Author Topic: Antagonist Mode - Criticisms and Suggestions  (Read 1387 times)

Nemo

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Antagonist Mode - Criticisms and Suggestions
on: October 08, 2018, 02:59:24 PM
I’ve been playing this game for a little over a year now, so I just want to share some of my opinions about the Antagonist mode, and what I think are its largest problems.

I’ll preface this by saying that I mostly play as a Raider, although I have played as an Antagonist, and whilst I have had fun playing as one, ultimately I’m just making the game harder for four other players, so I tend not to do it much.

My main criticisms are going to be towards the game’s scoring and rewards system, whilst giving some suggestions. I’ll touch a little bit on the balancing and MMR issues, though I don’t think them quite as important.

Binary nature of the rewards system

In short, the game gives the largest amount of rewards to players when they win. This affects both the PvP and PvE sides of the game.

Losing a match tends to give about half as much rewards as a win, and you can’t really score above a 4 no matter how ‘well’ you’ve done, on a loss. If a Raider team gets to 99.99% completion of a map, and then loses at the last second, they’ll lose a large amount of rewards, and will have wasted a lot of time. The Antagonist, on the other hand, could delay the match by 30+ minutes, and score 50+ kills, but if he loses, he’ll get a bad score and poor rewards.

The result of this is that closely fought matches, which should feel exhilarating, actually give out lower rewards for both sides. The scoring system generally wants players to win as fast as possible to get the most rewards, and lacks systems that reward individual performance. In Spacelords, the relatively binary, ‘all or nothing’ approach to reward acquisition, generally leaves both sides unhappy with one another.

A simple solution to make players more enthused about the Antagonist mode would be to raise the amount of rewards for all players when an invasion occurs. However, I think a system that rewards both sides for fighting and interacting against one another would be a better solution, though it may require more work.

Unrewarding interactions between players, poor scoring systems

Other multiplayer games tend to give players rewards and bonuses for competing against each other. So, for example, players will get points for kills and assists, heals and revives, capturing and defending objectives, etc. In this formula, longer matches that are more closely fought, give both sides more opportunities to acquire points, and may actually be more rewarding than a quicker victory. Individual performance is also rewarded, so even if a player’s team loses, as long as that player himself was playing well, he would likely earn a lot of points and other rewards.

As an example of a game that rewards both competing sides for interacting with each other whilst fulfilling their own, unique objectives, you can look at Dead by Daylight.

In that game, whilst the Survivors and Killer are diametrically opposed, and have differing objectives, there are systems in place that reward each side both for interacting with each other, as well as for actions undertaken during the match. So, whilst the Killer can acquire points by chasing the Survivors, the Survivors can also acquire points by escaping the Killer. Whilst the Survivors get points by fixing generators, the Killer gets points for damaging them. Whilst the Survivors can gain points by stunning the Killer with pallets, the Killer gets points by destroying them. Whilst the Killer gets points for injuring and hooking Survivors, the Survivors get points for rescuing and healing their friends, and so forth.

Though the ultimate aim of the Survivors is to escape the map, and the Killer’s is to eliminate them before that can happen, a large majority of points can still be acquired by either side even if they don’t fulfil their objective. As such, closely fought matches reward both sides, and are more satisfying. On the Survivor side, a good player that helps carry his team is usually rewarded quite well due to the scoring system, which is based more around individual performance rather than team performance. Survivor players can also specialise in different roles, and be rewarded for it. As an example, one Survivor can pick skills that help them heal others, becoming a type of medic, and can earn points doing so. Another Survivor could specialise in fixing generators, helping his team to escape by completing the objectives faster.

Spacelords doesn’t really have any on these types of systems in place. In this game currently, the Raiders and the Antagonist don’t really get any benefits from interacting with one another in the match. The only thing that really counts is whether one side can win over the other, as that leads to the most rewards.

If an Antagonist interrupts or otherwise delays the Raiders from fulfilling their objectives multiple times throughout a match, but still ends up failing the mission, he doesn’t get any bonus rewards for having undertaken and completed those actions. As such, an Antagonist on Short Fused that blows up the bombs before they can damage the Wardog tanks is not really rewarded for those specific actions, no matter if he wins or loses the match.

Aside from a temporary reprieve, the Raiders don’t get any rewards for killing the Antagonist. Killing the Raiders is the usual means that an Antagonist can win a match, but unless it leads to a victory, all those kills are largely meaningless. There are also no real ‘comeback’ mechanics in the game, which would help one side at least claw something back if they were getting outright decimated. Things like breaking a killstreak or killing the strongest player on the other team tend to get rewarded in other multiplayer games. Applied to Spacelords, this could mean that a Raider team that is being killed a lot by an Antagonist, could at least gain some sort of consolation prize when they take him down. If an Antagonist is struggling against a Raider team, then perhaps Uras will give him the task to kill a specific Raider so as to earn a bounty reward of some kind.

