Team Commanders

Infinity:Battlescape will be a team game and teamwork will be an important component, not just in deciding the victor of a match, but also in making the game engaging and entertaining for the pilots. The ability to fly in formation, to pool resources to purchase capital ships, and to spawn at carriers all show that the developers intend for teamwork to be a large part of the game. But how do you encourage teamwork with hundreds of players scattered across multiple battlescapes spread out among an entire solar system? How does the team decide who to donate resources to for the purchase of capital ships, which capital ships those players will buy, and where to fly those capital ships? How does the team decide what to do with so many voices suggesting different things in the middle of a hectic combat situation? Without a great deal of team spirit and communication I fear things will rapidly devolve into something close to an every pilot for themselves dog-fighting simulator with only small squads working together in any meaningful way.

I think having a team commander may go a long way towards promoting teamwork and making the game more fun. First, let me go through the rationale for why I think a commander would be useful and then address the specifics of how the role might work and the difficulty of implementing it.

With multiple battlescapes spread across the system there is the potential for many battles to be occurring simultaneously. Having a commander to coordinate attacks and defenses would of course be useful to a team, but also promote cooperation and I think make playing the game more fun. Suggesting where players are needed, whether they need bombers or interceptors, and which targets they should focus fire would all be essential roles of a commander. Having a commander also allows for more advanced tactics such as simultaneous attacks, diversionary attacks, and stealthy group maneuvers. All of these would be very difficult to manage between strangers on the fly with no commander.

A commander would also help a great deal with resource management. According to the kickstarter page, resources are to be randomly distributed among the players on a team, with the option for those players to donate their resources to another player for the purchase of more expensive things. I have trouble seeing this working on public servers filled with strangers. If I were playing with friends in a squad, then sure, I would contribute money for a trusted squadmate to purchase a capital ship, and then fly alongside it and support it. But in a public game full of strangers would anyone really give their own resources to a random person asking for it? How can I trust this person not to ram an asteroid, fly it into the sun, or go on a suicidal solo attack run against the enemy’s most heavily defended installation? A commander could alleviate this problem by deciding what capital ships are needed and informing the team who to donate to. One simple setup would be for any players who want to follow the commander to simply donate money to the commander, and the commander can then distribute it to the right players. Once a capital ship is purchased the commander can inform the team of its location and destination, and encourage team members to support it.

A final role for a commander would be diplomacy. Since there are going to be three teams, inter-team communication and coordination could also be a very interesting and rewarding aspect to the game. When one faction grows too powerful the other two can team up to bring them back down. But I don’t see how a diplomatic discussion between two teams of multiple people all of whom are currently flying ships in combat could ever work. And even if two teams did reach some sort of consensus of truce or general agreement to work together it would be instantly broken by rogue individuals. I think this sort of cooperation would be practically impossible without a single commander to do the negotiating. If the diplomatic talks happened between commanders then it seems to me that things could actually get done.

I think commanders would go a long way towards fostering teamwork and more interesting gameplay. Without them I fear that the entire game is at risk of becoming launch, fight, die, launch again. Commanders would allow the team to work together and execute complex strategies that would elevate the gameplay above a team deathmatch. There are several team based combat games with some amount of resource management and progression and to my knowledge they all have commanders. Allegiance (which is actually fairly close to I:B in terms of setting, flight mechanics, team sizes, and game length), Natural Selection 2, and Planetside 2 all have commanders in some sense.

So how would commanders be implemented? Very simply I think. All you need is a voting system that allows players to elect a commander. Anyone who wants to be commander nominates themselves, a popup asks the rest of the team to vote yes or no, and if a majority of the team votes yes then they are made commander. At any time another player may nominate themselves and if they receive a majority of the votes they replace the old commander. What do commanders get? Maybe make everything they type a little bigger, a little bolder. Just something to signify they are the commander. Perhaps the ability to pin standing orders to the top of the chat box so people know what they should be doing. That should be all that is necessary. Commanders don’t need any additional powers or privileges. Players would be free to listen to or ignore the commander as they pleased, but presumably the majority of them, having voted for the commander in the first place, would pay some heed.

