(Lvl 82) The Fundamental Issues with the Metagame and Actual Solutions...

Discussion in 'PlanetSide 2 Gameplay Discussion' started by Quadron, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. Quadron

    First let me say that, I've worked on this and formatted it much better in a word document that can be used to read instead of this thread. Also, my post is too long for a single post. So I will be using up the first several for it. You can view the document here:. https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4v6DK4aeM_fVmUyZW5tUjlGbTQ/edit?usp=sharing

    Why We Are Constantly Capping Empty Bases and Empty Continents
    • a.Metagame – The strategy and reasoning behind how you play and why you play.
    • b.I have now played PS2 for 27 days of play time. I love PS2 and I really want it to succeed in the coming months/years, which is why I wrote out this lengthy message explaining the current issues in the game and how I think would be best going about fixing them. These issues are complex and the solution will be a complex one too, so bear with me please. Some of the things I'm going to suggest very well may have been suggested elsewhere, though not that I am aware of. I have been contemplating the issue for a long time and I believe I have finally placed my finger firmly on the issues and have come up with solutions to fix the major things ruining the metagame. Please keep in mind that my observations/suggestions are simply from my perspective and experience. Your experiences have differed from mine and you very well may agree or disagree with me. I welcome criticism. This issue needs to be an open discussion.
    • c.The Current Metagame – “The Zerg Cycle”
    • i.The Zerg Cycle is currently what drives planetside player base. It influences how people play the game, what bases they attack, when they retreat to the warp gate, and when they decide to stick it out and defend.
    • ii.The Zerg Cycle starts when several platoons (often accidentally) decide to attack the same target, usually due to one faction pushing too close to their warp gate, creating a focal point. These large zergs proceed to roam around the map dominating everything it touches easily. This causes smaller squads to abandon bases in the face of overwhelming numbers. This goes on until the zerg eventually breaks up attacking different bases (for example: If the NC zerg attacks Tawrich Tech Plant, afterward they will usually split up to cap Blackshard Iridium Mine, Gravel Pass, and Arroyo Torro). Once the dissolving zerg has captured enough territory and encroaches too close to the enemy warp gate, it incites the enemy to form their own zerg and “re-zerg” the area that was just captured. Since the previous zerg broke up into smaller sections, it can no longer stand a chance in a battle with the newly formed zerg. The now broken up zerg redeploys back to their wg and proceeds to another front that is potentially winnable or even to another continent where they form new zergs and start the process all over again. This leads to a “Zerg Cycle” of huge zergs capping empty bases, only to dissolve to let the enemy do the same thing in return, which is why I call it a cycle. This is the fundamental thing that needs to change if Planetside is foster balanced battles at all scales from small battles to massive.
    • iii.Currently, the only exception to this rule is when two large zergs face each other before one of the zergs splits up. This results in an epic fight and is freaking awesome to participate in (minus the lag… lol). Sadly, a truelly balanced population battle is very rare and usually results in the large zerg dominating the other zerg rather quickly, the larger zerg then proceeds to ghost cap the rest of the bases until another new zerg is formed once more. For Planetside 2 to become a great game, balanced battles need to be happening all the time, all over the map, even at small/medium size bases. I believe my suggestions fundamentally solve these core issues and they should be implemented as soon as possible.
    • d.XP as a Motivator and Crux of the Metagame
    • i.The first thing to understand is that Planetside 2 is a MMOFPS-RPG based around killing/defeating the enemy by capturing objectives on a map in order to advance your EMPIRE and your CHARACTER. The important thing that I want to point out is that since everyone (or at least the vast majority) inherently wants to develop their characters, getting XP is the currently the greatest motivator in the game, which means it is currently the greatest power/force behind the “Metagame”. Currently, I think this motivator is being used inappropriately leading to a metagame the drives players into the “Zerg Cycle” and I’ll explain why in a bit. That said, I think the metagame should be expanded to the benefits a base provides for your empire. Currently, bases are simply a means of earning extra XP/Certs. Bases need to take a larger role, but I get ahead of myself. I’ll get to that in a minute.
    .... Continued..
    • Up x 2
  2. Quadron

