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Commentary on big vs small teams economy/playstyle

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I have always been a fan of 1v1 and small teams games(2v2-4v4), strongly preferring them over big games. I often cite having a larger impact on the team as my primary reason for liking small teams. I recently thought of another aspect that significantly differs between small and big teams: the economy curve.

In smaller games, particularly 1v1s, if you look at metal income over the course of the game, the curves typically show an exponential shape, throughout most, if not all of the game. In contrast, the team income for large teams games show a similar initial exponential shape, but much more quickly flatten out to plateau.

I'm not trying to start some deep, intense math debate over the exact shape of the curves, but the main idea behind this is that in large teams games, all of the mexes are quickly taken by one of the two teams. Any additional income comes from overdrive, which has a much lower payback time, as well as a diminishing returns effect, when compared with income from mex expansion. In contrast, in (high skill level) 1v1s and to some extent small teams, often times there will still be never-claimed mexes by the time the game ends via resign. As a result, we can conclude that there is open territory available throughout the game for players to expand into.

This phenomena is also impacted by map size, and typically, large teams games have a much higher player density compared to 1v1s, resulting in the faster expansion over the whole map discussed above.

I personally find the constant ability for expansion into unclaimed land, while simultaneously trying to defend my own claimed land and raid the enemy, one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of Zero-k. This experience is lost in teams games, where a rather static frontline between the two teams forms, and the expansion phase ends early in the game. At that point, players typically begin building excessive porc, arty, and superweapons. When this happens the interesting and unique unit interactions/counters are lost in the sea of heavy weapons fire. For example, skirms rely heavily on kiting, which requires open ground to perform. With strong frontlines, kiting rarely happens.

Thank you for listening to my essay, please leave comments below. :)



TL:DR Big teams games have a less interesting economic expansion profile and the high density of players results in frontline-centric play which limits unit interactions and pushes players toward less active porc/arty/superweapons plays.

TL:DR with extra salt Big teams games are boring and autohosts should be limited to 16 players, especially after the most recent poll indicated that the majority of players prefer small teams.
+7 / -1
You have excluded other factors like people that don't play as your given scenario. It isn't right to use one scenario to extrapolate the game mode.
+2 / -0
You're not wrong, its just that most of us already know that, but the lobsterpot is still a thing. People just enjoy playing huge-ass games in spite of knowing that it breaks the game's economy.

I'd prefer slightly smaller games myself. 8v8 would be a decent maximum, but people prefer to make a spectator pile than to shuffle over to a different room so... we stick to lobsterpots.

I should note that, in addition to the curve you described, all commanders also bring a vanguard econ module into the game at start. So higher player densities also mean a smaller difference between starting and final metal incomes.
+2 / -0
21 months ago
I think Kshatriya is spot on. I know there arent many map makers nowadays, but I think there should be a search for high quality giant maps just for the lobpot. maps like Isis need to stop happening on 32 player games.
+1 / -0
Kshatryia is absolutely right.
Manored is absolutely right.

Despite nearly everyone complaining about it and saying that the games are horrible and degenerated, everyone plays them.
The mere fact that over the years there has never been any big enough movement to just establish 2 small-teams-rooms shows that the torture can`t be that painful in reality.

+4 / -0
21 months ago
Real TL;DR: I want to forbid others from playing larger teamgames so I can siphon a larger portion of the small playerbase into my preferred gamemode.
+1 / -2

21 months ago
One of the things that has always put me off joining large games is the correlation between game player count and likelihood of drama ensuing. About 90% of the drama I see within the community appears to stem from some lobpot interaction. Whether that just be because a higher distribution of players are there I can't be sure, but the thought of being a part of that toxic headache just turns me off. Even in small team games with the wrong people, there's a chance someone who cares a little too much is going to disproportionately verbally attack you or someone else in the game. It's similar to MOBAs really.

Maybe a radial menu of pings that expands on the drawing system would be helpful to increase timely communication without the need for (potentially emotionally charged) chatbox text. But generally, people should remind themselves that you can't hold others to your level of caring or standards for gameplay if you volounteered to play with randoms in the first place. I mean what do some people go in expecting, that the lobster admiral fleet are ready to fall in line and psychically execute your three-stage master plan flawlessly?

Meanwhile in 1v1, any emerging beef is settled in short order. The action does the talking and that's that. Frustrations generally only tend to surface when bugs, exploits or extremely unlucky things happen. Or if you beat Godde - That's a guaranteed outburst token, if something of a meme now.

Apologies that I didn't stay tight to theme and comment on economical aspects of the modes, I practically agree with all that's been written above about that as is.
+4 / -0
quote:
People just enjoy playing huge-ass games in spite of knowing that it breaks the game's economy.


This pretty much captures it

I personally find this very frustrating, because it seems like would be easy to fix the game's economy so it adjusts better for player size.

