So as I’m sure quite of few of you know, I’m one of the directors of MGA and our ultimate goal is to make melee games a factor in the world of eSports. To that end, most of what we do is organizational and operational in nature, and the biggest problems that we (and truly everyone who’s played or organized a competitive Chivalry match) face is the actual operations, documentation and broadcasting of competitive play. While Team Objective seems to be the defacto game mode for melee games, it’s inherently flawed as a single-operation mode, as both teams have to run against each other in what essentially amounts to a time attack speed-run with human-controlled opponents. This, obviously, forces the need to run the map twice in a very clunky and inelegant fashion (restart the map, hope for no crashes, input team names again, etc.). As such, we’ve mulled over several ideas on ways, some feasible, some pipe-dreams, to make a tournament/competitive mode in Mirage a much more player-, spectator- and admin-friendly experience. Please note that this list is merely a compendium of issues we’ve had to work-around in Chivalry that could potentially arise in Mirage. In no way should this list be considered complete and there are likely more issues that our current competitive operators have to experience that could be fixed; I’ll be updating this list as new solutions are generated.
- Complete match management
This would be the the most important one for us. Though it’s not our biggest problem, it’s the one that we feel truly kept Chivalry from having the type of quality production necessary to support the game as a spectator sport. It’s unfortunately a by-product of the primary game mode the game offers for competition, so it’s certainly not unexpected in Chiv (after all, the rules of comp started there!), but we also feel there’s a more elegant QoL solution that could be implemented. What we’d really like to see in a “one-button” solution is the ability for a player to load in, choose/be assigned a team, and have the sides swapped after the first half. All relevant stats, progress and completion times should be recorded and used for victory conditions. (See entry below) This would ease the burden of hosts/refs in getting the match properly set-up, give players less to worry about (and subsequently, cut down on false starts), and present a more streamlined experience to the viewer.
- API for stat dumps
Admittedly, I don’t know much about what’s being planned for game stats or demo recording, though if it has not been considered yet, I implore the ability to dump game stat files. Ideally, we’d like to see stats updated in real-time via an API, however, stat dumps at objective checkpoints, half-time or after matches would go a long way to aid in competitive standings, as well as iron out any discrepancies between players/teams.
- Hard objective progress meter/counter visible to all players
This is another important feature to have. The completion timers in Chivalry are off in excess of 14 seconds and some maps, such as Hideout, don’t even display progress meters or objective time. As such, our standard protocol was to take screencaps at every end-of-map, checkpoint or pause, in addition to video recording to aid us in figuring out who actually won when a match was incredibly close to call. This has resulted in several games going to LTS tie-breaker matches when the completion times were within several seconds of each other. An easily viewable hard objective progress meter for all participants can eliminate this, particularly if the game is set to (internally, externally or for administrators only) declare a victor based on previous objective times/progress. This can be further expanded upon by offering a command to either play the remaining match out or forfeit.
- Rewind to last checkpoint
As Chiv can be quite an unstable game, we’ve experienced our fair share of bugs, glitches, crashes and simple human error (shout out to Height!) that have forced us to facilitate a map restart or server reboot mid-match. This, generally speaking, is our worst nightmare, as it completely relies on the stat recording that screencapping and streaming have provided, with just a splash of on-the-spot snap judgment to get us through it. Once back in, we aoc_slomo 2 until the match is back to where it was, respawn everyone in and hope that momentum hasn’t been lost. While we can’t do anything about that last part, it would be ideal to have the game record stats at every objective checkpoint or, even more preferably, when the game actually crashes as part of a server crash dump. I don’t know to what degree of flexibility you have with demo recording, but if it’s robust enough, it could be a very easy fix to just reinstantiate the game with a demo recording file where it was when it crashed and continue play.
- SteamID in server config for administrators/referees/spectators/players
During some of our events, we’ve fallen victim to trolling by competitors who took advantage of Chiv’s more vulnerable code, and by spectators/non-competiting players who just wanted to watch the comp world burn. A solution to fix this would be a simple whitelist for those who are authorized to administrate, referee, spectator or play on a particular server. While this idea can certainly be more universally appreciated by every server operator, it’s essential for those running organized competition in order to safeguard their servers.
This is an issue that directly effects rate of play and indirectly effects the gameplay itself. Our standard ruleset allows for 10 minutes of pause time and, depending on the event, anywhere between 3 to 6 total pauses per team over the course of the game. As one might expect, trying to manage pause timers for two teams when both of them have instantiated a pause is a futile task at best, and over the course of an event, fatigue can get the better of our operational staff, leading to things like forgotten pause timers or counts, or worse, completely overlooking the need for a pause in a crucial moment of the game. Our solution is to incorporate a pause timer and counter that will automatically begin ticking down time or pauses remaining the second that a team requires a pause, with an administrator option to add or remove pause time or counts. Furthermore, to prevent confusion, player pausing could be implemented, with unpausing being an admin-only command. To prevent the flow of the game from being too disrupted during a player crash/disconnect/exit, an auto-pause on player loss feature could help immediately pinpoint this type of issue. Additionally, an auto-unpause countdown feature would be a godsend for those lucky refs who get a server full of jokesters that throw out random numbers during our current countdown.
- Dedicated tournament UI
Our good friend Teripper has already made quite a post about the spectator options that he’d like to see, so most of what I’d suggest would be in that post. However, I think a more tournament-friendly UI for spectators would be quite welcome. Things such as real-time class/ability switches, K/D/A updates and, as suggested above, the ability to see hard objective progress clearly. As well, a minimap would not only help demystify the larger strategy involved in the maps played, but would also allow the spectator to more easily see where the action is. An idea I had, though one I’m not certain is entirely feasible, would also see fixed cameras throughout a map, focusing on certain hotspots of the map (objective areas, spawns, areas of engagement, etc.), along with an easier way (list, perhaps?) of selecting the player or area you’d like to view.
- Player Lobby
Aside from the QoL suggestions made that would benefit all players, the most important feature that could be provided for them is the ability to have a warm-up/ready-up lobby. FFA before a match is a time-tested way of not only warming up for the match, but also to get a preliminary feel for who their competition is. Additionally, this lobby could be time-based to facilitate rate of play (automatic forfeiture if the ready-up round ends and one team doesn’t not have enough players to field a full team. Furthermore, if the lobby could exist concurrently with the match in progress (albeit with no ability to spectate), substitutes for matches could be warming up and on deck to swap out.
Well, that’s a lot of crap to read, haha. Again, all of these ideas are fluid and malleable, and we’re all aware that not everything we’ve suggested as QoL improvement will make it to the tournament mode. But all of us at MGA truly believe this project has a chance of breaking ground within professional competitive gaming/eSports, and we believe these ideas (and more to come!) can help flesh out a system for real high-profile competition in Mirage!