    The Fundamental Problem with the Metagame: Lack of Motivation for Players To Defend Bases
    • i.The fundamental problem with the metagame is that people are not motivated to defend bases, especially when outnumbered. The current metagame encourages players to zerg to get cap XP until the zerg disbands and is eventually overwhelmed, upon which they go to new fronts where they outnumber the enemy once again. This means most battles result in one empire far outnumbering the other and crushing the enemy with little to no resistence. This makes for a boring game of ghost capping most bases. The key to fixing this “Zerg Cycle” is encouraging people to defend bases more than attacking them.
    • ii.I think there are three main reasons people are de-motivated to defend bases:
    1.The first reason is that the current metagame for defense relies upon boosting whatever XP you earn while defending by 10% (most veteran players know this, but many newer players still do not, even though they tried to make it more clear by breaking down the XP boosts you receive if you hover your mouse over it). Of course, if it is a balanced battle and long engagement, this bonus XP can sometimes exceed what the attackers earn from capping (which is definitely the way it should be), but the thing is… bonus defense XP won’t do you any good if you are getting farmed by a zerg.
    • a.The solution to motivating people to defend are these three things:
    • i.1) Find a way to make battles more balanced so that the defense XP becomes more worthwhile in a longer battle. I believe I have come up with a solution to achieve this. I will get into that in a bit.
    • ii.2) Make defending XP clearly worth more than attacking XP (make it a 25% boost, 10% isn’t nearly enough to pull people away from big base captures). This alone will motivate players to find the front where their empire is being attacked, rather than where it is capping bases with ease.
    • iii.3) The extra Defense XP you earn from defending needs to become extremely apparent. This can be done by making it a separate bonus that is listed every time you kill a vehicle/player (with a separate animation like a headshot bonus or group kill bonus). Because there is a tangible amount flashing before the players, it will make players realize how much extra they are actually earning while defending, which is crucial when motivating players to defend.
    2.The second reason people aren’t motivated to defend bases is because bases do not give your empire a notable advantage.
    • a.The solution is simple enough: Their needs to be a much better reason to hold each and every facility. Currently, the tech plant is the only base that is noticeable since you can’t spawn a Main Battle Tank at many bases without one. But even that is not important enough to become central to the metagame.
    • b.Each facility needs to be a catalyst enabling that empire to do/have something that they clearly did not have before. The loss of not having at least one of each facility needs to be truly detrimental to an empires fight. This will motivate players to defend important bases, even inspite of overwhelming numbers (again motivating people to defend). Here are some ideas for upgrading the main bases, but these could be fleshed out quite a lot.
    • i.Tech Plant: For each tech plant an empire holds on that continent, the cost of purchasing mechanized vehicles is reduced by 5%, their cool down timer for that type of vehicle is reduced by 1 minute, and that empires vehicles are supplied with 5% additional ammo/health.
    • ii.Amp Station: For reach Amp station, the cost of air vehicles is reduced by 5%, cool down timer reduction of 1 min, and air vehicles receive additional ammo.
    • iii.Bio Lab: Base health regen is currently given to players is tripled, cost of infantry purchases reduced by 5% for each bio lab owned on continent, spawn timer is reduced by 2 seconds for each bio lab owned that faction on that continent.
    • iv.Each of the smaller bases around the map should give similar bonuses. For example, a tech based research base could give tanks additional ammo when spawning, reload 2% faster, or increase their move speed by 2%, etc. Similar bonus could be done for air/infantry.
    • v.The Main Point here is: capping bases MATTERS, because each base actively affects your empire significantly and is felt across the continent. For example, when someone gets damaged and naturally regens quickly because of the 2 Bio Labs that they just helped cap, it gives them a sense of satisfaction for what they accomplished and will motivate them to want to do the same thing in the future to get the same benefits.
    3.But even if you made the two changes I listed above, I don’t think it would ultimately completely fix the current “Zerg Cycle” metagame. There is still the issue that when facing an enemy force that doubles the defending force numbers, the defenders have no chance to successfully defend. Once the first base is lost in the face of overwhelming numbers, the remaining squads/platoons redeploy to a new front to fight. Who wants to fight an impossible battle where they are being farmed non-stop?
    • a.This brings me to the primarily solution to balancing population. To help understand my solution, I would like to create a new term I call “Effective Population (EP).” I define Effective Population as “the amount of players actually alive and fighting in a particular server/continent/region.” Effective population is extremely important in battles because it dictates the ebb and flow of a battle.
    • b.Let me illustrate this with an example:
