Lately I've been approached by several mappers that were curious about the process utilized to review maps for the ladder. Since this process is going to be extended to team matchmaker maps as that feature gets closer and closer to reality, I figured I might as well as give people an insight into how maps are reviewed so they can both figure out how to get their maps on the matchmaker while also improving their own craft.
I'd also like to say that the process itself isn't some solidly ironed out way of approaching maps. Through the years we have adjusted how we calculate final scores, how we interpret various values in our criteria, and the weight we put on the various factors that we look at when reviewing maps. But overall, I think we've hit a nice groove and we're quite comfortable with what our system allows and what it doesn't allow into the map pools we make.
I will be breaking this post down into the 3 categories we use to look at maps: Aesthetics, Gameplay, and Variance.
A lot of people operate under the assumption that the look of a map is irrelevant. All that should matter is if it plays well, and if it looks like a piece of shit then who cares? Well, they're kind of right and kind of wrong in that dissection.
First, aesthetics is not simply the "look" of a map. While the artistic merit of your map is what determines say a 3.5/5 or a 4.5/5 map, it is not what causes a map to be a 1/5. Your map must meet the baseline criteria of having terrain that is both clear and concise. If a map lies to the player, by, for example, having things that look like plateaus that cannot actually be dropped, then it is a bad map aesthetically. These are the things that stay in the mind of a player and quickly make them dislike the map as it can easily cause a game loss through no real fault of the player. If your map cannot meet this bar, then your map could expect to be a 1.5 or a 2 out of 5 even if it makes me cry at the beauty of your decal work.
Beyond that area, we begin to enter the more subjective area we tend to define through the competency of your design and the effort put into it. How do we define both? Well, we have several people on the mapping team (biass, petric, farm, morax) who have made several solid maps aesthetically and have the eye to review whether the decal and strata work put into a map reflects serious effort. Generally when it comes to reviewing this side of aesthetics, we leave reviewing maps up to our circle of highly competent mappers.
So why did I say that the critique that map aesthetics don't matter is kind of right? Well, because we actually do agree with that. We weigh aesthetics to account for 25% of a map's overall score. This is below the expected proportion of 33% if we weighed it equal to gameplay and variance. Your map could look entirely generic and still be a 2/5 so long as it doesn't lie or frustrate the player. This shouldn't harm your overall score (and therefore entry into the ladder) assuming the gameplay and variance are still up to par. I mean, look at badlands. It looks terrible, but it's still a pretty common map in pools because it plays pretty well.
0 - Eye gouging; super badly scaled textures/decals, terrain makes no sense, color scheme makes the eyes bleed
1 - Quite ugly; maybe not actually painful on the eyes but extremely bland undetailed and wacky, badly indicated terrain
2 - So-so; a playable configuration even if uninspiring or amateurish. Perhaps not very obvious heightmap in some places. Nothing disgusting tho
3 - Fine; A solid average-looking map, won't win any prize for looks but can't find much fault with it
4 - Good; A very appealing map, maybe because of high detail, pleasant color scheme and lighting, maybe something else
5 - Great; One of the best looking maps in your opinion. Something just makes it stand out and above others
Now we enter the classic social science experience of redefining common terms so your explanation makes sense. Gameplay has a very specific meaning for us and it's critical to understand it before commenting on it. If you have a tough time with it don't worry, it had to be explained like a dozen times to select people on the ladder team itself.
Here is my go-to explanation for gameplay. Imagine I had some sort of hypothetical vault. If I went into said hypothetical map vault which has 2000 high level, competent games of purely your map and then proceeded to use a random number generator to pick one of these 2000 games, how high quality would that singular game be? So essentially, "gameplay" is a rating of the "meta quality" of your map.
Now of course we don't have 2000 high level, competent games on your map. There's maybe two dozen maps on FAF that could even think of approaching such a criteria. And that's precisely why the ladder team itself exists! It's a pool of 2k+ players that have the ability to determine how a map is likely to play out based on little data. Is it perfect? Certainly not, but since we lack the neural network AI that can play a map ten thousand times to show us the peak efficient play on it, it's the best we got.
