We need more game modes: a discussion

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  • I’d want to hear everyone’s thoughts on the idea of adding more game modes to TF2 (whether it is HL or 6s).

    For the longest time ever, the only game modes played in both formats were payload, cp and koth. Then they removed cp from HL because it “sucked”.

    Where to begin… well, first, I’d want to say that it sounds kind of hypocritical to only play 2.5 (yes 2.5 you will understand later) gamemodes because the other ones “suck”. If we are going to take a game and make to “competitive”, shouldn’t we try our best to incorporate all of them? I can understand that a lot of maps are okay-ish in pubs, but once you throw 6 or 9 players in them it turns into a shit fest, but then, why can’t we just make more maps, or try some other ones?

    I know that a lot of people will just reply to this thread saying that “they suck”, but I’d like for you to think for a moment, we still play cp_steel. It’s the only cp map we play in HL. I get that a lot of people won’t want to just play cp_process again, or gullywash. I know that a bunch of maps were tested for HL “back in the days” (how long ago really was that, 6-8 years ago, lol?) The game hasn’t fundamentally changed, but since the beginning of comp TF2 I don’t recall anyone ever trying to play things like payload race, CTF was taken away really early (by people who most likely don’t even play the game anymore).

    Maybe if we encouraged these game modes more instead of shutting them down for being “horrible”, map makers would spend more time, let’s say, trying to figure out how to make a CTF map for highlander, or another cp map like steel, instead of making more payload maps and koth maps that are “annoying” to play. That’s a word I hear very often, “annoying”. Look at the maps we are playing, we are literally playing default valve maps, which are far from being perfect, and the most known HL map (product) is a “simple” edit of a valve pub map.

    How many of you guys have actually played CTF? How many of you guys have actually tried PL race? The mapping tool is horrible, but mappers now have so much more knowledge and talent than in the past (go boot up cp_science, I dare you), I don’t understand how it would not be possible to at least give it a test run. The game is already stale as it is right now, it seems like a logical thing to expand on the game modes we already have in the game rather than just spam the same 10 maps over and over then shit on valve for not updating their game.

    And this doesn’t stop there. Look at the current halloween event, there is a fucking map where you can 3v3. It’s literally an MGE inside of koth. Imagine if you added that to 6s, or even HL. Wouldn’t that already make it more appealing in a way (not 3v3, but it would be possible to change it to 2v2). What about a mode where it’s just a kill fest where people collect points and need to score them? Isn’t koth one big DM fest anyways? Wouldn’t that just come to the same point in the end? Teams being able to DM and coordinate at the same time. And that’s just to name a few.

    Once again, I get that a lot of the default valve maps just suck once you fit only a handful of players in them, but I still think that with a collective effort it would be something to try. I know most invite players / advanced will probably turn these ideas down, call them stupid and that they “suck” but you also have you remind yourself that you are now a minority. Most players in RGL right now are not coming from 2014-2015, or even earlier. They’re from 2018-19-20, they haven’t seen UGC, they haven’t had to experience the horrible admins back then (sorry), the horrible maps, the horrible dev work, etc.

    Imagine a season where your team not only has to prepare for these koth maps, these payload maps, but you also have to practice your MGE even more for that 2v2 gamemodes, to practice your team coordination for PL race, etc. This applies to both 6s and HL. We need innovation, and I don’t think spamming more koth maps or pl maps is the answer, we already have enough of those, people aren’t going to want to learn yet another shitty variation of upward or ashville, people want new stuff to play, people want to get that adrenaline rush from playing something new and feeling like they’re having fun.

  • Let me just begin by clarifying that I don’t disagree with this post in principle in the slightest. Having unique ways to play the game that challenge players to outsmart their opponents, especially as opposed to just winning DM fights, is an excellent thing.

