A novel approach to leagues

Discussions about the various leagues
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macsforme
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A novel approach to leagues

Post by macsforme » Sat Oct 14, 2006 4:11 am

BZFlag is really doing well these days. The three or so top servers on the list almost always have 15-25 players at any given time, and more and more players are goining our ranks. The "Find server" option in the bzflag client is probably what is most helpful to assist new players in joining the BZFlag community.

BZFlag leages are a different story. Although there are many leagues (and new ones are added monthly), they scarcely average two or three games a week (if they are lucky enough to get even that). There's no shortage of players, but non-league games seem to be much more popular.

I think that we can attribute this to the insufficient organization and decentralization of our leagues. Normal games are listed right in the BZFlag client. You know how many people there are before you even join. People don't have to go from server to server finding people to play. The top servers are at the top of the list, so players always know where to go for a well-populated game.

I suggest a new approach: build leage integration into the BZFlag client. Support for teams, games, different maps, and even different leagues can be integrated into the client. Leagues can be ranked by the number of members, just as games currently are. Or perhaps one central league can be formed (not to the exclusion of others) to interface with the client. Or some sort of "protocol" for leagues to integrate with the client can be formed, and all complying leagues can be listed, much like servers today are listed with -public, -publicaddr, etc.

I realize that what I'm proposing would require some heavy modification work in the client, but I think that players would welcome this feature, and would really enjoy the enhanced team experience. Another thing is that players on teams would always be playing with each other, and would get to know each other's strengths and weaknesses better, promoting unity. This would be much like sports teams these days learn to work with and depend on one another.

I personally am a real fan of league games (as I'm sure many of you are), but under the current system it's so difficult to find other players. There's also so many different leagues that it's even harder to find players than it once was. I think that this approach would change all of this. Once again, I know that it would require a lot of work, but I think it would be worth it.

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Post by Teppic » Sat Oct 14, 2006 10:06 am

You need like a 'green room' for league players to hang out in while waiting for a game.

A good experiment while waiting for the client/server modifications to be made might be to have a map with lots of 'waiting rooms', maybe one for each of a few selected maps, people wanting a league match can turn up, goto the room of the map they want to play on and hang out waiting for other players. They can see who is waiting for other map types, so change their mind if they want, and generally chat and hang out.
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Post by strayer » Sat Oct 14, 2006 10:47 am

You are right, it would be useful for players (league members) to implement some league categorization in the client. It's also correct that someone will have to spend a lot of time to program this. But before, someone has to think through the whole concept.
The biggest problem will be to find some names you can substitute with "someone", because I don't see any light in the end of the "tunnel of planning".

Some questions that came up while reading your message:
> Who will be allowed to decide which leagues are worth to be implemented (of course in a dynamic way, because some of them come up and fall montly)?
> How do you want to pack all the league stuff (teams, games, maps) into the server list which is already full with info? Maybe different lists and selection via a client menu..or via shortcuts?
> How will the client know which servers are associated with which league(s!)? There is (currently) no way to find it out and some leagues allow different server configurations or maps.
> Who will write an automation of adding global groups to the global group list? (..because there will be needed a lot of entries) Do the maintainers even want to stuff all these things (listed above) into the list server?
> Who will change the web-league code (which is used by most of the leagues) to interact with the list server?

There are probably some questions which are not interesting, because you had something else in mind, but all in all I don't think that it's really worth it...even when everything would be more comfortable for the players then.

@Teppic: Isn't the "green room" already existing? Players, interested in playing a match, are hanging around on public or match servers as observers and wait for others. Each league can arrange a special server with many open slots where all league players can join. Maps, they want to play on, can be set into the email field if needed. :o)
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Re: A novel approach to leagues

Post by Admirarch » Sat Oct 14, 2006 9:17 pm

Constitution wrote: BZFlag leages are a different story. Although there are many leagues (and new ones are added monthly), they scarcely average two or three games a week (if they are lucky enough to get even that).
In the past 30 days there have been:
518 gu matches
174 ducati matches
25 pillbox matches

Even the pillbox league total is about twice what you are suggesting a league would be lucky to get. This is a fairly typical figure and has been sustained for months on end. I'm not saying that some changes wouldn't be of help but things aren't even close to being as grim as you suggest.

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Re: A novel approach to leagues

Post by macsforme » Sat Oct 14, 2006 10:01 pm

Admirarch wrote: In the past 30 days there have been:
518 gu matches
174 ducati matches
25 pillbox matches
Ah, okay, I didn't realize that. I'm not at all familiar with the GU league's popularity, but it seemed that when reading the match logs for Pillbox, Openleague, and Plosileague that matches were fairly rare on average. Perhaps I exaggerated it somewhat, but still, I think that client integration with the leagues would really increase league popularity.

