Unreal Tournament duel and armor after a year

-AEnubis- Maybe he’d like to chime in on this hijack, or reference another thread already on the subject.

There are two aspects to armor. Well more than two, but two I find interesting about. The first is the resource dynamic between in/out of control and how it plays out, I covered this heavily in that “post” about quake/ut. It is semi related to the second point.

 

The other aspect, which I am more interested after coming back from overwatch is how armor drives players to fight in duel – this is even more lacking in ut compare to quake. This is a mixture of stack self vs deny opponent and relative item sizes determining if pickups are worth contesting.

 

The current system “caps out” players needing to interact very quickly (yet not quickly enough), leading to situations where one player has 1xx/100a and the other has 1xx/150a. If scores are close the question I ask at that point is 1) does the out of control player need the extra 50 from the belt, enough to contest and potentially “waste” the time they spent building to 100a, 2) If the in control player is ahead do they need to pressure the out of control player knowing they have 1xx/100a? The stack difference is close, they have little to gain if they are already ahead, would they not be better off biding their time and resources and not wasting them?


To illustrate this the fight right here did not need to occur – Fjaru obv made a mistake and did not realise his opponent had not taken the 100a already, however his opponent already had 100a (capped out) meaning he had no benefit to taking the armor and does not need to be there at all. He has not damage fjaru since he took the belt. In this situation the next big ticket item that is coming up is the belt, denial for fjaru and stacking for his opponent (provided no damage is take in the interim). This is the only large item both players can stack on.

 

This secnario occurred in the old system as well – if the out of control player obtained the 100a the requirement to fight for it was gone until either player took damage. The in control player could swap attention to the 50a as this is the only source of stacking for the previously out of control player. This may sound nit picky, but the armor that drives players to fight stops making players fight very quickly in ut. You can still try to kill your opponent “for fun”, but the resource requirement is no longer there. Players are not going to fight for the small spattering of vials around the map, nor will they be predictable enough to setup for fights on these vials. This is where the single, large, pickup that is the mega comes in. The belt is attempting to replace it by being the only armor “overheal” available but by itself it is too small and not significant enough to risk stack for.

 

The current system is an improvement from the perspective of “lets play some ut for fun” or for out the out of control player. Players can stack more and players can contest more. At a lower level it is fine, but when you need to toss up the consequence of committing to a fight (ignoring the current abomination that is in fight movement), weapon damage and stack difference being ~50 it really begs the question of why you should commit. This leads to more defensive play in an attempt to conserve resources that have taken time to accumulate.

 

To be honest it has been interesting to test but needs to be put to bed. Armorware is not the solution either, but it might be an improvement over the current epic setup.

At this point you might be thinking “well ut has seemingly worked well in the past” to which I would straight up say it has not worked from this perspective of players needing to fight. Watching competitive games players contest the 100a at :30, die, then go on to contest the belt at :00 without stacking at all – this is just poor play and giving away points. This was very common – yet players could trade off the belt for the 100a and be on a more even footing. HOWEVER the next point of conflict is still the next belt spawn. 30-60 seconds away. I believe part of the problem is the small community ithat continues to push memes like “must always contest belt” and similar things. Must always run belt+100a ad infinium regadless of if I or my opponent need it, potentially taking damage for no reason. If UT were large this would fall to the way side and the problems with the armor would become more readily apparent.  edit: After posting realised that the older titles with belt+100a dynamic and control is why this did not occur as much in the past.

I use quake as a comparison only because it is convenient. This could be reworded as “ut does not foster an environment that causes players to fight”. Or something. I don’t want ut to become quake and I don’t think transplanting ql armor into ut has worked.

 

This forum and the ut community in general seems obsessed with tweaking a few values (usually in terms of limiting in control players stack while also keeping them buff enough to warrant getting items ), thinking it will “fix” armor. Ut armor is flawed from the perspective of out of control play as well why players fight. The fix is actually reasonably simple – maps need more resources players care about. In the old system the 50a was not super important to deny because alone it could never amount to more than +50.

 

The important variables – the spawn times, the number of items and the number of resources that cause fights (armor in ut vs armor/mega in quake) are what need to be tweaked. This does not specifically mean a mega needs to be added.

 

One final aspect that needs to be put to bed is armor decay. This does not drive conflict – the in control player in quake will cap out their armor at 200 and need +25 every 25 seconds in order to keep this high. Armor decay is more time limiting to the out of control player stacking on a single 50a. In this scenario they can stack to 150a in three spawns with no penalty, however if they want to go to 200 they need to spend the next two spawns 150-25, 125+50, 175+50 to obtain it.

The flip side is that decay for mega makes a degree of sense. It is a single item on a longer spawn.

Gnalvl Yeah a lot of Quake maps have 2 YA because during their initial design in Q3 there was no GA, and then when GA was eventually added in CPMA and QL, no one bothered to change the maps. It’s sorta lazy but in worked out for the better in many cases.

Overall newer, quake 3/live duel maps have more resources available than older q3 maps. If you compare t4 (2*YA, 2min mega, a few +5 bubbles, long spawn rail), t2 (2*YA.. no mega.  I believe the only ql duel map missing it), dm6 (1*RA 1*YA 35s mega, +25 shards).

Of course there were older, more heavily stacked maps (dm13, ztn, even areo in the closing years of q3) but recognising this simply lends weight to the case that the earlier, lighter loaded maps were not that great. Both were played, tested and one fell away.

The popularity of dm6 took much longer to wane and there were many discussions on esr about how to “fix” the map. iD revamped it in 2013 with an intel branded sponsor version for qcon – which essentially ignored most of the feedback beyond “add another armor”. A green was added to the main atrium, not really aiding the ooc player in a meaningful way because it was in a “dangerous” location.

Sinister, cure, toxicity, aero, battleforged, hektik all sport significantly much more resources than the old maps. They also have a varying array of pickups – different numbers of YA/GA/shards/+5hp. At most the difference between ut maps is omitting a pickup but until the 20s weapon respawn you could not even leave out a weapon because maps needed seven pickups otherwise full scale denial became too easy.

So.. how would I fix ut duel?

1. Roll back to the “old” setup with slotted items, no self stacking. Pads, vest, belt. Maybe helmet.

  1. Max at 150 of “whatever”.
  2. Change vest to 75a and pads to 75a.
  3. Change belt spawn to 40s.
  4. Remove delayed spawns, this is problematic old school solution that causes more control problems.

Changing both items to 75a means the in control player needs to run all three pickups for full denial. It also means they need to be aware of their opponents stack and specifically which items they have taken in order to know what has been denied. It gives more options to out of control play, it ties up much more time for the in control player and buffs a single pickup (75a vs 50a), making things potentially slightly easier for them.

This is a unique aspect of ut armor, the least talked about aspect, and probably the most interesting from the perspective of ut dna in the game. It should be looked at and used to create something interesting.

The short version :

In reality this rarely, if ever occurred because the in control player just continued playing like an automaton, picking up belt+100a even after the 100a has been taken (and no damage dealt) by the out of control player.

For me this is the starting place to build something. Perhaps a mega could be added. Perhaps +50 mega, meaning two pickups are required. Perhaps something is done with ammo. 

One thing is for sure, the current setup is lacking for duel.


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