Making 1v1's in 3.2.6

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posted on February 16th, 2012, 10:24 pm
So I read a post by Elim about the difficulty in trying to make a new 1v1 map for Fleet Ops 3.2.6.

He said this:

Elim wrote:
One thing that bothers me, that even with these awesome redos, (I particularly love the rethinking of scouting, thats just purely awesome) the maps, and the maps system won't change anytime soon. I haven't played that much online lately, but I was thinking a lot about, how to make a better balanced/and more fun 1v1 map than Duel II, but I was facing  problems like: "if I move this natural expansion just 1 inches left/right or up/down, or change the distance from the main base, or just the change a little bit the layout of the moons, it will heavily favor this or that race..."  :crybaby:
Don't get me wrong, but I don't think that better balance will happen before the map system changes, it's just doesn't seem possible for me with 5 so radically different races.  :(

  I've actually done lots of thinking about this myself.  The mod gets balanced using Duel II as it's base for 1v1 matchups.  Partly this is because most all RTS's are balanced first for 1v1, then adjusted and re-worked to ensure things to go out of control for teams and higher player counts.  I put a lot of work in to Duel II along with input from just about every source and capable player around at the time, talked to the commentators, and finally sat down with Dominus to truly make the finest touches we thought would allow for a near-perfect 1v1 matchup for all races.

  Needless to say - that was hard for us to do.  Changes in speed, cost, tech-tree position, nebula functions, and even stat adjustments changes the way the map can be played - so immense consideration has gone in to the layout by multiple people besides just myself.  That being said, nearly all the strategies accepted by the community have revolved around the Duel II layout.

  While I absolutely agree with Elim's primary concern (that even subtle deviations from the Duel layout can completely turn strategies on their heads), I would like to speculate and say that it's because people just haven't had enough opportunity to see anything different.  As long as the starting moons and the "natural expansion" are relatively nearby - I firmly believe that other 1v1 maps can function just as well.

  So don't be too discouraged!  Make a 1v1 map, get feedback on it, play with it on Tunngle, then get some replays recorded with it!

posted on February 16th, 2012, 10:54 pm
I know the devs use some sort of formula to balance the races, so I was thinking maybe some formula could be constructed and/or used to help balance maps with numbers, before you start to make it?
posted on February 16th, 2012, 11:21 pm
While I enjoy the current "second-best 1v1 map" Blue Skies, its games can be defined by initial early expansion which gives Borg and Romulans a slight disadvantage.  A big factor is how many bases can be defended from a single point, which Duel II works very hard to restrict.  Even a perfect middle-grab can only partially cover the 2 expansion options, and the blue nebulas prevent a wall-off...unless the player is Borg in which case they form a perfect wall.

What I eventually want to see is 2v2 maps that can also be uses for 1v1 games, like in Starcraft.  I designed Rotary Supercollider with this in mind, but the community hasn't considered it.  I think the big problem is difficulty scouting all the positions and the ease with which some races can grab empty starting positions.

The other problem is that large maps can be dominated by fast ships, but for example the Feds don't have a fast short-range counter while the Roms don't have a fast long-range counter.  This can cause balance oddities on large maps that are too subtle to really understand.  I think the weakening of passives will do wonders for gameplay and make viable a lot of new map configurations.

I think that when the new patch comes out we should start a community-driven map analysis, taking maps with good potential and carefully tweaking them the way you did with Duel II.  Just for the sake of my own pride, I'll be doing commentaries and asking for feedback on the maps I've created so I can improve them to match the new gameplay.
posted on February 17th, 2012, 3:35 am
I have been bouncing around a few ideas of maps as well (including the use of 4 player maps in 1 v 1) and having a discussion on the balance would be very welcome. I was planing to wait for the next patch just to see how the changes affect things.

The first 4 player map I started on with the idea of 1v1 was based on rotational symmetry and that had the problem of expansions being closer to your opponent in some situations. I will continue to brainstorm.
posted on March 21st, 2012, 11:28 am
Last edited by machinor on March 21st, 2012, 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
I think, what makes Fleetops quite unique and thus importing concepts (like 2v2 maps for 1v1 games) from other RTS like Starcraft a bit harder, is the basically unlimited resources and the relatively few harvesters needed for it to be saturated.
Playing 1v1 on 2v2 maps in Starcraft is no problem as resources are limited and thus 2v2 maps basically mean more resources plus it takes a lot of time to fully saturate an expansion.

