[Metagame Design Meeting Idea] Adding goals, revamping resources and creating memorable gameplay: The Unified Metagame Concept

Reddit thread where you can vote for this idea.


It took quite a lot of work and effort to get it finished. Some ideas are literally years old and were originally intended for PlanetSide 1.
It's a long text. It's a lot of ideas, many of which require you to think with them, in stead of against them. No video's, no pictures as I didn't have the time.

Thanks in advance for reading!


Design philosophy:

I stand by the idea that PlanetSide 2 is the kind of game that should offer players the tools to create fun and content. PlanetSide 2 should not be a theme-park but more of a sandbox. Therefore I believe that the players should be the ultimate prime movers and not X or Y random mechanic introduced by the developers.

I understand that I am not a game developer and I am actually assuming that if a developer were to consider the here proposed concepts they would do a better job at fleshing them out. It's not because I can drive a car that I can design one.

I am extremely aware that many of the by me proposed ideas are not new and have been proposed by other people. Credit to everyone involved. I consider this idea to be a community-product, not just mine. What I did was merely try to detect the flaws of certain ideas and try to use other ideas to compensate for those flaws.

Metagame defined:

One of the central concepts of a worthwhile and functioning metagame is creating the need for human interaction and coordination.

Another focus should be to provide a more dynamic and varied experience that is worthy of rememberance.

A key element is to create noteworthy goals to trigger a sense of accomplishment that will make people remember these unique events.

Of any game I know PlanetSide 2 has the most potential to generate epic moments. A piece of software that turns player-input into amazing moments. The kind of moments people will tell stories about. "Remember when...".

Players should be guided towards fun and rewarding situations. The playing-field should be dynamic and generate unique events that offer rewarding gameplay.

The core concepts:

These are the ideas that are central to the Unified Metagame Concept. Everything below that is an attempt at creating a practical way to achieve these ideas. But these practical incarnations are absolutely not set in stone and are IMHO not at all as good as they should be. They merely provide a basis and also act as an aide to better imagine the core concepts. An illustration. While I welcome people commenting on these examples I do think addressing the core concepts is more important.

Without further ado, the core concepts:

  1. Make resources important by introducing ways to make resources impact the battlefield.
  2. These ways to impact the battlefield should be visible and alluring enough to constitute goals.
  3. Upgrades that can be applied to a region consume X of Y resources each tick. Without these resources they will stop working. Apart from that a consistent effort should be made to make the resource system appealing to all kinds of players.
  4. The longer a region is in a faction's hands the more resources and other rewards (xp, medals, ...) it will yield and the larger the incentives for defending and attacking.
  5. Resources flow from the warpgate to a region at a rate determined by the number of captured regions around said region.
  6. Introduce a command structure players can invest time in and that can be used to guide the players and generally provide context. This way not only the players affiliated to an outfit are able to join into the metagame, but also the zerglings.

Not a core concept, but vitally important is that the low population experience bonus is continent-based, not server-based.

Command System:

The command system is intended to offer context, an ever-developing "story", a goal in itself (becoming a notable leader) and in large part to appeal to the extremely fresh recruit who needs some direction.

Overview of other command systems:

The system:

If you're a squad/platoon leader it should be possible to be voted on by your squad and platoon members.

Instead of a general score (for example in a range of 1-5 stars) I would prefer a few different rankings, for example, “communication” and “Insight”. This to subtly urge people to think about their score and to decrease the odds that the scoring becomes purely a popularity contest.

When a sufficient average has been achieved the squad/platoonleader becomes a Tier 1 Commander

Tier 1 Commanders have access to a /sitrep channel. This channel is visible to everyone in Tier 1 and above. Their presence there and their ability to suggest certain actions, their prowess on the battlefield and the accuracy of their sitreps can be voted on by Tier 1 and above, with Tier 2 and Tier 3 votes being of more worth. When a sufficient average has been achieved the Tier 1 Commander can become a Tier 2 Commander.

T1C's should also have other tools available to offer battlefield information, such as notes on the map accessible by T2C's and T3C's.

Tier 2 Commanders have access to a /leader channel. This channel is visible to everyone in Tier 2 and above. This channel is used to debate and discuss the server situation and the course of action. This time it is possible to nominate and vote on a Tier 2 Commander to become Tier 3 (using for example /votetier3 [name]) or to possibly demote someone.

The only extra power of a Tier 3 Commander is the ability to use extra communication commands. /broadcast : Talks to everyone on the continent.

 /broadcastserver : Talks to everyone on the server.

 /broadcastsquads : Talks to all squadleaders.

 /broadcastplatoons : Talks to all platoonleaders.

It should be possible for all players to ignore these communications.

Reasoning behind the system:

I’m aware of the unintuitive and cumbersome nature of this process.

This has disadvantages but also advantages. Only people who are willing to put some effort in the process will be inclined to invest the necessary time.

I know it will favor outfit leaders (as they will have an easier time getting the required votes). Perhaps it would be necessary to limit the amount of people from one outfit from being able to become Tier 2, although nothing stops people from creating more outfits.

But still I think this proposal sufficiently combines certain democratic and meritocratic elements to make it rather hard to game the system into being used for childish BS.

Ideally commanders would have tools to communicate ideas and long term plans to players. Enemy commanders would be aware of certain tendencies so therefore the secrecy loss would be minimal when certain information (correct or a ruse...) would be given to PUG's.

Will this cause drama and conflict and whatnot? Yes, I can't see how it won't. Is that bad? Nah.

How resources work and what to spend them on:

How will the resources be divided/managed?

There are four entities that should deal with resources.