    That being said, I think there are a number of logistical problems with actually trying to add new gamemodes to our existing formats of comp tf2 that it is not sustainable in our current community with its size and focus. Note that, as a baseline to compare against, it is hard enough to add new maps for existing gamemodes to any of the formats - they face stiff resistance, it is near impossible to get serious playtesting done short of actually adding the map to an EXP Cup, one of which happens at best twice a year, and mapmakers may be apprehensive to create new maps for a community that just tends to stick to its preconceived notions about them anyway. Note that I believe that, volume of maps to be tested permitting, frequent EXP cups, if not to actually determine whether a map is suitable for inclusion in a regular season to give the mapmaker feedback on how to improve it so as to make it more fun or playable, are an ecellennt idea and if they were implemented, would make this idea a whole lot more feasible.

    For gamemodes like KoTH, 5CP, and Payload, there are clear mapping standards for competitively viable maps - for example, for KoTH, there is the clear area-connector-area-connector-area-midpoint layout that most maps tend to follow, and for Payload there’s the unwritten rule that for each point there tends to be only one strong hold - such standards do not exist for other gamemodes and would require mapmakers already familiar with how comp tf2 plays (who are already few and far between) to improvise and theorycraft the map design such that it would not follow a standard that works in pubs but cannot work in comp.

    Take for example the standard layout of Capture the Flag maps. Setting aside the outdated layouts of 2fort or Sawmill that make you literally go into a basement with two chokepoints to retrieve the intel, even on modern and well-designed maps like Landfall, the intel is right next to its team’s spawn, meaning that against a competent team, especially one with classes like Engineer, for example, retrieving the intel with just a dry push would be near impossible, and you would need Uber AND significant other advantages to retrieve the intel - other advantages like players up to get close enough to the intel to take it in a clean Uber push, and Uber to actually reach the intel (god forbid the other team has Uber too).

    This is not to say that CTF is competitively unviable. It might very well be, but there might very well be an ideal CTF map design that maximizes both fun and competitive rigour for players in one of our existing competitive formats. The problem is that this ideal map design is so far unknown, meaning that mapmakers would have to play with simple trial and error to figure out what that map design is, which, given the constraints that already exist for competitive map designers and the mental block many people would have to seriously giving feedback for a CTF map and considering its merits (and knowing what feedback to give!) makes it a formidable task for any mapmaker that requires significant personal time and effort investment, and not necessarily one that will pay off.

    Then there is the problem that some gamemodes have fundamental flaws that make it impossible to make a map that is competitively rigorous. For example, Mannpower has random power-up spawns, making it possible for one team to beat another through pure luck of the draw on what power-ups spawned on their side. Obviously, this is bad. Then, Player Destruction (the format you mentioned "What about a mode where it’s just a kill fest where people collect points and need to score them? ") has a gamebreaking flaw in that the player carrying the most points on each team has the self- and area-healing and ammo restore power at the rate of e Level 1 Dispenser, which makes it a whole lot harder for a team to kill any players who simply stick to their “team leader” as I believe the mechanic calls that player.

    This is not to say that these barriers are insurmountable. For sure, my post is a bit disingenuous - you’re making an idealistic appeal, but I’m responding by citing realistic barriers, and not ones that cannot be overcome with enough willpower. My question is simply if that willpower actually exists. I believe that with enough effort, enough changes to the community to allow for, for example, more frequent EXP cups to give mapmakers feedback, and enough accommodation by existing players who encourage forward thinking mapmakers, anything you said in this post is possible. Am I for it? Also yes, but I’d definitely not be the one spearheading it just because of how much effort it is. What do you say about these challenges?

  • For what it’s worth, there are a couple of Steel-likes being worked on right now, one originally intended for sixes and one intended for HL. This is an avenue that people do recognize as being full of potential and they are putting time and effort toward it, and that’s great!

    That being said, I would disagree that Payload maps are all Upward clones or whatnot. IMO the Payload maps in current rotation are all fairly distinct from one another. And as much as I detest Borneo and will never ever vote for it to be put into a season, I wouldn’t say that “being like Upward” is a possible description of its faults.

  • @gobitoe have you heard of cre-lander?

