Ultimate Sleight of Hand (MMO FPS where everybody wins)

jwatte's picture

Thinking about how a MMO FPS like Planetside was most fun when you were in a good group, and you were winning, I started thinking about how you could set up a situation where each side can have the impression that it's winning. Playing FPS against NPCs is not as much fun as playing against other people, so it seems like a preposterous idea at the outset. However, I realized that it might actually be doable!

The trick is to run two servers; one favoring the red team, and one favoring the blue team (the concept scales out to more teams, too). For example, you could favor one side by only allowing half of the players from the other side to be visible. Thus, on the red server, there are players R1 through R4, and they only see players B1 and B2. On the blue server, players B1 through B4 see players R1 and R2.

initial setup

On the red server, the moves of players B1 and B2 from the blue server are mirrored, so you are playing against actual people. Those people may or may not see you specifically, but at least see some number of your teammates.

Now, on the red server, the red players will fight the two visible blue players. Meanwhile, on the blue server, the blue players will fight the two visible red players.

exchange of fire

Assuming all else is equal, on the red server, the blue players will lose more hitpoints than the red players. Meanwhile, on the blue server, the red players will lose more hitpoints than the blue players. The trick here is that you only see the hitpoints you lose on your own server -- i.e. your enemies will see you losing more hitpoints than you see yourself. Thus, on the enemy server, if you are R1 or R2, you will die, but on your own server, you will hopefully kill B1 and B2 before that happens (with the help of your teammates).

hitpoint outcome

So, on the red server, B1 and B2 turn into corpses, but on the blue server, they keep playing (with diminished hitpoints). Now, to keep the population at the desired ratio, the players R3 and R4 "spawn" in the middle of the blue server. This is the hardest part, because they will literally pop in in the middle of the action, rather than just spawn at some spawn site (hey, this will prevent spawn camping, too!). Perhaps the mythos of the game could involve battle computers teleporting enemy players straight onto the battlefield, so "popping in" would be some kind of pixelated rezzing animation.

Similarly on the red server, B3 and B4 "spawn" wherever they are at.

new spawn

I believe this could actually be made to work, gameplay wise, for certain game designs. Especially "team deathmatch" type games could work fine this way. Each side would feel like they are winning, while they would still play real opponents. However, certain gameplay styles, where specific individuals matter more (like "VIP Escort," "capture the flag" etc) would not work as well. Perhaps some of that could be worked around by saying that the "important" roles are always visible, or that players are always visible if they are close to some important point (the flag base in CTF, or the hack room in Planetside).

I think that this design, at the very least, deserves a good prototype. It might be a lot of fun to play a game where everybody wins :-)

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