Up that matchmaking to 4v4, and block/remove/take away those maps that undermine what's great about the game and you might have it. Perhaps, the "Custom" lobby IS the problem.
I do agree, but just in case you didn't know, this is planned already
If you ever had to introduce new people to Supcom or FAF you would know exactly why. Me and a few friends have been trying to get our other group of friends into supreme commander. We play with each other almost 3 times a week (about 4-8 people) but only two of us (me and another guy) has played FAF multiplayer.
This is exactly why I came on and off on the game. I'm lucky SupCom is one of my childhood game due to the cool campaign and atmosphere, but it sucks to learn how to play.
Meanwhile, I easily managed to start top gold in SC2 and climbed somewhat naturally by playing and refining my gameplay. Because it was EASY to get into the game and ladder was a natural continuation of the war started with the campaign. The campaign helps you learn about the units and their role.
With regards to FAF, I've taken several year+ breaks from the game. I first played FAF around 2013-2014 and basically farmed up to 1k rating on gap. I pretty much hated the map, hated the people, and kept blaming noob teammates for why I was losing. So I quit and left FAF for like a year. I came back, played a couple more games, then quit again for a year. Then I came back around 2016, played with Farm, shitposted with him, made a clan, and suddenly I'm now a council member.
In the same vein, the only reason I'm slightly retaining while managing to have a sliver more fun every time I try is because I get better at the game in those crazy team game maps or small team play games. How ? I discovered tutorials finally (in game tutorial were low value, based on memorization), thanks to Heaven RTS.
Heaven RTS especially has an entire channel dedicated to FAF tutorial and even if it is somewhat outdated for stuff, he still has many newbie tips for ecoing, learning BO, explaining everything, explaining units, explaining FACTIONS, explaining gameplay... so now instead of not knowing what to do, I at least have a fundamental structure to rely on.
Recently a more up to date eco/newbie guide was made which is VERY useful, but it doesn't cover enough ground because SupCom is a massive game. More stuff like this needs to be made to help players that seek it instead of repeating the same information over and over. Trainers are the active part of the community trying to help people, but what about the passive knowledge base part of the community ? If it's written nowhere it may as well be a personal art that nobody shares its skills only acquired through experiences and people don't want to suffer dozens of gap or astrocrater games to understand anything at all.
Otherwise, I would have left if I didn't discover that. Because it's so frustrating to find resources about the theory of SupCom. All of them are somewhat outdated, you have to know where to find stuff such as stalking YouTube channels for relevant videos and Wikipedia on the beginner section has a detailed guide for cybran and abridged version for other faction.
Even SupCom2 has a better guide on gamereplay, unfortunately I think it's shafted or unsearchable anymore as the game doesn't appear.
Now the gameplay part. You read those guides and then you want to practice it and try to imitate what you see in guides/cast/execute your strategy.
Well it's difficult because most of the people plays shitty maps and you're tired of Gap and Astro crater. It doesn't incentivize you to have what you imagine as good gameplay, you don't learn much from them besides eco turtle, but they're the fastest way to play. Hopefully with the matchmaking it gets better.
So then you have to host a lobby and wait for people and it can take forever. That can be off putting. Though I have no solution for this problem unfortunately.
Now I’m merely a low rated 1100 player in team game compared to before and still sucks at economy, but I have a bit more fun because sometimes I can make stuff happen. And this is only my opinion, but the conclusion should be : needs more theory and ease of access to it. aka guides and tutorials.
Personally, those chokepoint maps like astro craters, gap of rohan, dual gap, and wonder were my favorite when I first started playing. I think they are fun maps for noobs to learn the basics. They are simpler to play, and forgiving of mistakes. I think they should include them in the 1v1 ladder pool for players less than 500 rating.
Honestly, dual gap very fun for chill games. Its gotten old for me, but for years It was my favorite map.
Supreme commander is such a complicated game, and simple maps like astro make it accessible for new players.
I remember, a while back when I first tried FAF. I was one of the noobs that played with my friends against AI and steered away from multiplayer because of the steep learning curve and my lack of experience made me not want to be a burden to my teammates. I did this for about 2 months. Once I went to give multiplayer a go, you can guess that I got absolutely steamrolled and because of other commitments I didn't have the time to find out why e.g watching replays, watching top player builds and eco calculating. So I continued to stay away from multiplayer and after a while, got bored and left.
