Author Topic: Soldat 2020 - feedback series, pt.1 - Movement  (Read 434 times)

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Offline Aeronic

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Soldat 2020 - feedback series, pt.1 - Movement
« on: July 03, 2020, 11:51:10 pm »
I recently came back to Soldat after a very long time, and it's rekindled a spark. I miss games like this! But the game's not the same as it once was. For better and worse, it's changed - not so much the game itself, but the way it's being played.

Now with Soldat becoming open-source, there's a new opportunity ahead for where the game goes from here.

Thanks to the nostalgia I have for this game, I'd like to offer my perspective on some of what's different as someone who was involved with the community for a few years in the mid 00s, and offer some thoughts on other areas of improvement I can see.

I have a lot to say, so I'm breaking this up into four parts:

1. Movement
2. Maps
3. Community
4. User Experience

---

One of the first things I discovered upon my return, is the fact that some players have clearly taken movement to the next level. There are people out there playing a different game to everyone else, almost literally.

After seeing some examples of Soldat's advanced movement techniques in action first hand, I've delved into exploring and practising them for some time now, and I have some qualms. This basically boils down to two moves: what I've seen referred to as the cannonball, and poly boosting.

The cannonball is fun. I really like that it exists - but - there are two things I find problematic. One, without going out of your way to learn how to do it with material outside the game, it's almost impossible for new players to infer how it's done. In the years I spent playing Soldat, there were many players who had spent much more time with the game than me and yet NO ONE had figured this technique out. Yes, it happened, but it was inconsistent and came out more or less accidentally. Two, and the reason why no one figured it out, is that the timing window is incredibly small and difficult to get right. It's STILL difficult to execute it consistently after learning and practising it for hours over the last couple of months!

I've now spent many hours and thousands of deaths playing run maps - not just on top of the hundreds of hours I'd banked up on the game in the past, but also enough experience that I'd consider myself a high level player in many games. Not only shooters, either - I've attained world records and been statistically ranked as a top 5 player for speed lap modes in a big studio racing game in the past as well. A game with its own difficult quirks, both by design and not entirely intended.

What I'm getting at, is that I'm not a beginner on this matter. So when I say this is hard *for me*, I hope there's some weight behind it! I can hardly imagine trying to learn this as a player with much less experience.

Now ideally, cannonballing should be heralded for the benefits it offers to movement, speed, gameplay dynamics, and generally just being fun to do (when it works). I've heard it was figured out around 2010. Why - just why - is it still wrapped up and hidden away in custom modes like on running and climbing servers, with no threads leading players to learn it other than a chance encounter with someone online who does them? Like the bunnyhop and rocket jumping in Quake, or skiing in Tribes, this has the potential to be a key move for this game. It just needs to have the shackles of its stupidly tiny timing window thrown off, and some kind of way to let players figure it out.

« Last Edit: July 17, 2020, 07:22:35 am by Aeronic »

Offline Aeronic

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Re: Soldat 2020 - Movement
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2020, 11:51:49 pm »
Moving on to poly boosting... Again, no one did it deliberately. It was always considered a hindrance more often than it helped, and AFAIK no one at the time even tried to turn them to their advantage. Now though, there are people who dedicate hundreds if not thousands of hours purely on learning how to turn what is effectively a glitch into an exploit - and the difference this makes to their ability to traverse a map can be *huge*. I don't mind if landing on poly corners gave a minor help like being able to simply accelerate normally slightly faster, but getting a huge, random boost?

I don't have issue with the underlying technique in itself. But... and I understand what I'm saying is probably going to upset a lot of players who frequent run servers... the degree of difficulty and amount of time people must take to learn how to execute them even partially consistently means there is a HUGE, non-trivial gap in the abilities of players who can do them and those who cannot.

Technically, the last sentence can be said of cannonballs as well.

Offline Aeronic

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Re: Soldat 2020 - Movement
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2020, 11:52:19 pm »
And to me, it's a problem. While every game *should* have facets of their gameplay that reward those who invest the time into learning them, without even a scrap of information on how these moves are executed in the game and incredibly difficult feedback to work with, these techniques offer *too much* advantage in their current form to the people who have taken the time to specifically train how to use them.

