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  • Pub game feedback

    I'm looking for some feedback from players who've played a lot on public servers. Alien Swarm was designed to be played by small groups of friends, where you start the campaign together and play through it. Playing online with random people would be quite a different experience. What are the biggest problems with pub play?

    Joining halfway through the campaign? Are you okay with that? Do you find marines available with enough skill points?

    Random griefers joining and killing everyone?

    People not retrying missions so you lose all the points you've built up?

    Not being able to join servers because you don't have all the custom content they're using? Or having to wait to download it all?

    I'm just throwing out random ideas. If you've played a bunch of pub games, let me know what the biggest problems are.

  • #2
    Assuming you intend us to post here, it would be nice to be able to vote out(by out i mean just stop the save and pro) the leader before they get a chance to get a proceed through after a successful mission, either because they dont think techs are important or because their friends suvived and others didnt. In otherwords, its too easy to save and proceed.

    The command in the game atm "mutate CCinfo" assuming ASI has Custom campaigns, this should be a feature.

    Emotes, we need an / face emote, soo badly do we need this.

    I dont personally mind, but if we're playing an insane camp 4 maps in with 3-5 marines, joining at that point cant be difficult for some people, and in ASws state over the last 2 years if someone cannot hack it they leave and might not return and certainly cant go play on another server with ppl.

    Originally posted by Dalai View Post
    If you've played a bunch of pub games, let me know what the biggest problems are.
    Alien Swarm Map List


    • #3
      Biggest Problems With Pub Play
      • Beginners with skilled techs/medics die frequently, requiring many mandatory or near-mandatory restarts.
      • Frequent deaths and revivals result in unskilled marines on late missions. Experienced players can cope with this, but beginners are caught in a slippery slope and will continue dying or failing.
      • Experienced players are held back by beginners. Most other games have exactly the inverse problem: Beginners are "carried" by experts. The Alien Swarm approach is frustrating for experts (because all of their efforts are for naught), and if they leave, the beginners really have no chance (unless they want to play on ... *shudder* ... easy).
      • On that note, mixing beginners and experts means there's no agreement on difficulty level. Normal is boring for an expert, but Hard is way too intense for a beginner.
      • Experts might be forced into the important medic and tech roles just because they can survive (even if they wanted to play another class). But that means beginners are left to use Sarge and Jaeger and their slip-up-once-and-you'll-instakill-someone shotgun.

      tl;dr -- I'm advocating for slightly less severe penalties for marine death. Maybe take away 50% of the earned stars and allow redistribution, or something. I can think of no other multiplayer game that penalizes you and your team so heavily for dying.

      If you wanna be really daring, I could also go for "personal" difficulty settings instead of a global one. It worked for DDR, didn't it?

      Very Good Things You Absolutely Must Keep
      • Reviving marines in the briefing room. Hey, I played v1.0 where dead was dead and I didn't complain, but that just doesn't fly in public multiplayer.
      • Friendly fire
      • The ideas put forth by the creators of the Telic and Rhea campaigns.
      • Emoticons and voice commands
      • Extended marine bios

      In addition, I personally have no problem with mid-game joining, using low-skill marines, griefers (they can ostensibly be voted out, though a longer temp ban might be nice), people not retrying missions, or downloading custom content.

      And for dragon's sake, put some cup-holders on our keyboards.
      Last edited by Hybrid; 16 Dec 2009, 04:56 PM.


      • #4
        Random Hybrids joining and killing people they don't like.

        Other than that, I think it's pretty much covered.

        Maybe score-based gameplay, where a 'continue' resets your score, which is tallied at the end of mission and/or camp with a suitably entertaining title attached to it, ala, "Greenhorn" through "Cold Fusion Coolers-sponsored Ultramarine".

        Maybe some sort of additional aim-assist, speedloader, or auto-medkit thing which newbies can enable in return for fewer stars/no medal stars or something.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Moses2k View Post
          Random Hybrids joining and killing people they don't like.
          I teamkill because I care.


          • #6
            What Hybrid said.
            The Load-out screen arguments. Would be good to see everyones load-out at the same time.
            Maybe have a feature to give a recommended load-out that is map/class/'what everyone else has' specific.

