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Old 03-06-2005, 08:38 PM   #1
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Grognard Capture

I've mentioned this before, but that was deep in a thread, so I'm going to repeat myself in a top-level post.

I'm pretty sure that the FF dev team, and several posters, are aware of this phenomenon, even if they don't have a name for it. However, it's becoming apparent that a lot of posters here either aren't aware of it, or don't care. So, to avoid repeating myself a zillion times in every thread where I see it:

I believe the term "grognard capture" was coined by Greg Costikyan (a professional games designer - ever heard of Paranoia?) in this weblog posting. I'll repeat his description here, as I doubt I can state it any better:
Quote:
All game styles run the risk of what I term "grognard capture."

"Grognard" was a slang term for members of Napoleon's Old Guard. Hardcore board wargamers adopted it as a term for themselves. By extension, "grognard capture" means capture of a game style by the hardest-core and most experienced players--to the ultimate exclusion of others.

The most extreme example I can think of is what happened to the Squad Leader series. Originally a relatively simple, accessible game of infantry combat in World War II, the publishers released supplement after supplement, each with new rules adding to the complexity of the game. Finally, they revamped it as "Advanced Squad Leader," publishing it in a loose-leaf binder so you could insert new rules as they were published, with systems as obscure and silly as the "Sewer Emergence Table" and the "Kindling Availability Table."

The original Squad Leader sold more than 200,000 copies, an astonishing figure for a board wargame at the time. Advanced Squad Leader sold a few tens of thousands of copies. Advanced Squad Leader is, I believe, still in print ... It has a fanatical following--tiny, but fanatical.
...
You see the same process at work in a lot of other game styles; real-time strategy games layer more and more complexities onto the system over time. Fighting games have taken special moves to a ridiculous extreme, requiring you to memorize chords as complicated as anything a concert pianist uses. And so on.

Developers move in this direction because their market demands it; the hard core, who are also the opinion setters, want new features and games that reward their hard-won skills. And if that ultimately means cutting off a game genre from a wider audience, that's not their concern--though perhaps it should be of the developer's.
I really, really, really, hope that FF isn't going to be a demonstration of this phenomenon in action.

I've seen plenty of comments from the dev team which indicate that they're fighting grognard capture, but I also see several posts a day saying "we want to keep (XYZ special feature)*, and we don't want newbies to be able to do it instantly"

*Bhopping, conc jumping, etc, etc.

Now, I've nothing in particular to hold against grognards of any kind - practically everyone posting here (including me) is one, almost by definition - but few seem to realise that, if the developers indulge our every whim, our "love" for the game will become a crushing embrace that drives new players away, killing it.
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Old 03-06-2005, 09:32 PM   #2
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This is a post I made on the Catacombs forum on Dec. 14th 2004, addressing this issue after it was brought up.

http://forums.thecatacombs.net/showp...&postcount=203 *how did that url go bad oh well fixed now :[*

Quote:
A few people here have shown concern that our design priorities are off, that the focus will be too myopic, geared towards the existing community and not new players. Using me as an example of this so called elitism amongst the team cracks me up. I have long thought that TFC's biggest problem was the lack of direction and guidance for new players. I have worked extensively with new players for years, teaching them the game and based on their feedback, helping them improve in whichever way they need.

Valve's attempt to create new game types after v1100 was marginally successful at making the game easier to get into. Unfortunately they never addressed the fundamental problem of how to show new players the game and its classes, how they really function in relation to the objective based gameplay and the team. Historically TF has relied on players learning the game from others. Without prior clan experience in other games, new players essentially float around on pubs until they see somebody doing something they can't and inquire, or find a public server's niche community and go that route. If the more experienced players on the server do the right thing, a new player is born.

Beyond relying on other players, the primary areas we look to improve upon are creating an extensive in-game help system, both passively with a tip of the day type deal, and actively with an extensive Natural Selection like hint mode, on by default for first time players. At some point probably in beta, there will be a guided training map in the vein of HL1's hazard course, and possibly more elaborate map specific training elements.

Right now most of the ideas I'm working on relate directly to how we can make the game more fun for a new player while keeping them on task in the team structure(basic offense/defense and positioning concepts), how we can draw them in more easily. I am personally dedicated to making sure these issues are not only addressed, but solidly implemented with enough forethought to be meaningful for those new to the game.

