Team play in a FPS game, how to fix this

Since the begging of FPS games that have team play elements people have rightly bitching about the fact that most people zerg and do not act as a team. Certailnly the I despise karkland thread is an example of this.

I certainly hated that zerging in tribes when there were so many cool team based things you could do, such as a commander painting targets for mortar guys. I do not like the fact that in planetside everything is a huge zerg war.

So how do you force team play out of a bunch of idiots who zerg? Well, at first there doesn’t seem to be a way, but then I thought about the fact that poeple zerg because it works. It may not work the best or even very well, but on occasion it does work. If I were a game designer, and I wanted to make a team based FPS game, this would be a very bad thing.

So what is the answer? I think these games suffer from a the wrong mix of defensability / offense ability. The mix is far to strong on offense and far to weak on defense. Sure karkand has a strong defenders advantage, which is good, however, the problem is in the other maps that do not, not in the karkland map itself. People have been ‘trained’ to zerg and not work as a team.

I think the answer is to really ratchet up the defense by such a large margin that zerging is totally ineffective. A small group of organized defenders should be able to hold off a huge army of zerging players. To balance this out, the agressors will have some extreemly powerful tools that only operate effectivly in a team manner.

Lets take planetside as an example here since I consider this to be my biggest hope and biggest dissapointment in FPS games. Its a giant zerg mess. Now lets suppose bases had much, much stronger defenes such as:

On Defense:

  1. More automated turrets. These turrets would have farther range and shoot as fast as a manned turret. There are also anti air and anti armor turrets in plentiful supply.
  2. An automated base repair system (outside, but inside the other walls) to keep someone in a tank wearing down a turret over an hour or however long it takes. This system is fairly soft, but well defended.
  3. Interior stealth detectors and turrets. No single stealther will ever cap a base by hacking a door, and then hacking the main console. Infantry inside will be seen and subject to turret fire in significant amounts. These turrets must manually be repaired, but are not subject to small arms fire.
  4. Mobile shield generators which can be parked to defend a base or defend an invading army. Creates a huge dome that stops incomming fire, but does not stop infantry or vehicles.
  5. Automated mine layers. All bases have one, they maintain a permimiter of mines in the area outside the main base.
  6. Interior force fields to protect sensative areas. Enginers can take them down fairly easily, or simply enough fire power will cause them to fail. Hackers can do nothing to them.
  7. Redunant generators or differatn power grids. This again is like tribes.

On Offense:

  1. Perminit artillery emplacements at each base, capeable of hitting other bases in the area. This artillery is very long range, very very strong, but also next to impossible to aim accuratly without help.
  2. Mobile, less power versions of the artillery.
  3. A class that can spot for kind of weapon. Similar to how Tribes did it, you paint a target and everyone sees a virtual target, that if you shoot at, you will hit the painted target. This works in combo with all weapons, from artillery, to tanks, to small guns.
  4. All MAX armor suits are nearly immune to interior turrets.
  5. If the generator dies, interior turrets die. There is also a security center that can be hacked that will change the alignment of the interior turrets, which of course is extreemly well defended.
  6. Engineers have scrambler guns which can disable any system for 30 seconds.

Now I think the above changes would make zerging practically useless since a lot of things take at least two people working together such as artillery + spotter or engineer + hacker, for example. After a while people would learn to be team players if they want to have any measure of success. I think this kind of model would work for any FPS type of game where you really want team play to be the ‘big thing’ in your game.

Did you ever play BF1942? When you require two players to do an action, nobody ever does that action. That’s why the destroyer captain points the boat directly towards land so the artillery can’t get an angle, not that it matters because scouts are calling for artillery strikes on a tank that left the pinpointed location twenty seconds ago. I don’t think you can make people meaningfully work as a team in a public server.

I’m a big fan of killing the rush theory in FPS team games…BUT, and this is the really biggest problem, people don’t want to HAVE to work together. Plain and simple.

Everybody on my team but me and maybe two other guys is a complete idiot. And the guy with the highest score on the other team is running an aim bot.

That PS stuff sounds great, but I doubt it would actually balance as you’ve got it. It amazes me how easy it is for the attackers to get into a base if there isn’t at least as many people defending it. Usually you require more defense than offense to hold a base, and that’s just not cool by me.

The turrets on the walls were nerfed beyond belief at one point IIRC. Right now they’re good against armor at close range, but crap against infantry and air. Even just fixing their COF and making them tougher would help - they go down very fast.

And I agree that the lack of internal defenses makes things weird.

The reason in BF1942 you had the artillery problem was because zerging worked.

For my theory to work, you can’t have zerging at all, not even a little bit. The message has to be clear that if you zerg, you will be totally inneffective.