            Class specific tool tips would be nice so new player knew where they were going and what they should be doing; Demo man place mines to stem flow, Hacker hack here, Auto gunner shoot stuff etc..

            I think all the public game woes I have boil down to difficulty. Although I liked the difficulty as it MADE you work as a team, since it was impossible to get anywhere if you didn't.

            (Sorry I know this was about public games and not ideas, but I got excited since this is the nearest hint we've had of AS:I in ages.)
            Kept an xmas avatar for 3 year(s).


            • #7
              Originally posted by Hybrid View Post
              I teamkill because I care.
              I know of a certain European country's former nationalist party leadership that thought the same way as you do.

              Good ideas, Westy.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Moses2k View Post
                I know of a certain European country's former nationalist party leadership that thought the same way as you do.
                I also heard he was a big fan of association fallacy. Ooh, paradox!


                • #9
                  I haven't played in years and I have no suggestions on fixing the following, but from what I recall ;

                  Griefers, the ones that were worse than Moses. Moses' antics were more creative. Luckily they were few and in a small community got rooted out fast.

                  Character stealing. Mid-campaign, you have gone through several levels with your char and liking it, then a random joins and nicks the character... nothing sort of a kickvote helped if the random wasn't willing or knowledgeable enough to give the specific character back.

                  New players with little patience or otherwise unwilling to learn the ropes (often folks who hadn't even tried the tutorial). Everyone is a newbie at some point but there's a difference being new and doing simple mistakes to being a ADHD kid wanting to play a rambo shmup and then behaving like an impatient ass when he's asked to take it easy.

                  (Specific to certain servers) Reserved slots. If a player is not one of the chosen, nothing annoys more than getting kicked out mid-campaign because someone more privileged joined the server.

                  ... Loading times and startup delays, if I recall correctly. Especially on harder difficulties where restarts are frequent. Add more time if the leader title is on a newbie and the rest of the players have to shout for a couple of minutes for him to click restart, then it's another five minutes selecting the same equipment on the briefing screen. Swarm is dependent on all players being present, so if someone has to fix a sandwich or head to the bathroom, the rest are stuck waiting (well you can leave that AFK techie behind after forcing a start but you know how it ends).

                  Did AS allow muting specific players using the ingame mic chat? I can't remember if it actually happened to me ever but someone making a deliberate ruckus on the mic is annoying if the only option is to toggle all the voip off. Probably not a problem in the future Swarm.

                  Also chiming in with the beginners versus veterans clash - it's hard to satisfy both parties in the same game like said.

                  Oh! Servers that had the idiotic AS deathmatch maps in rotation and suckers who voted for them.
                  My cats are black! How about yours?


                  • #10
                    As for vets v newbs, it was usually doable with two or three vets on the crucials and x newbies, where x is a number, not a certain player.

                    Originally posted by Bucchus View Post
                    Oh! Servers that had the idiotic AS deathmatch maps in rotation and suckers who voted for them.
                    Some of us knew damn well what we were doing.


                    • #11
                      Yep, you just skipped the whole ordeal of actually voting and waiting for the deathmatch map to load
                      My cats are black! How about yours?


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bucchus View Post
                        Wow, totally forgot about that stuff, but good points.
                        Oh, people getting disconnected and leaving their char in the hands of the AI
                        The restart death match when a new player joins mid map.

                        ...why did we like this game again?
                        Kept an xmas avatar for 3 year(s).