Obviously I like cannonballs, and don't want to see them disappear. But there are just three basic options for abilities like these: first, change nothing; second, make them easier for players to execute; and the third, make them less effective.
  • The first is laziness. Which is what appears Soldat's development state has been in for years and years, and a big reason why we've got a game on life support.
  • To achieve the second; to begin with, players just coming to the game need way more information. That can be explicit as in text and/or demonstrative showcases, or via feedback in how the game looks & feels. As said above, the actual timing window should also be altered for cannonballs as well.
  • For the third option, it'd be criminal to apply to cbs. For pbs though? While runners and climbers may hate me for saying it, I would really like to see poly bugs and boosts straight up fixed. They hinder most players more than they help, and even highly experienced players who exploit them have to dedicate themselves to learning how to make them reliable enough to be added to their move arsenal. They are not generally intuitive.

In their current state, not only do these moves provide a huge unmatchable disadvantage to less able players who simply cannot learn them even after observing them being performed, they may also feed into some of my complaints about map design - if some players can move through a map 2-3 times faster than regular players can, that can incentivise map makers to reduce map sizes to prevent fast players from simply running beyond those less able players' influence before they can react. Yet... IMO, small maps greatly diminish the character of Soldat, particularly CTF, reducing the skills and strategies to simple, repetitive spamfests. See my maps thread for my thoughts on *that* issue.

Further, there are very few people in the world who have learned how to exploit poly bugs for boosts consistently - even for a game with as small a playerbase as Soldat in 2020. It's shameful that the cb isn't far off. To make Soldat more fair and approachable for newcomers - if the idea of Soldat's continued development is to attract new players - this needs to be remedied.

Soldat is marketed as a combat game first and foremost. If there is a choice between movement based glitch exploitation and outright combat ability being the game's deepest and most impactful skills, I think the decision is clear.

If you want bouncy polygons, there's an option in mapping software to make bouncy polygons.

Offline Aeronic

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Re: Soldat 2020 - Movement
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2020, 11:53:04 pm »
That's a lot to digest, so just to reiterate: my key recommendations for the future of Soldat movement would be to one) *fix* poly bugs, which would include the removal of boosting; two) provide some means of allowing average new players to work out how to cannonball, and three) make cannonballs slightly easier to execute reliably.

I believe these changes would make the game more accessible, create a more level playing field that encourages more people to explore a brand of advanced play that's rewarding in itself, and remove restrictions on map design that may exist to counter the difference in movement skill levels. This will establish Soldat as a more fun and more sustainable experience for players of all skill levels, and result ultimately in a healthier, more lively game.

While implementing these changes may negatively affect runners' and climbers' enjoyment of the game, I believe the choice could be between making the game more accessible - in ways I'm describing in these Soldat 2020 threads or potentially others - and choosing to run the game into the ground.

Offline Aeronic

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Re: Soldat 2020 - Movement
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2020, 11:57:06 pm »
Just to wrap up, one last thing regarding movement is that I'd like it if Run mode was added to the game itself by with routes already set up for default maps.  Encouraging players to learn how to move is only a positive, especially when there's so much potential to enjoy it. 

I'll be posting the next Soldat 2020 thread in a week - Maps.  I definitely have some things to say about them... 

Thanks for reading.  What are your thoughts? 
« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 03:50:21 am by Aeronic »

Offline t3chn0k

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Re: Soldat 2020 - Movement
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2020, 11:18:23 am »
I hope to see Soldat shinning on Steam!

Offline Name

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Re: Soldat 2020 - feedback series, pt.1 - Movement
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2020, 11:24:52 am »
Cannonballs used to be easier to perform in my opinion and it'd be better if it was easier. Also nice to see some activity on this forum.

Offline rafineria888

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Re: Soldat 2020 - feedback series, pt.1 - Movement
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2020, 01:28:58 am »
Well after 14 years of playing I success my cannobballs 1 per 20 tries (5%).
For me timing is just too low so I suggest to use fake cb instead because if done perfectly it's (ok it's slower for marathon run) the same as real cb but if you fail you still do some slower cb instead of normal jump in case of real cb.
For about 40% failed fake cbs I was top5 fastest guy on shortened version of freetime12. Really hard to prove but if both done perfectly I think real cb is like 5-10% faster which is just unnoticeable at all when 1 little fail could make you 50% slower for a second.