4 player coop?? - Zulu's Revenge! AKA: Why coop doesn't work

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The GoldFish
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4 player coop?? - Zulu's Revenge! AKA: Why coop doesn't work

Postby The GoldFish » Mon Sep 29, 2008 3:12 am

Hello!

Just thought I'd publically post about this neat modfication of Fort Zulu I made. It's called Zulu's revenge. There's no turrets, and there's 4 players all cooperatively defending. It's not very good. I'm not that certain that the evilinians will actually "defeat" the AI - the balence is very slight... generally it WILL overun without the walls and with reinforcements set to 30... but with walls and 33, I'm not sure. Who knows!

Anyway, it's one of those ideas that has been floating around on IRC and has recently started to come up on the forums; It's a coop defence against an evilwinian (ie AI) assault, but, there are some major flaws. They're mainly because of the way the game works, or as I would prefer to refer to it in some cases, doesn't work consistantly. You may prefer think of this thread as why coop doesn't work...

Anyway, I like to think of coop defence as things stand currently as the total opposite of defcon: the only LOSING move is not to play. You actually genuinly can't lose. If the evilinians do destroy the WMD, or if you destroy their WMD (or they destroy their own WMD), the game won't actually end. The time will stop for about 10 seconds, and then just decice to carry on. In the case of trunkport reinforcements, generally it will disable these, but for this map at least, you won't technically lose, even if the time runs out after the WMD is destroyed. You can however successfully defend, apparently.

Another issue is that, as mentioned, evilinians and futurewinians will happily destroy the WMD they are supposed to be defending. This may be because some buildings assigned to these teams are assumed to be neutral buildings, and once they take control of the control positions it decides that it has been captured and explodes, which possibly indicates 2 issues - buildings that aren't on team 0-3 (edit - I dont think this is necesserily that teams that have no player position assoicated with them are -1ed. because a team 3 triffid on a 3 player game didn't crash the game out, the unit as culled in real time), but are on 4 or 5, are treated as if they were on -1, rather than keeping their valid team status. On top of this, you can actually assign the team of the WMD to be linked to attacking team, then the defending team will blow it up. The process doesn't seem to actually check if the team taking control is attacking or defending, just that it's not allied with whatever the team the WMD is (it might not even check the allied status, I didn't check this finer point).

Further to the buildings issue mentioned above, triffids set to team 4 or 5 will crash the game as soon as they fire. This really makes life more difficult for making a coop map, since these are the only way the map author can attack the coop team with viral units consistantly as the map progresses. You could eg have a 3 player map and assign them to missing fourth player, but the egg will be culled as soon as it's fired. I can only assume that as I suggested above, they're not being kept on team 4, and that they're trying to create eggs on team -1, which is invalid for units apparently, and hard crashes the game.

On top of this, one of the problems highlighted with Zulu's revenge is that, a) the noturret range for trunk ports seems to be REALLY REALLY BIG (ie, you can't place turrets near trunk ports) and, the spawn points and trunk ports of your allies prevent you from placing turrets just as much as your enemy's would. This means that for zulu's revenge, you can only place turrets on the outer ring. The radius for trunk ports seems to be waay too massive. Here's some pictures of the issue;
Can't place turrets here or here, you have to go this far away from the trunk ports of your allies to be able to place a turret, apparently.

Also, the icons which appear on the map selection for the player roles within a level have nothing to do with the actual roles available within a map - they seem to be arbritrary. On top of this, this applies to the ability of players to pick a team within the lobby. On top of this, if any of the teams try to assign themselves to a position the map says they don't have access to, it seems to overide the map's settings and set the teams up as the lobby thinks should occur, so in the case of Zulu's revenge, you end up with 2 defenders and 2 attackers all in the same fort. And the evilinians. So yeah you're pretty doomed if you do that.