                        • #13
                          Ok, this isn't quite what you asked for because these are more general issues with public games (most recently L4D) but I still think it's relevant, feel free to disagree but here you go:
                          • L4D specific - the inability to change between friend only and public permissions mid-game is an annoying omission. eg. Playing a game with 4 friends and one has to leave but none of your other friends can play, you are stuck doing the rest of the campaign one down. You didn't want to start a public game because having to kick randoms because they jump in when someone disconnects/crashes is annoying and mean.
                          • Don't find any issues with noobs vs pros because noobs don't generally join the harder games (hint: it should be easy to filter games on difficulty). It was a problem in ASw because the small community got to the point where everyone was good enough to play pro which meant noobs had no choice but to play on pro servers. Single player, as it was(n't), was nigh impossible. A larger playerbase immediately negates this issue.
                          • Steam specific (and partly just a rant) - I don't normally care about achievements but on a game that I play a lot they ARE a nice addition if they're the type that are a bit of a challenge to get or a bit unusual but don't require me to develop RSI or sink months of my life into getting. Losing a campaign-length achievement because I either went to the bathroom during a level load and am treated as AFK by the game and fail the achievement or a disconnect from the server and immediate rejoin also breaks the achievement despite connecting from the same SteamID. Grrrr. Rediculous ones like 'no friendly fire all campaign' are fine, frustrating but fine
                          • Leading onto disconnects in general. However great your coding there will always be crashes to desktop and computer hangs. Awesome features available are: If a user disconnects unexpectedly, hold the slot open for that player(SteamID) for (90) seconds so they can relaunch and rejoin. Allow a vote to keep that slot open for the player for (3) minutes, if this is during a mission turn the marine into a highly accurate turret so they can fend off attacks but won't advance which *should* balance out ok by keeping the character alive but not overpower them. Nothing is more annoying than reconnecting on L4D to find that the AI used up the medpack you were saving and then ran off and got beaten to a crippled shell just in time for you to reclaim them but you don't want players intentionally disconnecting to get the uber ai. After the timeout open the slot and set the AI to whatever you're doing with the AI normally. You don't want the game to penalise the player for unforseen circumstances but you don't want them 'sploiting either.
                          • Griefers have already been mentioned but when playing L4D I can't say I've encountered many at all, which is at odds with every other online game. I think the issue with them in ASw is that the penalty for being TKd is so great whereas the revival system in L4D means that the other players will kill them as soon as they start TKing and get their victim up (or revive them at the next closet) and continually murder the TKer until they quit (because it's more amusing/satisfying than just kicking them). Although the level up system in ASw was great for friendly campaigns with your buddies I don't think it can work in a more commercial game unless you are more forgiving with it. Even losing a small amount of XP because a TKer killed you is unforgivable. Instead, perhaps have a revival system (maybe even during missions as well) that has some other cost to it and auto revive players at the end of a mission. No-one complains when Space Marines(tm) do it and they're from 'The Future'. They'll lose the potential xp by being too dead to acrue it but the team did the mission and progressed through the game so all dead players will be 'rebuilt' in their last alive state granting them all their previous experience. Aim to have a player level up to maximum about 60-70% through a game and keep pushing the difficulty curve after that so that players who died can still level to max but will be playing levels a bit more difficult because they should already be there.

                          I know I keep referring to L4D but that's because it does a lot of things very well. The progression between levels very much so; a team with fewer players is less likely to succeed and thus the round auto-restarts but even if one player makes it the teamwork to get them there means that all the players feel like a victory was achieved. The penalty of the dead players starting on half health with no equipment encourages players to get everyone through a level safely rather than just a token player and let everyone else die protecting them. Restarting a level because everyone died is unavoidable and only becomes frustrating enough to quit on somewhere between 10 and 30 repetitions, restarting it because some arrogant pro wants a perfect score (looking from the noob perspective here) is really annoying especially when they blame you for not getting that score. That's not the pro's fault here, it's because the game penalises them for not having that perfect score so it's a flaw in the game design. Penalties for dying in a mission are ok but they shouldn't cripple a player permanently, a temporary handicap of some form is ideal as it makes the next level even harder but allows you to play even better and get helped by your team to get through until you're up to your old self again.

                          That's all I can think of for now but I hope it helps some. I'll post anything else I can think of later.

                          Edit: Oh, oh. Just re-read the OP and I didn't mention downloads. That's something that L4D does very, very wrong. Extra missions should be downloaded either from the server or a generic repository in-game. They should include version numbers and it should be possible to install multiple versions of the same mission. The download cache shouldn't auto-delete missions after a couple of weeks as it did in UT (perhaps a menu option to show how much space you're using and where the folder is - or more complex but that's extra coding and disk usage would be enough for basics). If players connect to servers via a lobby system like L4D the server should wait for all players from the lobby to connect before starting the game (the client should obviously report to the server that it's still downloading to avoid waiting forever - maybe even show players in-game an estimated download time for the connecting clients on the hud? Extra awesome would be options to kick the player/s or return everyone to the lobby to pick a different misison). Simpsons voicepacks are a firm negatory, just allow mission downloads and let mappers put custom models and sounds in there instead if they really must.
                          Last edited by Chainsaws; 17 Dec 2009, 06:03 AM.
                          One of the three LANers of the Apocalypse!
                          The Unforgiven Casual Gaming Group - New Members Welcome