Yeah, keep it as simple as possible while solving the big issues that will come with being a persistent (until a team wins) multiplayer game. Let players organise themselves but offer tools to make things easier. Commanders could, for example, decide what powers other players have (e.g. who can put way-points/markers on the map)

I wouldn’t even implement the voting system. Just as with EVE Online, publish the fact that you’re taking pilots and let people find you. The players who are regulars on the server will get to be known, and folks will just automatically sign up with them when they log on. The leaders will get to know each other and they’ll informally coordinate how their side is going to operate. If they are successful then players will keep following them. If not, then they’ll look for new leaders. If nobody else steps up to the plate, they’ll look for another server.

Publishing a desire to lead can be as simple as spamming a global channel. It could be more sophisticated, with those offering leadership posting their names to some public list. If you’re looking for a leader, go to the list and offer your services.

Allow for hierarchies that can be shuffled around. A commander of 10 may find himself with 100 very quickly, and he can assign sergeants who each manage 10 of those pilots while he operates as overall commander. Keep it fluid.

Something like Asheron’s Call’s allegiance system might work well, with commanders getting a fraction of the money that their troops receive. In return, anything they buy with that money must go to someone in the unit. So if there’s a capital ship on the line, the squad members can be sure that either the commander or one of them will get it. Again, if they don’t like the distribution of goodies, they can go looking for some other commander, taking their contribution with them (it’s refundable if you leave, and is all pulled back out again when you join up somewhere else).

It’s just EVE Online with temporary and fluid corporations based on individuals.

The gameplay itself should provide a variety of tasks of different sizes, and even a hierarchy of tasks. To take a factory from the enemy requires simultaneously breaking the power flow to the shields (and keeping it down) while flying down through the atmosphere to gain superiority so that a hauler group can come in and deliver the ‘conquest supplies’. Add in any support units that are needed to make all this happen.

And tasks of simply different sizes. A 3-pilot task is to go scout a space station. A 12-pilot task is to escort a hauler. A 30-pilot task is to secure a new factory. A 100-pilot task is to defend a factory from a new assault. And so on, ideally with many such tasks at each level. It gives command opportunities to lots of different players, and it spreads out groups of players.

Organizing tasks (and communication) into a hierarchy spatially would be another useful trick. Operations around a space station are within the operational limits of a moon which are within the operational limits of a planet. One player might be responsible for each hierarchical level.

There are many possibilities for organizing players. Mostly it would boil down to a player deciding who they want to take orders from. When they make that decision, they give up some of their money accumulation so that grander goals can be achieved.

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I think battlefield had a nice system. People can join squads. Squads have a leader. Squads leaders are organized by a commander. Each has different abilities and lines of communication that can help them organize. The squad votes for their leader or commander from a number of volunteers.

I’m not saying Battlescape should be an exact copy of that, but it’s a good example of teamwork.


The ideal system from battlefield is battlefield 2 or 2142 if you need to reference their system at all. The newer ones are pretty bland in the way of options.

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I’d rather it work like the Alien side in Natural Selection, and not the human side like you’re all saying.

Especially if games can last hours, to have something that lasts hours and is hopeless because one guy sucks is horrible.

In Battlefield there always was the option to mutiny.

I would like I-Novae to try something new for tough.

Sorry, Hobo, I didn’t read your post all the way, but if your idea is basically to give one player the ability to indicate strategic moves to the masses, I think that it is not really a major feature that is needed. Even if it was added to the game, it would be largely useless as most factions will probably end up creating their own teamspeak server/private discord community or whatever and will all coordinate together on the fly with each side having their own unique heirarchy. These kind of things are best left to grow organically rather than creating them artificially.

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If you have 100 players on a team, how many of those are AFK during the vote since it isn’t the most fast paced games and battles can last a long time, and how many votes do you actually need for mutiny, and how much shit can go wrong in that amount of time between you realize they’re screwing up and you hopefully succeed in voting them out?

This sounds like something that should be a mod and not how the base game works.

You can command people with your words, suggesting that they should do something with their points or whatever.

