I hope this blog finds you while you're 'hard at play' in the new locations of La Trinite and Arudy. We know you're all eager to learn more about the planned metagame, unlocking and leveling system, etcetera. However, today I'd like to talk about a specific aspect of Project Argo's gameplay, which is something that's easy to underestimate, but can be oh so powerful. It's the part where you communicate with your teammates, plan, execute, win... or fail. It's a very core part of our game, which we intend to stimulate more via things like in-game rewards in the future, but we're not there yet. Let's dissect what it's all about.
First, we should ask ourselves: what is teamplay really? Obviously, it's something you do in a team-focused game. But what does that entail, you ask? Lean closer, I'll try to explain. Teamplay is about co-operation, co-ordination, and communication, and if you and your teammates manage to do this, you will get to enjoy Project Argo on a whole other level.
When you play as an individual - a lone wolf - you define your own sub-tasks, tactics, and approach to the given mode's objective. You run, shoot down some enemies, and the rest of your team is probably doing the same. You could say this is very 'brave', and it's certainly understandable if you don't have a group to play with. However, you are missing out on the point of Project Argo, which is to play it as a team vs team game. Don't get me wrong, you can play solo for hours and keep winning - especially if you carry the team or get carried by someone better. However, ultimately it's best to try and coordinate with your fellow players. For instance, in Project Argo's Link mode, it already helps massively if everyone is assigned to a specific point to capture. This can be as simple as shouting where you're going. Then during the match, you can play in a more organized manner by identifying the biggest threat and shifting some of your firepower there. Of course, this principle is applicable to our other modes as well.
Related to teamplay, we've seen that when people play alone, the game soon becomes about getting the most kills. But Project Argo is not about that, or shouldn't be at least. There are some practical things that we as designers do to encourage teamplay over getting the most number of kills (you might have already noticed that the largest amount of points is awarded to accomplishing objectives like capturing nodes and enemy points). But we also rely on the mentality of players. Another aspect to this is also that we don't want to glorify killing. Instead, we want it to be about the thrill, the sense of teamwork, the tactics, and of course the winning. Simply put, we don't want Project Argo to be a killing sport, but it should rather be about a contest between two parties.
So, what's it like to play as a team? It's different than playing lone wolf, that's for sure. It doesn't really matter if you have your own team or group of friends, or play as a team with random players on the server. When you're in a team, you're part of the team. You have your assignment, your job, and the team relies on you to do your job. Yet if you don't complete your task, it doesn't matter because the team will react to it. I know I'm stating the obvious here, but there's more power in one well-coordinated team than in an excellent set of individual players. And, again, this is exactly what we're going for. We want people to play as teams using tactics, rather than going solo.
Here are a few quick tips and guidelines to help you become a better teamplayer and enjoy the game:
To sum it up, teamplay is important in Project Argo! Many of the current maps have areas which can be used to your advantage via teamwork, even though we're of course always looking to make things as balanced and fair as possible. I've seen it myself in Sainte Marie, where a well-coordinated team of 4 players was able to win from a team of 5 through teamwork.
As stated above, communication should be brief and to the point. Without some system on how to communicate with the other members in your team, things can get very chaotic. Project Argo provides at least two means of quick communication. There is of course verbal communication using the in-game Voice-Over-Network (VON) system, and visual communication via the so called Tactical Ping (default binding is T). With that, you can transfer information to the rest of your team quickly. Ping the enemy hiding in the bushes to reveal his/her location.
That said, over the course of the past few weeks, we have noticed that our current implementation of Tactical Ping can be confusing, since it doesn't clearly show who pinged it. As also mentioned in last week's live stream, we're looking into this. So far we've tried to include numbers, shapes and colors, but we deemed none of these solutions worthwhile because we feel that they would break the immersion. We'll continue working on it, because we most definitely recognize the importance of clear communication, as you might have already noticed from reading this blog.
All in all, achieving victory by co-operating as a team is incredibly rewarding. There are many different ways to co-operate as a unit. Some principles of co-operation do not even require vocal communication. You see a teammate, you get close, and cover their back and flank. Initially we were also planning to have in-game rewards for these types of player actions, but we ultimately decided to focus more on the gameplay itself and keep things simple. However, that doesn't mean that you are not rewarded for it, because ultimately it's the way to securing a win.
A tactic is a device for accomplishing a goal. If my goal is to win the game in a make-belief conflict between mercenary groups, then it means I have to apply small-team tactics. I'm sure many of you are already doing so, even though perhaps not always consciously. Moving through open locations without cover is especially challenging. It's difficult situations like these that can be overcome by using tactics. Set up an overwatch position to cover your teammates (even better to have two). Form a strike team and approach the objective from the least expected direction. This is what 'reading' a location is all about. If you're too predictable, people like our Level Design intern Hedrik will surely pick you off (he tends to do that a lot!).
Now let me illustrate this by explaining some of my approaches to playing the different scenarios on Project Argo's current active locations.
Of course there's much more to be said about what tactics are best in what locations, but we'll leave that for one of the next live streams with our Level Designers. For now, we'd very much like to hear more about the way you play the game. What tactics do you use? Share your thoughts with us on our forums (https://forums.bistudio.com/topic/199435-tactics-in-scenarios/) and social channels. Please enjoy our game and have fun!
Lukáš "Ghostonex" Haládik (Lead Designer)