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

#1
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.

Format

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.

Administration

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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#2
I see some good ideas. I have been thinking about a strategy/board game format for some future tournament for some time now myself.

Auction system is an interesting idea and adds the possibility for an individual to become arms manufacturer and focus on perfecting and pumping out designs that would compete with others in the market. At same time some other player might be more engaged by strategy game itself and focusing at procuring optimal set of arms to accomplish world domination.

I agree with the fact that there is a problem with discretion in design validation. Well build of ruleset of manageable size, should be able to filter out 95% of cheezy/exploity/un-fun designs, but probably a human inspection and verification would add value too. I could see this happen via voting system. This limits subjectivity and having the auction abstraction layer in place and possibility to refine/fix the designs over the extended period of time should lessen the anxiety levels during such votes.

To combat player activity (regardless of the cause) I'd propose to limit number of number factions (e.g. 2-4) and to set up a delegation system where a given person would control certain battle group/army and in case of inactivity a faction leader/best general (or other appointed stand-in person) would be authorised to make a move.
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#3
Sounds interesting. I know nothing about strategy but the building part sounds like something I would like to try. Making different types of units with different restrictions is usually quite fun.
I assume the strategy part would involve countering the enemy forces with vehicles that are strong against the enemy's vehicles in the area. Different crafts would be used for different tasks like scouting, taking poorly defended areas, interceptors, defenders, escorts, cannon fodder units... Would be interesting to see. Would the battles be recorded like tournaments?
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#4
(2018-09-21, 07:47 AM)harnas1977 Wrote: I agree with the fact that there is a problem with discretion in design validation. Well build of ruleset of manageable size, should be able to filter out 95% of cheezy/exploity/un-fun designs, but probably a human inspection and verification would add value too. I could see this happen via voting system. This limits subjectivity and having the auction abstraction layer in place and possibility to refine/fix the designs over the extended period of time should lessen the anxiety levels during such votes.

To combat player activity (regardless of the cause) I'd propose to limit number of number factions (e.g. 2-4) and to set up a delegation system where a given person would control certain battle group/army and in case of inactivity a faction leader/best general (or other appointed stand-in person) would be authorised to make a move.

To be clear, I don't propose eliminating human inspection, and some criteria will be subjective (including the catch-all "this isn't explicitly prohibited because we didn't know it was possible, but it breaks the game so we won't allow it)--I just want to avoid unnecessary subjectivity such as the realism checks of So35/Ho44.

For simplicity, I would start with a larger number of single-player factions--hopefully the lack of personal investment in a faction's BPs would make it easier to find replacements if people had to step down.

(2018-09-21, 08:22 AM)Tomson Wrote: Sounds interesting. I know nothing about strategy but the building part sounds like something I would like to try. Making different types of units with different restrictions is usually quite fun.
I assume the strategy part would involve countering the enemy forces with vehicles that are strong against the enemy's vehicles in the area. Different crafts would be used for different tasks like scouting, taking poorly defended areas, interceptors, defenders, escorts, cannon fodder units... Would be interesting to see. Would the battles be recorded like tournaments?

I would definitely want battles streamed or recorded--if nothing else, it minimizes disbelief that designs could fail that hard. My hope would be that a streamer/youtuber would pick up the battles with quality commentary--otherwise, depending on BP openness rules, it could be open to non-involved players/administrators.
Allr andask.
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#5
Sounds intriguing! at least the ship yard side of things.  Would be great to see how designs and roles evolve.  

Personally my only immediate concern would be whether I could sensibly commit to sufficient (regular?) input on the strategy game side of things.
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#6
Frankly, there are inherently problems with these kind of "make believe" strategy games inside the game. And aside from the problems you mentioned, the community is a big one.

First thing, this shares the same problem as Custom Campaign have, not enough people are interested by default (When we compare the numbers to the standard planets) to make healthy rotation of players.
Second thing i can think off is because not many players play it, theres a considerable skill gaps. Those playing CC or other non-vanilla activities are by default surely more experienced than others. So when somebody new comes in to try it and he will be putted up against someone with +2k hours played he will get smashed up.

Third thing, this furthermore ties in the lack of players that if the building rules are too tight or would need way too much time to comply with, alot of people wont bother. Dangerous Waters is festering in its forums with outdated vehicles and nobody wants to both play it and make units for it, leading to what it is...

Look, i understand that for any semblance of order and fun, some rules are needed but it needs to be finely balanced so both sides can benefit.

The strategy rules should be the golden middle way, easy to learn at first, yet deep inside. And it has to be interesting ofc, make in game events (Like whoever makes the most detailed house within a week gets bonus resources), world events (Like foreign AI faction attacking everyone) and other condition changing things. I would find some random thing picker (Like the randomizer wheel) and fill it with events and spin it and pick up the result.
https://wheeldecide.com

But these events shouldn't have that serious consequences so those not interested in them wont get their asses handed to them that much by those who do. Though since all these events would be in-world. Smarter players would utilize that player is focusing on something else and like raid his factories to destroy his entry prototype.
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#7
I think this is mighty interesting. I wasnt too big in the roleplay side of things, but I loved making units.

A 1930 or so theme will often lead to necessary 'realism' checks. If no theme is selected, interest may be less.

Perhaps a simple rule like 'needs to have walkable interior, allowing sucj and such type of physical access to such and such components'. I liked that rule when it was used in Menti's black sun syndicate tourney. It lead to more believable vehicles even though the visual variety was great.

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#8
My inclination is to avoid themes at least for an initial run--BP checking played a large role in both So35 and Ho44's collapse, and I want to keep it as simple and non-subjective as is compatible with competitive play. Even walkability takes time to check, and would restrict vehicles like small fighters (and if they were given an exception I would expect disputes over what fell under the exception). And I, at least, do not have a problem with the meta-brick style of design--the goal of a class system, if used, would be encouraging variety.
Allr andask.
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#9
would this also incorporate some internal struggle?., lets say one of your own factions pump out designs that you originally intended to use yourself, only that later on you Went short on Resources so you had to auction vehicles in order to gain more ground, but then your enemies get a hold of some of your nastier designs causing a situation where your own Creations start to overwhelm your HQ, so you have to cut production and send back active troops for defence.

that would be pretty awesome but it would also be nice if there was a way to make a comback druing a scenario like this, especially when the top dog goes after you because you are an easy source of RP.
Never sail out to far on the daft raft.
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#10
While I agree with your assessment of past FTDs strategy game attempts I think an FTDs strategy game without player building defeats the purpose of having one.
The main draw of an FTDs strategy game is itself the possibility of bringing one's own units in: something only possible in other RTS titles though involvement with a modding team.  Without that element a strategy FTDs just becomes another RTS game in a different universe.

Less than a full-blown strategy game i think that same itch in many players would be satisfied from all-around more intelligent and responsive enemy factions in the main campaign in addition to, perhaps, an addition of a class or classes of tricky/difficult vehicles that up the potential difficulty to a level that would challenge players that themselves are top-tier builders creating systems with no artificial limits.
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