Ultimately this part of maps is also graded on a curve. For example, we can't just call Theta Passage a garbage map because it results in t1 spam and a com battle in every game while Roanoke's Abyss let's you do frigate rush or air abuse. You very clearly need to judge every map size in its own category, and so while Theta might be a relatively "simple" map, it does what it does very well and so it is still a highly rated 5x5.
So how do we decide between a low, middle, and high gameplay score? Well this is quite subjective, as you might imagine, but we attempt to balance it out by synthesizing a general score out of the opinions of everyone on the team. In general a map is considered to have a high quality meta if it involves gameplay that requires some level of thought and interaction with the opponent. Maps can be all t1 spam and still be fairly decent on gameplay so long as the t1 spam meta still requires you to maneuver around your enemy and wins you strategic control of various contested areas. If the map is just a flat, boring map where you have a mex every 500 pixels in every direction and so spam can go anywhere and be efficient, well that's just boring and tedious to play.
As you might imagine, gameplay is the most important factor for us and we weigh it as 45% of a map's overall score. The gameplay is the foundation that everything else is built upon.
0 - Gameplay makes you pull your hair out
1 - Gameplay is uninspiring and boring or highly annoying
2 - You can live with the gameplay but you still rather avoid this map
3 - Average game experience for your taste
4 - You find gameplay to be interesting and stand above the majority of other maps
5 - This might as well be your favorite map, you love the way it plays, you wouldn't mind to host custom 1v1s on it whole day
Finally, the Siamese twin of gameplay. People often have a hard time figuring out where one begins and the other ends, and I sometimes wonder about it myself too.
Ultimately variance is your reaction to gameplay. Basically, it is the measure of how viable and interesting the "rogue" or "off-meta" tactics on your map will be. Maps that have a strictly dominate meta will be able to manage a strong gameplay score while having a terrible variance score (Theta for example). Likewise, some maps are able to have anything and everything as an option but all those options are terrible and not fun to play with because it results in a minute 2 rock, paper, scissors match (Voi Vittu for example).
The best maps are those that have a strong general meta that is consistent and able to lead to long games where a large variety of potential seams could be found. In return, those seams are often the off-meta tactics that allow you to throw your opponent off balance and reward innovation in player gameplay.
We currently give this category a weight of 30%. It used to be higher, but ultimately we weren't fans of the kinds of maps it was putting into pools and so we adjusted the ratio.
0 - One viable com path, one viable build, one viable win plan
1 - Very confined gameplay but maybe can squeeze a suprise build or cheese
2 - Some strategy is probably safer and easier than others but can make a different approach work, likely can send com in a few different directions
3 - Generic middle of the line. Has multiple builds, acu paths and strategies to pick from.
4 - A versatile map, various builds, strategies and ideas are all usable. Can win with something completely unexpected.
5 - A map where imagination is the limit. Land focus, air focus, naval focus, 1st land or 1st bomber. Acu or no acu, eco or no eco, anything is viable.
Welcome to perhaps the most anticipated FAF event of the year! This year's LotS will mostly work similar to the way last year's operated. However, there will be a few minor changes to the way that map selection/faction selection operate and there will also be more of a coordinated media coverage attempt of the event both in streams as well as in casts.
The Event will be getting covered through a new FAF streaming channel called FAFLive.
One of the biggest problems we've had for LotS is that everyone that could cast the event is, well, a participant in the event. On the otherhand, those that aren't playing such as Gyle often do not have the ability to actually stream any of the games due to real life concerns. Therefore, me and Morax will be working together in order to cover the events. We wanted to create a channel that can cover the event and hopefully include things like player interviews to give the event more color than it has in the past. We want to move beyond simply identifying players in the game as "red vs blue" or "cybran 1 vs cybran 2."
I'm going to be working with both English and Russian casters in order to ideally give more interconnection between the variety of channels covering FAF. I got this idea after looking at the Russian side of FAF and seeing how they'd often shout out one another and quickly build up interest across casters, creating a more active casting community in general. The caster gets more views and incentive, and the audience gets more games to watch.
