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Poll: Would you be interested?
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6 27.27%
Possibly, but I would need to see the detailed rules
13 59.09%
Probably not
2 9.09%
You are crazy
1 4.55%
Total 22 vote(s) 100%
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Gauging interest in a strategy game

For those new to the forums (or who have not been paying attention) there have been several attempts at an FTD strategy game, but none that I know of have been particularly successful. I see several themes in the failures:
- Ragequitting: unlike tournaments, strategy games take a substantial continuing investment from players, and many are (understandably) reluctant to maintain that investment while being pummeled.
- Administrator burnout: these games can be time-intensive for administrators, leading to either cutting corners or churn, both of which hurt stability (and can cause player withdrawals due to disputes/distrust).
- Steamrolling: careless rulesets allow a cycle where initially successful factions establish a production advantage that makes it nearly impossible to catch up--this was not a primary factor in bringing down any of the FTD strategy games I have been involved in, but all seemed headed that direction before collapsing for other reasons.

That said, I think there is potential in the format, though--the huge popularity of Battleship Brawl and King of the Hill demonstrate interest in ongoing competitions alongside conventional one-shot tournaments, and I think there is a lot of interest in a strategy game if balance and management can be worked out. I would thus like to submit a sketch of a ruleset to gauge interest/collect feedback.


Tournaments demonstrate a very wide gulf in design effectiveness, even with restrictive rulesets that limit where one can find an edge. Meanwhile, keeping players engaged requires a relative balance on the battlefield--if differences in building skill translate to insurmountable battlefield dominance, it is hard to keep any but the most successful factions interested.

To maintain balance, I propose breaking the one constant of the FTD strategy games I have played--that players in charge of a faction primarily run their own designs. Instead, factions would be split from shipyards--shipyards would produce vehicles subject to a capacity limit and then put them up for public auction to the factions. Thus, factions would have equal access to the top designs and success on the strategy map would depend not on building skill but on force selection and disposition. Builders would earn bragging rights according to the amount their vehicles commanded at auction, but the production cap/auction format would ensure that even weaker designs have a place as cheap filler. (A player could play a faction, a shipyard, or both, but there would be no advantage to playing both beyond better familiarity with their own designs' capabilities.)

I do not have concrete rules for the strategy map yet, but my intention would be that momentum be kept in check--a defeat should mean loss of territory, not a permanent disadvantage and collapse; gaining territory should increase both power and vulnerability. (Tools to accomplish this would probably include vehicle upkeep costs so that the force levels of factions with equal economies would eventually equalize after one lost units, and superlinear administration costs to counteract the effect that increasing territory size increases income faster than border length.)

Construction rules

While the overall format would be conducive to any set of design rules, I incline to take inspiration from a tournament that led to one of the most varied and competitive design fields I have seen: the Team Deathmatch tournament from last year. In short, require ships to adhere to the rules of one of a number of objective classes, with restrictions or cost bonuses on the various classes to encourage variety. Beyond that, I would use a typical set of anti-abuse restrictions (probably pretty close to the King of the Hill rules) but otherwise limit discretion--discretion in BP checking always seems to create animosity.

The one issue I see is managing FTD updates in an ongoing game--I expect that playing on a game version many weeks out of date would diminish interest from people wanting to play with new toys. My inclination is to keep up-to-date with stable, allowing players to sell vehicles that are truly broken by an update (possibly delaying an update that breaks a large number of vehicles to allow builders to update their lineup by a couple weeks), but I am open to suggestions.


I favor moving as much administrator load as possible to before the actual game start--a delay starting is better than a delay mid-game, and saves everyone's time if it turns into a cancellation. For this, I would attempt to fully automate gameplay aside from BP checking/combat resolution via a website--I think I could automate a simple strategic ruleset on Google Appengine given a couple months. Limiting subjectivity of BP checking should help reduce its burden (and I would favor rate-limiting the frequency at which shipyards could introduce new designs).

If I see enough interest I shall try to draft more detailed construction/strategy rules. An actual start would probably be November at the earliest, and probably after Christmas if I don't get the website in order before December.
Allr andask.

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Gauging interest in a strategy game - by Blothorn - 2018-09-21, 12:01 AM

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