Tobold's Blog
Thursday, October 17, 2019
Modern games and team spirit

Imagine the following situation in World of Tanks: Three tanks from one team are around the corner from a single enemy tank. If they move around the corner, they will easily kill him. However the enemy tank sees the three tanks, and is pre-aimed at the corner, so the first one of the three to move will take big damage and potentially die, before the other two then finish off the enemy. So, do the three tanks rush around the corner, or not?

Obviously from a team point of view, rushing around the corner is the best option, the one getting the team closer to the win. The single tank isn't going to make a move, and if the three tanks wait around the corner, the single tank has basically neutralized three enemies. However modern games work with individual scores and rewards. Being first through the breach and getting killed scores you zero points, being one of the two other tanks that then farm the enemy tank while he reloads scores you lots of points. Playing for the team diminishes your personal rewards. Yes, if you do the same amount of damage, a win gives you more xp than a loss. But a team win in which you didn't do much damage because you died early is as bad as a loss, or sometimes worse. The guy camping in the back in a strong defensive position that does nothing for a team win might end up with more xp than the player who is heroically at the front.

For me this is bad game design. In other words, the incentives of the game push the player to act against the best interest of his team. The "more skilled" a player gets, the more he understands that personal sacrifice is against his interest, and the less he will play for his team rather than for himself. Rushing around the corner and getting shot is for noobs. If by the randomness of the matchmaker you don't have any noobs on your team, everybody camps and the game is a boring draw that takes forever.


I agree this kind of problem is a fault of the developers who created the incentive system.

It's a problem though that a lot of games seem to have.

MWO suffers from the exact same dilemma. Teammates should be sharing armor in order to preserve the groups firepower. But most veteran players learn quickly that taking point ends up with you dead if your team doesnt follow you up. So lots of times you'll see lines of mechs just peeking corners instead of pushing because everyone is too scared to take point.

Games cant seem to find an elegant way to encourage true cooperation in situations like this.
True, @big. The worst moments are when you decide to take one for the team and then the team gets too scared to farm the enemy while he is reloading.

Is is similar with the spotting, as everyone hugs the red line and no one wants to spot.
The problem is that individual incentives make players selfish, but if the rewards depend on the team's results instead you get a problem with leeches. I've played too many PvP battlegrounds in games like SWTOR or RIFT where there's been that guy who goes AFK (and usually stealthed) in a quiet corner of the map, trusting in the rest of the team to earn him his rewards.

In an actual team situation it's less of an issue because the team can deal with a problem player of either sort (leech or hot dog) by 'counselling' them or kicking them out. When your 'team' is a random selection of individuals thrown together for the one match and who may never interact again, that's not an option. So if you want cooperative behaviour, you need to find some way of putting players in persistent teams.
Sounds like an easy fix: winning team all get x rewards, losing team get y whatevers. The downside of this is you end up with afk leechers I imagine.

I don't play the game so I'm not sure if there are time limits or map borders and what not but a true team would send at least one of the three guys to try flank the enemy. Taking him out without anyone receiving damage would be the best result.
Wot does have the problem of punishing the people who actually push the game. But PUG PVP games always have the problem that nobody can really coordinate very well and you have little incentive to play as a team.

Kinda sounds like you need to find a new game. It's just nonstop complaints about WoT around here; it's not the only game in the world.
You could say that my blog was nonstop complaint about World of Warcraft for a decade. :) We only complain about the games we love.
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