So essentially I'm collecting a list of people interested in covering the event and I'll be curating lists of games for them to cover. I hope to give everyone a unique, good game so that people have an incentive to watch some of the smaller casting channels.
Currently we have:
If you're interested in covering the event, PM me about your channel and I'll add you to the list.
Contact me on the Forums/Discord/FAF Client.
Basically, the basis of the tournament structure hasn’t changed. It will, as always, feature the best 16 FAF players with those 16 players being decided through various qualifiers. There will be 4 qualifiers to decide the players and the winners of each qualifier will get the LotS Champion avatar for the coming year as well as a potential cash prize (currently in discussion).
The person responsible for directing this tournament will be me. I will be hosting and dealing with issues that pop up during the tournaments and handle the transaction issues and more meta concerns about the tournament. Please do not use this thread to sign up for the various segments of the tournament, those segments will have their own threads for that. This thread will be for pointing out specific concerns as well as for information related to the Official Tournament.
Each qualifier will have a signup system based on their ladder rating in which a maximum of 16 players can play per qualifier. If more people sign up, they can act as a substitute for players that failed to show up on time but they will not be guaranteed a slot in the bracket itself. The players will be seeded by their ladder rating within the bracket itself. The bracket will also be a Single Elimination Bracket in which every matchup plays a BO3 to determine who will be knocked out and who will progress to the next stage.
Each qualifier will also consist of a map pool of 15 maps. It will be 4 5x5 km maps, 6 10x10 km maps, and 5 20x20 km maps. In order to select the maps played for each BO3, the two participants in each bracket stage will discuss amongst themselves which maps they would like to veto. Each player will be given the right to 3 vetoes and the bottom player in the bracket will be given the first veto. Each player will also submit vetoes sequentially. Once the list is down to 9 maps, the players will be given the right to pick which of the nine they wish to play. The bottom seed will be given the right to pick the first map and the top seed will pick the second. The players will then report the list of maps alongside the two they pick to the Tournament Director. The Tournament Director will pick the third map from the list of potential maps in the case of a tie. Do note if a segment of the tournament is lagging behind the rest of the tournament, the Tournament Director reserves the right to require the players to play different maps from their chosen maps in order to speed their section up.
Both players will also message the Tournament Director the 2 factions they pick to potentially play in their first game alongside the faction they wish to veto in that first game once they have decided on the first map. They will repeat this as their games go on in their BO3. A veto only applies to their opponent, so it is perfectly viable to pick a faction and veto it. If players deviate from their given factions, then they will forfeit the round on that map. A faction selection is final once given to the Tournament Director and cannot be edited later on. If a map was picked by a player in a preceding round and then picked again in another round, they are able to pick a different faction if they so wish.
So for instance, player A and player B went through their vetos and picks. They report the 9 maps available as well as the two they pick to play. Then player A reports that he will be banning aeon on the first map while picking to play 1. aeon 2. cybran. Player B bans aeon and picks 1. cybran 2. uef. The match is then cybran v cybran on the first map.
The qualifier threads and their map pools will be disclosed two weeks before the intended date of play in order to give proper planning time as well as to encourage prep between players.The actual announcement for the tournament that discloses the dates of the tournament and how it will operate will be released in late September.
Each qualifier will end with the players first to fourth qualifying for the official tournament. The position in the qualifier and the qualifier that a person qualified in will be utilized to seed players in the group stage of the official tournament. There will also be a substitute tournament in the case of absences.
December 12th (Part 1) of the Official Tournament:
Similar to the qualifiers, Part I of the Tournament will have the rounds done in a BO3 format. It will follow the same rules of the qualifiers specified above. However, each group stage will be done through Round Robin format. Only the top 2 in each group will move on to the next day of the tournament. The map pools for each group will be announced at the conclusion of the fourth qualifier. They will still consist of 15 maps, but the maps themselves may differ between each group. The games in the group stage will also be seeded by placement as shown in the chart above. Once the group stage begins, the veto and pick process will work as it did in the qualifiers.