                          • #14
                            The biggest problems with pub play

                            A lot (true) points have been made here already.
                            These are the biggest problems imho:

                            Not having the same content as the server with the need to download it BUT not knowing what is missing an how long it would take to download it all.

                            Download starts again only because the map has been restarted. All progress was lost.

                            Having the need to idle ingame but bots dont take over. I like the "Take a Break" option from L4D. However, I always get mad when the damn bots lose my favorite primary weapon, take duals instead of my favorite malee weapon, heal because they have lost like 10% and so on. The bot should take over, defend itself, ammo up and thats all.

                            AlienSwarm is unique in having the emoticons. All games should have the GO, STOP, HAPPY, ANGRY, ATTENTION emoticons. I miss that in every other online game.

                            No option to mute a players voice (and let him know about it)

                            Open microphon option (like in L4D) makes me angry. That's why there is teamspeak.

                            Not having the option to place a xmas hat on your avatar.

                            Not knowing the level (easy, normal, hard, etc.) before joining a game.

                            Not having an option to switch between friends-only and public game.

                            Not having an "lobby-administrator" once the game has already been startet.

                            Not having the option for resslots for my own server.

                            Not having a webadmin or ingame admin interface by default.

                            Not having a suitable, well comented config file for the dedicated server as example. Let's face it what you get for the source dedicated server sucks. It also sucks to just copy the default ini from ut like you did with alienswarm and have there lots of useless lines. Not very admin is a pro. But if you want lots of servers available to serve your game you need to make it as easy as possible.

                            A system that requires you to update and reboot your server manually nearly every week (damn you valve ).

                            Not having an option to keep your marine. I think it should be possible to change it but only after the "owner" has given it free. Checkbox?

                            Someone else placing your stars!

                            Moses knowing the IP of your server.

                            Ban by vote (wtf?). Only the owner/admin should be allowed to ban someone. Vote-kicks should not be valid longer then an hour or so. However, that should be logged into a single file or sending a notification to the owner/admin.

                            A game schedule for next xmas never to be released in the next years. Yes, we will complain till you release it!

                            A lobby system that does not allow you to select your own servers ip address (like in l4d, that's one point I dislike) other then using a console command. Why just not have a box in the lobby screen? (why valve? why? )

                            Not having text to speach. However, if you implement it you can not use the build-into-windows verion cause MS Mary makes me wana TK Windows 7.

                            Special suggestions for a Alien Swarm alike game to make it more beginners friendly (dont get me wrong I would not need that when I play with my friends cause we have no problem with restarting daylight 20 times on insane):

                            Option to have ingame savepoints after every milestone. Daylight as example: Savepoint after first hack. Savepoint after 2 hack when the breaker has been done and the core has been closed again. Example Salvage: Savepoint before the holdout at the end.
                            Example Underneath: Savepoint when the beam goes down before you start the battle against elvis.
                            When the team has been wiped out you can select (by vote?) if you want to start from the beginning or the last savepoint. This would prevent frustrations.

                            Option to personaly give yourself a bonus or malus. Viewable for others. That would help in a mixed team (pros and beginners)

                            Option to get hints ingame like arrows and outlines that help you to understand what you have to do next.

                            That's all for the moment
                            Last edited by Felix; 17 Dec 2009, 07:49 AM.
                   | [email protected]


                            • #15
                              AlienSwarm is unique in having the emoticons. All games should have the GO, STOP, HAPPY, ANGRY, ATTENTION emoticons. I miss that in every other online game.

                              I like mary.

                              Oh yes, we love the toggle auto reload function btw, do not remove this! Nothing more annoying than "i died cus i was reloading, i was reloading because my ammo was out even tho i didnt press shoot(reload when empty) while i had 00 ammo."
                              Alien Swarm Map List