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Author Topic: Seasonal Ladders  (Read 2150 times)

Philder

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Seasonal Ladders
« on: April 10, 2018, 04:52:08 PM »

Was just thinking it would be neat if we had an online competitive ladder league similar to the ones found in ARPG titles like Diablo and Path of Exile which are more like PvE ranking systems rather than PvP.

Rankings would be determined by your total wealth, although to make it more meaningful, financial dynamics would need to be tuned to be much less...gratuitous.. than they currently are. It should be more challanging to progress through the game, and impossible to reach the point where you can stomp everything and ez-grind as much net profit as you want. It should be a competition of skill to make it as far as you can go. It should also be a mandatory Ironman Mode, to prevent people from save-scumming their way to victory. Without Ironman (or hardcore as its commonly called in other games), save-scumming becomes a competitive obligation it just turns into a game of who has the most time to waste.

I would propose two leagues, Casual and Pro, and you can only compete in one. Top rankers of casual can only play Pro once the next season starts. Pro players above a certain rank can no longer play Casual. That's all to prevent sandbagging; more skilled players playing in lower skilled competitions for the purpose of easy wins.

This would all be done in a seperate game option than campaign, so that players aren't forced to compete in a game balanced for a more challanging playstyle.

Ranking boards would include some details, but not enough to spill the beans on a players specific strategy and tactics. Ingenuity should be rewarded, rather than allowing everyone to just copy someone elses more successful strategies (without their permission). Some details that others could see in the ranking ladder:
-Current fleet size (in deployment points)
-Total cost of ships and equipment lost in combat
-General arrayment of skills. ie: how many you have in each of the 4 trees.
-Maybe: Favorite ship piloted. ie: most time spent piloted.
-Maybe: Ranking of favored ships to deploy; basically just gives each ship type a +1 each time you deploy it, and displays it in a top10 list, for example, but hides the specific number of times deployed.

And maybe when the ladder details are saved, it also uploads other stats that Alex or whoever can peruse to get information to help with balancing (or discover cheating).

I think this would have a lot of benefits for everyone.
-Players would get to experience some competitive multiplayer, without the huge hassle of supporting simultaneous multiplayer, massive multiplayer, or anything of the sort. (presumably, Starsector would just create a log of certain details, and when the player saves and exits, the log gets uploaded to a server and the server log linked to the player's account is saved. This would also encourage people to properly buy the game, so they can compete in the ladder).
-Alex would get details to help with the multiple areas of game balance.
-Players could get more solid details on what is or is not doable in the game by players with higher scores than them, encouraging and motivating them to improve themselves. (Players who don't want to compete or witness how their casual skills stack up against gaming fanatics can just ignore the Ladder game option).
-Ladder seasons would give players a sense of activity and accomplishment not otherwise seen in the game.
-Alex can test new and whacky ideas by creating rules or introducing new stuff to each season, and players will get to have fun with that.

This wouldn't necessarily have to be done by Alex. I'm sure this could be modded into the game. You'd just have to manually send or use a third party program to send your log to a server. It would have to check for mods installed and other things to ensure that everything is koshur (details added to log).

It's a fair bit of a work, but it'd be a neat addition to the community. It'd give streamers something great to record, too.

As far as adding mods to the ladder, I think that would be a very difficult endeavor because it would require the cooperation of all mod devs to help balance keep their mods updated. Balance in particular would be a very big issue. Not to mention the danger of accidental cross-mod synergies, even mods that have made it into the main AI Tournament competitions would be outrageously unbalanced for the scope of this ladder competition. After careful considering, maybe one or two factions mods could be playable. If it could be done, however, adding factions but not allowing them to be playable (or their ships/equipment usable. ie:vendor trash) would be doable. Nexelerin would be fun. We'd just need to figure out how to accurately calculate a players wealth, seperate from their faction's but including the value of the cash they invest or investment lost.

Anyway, just some ideas I had to help lay the foundation (if my suggestion will ever fly). However it may end up, it'd be neat to see a well done, fair and challenging ladder system.
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Snrasha

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Re: Seasonal Ladders
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2018, 11:20:32 PM »

Theses systems are weak to the cheat. So i do not think this is a good idea.
After, we have already PVP tournament on the discord, so we have already technically a tiny PVP ladder.
After also, i have not read all, so yeah, i am maybe wrong.

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I am pretty bad on english. So, sorry in advance.

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Philder

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Re: Seasonal Ladders
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2018, 09:53:46 PM »

Log can be encrypted, greatly increasing the difficulty of hacking the results. Presumably, there'd also be no tangible results but bragging rights so there wouldn't be much incentive. And the ladder admin would have access to additional details recorded into the log, allowing them to see into what a player did to score so well. Admin could always try out what the player did to see if it's actually possible, or just outright see that what was recorded in the log was impossible.