    • i.There are 200 VS attacking a tech plant being held by 50 TR for a 4 to 1 ratio. If at the start each TR kills one VS evenly and say for example ¼ of the total players are dead at any given time, then there is 31 of each faction dead at any given time. Meaning that each faction’s effective population (players alive) is 169 VS alive but only 19 TR. Now the VS outnumber the TR 8.8 to 1, instead of 4 to 1. Of course if a faction is outnumbered, then they are far more likely to be killed, rending the outnumbered faction to lead to even smaller EP until they are trapped in their spawn room and farmed.
    • ii.The change I would like to implement would do two things:
    • 1.It would motivate people to fight in areas where there is even population or their faction is even outnumbered.
    • 2.It would help balance the amount of Effective Population that is actually in the firefight at any given time, making fights between varying sizes of armies much more balanced (though not completely), last longer, and make them tremendously more fun [Don’t forget, increasing fun is the goal of this post!]
    • iii.The change I would like to implement is this: If one empire significantly outnumbers the other factions in that region (i.e. one empire is zerging), then the “zerging” faction in that region receives an increased spawn timer relative to how much of a population advantage that the empire has (the increased spawn timer would apply only to that region, meaning that if they wanted to spawn back at warp gate or in another region, they could do so at the normal time/calculated spawn time based on population). On the flipside, if your empire is severely outnumbered, your spawn timer is significantly reduced.
    • iv.How exactly would this work? Let’s look at an example.
    • 1.In the same example I listed above, 200 VS are attacking 50 TR. When the battle commences, both armies are at full strength. As the TR and VS kill each other over and over again, the Effective Population for the VS in that region is significantly reduced due to the increased spawn timer causing people to want to move to other regions where they can back into the action faster (preferably where the spawn timer is low, meaning their empire needs them there). Conversely, the TR population very closely maintains its 50 TR strength because their spawn timer is reduced significantly (i.e. down to 3 seconds).
    • 2.After the first few minutes of battle, the population would quickly balance out due to VS either being dead or leaving the region due to increased spawn timers, or new TR players entering the reigion due to the lower spawn timer attracting reinforcements naturally. Of course, once people get used to the increased spawn timer zerging to overwhelm the enemy will become a thing of the past. Put quite simply, players won’t have to rely on zerging to be able to be have effective numbers in combat simply because zerging puts your empire at a significant disadvantage on that continent (since a higher percentage of your overall players would remain dead for longer).
    • v.In addition, there would be a small continent spawn timer increase/decrease based on the current population of that continent for each faction. For example, on Indar, if the NC have 40%, TR 35%, and VS 25%. The NC might have a base respawn time increase of perhaps say 3 seconds applied to all regions to help balance out the fact that they are at an advantage. The TR would have a 1 second penalty applied to itself because they too have more than 33%. And the VS might have theirs reduced by 5 seconds because they are under their 33% standard population.
    • c.The reasons why this is a good way to handle population.
    • i.Increasing/decreasing spawn timers inherently motivates people to fight in regions with balanced populations, thus making planetside the awesome balanced MMOFPS we have all wanted for so long. We all know it would suck to have to wait 60 seconds to respawn, so instead of Zerging empty/almost empty bases, people would want to find fights where they are needed (where there is a short respawn timer). This is especially true for the following reasons:
    • 1.1) There is guaranteed to be a fight there. If your empire is at a pop disadvantage, then that means there are actually people to kill at that location.
    • 2.2) People don’t like waiting and this will help put a stop to massive zergs (unless of course a massive zerg finds another massive zerg to fight, in which case the spawn timer would keep the Effective Popuations even, producing a gloriously balanced battle where skill/strategy wins out over crushing your enemy with brute numbers, which is the current metagame).
    • 3.Fighting in a region with balanced population is the dream of every PS2 player. We all already want even battles. This would simply provide a tool for finding where you are needed most.
    • 4.Being the underdog would finally give the player a truly worthwhile advantage… more playtime = more XP/certs. Zerging… equals less XP/Certs.
    • 2)In conclusion, I do think there are a number of additional issues that need to be addressed such as air in the current metagame. But if the changes I suggest were actually implemented, the role of liberators/ESFs would change drastically because troops would be spread out over so many more bases, meaning that there would not be nearly as many massive flak parties out there to blast them. So… that said, what do you think? Should these changes be implemented? Are they too drastic? Are they not drastic enough? Let’s here your thoughts!
    Cheers! Q
    • Up x 3
  3. Haba

