Jump to content
MartinPL

On APB and competitive gameplay

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

I’m making this thread after being inspired by a conversation among some of my friends regarding the Russian community organizing an APB tournament. (Which, credit where it’s due, is pretty recognizable of them. If my memory serves me right, it’s usually been the Russian APB players who have been trying to organize APB tourneys.)

 

This is going to be a very long post. If you can’t (or can’t be bothered to) read through it, I’ll try to provide a summary of my points at the end of it — but I invite you to give the whole thing a read.

I’d like to emphasize this right now - this is just my opinion. I am not saying that this is an absolute truth or fact or anything of that sort. You are welcome to disagree, provide your own opinion and all that stuff. 

 

Without further ado...

 

-=-=-=-

 

Personally, I don’t think that APB in its current state is a game that is ready for competitive gameplay. I am not talking about the performance side of things, though obviously it would be a factor when it comes to having people actually play the game. Let’s leave the hitreg, bugs, issues and other problems on the side for a moment — I think that the biggest obstacles appear far before we run into that. 

There are a few reasons behind why I formed this opinion, most of which boil down to APB’s core design as a video game. I will try to list these reasons in a way that makes sense from a narrative point of view instead of ordering them by importance or anything of that sort. Starting with...

 

Randomness-Influenced Gameplay

 

The name of this section is not a technical term; I just made it up on the spot to describe what I have in mind. 

Even though mechanically APB has all the makings and potential of a skill-based shooter game — that being a diverse range of weapons, all of which have a specific purpose and are dangerous when put in the right hands or used in the right situation, and several ways of minmaxing performance both by the players and their equipment — ultimately it falls flat because there are still some things that cannot really be accounted for.

 

You can plan your choice of equipment in accordance to what is needed at the moment, by analysing enemy equipment or recalling the layout of the area you are supposed to be fighting in, but there will always be some things you cannot reliably predict. Let’s have our first example be traffic.

Our community as a whole doesn’t really know anything about the way APB handles traffic generation. Pretty much the only thing we know is that the city has streets which will occasionally have cars spawn on them. This alone creates situations where randomness may just decide the outcome of your next fight. You may or may not have an entire street filled with cars, letting you take brief cover behind them and approach the objective more safely than if the street was clear. Similarly, you may end up without any cars and far from even the closest car spawner, or you may have an ever-convenient Cisco appear before you, just in time to quickly get you closer to where you need to be.

 

What about pedestrians? This, of course, is less noticeable, as our fellow San Parians can’t really do much else than walk around, crouch in fear, run away when they hear gunfire or see an approaching car... but they can still stop bullets. And that one single bullet may just be the thing that saves you from dying. As I’ve said, this is a very slim and rare occurence, but it still can happen one day — and depending on which side you’re on, you may either be happy about that one bullet winning you the fight, or mad that the civilian got on the line of fire and denied you the kill.

 

Streetcars and pedestrians are both unavoidable elements of a city. San Paro would not feel like a believably true city if it did not contain them... and yet we, the players, don’t really use San Paro as a city.

 

A World Designed for Violence

 

City planning is a difficult thing. We have an entire profession dedicated to it, we have internet communities showcasing buildings that look and feel evil, we have video games focused around letting us build our fictional cities. Us humans have a clearly defined idea of what a city is meant to be — but do APB players know that? How long did it take you, dear reader, to realize that Financial and Waterfront are closed loops, with no exit roads in sight? And after this, I would like to follow up with a different question: Do you think of San Paro as of a city, or a collection of small fighting arenas?

 

I remember watching this one video which talked about America’s problem with school shootings and how some schools are being shaped specifically around trying to provide safety to children in the case of such a tragic event. The issue with creating a building with safety measures in a combat scenario is that the defensive capabilities eventually become their main purpose. That weird protruding wall in the school hall turns out not to be a goof on the side of the architect or the builders, but a deliberate choice — and once you realize that, the perspective of a mass shooting will be the only thing in your head whenever you look at it, looming over you as a grim reminder that a tragedy may occur here.

 

In video games, we usually see the inverse phenomenon — maps are designed for fair fights instead of comfort for living or actual use or functionality. At their very core, multiplayer maps are arenas engineered to provide a combat situation that lets both sides test their skills. It may be decorated like a city or its part, or made to look like a town altogether, but fundamentally they are just layouts, built around the gameplay mechanics of the game they are in.


