abstract symmetry in strategy games

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abstract symmetry in strategy games

Postby Midnight_Carnival » February 21st, 2017, 8:58 pm

:doh: :doh: :doh:
Sorry, one of my pet rants.

I understand the principles behind this, you want things to be equal for each player, nobody wants to attribute winning or losing (especially in competitive online gaming) to having started off in the rubbish place with fewer resources, less area to build on or major tactical and strategic disadvantages.
So the temptation arises in so many games to simply make a "pretty flower pattern map" in which the map is almost mirrored along the number of axis as there are players.
But that's horrible!

Do you know that Wesnoth is one of the few games I can sort of tolerate this in (even if it still bugs me)? This is because no-one playing this game in under the illusion that the terrain is meant to be "realistic" in anyway. A 2D mountain, which is so high you can't cross it, occupies the same amount of space as a town which consists of 1 house the unfortunate inhabitant of which gets taxed the hell out of by various conquering armies and has to bandage hundred of elves as well as epoxy skeletons back together!

But there are many games out there where the designers have put a lot of effort into the terrain (not saying you guys didn't here!), making it interesting, pretty and if not "realistic", then at least really convincing... and then people insult them by making thousands of crappy abstract flower maps with the emphasis on exact symmetry.

It's lazy, its ugly, it's no fun to play.

If people have put so much effort into letting you design great custom levels and scenarios, is it so much effort for you to design one in which offers a balanced playing experience for all players without looking like a sodding abstract fractal pattern? :hmm:
What about "unbalanced symmetry" in which each player has an advantage offset by a weakness and the map has been carefully crafted to give no one a definite advantage or restrict player's style.
Many, in fact I'd go so far as to say most, strategy games with editors which allow users to do this sort of thing, but "it's too much work", "I can't see any practical way to balance it", "there would always be an advantage to someone" - in short, I'm not smart enough, not creative enough and I'm just too lazy.

Come on, be honest now, raise your hands if you've churned out abstract symmetrical "flower maps" for games. StarCraft 1 is the worst for this! My hand is up, I'm not proud of myself, but I've done it!
what about you?
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.
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Re: abstract symmetry in strategy games

Postby zookeeper » February 21st, 2017, 9:38 pm

I wonder, how insurmountable of a challenge would it be to actually produce an asymmetrical yet balanced (and not otherwise outright bizarre) Wesnoth multiplayer map?
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Re: abstract symmetry in strategy games

Postby The_Gnat » February 22nd, 2017, 1:58 am

Hello I agree sincerely with midnight carnival!

I'd rather be beaten in an unbalanced unfair map that looks great than win in a symmetrical map. (That said I have always been one who does not mind getting beaten)

I do think (despite their unrealism) that wesnoth maps can be very appealling to view and I believe a good map shouldn't sacrifice the quality of the map in a pursuit of balance.

Also no matter what situation you are in nothing will ever be completly balanced.
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Re: abstract symmetry in strategy games

Postby Mint » February 22nd, 2017, 4:09 am

Believe it or not, many (most?) of the players who have made 1v1 or 2v2 maps in the past few years have striven to make totally symmetrical maps. I definitely prefer asymmetrical maps.

It's also worth noting that on totally symmetrical 1v1 maps, most of the time p1 an advantage since p1 moves first.
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Re: abstract symmetry in strategy games

Postby Midnight_Carnival » February 22nd, 2017, 1:50 pm

zookeeper wrote:I wonder, how insurmountable of a challenge would it be to actually produce an asymmetrical yet balanced (and not otherwise outright bizarre) Wesnoth multiplayer map?


I was jumping out of my seat with excitement when I read this and about to upload a ton... then I read the bit about it not being totally bizarre :augh: not my strong suit.

The_Gnat(who doesn't mind losing)
Miyamoto Musashi wrote:Generally speaking the way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death
8)
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.
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Re: abstract symmetry in strategy games

Postby Sapient » February 22nd, 2017, 3:05 pm

exact symmetry


That may be a common misconception, but most of those maps that appear to be exactly symmetrical actually contain small differences to offset player 1 advantage (if we're talking about core here). Over the course of a long game, these little changes can even add up to player 2's advantage.

Still I think I understand your gripe, with wanting a more natural/random looking overall layout. There are some in core but those are mostly FFA-oriented, e.g. Forest of Fear, The Wilderlands.
As for my own map pack, I definitely tried to make a few in the past, but I just didn't have the persistence or knowledge to properly balance them.
http://www.wesnoth.org/wiki/User:Sapient... "Looks like your skills saved us again. Uh, well at least, they saved Soarin's apple pie."
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Re: abstract symmetry in strategy games

Postby Samonella » February 22nd, 2017, 3:50 pm

Sapient wrote:
exact symmetry

That may be a common misconception, but most of those maps that appear to be exactly symmetrical actually contain small differences to offset player 1 advantage (if we're talking about core here). Over the course of a long game, these little changes can even add up to player 2's advantage.

Ohhhhhhhhh so that's why player 2 starts with a captured village in Caves of the Basilisk. Lol that has been puzzling me for a long time.
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