  • Sorry for using shitty format for quotes;
    @vibeisveryo

    • Note that, as a baseline to compare against, it is hard enough to add new maps for existing gamemodes to any of the formats - they face stiff resistance

    I think that is true, introducing new things will always face resistance, but looking at previous experiences and poll data, sometimes it is clear that most of the resistance comes from the players at the top, which is exactly why I believe you should take anything they say with a grain of salt. Being good at the game doesn’t equal to knowing what’s best for it, or in general what is good or bad. If you go with that logic, it would mean everyone in invite who plays spy / engineer obviously knows more than everyone else about the game which is completely not true, some people are just good at the game mechanically, doesn’t mean they understand everything else happening behind the scene. If you never introduce anything just because “people don’t want it”, then nothing is ever going to change. There’s a reason why when games update (League, Rainbow 6, etc.), there will always be a part of the playerbase bitching about whatever was added or removed, there always is, but they still do it anyways. Obviously if there is something like a 90% negative backlash from the community, they might step back and analyze what they did wrong, but it shouldn’t be because the top 8% of HL teams consider something “sucks” that it should be viewed like that (yes, 8%, here is the team partition in HL)
    d97e372b-ded5-44fe-98af-daa550f54d15-image.png

    • This is not to say that CTF is competitively unviable. It might very well be, but there might very well be an ideal CTF map design that maximizes both fun and competitive rigour for players in one of our existing competitive formats. The problem is that this ideal map design is so far unknown, meaning that mapmakers would have to play with simple trial and error to figure out what that map design is,*

    I completely agree with you, all of this is unknown, and we will know by trial and error. If we never try anything, how can we ever find something that works?

    • Then there is the problem that some gamemodes have fundamental flaws that make it impossible to make a map that is competitively rigorous

    I agree that some game modes are a bit over tuned and too random like mannpower, but for the other game modes, the cfgs should be fully editable… I mean look at our HL and 6s configs, you think nothing has ever changed in 12 years? If something is too stupid, turn it off, tune it down a little, while keeping the core gameplay present. Remember these were built for a full 24 players server. We’re talking about 18 players in a server or 12.

    • more frequent EXP cups

    I do agree that EXP cups are a good way to test things, but you also have to remember that the people who play those cups aren’t the same people who play the full seasons. The last time I played a cup was something like a year and a half ago. Because I don’t want to? No. They just happen at really bad times (usually during the day, or when I’m at work). I’m mentioning this because I am sure a ton of other people are also in that situation, and can’t participate, or just don’t care to because they want to play the real thing.

  • @scaredy-bat

    • That being said, I would disagree that Payload maps are all Upward clones or whatnot. IMO the Payload maps in current rotation are all fairly distinct from one another. And as much as I detest Borneo and will never ever vote for it to be put into a season, I wouldn’t say that “being like Upward” is a possible description of its faults.

    I was saying this because believe it or not I have actually heard people complain that maps nowadays are just copies of another map with 1 extra twist, and that they might as well just play the original map

  • @gobitoe said in We need more game modes: a discussion:

    I do agree that EXP cups are a good way to test things, but you also have to remember that the people who play those cups aren’t the same people who play the full seasons. The last time I played a cup was something like a year and a half ago. Because I don’t want to? No. They just happen at really bad times (usually during the day, or when I’m at work). I’m mentioning this because I am sure a ton of other people are also in that situation, and can’t participate, or just don’t care to because they want to play the real thing.

    UGC HL had an 8 week season. What if RGL seasons included an “exp week” which doesn’t count for match points and on which a half of two experimental maps was played?

  • @vibeisveryo said in We need more game modes: a discussion:

    @gobitoe said in We need more game modes: a discussion:

    I do agree that EXP cups are a good way to test things, but you also have to remember that the people who play those cups aren’t the same people who play the full seasons. The last time I played a cup was something like a year and a half ago. Because I don’t want to? No. They just happen at really bad times (usually during the day, or when I’m at work). I’m mentioning this because I am sure a ton of other people are also in that situation, and can’t participate, or just don’t care to because they want to play the real thing.

