Flag Pocketing

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Flag Pocketing

Post by dartman » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:07 am

Here's an idea that came to my mind earlier today that I think would make for an interesting change to traditional BZFlag gameplay.

Now, before you reject this because it involves tanks carrying multiple flags, hear me out, because I thought about that. And I 100% agree that if someone could, say, pick up an ST and then a CL and combine their attributes to become a cloaked stealth tank that's nearly impossible to spot, that would make the gameplay extremely unbalanced, and I wouldn't want something like that in BZFlag. I know that sort of idea has been proposed and rejected countless times, which is one of the reasons why I have come up with my idea, which is a significant caveat to the usual "stacking" flag idea people suggest.

My idea is fairly simple. Instead of picking up two flags and combining their abilities at the same time, this would simply allow players to carry maybe one (possibly two, but that might be pushing it) extra flag, but only have on flag in active use at a time. Probably the best way I can explain it is to picture a typical FPS game. Players might have several different kinds of weapons in their arsenal, but they have to switch between them to find the gun they want to use in that given moment. (Pretend dual-wielding doesn't exist.) Or think of some forms of Tetris that allow the player to hold onto one block that they can choose to swap with the current one at any time.

What I'm proposing is that we add an extra "slot" for another flag to be stored. Say you're currently carrying no flags, and then you pick one flag up (let's say it's ST), filling up your first slot. You would have the choice of sticking to that first slot and using ST (and you could run over any other flag on the map without picking it up, just as it is now), or you could switch to the other, unoccupied slot and your tank would behave as if it weren't carrying a flag at all, but you could pick up another flag (let's say its CL) to use only while that slot is activated. The effect is that you can switch between using the ST or the CL at any time, but never both simultaneously. Instead of combining the flags together, you can maybe pick up a couple of flags you like and use one while pocketing the other for use in another situation, without having to spend too much time searching around for the perfect flag.

I'm proposing that the switching mechanic could be done using a button on the keyboard, or perhaps using the scrollwheel on a mouse.

Here's another example using a pair of flags that would normally be very cheap if combined simultaneously: SE and GM/L. GM can't lock onto ST, and L can't kill CL, but if a GM or L were to also have the SE flag, it would essentially eliminate those weaknesses, and having both of those flags activated at the same time would be unbalanced. But using my slot system idea, if someone had GM/SE or L/SE, they would be free to use their powerful weapons, but if there was someone with ST or CL about, they would have to be very wary and constantly switch between the flags in order to ensure their safety. It would add a new strategic element to the gameplay without making any player overpowered.

There's also a few things I've thought up in order to prevent exploitation, and of course I'm interested in hearing any other ideas people may have about this. One I thought of was to make it so that once you switch flags, there would be a certain reload time set by the server to prevent you from firing immediately after switching flags. This is to prevent someone with, say, GM and SW from camping out and blasting tanks from afar, then suddenly also being able to wipe out all tanks in their immediate vicinity. There would be a few seconds of vulnerability where they can move, jump, and take cover all they want, but they can't shoot. Also, in regards to CTF, I'm still debating whether there should be any special exceptions in regard to team flags. Should a team flag automatically take up both flag slots, or should you also be able to carry another flag with you at the same time?

EDIT: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the part about bad flags. If you were to pick up a bad flag, you would be stuck with it just like you would be now. You won't be able to switch to the other slot in order to escape the bad flag you picked up.

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Re: Flag Pocketing

Post by JeffM » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:29 am

This was done in 2.99 as an experimental plugin/mod by DTRemenak once. If we ever get that codebase worked back into the mainline it would be possible. He called it "arsenal"

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Re: Flag Pocketing

Post by dartman » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:42 am

Sounds like a good name to me. Glad to see it could possibly work.

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Re: Flag Pocketing

Post by Mopar Madness » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:39 am

I want tanks to be able to hold 4 flags and use them all at the same time so i can combine cloaked shot (2.99.x) invis bullet, cloaking, and stealth :D

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Re: Flag Pocketing

Post by JeffM » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:47 am

Not going to happen Mr. Munchkin

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Re: Flag Pocketing

Post by dartman » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:48 am

No, that would defeat the entire purpose of this idea, which is supposed to make having multiple flags less cheap, not more.

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Re: Flag Pocketing

Post by dartman » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:58 am

Jeff, do you have any reservations about this idea?

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Re: Flag Pocketing

Post by JeffM » Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:35 am

it would have to wait until the next breaking release.

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Re: Flag Pocketing

Post by dartman » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:15 am

But otherwise it's pretty much good? That's fine by me, BZ functions fine without it, I just think it would be cool to have eventually.

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Re: Flag Pocketing

Post by JeffM » Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:05 pm

Someone would have to implement it of course, But there were no objections when Dtremenqk had the idea several years ago.

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Re: Flag Pocketing

Post by FiringSquad » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:42 pm

I could imagine this making some dastardly difficult maze maps possible as well as maps where you need special flags to negotiate various parts of the map to reach the flag in CTF.
All sounds good to me. It would need the "Player Info" to report all flags in their arsenal though or it would get very frustrating or at least a delay before you can shoot after switching so that your opponent has time to take countermeasures.

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Re: Flag Pocketing

Post by dartman » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:38 pm

^I already had thought of both of those. I actually already mentioned the delay time in my OP, but maybe I should've been clearer. And yeah, the scoreboard should definitely show all the flags in everyone's arsenal. I was thinking it could be something as simple as something like "GM/SE" with the active flag underlined, or something along those lines.

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Re: Flag Pocketing

Post by Mopar Madness » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:12 pm

It would give a reason to use some of the less used flags. SE, MQ, QT, stuff like that are good flags, but there are better flags out there like GM, L, T, G that make it not practical to use them. Here's another idea, instead of limiting players to 2 flags or 3 flags or something in the arsenal, give each flag a weight, like G would be weighted 10, Team Flags 10, Laser 7, GM 7... SE 3, QT 2, US 1, something like that and say a player can hold as many flags as they like as long as it's under 10 weight. Delay time switching flags could also be affected by flag weight, switching to flags like QT would be quick, while a switch to laser would take forever.

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Re: Flag Pocketing

Post by dartman » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:24 pm

That doesn't sound bad either, just possibly a bit too complex for BZ. But we'll see what the devs say about that, I guess.

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Re: Flag Pocketing

Post by JeffM » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:07 pm

I believe DTRemenak had it waiting for a full "reload" time before you can use the flag on a swap, so yes laser took a while. It may have also been configurable via a bzdb var.

This will only get done if he decides to finish it in the next breaking release, and if we ever have another breaking release. It is not a high priority. Right now we are having a tough enough time just making a debian package for a minor point release.

This type of gameplay will be an option in the new project.

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