Friday, September 3, 2010

"Valor Perspectives" by that_id

The first of our "faction columns" is reserved for none other than KEQ's that_id. A Valor stalwart, You can read his thoughts on various things in the MAG-verse here, every friday.

"Why Faction Neutral Sucks."
A Valor Perspective.

My thoughts on the matter of reversible maps arise from the original beta last year. During the original beta almost a year ago, myself and others had first proposed the idea of reversible maps. Playing a different PMC every week or two, you notice map imbalance rather quickly, so my initial thoughts on a reversible map had been to allow players on any PMC to show how good they are on a fair battlefield by letting them play on all of them instead of giving any one PMC an advantage; whether or not it was simply perceived or in fact real. 

Once the game had launched, most of the beta players had locked in on a PMC and the shadow war for contracts had truly begun. My amended idea arose from my confusion stemming from the shadow war however. When we had no contracts, we would have to attack the other PMCs and when we had both contracts, we spent all of our time defending. This became rather stagnant, rather quickly. Anytime I do something more than twice in a row, I get rather bored. My idea was to make the ‘ownership’ of the map itself part of the contract. If one PMC has the contract for another’s map (in any game mode), then the PMC that owns that contract becomes the defender of that map. If Valor takes SVER’s contract for Syr Daria Uplink in Sabotage, for instance, then SVER (and Raven) would have to attack Valor at Syr Daria until Valor loses that contract. It was so simple, elegant and logical that I couldn’t understand why the game hadn’t been written that way. In fact the way it works now rails against the very definition of the term ‘contract award.’ 

At about the same time Zipper made Sabo ‘reversible,’ they also released Interdiction. While Sabo is ‘reversible,’ Interdiction is ‘Faction Neutral.’ While I definitely like the new era of ‘Faction Neutral’ maps with the latest being ‘Escalation,’ I do miss having maps that a PMC owns, for better or worse. Each map’s color-tone, layout and overall feel are very well designed and geographically located to be inherent to one PMC or another. Defending your own map can be a bitter-sweet matter of honor and frustration, but will always evoke these emotions whether the map is ‘reversible’ or ‘faction neutral,’ easy or hard, seriously lacking or OP. 

As most, I do like to play every map from every angle of attack or defense; Interdiction and Escalation have brought about a paradigm shift for MAG players when it comes to ‘ours .vs. theirs.’  While in Interdiction your PMC will always spawn in the same position, Escalation has taken it one further and randomized the spawn points between the 3 PMCs, leaving only the coloring, textures, architecture and feel of the map to any one PMC, with almost no other sense of ownership of the map. 

While I somewhat agree with those proponents for ‘giving us our maps back,’ I definitely have to state that I prefer the fairness of competition of being able to compete on any terrain from any side. I would, however, love to see these ideas masterfully blended by giving the ownership of the map itself to the ‘contract awardees.’ I could imagine no greater feeling than one PMC winning a map from another that they felt was over powered, then having to defend it as their own, or the rallying battle-cry that would be heard from a PMC that had lost their map to insurgent rivals. While I feel that there are several issues that all circle around the ‘shadow war’ and it’s contracts, several points of confusion and many code tweaks that need to be done to the calculations, queuing and the meaning shadow war in and of itself, I think that reversible/faction neutral maps need to take on a greater role at the very heart of the shadow war. Zipper, give the map to the contract, make that the reason behind the switch. I think you’ll find players a lot happier with a logical reason to it and one that gives heightened purpose to the singular plot point of this game – the ‘Shadow War.’


  1. I cant be more agree with you, you take out my thought of my mind.