Finally, the game is designed to prevent a player having too large an advantage/disadvantage versus another. This applies to evilinians and our coop team too. There's not a lot to be done about that, really. The problem becomes greater the more coop members you have. On top of this, coop defence is hard to balence for, because the quantity and spawn rate of the enemies will remain basically constant, or even decrease. There would need to be an easier way to "ramp it up" and make the situation more dire as time progresses. As I said in another topic, the issue is that, if you can survive for 1 minute, you can survive for 10 minutes.

edit OH And another thing;
Assault reinforcement powerups seem to only be available to playable positions. Since trunk port reinforcements are scuppered by buildings being changed from their specified team for evils or futures, you might think this is linked to that, but, it sems to be a seperate issue caused by the same original functionality.

The jist of this is, coop isn't really supported even remotely. The ability to use assault to make pretend coop is VASTLY limited; it doesn't work safely, and it isn't really that much fun to play either. My reccomendation is avoid until IV show some interest in implimenting it as an actual supported gametype, so we can make our own levels for it.

Right, now that's all out of the way; here's mp_q4_zulusrevengeTGF_2.txt tada; text file for reference, and rar download - read the readme or just extract to your multiwinia directory, if you want to try it out. I wouldn't bother, really. Oh, if you DO get overrun, just let people know that the game will never end, and exit.

A final note, that isn't actually an issue with coop, sometimes the evils I think get a particular weapon crate. Then the game will freeze up and use 100% CPU usage of whichever CPU it's on (I hope you have a dual core). I have no idea what causes this specifically because the game doesn't crash out. it may be an issue attached to the map, or it may simply be a general issue with evilwinians and a specific crate, I'm not sure, really.

- TGF
Last edited by The GoldFish on Tue Sep 30, 2008 2:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Donat » Mon Sep 29, 2008 3:46 am

Co-op is only fun when you can rely on your partner, and occasionally depend on them.

I submit that this does not work the best for multiwinia. I think maybe massive on massive battles where flanking comes into light i think it may work. Most maps are not open areas thou, and are constricted from little chokepoints.
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Postby The GoldFish » Mon Sep 29, 2008 4:20 am

It's more than likely that a fun coop map could be made for playing vs the AI, where a few of the gameplay issues can be bypassed by making it impossible to hold out, and design the map so that the players just have to fail slowly enough for the WMD to win them the game.

However, the majority of the core issues with game buildings etc make the affair less than worthwhile, at current.
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Postby Aegis Tyra » Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:09 pm

If the devs don't plan to add Co-Op mode, I'd hope they at least iron out these issues so players can create their own.
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Postby lorant » Tue Sep 30, 2008 10:36 am

The Goldfish, could you describe a bit more the issues you're talking about? I'm trying to do a small "proof of concept" map for such cooperative play, mainly to see if it would be fun or not. The issues I've encountered so far are:

- no support for more than 2 players team (i.e. 3v1 doesn't work);

- no support for empty teams (i.e. neither 4 player coop, nor 2v0);

- no support for evilinians or futurewinians as member of a team;

These 3 issues make it currently impossible to have a fully cooperative map. However, in some game mode (e.g. domination, king of the hill), I think you can workaround this:

- I think that in a fully cooperative map, the players should fight against either evilinians or futurewinians, because 1) they are immediately recognized as AI player, and 2) they are stronger than normal player, which help keep the game balanced;

- spawn points currently cannot be created for EWG of FWG from start; however if you create a neutral spawn point and a small group of EWG/FWG near it, they take control of it;

- you can add virii, spiders, centipedes, spore generators to the EWG team, to help balance the map;

The hard part is to design a map where all players would decide to fight together against EWG rather than fight each other; the really hard part is to make it fun.

As for issues with buildings, these are the only ones I've seen so far:

- triffids in the EWG team make the game crash (but they work in other teams);

- trunk port in the EWG or FWG just doesn't work.
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Postby zach » Tue Sep 30, 2008 1:23 pm

lorant wrote:The hard part is to design a map where all players would decide to fight together against EWG rather than fight each other;

Well, this isn't really up to the player, but rather the Multiwinians. Having to stay at least a grenade length away from your team-mates isn't really acceptable as 'coop'.