Based on our design methodology, suggesting our team lacks the ability to make a fortress mod worthy of the average gamer's attention is silly. That's a huge priority, and given our makeup, is there any doubt that TFC fans won't be floored? This is an exciting time for TFC.
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Old 03-06-2005, 09:36 PM   #3
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For a balanced discussion let me suggest you read the classic article on "Playing to win" by Sirlin. It is an essential read for anyone interested in multiplayer game design.

http://www.sirlin.net/Features/featu...ToWinPart1.htm

As far as wether FF is either a Grognard Capture Mod, or a Scrub Lover Mod. I dont thnk we fall into either category. The mod is designed principally to revitalise the Fortress style, and that means at a core level bringing in newbies.

However if a game lacks depth or subtly those players are not going to stick around. From the ground up we have considered how new players will react to design choices in the game, we wont dumb down the game or take away what some consider to be its crown jewels; the fast and frenetic, beautiful movement system, the graceful conc jumping , and the ability for a wide variety of play styles. However we will provide stratified and progressive gaming environment , newbies will be able to enjoy the game because they are will be informed not confused, can play the game at a level they choose, have fun and cool things that they will enjoy, and where necessary provided in-game assistance (e.g. an adaptive bunnyhop system).

Noone realises more than the developers that bringing new players into the Fortress Genre is vital for its survival. But that doesnt mean we should sacrfice what has kept the game alive for so long.
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Old 03-07-2005, 12:15 AM   #4
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Thanks for the comments guys. Like I said above, I'm fairly sure the dev team are pretty-well clued in on the risk of being taken over by the old hands - and you're certainly showing signs of acting to prevent it.

On Sirlin's article: A good read.

Yes, depth is a good thing, but it works best when there's a good range of skill levels in the player base. If there's a large cadre of elite players, and only a slow trickle of newbies, a game will probably never gain new blood, as most (not all, but most) newbies will give up before they learn much. Such a game will die on its feet as the oldsters leave.

One other point: most players don't play to win (listens for howls of disagreement :lol: ) and they shouldn't be forced to, either.

I'll clarify that: for many players, winning is not the main objective of playing. Now, many people THINK they play to win, but they're actually playing to HAVE FUN.

Of course, winning feels good. But I imagine most of you have, at some point, played in a really good, fun, game where you didn't actually win.

In an objective-oriented team game like TFC, things get even more blurred. Players can gain extra satisfaction from knowing that they helped the team, even if they didn't actually score very highly. (Yeah, I died 47 times on avanti cap point 3, but without me, the flag wouldn't have been close enough to the cap for that spy to sneak it the last yard)

I think the real target for any game should be to provide enough depth to keep the veterans interested, while still allowing the "scrubs" to have fun.

I think TFC is a pretty good attempt (hey, I first played it the week it was released, I last played it this afternoon, they must be doing something right) and it's not all about leet bhop skillz. I get far more fun from out-thinking opponents than by making mad rocket/gren jumps they can't keep up with.
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Old 03-07-2005, 12:21 AM   #5
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I don't think I've ever learned or been enlightened this much on these forums. This topic is gold.
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Old 03-07-2005, 01:12 AM   #6
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Several pending announcements regarding Fortress Forever will shed some more light on this subject. Bear with us as we work out the details. The relevant quote from the "Info" page of our site:

Fortress Forever should please those who have stuck with or been a part Half-life: TFC over the years while at the same time doing more for new TF players than any prior Fortress attempt.
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Old 03-07-2005, 01:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dospac
Bare with us as we work out the details.
"Bare" is past tense of "bear", which I think is the word you intended to say.

Anyways, I have long been a fan of "K.I.S.S.". Keep It Simple, Sucker. Simplicity is the meaning of life.
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Old 03-07-2005, 02:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by comrade tiki
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dospac
Bare with us as we work out the details.
"Bare" is past tense of "bear", which I think is the word you intended to say.

