Conquest Mode and Map Design

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HEROFOX
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Conquest Mode and Map Design

Postby HEROFOX » Fri 2 Aug 2013 08:51

First, I'd like to say that the implementation of Conquest Mode is great. The guys at the studio clearly saw there was a problem with Destruction as a game mode and they want to encourage more aggressive play. I love the enthusiasm, however, I think there could of been better execution.

Let me first say that the driving force of every RTS game is map control. You take territory, for the purposes of more resources, so you can build a larger army, so you can rinse and repeat the process again. Every successful RTS game in the last 20 years have made use of the same formula. This type of gameplay is highly rewarding, makes the most sense in practical terms (taking land = more money), and nets excellent results because it allows players to be creative, flexible and most importantly, high-level thinkers.

Victory Points in Conquest Mode is the only way to win. You seize important sectors so you can gain more resources, but at the same time, control a vital piece of land that puts your opponents on the clock. Their job is to do the same as you. Perfect, we now have a tug of war - Something that every RTS needs to be fun and exciting. This innate back and forth action is exactly what you want.

As you can see, the ingredients for success is already there. My biggest problem is the map design.

May I suggest a solution?
There should be 4 types of sectors Conquest Mode. For the purposes of this example, let's just call it VPs, or Victory Points. The higher the VP, the more important the sector. The highest would be say.. 4 which would give the most resources and is arguably the most important area on the map. Areas like this would be the reinforcement points, or air corridors, and is what your army needs to sustain itself for a successful economy. It goes without saying that if you stop the opponent from getting reinforcements and shut down his highest econ sector, you should probably win the game.

The second highest would be the 3, which are vitally important points on the map that give the second highest resources and VP trickle. These areas are the most flexible in terms of model design because they can be a key town, a vital oil refinery, or nuclear test facility. You get the point. Be as creative as you want it to be, but understand the system goes from 4 (the most important) to 1 (the least). At the same time, 4 means the highest yield of resources, and the highest determining factor in Victory Points per minute (the win condition for Conquest).

The idea for tying in +resources with +VP gain is to promote attacks and map control. The highest yield areas gives the most VP, which is your win condition, AND it gives you the most resources. These zones automatically become the most hotly contested zones on the map. Or rather, it should be.

Just by looking at some of the maps, I see that this mentality is backwards. Areas furthest away from the areas most likely to have battles have high resources, while the areas closest are worth the least. I want it to be the opposite.

What you want when designing a map are 3 key points:
1. What areas do I want players to fight the most in?
2. ..Give those areas VPs/Resources worth fighting for.
3. ..Now design a story behind it.

Here's an example:
http://i.imgur.com/dtFtBtW.jpg

-Bump up Juliet/Charlie to 4 so players have a steady base income. Even though you're shifting the numbers around, you're still getting the same end result of VP sectors claimed in total (4+1 is the same as 3+2). The only difference is how "important" these points are.
-Make Foxtrot/Alpha less important and put the lesser emphasis on India and Golf as key towns. I would rather see India and Bravo turn into Oil Derricks instead of towns, just to signify their importance instead of a random shack in the middle of nowhere. Visually it's very unappealing for a "2" VP sector.
-Golf and Delta are secondary towns for sure at 2 VPs, however, the main town we'll name KILO, should be worth 3 points. Why? Because this is the king of the crop, the nexus on the map, and strategically the most important. Players should be throwing themselves at this location because the resource gain and VP gain is huge. It's worth the second most aside from your home base, and the incentive to attack it/bomb it/fight for it/nuke it is gigantic.
-The catch is that if you invest everything into that town, be careful: The enemy can launch an attack at Golf, secure the high ground and possibly shut down your Air Corridor! They would then take 2+4 points instead of your 3. The choice is yours.
-Hotel and Echo don't even need to exist, but if you want it to be even crazier, make them 2 VP points. Why? Because it'll instantly make them hot zones. However if you do that, I suggest making the Golf and Delta 3 VPs and make Foxtrot/Alpha boring houses at 1 VP. The idea here, again, is to "guide" the players to the action and mold the game/terrain to highlight as much of this action as possible (while keeping it balanced of course).

What I just did here was:
-Laid down a narrative.
-Designed areas of the map that I want players to fight in and most importantly, give them a reason to.
-And supplied the ability for players to wage war in these areas if they so please.

Remember, the key here is to understand which areas of the map will see the most action, and tie them with VP points worth fighting over. I would like to see this in the future if at all possible please.

Thanks for reading.
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Re: Conquest Mode and Map Design

Postby zbone » Fri 2 Aug 2013 09:06

Excellent suggestion. Exactly what's needed to bury Conquest game mode. Let's make it even more obvious that rush wins.
I also like how you failed to see the difference between classic RTS like Starcraft and deck-based Wargame.

