Campy Players, Not Maps (Case Study: "Two Tanks")

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Agatha
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Campy Players, Not Maps (Case Study: "Two Tanks")

Post by Agatha »

Hi,

Every time when I want to play Two Tanks, I end up sitting by myself forever, waiting for anyone to join. The occasional player that does never stays very long, and after several deaths invariably mumbles about Two Tanks being a "campy map", before leaving.

It's never specified quite what a "campy map" constitutes and why it's bad, but I reckon it'd be like: maps where camping is implicitly encouraged by map design, and where campers therefore have overwhelming advantage over more active players, to the point where "active" strategies become infeasible.

The thing is . . . there just aren't any maps like that.

I suppose it's actually theoretically possible: should you have a wide-open field with one-way shoot-through bases at each end with free lasers inside them—then yeah, that'd be campy. All you could do is camp because everything else (i.e. running across the field) would be suicide.

But again, there just aren't any maps like that. No reasonably designed map is like that. No reasonably designed map is "campy".

---

Specifically, Two Tanks is not campy.

Two Tanks comprises two large tank-themed bases over a cluttered field, with two rails circling the edge and jump points inside each "barrel" of each tank base.

Most people, including people that should know better, play Two Tanks by grabbing free L, hopping up on their base's "tank tread", and sniping at people on the other side doing likewise. After several rounds of mostly random kills or deaths, they log out, citing the map's campiness.

Like bruh you've touched only 1% of the map :V

From your base, you can drop backward, sideways, through the base and forward, or jump through the tele onto terra firma. No campers can shoot you once you're on the ground, but there do exist several places where you can shoot them with pyramid shots. There're no fewer than forty-five (ninety with symmetry) shots from ground toward campers and jumpers :V

You can also jump onto the rail, which does make you vulnerable to L campers but also gives you unique shots back toward them. Grab ST from where the rail leads, and you can drop down. Or, take the rail farther into enemy territory, possibly trading out for GM on the way.

Or, you can jump through your tank base's gun barrel and land on the enemy base itself. Should campers try to stop you from doing that, jump through the tele up front and take them out for free. You can also enter your barrel from above or side using clip techniques.

ST is incredibly powerful on Two Tanks—much more than L, actually; ST strong-counters L camping. SW remains weak (as it should be), but still plenty enough for destroying campers from ground-level. WG and GM can be viable too. Like, even A is buffed.

And none of this gets at flag pressure. The opposing team flag is typically placed down a crack requiring N / T / TH to retrieve. You can grab it and return it to base with literally zero exposure to base laser campers if you choose. Laser camping doesn't work when you capture their flag—and today there's even a nice point bonus too, if you're motivated by imaginary internet points, making camping even less relatively attractive.

Campers on Two Tanks can basically only shoot other campers. However, everyone else can shoot them. Two Tanks is not a campy map. it's actually a camper punishment map.

---

I suggest that the more accurate division isn't between campy maps and uncampy maps, but between campy players and uncampy players.

Many players, whatever you tell them, will just L camp until they die. And they will die. Per my strategy guide, "If you plan on laser camping until you die, then you do know that you will die, eventually, while laser camping. Your enemy knows you will die, while laser camping. They then have full latitude when deciding the manner, timing, priority, and significance of your death, up to the options they themselves have at their disposal." Campers trade initiative and defense for specialized attack, hoping for enough kills to offset your ease of killing them.

Other players will take more active strategies, and have that wide variety of skills and adaptability among them. Adaptive strategy and variety almost always turns out to be more effective, and I would argue more fun, so I try to do that myself.

I think Two Tanks demonstrates that the very existence of certain flags (namely L) can short-circuit certain active players' intelligence into believing that they should become campy players, even when better options exist!

---

Two Tanks isn't campy. Most maps, in fact, aren't. There are only campy players.

-A
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Re: Campy Players, Not Maps (Case Study: "Two Tanks")

Post by Zehra »

Two Tanks, as well as most other maps, are nice with multiple players. (3vs3 and the map still barely feels like it has any action in a lot of cases.)

