Neutralising the “distraction play”

Neutralising the "distraction play"

On Friday I implemented a nerf for the “distraction play” in Frozen Synapse 2.

 

What is the Distraction Play

Here is a scenario: Green 1 has good position – he’s stationary and aiming towards where Reds 1 and 2 may emerge.

distA

 

Red 1 emerges from behind the wall and Green 1 engages him.

 

distB

Red 2 emerges from behind the wall and starts targetting Green 1.  Green 1 is still engaging Red 1.

 

distD

Red 1 safely goes back behind the wall.  Green 1 shifts to engaging Red 2…

 

distC

But it’s too late – he’s lost valuable milliseconds and dies to Red 2’s fire.

 

Is the distraction play a problem conceptually?

Frozen Synapse aims to create a compelling game by giving players the tools to plan out Counter Strike-style engagements in a turn-based setting.  Is the distraction play something that emerges organically from the core systems of the game?  Yes.  Is it also something that might happen in Counter Strike itself?  Yes.

I do not believe the distraction play is a problem conceptually.

 

Is the distraction play a problem in practice?

In terms of creating a good multiplayer game, the distraction play has two major problems:

1. Distraction undermines good tactical positioning and promotes “boring play”

I don’t have time to fully explain this, but giving two units the ability to kill one unit who is in better position without suffering losses undermines the play of the game

2. Distraction is annoying to do, and it is annoying to try to defend against

Distraction requires the kind of extremely finely-timed coordination which is fiddly with the FS UI.

 

The nerf

In FS2, if unit G1 is engaging unit R1 and R2 suddenly becomes visible, then G1 will switch to engaging R2 if the following statements are all true:

  1. R2 will kill G1 before G1 will kill R1
  2. G1 can kill R2 before R2 can kill G1, if he switches.

Some minutia:

  1. When performing the switch, G1 will ignore any “new target add” kill time he is still experiencing from his engagement with R1.
  2. If engaging R1 moves G1’s viewcone such that R2 is not visible when he engages G1, then that is fine, and the distraction play will still work.  This does not, for me, undermine the game and is in fact a nice tactic.

 

Ethics

I believe that one of the reasons FS is very attractive to people is the authenticity of the simulation with which they are interacting.  Creating nerfs for specific tactics threatens to undermine that.  It is my determination that this nerf is both very necessary, and also could be just about explained as being authentic to what a unit might do under these circumstances.  Ie it is not too contrived.

 

Any responses welcome.

 

 

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