How will resources become available to each of these entities?

How does the flow of resources work?

They are consumed where they are used. All of the weapons/effects/upgrades/outfit-sidegrades in a lump-sum fashion, except for the Central Command issued regional downgrades/upgrades which have a cost per tick.

Individual players have a personal stockpile.

The personal stockpile has an upper limit and needs to be replenished when drained, which happens each tick.

This is as it works now.

The replenishment amount depends on the strategic status of the region one is in.

Resources can only be used from the stockpile (which is "located" at the warpgate) if the player is territorially connected to the warpgate.

Regions receive resources proportional to the percentage of their hexes that are connected to friendly territory. If, on Amerish, Deepcore Geolab is only connected to Lithcorp Secure Mine then Deepcore Geolab will only receive 1/72 of its possible maximum resource flow. (The2 or another multiplier is because I want being cut-off feel different enough from being barely connected. It should be quite a dramatic moment, of course there are better ways to fix the math governing this rule, so this is just a possibility)

Contrary to the flow warpgate->Region the flow Region->warpgate should in my opinion remain unrestrictable except by completely cutting of the region. This to make completely cutting off a territory more important and dramatic an event compared to merely largely encircling that region.

The longer regions are in allied hands the more resources they yield each tick, and the more exp people will get for defending and succesfully taking them over.

This is superior to the concept of having set upgrades when a base is captured (base 19 gives upgrade B) as it offers more flexibility, freedom and community banding (base 19 gives 15 Air Resource per tick which can be spent on a variety of upgrades, anywhere on the map if the resource flow to the region holding the upgrade allows for it.

Considering regions need a constant and sufficiently large influx of resources (determined by the amount of connected allied hexes) to maintain their upgrades territorial cohesion becomes a goal in itself. I would guess there will be two kinds of regions.

Core and frontline.

Core are deeper into allied territory (closer to the warpgate) and are more fiercely defended as they are worth more.

Frontline regions often change hands, yield fewer resources and have less developed upgrades.

Frontline regions that are to be fortified will be temporarily more vulnerable as the defenses of the previous frontline regions (now core regions) are to wind down, gradually costing less per tick and gradually having less of an effect (which should take a while) and still have to ramp up in the new regions. Of course a wise central command could have hoarded resources to allow a temporary loss per tick as they temporarily assign more upgrades/downgrades than they can afford.

But a wise enemy central command could have also hoarded resources to make a counter-offensive more powerful…

This element introduces longer-term planning.

It will be quite important to attack entire frontlines in a more coordinated fashion since the number of defensive/enemy hexes around the main target has to be decreased and the number of offensive/allied hexes should be increased.

Any logistics system (for which I will argue below) should be limited enough to not compete with the “the more allied hexes the more resources”-rule but should still be quite valuable in a pinch. Ideally, given enough preparation, it should also make incursions deep into enemy territory possible.

Kinds of upgrades/modifiers and generally ways to spend resources:

I would prefer for upgrades to have noticeable and strong effects. I would prefer a fewer number of recognizable and noticable upgrades/downgrades than a large numbers of overly subtle upgrades/downgrades. Of course the developers have the numbers and the methods to calculate actual balance, so only general ideas and no numbers are listed below to provide examples and a general feel for what I'm going here.

Of course there are different upgrades with different costs and effects. I would really prefer to also have some pretty large upgrades (such as flying battleships, [insert huge grin]) that could be goals to achieve. Getting enough resources for that behemoth would be a real accomplishment for all involved. Achieving a goal should be properly announced. Animated pop-ups, hand-out medals ("Was present when X continent was capped and valiantly defended/attacked") , hand out certs or exp. The harder the goal, the bigger a deal it should be.

But of course not only the capture of a continent should be a big deal. Conquering or defending a high-resource base should have an announcment system that scales with the importance of the achievement.

Resources and spending them will make them both serve as a means and a goal.

Possible upgrades on a region or super-region scale (these are just examples):

Possible upgrades on a sub-region scale (these are just examples):

Outfit upgrades:

There should be outfit upgrades with a resource cost per tick. If I'm not mistaken this idea has been mentioned by the developers in the past. With an upkeep cost an Outfit can buy upgrades. This could fit in the theme of specialized outfits. To further the idea of specialized outfits, and to increase balance, the concept of the sidegrade should be adopted. Every upgrade should also have a downside.

It would be prudent to have the cost/tick be proportional to the number of players in the outfit. This way a small outfit can be as specialized as a larger one.

The decrease of the cost due to lesser members cost should work with a delay. Because otherwise all members of an outfit could leave to game the system by reducing the bonus cost.

Inactive outfit members should no longer yield the outfit any resources anymore after a while.

The full effect of the outfit bonus on a new outfit recruit should onyl take effect if the recruit has been a member of the outfit for some time.

Notes about upgrades/downgrades/corp bonusses:

Very, very important that the upgrades that should be visible are clearly communicated to the players. Preferably less by map-icons and explanations in the interface but more with in-game HUD icons and pop-ups. I can not stress this enough. In an ideal world visible changes in bases could help communicate the status a region is in.

The Paradox grand-strategy games are rather complicated, but they provide hover-over pop-ups about each variable, explaining why number A has X value, so I believe handing out the information should be possible.

Players should be able to choose whether or not to engage in the proces of creating dynamism and coordination or to just undergo it.

Sub-ideas that increase balance, were likely to come up and solve certain issues, but that need more consideration:

Evaluation:

It does seem like there are more disadvantages than advantages, but in the end the advantages have more impact IMHO and are less hypothetical.

Advantages:

Disadvantages: