20/07/2015

Directions in Warzones

Gamers Decrypted is a relatively new blog, but already very prolific (partially because it has multiple writers contributing to it). While PvPing this past weekend, I was reminded of this highly amusing post of theirs in which the author muses about the way people call the two sides in Alderaan Civil War "grass" and "snow".

I remember when I first started PvPing in SWTOR, I always used cardinal directions when making calls, e.g. "2 east". But it didn't feel like I was having much success with it, and everyone else seemed to prefer calling things by some different designation. I eventually decided to go with the flow and adjust my calling habits, but I still don't know what SWTOR players have against the compass.

First there is the aforementioned Alderaan Civil War with its grass and snow sides. To this day, I don't like this way of telling the sides apart, for two reasons. Firstly, there is snow on both sides. One has less, but if you don't know the look of both sides very well, it can be confusing. Second: If you're in the middle, you can't actually see which side is which without running very close to the side to peek over the edge - and if you happen to choose the wrong side because you can't remember whether grass is east or west, you just wasted a lot of time while trying to come to your team mates' aid.

Huttball is, thankfully, mostly free of directional calls, since there is only one objective and its position is always highlighted by a giant pillar of light. People might say "up" to encourage someone to pass upwards, or "wrong way" if someone gets turned around and tries to carry the ball back to their own goal line, but those are fairly unambiguous.

Voidstar, the last of the original three warzones, is another fairly confusing one. This one even explicitly refers to the door objectives as east and west (or north in the last room) when bombs get planted, but people insist on calling them left and right. I found this highly confusing when I was new to the game, because what's our point of reference? The map? The way our characters face when we respawn? Over time I learned that it's the latter, which solves some of the confusion, but not all of it. After all, changing between offense and defense means that you're suddenly facing the other way, so right becomes left and left becomes right. All clear?


Is that the left or the right door? Depends on whether I'm attacking or defending!

Novare Coast is the only warzone I can think of where people prefer to refer to two of the nodes as east and west. (South tends to be "mid".) I don't know what makes this warzone different, especially as this one would leave no ambiguity about the question of which node is left and which one is right... if you did want to call them left and right, that is. But for some reason east and west is fine this once.

Ancient Hypergates is another confusing one because once again people don't like saying east or west, but for some reason left and right are not popular here either. There is no unique terrain that can be used to identify the different sides, so people just... don't call them anything remotely useful at all. Pylons get designated as "ours" and "theirs" based on ownership, with each team habitually going left (clockwise) from its spawn point at the start. (GD has a post about this mystery as well.) This has the potential to get really confusing if one team manages to capture both pylons, or a match develops in such a way that the teams "swap sides".

The only sort of common thread I see throughout is that PvPers in SWTOR apparently don't like looking at the map for their directions; they want their calls to make sense from the point of view of their character, as they look out on the world around them. For me this is kind of annoying because I find that the map is a much better way of keeping an eye on the big picture in terms of tactics, which is what I want to do when making calls.

4 comments :

  1. Interesting. I guess the lesson here is that PvP maps should be slightly asymetrical, and contain different visual landmarks which the player can orient around.

    Maybe that's an advantage for Warcraft. Since Horde and Alliance buildings are very visually distinct, it's easy to offer directions in terms of those landmarks.

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    1. Yeah, it's interesting how WoW avoids these issues with its uniquely identifiable buildings. And in Strand of the Ancients, which could have had the same problem as Voidstar, they gave all the gates different colours.

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  2. I'm not alone!

    I've been wondering this for a long time as well, actually (as long as I have played warzones, so going on 3 years now I suppose). In voidstar and hypergates I insist on calling east/west, even when others are calling right/left or ours/theirs, exactly because of the ambiguity. On civil war, however, I just go with the flow, mostly because half the time after calling 2 inc east, I got a question back saying "is that snow or grass?". It seems that, like GD writes, most players really do use landmarks to orient themselves, rather than the map, which is curious because of the lack of references you already mentioned. A better way would actually be the presence or lack of a ruined wall on one side (grass has ruin walls, while snow has mountains around it), as you could see that feature even over the walls and orient yourself much faster.

    On the other hand, situational awareness also comes into play. If you know where you came from (the speeder flight) and where you went, you should also know where each of the nodes is.

    And regarding your previous post, you really should consider picking up PvP as a more important part of your gaming if time is short. I'm currently in a situation where I don't have enough continuous time available to dedicate to raiding or even running FPs, so the PvP, daily and leveling games are pretty much the only sources of gameplay that I can currently use, even at end game. And after running 18 characters part way though the story, the leveling game does get old, same with dailies, so the only relatively dynamic content that remains for me is WZs. The changes to the gear cost and ranked rewards will definitely help me get even more into that. Now all I need to do is learn to play my classes well in PvP... :P

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    1. We'll see how it goes with my plans for PvP. I've never actively turned away from it because I didn't find it fun anymore, but I tend to get distracted whenever something like a patch disrupts my routine and then I sort of forget about it.

      And I agree that warzones can be a good source of short bursts of gameplay, however it is somewhat dependent on the time of day. For example I currently have about an hour to play in the mornings, but there aren't enough people on for fast pops during that time of day, so it's not worth bothering to queue up.

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