Taking Counter-Strike: Global Offensive as our example — the Tunnels on Dust II... what purpose do they serve from a living standpoint? Suppose this were not a game map, but a part of an actual town that people live in: what role does this building serve? It has no closable doors, no discernible doors to any rooms inside... what is the point of it?

 

latest?cb=20140620005918

 

In gameplay, you never really have to pay attention to the functional side of things. It’s not what you’re there for. So why should you care? And, more importantly, why would you? It’s a part of a balanced map; is there any point in disputing its faithfulness to reality?

 

APB, however, is in a different situation. Its problem is that it has to be a believable city and a balanced battlefield — and at times, it doesn’t really know which one of those it wants to be. For an example of this, look no further than the highway/overpass stretching around Financial. There is an old video on which it was completed, but ultimately the highway was converted into this unfinished state, because it served the gameplay better to have it be unfinished, with dropped parts of it serving as ramps, and scaffolding being left next to it in several places. 

The districts themselves are filled with narrow corridors inside the buildings, fighting arenas neatly condensed into apartment blocks. If you pay attention to your surroundings, you will eventually notice that fighting spaces are confined in their city blocks, with barely ever any opportunities to shoot someone standing on the other side of the street. Most of the time in Financial you will not see any fire exchanges happen from two sides of a street. Sure, there are a few entrances to each spot every time, but all of the surrounding buildings act as giant walls containing the fight inside them.

 

vvxmESQ.jpg

 

HKUMung.jpg

 

C97ZoNv.jpg

 

This weird blend of plausible city architecture and shooting zones creates an experience that is neither 100% the former nor 100% the latter. Credit has to be given where it’s due — San Paro does a pretty good job of imitating an actual city. However, this creates a problem with the actual balancing of matches, simply because...

 

The Urban Jungle Does Not Care

 

Competitive environments in video games are expected to have as minimal randomness as possible. If you want a fair playing field, you expect to play a game that puts you up against the same environment as your enemy. 

This is why conventional 5CP maps in Team Fortress 2 have rotational symmetry. This is why traditional Capture The Flag maps in video games are symmetrical. You have to go through the same areas as your enemy, as otherwise you would be dealing with issues such as one team having a height advantage or straight up better angles and so on — and even if the gameplay is asymmetrical, the rules usually switch the sides for each team, so that the defending team gets a shot at attacking in the second half.

 

APB has none of that. We are members of one faction, pitted against the other faction in a mission. In order to maintain some impredictability, mission objectives are randomly chosen from designated spots within the district, so that you hardly ever (if at all) run into the exact same mission as before. If you lost all your defend stages and the final stage, that’s it; you don’t get to have a rematch against the same team with the same objectives, but as the attacker. The system actively tries to present you with an inherently different experience. Your best bet of a rematch is a prayer that the system picks your team against a different team for the second time, but in a different mission — which may still be a defend mission for your team.

 

What exacerbates the problem is that some areas of San Paro have become notorious for being very difficult to seize control of. Financial District’s Ferjandro Shipping, known by some as German Fortress, is a glaring example. Its rooftops offer a height advantage to almost all sides, with the south entrances being bottleneck corridors “hidden” behind ladders, and the entire north side not requiring any attention due to a building blocking the sightlines to those who don’t attack from either the west or the east.

Another notorious spot is Armory Wharf - Armstrong & Chen in Waterfront; it is the first warehouse north of Eva Orlandez, east of the “Fortuna Maria” Transport Ferry. If one team knows how to maintain a hold over this area, it’s exceptionally difficult for their opposition to breach through that defense, as they get a height advantage (since the only 1st floor entrance is a bottleneck in the form of a door) and the westmost balconies are only exposed from the east and the north-east direction.

Continuing: the roof of the Mist restaurant in Financial’s The Needles - Canalside is sniper heaven. If you are on said roof with a sniper rifle, you are constantly at a height advantage from all sides, with the only real threat coming from its southern neighbor, the Hope Mall — and even then, all it takes is to take a step back to get out of its render distance.

 

If the game’s mission logic decides to put an objective in any of these places, the ensuing fight for control of the area will sometimes go on for several minutes depending on the skill level of the players. This exact problem is what gives these places their reputation. Often times, the players lose morale when they see where the mission is taking them, before anything even happens.

 

The architecture of the city is, at the same time, that of a believable metropolis, and that of a laser tag arena. The randomness of objective placement can end up deciding the outcome of the match simply by putting the mission items in a spot that’s easier or harder to take control of. Redesigning the entire map, or creating a district map around the idea of making each spot perfectly balanced is out of the question. Doing so would ultimately be a rejection of APB’s roots as a third-person shooter game focused on urban combat — and what we would get in return are environments that may seem more fair, but ultimately end up being cookie-cutter pieces on flat ground that get rearranged every so often.