So, it must be a question of getting people on the same team, etc. Not that I know much of this, as I haven't experienced a lot.
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Postby lorant » Tue Sep 30, 2008 1:53 pm

What I have in mind is a 2v2 map, with the evilinians thrown in the middle, controlling some key feature (e.g. spawn points, or scoring zones). The map should be designed such that 2 players is not enough to defeat the EWG, so that both team should at first cooperate to free the infested area. As you said, some occasional fights among isolated MWG is (currently) unavoidable, but the players can choose to send their army against EWG first.

In the end, of course, the two teams will have to fight each other...
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Postby The GoldFish » Tue Sep 30, 2008 1:54 pm

Well, if you'd spent a minute or two trying to play Zulu's revenge you'd have seen that it has 4 players allied with one another vs no one else. This only "works" however, and it only "works" on assault (which really is one of the best game modes to use as a base for coop anyway), where you can force the coop teams, and it's VERY VERY EASY to upset the coop. You CAN do 3v1, 2v0, 3v0 and 4v0, but NOT in the game menu. Provided you leave the selection as "random", you'll be ok, and the attacking team and coop groups will apparently remain enforced for assault maps. The only problem is that unless there are players on both sides, the way the game decides if there is a winner or not really goes to shit.

In fact, Zulu's revenge is pretty much a proof of coop concept map in itself.

I have seen trunk ports on Evil and Future teams work, and spawn points too. They just usually get relegated to team -1, which is why you think they don't work. 6 player maps apparently "work" and allow evils and futures to spawn in through trunk ports and have control of spawn points at map start, however, they may not have actually been in positions 4/5, I'm not sure. This would have allowed people to control them too, except this didn't seem to work at all, I think something prevents it implicitly. This is perculiarly inconsistant with the fact that on a 2 player map, teams 2 and 3 triffids are NOT changed to be team -1, but their units are culled, and they won't crash. It's a perculiar inconsistancy; Oh, and triffids on team 4/5 on 6 player maps don't crash the game either. It's possible I'm wrong, and that there's just an issue with map born triffids, however, on a 6 (or 5) player version of my biosphere assault map that I was working on, the evils/futures didn't blow up the WMD the game had decided to give them control of, which generally suggests that there's some skulduggery going on with changing things to -1, ie that I'm right.

I'm fairly confident that map makers COULD make fun coop maps if they had the facility to do so. The problem really is all the work so far has been going into making multiwinia into multiwinia.

I don't think I can really be that much more clear about the issues I've brought up so far than I already have been. The only really passable option for having a "decent" test coop map is to have a 3v3 6 player map, and only invite 2 other people to the party (the net code really can't handle 6 players unless you have phat pipes), making sure to pick your teams so youre allied in accordance to the map, and designing the whole thing in that regard (with 3 AIs). This is too much hassle for me to want to bother with right now, but it would fix a lot of the issues I bring up. The only issue might be the alliance held from certain units (eg soul destroyers) spawned from triffids, which I would hope common sense would prevent you from doing anyway.

Here's a screen grab and a copy of the biosphere map I've stopped working on, maybe there's something in it that you'll find useful;

Image

mp_q6_biosphereTGF_0.txt

As an FYI, as a map this is TOTALLY a work in progress, or in fact a work I've put on hold. Please don't try and play it casually because it is totally broken, I'm still working out how to use the newly modified radars...
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Postby lorant » Tue Sep 30, 2008 2:35 pm

Sorry, I totally missed the download link to your map on my first read! :( I feel really stupid now. Your experiments go much further than what I had in mind.

Also, I never tried to increase the player count above 4, that's probably why I had issues with trunk ports, and size of teams (and why triffids made my game crash when set to team 4).