What you wind up with is the game play becomes tedious and boring. Only x common/shortcut routes available and only x paths available to a certain location from x position, only x time in where it is sensible to move a certain way. (This provides a form of predictability which is needed, but also prevents a large form of randomness from occurring.)

No one simply wants to play a turn based version of BZFlag, as it would not be fun... This is what happens to a great deal of maps when they have less than 3vs3 or 2vs2 players. A.k.a. you wind up with players mainly waiting to make a move vs actually making a move. Often in these cases, you have around 3 typical possibilities, a newbie, a regular player or a pro at the game, with someone entirely new to the game and someone who knows all the maps features/aspects to better play the map than most pros can do so.

Already you are at a level of where you are aware of most of the features and can best take advantage of them.(Ref: "Two Tanks" Pyramids-to-Jumpers Shots Chart.)

The average player won't bother to do so, same as most pro players who while they will take a closer look, they will not take a close look in so much depth.

While Two Tanks may not be "campy", it does allow some players to have and use a considerable advantage over the majority of players.

Here in this case, a lot of players wish to rack up points efficiently. (This does not mean having 9-1 kill to death ratio, but rather 3-1 or 11 to 10 ratio by effecting sniping the majority of players with laser.)

The biggest factor though, which is certain, is most maps will almost always have sections where players will tend to frequently use or employ a certain tactic within those areas.(While perhaps not designed specifically for this, they may be frequently used as a camp ground for certain players.)

In short, what is seen is a combination of the above factors working to create such conditions in terms of the feel of a "campy" map.

So in a strict sense, very few maps are actually campy maps, but a decent sum of them do have camping grounds which will be frequently used by certain players or types of players.

-Zehra
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Re: Campy Players, Not Maps (Case Study: "Two Tanks")

Post by tainn »

Camping on Laser Tanks isn't even that bad, you can always drop to the ground and it's level battle from there. It gets pretty bad, however, when players break the unwritten etiquette and use Stealth (ST) or Wings (WG) in 1v1 situations, essentially regardless of the map, resulting in one-sided slaughter.
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Re: Campy Players, Not Maps (Case Study: "Two Tanks")

Post by Agatha »

Zehra wrote: Mon Sep 05, 2022 2:12 am (3vs3 and the map still barely feels like it has any action in a lot of cases.) What you wind up with is the game play becomes tedious and boring.
While I agree that having more players is generally better, I strongly disagree it's required, perhaps especially on Two Tanks. Literally the most advanced and fun bz gameplay IMO is actually 1v1 on Two Tanks, with certain players.

Like, an extremely delicate balance of power exists between the players and the map control they exert, considering their positioning and movement affordances. If I move toward the N/T/TH powerflag cluster, that puts implicit pressure on my opponent's flag, but also leaves my flag potentially vulnerable to counterpressure. Laser on ST tower covers my opponent's treads, ST tower, and turret, forcing disadvantageous opening jumps while allowing dropping for N/T/TH—while also being extremely vulnerable itself to certain shots and strategically poor for flag defense. If I try intercepting an attack on my flag, that gives me strong tactical advantage since I will generally have a stronger powerflag (e.g. L vs. T), but also I have strategic disadvantage since I cede tempo and flag pressure: defense forestalls loss, but cannot win. If my opponent has my flag, do I pursue, trusting on my tactical laser skill for a timely counter, or do I race them to their own flag—with each choice having strengths and weaknesses? And if we have each other's flags, how do we return to our respective bases—the rails/turret (fast, but vulnerable) or ground (slow but steady), with the calculus changing depending on how my opponent acts? . . . And that's just scratching the surface of strategy. The tactical level, of particular shots, strengths of ST tower vs. treads, timing and particulars of turret-jumping to dodge ground shots, nullifying strategic gambles, and everything else, constitute further levels of analysis, probability, and overall depth.