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Post by macsforme » Sat Oct 14, 2006 10:16 pm

strayer wrote:The biggest problem will be to find some names you can substitute with "someone", because I don't see any light in the end of the "tunnel of planning".
I would assume that such work would be done by the bzflag developers, much like they are working on other features now. I know they have a lot on their plate, and this would probably be way off in the distance. Even so, it may be a good thing to do eventually.
strayer wrote:Some questions that came up while reading your message:
> Who will be allowed to decide which leagues are worth to be implemented (of course in a dynamic way, because some of them come up and fall montly)?
I would think this could be done in much the same way as servers are listed now. Leagues could be ranked by numbers of players, or by activity level, or whatever. There would probably be many unpopular leagues in the list (much like there are always 100+ bzflag servers with no players on them now), but the good ones would always be on top.

Much like servers are done now, I think it's a good idea to allow people to run leagues if they want to, and have them listed in the master list (even if they're not played much). This has been way it's worked so far, and I think it's a good idea.
strayer wrote:> How do you want to pack all the league stuff (teams, games, maps) into the server list which is already full with info? Maybe different lists and selection via a client menu..or via shortcuts?
The interface would definitely need some work, but I don't think we're stuck with the way servers are listed now. For instance, you could select a league from the list, and that could take you to another menu showing league statistics, teams, rankings, etc. That could be the interface for joining/leaving teams, finding a match, etc.
strayer wrote:> How will the client know which servers are associated with which league(s!)? There is (currently) no way to find it out and some leagues allow different server configurations or maps.
A list of servers for each league could be displayed on the respective "League info" page. In addition to the -p, -public, and -publicaddr options, there could also be a -league option in the conf file (for specifying which league, or the league's main server, or whatever). This would idea would need to be thought through and thoughtfully implemented to avoid overcomplexity, but I think it could be done.
strayer wrote:> Who will write an automation of adding global groups to the global group list? (..because there will be needed a lot of entries) Do the maintainers even want to stuff all these things (listed above) into the list server?
An automation script could be built as you said, or some alternative kind of "global group" could be created, or maybe we need a whole new server dedicated to leagues, groups, teams, matches, rankings, stats, etc. I don't know what kind of hardware the current list server has, but I doubt that it would be ready to handle all of the additional bandwidth/cpu relating to running leagues.
strayer wrote:> Who will change the web-league code (which is used by most of the leagues) to interact with the list server?
A fairly small detail, I think. Perhaps we just need to get together a team of programmers who would be willing to work on implementing this. I would say that unity and centralization is probably what is most important. I'm all for diversity, but I think that a lot more would get done if we weren't all reinventing the wheel.

Some really good questions, there. This would certainly take some work. Right now I'm just throwing the idea out to see what people's reactions to the idea itself are. If people would like this feature, then I'm sure we could get a team together to make it happen.

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Post by strayer » Sun Oct 15, 2006 4:05 pm

@Admirarch: The leagues you listed are (together with the 1vs1 League) the most active ones. Don't forget that there are at least as many other league sites around which have only a few official matches at all.
Constitution wrote:I would say that unity and centralization is probably what is most important.
Do you mean "unity and centralization" of knowledge and propgramming skills ^^ or the league data?
If you mean the last one...centralisation can also cause many problems. As you can see sometimes, the list server is not available (which isn't the fault of it's admins). And then you can neither get a server list nor authentication of your global login. Distributed systems have the advantage that single points can be unavailable without further consequences.
One example (in case the list server is down):
> GU players are not able to play matches on their match servers, because the servers don't allow to join as player as long as players can't be verified.
> Ducati players are not influenced by list server outages, because it's not bound to any central system.

If you wish to manage everything centralized, server outages can be much more problematic. Building a mirroring system isn't that easy too. :o/
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Re: A novel approach to leagues

Post by The Red Baron » Mon Oct 16, 2006 1:19 am

Admirarch wrote:
Constitution wrote: BZFlag leages are a different story. Although there are many leagues (and new ones are added monthly), they scarcely average two or three games a week (if they are lucky enough to get even that).
In the past 30 days there have been:
518 gu matches
174 ducati matches
25 pillbox matches

Even the pillbox league total is about twice what you are suggesting a league would be lucky to get. This is a fairly typical figure and has been sustained for months on end. I'm not saying that some changes wouldn't be of help but things aren't even close to being as grim as you suggest.
Admirarch beat me to the punch... the top 3 leagues are not facing a grim future... yet. In my opinion, there does seem something to be amiss about the pillbox league, because borrego is almost always populated to some extent. and it has its own crowd, it doesn't rely on the ducati and GU fans.