- Reduce intrinsic player income proportionally as player count increases. Less economy from nowhere = territory matters more + lower unit density

- Change lobby !map choices to push larger maps for larger team sizes. Having a big map reduces the tendency of games to hit critical unit density and bog down.
+2 / -0
quote:
The mere fact that over the years there has never been any big enough movement to just establish 2 small-teams-rooms shows that the torture can`t be that painful in reality.

On some level this is true, but the nature of seeding rooms means that the distaste of many people for large teams can still be pretty damn high, despite this observation.

quote:
TL:DR with extra salt Big teams games are boring and autohosts should be limited to 16 players, especially after the most recent poll indicated that the majority of players prefer small teams.

The problem with this is that very few people seem to prefer 8v8 as their favourite game mode. The poll does not really capture what people are okay with playing so it's not unreasonable to suggest that 8v8-10v10 would be at least acceptable to most people.

Unfortunately asking a poll to check this in such a way that nobody is incentivised to answer strategically in order to promote their favourite game mode is pretty difficult.
+2 / -0
21 months ago
I think the most unfortunate thing about all this is that despite having apparently years of recurring calls for smaller games, which are even a majority preference according to polls, there's nobody that wants to get their hands dirty and actually do it. So they're stuck in a perpetual state of "yea this would be nice but what if", occasionally temporarily forcing people to play as they want.

What exactly are you waiting for? Set all hosts to 8v8, forbid spectators so 30 people don't just flock to one 16 player game. They can watch replays anyway. Nobody can properly host their own games so you got nothing to worry about, they will have no choice but to play your way.
+0 / -0
Erm? I am pretty sure the main opinion is this

quote:

I personally find the constant ability for expansion into unclaimed land, while simultaneously trying to defend my own claimed land and raid the enemy, one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of Zero-k. This experience is lost in teams games, where a rather static frontline between the two teams forms, and the expansion phase ends early in the game. At that point, players typically begin building excessive porc, arty, and superweapons. When this happens the interesting and unique unit interactions/counters are lost in the sea of heavy weapons fire. For example, skirms rely heavily on kiting, which requires open ground to perform. With strong frontlines, kiting rarely happens.


Nothing to do with economy because you can also have this kind of game https://zero-k.info/Battles/Detail/947474

Aka his primary complain is about how map is too small for big teams such that he cannot harass people, such that frontlines can be more than sufficiently covered and established with limited to zero way to flank around it. Finally, unis that require open space to work wonder wouldn't be able to. This however doesn't always hold true either because not every game people will want to fill up the fronts.
+0 / -0
what i find interesting with clusterfucks is that they seem to be pretty unique for zk.

maybe the current situation is a result of two things:

- clusterfuck has never been entirely abbandoned by the devs

- clusterfuck has never been taken serious.

so it is accepted, but not really seen as important and something to shape into it`s own, good thing.

it is hard to solve this problem with this mindset.

clusterfuck might not be very pleasant to play , but without question a 16v16 is an absolute spectacle and retains a bit of that epic grand-scale vibe that zk`s ancestors had.
+2 / -0
21 months ago
You know what, that's a really good point. Its strange that Clusterfuck is tolerated in auto-hosts even though everyone knows the game is not designed for it. I understand why the devs do it as their attempts to split up the lobsterpot usually go poorly.

But one might argue that if the towel is throw on the game organization front, it should be throw in the game design front as well.
+0 / -1

21 months ago
Yet another narrative that says we need a huge influx of interest in map making - Except this time, based upon both the highly pertinent realizations coming from the lobster pot AND the balance observations mentioned in another thread surrounding maps being designed to cater for all factories more optimally.
+0 / -0

21 months ago
can we move this to a separate thread?
+0 / -0
GBrankOP, couldn't it be argued that Lobsterpot is the more complete experience since it covers both the exponential metal phase you described and (sometimes) a steady metal phase?
+0 / -0
21 months ago
I'd say that large but still reasonable team games are what you describe. Huge lobsterpots tend to finish the expansion phase almost immediately, whereas in 1v1 and small team games, the game often ends in the expansion phase or shortly thereafter.
+2 / -0
21 months ago
The counterpoint to this post is that there are some people that specialize in siege warfare and that this is a dynamic that's often missing in 1v1 games. I myself like to control map and provide a broad front of protection for my comrades behind me. The interactions that are in 1v1 are reduced, but in turn are replaced by other ones. There are optimal ways of building porc and defences, and of defeating those defences. I rather enjoy that aspect of the game.

There are other differences in lobpots too. Some people like mass pushes and coordinating their efforts with many other players. Teams with a high level of coordination tend to beat out teams that act like a mass of 1v1 engagements.

I quite understand the frustration of having a much reduced impact on a game, especially for a high level player. This is exacerbated by the balancer which assumes the high elo guy is going to carry his team, which is somewhat unfortunate if said high elo player just wants to muck around and have fun.
+4 / -0
21 months ago
Just become CZrankGrandorCZ and you too can have siege warfare in your 1v1 games.
+2 / -0
21 months ago
How about slowly increasing amount of metal in mexes over time? Wouldn't it push people towards more aggresive playstyles?
+0 / -0