NOTE: I wrote portions of this prior to realizing FTXCommando wrote a white paper on the history of Full Share.
I have to write this topic on full share because of my full frustration watching this cancer slowly seep its way further and further into FAF. First it was just isolated to setons. Then, after the mapgen was created, it became popular there because players could not handle the fast pace of death. Then a ranked 4v4 league was created. Soon, most online game replays cast are full share because the audience demants artifical "ePiC" plays that are more about achieving T4 than comebacks from the brink, or well though out exploits or clever teamwork.
I know this will likely go nowhere, but its the only thing I can do.
I would like to base my argument in that this is not a subjective A or B, it is quite literally built into the game because of Math, Exponential Growth, Unit Options
and core goals.
Math and Economics
The math in eco in Supreme commander is exponential. Early to Mid game CO deaths create natural snowball eco-effects.
When I first started playing and didn't know what I was doing, I did quite a few games of Setons, where I was mostly mid. Being low level most of these games were No-Share / Standard. Mid was fun, as it was high risk. Lots of mass in the mid to
grab, with potential threats from ground, air and sea. Could it lead to quick deaths and a early end of game? Sure, but this is a single map, with a single scenario. People like it because of the "lanes" it provides. It can also be stale, like any other map done over and over. It is not inherently bad or good, just a scenario where "lanes" don't interact with each other until a surprise attack comes. No surprise therefore that this map became breeding ground for fullshare.
(as a sidenote - it is just a scenario, and personally I don't think deserves as much time spent on it as other scenarios / maps do. Can't
balance the whole game off of one map and situation)
Thus, when I first encountered full share, it was of course on Setons. A few years ago that was its primary residence, the one place the cockroach could stay and hide. My first thought when I saw a CO's base not explode, is that tt was the dumbest thing
I had encountered, especially as someone who had enjoyed the front / middle position. It was obvious the best strategy would be to collect as much mass from the shipwrecks as you could, upgrade your Mexes to T2, then suicide your comm in the best way possible. All the extra eco would go to your air player, inheriting 4 to 6 T2 mexes, giving them a significant mid game eco advantage over the enemy Air, and the risk of having your front line open was low, because your base and units would still exist, and because Setons has "lanes", the middle is a natural choke point. Its fairly long, giving plenty of time to react, and pushing through is even longer,
so any thrusts could be contained. And if you suicides good, you blew up a few enemy mexes or something.
Likely my experience was at low level, and did not see crazy spam over the large distances that FTXCommando wrote in his paper. But there
is something to be said about giving up distance / terrain to buy time.
This is proven as a good strategy for Full Share Setons, as everyone will yell at you if you kill the enemy mid comm early.
Think about this for a moment. A grand strategy battle game, where killing the enemy is bad. How? What? Why?
Offense v Defense
It is also obvious that one of the best elements of FAF is how the units and structures are balanced so that significant investments in defense should generally loose to a competent player significantly investing in Offense, as they will competently scout, find your weak area (what you didn't invest in), and exploit it. There always is a opening for ground, or air, or tac missiles, or artillery, or terrain; if you
are keeping up with eco. You simply cannot build all of them at once in all key locations. This is the basic game theory.
This is supremely fun because base-builder games are dime a dozen, and aren't interesting from a comparative standpoint or a "Art of war" standpoint. Coupled with the comparative lack of micro needed in FAF vs other games, and we get ourselves a very theoretical game where your effort may be spend looking for ways to exploit the enemy. There are more ways to kill the enemy than they can defend themselves. Death finds a way!
What is fun, is the parallel to real life. Scouting. Finding a weakness. Exploiting it. Flanking the enemy. Defense in Depth vs Deep Battle. FAF brings to the table what only some of the best military simulators manage to do, while being a RTS. The key being that the goal is singular, and that is to kill the enemy COM. This allows for those brilliant plays, those epic moments. The comeback potential.
Now the "epic" casts of fullshare only got that way because a few people died early and everyone else eco'd into T4. That's artificial. Of course I understand why those are the ones that are shown - they get the views because everyone gets to throw T4 toys at each other. However it IS SO MUCH MORE EPIC if a teamgame naturally progresses to that point, with COM's being assassinated, the game balance thrown back and forth as players gamble on risk/reward plays because they put in the effort to notice a weakpoint or hole in the enemy lines.