December 19th (Part 2) of the Official Tournament:
With the group stage completed, the tournament will now be down to 8 players that will progress into the final bracket of the tournament. These players will be playing a Single Elimination Bracket with some minor changes to the way the qualifiers operated. The map pool will once again consist of 15 maps given out at the end of the group stage section. This day of the tournament will have 2 BO5s in which once again players will have 3 vetoes bringing them down to 9 maps to pick from for the BO5. They will follow the faction submission rule of Part I of the Official Tournament and then proceed to pick two maps each. They will pick in the order of Bottom Seed -> Top Seed -> Bottom Seed -> Top Seed and play in that order. If a tie happens, the Tournament Director will pick the final map from the selection of maps still left.
December 20th (Part 3) of the Official Tournament:
The final day of the Official Tournament will have 4 players left. These 4 players will be playing a single BO7 each to decide placements. The two competing for first will be the victors of Part II. Both of these rounds will consist of the same 15 map pool and each player will be given 4 vetoes. There will be no pick process and the maps will be played alphabetically while following this sequence: 10x10 -> 20x20 -> 5x5 -> 10x10 -> 20x20 -> 5x5 -> 10x10. If there are not enough maps of a given size in the remaining pool of maps, it will be replaced by the map category in which there are the most maps left. The bottom seed will still veto the first map.
Will try to consist of a fusion of both good, classic maps as well as more experimental maps that are not commonly played. Each pool should have a combination of gameplay while also consisting of maps both well known as well as unknown. It is up to the players to decide which maps they hate and which maps they want to play through the veto/pick system. The map pool selection is merely there to provide the optimal variety.
LegendOfTheStars Qualifier Tournament #1 - 10.10.2020 at 14:00 GMT
LegendOfTheStars Qualifier Tournament #2 - 24.10.2020 at 14:00 GMT
LegendOfTheStars Qualifier Tournament #3 - 7.11.2020 at 14:00 UTC
LegendOfTheStars Qualifier Tournament #4 - 21.11.2020 at 15:00 UTC
Substitution Qualifiers - 28.11.2020 at 15:00 UTC
Official Tournament: 12.12.2020 & 19-20.12.2020 at 15:00 UTC
This tournament will also follow standard FAF tournament rules. Any comments or concerns about the procedures or structure of the tournament? Please post them here.
Note: A "player" is defined as a person that plays at least a single game during said month using the client's services. Every data point is a month during that year.
We've decided to update the reward avatars for FAF donators as the design hasn't been touched for like, over half a decade at this point. I also never really was a fan of the cookie avatar and wanted to get something more tied to the game as a reward for people that help keep the ship running.
We're going to have two separate avatars for the main sources of revenue for FAF: Tournament and Patreon donations. Thanks to Swkoll for creating the designs for me!
In order to claim the Patreon Donator reward, PM me (FtXCommando) on FAF/Forums/Discord with your Patreon information so I can verify you.
In order to claim the Tournament Donator avatar, you must donate a minimum of $20 to any sort of official tournament hosted on FAF. To claim the reward, simply PM me and inform me of the tournament that you put funds into.
I'll be willing to give out the avatar to people that donated funds to a tournament in 2020 and beyond.
Hopefully as time goes on we'll be able to add additional incentives to larger donators, but consider this as a first perk among a potential many.
Currently I plan on every teamgame using full share.
They aren't "OP" in the sense of being a dominant strategy but they promote inherently toxic gameplay. The only thing that should combine mass + e + flexible BP is the ACU itself. When other units do it, you open up the ability to do things like protecting infinite eco in a single, condensed area. Lategame eco should be about factoring in the risk/reward of additional eco adjacency efficiency and additional risk of exploding mass fabs. Not make boys and forget.
They should just be nerfed into irrelevancy or even removed just for the sake of promoting a healthier game.
ok go code better pathfinding for us
Really enjoy this narrative of some top-down dictatorship as though these conclusions weren’t reached through collaboration amongst top players and top mappers.
The REAL story is that FtX got his Council seat and got mad at gap one day and decided it was no good and so he created false reasons why it’s bad. This is even though FtX has played like 700 gap games. Everyone else in the mapping and curation community on FAF is chaffing under his totalitarian reign. They are simply yearning for the hero of the masses that will break their chains and set then free!