    UGC HL had an 8 week season. What if RGL seasons included an “exp week” which doesn’t count for match points and on which a half of two experimental maps was played?

    UGC used to have “experimental” seasons which were summer seasons, which would not show up on your profile and iirc you wouldnt get any medals (might be wrong on that one) and they got rid of them after like S10 or something

  • @gobitoe Also, in general I don’t think these SHOULD face resistance - but the fact is they do, and so mapmakers don’t exactly have an incentive to listen to the toxicity of many players as they try to improve their maps.

  • @gobitoe why’d they get rid of them? would be helpful for knowing if something similar should exist or not

  • @vibeisveryo said in We need more game modes: a discussion:

    @gobitoe why’d they get rid of them? would be helpful for knowing if something similar should exist or not

    honestly I forgot, but you can ask @Sylon-DMS he knows

  • I don’t really understand why we don’t try to play more game modes, I feel like the majority of people would be getting sick of playing the same two modes for multiple seasons in a row with the only variance being A/D. KotH and PL are great game modes, but only limiting the map pool to mostly two different game modes leads to at least one problem a few benefits could be gained from adding a new game mode, but few higher level players want to accept trying something different/new again just because it has been tried before in UGC.

    Starting off with the problem of having a small selection of game modes, you get teams that can just get by an entire season by only being good at KotH or PL since those two game modes make up almost half of the 7 weeks in the season with Steel being the only oddball. It’s definitely a flaw when a team can be good at only one game mode and get into playoffs or even place in their division while only excelling in the one game mode. S6 Adv is a good example of teams that were very reliant on PL getting top spots. Look at all the playoff teams and observe their map picks/bans the only team to pick a KotH map was Single Drop the team that won S6 Adv.

    One of the benefits of adding even at least one more game mode is making it reasonable to rotate out Product or even Upward for a season. Every season you get people wanting to see Product rotated out for the season it would definitely be a lot easier to rotate out that map when it’s respective game mode doesn’t make up almost half of the map pool. Adding two 5CP maps while removing a PL and a KotH will definitely make it a lot easier to rotate in and out more maps, or if people are adamant about not adding two 5CP maps instead of adding two only add in one 5CP and add in another A/D map whenever Rapids or another “Steel like” map is completed.

    We shouldn’t ever have more than 2 maps be the same game mode in a 7 week season if we have the option available. The main benefit of never having more than 2/7 maps being the same game mode is that you have meaningful bans in playoffs. No matter what pick/ban order you have, you can save yourself from being forced to play more than 1 map of the same game mode in playoffs if you don’t want to risk playing 2 rounds of that game mode. So the teams that are comfortable playing 2 or more different game modes are once again completely rewarded for their skill and being able to play more game modes.

    Like Gobi said in his post Adv/Invite players are the minority I feel like we should try different things once more. There’s almost no harm in it, don’t limit the testing to experiences in past leagues that have been insignificant for over 2 years. If we’re ever going to get relevant feedback from all players of all skill levels we’re going to have to just try throwing changes into an actual season since Exp. Cups were never really taken seriously. If the feedback shows that a majority of all players don’t like the addition of the new game mode(s) just continue trying new things or we can stick with the current formula of 3 KotH maps, 3 PL maps, and a single A/D map in a season.

    Making changes for only the sake of variance is never good, but I think we have enough of a reason to make a change due to teams being able to rely on their ability in one game mode to make it through a season and make placements even in Adv. Adding any new game mode (5CP would be much easier to add because there’s more maps.) to reach a 2/2/2/1 map pool instead of 3/3/1 will counter teams specializing in one game mode and relying on it to get a playoff spot and or to progress through playoffs.

    So in my eyes the ideal map pool would either be:
    2 KotH, 2 PL, 2 5CP, 1 A/D*
    or
    2 A/D*, 2 KotH, 2 PL, 1 5CP
    *(Steel and “Steel likes” only)

    I think that’s all I have to say about this right now, I might add and fix stuff later.