Exponential Growth to force Endgame
Combining the two chapters above, we come to another realization of the exponential economy and the unit design. As the game goes on, more opportunities end up presenting themselves to kill the enemy CO, albiet being higher risk (time + mass) vs reward. A wave of Tacs. A wave of Strat Bombers. A Experimental. A Nuke. T3/4 Arty.
THIS. IS. THE. POINT. They are called GAME-ENDERS for a reason!
If you have failed to thus far eliminate the enemy, and have Eco'd the game rewards you with shortcuts to wrap things up. The bombs are bigger, the units are bigger, the weapons more devastating. Eventually, something breaks and it all come crumbling down. This isn't Civilization or the Sims. Dying is the point. Your opponent will literally not be able to defend every threat, they may be able to choose 2 out of 5,
even with proper recon and notice. It is winner takes all, with no in between.
At the end of the day, I can't help but ignore that folks are just upset that they died. Yes, your COM exploded. Your team is now at a disadvantage...and thats the literal point isn't it? You don't get rewarded or come out neutral for screwing up. The unit cost and types of units were all balanced around this.
Yes, you are tired of playing another team game where another player did something silly, died, and now its a 3v4 5 minutes in. I take those opportunities to see what I can do to turn it around. Or get friends or a clan to play with. These will lead to your most favorite moments in the game. But Full Share team game isn't it. "Be sure not to kill the enemy CO" isn't it.
Pick up games are chaotic, and silly, and rank doesn't imply skill and sometimes players are experimenting with wierd strats. Your answer isn't full share. If you want to play sims, there is a beautiful scenerio for you: Dual Gap. With two chokepoints and a huge middle space, even the most amatuer of scouting will see anything coming. Plenty of time for you to prepare. Hell, the space in the middle is so large, and the chokepoints/gaps tight enough, that it sometimes isn't even worth fighting in the middle vs actually just ecoing before your opposition reaches your base. Nice and safe. You don't even have to worry about contributing because someone else likely took the mantle of building 4 Novax.
Willow's Duality video / General Counter Arguments
Willow recently had a video. It even had a poll. I have seen this movie before. Back when first-person shooters had dedicated servers, things followed a trajectory. Dust2 for Counter Strike. Facing Worlds for Unreal Tournament. Strike at Karkand for Battlefield 2. We all know where this goes. The safe, cuddly, familiar experience. Over time, more and more servers become 24/7. The map that was included in the demo ends up reducing the full game back to just being a large demo. Hence, no surprise that the poll showed people wanted simply more large-unit count battles, and are less interested
in other nuanced stuff. Sorry folks, ya basic!
Anyway, some of the arguments brought up in the video:
a) Death Impact too high.
-Well yes, that is what loosing is. You are loosing the game. Sorry.
b) Encourages Snipes & Passive ACU Play
Regarding snipes, see above. A horde of strats is a Game Ender considering how much mass was spend. Same with 8 tacs launched at your CO. Perform recon & exploit. This is the basis for warfare, and is the basis for FAF. Whether it is elegant or not is beside the point. All is fair in love & war.
ACU play isn't really a fair point for all situations. Early and Mid game ACU have plenty of firepower. You could balance ACU's to be more tanky for late game, but it would make them extremely tanky for early. A more sound solution would be so find a way to make T1 and T2 last longer, but lets step back on what this "Passive ACU Play" really means. Later game in a 4v4 or 5v5, there are a lot of threats that
grow in magnitude so your ACU runs and hides. Isn't this the purpose of the "GAME ENDER" mentioned above? The enemy COM SHOULD BE SCARED!
