I can’t understand why we all go back to video games. Every time we play it’s ‘the last time’ yet somehow we keep coming back for another dose of disgruntlement and discontent. The games we choose to seem to be inherently frustrating.
I play strategy games, RPGs and arcade games but the ones I continue to play regularly are the most frustrating ones around: First Person Shooters. Every time I finish a session on Halo I’m in a bad mood, yet whenever there is some free time again it’s straight back in there for another batch of bile bitterness.
This is the problem: When players start on different start lines and run different races to the same goal and reward there will always be discontent. In my game this tends to be:
- Overpowered Ordinance: tools available to the player that are made to good.
- Poor Play-Space Planning: when there are key areas that are easier for one team to get to, or there are positions with ample cover and astonishing sight-lines
- Client Connection: even a small discrepancy in player latency rates can lead to exceptionally vexing gameplay for all, host and hosted. This is the hardest problem to solve and because of this it has often been overlooked as games evolve.
There needs to be a new focus in video games: coequal contestants.
Players need to start with the same prematch options. They need to play on symmetrical maps and modes. And most importantly with others of equivalent connection quality.
This might sound like a thoroughly boring game, and it may be, but I think if you could get this to work it would have a new attractive value to exceed the current splurge of limitless customisation and heavy graphics.
People are attracted to current generation games bristling with features only to lose interest when they see it’s the same incompetent mechanics ingrained beneath the gloss.
A coequal contestant game would aim to see a true representation of skill, if you are skilled you are reward by the accompanying score rather than a tacky ordnance drop or perk. If you are unskilled there is no overpowered tool available to boost you - as with everything else in life - skill will come with practice.
Players skill would be represented as per playlist ratio rather than a homogenised score devoid of any meaning. If you’re good at Capture the Flag then this is immediately apparent to the team members or opposition. For example: (Player captures + 0.8*(Team-Player) captures)/Opposition captures. This is then accumulated across games and should accessible as the players name and voice status. This makes it easy to compare and understand player skill.
Other ideas might be:
- Different Arenas: for example: Pro (less health, less aim assist, greater speed, lower respawns…), Snipers (restricted to that weapon class…). One thing is key: each player is treated the same as every other player in that match. This would allow for more variation but would be implemented fairly.
- Player disconnection and quitting is severely punished and when the player quits the game ends. Punishment maybe: Only accumulate -ve stats for next 5 games, Ban on any progression Another way to do it might be to publicly mark (for a limited time) quitters so people can leave before playing with them. You might be allowed 1 quit per fortnight before punishments. You would also want to punish AFK/inactive players to prevent any boosting.
- In game player feedback. Players are rated for good or bad communication, team play etc. by other players. Gives another useful comparison criteria.
That hardly scratches the surface of the full potential of coequal contestant but it’s something to think about all the same.