I came back to FAF about 2 months ago after a year of not playing, however, I watched basically every video of BRNKs from the last 4 years (Skipped a few phantom videos, they don't help a lot) and then tried multiplayer, still got beaten 3 times before my first win and then got beaten more after that. I reached out on Aeolus and paid someone to teach me a basic multiplayer build and tech times etc. Now I actually win games, still lose a few but I know how to analyze myself.
As for your question, new players either don't have the time or want to put that much effort into learning the multiplayer mechanics by themselves. However, if I had a solution, create a Tab in the client for teaching/learning.
Players can sign up as teachers after 100 games (White ranked) with a rating over 600 and get paired with new players that want to learn the basics. Change the registration forms to include a preferred language option and when the new player logs into FAF create a notification asking them if they would like to be assigned a teacher which will then notify the teacher of the new player's request to learn. Moderation for teachers can be done by the new players based on reporting and rating their teacher.
Maybe add something like a "!review" ping list like the ladder list or seton's list, so any player can ask aeolus for a replay review and then the chatbot will tell people who sign up for that list. And then encourage new players to use that feature. Like someone in aeolus should say: "it's great that you're asking for a replay review, that's the best way to learn." Any then if they feel like it's beneficial, they should tell their friends to also ask for a replay review now and then. If asking for & receiving replay reviews happened every 15 minutes in Aeolus a lot of people would get a lot of training and it would create a culture of people just asking for help. We have a lot of untapped energy in terms of people ready to do replay reviews for players who want to get better, but we aren't being asked to do it. Then one of the automated messages in aeolus could be telling people to use the !review chat command. I'm genuinely curious how often someone goes to aeolus to say "I had a tough loss, what could I have done better in this match" and NO ONE responds to them. My perception, and it might be warped because when I see that I usually respond, is that there is a lot more supply than demand (more people willing to spend some time reviewing replays and giving feedback, than people seeking it out).
People get paid to teach? Could have made a small fortune, but instead I only got a bunch of "Thank you" 's on discord. B(
@nine2 I have talked to a group of ''low rated'' players between -200 and 600 rating. Their main issues were:
-Small map pool (create a map pool specifically suited for low-rated players?
I've had an idea, it might be bit leftfield but hear me out.
Firstly, I don't know if this is possible. Secondly, I'm not a coder so I wouldn't be able to help build it.
Caveats aside, what is the biggest stumbling block? It's the damned economy, especially power stalls and also mass overflow. Somebody mentioned that Starcraft warns you when you're low on resources or whatever, and perhaps we could adapt that and make it a soft training tool.
If there was an algorithm that looked at the buildings under construction (and their projected completion times) and could give the player a message that said "IN 35 SECONDS YOU WILL POWER STALL. BUILD POWER GENERATORS NOW" that would help to avoid the situation of being down at the bottom of a hole with no resources coming in. As I say, not a coder, but it does strike me as being pretty complex to figure all that stuff out so may not be viable.
Also you could have messages like "YOU WILL REACH MASS STORAGE LIMIT IN 20 SECONDS. BUILD FACTORIES OR ENGINEERS NOW" and "YOU ARE POWER STALLING. TURN OFF AIR FACTORIES AND RADAR AND BUILD POWER GENERATORS"
Now, I don't envision these being obligatory for all players. Perhaps new players would have them for a certain number of games, or they could be toggleable (default ON). Also, and very importantly, they would be obnoxious as fuck. Flashing text in the middle of the screen, klaxons etc. Without consciously realising it, the desire to get rid of these annoying intrusions would guide players towards more efficient play. Instead of hurting people's egos by having a person tell them where they're going wrong, we use psychology to steer them in the right direction. I don't want that damned annoying klaxon so I'm going to make enough power gens before I make my air factory. Ha! Beat you, you stupid system!
And then without realising it, they've learnt without realising they were learning. And everybody hates a school day.
@FtXCommando is there a case to make that a default mod then?
EDIT: it would need to be smart though. Instead of just triggering at say 20% energy it would need to predict if an energy stall was imminent, and that would need some clever maths.
@FtXCommando Thanks I'm going to give that a go and see if it's worth trying to convince people to make it standard.