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Re: Conquest Mode and Map Design

Postby naizarak » Fri 2 Aug 2013 09:12

your ideas don't fix the biggest problem with conquest: victory points = income points. how exactly do you encourage both sides to fight for sectors, if only the ones in the middle are important.

here's how a typical game would work:

1. both sides rush for the center areas
2. 1 side wins the rush
3. the winning side, now in control of the most important sectors, has no reason to push further
4. bolstered by their increased income, they invest heavily in defenses around those sectors(remember, this isn't destruction. you HAVE to attack the territory sectors)
5. the losing team, down on income and forced to attack, will usually be destroyed

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Re: Conquest Mode and Map Design

Postby triumph » Fri 2 Aug 2013 09:15

An odd number (greater than 1) of centered focal points on a map is the key to flavor and fun.

I could understand the current design for maps if there were not reinforcements beyond the origin zone since players would be able to do a solid push a crossed ~2/3rds of the map before meeting ground reinforcements in many instances. With reinforcement zones I think centered play will be more fluid and fun.


Also, i doubt a massive redesign of the game mode will happen. New resources or sector types, and so on. I doubt that is what will happen.
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Re: Conquest Mode and Map Design

Postby Grosnours » Fri 2 Aug 2013 09:21

The idea behind the current design of the values for the different zones is to encourage back and forth action, to see the loser of the first combat not being entirely beaten.

If you put high value zones in the middle that's exactly what is going to happen: first one to seize them after an initial battle wins, and by a landslide at that.
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Re: Conquest Mode and Map Design

Postby Mako » Fri 2 Aug 2013 09:22

So... rush the middle and win?

The narrative is sure swell and all, (I actually do like it) but since your solution completely fails to adress one of the biggest problems, instead severely exacerbating it... I'm against it.
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HEROFOX
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Re: Conquest Mode and Map Design

Postby HEROFOX » Fri 2 Aug 2013 19:26

Mako wrote:So... rush the middle and win?

The narrative is sure swell and all, (I actually do like it) but since your solution completely fails to adress one of the biggest problems, instead severely exacerbating it... I'm against it.


What is the biggest problem?

Does ANYWHERE in my post say that the highest yield points should be located in the middle, all the time? It's up to the map designer where he wants the battle to be located. If you have a problem fighting over these high yield locations from beginning of the game till the end, you're playing the wrong game mode.
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Re: Conquest Mode and Map Design

Postby saber2243 » Fri 2 Aug 2013 20:06

HEROFOX wrote:
Mako wrote:So... rush the middle and win?

The narrative is sure swell and all, (I actually do like it) but since your solution completely fails to adress one of the biggest problems, instead severely exacerbating it... I'm against it.


What is the biggest problem?

Does ANYWHERE in my post say that the highest yield points should be located in the middle, all the time? It's up to the map designer where he wants the battle to be located. If you have a problem fighting over these high yield locations from beginning of the game till the end, you're playing the wrong game mode.


But what you dont understand is that they WILL NOT be fought over the entire game. At some point (sooner rather then later) one side will take the zone unless it has some horrendous choke point (like pre-patch foxtrot on Trondheim) And if the zone is high value, then that team pretty much has an autowin
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Re: Conquest Mode and Map Design

Postby M3SS3NG3R » Fri 2 Aug 2013 20:49

If map design is up to me, ALL locations besides the starting reinforcement zones would have the same amount of income point. That's right, exactly the same. And they should all be kept very low, too. Like 1 or 2. The initial starting locations are the only ones with higher income (like maybe twice or three times as high as the regular zones).

Reason: In an operation that's meant to take territory (ie: the conquest mode) there is no arbitrarily assigned "income point" that represents the strategic values of a location in reality. The strategic value of a location lies in the tangible, physical properties said location provides you. By exploiting these properties it will translate to actual advantages. IE: A city grid is hard to take and easy to defend. A location with a bridge might provide efficient traffic link up for reinforcement and resupply op. Overtaking your enemies on the side then he is open to a flank attack..etc etc. It is a tactical decision to take certain locations, and that decision should lie solely with the player. By increasing the point value of specific locations on the map you are essentially dictating the strategic value of a location before any actual assessment based on the current situation is made. I have faith in the system mechanics of WALB to represent the physics of the battlefield well enough so that such artificial manipulation of strategic value is not required to emphasize the advantage of holding certain sectors.

In any case, deployment income should seriously be fixed on both sides.

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Re: Conquest Mode and Map Design

Postby Gronank » Fri 2 Aug 2013 20:55

M3SS3NG3R wrote:If map design is up to me, ALL locations besides the starting reinforcement zones would have the same amount of income point. That's right, exactly the same. And they should all be kept very low, too. Like 1 or 2. The initial starting locations are the only ones with higher income (like maybe twice or three times as high as the regular zones).

Considered, rejected because it puts huge emphasis on CV sniping. Games would be won solely by a smerch barrage or nighthawk strike.
M3SS3NG3R wrote:In any case, deployment income should seriously be fixed on both sides.

Considered (and argued for), rejected because it would require changes too deep in the games engine.
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