In Fleetops, one has to be very careful with the number of expansions. On a 2v2 map, a race that is able to quickly expand may end up with enough expansions to just steamroll its opponent. Sure, more expansions means more vulnerability, but it can get to a point, when a player can (re)expand faster than the other one can knock them out.

That makes Fleetops really interesting and unique to play (and that's why we play it!) but map balancing can get very fragile. As expansions go, "less is more" applies very well. This may(!!) limit the usability of 2v2-maps for 1v1 games.

Basically, I'd say there are two fundamental principles acording to which maps work. There are lane-maps and space-maps. Lane-maps are maps with basic attack lanes layed out within the map itself. Examples would be "Duel II", "Early Bird", "Blue Skies", etc. Space-maps tend to be more open space, like "Argus Conflict", "Plasma Conduit" and some of Stardust's maps. The main difference can be more or less summarized with the phrases "In which lane do I move to the enemy?" (lane-maps) and "where do I place my fleet to battle my enemy?" (space-maps).

As obvious by the examples above, 1v1-maps are very often lane-maps, while maps for 4 and more players are more functional as space-maps because more restricted attack lanes would get heavily cluttered with several engaged fleets.
I think that's also a reason why few 1v1s are played on 2v2-maps because players kind of internalize the different character of play.

While thinking this through, it dawned on me... Star Traffic should be fun as a 1v1 map.

EDIT: Gaaaaaah!! Textwall!
posted on March 21st, 2012, 11:45 pm
Actually Machinor you hit the nail right on the head :).

  Unlike SC2 and other RTS's, Fleetops is missing two things they have: limited resources and a population cap.  Those are the two most important things that make Fleetops play differently based on map construction.  Players do not need to constantly expand in Flops or run out of resources.

  That means that the map setup is relatively limited.  However, the map redo is sure to open up a lot of possibilities that we don't have yet and, as a map-maker, I'm very excited :).
posted on March 22nd, 2012, 12:34 am
No surprise there. I ALWAYS hit the nail right on the head... unless I'm talking about Generix refits.

But seriously. I think there is a lot of potential for Fleetops map design. We only all have to leave behind the puny restriction of mere standard-RTS-map-design!

I really would enjoy 1v1 maps to be a bit bigger than the more-or-less-duel-2-size. There are a few smaller 2v2 maps that could easily be adjusted to 1v1 by simply removing 1 or 2 expansions. Maps like "Star Traffic" or "Rotary Supercollider" make fine 1v1-maps with a lot of variety, I think.

But I'm aware that it is always easy to utter wishes. Maybe I'll look a bit into map design myself when I have more time.
posted on March 22nd, 2012, 1:29 am
Well, as Spretz kindly showed me Rotary Supercollider absolutely does not work as a 1v1 map, at least with Romulans and Borg.  A single HWP/Field Yard combo at every moon pair and there was nothing I could do.  It would be interesting to see what happens with two turret strategies going against each other, but any other strategy gets dominated.

I suggested a short while ago that all the refineries be made more expensive to make pre-military expanding a bad idea and encourage players to plan their expansion more carefully.
posted on March 22nd, 2012, 1:55 am
I guess I should point out that pre 3.1.0, 1v1's played on 2v2, or 5 player maps were a heck of a lot more common (they were in fact usually more common than on 2 player maps). I wouldn't be so quick as to say there's no benefit to constantly expand (for instance, you can tech up faster, or get an axillary base so you can't be wiped out as easily, control map locations to prevent enemy movement, etc).

Usually what I find is that people forget to expand, or the skill sets are too uneven, and the game will end with one player taking far more moons and not meeting resistance. The pool of players willing to play 1v1's on different maps is also incredibly small (not to mention the pool of 1v1 players) and that won't likely change unless people demonstrate those games or decide they want to play 1v1.
posted on March 22nd, 2012, 4:24 am
We used to play corners on holiday's at Risa on our lan for the longest time. We stopped after it became appearant that we weren't anywhere close to the same skill levels anymore. This is a 6 player map being used as a 1v1. Can't ever tell you why we picked that map to start. I think it was the map backround?
posted on March 22nd, 2012, 9:58 am
Dominus makes a good point - though I think I'd say that the post-3.1.0 collective skill pool has gone up considerably.  With the new additions after 3.1.0 (especially Tunngle) more people joined up online and thus the overall skill level and experience of players has risen.  This means more excellent competetive matches that showcase the shortcomings and benefits each race has over another on various maps.

Again, as new map options become available I am confident we can see new strategies and such :)

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