STEAM GROUP
No Mann's Land ɴᴍʟ
STEAM GROUP
No Mann's Land ɴᴍʟ
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August 13, 2015
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English
ABOUT No Mann's Land

Drop-In/Drop-Out Robot Extermination!

Tʜᴇ ᴀᴡᴋsᴘᴀɴᴅᴇᴅ TF2ɴɪᴠᴇʀsᴇ: Arena: RespawnNo Mann's Land

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  • Fight robots![tf2.shutupandwrite.net] (IP: 198.100.146.104:27015)
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The Story So Far...

After two years of fighting to keep the metal menace at bay, the mercenaries are informed that carrier-tank armies were a distraction all along. Turns out robots own the gravel pits now. Whoops.

To make matters worse, they've gotten their digits on some long-forgotten Australium caches and have been working with it in secret to improve themselves. Dang.

Oh, they also dug up some mysterious runes and booby-trapped just about anything they can get their scraggly little robot claws on. But that's not important. What's important is that you need to get the gravel pits back under Mann Co control immediately - if not sooner - otherwise you're all fired.

What Players Are Saying

"awk make it harder" - everyone
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To be clear, this is probably one of the less complicated issues I've had to come up with a solution for in the ᴀᴡᴋsᴘᴀɴᴅᴇᴅ TF2ɴɪᴠᴇʀsᴇ. If I had to pick the most complicated thing I've ever done, it would still probably be forcing doors closed in KotH maps to make them act more like Arena back in the days of Arena: Respawn. The fact that I could recognize the problem, determine the solution, and update the gamemode all in less than 24 hours should tell you that, in the grand scheme of things, this is fairly boring and trivial.

But I wanted to write up an example of the decision-making process for fixing a problem or bug, and I've already started this one off yesterday, so away we go!

The entire reason why droppable Australium Teleporters exist in the game was in itself to solve a problem - I wanted to make the final wave as difficult as I could without it becoming an impossible grind. At first, I tried letting the bots respawn instantly or very close to it. This resulted in a lot of impossible lasts where bots would keep streaming out of spawn no matter how fast we killed them.

Droppable teleporters, then, are a kind of "nerfed instant respawn," in that robots coming out of them will still spawn faster than if they had to wait for the next proper spawn wave, but this is balanced out by spawning individually instead of in groups. Dropped teleporters give the Humans more to think about and more to pay attention to, increasing the difficulty of the game, while still not being an impenetrable wall of defense. A properly coordinated team can respond to the threats as they pop into the battlefield a few at a time and keep the robots down.

As I pointed out yesterday, this is not what happened in Mountainlab Level 5. Or rather, it is what happened, and we lost anyway. That's what convinced me that there was a problem that needed solving in the first place - the fact that we wiped the Robot team not once, but twice, and still didn't manage a win.

In theory, the robots spawning individually on the point shouldn't have stopped us. In other maps, it doesn't - a teleporter dropping in the capture zone is not unheard of and has to be dealt with in Attack/Defense all the time and KotH especially. So what was different?

Simple: the capture zone on Mountainlab First is frickin' huge.

The hugeness of it meant that robots were more likely to spawn in and instantly block the capture (even, most unfairly, while initially invulnerable!), and a lot more likely to stay on the point even as they fought the Humans. In most maps, the capture area is small enough for the robots to spawn, aggro to the Human team, and in doing so become less efficient at blocking the capture. On Mountainlab First, they would spawn, aggro to the Human team, and stay on the capture point while fighting them, making capture progress impossible.

This not only forced me to re-evaluate how teleporters worked in the context of Mountainlab, but how they worked in No Mann's Land in general. Like I said, they were created to fulfill a purpose, to keep the Human team on their toes with unpredictable fast spawns. But their real threat is in doing damage to the Human team, not in fulfilling or blocking objectives from a cheap spawn point. The former is scary and leads to hectic battles; the latter is scary and leads to unsatisfying round ends or a lack of progress when the Human team really has earned some.

Up until now, I'd simply lucked out that aggro'd bots were crap at interacting with objectives. Now I realized I'd have to formalize teleported bot behavior with a new game rule. In most situations it won't do anything to make the maps easier, but it will do a lot to make objective fulfillment more fair.

There was one final problem to solve: If you come into a situation where two bots are on a point, and the point is being blocked, is it being blocked by one of them? By both? Who should you prioritize? Expecting players to keep track of how each robot arrived would be absurd. Fortunately, TF2 already has a piece of visual language to borrow for this purpose: the teleporter trail. Bots being unable to interact with objectives only applies so long as you can see a teleporter trail on them, making it simple to identify their status and capabilities.

And so concludes another problem, and another patch, in a long line of problems and patches across both gamemodes. As you can probably tell by now, the specific reasons behind why things work the way they work are pretty detailed and fairly impossible to explain while, say, everyone is shooting suggestions from the hip without having the full picture of the role different elements fulfill in the game. As I said, this is actually a really simple problem and fix, and it still took me the better part of two posts to explain it in depth.

Hopefully now you can understand why reactions are useful, but trying to have a long conversation about how the gamemode works isn't. Next time, tell me what sucks, but don't tell me you know how to fix it, because you probably don't. Not because you aren't all intelligent and lovely people, but because you don't know all of the mechanics I've put in, nor the history behind the decisions I've made.

If you absolutely want to bug me about the details of something regardless, feel free when we're not playing and I'm not busy. I honestly love explaining things. The only time I won't is if you fail to pay attention to what I'm saying and insist over and over again that a detail that provably doesn't matter somehow does. Because you're wrong, and I'm not, and if I somehow managed to be wrong anyway, you aren't going to be able to convince me and I'll probably figure it out by myself in a few days.

Now go fight some robots, k?

22 Comments
Kobby May 22, 2017 @ 2:14pm 
d e a d
Snaz =D Sep 12, 2016 @ 1:59pm 
Lads?Anyone there?
ERROR: Connection Lost Jan 26, 2016 @ 5:30am 
I just found out about this and I'm sad now that the servers are dead
awk Oct 11, 2015 @ 5:08pm 
@Bwangry: Basically check out Spitfire's youtube. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChwDYBS1ThnxaKKBUkNXkVQ
Bwangry Oct 11, 2015 @ 4:40pm 
I've heard folks on the mumble mention that they've recorded and posted some of the game nights we've had. Do links to these things exist? Is it all a fevered dream? Is everyone getting b-w-ANGRY!?
Twitch.tv/SpitfireGames Oct 10, 2015 @ 2:45pm 
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