oddball location the opposing team practically knows their position and does not necessarily have to fight in the dark. They also have many more options to engage the opponent as they can attack from all sides, making beams and certain combos such as nuke and MMB more effective.

    Finally, for wards I believe they are over-speced even now in Deathmatch. To make the camping less effective with wards (as sight is a big criteria of camping), the duration of wards in oddball mode will be reduced to 1-2 minutes. This change might even be applied in Deathmatch as well, that I have not decided.

I will add onto this list once I come up with more. Let me know what you guys think.