Unfortunately if you have a problem with me, you’re also going to have a problem with the mapping community I work with to help improve both FAF and new mappers. Better collect your late night burger gap dudes or whatever your legion of unheard players are and start changing the culture of the supportive structures of FAF. Otherwise you’ll just keep chaffing in those cuffs you imagined for yourself.
Nothing is going to change about how these things are decided or looked at, really. I don’t think a single dude in this segment of the community has had their mind changed by anything you wrote here. If you want to cry about the injustice of this stuff feel free, I don’t really plan on responding in this thread anymore because it’s just become one gigantic joke.
Actually I'm strongly against gimmick maps in map pools because they break my personal principle of a player being able to spawn in with full grasp of game mechanics and being able to iron out a strategy as well as a guy that has 1000 games on the map. Obviously experience has a lot of value and it's impractical to really expect such players to be competitive against one another, but the point is that everything is equal when you enter the game and survey what your options are.
If I had a map that had one random crazyrush mex in the corner, then there's no real reason for you to realize that's a mechanic until it's possibly too late to adjust anything about your build to account for it. Same with the crazyrush map itself. You have no idea if these mexes are infinite, you have no idea if buildings block the script, you might have had no idea that the mexes even expand and blocked it with pgens at the start. It's BS as a player, like if every FAF map had 0 natural reclaim except this one map that is put into a pool every 3rd month.
Of course it is put in tournaments, and that's mostly because people for whatever reason enjoy playing it. I just rationalize it as people knowing the make exists beforehand so it's a fair game since they should be expected to enter the tournament with a knowledge base of the maps in it.
When it comes to map gen, it's the same criteria I had before. It needs to meet the same minimum baseline of quality that I require manual maps to reach.
Share conditions changing like that is incoherent to players and makes things extremely unintuitive for newer players. I don't want to introduce anything like that because it means players are fighting and getting frustrated at the rules of the game rather than the game they are actually playing. This is harmful to both new and irregular players which are meant to be targeted by the matchmaker as it is supposed to be the new introduction to pvp for players.
I am technically able to have entirely different pools between rating brackets. I could have hilly as an <800 10x10 for 4v4 and then idk, planet shmal as one for 1300+. I'm just going to carry over the system from ladder into tmm though as I have no real way of knowing what needs to be changed and what doesn't right now.
One thing I was wondering was whether Fields of Isis should be kept in higher level 2v2 pools or not because it's a decent 2v2 for newer players but tends to become less interesting as your rating increases. I just need to see how player preferences fall.
There will be a far larger proportion of 20x20 maps as player count increases. I would be treating 10x10 in 4v4 similar to how 5x5 is currently treated in ladder. Namely, it’s a way for <800 players to get comfortable with working as a team and quickly helping one another out which then takes them into higher brackets where the 20x20 proportion gets ever larger.
And if you want a decent 20x20 experience, some degree of full share is necessary.
The Ganges Chasma
Syrtis Major – FAF Version
Point of Reach v4
The Drunken Sailors Dance
Theta Passage - FAF Version
Eye of the Storm - FAF Version
Red Rocks - FAF Version
Loki - FAF Version
8 - Badlands_v4
Syrtis Major - FAF Version
Niflheim - FInal II v2
Seton's Clutch - FAF Version
Point of Reach v4
Crossfire Canal - FAF Version
8 - Badlands_v4
Forbidden Pass - FAF Version
Syrtis Major - FAF Version
Z-D Rasty Lite
Crossfire Canal - FAF Version
The Ganges Chasma
White Fire v2
The Dark Heart, FAF Version
Adaptive Archsimkat Valley
Setons Clutch - FAF Version
It’s a solution, just really annoying as now players need to be pm’d by casters, need to pm opponent, games could launch without a caster by accident (already a thing without passworded games)
In addition, I should announce maps sometime later today when I get home.
So some final adjustments to the tournament format following some realizations during the qualifiers:
If you’re a player, feel free to kick them before the game begins, though I know it’s hard to tell who is and isn’t a caster so the burden isn’t on you.
Don’t think that’s him saying t4 needs a nerf lol