Few or no true bz newbies exist anymore, but even few regulars care to learn every map like this. They prefer mindless blasting (e.g. Apoc), or deeply mastering only a single map (e.g. Hix). I frown on this because it's intellectually lazy, but I have mostly made my peace with it.
[M]ost maps will almost always have sections where players will tend to frequently use or employ a certain tactic within those areas.
That's totally fine. If you like, one commonly sees treads on Two Tanks used for laser camping. However, my point remains that maps should not be judged on the presence of such features, especially when they constitute a minority of possibilities. Like previously, treads comprise maybe 1% of Two Tanks, and calling Two Tanks 'campy' because of the mere existence (when both players play suboptimally) of a tread-vs.-tread camping minigame, as it were, is fundamentally incoherent. That is, per the title, "Campy Players, Not Maps".

-A
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Re: Campy Players, Not Maps (Case Study: "Two Tanks")

Post by etigah »

I think what you are describing is not depth, but rather breadth of gameplay. In a map like HiX, you learn a few things and then you can do a hundred things with that, while on 2tanks you learn a hundred things to do a hundred things. It might be lazy as you say, but for me, it's just not worth the trouble. In my opinion, the presence of super flags on a map makes it unsuitable for competitive play since it opens up too much possibilities that it either becomes a chore to learn or becomes chaotic.
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Re: Campy Players, Not Maps (Case Study: "Two Tanks")

Post by Agatha »

etigah wrote: Tue Nov 01, 2022 7:39 pmIn my opinion, the presence of super flags on a map makes it unsuitable for competitive play since it opens up too much possibilities that it either becomes a chore to learn or becomes chaotic.
I see where you're coming from, and you're right about maps like Apoc, Urban, or Scarwall: GM, F/MG, and especially SW-type weapons have strong tendencies toward chaos. And yes, powerflags increase possibilities, which superficially increases complexity. However, I think your sweeping generalization of saying powerflags must be intrinsically chaotic and complicated, is incorrect.
I think what you are describing is not depth, but rather breadth of gameplay. In a map like HiX, you learn a few things and then you can do a hundred things with that, while on 2tanks you learn a hundred things to do a hundred things.
Again, I see where you're coming from, but that's too simplistic. On HiX, gameplay involves a few tactics, and success demands absolute mastery of those few tactics. On Two Tanks, gameplay comprises fluidly shifting among competing strategies, supported by tactical competence, but not necessarily tactical expertise.

A HiX player has a thousand shots memorized and practiced to death, whereas I can't even remember a single number from my own chart! However, I do have different strategies, and my tactical ability lets me improvise to make them work.

On HiX, one usually only has exactly one realistic tactical choice at any moment, with victory going to the more mechanically practiced team. Like, say you're trying to cap. Your opponents will always jump up on your base. Thus you cannot jump up yourself, so you likely go tele and make your way along the side rail. A dodging minigame ensues, with the cap either being accomplished or denied, according to the relative tactical skill of the defending and attacking players, which will be determined by practice.

On Two Tanks (and keeping with our cap example), there're at least five unique ways from ground onto base, all viable. Attack pressure (and defense), can be exerted along each, and it's not possible for one tank to defend (or attack) all approaches. Thus, capping (or blocking caps) requires strategic positioning, which requires planning and anticipation. Skill with L or whatever is nice, but positioning, and the shadowy web of shifting pressure and counterpressure, is more important for determining outcomes.

If you like, HiX is gameplay-shallow and skillcap-deep, while Two Tanks is gameplay-deep and skillcap-shallow.
(Just to be clear: I do not think one or other extreme is fundamentally 'better' than the other. I have a preference, but they're both 'legitimate'.)
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Re: Campy Players, Not Maps (Case Study: "Two Tanks")

Post by etigah »

You really need to play HiX more if you think it's about memorizing shots and catwalk fights.