Let’s not forget that the arena should be as much fun for someone hoping in for 30 minutes than someone spending much more time.

Most of the time, people will come with their group of friends, either as they are, either as a big clan.
Small groups are OK, since they can make skrimishes and disorganize defenses. Big clans will mostly follow their leaders anyway. Having an UI is always useful though: showing the player close to reach the needed resource is always good.

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I think he was inspired by the idea that people can contribute money to others. If the game relies on that for the fancier items, requiring cooperation, then some sort of teamwork system would make a lot of sense. The team leader could get team assets. In ARMA 3 terms, the team members would buy their infantry gear while the team leader might pick up a transport vehicle for the team; a big upgrade that no single player could reasonably afford.

From that standpoint, I think he’s right, that something formal is needed to allow players to direct that money easily and automatically.

Like you, I don’t see a need for a formal system of voting and issuing commands. Give the players the tools to organize and leave it to them to use those tools.

Yeah but that seems almost as simple as a chat command like:

/givemoney < USERNAME > < AMOUNT >

I mean you can implement a UI system too, I just dont see the need for a “team commander”.

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The existence of squads, clans, guilds and other player groups is all well and good, but it isn’t sufficient for the entire player base. There are going to be pickup games and public servers with players who don’t have the time or interest in joining some sort of group and just want to hop into a server and play. Without a commander these players will have a tough time working together to complete objectives, manage the team’s resources, and negotiate with the other two teams. The commander doesn’t need any special powers to give orders or commands, I’m just suggesting they be recognized as the commander so players will value what they say. The commander role simply designates a player as a leader that the majority of the team has elected to the position and will presumably follow.

The existence of the commander role doesn’t preclude player groups from coordinating together, it’s just there to facilitate teamwork and coordination among strangers in public servers.

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Yep, that would be the most basic implementation. @GalacticHobo was pursuing a model where the game would know about the trust relationship between players and a central commander, allowing the commander to receive regular infusions of cash without everyone having to remember to keep issuing /givemoney commands. But that was only one aspect of having an overall commander.

[quote=“GalacticHobo, post:13, topic:1221”]
The existence of squads, clans, guilds and other player groups is all well and good, but it isn’t sufficient for the entire player base. There are going to be pickup games and public servers with players who don’t have the time or interest in joining some sort of group and just want to hop into a server and play.[/quote]

I think you misunderstand the scope of squads, platoons and companies. These are temporary structures that are just like your commander system, except hierarchical and more granular. In ARMA 3, squads they are organized all the time on pickup servers. Somebody says “I’m gonna run a squad” and people go over to him and ask to join his squad. Or somebody says “I need a commander and gunner for a tank” and folks call out their willingness to join. All it takes is a little enthusiasm to get the ball rolling. It’s the classic “looking for group” stuff in fantasy MMOs.

Even when folks don’t form official units, they easily work together because they understand the rules of the game. Then there’s the ad hoc leadership that comes from the player who is simply the sort to take charge and start getting things done. He’ll fly down to the uncontested factory and start doing whatever players do with such things. A swarm of friendlies will take that as a cue to help out, to scout the area for enemy ships, and so on. There’s stuff to do and they’ll just dive in and do it. Just give the players the information that they need and it’ll all happen.

If there are clans and such, then when a bunch of clan guys show up, they can quickly form squads and platoons in ways that they’re comfortable with, but they can also attach those structures to other units already in the game - including a single overall commander.

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A commander might also be a good way to handle and direct limited resources.

For example, instead of having the Ion Cannon (or whatever anti-capital ground structure they end up using) decide which target to shoot at on its own, the commander or a nearby squad leader could request for it to focus on a different target.

For example, if there is a group of capitals approaching and you only have fighters, then you’d want to focus on taking out the destroyers first and the carriers second. If on the other hand you’re afraid they’ll use bombers, you focus your orbital defence cannon on the carriers.

Another way to solve that problem would be to allow people to buy a relatively expensive targeting beacon consumable that can be used to direct such “super weapons”, but that could be seen as wasting money to perform something not so valuable. Plus, people could be accused of mismanaging such a limited resource by wasting it on a failed or unnecessary strike.