Anyways, I have long been a fan of "K.I.S.S.". Keep It Simple, Sucker. Simplicity is the meaning of life.
if you make it too simple, then people will get bored with it in a hurry. if you kept it simple, you wouldn't put "easter eggs" in a game to find.
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Old 03-07-2005, 02:17 AM   #9
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I love Tetris. Everyone loves Tetris.
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Old 03-07-2005, 02:26 AM   #10
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i got sick of tetris
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Old 03-07-2005, 02:45 AM   #11
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CS is (reasonably) simple. I don't want CS's level of simplicity
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Old 03-07-2005, 04:09 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by comrade tiki
I love Tetris. Everyone loves Tetris.
Baby Jesus loves Tetris
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Old 03-07-2005, 06:17 AM   #13
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Am I the only person on earth who thinks Tetris was the worst game ever made...? I *HATE* Tetris... with a passion.
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Old 03-07-2005, 09:06 AM   #14
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yes
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Old 03-07-2005, 09:32 AM   #15
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"tetris is so unrealistic"

tetris is a good game. simple and sweet.
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Old 03-07-2005, 09:44 AM   #16
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I think a 'Hint of the Day' is a great idea (obviously an option on or off) when starting the game. Useful tips (and even 'etiquette') would greatly help a new player.

Been playing Dustbowl a lot lately, and informing players about not camping the gren bag (or waiting and taking 2 bags) is something I have to do a lot. Such a 'hint' system may ease the frustration on players alike who know this but newer ones don't. (Yes, I understand some players do it on purpose, though.)

Or another simple one: "If you're an engineer top up team mates armour by spannering them". Sounds daft, but many don't know about this, or do it.. or you have those that shoot you back thinking you're attacking them :/
"If you spy check a player as an engy don't forget to spanner them for taking off some armour."

And so on and so on. Indeed, a Hint system would benefit all of us
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Old 03-07-2005, 09:55 AM   #17
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The thing that always amazed me about TFC was the depth was always in the game from the very start but hardly anyone knew about it. Some players from QWTF introduced conc jumping I believe (well it was the iD clan in europe) and gradually everyone learnt about it. Over time new skills have been uncovered - Valve havent been introducing them, theyve always been there. Wall strafing, bhoping, ramp sliding, water skimming, trimping etc. Without these developments I think experienced players would have left the game. And at the same time these very developments put off new players from sticking with the game (along with the rather unfriendly atmosphere on pubs).

I think the biggest challenge will be drumming up enough press so there are enough newbies to outnumber the old TFC players. If a newbie goes onto a pub server and there are 10 veteran players doing conc jumping, bhoping and ramp sliding they will be completely bewildered and wont stand a chance. On the other hand if a newbie joins a pub with 10 other newbies and 1 veteran they'll have a good time learning the game and hopefully inspired by the veteran who will hopefully stop to teach them some tricks.
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Old 03-07-2005, 12:06 PM   #18
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how did such a good thread get hijacked by tetris :/

Hint of the day i think would be a bit limited, maybe if a hint came up every 5 minutes or so it would be more beneficial. It'd be cool if the hints were grouped into general and class specific. An example of a class specific would be if you were a soldier it would say something like you can use the rocket launcher to shoot yourself into the air. A general would say something like "there are many routes into the enemy base, explore all areas to dodge defenders". That is a tip that can be applied to all maps, even more indepth would be map specific - like where to place sg's and such.
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Old 03-07-2005, 01:13 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DirkPitt
how did such a good thread get hijacked by tetris :/

Hint of the day i think would be a bit limited, maybe if a hint came up every 5 minutes or so it would be more beneficial. It'd be cool if the hints were grouped into general and class specific. An example of a class specific would be if you were a soldier it would say something like you can use the rocket launcher to shoot yourself into the air. A general would say something like "there are many routes into the enemy base, explore all areas to dodge defenders". That is a tip that can be applied to all maps, even more indepth would be map specific - like where to place sg's and such.
Perhaps that tips and hints could even be triggered by map-entities like you past a certain place on the map and it said something like "In the vicinity of where you now are is a good place to place your sentrygun".
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Old 03-07-2005, 02:08 PM   #20
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One other point: most players don't play to win (listens for howls of disagreement ) and they shouldn't be forced to, either.

I'll clarify that: for many players, winning is not the main objective of playing. Now, many people THINK they play to win, but they're actually playing to HAVE FUN.
I think everyone is playing to HAVE FUN. I also think that trying to achieve the objective of the game and having fun are not mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite. Winning is not required to have fun, but trying to win, to accomplish your objectives is. If you're not playing to win in TFC, you're just wandering around a sub-standard team deathmatch agme.
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