Here's the thing, super flags in bzflag are almost comically overpowered. It's always a race to grab the superior weapon to win. Some maps try hard to balance by placing flags strategically and providing cover and counters to each flag, but those maps end up being hard to grasp and no fun at all for me personally. bzflag is a FPS game, it isn't chess, it shouldn't pretend to be a strategy game ..
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Re: Campy Players, Not Maps (Case Study: "Two Tanks")

Post by Zehra »

Agatha wrote: Tue Nov 01, 2022 5:38 pm While I agree that having more players is generally better, I strongly disagree it's required, perhaps especially on Two Tanks. Literally the most advanced and fun bz gameplay IMO is actually 1v1 on Two Tanks, with certain players.

Like, an extremely delicate balance of power exists between the players and the map control they exert, considering their positioning and movement affordances. If I move toward the N/T/TH powerflag cluster, that puts implicit pressure on my opponent's flag, but also leaves my flag potentially vulnerable to counterpressure. Laser on ST tower covers my opponent's treads, ST tower, and turret, forcing disadvantageous opening jumps while allowing dropping for N/T/TH—while also being extremely vulnerable itself to certain shots and strategically poor for flag defense. If I try intercepting an attack on my flag, that gives me strong tactical advantage since I will generally have a stronger powerflag (e.g. L vs. T), but also I have strategic disadvantage since I cede tempo and flag pressure: defense forestalls loss, but cannot win. If my opponent has my flag, do I pursue, trusting on my tactical laser skill for a timely counter, or do I race them to their own flag—with each choice having strengths and weaknesses? And if we have each other's flags, how do we return to our respective bases—the rails/turret (fast, but vulnerable) or ground (slow but steady), with the calculus changing depending on how my opponent acts? . . . And that's just scratching the surface of strategy. The tactical level, of particular shots, strengths of ST tower vs. treads, timing and particulars of turret-jumping to dodge ground shots, nullifying strategic gambles, and everything else, constitute further levels of analysis, probability, and overall depth.
Two Tanks is supposed to be a CTF map with teams, not 1vs1 mind games, strategic and tactical analysis on opponents in simply 1vs1 game scenarios. If it's a challenge which is looked for, it is understood, but given that virtually all maps do have "sectors" where players can be highly skilled and effective in offence to allow "camping" to occur.

To give a simple example/analogy:
If you have a small to mid sized map with only two blocks spaced apart and two players, the player on top of the block will have the advantage if the second player tries to jump on top of the block. (If the block is the right size.) Now we can say, well, the player on the ground denies the player on the block the advantage of the ground. So what if the block happens to be something important, such as a team base, we can't simply say "it's equal" since it is a key and important factor of the map and thus where naturally action/interest will be in.
Agatha wrote: Tue Nov 01, 2022 5:38 pm Few or no true bz newbies exist anymore, but even few regulars care to learn every map like this. They prefer mindless blasting (e.g. Apoc), or deeply mastering only a single map (e.g. Hix). I frown on this because it's intellectually lazy, but I have mostly made my peace with it.
[M]ost maps will almost always have sections where players will tend to frequently use or employ a certain tactic within those areas.
That's totally fine. If you like, one commonly sees treads on Two Tanks used for laser camping. However, my point remains that maps should not be judged on the presence of such features, especially when they constitute a minority of possibilities. Like previously, treads comprise maybe 1% of Two Tanks, and calling Two Tanks 'campy' because of the mere existence (when both players play suboptimally) of a tread-vs.-tread camping minigame, as it were, is fundamentally incoherent. That is, per the title, "Campy Players, Not Maps".

-A
Learning maps to such a level is not that common and it only happens on maps which tend to be rather infrequent in terms of change or update.

So overall, it's a cycle of where certain areas draw interest of certain tactics and techniques naturally. They naturally generate a type of play style or technique based on their settings and variables. (Pacing of maps, type of action...etc)

-Zehra
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Re: Campy Players, Not Maps (Case Study: "Two Tanks")

Post by Bullet Catcher »

BZFlag itself is a gaming framework, and the kind of game you get depends on the map you are in. Most maps, including HiX, provide ample opportunity to use strategy and I wouldn't find it fun otherwise. The strategies used on The Two Tanks and HiX are mostly very different, and the fact that they each appeal to different people is one of BZFlag's strengths.
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