It's an AI tournament, though, and involves only AI fighting AI. Not only player piloting and commanding, the campaign involves a lot more highly impactful decision making as well.

We also can't just log in and participate in it whenever we want. It's just a single, periodic event, with many limitations. It's fun and I enjoy watching the videos, but compared to a campaign ladder system it's very lacking in our ability to 'play' it.
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NightKev

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Re: Seasonal Ladders
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2018, 10:27:33 PM »

This really doesn't fit with SS and I'd rather Alex not waste time on this instead of making the game.
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TaLaR

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Re: Seasonal Ladders
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2018, 10:33:24 PM »

This really doesn't fit with SS and I'd rather Alex not waste time on this instead of making the game.
+1
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c plus one

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Re: Seasonal Ladders
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2018, 05:14:43 AM »

This really doesn't fit with SS and I'd rather Alex not waste time on this instead of making the game.

+2.
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TJJ

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Re: Seasonal Ladders
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2018, 05:22:29 AM »

Seems perfectly moddable though
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Philder

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Re: Seasonal Ladders
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2018, 01:10:24 PM »

This really doesn't fit with SS..
...a competition of playing through the SS campaign doesn't fit with SS? Really? :D

Anyway, I do agree that it would be better for Alex to focus on the core game dev, and I did already mention it could be modded. Only trouble with modding is verifying that the players submitting logs are people who bought the game. I doubt Alex would allow mods access to that information.

If Alex did endeavor to add a ladder system, realistically he'd be doing that after the game is ready for launch. It'd also be a great way to get balance data, which would be where most of the time is spent, and it'd benefit the whole game rather than just the ladder.
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Sy

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Re: Seasonal Ladders
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2018, 02:09:25 PM »

...a competition of playing through the SS campaign doesn't fit with SS? Really? :D
yes, really. because 1) most players probably wouldn't be very interested in it, as competitive gameplay isn't what drew them to this game, and 2) the campaign isn't really built with competitive ranking of some kind in mind.

Quote
It'd also be a great way to get balance data, which would be where most of the time is spent, and it'd benefit the whole game rather than just the ladder.
that's assuming the game is meant to be balanced around a single number that would allow a clear ranking. but it's not. of course all ships, weapons, and skills are still balanced against each other so that they are (hopefully) all viable in some way, but not necessarily in a way that would work well with a direct comparison between players' campaign progress.

plus, all this is assuming the ranking would actually make the game more fun. and while i'm sure the competitive nature of the ranking would in itself make the game more fun for some players, it would also encourage a few things that, imo, go directly against some of the things that make this game so fun in its current form: for example, encouraging players to exploit the ai or game mechanics for greatest efficiency, even if it comes with repetitiveness and actively avoiding some of the fun gameplay options due to the latter being suboptimal. or encouraging a "meta" that strictly has good and bad choices (which will always be the case, no matter how much work is put into balance), where experimentation and variety in things like fleet compositions, loadouts, and skill choices are sacrificed for going with 'the best' in every campaign run.

of course these things wouldn't actually be forced on anyone, but they would be encouraged -- and if trying to get a good rank isn't encouraged for players overall, then what's the point in even having it?


so i have to agree with the others that ultimately SS just isn't the right game for something like this. if it's purely done through a mod, without Alex spending time on it at all, the number of players who actually spend a good amount of time in trying to get a good rank would likely be quite small, with most veterans not feeling like competing. which again kinda devalues the ranking even for those who would like to put a competitive spin on their campaigns.
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Seasonal Ladders
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2018, 05:37:21 PM »

There's so much RNG in this game, there's no way it could ever be competitive. There's just not a direct comparison of skill. Plus, there's not really an end to the campaign and the game generally get's easier in the end game so it really just doesn't fit.
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Philder

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Re: Seasonal Ladders
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2018, 06:59:08 PM »

@Sy
That's a lot of assumptions regarding SSs player base, although I would agree that based on what I've seen of the more visible players, I would agree that they tend to be more casual type gamers. However, that is nowhere near substantial enough evidence for the absolute terms with which you've used. Heck, the exclusionary attitude of "Casuals only!" that many casual players tend to exude might even have scared off potential fans of the game.

I sort of agree that the min/max optimised meta would become a thing, but it would be nowhere near as oppressive for other players as you seem to think. Nor would it be visible. To access it you'd have to purposely enter the Ladder menus/UI, or here on the forum, go into the sub-forum and read. If your fragile ego has to be so protected that you can't even stand that somewhere there exists something that says how good you are at gaming compared to others, then you're verging on downright insecurity. Casual game modes exist on just about every single game in existance, and I've never found the existance of more hardcore modes to impinge on my ability to enjoy the casual game modes. So what if there's a meta? Forget what other people are doing and just concentrate on what you're doing.