As for the PS thing, its not really about PS. It is an illiustration on how the theory would be implemented on PS. Now just apply it to any team based FPS.

That’s not completely true. Simply put, people generally don’t want to work together because it’s hard. Take me for example, in World of Warcraft, I tend to solo most of the time – not because I don’t like teamwork, but because finding a team is hard. Unless you’ve grouped with these people before, there’s no way to guarantee that the people will play their roles competently. Often times, if even one person plays poorly, the whole team goes to shit. These are all major headaches you have to deal with when attempting teamwork with strangers. Other types of games will have other types of problems.

Making a map overly oriented towards defense encourages turtling too much. You can’t be an FPS superstar that way. Most people play to be the superstar.

On the other side of zerging, isn’t camping a shitty game mechanic that happens when someone gets too much defense?

“Dude he’s just camping the fucking rocket launcher! You can’t get into that room.”

So, as a guy who never played Starcraft, am I right to think that “to zerg” means something like “to run and gun alone”?

All the problems you’re talking about are related to people. No amount of programming is going to change how the non-teamplayers play the game. There are loads of FPS games out there that require good teamwork to be played as the designers intended, but there will always always be players who “zerg”. The lack of teamplay in good team-based FPS games is almost never due entirely to game design, as you seem to imply. No matter how well-balanced a game is offensively and defensively, people are going to play it how they want, regardless of the game’s and the other players’ intent.

Actually, it means quite the opposite; to “zerg” is to overrun the opponent with sheer numbers.

  • Alan

There’s a reason soldiers go through basic training before being sent into a war zone. You can’t expect people to rely on each other and act as a unit when they’ve never met before, and half of them are total asshats.

I’ve always wondered if you could adress this by modeling the psychology of covering fire. What if enemy shots whizzing by made your shooting cone drastically increase in size for a while? Suppressing fire would actually do something, and you’d be hard pressed to lone wolf against squads that worked together.

Is there any FPS that does anything like this?

Battlefield 2 does a much better job of encouraging teamplay than most. More than 1942, even. This is because not only did they design it so that your side is far more successful when working as a team (the stick), but they made it really easy to do so (the carrot). Most games are missing the carrot part.

It’s easy to punish players who “Rambo it,” or to reward players that stick together. But it’s another thing entirely to make the actual mechanics of working together simple. BF2 does this by making support classes automatically heal/resupply units that are just within a certain radius of them, so you don’t need to keep trying to tell that wounded soldier to “stay still!” so you can heal them. They made it easy to call out for specific kinds of help, and for leaders to tell their squads what their objectives are.

Of course, there are still loads of asshats out there, and plenty of people just Rambo It. It’s frustrating, because a far less skilled team that works together can totally CRUSH a more skilled but unorganized team in BF2. But still, BF2 really does go a long way toward getting teamplay right.

I bet it will be even moreso on Xbox Live, where pretty much everyone has voice. (BF2 on the PC supports voice, but so few players have a mic hooked up)

Didn’t America’s Army do this? Not sure how well it worked.

Hell is other people in online games.

Didn’t America’s Army do this? Not sure how well it worked.[/quote]

That was the “feature” that made me stop playing America’s Army. If I panic under fire, fine, but I don’t think I deserve to suffer because my virtual character panics.

And the best example of team play is in the Hoth map for lowly, unrespected Star Wars Battlefront, where it is a thing of beauty to see snowspeeder pilots and their tail gunners take down AT-AT after AT-AT. The rebels can be unstoppable with good pilot teams.

At the same time, it’s amazing to see the AT-AT drivers line up so that any snowspeeder trying to take them down will crash into the other AT-AT, or when enough players commit to being Shock Troopers and get killed again and again while they fire missiles at the snowspeeders to get them to back off.

When teamwork is rewarded, you’ll get more of it.

I disagree, and I think this is the trap most developers fall into.

The thing is, players that don’t work as a team aren’t going solo because they think it’s the best way for their team to win. Rewarding the team that plays together with victory won’t help - the problem people obviously aren’t interested anyway.

If game developers want people to play as a team, they need to make it more intuitive to play as a team than to go solo. In other words, the game needs to be easier to PLAY - not just to WIN - as a team.

They also need to make it one-button easy to communicate with your team. If you need help from a teammate, or you want to coordianate attack or defense, not many players want to hold down lots of key combinations, access a nested command menu, or almost anything other than keep their hands on the WASD and mouse. A lot of context sensitivity could help.

I still think a system that does not reward non-cooperation and rewards cooperation would work. Currently no such system does exist in any FPS since all of them to varying degrees reward non-cooperation.