  • I think finding new game modes would be nice, but fps games are inherently prone to not having a lot of good game modes imo. Most competitive fps games have only 1-3 game modes. Some competitive fps games, such as Overwatch, experience feature creep or an overabundance of maps (so it is unlikely you will practice all maps equally, despite all maps being theoretically created equal). Some game modes, such as 5CP or CTF, are inherently very bad game modes in Highlander since they are so easy to stalemate.

    I think Exp Cups are the correct response (maybe more A/D steel-likes, like what was mentioned here?), but I do think some game modes are worth not playing altogether due to stalemating.

  • @rairai said in We need more game modes: a discussion:

    I think finding new game modes would be nice, but fps games are inherently prone to not having a lot of good game modes imo. Most competitive fps games have only 1-3 game modes. Some competitive fps games, such as Overwatch, experience feature creep or an overabundance of maps (so it is unlikely you will practice all maps equally, despite all maps being theoretically created equal). Some game modes, such as 5CP or CTF, are inherently very bad game modes in Highlander since they are so easy to stalemate.

    I think Exp Cups are the correct response (maybe more A/D steel-likes, like what was mentioned here?), but I do think some game modes are worth not playing altogether due to stalemating.

    I agree with you, but I think the assessment of what is bad / good was made so long ago, I think it would be worth re considering now

  • @luka said in We need more game modes: a discussion:

    I don’t really understand why we don’t try to play more game modes, I feel like the majority of people would be getting sick of playing the same two modes for multiple seasons in a row with the only variance being A/D. KotH and PL are great game modes, but only limiting the map pool to mostly two different game modes leads to at least one problem a few benefits could be gained from adding a new game mode, but few higher level players want to accept trying something different/new again just because it has been tried before in UGC.

    Starting off with the problem of having a small selection of game modes, you get teams that can just get by an entire season by only being good at KotH or PL since those two game modes make up almost half of the 7 weeks in the season with Steel being the only oddball. It’s definitely a flaw when a team can be good at only one game mode and get into playoffs or even place in their division while only excelling in the one game mode. S6 Adv is a good example of teams that were very reliant on PL getting top spots. Look at all the playoff teams and observe their map picks/bans the only team to pick a KotH map was Single Drop the team that won S6 Adv.

    One of the benefits of adding even at least one more game mode is making it reasonable to rotate out Product or even Upward for a season. Every season you get people wanting to see Product rotated out for the season it would definitely be a lot easier to rotate out that map when it’s respective game mode doesn’t make up almost half of the map pool. Adding two 5CP maps while removing a PL and a KotH will definitely make it a lot easier to rotate in and out more maps, or if people are adamant about not adding two 5CP maps instead of adding two only add in one 5CP and add in another A/D map whenever Rapids or another “Steel like” map is completed.

    We shouldn’t ever have more than 2 maps be the same game mode in a 7 week season if we have the option available. The main benefit of never having more than 2/7 maps being the same game mode is that you have meaningful bans in playoffs. No matter what pick/ban order you have, you can save yourself from being forced to play more than 1 map of the same game mode in playoffs if you don’t want to risk playing 2 rounds of that game mode. So the teams that are comfortable playing 2 or more different game modes are once again completely rewarded for their skill and being able to play more game modes.

    Like Gobi said in his post Adv/Invite players are the minority I feel like we should try different things once more. There’s almost no harm in it, don’t limit the testing to experiences in past leagues that have been insignificant for over 2 years. If we’re ever going to get relevant feedback from all players of all skill levels we’re going to have to just try throwing changes into an actual season since Exp. Cups were never really taken seriously. If the feedback shows that a majority of all players don’t like the addition of the new game mode(s) just continue trying new things or we can stick with the current formula of 3 KotH maps, 3 PL maps, and a single A/D map in a season.