This leaves us with a single question: how much "urban" can you have in an environment for it to be believable and still fair to the players?

 

TL;DR:

  • There are small things (such as traffic density, traffic movement, and pedestrian activity) that cannot be controlled or predicted by the players, but can potentially impact the missions.
  • San Paro tries to look like a city you could believe exists somewhere in the world, but has elements of architecture more designed around gunfights and the use of cover.
  • The aforementioned “architecture for violence” creates a playing experience which is inherently imbalanced, in the sense of two sides not being faced with the same challenge in the same fight.

 

-=-=-=-

 

As I’ve said in the intro to this post, I don’t consider this to be undisputable truth; it’s just my opinion. If you disagree, that’s okay. If you have any feedback, whether it’s in agreement or disagreement, I would love to read your post!

Edited by MartinPL
typo correction
  • Like 10
  • Thanks 2
  • Confused 1
  • Dislike 10

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i agree that apb isn't ready for competitive gameplay, but i think this is a pretty obvious fact?

 

my opinion is that RNG is the primary reason apb will never be competitive; you mention random objectives and civilians (honorable mention to the spawn system as well), but apb is a pvp shooter first and almost every single weapon is balanced around the inclusion of RNG - from initial accuracy to spread/bloom to damage dropoff

 

this heavy reliance on a mechanic that actively reduces the effect of player skill is what hampers apb more than the poor balance or bad performance

 

 

21 minutes ago, MartinPL said:

Most of the time in Financial you will not see any fire exchanges happen from two sides of a street.

i find the opposite to be true honestly

 

because each block is intended to be it's own "separate" little arena there was almost no focus put on how players would traverse between these arenas, resulting in the best way to defend your city block often being an aggressive push outwards in order to catch your opponents while they're exposed in the streets

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you are posing interesting questions. Asymmetry and random factors in competitive games is not necessarily a bad thing. We can usually mitigate the issues that these factors would introduce by increasing our sample size. Lets say we estimate based on skill rankings that team A has a 80% chance to win and team B has a 20% chance. If both teams play against each other for 5 matches, theoretically team A would win 4 of the 5 matches. However, in practice it might be the case that team B defies the odds and wins all 5 matches. If we can increase our sample size to a larger number such as 100, we can decrease the overall effect of the random factors, which would then favor team A (the better team). The chance of team B taking the win is still always there. But the idea is that there will never be a perfect game. The only way to get around imbalances in a competitive environment is to keep playing the game until enough matches have been played to clearly declare a winner. There is a good presentation given by Richard Garfield here which I would recommend. Also check out this video if you want something a bit more succinct.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

APB is an RNG nightmare of a game that only offers a level playing field once you are r255 and either have spent money on ARMAS or have collected an absurd amount of both Joker Tickets and in game cash. 

 

Add to that interference by players not in missions, add to that the bounty system, add to that the civilians, add to that no two missions being the same, add to that defense being easier than offense, add to that the poor spawn system...

 

I guess what I'm saying is, APB would have to become a different game on an almost fundamental level in order for fair competition to even be possible... and all this before you consider whether or not people would even enjoy this new APB.

 

tl;dr competitive APB is not possible unless APB is changed into a fair game... which it currently is not

 

Also, does no one remember @SKay's attempt at organizing a tournament? 

(I do buddy... I do)

 

 

 

Edited by CookiePuss
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, yungflyninja said:

what makes u think apb esports is possible if my fps is capped at 146

Of all the myriad reasons why APB can't be competitive, THIS is your reason?

 

 

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, CookiePuss said:

Of all the myriad reasons why APB can't be competitive, THIS is your reason?

 

 

A game can't be competitive unless I can get 300fps despite my monitor only showing 60fps.

  • Like 1
  • Dislike 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, NotZombieBiscuit said:

A game can't be competitive unless I can get 300fps despite my monitor only showing 60fps.

...seems legit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, MartinPL said:

I’m making this thread after being inspired by a conversation among some of my friends regarding the Russian community organizing an APB tournament. (Which, credit where it’s due, is pretty recognizable of them. If my memory serves me right, it’s usually been the Russian APB players who have been trying to organize APB tourneys.)

 

AND my experince on every game that i've played, was:

 

Quote

Every russian ruin my game experience with sum cheats.

 

bye!