Constitution: Most of the leagues you have mention, have been started with very little planning and thought going into the success of the league. First and foremost, the huge problem, is the lack of a steady player/fan base. THe other leagues (I'm not including OL) seem to be the creative output of young and eager minds, with extra time on their hands. The technical aspect, of getting a site up, and loading the web-league code seems to be farely "easy" to do. But a website doesn't make a league, its the players that make the league. Simply put, You need a solid reliable player base, before one launches a league.
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Post by mistake » Mon Oct 16, 2006 11:27 am

I suggest a new approach: build leage integration into the BZFlag client. Support for teams, games, different maps, and even different leagues can be integrated into the client.
Some of the more popular leagues bring their own tools for this. See
  • BZleague Checker
    for GU, ducati, pillbox and 1vs1 league.
    This list is live and shows the current league server information.
  • Strayers League Checker
    for GU, ducati, OL, pillbox and 1vs1 league.
    Updated like every 5/6 minutes
  • Zeebrothers Server list
    Advantage here is that you can define a list of names, and it will always show you if any of the players in that list are online. Very good when you need to find certain teammates.
There are so many different ways how a player will choose a league and a match (depending if he is member of only one league or member of many leagues, depending how he wants to find his teammates etc)

If some of the above sites are not usefull for a certain league, i am sure you can ask for the code and adapt it to your needs.
Also in the way leagues will evolve it will be easier to adapt league sites than implementation in a client.
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Post by mistake » Mon Oct 16, 2006 11:32 am

-- double post --
mistake

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Post by romfis » Mon Oct 16, 2006 1:38 pm

geh! the mistake is typisch with double post, pfft! :D

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Post by Longhair » Mon Oct 16, 2006 4:03 pm

Perhaps I'm missing the point here, but it seems to me that we have the beginnings of the system in place already. I'm referring to the -advertise server option.

Let me emphasize that I'm saying "beginnings of the system".

Most of the people who have commented above know what I'm talking about, but for the unaware:


Here's how it works right now: In your server conf file, you put the line:

Code: Select all

-advertise <groups you want to advertise to>
Then, when a member of the group starts up his BZFlag client, he is able to see the listing for the server in question. The groups are set up from this same bulletin board. (just like the callsign registration)

For example, when I run an HTF server (every once in a while these days) I'll usually invite a few HTF enthusiasts to come along and play. We'll start playing. Meanwhile, say my buddy kc9foh logs in. Since he's a member of my LONGHAIR.LEAGUE group, he is able to see that there is an HTF match going on at my place and can join. On the other hand, people who have no clue what the heck HTF is won't be able to see the server. This is good because if I just let it advertise to all players, we'd end up saying "yes, you DO shoot your own team mates. NO, you can't join as green. Yes, you do capture your own flag." a million times. I'm pretty liberal about giving out LONGHAIR.LEAGUE memberships. Basically, I just want the player in question to be aware of what HTF is.


What I'd propose to help fix the situation:

First, it would be nice if there was a hack to the BZLeague code that would automatically add a player to the league group when they sign up for the league. (Assuming that the league and server owners in question are interested in doing this. Perhaps a simple $autoRegister = <true/false>; in the code. It shouldn't be forced.)

Next, it seems that you get notifications of private messages from this bulletin board in the BZflag client. How about extending that to something like a simple message that says:

Code: Select all

There are 5 pillbox league members at <server>
There are 7 GU league members at <server>
There are 6 Ducati league members at <server>
I suppose it would be nice if you could find individual players from within the client, rather than having to minimize/windowize (is that a word?) it and open up a web browser to go looking for players. Defninitely more work, and there is only so much message related real-estate in the client.

Another idea would be to implement some of the irc bot commands to find players, since bzflag already has irc style commands integrated with the client. Granted, they're not the same, but it would offer some sort of continuity. For those who are unaware, you can type: ~pillmatch when you're logged into #pillbox on freenode, and it gives you a list of who is playing on the pillbox match servers. Perhaps some sort of implementation of this right in the client would speed things up.

The overall idea in my mind would be to take advantage of the information that is already available and floating around on the Internet, and capitalize on it as much as possible.

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Post by CannonBallGuy » Mon Oct 16, 2006 6:45 pm

Look up [dmp]'s GPS concept.
He proposes (and is creating, last I heard) a system like this.
It can tell you which of your teamates are online, and as it works across servers, it can tell you WHERE they are.
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Very good

Post by Red Cobra » Wed Dec 20, 2006 3:43 pm

Very good idea. I like it. I would be very interested in it. Sounds hard to organize though. I'm sure it's possible.



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Post by meeba » Wed Dec 20, 2006 3:56 pm

It is a very good idea.

Perhaps it would be possible to make it so the server puts one league team as red, another as green, and then anyone else is observer. And it just automatically sorts that way.

Just a thought.

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