    Let me quote myself:

    So to TL;DR, in addition to the EXP gain bonus (and other bonuses you propose), I'd love to see the game react dynamically to the changing balance of power. I.e. enabling something completely new whenever one side is being dominated by the enemy.

    Those dynamic events would also help with the tedium of waiting, if you knew that something unexpected could happen during that period.
  4. RoMoronik666

    Quadron - you are a genius
  5. RoMoronik666

    such a simple solution to a multitude of problems
  6. GamerOS

    I was with you all the way till you started complaining about AA and Air ballance in such a way it was obvious you don't know as much as you'd like to think of balance.

    Everything else is well written and contains some good ideas and suggestion.

    Also RoMoronik666, you're less obvious if you posted again after several other people, not after yourself.
    You now look like the most obvious sockpuppet account ever.
  7. Quadron

    Actually, that wasn't supposed to be part of the document. Disregard the last three mini paragraphs as they are irrelevant to this topic/discussion and were not complete thoughts or laid out arguments in any way. I tried deleting them after uploading the document and it won't let me, and since these forums don't let you edit after 30 minutes... :p

    I also realized that this spawn timer could also be incorporated into the "Reinforcements Needed" feature on the deploy screen, encouraging players to spawn at locations with the lowest cool down. In the example with the TR and VS fighting each other, it would mean that the TR would receive reinforcements because the "Reinforcements Needed" would actually place you in battles where you were needed. :D

    Also, don't have a clue who RoMoronik666 is, but thanks for the support dude! Let's make this happen... Higby here we come! :)
  8. Dingus148

    Quadron; I agree with your XP changes. Nothing new that the forums haven't seen, but written in a nice, corporate form.

    Now, your facility stuff is where I start to disagree. I'd like to see facilities get a local effect, but if you make it continent wide COUPLED with the current resource system, you're adding to the steamroller of warpgated or near-warpgated factions. Your vision isn't a bad one, but it would require a ground-up reworking of the game. Not something SOE is likely to implement.
  9. Quadron

    An interesting thought, though I don't think that would be an issue simply because the benefits for capping would be noticiable (extra Ammo + 5% health on tank + extra infantry health regen) but not overpowering. In a 1v1 fight infantry wise, there would be situations where the benefits will come in handy (like regen), but that doesn't mean that one person now has an overpowering advantage. On top of that, my changes would help prevent warp gating people + help ensure balance of effective population when your faction is at a disadvantage on a continent. I've never seen an empire get warp gated with more than 30% population in the current system. It certainly wouldn't happen with spawn timer balances based on population.
  10. Xasapis

    I only see some issues. First there is the issue of a warpgated faction and the inability to break free the less land it controls. It seems that with the proposed bonus system, the winner side becomes progressively tougher to beat compared to the loser side instead of the opposite. Right now when you corner a faction, they are a lot tougher to fight, because their entire force is concentrated in one spot, while yours is there, but also harassed by the other faction as well.