Forcing your opponent to react is a valid strategy!
c) To win you need to fight through
- In terms of gameplay, quite honestly based on above the balance isn't set up around it. It isn't that you cannot defeat-in-detail it is that through forcing that as the only possibility, it becomes really obvious what the enemy will do (DiD), and much easier to defend, typically leading to more eco and a drive for game enders.
d) There is plenty of penalty dying (Despite your base being donated)
- Objectively, as noted above, simply no. There are objectively significant advantages that occur, especially if you die early to mid game. Especially (and ironically) in the birthplace of full share, Seton's, where it is practically abuse-able to die on purpose.
e) Doesn't like snipes as main point
- This is kinda on the author bud. Scouting will prevent this. Picking your own strategy and forcing the opposition to react will prevent this. Further, the game is inherently balanced around 1v1, and hence the ACU kill. Chaotic Team games are a bit bigger in scope. Even super cheesy snipes have consequences. I can for example, if on air slot, rush T2 gunships at 5 minutes. It may work in a large map where there isn't enough air cover to go around. If I fail however, I will be facing an enemy air player with T3 in 10 to 12 minutes and I will be about 2 to 4 minutes behind. Big risk reward. If you die, I deserve reward commensurate to risk. If I fail, your team gets a HUGE boon.
Making calculated risk/reward decisions is a cornerstone of life. That line is different for everyone. You don't have to try a snipe strategy, but if your opponent fails to notice a wall of tac missles being built at huge cost and fails to exploit the enemy pouring all their resources into 5 lanchers, that is on you. You kinda deserved to loose. Sorry.
f) Nobody played 4v4 Ranked No Share
- Yes, because it replicated basic pick up games in the custom lobby. Its hard enough to find some ranked 1v1 or 2v2 partners. Honestly, 4v4 or 5v5 pick up custom games are kinda chill anyway. The 1v1 is really where (I at least) make sure I am up for the focus and challenge. Even if it only lasts 5 minutes, it is a very awake and exhilarating panic-striken five minutes.
G) Not enough Depth with Air + Setons
- As noted, Setons is one map, one scenario. A game should not be balanced on one scenario. I can only image in Unreal Tournament was balanced based on Facing Worlds. This can be extended to many maps being popular because they have a dedicated air slot.
Lets be honest for a moment - there isn't much depth in air to begin with in terms of mechanics. Control skies, then bomb. Having a dedicated air slot on many common maps does inherently reduce the depth. Host and play more maps where everyone is responsible for air.
Ende / Closing
At the end of the day, because of Math and, Inherent Balance Design, the are objectively not "equal ways" of a preference. One of them has the entire
base of code behind it, and has created one of hte most unique and exciting RTS's that is still relevant and holding strong. The other exists because watching rockem sockem robots is the fantasy while avoiding "stress" and anxiety of having to contribute to a team effort.
Recently, I ended up in a game that I didn't realize was full share, and I was surprised to see when my COM died defending my base...it was left intact
and donated to a teammate. The first thought was "lame". Mostly because I felt robbed. I had fought honorably, and I was denied a honorable death. Most dishonorably, because despite failing to hold my flank and going down in a last stand, all of my resources were now given to another player, who proceeded to quickly tech up and winning the team the game. I did not deserve that win, or those points. I died fairly after fighting a fair fight. My team deserved the opportunity to try and patch together my failure, hold the line, and make something out of it. This happens more often than not.
It all felt so fake. So Artificial. All in the name of memes, a sad, desperate search for "ePiC" moment, instead of actual epic ones.
Back to First Person Shooters for a moment, one criticism Valve has gotten with regards to CSGO is when they try and make "Every gun relevant", despite the game being heavily based around the cost and function inflection point of the AK47 and M4 Rifles. Everything else being situational items. At present, FAF is similarly balanced around units and economy being good for the winner-take all COM death is GG.
Obviously I mean nothing, and if I stop playing it means nothing, but for what it is worth if the only thing people play becomes full share, I'll just stop. There won't be a point really. I'll find a different game. I refuse to feel dirty for dying, or feel like I fucked up for winning my front. Racing games don't tell me to drive slow unless there is some consequence (tires wear, fuel). Shooter's don't tell me to NOT kill an oponent when they walk into a tactically awful situation because they rest of the team gets all their ammo and items transferred (Actually, Doom Eternal did force me to avoid killing demons in certain situations, and it is much worse off for it. Poor Gameplay).
TLDR, Thanks 4 listening to my TED TALK. Math exists and you can't get around it. Shout out to FC clan for hosting different, fresh maps and keeping things spicy.