Why GN Is The Worst Flag

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Agatha
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Why GN Is The Worst Flag

Post by Agatha »

One foundational guiding principle of bzflag has been that death should be avoidable. Should you die, it's generally a skill issue. Your practice and intelligence both keep you alive, and there should usually be a way out. No-unavoidable-death has guided bzflag development for actual decades (see e.g. bad flag ideas and specifically "unavoidable death" therein), and I think it's a worthy principle. I myself try, when I am at my best, to base my playstyle on finesse, tactics, strategy, and overall cleverness, while struggling against my own impatience and ignorance.

Everything about the grenade (GN) flag runs absolutely against the principle of intelligent play. Worse and more universally, GN runs against the tradition of unavoidable death that makes bzflag fun.

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First, skill—GN is a lame munchkin flag that requires next to none:
  1. Shoot once, sending a tracer toward the general vicinity of your target
  2. Shoot again to blow them up
How much more basic could it be??? You do not have to care about exact bearing, range, or elevation. You just point vaguely toward a target and click twice. How is that skillful?

It's true that timing matters, and stuff like driving forward while firing the tracer makes it even less dodgeable. I hesitate to allow such enhancements to be separate "tactics", and very few of us use them systematically anyway because the basic "click to delete player" usage remains so effective unmodified.

GN is so overpowered it actually allows one to compensate for lack of skill. How often, for example, have you forced GN players to jump ineffectually, only to get scragged by their GN while they're flailing about in the air?

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Most flags have a "hard counter", which nullifies the flag's advantage. L is hard-countered by CL, GM with ST, PZ with SB, ST and MQ with SE, WG with GM, etc. Most flags also have "soft counters"—witness ST's effectiveness vs. L, GM camping countered by SW, WG taken out by awesome L ricos, etc.

SW itself has always been weird since SW lacks any clear hard counter. For soft counters, you can run away with V or A, pick it off from afar with L, sneak up with ST, etc.—but there isn't a clear hard counter.

But GN? GN takes that deficiency and turns it up to 11. GN is usually stronger than L, because GN doesn't care about vertical level. GN's fast tracer negates V or A. ST can't sneak up easily since SW positions can be projected anywhere. I.e., not only does GN lack any hard counter, it doesn't have credible soft counters either!

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But being lame isn't even the real problem. Worse is that GN subverts our cherished death-is-avoidable tradition, removing one of the best gameplay design features of bz.

When you see a GN tracer coming toward you, you have about 1/4 second to live, and realistically the best use of your time is to start typing "ow", "aaa", or whatever you say when you die. You can try to run off on one side and hope, but with most configurations, even with perfect play, survival is actually just impossible. Both tracer and shockwave travel through buildings, rendering cover pointless—and indeed, an obstacle. No amount of skill will save you.

(Majorly) nerfing various aspects of GN could mitigate the stupidity, but it's still fundamentally undodgeable and uncounterable. Moreover, map designers deliberately make GN's initial shockwave radius really big and GN's expansion rate faster than you can run, so one feels like any hope one has of GN being less asinine is being spited actively anyway!

Flags are supposed to "boost/modulate tactical trait[s]" and "require new skills". Flag power "must be limited" and "should not be overpowering". Flag powers should "balance each other". "All[-]powerful flags aren't fun." GN violates literally every one of those guidelines, and more.

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Everything bad I've just complained about actually manifests exactly that bad in practice!

Anyone can see that GN directly causes mass spawnkilling—universally acknowledged to be the literal worst thing for gameplay fun, short of actual cheating. You can't counter GN because there is no effective counter, and it's moot anyway since your whole team will be too busy being repeatedly spawnkilled to actually pick up any flag. Fun is restored only when ammo is exhausted; feeding the GN free kills being frequently the only way that happens.

There's little challenge for the attacker and little chance for the defender. It's a nigh-undodgeable munchkin flag that violates core flag design of bzflag gameplay. There's no skill, it has awesomely overpowered power, and it has no counterbalance. While perhaps marginally fun for the attacker, GN is intensely unfun for everyone else. GN disrupts gameplay and serves no unique purpose.

GN was an interesting experiment, and it was not bad that GN was invented per-se. I welcome innovation, and there have been several really cool new flags that have been implemented of late. But GN? That experiment IMO has now concluded. GN needs to die.

I call on mapmakers and server owners . . . I beg of you—get rid of this flag!

-A
-> Stagnation is playing the same map for literal decades. Take down Apoc/Urban/Hix/Duc!
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Pesky_UK
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Re: Why GN Is The Worst Flag

Post by Pesky_UK »

You'd hate Grue's new server. Multiple ways to geno your team, their team and both teams.

It started off as exciting but now it is just plain impossible to play with any sort of skill there.
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Agatha
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Re: Why GN Is The Worst Flag

Post by Agatha »

It was actually Grue's new server that i̵n̵s̵p̵i̵r̵e̵d̵ pushed me into writing this. It has really interesting new flags like Dimension Door (DD) and nice gimmick flags like SF, AT, etc., and the map itself is a nice new take on Apoc-style CTF. Props to Grue, and thank you for making something popular and new!