Furthermore, there are no real systems in place that reward cooperative actions. Raiders that save a wounded teammate from being killed by the Antagonist don’t get a reward for such an action. Raiders that use healing and support weapons or cards to help their teammates, aren’t rewarded for it. A Raider that assists in an Antagonist kill does not get rewarded. A Raider player that carries their team by killing the Antagonist, gathering Aleph, completing objectives and the like, is not really rewarded for his own individual performance, as the game judges the team’s performance rather than his own. A Raider player that kills large numbers of the AI enemies and keeps the map clear, isn’t really rewarded for it.

A system could also be created to reward players for using their character’s powers well. So, a Harec that kills enemies whilst Stalking could get an extra bonus, as could a Hive that absorbs damage whilst overhealed, or a Kuzmann who kills enemies with his Blitzfaust, for example. 

However, due to a lack of these scoring and reward systems, the Antagonist mode, as well as the cooperative mode, just seems rather unfulfilling to me. The Antagonist system seems a good idea on paper, but it needs more fleshing out. As it stands, whilst it does provide some variety, it’s largely just a way to increase the grind of an already very time consuming game. Players are already going to have to play for several hundred hours to acquire the millions of gold they’re going to need to purchase all the characters and weapons, and Antagonists are just an inconvenience to that, rather than something exciting. Considering that the Antagonist mode is one of the main features and selling points of this game, that helps it stand out from the crowd, it’s unfortunate that it’s so unrewarding to participate in.

Other problems

As a competitive mode, I can’t really take the Antagonist mode too seriously, as the implementation of passive skills and upgradeable weapons that scale off of player level just leads to imbalances between higher level and lower level players. Scaling the AI difficulty due to MMR differences when an invasion occurs also tends to the favour the side that has the lower MMR. In general, if the Antagonist has a higher MMR than the Raiders, the AI enemies will be weaker, and the level less difficult overall. If the Raiders have a higher MMR than the Antagonist, the AI enemies will be stronger, bosses and objectives will have more health, timers will be shorter, environmental hazards will deal more damage, etc. This tends to make the level easier for an Antagonist, and more unfair to the Raiders. In extreme circumstances, a low MMR Antagonist can go AFK and still win a match due to overpowered AI enemies.

This has been discussed in other threads, so I’ll leave some links.

https://www.spacelordsthegame.com/community/index.php?topic=2147.0

https://www.spacelordsthegame.com/community/index.php?topic=1583.0

https://www.spacelordsthegame.com/community/index.php?topic=1585.0

https://www.spacelordsthegame.com/community/index.php?topic=1503.0

https://www.spacelordsthegame.com/community/index.php?topic=1440.0

Even were there a consistent level of AI difficulty during invasions, balancing Antagonist mode itself is also going to be very difficult. There are currently 17 characters in the game, dozens of different weapons, and hundreds of cards, with no doubt more on the way. The time to kill in this game can be very short, even with the 50% damage reduction players can get in PvP, and adding critical strikes to weapons just exacerbates that further. The power gap between Rare and Common cards has also gotten bigger as the game has gone on, and they were all made a lot stronger during the Hades Betrayal update, which has led to pretty overpowered card combinations that can lead to relatively easy kills.

Lag is also something that negatively affects PvP, and PvE to a lesser extent. Host advantage is pretty strong in this game, and at higher pings, the melee system is adversely affected. As an example, it’s difficult to counter a Grapple on reaction when your ping is +200-250ms. Certain characters, like Ginebra, can have a tougher time landing shots when they’re playing at higher pings.

These problems can be discussed more at length, but frankly, I think that making the Antagonist mode more rewarding to participate in is a bigger priority than balancing at the moment.


LoganMaze

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Re: Antagonist Mode - Criticisms and Suggestions
Reply #1 on: October 08, 2018, 04:29:34 PM
agreed, already said it in another post but i think they should give you more rewards with the sole pressence of the antagonist and give you decent rewards even when you loose, i like the fact this game tries to challenge the player but its a coop game with no chat and you with no coordination its impossible to always win.

Nemo

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Re: Antagonist Mode - Criticisms and Suggestions
Reply #2 on: December 20, 2018, 03:52:40 PM
I'll just bump this up again, so hopefully a developer can see it.

