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Teamplay, lack of

Teamplay. The enemy of the public server. And why is this so?

Because of the frag list.

Giving each person their own score on a frag list might be handy for such things as clan evaluation, but is there any need for it? Removing the individual frags would (IMO) improve the game. No more contests of who is better at the game, just which team is. And for those who want to know the scores, they could be shown at the end of the level.

Take this scenario, which happened to me when I was playing Soldier on Well.

I'd take the water entrance to the enemy base, for easy flag access. Inside would be an engy or soldier at about the same skill level as me, proving quite a challenge to get rid of. While I'm caught up in the battle, along comes Player, the Scout. He promptly takes the lift up the top, grabs the flag, and dives back underwater. At the time I was angry - I had worked hard to get the flag, only to have a puny scout who would have been easily fragged had I not been there rush in and grab it ahead of me. Why shouldn't I get some points for it as well? If someone could do a mod which correctly recognises people who have helped flag capturers and so on then it would be a much better game to play.

At times I even thought he was trying to get the flag before me - One time I got there first, and was halfway through the tunnels and low on air. Player comes swimming towards me, so I try and go round him but can't find a way past. Since I was annoyed with him I promptly fire a rocket, blasting us past each other, and I escape with the flag (Although I think a HWGuy gets me outside and he grabs it again). Occasionally when he gets ahead of me I'd make a comment such as 'damn scouts', trying to make it more jokingly than anything, but receive no reply (a lol would have done). Either he is there to get the highest score on the server or a newbie Llama on a mission.

After finishing the game I debated sending my experiences to EwL, but then I realised - This is TEAM Fortress, and the individual doesn't matter as long as the team gets the points.

Self-realisation of that isn't a players only problem though, as the problem may be that your team don't realise it. I have a mediocre set of binds set up on the keypad for such things as 'incoming enemy', 'playing offense', etc which you commonly see clan memebers use, just incase anyone is keeping track of the game. I confess the ones I only really use are the incoming enemy ones (of which I have 3 variations, e.g. for the battlements, front entrance and the water, one of which becomes the gas key on rock2), since almost every game I have played has no organisation.

Leading on from that then, there as one game a few days ago when I was on the losing team - about 8 caps to 2 at one point. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that we were in serious trouble, but when I attempted to get something organized going (like the enemy probably was), I was promptly flamed. The exact bind I used was along the lines of 'ALL OFFENSE PLEASE MEET OUTSIDE BASE FOR COORDINATED ATTACK', which although not being perfect does get the message across pretty well.

Even if the people on the server were only playing for fun, what's wrong with having a little organised raid on the enemy? Surely these are the fun things the people think of when the decide what games they want to play? But this isn't what they they think - instead of 'it would be fun for us to raid the enemy base' they think 'it would be fun for us to raid the enemy base but let me do all the good bits'. Take for example Elite Force. In a bit of a review I saw on BotEpidemic, they mentioned that the bot teamates in the single player game only do a fraction of the damage that you can inflict - so you have all the fun of the kills. This relates to the removal of the frag list - ditch that and there'll be no competition for 'who is best', as even though you might be a c**p player, the team is doing well so even though you might not kill anyone when you raid the enemy, you are still helping.

Another thing, which could well be the reason why my plan failed, is because people don't want to take orders from one another. 'Informative' binds such as 'Incoming Enemy' and 'Playing offense' always have some effect, while 'commanding' binds such as 'all offense please meet....', 'need more engis',etc actually require some mutual respect to work - that everyone involved has to agree to do it, and not flame or ignore you.

How do you resolve this then?

By playing as a democracy - try not to have a clear leader, and take people's opinions into account. Just hang around outside your base, and when someone comes out follow them. Instant support. While this may not help in clan games, by hiding the forcefulness of an organsised team you can probably get a good system going, without having a fully functioning team willing to play as a leader would want. By removing the individual frags this is much more likely to happen.

Engineers and medics are probably the best at displaying this automatic teamwork skill, e.g. medics automatically run off to heal a teammate, and an engi who isn't seeing to his sentry will give them a couple of whacks as well. If you get two engis on a level, then they usually set up sentries together, helping each other on the way. One of them doesn't get selfish and move his closer to the enemy base, because he knows it will get destroyed easier than if they were both together.

In conclusion then (Kinda feels like an essay you write at school, doesn't it?), removing the individual frags will:

  • Remove the competition between players on the same team
  • Make the poor players feel as wanted as the good ones
  • Promote teamplay, since they all have to work to get the flag instead of just 'leaching' off other players skill/advantages
  • Open up the fraglist to a better structure, e.g. offense and defense sections for each team, then subdivided into different groups/squads. Making the players stick to their leader's descision may be tricky though, but then they can just change to a squad they like better...

And so I leave you with the 5 levels of teamplay:

  1. Disorganised chaos, or just people here for fun. Not really any harm in it, as long as everybody realises that.
  2. Auto-organising - Engi's building sentries in groups, medics healing teammates, people investigating 'incoming enemy' calls, people waiting outside respawn for a teammate to follow into offense, reports of enemy sentries, etc.
  3. Democracy - No clear leader, but good organisation. People grouping together to attack, changing roles when the team needs it, and the occasional fully organised escapade.
  4. Full organisation - A clear leader, and each player with a clear role, and good communication to back it up. The way it should be played.

Page last modified 03/03/2005