Jump to content

Brief notes on a fair multiplayer


William Blake
 Share

Recommended Posts

From the latest religion dev stream we now know that "Polska Strong".

We also now know that religion bonuses are very different from religion to religion and are very significant. All this talk about religions and mechanics made an interesting jump in my head to the following:

Balance is hard

We know from experience, that any complex asymmetrical game system is hard to balance, in fact we can be sure that for quite some time after a release the game won't be balanced and in terms of competitive multiplayer there will be strong exploitable metagame. It just happens all the time everywhere. Scale is debatable but it will happen. But this has a good side because more variety creates richer game experience.

 

Exploration takes time 

If you have a lot of variety in the game and a game takes a long time, it would take a lot of time for an average player to try and fail or should I rather say "explore" potential gameplay possibilities and compare them. However, if you have long games amount of things you can try is limited since you commit to say one religion or another AND more specifically one or another kingdom.  Average casual players will have little experience outside their preferred nation and it's religion abilities.

 

Competitive play

Now, all this is fine and dandy if you play singleplayer for your own pleasure. Yet we know for sure, that in context of multiplayer humans tend to have different motivation and are eager to win over another human no matter what. Such that it is highly likely that the moment some people discover some exploitable combinations of location + religion + early strategy it will catch like widlfire (I'm looking at you soulless  "twitch streamer") and will be overplayed. Which is both bad for people who happen to play naturally and be in disadvantage and for exploiting crowd too,  because they will get bored with repeating meta or quite a game if meta is not available for them.

 

What can we do

Lets say we don't want to remove or restrict anything in the game. But we want to have a choice for people to potentially get around these problems.

I propose an optional new multiplayer mode, lets call it "Competitive", the rules are:

  • Few selected kingdoms are preset as "available" for players to start.
  • These few should be roughly the same size to minimize starting advantage. They also should be more or less equally distributed on a map to avoid Player 1: Scotland, Player 2: Wales, Player 3: Baghdad.
  • This list should also be variable to include or exclude starting kingdoms which are proven to be a problem due to special units or location
  • Player in a "Competitive" mode do not choose the starting kingdom, but get a random one from this list, such that a player will be presented with a fair and variable starting location and no one can seize a lead just by initial choice
  • Player however can choose starting religion, which will apply to the kingdom, such that personal preference and strategy can still be based on a religion preference.

 

Moreover if you are to have a list of playable kingdoms close to each other you can create "Blitz" games such that everyone will sooner handle people around rather then whole map. If you have same global map and a even distribution you can have long games with people getting into conflict with few close people rather than 5 on 5 on one side because everyone is Western Europe and some middle eastern meta economy-religion exploit too far away to even deal with. If you have an option for "game speed" you can crowd people together for "fast game" and distribute them further away for "long game" and you can really make an easy choices based on number of player in the current game, because placing 15 players evenly is clearly different from placing 2 players evenly.

These extra rules for "competitive" are very easy to understand, more or less easy to implement. Can lead to unexpected started challenges and prevent slate repetitive gameplay from same place using same strategy all over again. It also removes issues with players contesting for the same starting kingdom and leaving the game if they don't get it or an enemy selected a clearly superior location. If you choose to go "competitive" you know what you get and I can argue it would be the most "fair" start for people who want to compete against skillful opponents. This needs to be easy to understand and setup, without using a custom game with million of options no one totally agrees on, or convincing random people "not to use this or what" before a game.

 

What we should not do

By no means I'm saying this should be the only mode or regular multiplayer should not allow any kingdom, religion / game strategy to be played. I'm just saying that in the situation when people want to compete it needs to be a way to set up a "fair" competition for people to compete rather than looking for a winning combo no matter how strange and lame it is. 

The less rules you can have the better and I think that size and starting locations are way to important then combined with asymmetric religion bonuses. If you want to people to compete with skill it would help to give them same starting condition and a random kingdom to win with. Because come on, Polska is so strong it will be dominating all the time.

 

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by William Blake
  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

" competitive multiplayer there will be strong exploitable metagame."  Sure, but just like sc2, once the appropriate tweaks and balances are made (updates), the meta tends to spread out, opening up other possible strategies.  

"I'm looking at you soulless  "twitch streamer""  Uhmm ouch. But again thats what updates are for, to help balance out broken shit, and strong metas. SC2 wasnt built in a day. You cant expect a new strategy genre to be balanced on release. LOSE THAT EXPECTATION. However, if they do release the game and then loose interest in updating it, then I would be worried, and that is the formula for a game to retain broken metas. 

I disagree with some specifics of your suggested "Competitive" mode. But I think with some good polishing, something of the sort could work.

 

The question in the end is..... do we want a model closer to something like sc2, where we have completely balanced starting positions, like an "Arena", where metas and mechanics are mostly tested? Or do you want a more chaotic world more like how multiplayer is done in HOI 4 or Europa, where players pick w.e nations and starting positions, and try to form alliances or grand strategies to attain victory? ( Its a very different type of skill, but a skill none the less)

I suspect the current game could run into the direction of either of these, choices. It could even, be made in such a way that both are viable. Though when we consider multiplayer, it is always important to not split the multiplayer community too much. We cannot have 10000 game modes floating around in the multiplayer world, this helps kills the multiplayer community especially for games with smaller player bases. That would be my second biggest concern, after the biggest concern of update ghosting by the devs. 

 

So in conclusion, I think you are right, 1 mode where anything could be done "free play", and another where competitive play is forced into a set "arena" type mode. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think there is fundamental difference between friends playing a custom game, and random people playing to compete. Former is all about shared experience and rich availability of options, latter is about feeling of struggle and yet fair achievement.

We have zero idea on how KoH2 will handle ANYTHING multiplayer, but we know it is grand strategy multiplier. So with this basis, when I hear all the differences what religion brings to the table and wide arrays of mechanics from scholars to holy cities and stuff, I clearly see that "fair" can becomes very questionable very fast. 

Yet, I don't want to step over "rich online experience with friends", because it is completely different set of goals and player motivation. So this "community split" is very certain in my mind. For the strictly competitive side of the story, I do agree that it should better be plain, clear rules with minimal freedom to adjust options, because if there are a lot of options to compete with you will never find people who agree on these options.

The reason I even write about all this is because I'm sure that devs are going to cover "friendly rich experience" themselves without a problem as it is their natural state of playing between themselves, but cruel outside world can be hard to emulate in such a setting.

 

PS

Yes, hints of irony are hard to catch, especially in a written speech.

 

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 12/9/2021 at 9:45 PM, William Blake said:
  • Few selected kingdoms are preset as "available" for players to start.
  • These few should be roughly the same size to minimize starting advantage. They also should be more or less equally distributed on a map to avoid Player 1: Scotland, Player 2: Wales, Player 3: Baghdad.
  • This list should also be variable to include or exclude starting kingdoms which are proven to be a problem due to special units or location
  • Player in a "Competitive" mode do not choose the starting kingdom, but get a random one from this list, such that a player will be presented with a fair and variable starting location and no one can seize a lead just by initial choice
  • Player however can choose starting religion, which will apply to the kingdom, such that personal preference and strategy can still be based on a religion preference.

I agree with your post, and especially with these lines, except for the last one. But only a personal preference (to rule is to choose what you can, and compose with what you can't choose).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.