I'd like to see if the Aurora Spectres update adds a better scoring system to Antagonist mode, but that's probably a long way off.

Angeles2099

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Re: Antagonist Mode - Criticisms and Suggestions
Reply #3 on: December 20, 2018, 07:11:36 PM
Just so you know the Devs had already mentioned in the forums that when the Aurora Spectors on the Spacelords Roadmap come, it will completely overhaul the Antagonist feature. Its a while down the road but at least its coming.

PohtHehd

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Re: Antagonist Mode - Criticisms and Suggestions
Reply #4 on: December 20, 2018, 07:38:11 PM
Well, I don't think we should save our criticism of this system for several more months, maybe even a year, because the developers are planning to release a wholly different feature to the one we are using now. That is silly.

You're right, the problem stems from the rewards and scoring system. The Antagonist is basically stealing from the Raiders. Antagonists are encouraged to make a match last longer, kill the Raiders a bunch and halt their progress on objectives. These are all the things a Raider needs to score well. This is very arbitrary.

The Antagonist could get points for any number of things or have some actions, like killing Raiders, be weighted more towards their score. There is really absolutely no reason for an Antagonist to take away points from the Raiders in order to score well themselves. Well, except bad design.

Dead By Daylight is a very tempting comparison to use but it is an entirely different genre of game. If the survivors had guns in DBD then it would be a very different experience. But, it is a much better system using a similar play-style, so I see your point.

You made some very good points Nemo and I'm a little surprised I missed such a thoughtful post two months ago. Even more surprised that MSE has yet to comment on any of the things you said.

You should probably take it to the discord server because I am pretty sure MSE doesn't consider the official forums worth their time. Just be wary of the discord, people flip out if you make a good point that isn't theirs.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2018, 07:42:13 PM by PohtHehd »

Placelord

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Re: Antagonist Mode - Criticisms and Suggestions
Reply #5 on: December 20, 2018, 10:15:50 PM
I think it's a good idea to tweak the reward structure. There are so many problems that would alleviate.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2018, 03:42:38 AM by Placelord »

MSE_Karen

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Re: Antagonist Mode - Criticisms and Suggestions
Reply #6 on: January 14, 2019, 06:49:44 PM
Hi Nemo,

Thank you very much for taking the time to express your concerns. I think you defend some very good ideas that would help improve the game.

I can tell you we are working to make the rewards more fair and that means considering the individual performance of each player. I can't give much detail right now, but we think these changes are going to please the community.

As always, we are testing/ considering different options while we work in other things (Spacelords' Roadmap, characters like Sööma, etc.), so please, be patient (and excited!) ;)

Nemo

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Re: Antagonist Mode - Criticisms and Suggestions
Reply #7 on: January 16, 2019, 01:11:59 AM
Hi Nemo,

Thank you very much for taking the time to express your concerns. I think you defend some very good ideas that would help improve the game.

I can tell you we are working to make the rewards more fair and that means considering the individual performance of each player. I can't give much detail right now, but we think these changes are going to please the community.

As always, we are testing/ considering different options while we work in other things (Spacelords' Roadmap, characters like Sööma, etc.), so please, be patient (and excited!) ;)

Alright, I'll be looking forward to seeing these changes.

Thanks for reading and replying.


Dead By Daylight is a very tempting comparison to use but it is an entirely different genre of game. If the survivors had guns in DBD then it would be a very different experience. But, it is a much better system using a similar play-style, so I see your point.

You made some very good points Nemo and I'm a little surprised I missed such a thoughtful post two months ago. Even more surprised that MSE has yet to comment on any of the things you said.

You should probably take it to the discord server because I am pretty sure MSE doesn't consider the official forums worth their time. Just be wary of the discord, people flip out if you make a good point that isn't theirs.

I know Dead by Daylight isn't the best comparison to use, but it's really just the scoring system that I wanted to draw attention to. I think such a system would do quite well, if implemented into Antagonist mode.

Granted, DbD and its scoring system isn't without faults. A Killer is more likely to secure a kill by camping a hooked Survivor, but he's also denying himself and the other Survivor players more opportunities for scoring events. On the other hand, Survivors that rush generators generally cause the Killer to not score all that well since he's not going to get into too many chases, which leads to less downs and less hooks. This, in turn, leads to less hook saves and other Altruistic scoring events for Survivors, and less Boldness points due to fewer chases. Despite this, this is usually what happens when both sides try to do their utmost to 'win'.

As is often the case, what a developer intends players to do, and what players actually do, tends to differ.

Anyway, I don't particularly want to use Discord, but if someone else wants to link the thread, that would be nice. As long as the developers read the post, I don't really mind.