Misc / 27 Oct 2011, 21:43
I think most people would classify the Quakeworld community as being relatively conservative. The implication being that, in general, a significant number of players (or people in positions of power/influence) are resistant to change and seek to maintain the status quo. Gameplay, physics, maps, player aids etc – these are all topic that have caused much debate over the years.
I have been playing top level QW (big European leagues) for about 10 years and have witnessed a lot of changes over that time. I was almost tempted to write ‘significant changes’ , but that probably relates more to how some of them were perceived at the time rather than the reality of how much impact they ended up having. New clients (mqwcl), fakeshaft, gameclock, custom maps… What I find most interesting is that, contrary to what one might expect, I’ve actually got less conservative in recent years. I thought fakeshaft might change the weapon balance and aid shafting. I remember regarding timing items in your head as being a crucial TP skill and that any kind of timer (gameclock) was a cheat. In fact I remember having a discussion with the German player 1.2.3 about it, he said it wouldn’t make the game less skilful, that it would ramp up the fights for powerups etc because all 8 players have a might better idea when they spawn. And now I can see that he was probably right, that you no longer have to worry about setting up 3rd party aids like Angelina or stop watches, there is an even playing field for everyone. That even if you have access to extra information, you still need to know how to interpret and respond to it, and therein lies the skill.
Antilag is another issue I used to feel strongly about. From a theoretical perspective, I was convinced that it is inherently bad. The idea that hit detection is done client side [effectively] doesn’t sit well with me because it makes the impossible possible – a player can have moved behind cover and yet still be shot because their player entity was visible to a lagged player at the moment they fired. Yet having played with it for about 18 months now the reality is that these strange anomalies are arguably outweighed by the better feeling you get playing at medium latency (>26ms), particularly with boomstick. It opens up the prospect of playing on a much wider range of servers than you might normally frequent, for example we’ve seen an increasing trend for North American players to get involved in the EU clan scene, giving them a change to actually get some 4on4s played given the almost total inactivity on their side of the pond. There seems to be a general acceptance of antilag in the scene right now – at least, the majority of games tend to get played on antilag-enabled servers.
And then we have the map pool debate, probably one of the longest running and most heated in QW. The duel scene has now evolved into tb5 with Aerowalk and ztndm3 now sititng alongside dm2/dm4/dm6 as the staple maps for 1on1. Yet in 4on4 there is still a big split between those favouring a map pool consisting solely of dm2/dm3/e1m2, and those wanting something more expansive. Even then, there is dilution amongst ‘kenya’ fans, with different players having differing views on the relative strengths and weaknesses of additional maps. Different maps have been tried over the years but there is still no consistency in terms of the map pool for 4on4. So where do my conservative views fit in here? Well, back in the day when Link was the bell-ringer for new maps I wasn’t sure. One of the problems with 4on4 is that the maps are typically bigger and thus slightly harder to learn than for duel. Furthermore you need 8 players wanting to play custom maps, rather than 2. To get a good skilled game, you need most of those players to know the map well. And so no matter how good the map design the skill level won’t be the same as tb3, the spectacle maybe not quite as impressive. But over time the difference between tb3 and other maps will surely decline, if only they are played.
But these are all topic that have been discussed at great length before. I am not seeking to reignite the debates on these issues. What I would like to talk about, however, is the issue of a timeout feature in QW.
Timeout? Yuck. Why would we need such a thing:
1) It disrupts the flow of the game
Doesn’t having a player timeout due to computer crash, or warp around the screen with 200ms 30pl disrupt the flow of the game?
2) Nobody has serious problems anyway
I’ve seen games where it has happened (I once arguably lost a league title due to a crash). Besides, if you think it will never be needed, then it will never get invoked, so there’s no harm in having it, right?
3) It “isn’t QW”
Neither is proxy rerouting, custom textures/skins/huds, ktx spawnmodel, and many of the other things we take for granted nowadays
4) It could cause unnecessary delays.
Yes, because every single QW game runs precisely to schedule right now. No game scheduled for 20:00CET has ever started at 20:01CET or later.
5) it is open to abuse with clans using timeout to discuss tactics and regroup
Possibly. But would is really be so bad if people did get a breather to reassess their tactics during the game? Could it not just be another thing like gameclock that merely changes how teams manage their communication slightly?
6) It makes ghosting via QTV possible.
True. If clans are going to deliberately instigate a connection problem just so they can spy on their opponents then chances are they would probably be considering other forms of cheating anyway
7) The game restart will be very strange, what happens if it was paused during a fight or while you were trick jumping? It will ruin your aim/movement.
Probably my biggest concern. But other FPS games have timeout features, so maybe we should look at the affect it has in those to get some idea of how annoying it should be. And again, playing 3vs4 for a couple of minutes will arguably have a bigger influence on the game than a freeze and restart of combat.
It is worth noting that timeout was implemented some time ago in KTPRO (the predecessor to KTX), but it was perhaps rushed through without adequate debate and testing, resulting in the somewhat farcical situation of games pausing and then being unpausable! There are various options available to triggering a pause:
1) Automatically when a player is timing out
2) Automatically when a player enters a period of lag [how to define? PL>x% for y seconds??]
3) Called by a player
4) A combination of the above
I think to avoid abuse and/or annoyance in games of trivial importance (mix), it should be a toggleable mode that would be enabled only for clan matches. It for example be included in a new KTX “official” gamemode I’ve pondered about for a while, that does stuff like:
-Sets some sort of serverinfo flag (or similar) to indicate that the game is official so that people can see this easily if joining QTV late… no more “is this EQL???” questions being spammed every 30s! If implemented correctly, this might have added benefits in terms of the stats site, by giving people a way to filter on official games.
Just some things to think about, anyhow.