I still think that it would be possible to bring cooperative play into the current game modes, without introducing a new mode. In DOM and KOTH there's only a few issue to "fix" for this to be possible:

- ability to use EWG (and FWG) as a team without making them playable (i.e., allow buildings set to team 4 and 5 on maps with only 4 players, and allow 4 and 5 in coop groups);

- ability to define PopultationCap for EWG separately (something like DefenderCap);

Assault and Rocket Riot modes are probably more challenging. Not sure about Blitzkrieg and CTS.
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Postby The GoldFish » Tue Sep 30, 2008 3:25 pm

The main reason to use a literally seperate gametype is so that there is no risk to the other gametypes for any changes made in favour of coop, allowing specific segregation of maps which WOULD have to be made specifically for coop, and should hopefully allow for the a normal AI/evils/futures to have different/preferential treatment to normal players, specific powerup granting utilities, power up sets, and other buildings for the purposes of enhancing coop. It might well be possible to have coop maps additionally seperated by a gametype, although in my opinion, quite a few of the gametypes do not directly lend themselves to coop without large modification to the way the gametype works itself out. Coop Assault, blitz and domination lend themselves fairly directly to idea of coop play with the least modification, though blitz doesn't sound like it would work especially well as coop. Rocket riot would work with a lot of modification (in the direction of coop mixed attack AND defence vs the evils), however the gametypes which depend on time aspects as there's no clear victory condition, such as CTS and Koth, would appeal to me the least. They might work out ok, though, it depends what people want.

Anyway, to hopefully put what you're saying into the actual context of what's going on;

Ability to prevent the auto cull of units outside of the playable positions, either implicitly or via multiwinia option (ideally the latter, via specifying AI only teams)

Ability to prevent the auto change of buildings to -1 if their team is nonplayable but viable, either implicitly or via multiwinia option (ideally the latter, via specifying AI only teams)

Ability to have unbalenced teams defined within map files supported within game menu ui, when not present use existing behavoir as default.

Obviously, I'd want to have access to a lot more tools for improving/developing coop play, so that the gamestate for modes like coop assault and rocket riot coop need not be wholly defined at the start of the map.
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Postby The GoldFish » Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:37 am

Having investigated control stations, it seems they can be used to get around a large quantity of the issues relating to buildings being changed from the team you wanted them to be.

The issue is keeping the players away from said control stations.

Anyway, you could use them, with sufficient local instant units, to change the team of triffids, trunk ports for the purposes of reinforcements (which might be a useful mechanic to use generally, allowing players to fight over trunk ports for reinforcements, and to change the team of the WMD, which might also be a useful mechanic in some way. Basically it's a useful tool for bypassing a lot of the issues currently presenting themselves. They're also a useful tool for making blitzkrieg really insane (probably, anyway).

I'll see if I can't hook up Zulu's revenge 3, with doom triffid barrages later on today...

edit - Well; it works in principal, but, the triffids seem to auto suicide after a couple of volleys, which pretty much ruins things! Still, control stations are a way around some issues, but they're far from perfect.
-- The GoldFish - member of former GIT and commander in chief of GALLAHAD. You could have done something, but it's been fixed. The end. Also, play bestgameever!
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Postby Major Cooke » Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:37 am

The GoldFish wrote:edit - Well; it works in principal, but, the triffids seem to auto suicide after a couple of volleys, which pretty much ruins things! Still, control stations are a way around some issues, but they're far from perfect.


'Tis sad indeed that triffids need to die like that. I don't see why Multiwinians won't consider the triffids themselves evil and just lob grenade hell at them.
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Postby xander » Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:19 pm

You bumped a months dead topic for that?!

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Postby Major Cooke » Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:08 pm

xander wrote:You bumped a months dead topic for that?!

xander


Never knew it was old... I followed a link from a recent topic, and didn't bother checking the dates. Slips the mind at times. Whoopsie.

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