But that said, you're right, Pesky. Setting aside the question of geno, there was an immense turnout yesterday, and fun was had by all . . . except that gameplay was constantly interrupted by spammy shockwave spawnkills (say that three times fast, laaa). With the constant GN (and SW; there're many 2-shot SWs littered about), flag caps became questions of luck and persistence more than teamwork and skill. GN and SW on Grue's server are indeed even more powerful than on Apoc. Frustrating :L
-> Stagnation is playing the same map for literal decades. Take down Apoc/Urban/Hix/Duc!
-> "It takes losing a lot to learn how to win a little bit." / My guide to strategy.
-> My statistics and avatar artwork.
etigah
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Re: Why GN Is The Worst Flag

Post by etigah »

I think it's neither more powerful than L nor more frustrating than G. In fact I find it much fun to use and the best part is it's a rather effective counter to all sorts of campers. As to avoiding dying to it, if you get behind the shooter they can't hit you with it, so it's not that invincible.
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Zehra
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Re: Why GN Is The Worst Flag

Post by Zehra »

This is perhaps the wrong take on the subject, but it seems the problem/issue is an entirely different matter with what you are seeing being a symptom of another issue.
Agatha wrote: Mon Aug 29, 2022 7:45 pm One foundational guiding principle of bzflag has been that death should be avoidable. Should you die, it's generally a skill issue. Your practice and intelligence both keep you alive, and there should usually be a way out. No-unavoidable-death has guided bzflag development for actual decades (see e.g. bad flag ideas and specifically "unavoidable death" therein), and I think it's a worthy principle. I myself try, when I am at my best, to base my playstyle on finesse, tactics, strategy, and overall cleverness, while struggling against my own impatience and ignorance.
---
Agatha wrote: Tue Aug 30, 2022 6:48 pm It was actually Grue's new server that i̵n̵s̵p̵i̵r̵e̵d̵ pushed me into writing this. It has really interesting new flags like Dimension Door (DD) and nice gimmick flags like SF, AT, etc., and the map itself is a nice new take on Apoc-style CTF. Props to Grue, and thank you for making something popular and new!
Novelty is seeming to be the bigger draw factor for players with time as time goes along...(a.k.a. you have something new and exciting otherwise players don't remain. [Leagues remain an exception to this rule it seems, as well as some classic maps which cycle in interest.])

This comes down to quite a few interesting possibilities:
  • Has the game play itself reached the point where we actively need to "modify" it to enhance/improve it?
  • Why is the "basic" game play not popular?
  • Are we at the point where we are mostly *predicting* actions of specific players vs trying to make a clever/smart move?
  • Is BZFlag strategic, tactical or real time strategy play mainly?(Yes, it's obvious what kind of game it is, 3D tank based FPS.)
A bigger question is why do we do not see maps more interested or better designed for strategic play?

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Agatha wrote: Mon Aug 29, 2022 7:45 pm Everything about the grenade (GN) flag runs absolutely against the principle of intelligent play. Worse and more universally, GN runs against the tradition of unavoidable death that makes bzflag fun.
Bad spawns, bad map design, bad game play dynamics...etc, have ruined a lot of clever or good ideas. We only have counters or soft counters in the overall game play which leaves it more of who controls what flags or who has more teammates or who is good at flag shopping.

What if we had more rock-paper-scissor type of game play?

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The main issue is what you seem to be bothered with, is that Grenade acts like a laser, guided missile and shockwave in a single package and that it is too easy to use/upsets the balance with little skill.

This isn't a real issue, flags by their nature are designed to alter the balance of the game. It's just the dynamics in this one you do not like. (I'm actually for more powerful flag types which can operate in limited conditions, to kind of add a feel of "basic, but works everywhere" or "overpowered, but very specific usage" as a type of flag usage.)

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My opinion is that it provides a good game play adjusting/altering factor which is needed to prevent games from becoming too predictable.

-Zehra
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tainn
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Re: Why GN Is The Worst Flag

Post by tainn »

My personal take, very few non-vanilla flags are actually decent, if any.

I wouldn't say the problem is in the possibility of a counter, however. There is a clear hierarchy of dominance at vanilla flags, which is slightly altered depending on the map, but they still form a pretty elementary type of gameplay. For example, the Wings (WG) flag doesn't really have a counter on most FFA maps. Even if wingsJumpCount and shotsKeepVerticalVelocity are kept to the default 1 and 0, respectively. You cannot hope to win a 1v1 against even a slightly skilled WG user—much less a strong one—so you resort to chaotic and unpredictable behavior, in hopes it catches the user off-guard and assists you at a lucky kill or escape. But we still love WG, because its approach is "minimal" and "contained". Mass-spawning world weapon shock waves and such, on the other hand, just isn't it.
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Re: Why GN Is The Worst Flag

Post by cidentan50 »

Agatha wrote: Mon Aug 29, 2022 7:45 pm Most flags have a "hard counter", which nullifies the flag's advantage. L is hard-countered by CL, GM with ST, PZ with SB, ST and MQ with SE, WG with GM, etc.
SE can also see cloaked tanks.
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