    The second problem I see is how an attack can be successful when the attackers are penalized for doing what makes sense, aka being more numerous than the defenders. The bases right now are not designed to be won with an equal number of attackers and defenders. Yes, there is a point where the attackers are so many, that it makes defense impossible, but you definitely need more people on the attack. Perhaps an improvement in the base design would be for the defenders to have an shorter route than the attackers from the spawn room to the point. Right now an attack team can stick a sunderer literally on top of the point, thus making running time from the spawn to the point zero. Not to mention that sunderer respawn is shorter than base respawn time.
  11. Puppy

    It was put in a constructive manner and done fairly well. Though I feel like attacking and capping a base as a 'zerg' as well as showing up and instantly getting xp if the base is capped encourages zergs. I feel like a dynamic system where you are rewarded for how much you do, even if you leave and you guys win, would be a good idea.
  12. Dingus148

    Point being you remove those bonuses as well as income from loss of territory. With the current pop imbalance, those ideas are unwieldy and promoting the spam that is the bane of this game. All for the basic principle though.

    Now, for example, let's say we either had individualistic bonuses for facilities (perhaps a large cannon, or a radar for aircraft/LADAR for tanks, or infantry gained the ability to detect cloakers within 4 hexes) which primarily helped the defenders and perhaps provided a new tactic when invading a neighboring territory. Not every base would need to have these; The Crown for instance has the advantage of proper defences. Or perhaps we could standardise it so all airbases give radar or LADAR, AMP stations doube lockon times...it's a case for the imagination.

    Combined with the lattice system it makes the route important, and promotes getting multiple teams to hit multiple objectives to maximise advantage. I mean it would still take a hell of a lot of implementation, but it means if, say...whoever caps Snake Ravine caps Allatum because the Infantry Detection at Snake Ravine made defence impossible (hypothetically, I know it could still be done) you could change the nature of the base bonus and thereby restore/affect balance without having to alter the terrain of the entire map. Giving snake ravines "smart mines" of 2-3 randomly generated minefields, for example. (MUCH weaker than the standard AT mines, just a warning to enemy forces and a pain for them to fight through.)

    Likewise, bases near warpgates could provide limited bonuses to attacking forces and greater bonuses to "defending" forces (eg. TR in Indar Canyons) either through a greater numerical value based on distance from WG or just a more situational bonus...racking my brain but I'm coming up empty for an example here. This gives incentive for breakout and attempts to retake the continent even if you're the low pop faction. It allows you to overcome your resource imbalance and retake the momentum and encourages a spread-out front to maximise offensive/defensive potential.

    A lot more effort involved, but it gives SOE more factors beyond lattice/geography to tweak if they want to tweak balance. Hotfix to change the values in an XML table somewhere. Sorted! Lol because while I LOVE 6 gig updates, I think there may be a better way which helps other problems in the game
  13. Quadron

    The first paragraph is a good point. The bonuses that bases give owning factions needs to be noticeable, but not overpowering. If factions become warp gated becames a problem, one thought on the issue of players being warp gated could be that the spawn timer penalty is not increased as much for zerging on the bases next to your own warp gate, allowing you to rally to retake the first couple of bases without issue with the spawn timer.

    The is not true. Attackers and defenders have equal advantages in most large battles simply because it ALL comes down to sunderer placement. Both attackers and defenders can roll a sundy up to the point.

    The current meta in PS2 is that the side with more troops wins. This is not a rewarding system because it doesn't reward skill/strategy (other than throwing more platoons at a base, which a utterly silly and unrewarding way to play a game). Having the effective population become more balanced through spawn timer balance would provide the defenders a chance to defend even if they have half the number, though the defense would still be extremely difficult, at least they would have a chance.