    Making changes for only the sake of variance is never good, but I think we have enough of a reason to make a change due to teams being able to rely on their ability in one game mode to make it through a season and make placements even in Adv. Adding any new game mode (5CP would be much easier to add because there’s more maps.) to reach a 2/2/2/1 map pool instead of 3/3/1 will counter teams specializing in one game mode and relying on it to get a playoff spot and or to progress through playoffs.

    So in my eyes the ideal map pool would either be:
    2 KotH, 2 PL, 2 5CP, 1 A/D*
    or
    2 A/D*, 2 KotH, 2 PL, 1 5CP
    *(Steel and “Steel likes” only)

    I think that’s all I have to say about this right now, I might add and fix stuff later.

    I agree that it’s easy to just rely on 1 game mode with steel being the only odd one out lol

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  • @gobitoe Originally the Summer seasons were used as a testbed for new maps, you have to understand that TF2 Highlander was started by TFC vets and in TFC the attitude was to always try and find new maps or new ways to play. We had hundreds of maps to choose from and always wanted more.

    When we tried the same thing in TF2 it worked fine but eventually hit resistance because at that time people were overall a lot more competitive in TF2 HL and didn’t like the idea of “wasting a season” so we stopped and started to get into making the maps more predictable so that teams could get better at the maps and hopefully foster better teams.

    But teams don’t stay alive between seasons anymore so no reason we can’t add a new map outside of an experimental cup that not enough people take seriously.

    Personally I feel strongly in domination maps but at this point i’d settle for 5cp.

  • @gobitoe said in We need more game modes: a discussion:

    How many of you guys have actually played CTF? How many of you guys have actually tried PL race?

    I personally believe that these 2 formats would not work for HL due to the nature of HL. Payload Race is a fun 12v12 or 16v16 game mode with multiple combos to do different things, reducing it to 9v9 seems very unfun.

    @vibeisveryo said in We need more game modes: a discussion:

    UGC HL had an 8 week season. What if RGL seasons included an “exp week” which doesn’t count for match points and on which a half of two experimental maps was played?

    Back in the day UGC used to have a “Week 0” match where it would be a new map that gave no MP and had no effect on the Week 1 placements. While I do think this would be interesting to have, most teams just ignored that week to scrim the normal maps of the season. The issue is giving some incentive to play Week 0.

    I think the mode that can be expanded on for HL is 5CP. I will never understand why Gully is considered the “go-to” 5CP HL map. It always devolved into one team capping mid then each team would stare at each other through a tiny choke for 5 minutes until someone gets bored, screws up a push and then something happens. Also pushing into 9 players on that tiny last point was absolutely cancer.

    @gobitoe said in We need more game modes: a discussion:

    (go boot up cp_science, I dare you)

    how dare you talk shit about cp_science, that map is a relic and should be treasured

  • A hybrid format that meets between 6s and HL but you don’t like 7s. 6v6, 6s class limits, 6s whitelist, but instead of only playing 5CP and KOTH, you play PL as well.
    A season could go like this.
    Week 1: Snakewater - teams would play it like it’s 6s because of course they will
    Week 2: Upward - teams would most likely play engi and a sniper on defense since offclasses aren’t as bad as they would be on 5CP
    And there we go, a flexible format that changes metas every week that games like Overwatch would kill for.

  • I always felt like Process and Gullywash played really well in highlander. I think a part of the TF2 experience is lost to people who only play highlander (like myself), when such a fundamental gamemode isn’t played.

    Sure, when teams were evenly matched you’d get stalemate rounds that would go for the entire 30 minute half. That is frustrating and exhausting when it happens, and the problem is probably worse at an invite level people have a better concept of the game, playing around uber ad/disad, etc. But I feel like the gamemode offers an interesting dynamic of switching back and forth from attack and defense. You sort of get that in KOTH, but watered down to a single point.

    Maybe 5cp maps would be better in HL with a different ruleset than 6s. You could change the round timing rules to give teams ad or disad if a point hasn’t been traded in a certain amount of time, to discourage parking the bus at 4th point. Or the respawn timers could be tweaked to magnify advantages to encourage more aggressive play for teams pushing into a point.

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