As for your comments on balancing, I disagree entirely. First off, the game is already dependent on your finances, at least until end-game. And the fact that there is no ending to the game is exactly what makes ladders work. There must always be room for a new strategy to rise higher. Maybe what you're thinking of are the scoreboards from old-school games that had distinct endings.

Second, as I mentioned before, the ladder would have its own unique 'hardcore' balance, separate from the default campaign. Nonetheless, the ladder will still bring out the flaws in even the default campaign balancing. I'm not sure where you get the idea that it will be so different as to be immutable between normal and ladder. The main difference will just be that the ladder players will be more strapped for cash. Any exploiting or balance issues will be present in the normal campaign anyway, so either the casual gamers don't even use them or they're exploiting them anyway, in which case balancing them is the right thing to do anyway. If you want to play with brokenly overpowered features, there are plenty of mods that introduce plenty of them into the game. And in either case, the easy game mode gives you so much leeway that properly balancing other aspects of the game for a hardcore ladder gamemode won't make the game impossible.

At least from what I've seen, ladders have always been successful in keeping many players interested. Not every player, no, but many players who would have otherwise gotten bored of the game have stayed JUST because of the existence of ladders.

@intrinsic_parity
It seems you've never played games like hardcore Diablo2/3 or Path Of Exile, where it's common to die instantly from fully buffed full health due to RNG, or encounter RNG generated mobs that are near immortal, if not actually immortal.

Those things can be dealt with. You just have to adjust your strategies. If you can't...well that'll be your place in the ladder rankings until you solve the problem. Which is perfectly fine. Majority of players just focus on their own spot in the rankings, and their joys and sorrows stem from the rise and descent of their position.

A lot more variables can be taken into account than you seem to be aware of...which is normal. For the vast majority of people, it isn't until they're given challenging situations that they start to think more deeply on things they've completely ignored until then. I've watched just about every SS video on youtube, and I see all but a couple making mistakes over and over again because the game lets them get away with it. Over-investing. Under-estimating. Unwilling to cut losses when they could have made the smart decision, and losing more or even all because of it. Flying headlong into obviously dangerous space. Not willing to take the time to be properly cautious. Putting all their eggs in one basket. Living paycheck to paycheck. Buying stupidly expensive suppplies. Zero safety stockpiles. Zero backup ships. Not buying rare weapons when they pop up. etc etc etc...the list goes on. Many people are just used to giving it zero thought because the game lets them.

As to end-game, see comments on balancing game for it. It really doesn't take much. Just changing costs and rewards.
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Solinarius

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Re: Seasonal Ladders
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2018, 10:25:20 PM »

I could see this being tremendous fun, if only to see a campaign mod with a truly hardcore environment, with the economy and attrition being critical considerations for players at all stages of the game. I'm sure the next update will help with that regardless.

On a side note, a scenario like Warband - Sword of Damocles could make for an interesting challenge. The Starsector version being a unique invading faction that activates the Domain gate and floods the sector with doomsday fleets that burninate colonized worlds. Fewer burninated worlds = more points.
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Sy

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Re: Seasonal Ladders
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2018, 11:16:27 AM »

@Sy
That's a lot of assumptions regarding SSs player base
indeed. assumptions are all any of us have here, after all.

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I would agree that based on what I've seen of the more visible players, I would agree that they tend to be more casual type gamers.
that's.. not what i meant at all, and i don't actually agree with it. :P
unless your definition of "casual type gamers" is strictly "not very interested in competitive ranking in a singleplayer game not designed for competitive ranking", which seems like a rather narrow and strange definition. in my experience, there are tons of people that are hugely passionate about this game, frequent nerdy discussions about seemingly tiny game details, and lots of people that spend a large amount of time playing and/or modding this game.

what i did mean was that this does not necessarily translate into interest for what you are suggesting. because your suggestion is quite different from (and, imo, in some ways even goes directly against) what these people love about the game.

Quote
However, that is nowhere near substantial enough evidence for the absolute terms with which you've used.
you'll note i specifically said "most players probably wouldn't be very interested in it", and "the number of players who actually spend a good amount of time in trying to get a good rank would likely be quite small". these are not absolute terms at all. because yeah, of course these are just my assumptions, based on what i've seen in the years i've been part of this community.


anyway, about most of the rest of your post, i think we'll just have to agree to disagree. ^^

if you wanna get a better idea of whether people here would be interested in a competitive campaign ranking system, i suggest just making a strawpoll with short description, and linking it here and in the fan discord (i can do the latter for you, if you aren't on the discord / don't want to use the discord).
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