    One thing I may not have been clear about is that though the spawn timers help balance the EP, attackers who outnumber a base of defenders would never have a smaller EP, if you outnumber your opponent you will still have a larger EP, just not one that would instantly crush enemy resistence.

    This would be a great idea to implement. I know this was how it was done in PS1.

    I don't know about having certain bases with a "canon" or some special weapon... possibly, but SOE would have to implement it perfectly.

    I could see small bases only giving benefits to nearby bases within a few hexes as a possible solution to steming the tide of a faction dominating a continent.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that I have already proposed that overall continent Effective Population balance could be achieved by increasing continent wide spawn timer increases/decreases. This would help negate (but not totally negate) an empires population advantage, thus making warp gating enemy factions very difficult and only really possible though strategic prowess, rather than population advantage (a utterly stupid mechanic to determine who wins).
    • Up x 1
  14. Zakuak

    The base bonuses is an amazing angle and I like that idea a lot. We would have our current vehicle timers and so forth as the baseline I assume? So holding bases would truely be a "good idea" haha, very nice!

    Spawn timer, Hmm well it actually sounds ingenious to me. I must say though, I am not real fond of penalizing large groups because they have the coordination/superior numbers to decisively capture a region. I'm not against the idea at all, I think this system you have presented along with the bonuses of holding bases would work well together.

    Very good stuff!
  15. UberBonisseur

    We should ditch the word "metagame" for now.

    It is often confusing and often used as a counter argument by saying "players create the metagame"
  16. DreadPirate

    I really like all of your suggestions, though I would like to see some sort of NTU resource system thrown in there for base defense/sieges somewhere. I also think that base design in and of itself is terrible for base defense and needs a rework.

    Now, if we could only get the devs to let us try some of this stuff out in a test server:D
  17. MarlboroMan-E

    Agree with base bonuses whole heartedly.

    Agree with varying spawn timer to a degree ... While we want to encourage even fights as much as possible, I dont think we want to end up with game enforced stalemates. There is something to be said for skillful organization and maneuver that turns the enemy flank. Capturing territory is a part of the game, and we just need to walk a fine line between too much ghost capping, zergs avoiding each other, and mechanically forced stalemate.

    Wholeheartedly agree with increased defense bonus.
  18. Quadron

    I don't think a mechanically forced stalemate would occur very often, and even if it did, I would much prefer an awesome 2-3 hour firefight over a base than a 10-15 minute one with one faction stomps the other one due to outnumbering them. Winning because you outnumber the opponent is a very boring way to play a game and not rewarding, because outnumbering them takes no skill. Winning a fair fight takes skill and strategic deployment to win and is very rewarding when it happens = much more fun.
    • Up x 1
  19. Kernel

    as far as the spawn timer thing goes, the one thing that is being forgotten are medics. with the 200 vs 50 example, you will have considerably more medics on 200 side which pretty much invalidates the spawn timer changing unless you go as far as to start affecting rez timers, opening up a whole new discussion.

    i really think the biggest problem with defending against a larger force is that the bases are just not built to be defended. ps1 bases could be held for a very very long time with a single squad outnumbered 10 to 1. the current base design doesnt allow that to happen.
    • Up x 1
  20. MarlboroMan-E

    So I'm on Esamir-Mattherson last night, and Malorn joins my squad. Cool to get a dev in, right? Anyway, we had just left Amerish after sitting on Wokuk with 100% influence and 6/6 on the point and it took for-ev-er to cap with the new cap times. First thing I do is send Malorn a tell "make them change the capture times back!" We proceeded to chat for a while, talking about cap times and a few other dynamics. It was good. I really got the impression that the dev team is on the same page as most of us, especially regarding what we're talking about in this thread. The new hex lattice system (apparently they're calling it rush lanes) along with the increased capture times may very well get at a lot of the things you address in the OP. Not base benefits, I'm afraid, but I've got renewed confidence that they are going the way we want them to go. Also...it's cool that they still play their own game just to play it.