  • Haha 1
  • Dislike 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Offline said:

~snip~

If you google such things, Americans are the biggest cheaters.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry, I only read the summary, but I disagree, the game has a lot of meta strategy, unlike CS in my opinion, part of the mission is forcing the map positioning to your advantage, this is probably the main reason why I can't play CS anymore, IMO you get no more fun once you learn a map. Another thing in the game that supports this part of the meta strategy is that the teams don't always start in this or that position, missions may send you to the same area from different directions and timings (reaching first or last), thus the advantage of a location can turn to a disadvantage, instead you should rely on some plan to thwart that.

  • Dislike 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, CookiePuss said:

If you google such things, Americans are the biggest cheaters.

Only because the majority of players are American. if you ratio it out it wouldn't be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, NotZombieBiscuit said:

Only because the majority of players are American. if you ratio it out it wouldn't be.

If you play games online and face a cheater, the odds are in favor of it being an American over any other nationality. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Maybe if we get some players there could be some ranked . In the end apb does have some tactical game play.

Like switching to weapons which suits the environment better, push or not, how you defend/complete the objective, etc. Or one guy with a sniper and the other with the fwb secondary ftw. 

 

Think only real issue with ranked atm is.. You'll face the same over and over again. Maybe if you turn off crim v enfo in ranked it would give a higher variation. (and some more ranked friendly missions?) 

Edited by PraiseTheSun
  • Dislike 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

My money is on China is the biggest population of cheaters for games, by a metric landslide. Especially if you include phone based games. I dont know how anybody can be confused about that, considering China has been producing hacks and farming any and every possible game for resources that can translate into RL money since all the way back to Meridian 59 aka the first ever graphical MMO ever released.

 

Blizzard alone bans literally tens of millions of Chinese cheaters every single year across all of their games. No other country remotely comes close. Not Brazil, not Turkey, not America, nobody. I only added Turkey in there at the end because they have the largest cheating population in both Microvolts, Dofus and a few other cheating f2p games.

 

Also OP post was pretty good, gg!

Edited by Ohshii

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After engine upgrade drops this game needs a leaderboards mmr system with a ranked district locked to soloQ only

 

ranked grants 30% more exp and apb$ 

 

add 4v4 Clan matches for g1c *this could be a monthly thing*

 

Add a district server locked to lvl 9 to 40 for Ts and bronzes

 

Balance weapons 

 

Np matt scott

  • Dislike 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, yungflyninja said:

add 4v4 Clan matches for g1c *this could be a monthly thing*

 

Add a district server locked to lvl 9 to 40 for Ts and bronzes

 

4v4 clan matches would be full of lame tactics players and cheaters, remember, no active admin on this game. (I know, they are "invisible", but considering the number of hackers that still lives on this game, admins aren't just active at all...)

A district server locked is pretty useless, simple example : just recreate an account to access these districts and have fun farming newbies, this game is free-to-play isn't it ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, rSyk said:

 

4v4 clan matches would be full of lame tactics players and cheaters, remember, no active admin on this game. (I know, they are "invisible", but considering the number of hackers that still lives on this game, admins aren't just active at all...)

A district server locked is pretty useless, simple example : just recreate an account to access these districts and have fun farming newbies, this game is free-to-play isn't it ?

if u go out of your way to recreate a new trainee account to farm trainees and bronzes then I feel bad for u

 

Also 4v4 clan matches could restrict certain weapons like explosives (opgl,etc)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, yungflyninja said:

if u go out of your way to recreate a new trainee account to farm trainees and bronzes then I feel bad for u

 

Also 4v4 clan matches could restrict certain weapons like explosives (opgl,etc)

Unfortunaly, most of APB players don't care about your bad feelings for them.
As they don't care when they hack, glitch or use lame tactics to win.

Restricting weapons is similar to modify entire gameplay, all weapons are part of the game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, rSyk said:

Unfortunaly, most of APB players don't care about your bad feelings for them.
As they don't care when they hack, glitch or use lame tactics to win.

Restricting weapons is similar to modify entire gameplay, all weapons are part of the game.

Its just a common thing for arranged matches.
All parties involved will agree on what can and cant be used prior to the match.

This allows players to avoid the parts of the game they do not enjoy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, CookiePuss said:

Its just a common thing for arranged matches.
All parties involved will agree on what can and cant be used prior to the match.

This allows players to avoid the parts of the game they do not enjoy.

Can I avoid every part of the game then?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, NotZombieBiscuit said:

Can I avoid every part of the game then?

No.

If I have to suffer, so do you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...