Every innovation soon or later gets over, grows out of its age and becomes usual thing... until it gets reinvented. Ingenious reinvention is such a very hard task; you need to keep things simple independently of their inner complex operations and communications – complexity of the structure should not affect simplicity of its usage. This statement is called the principle of encapsulation and it reflects all the basic principles of interaction.
Consider deathmatch gametype in its primary state, introduced more than 10 years ago with first versions of iD’s franchises such as Wolf3D, Quake, Doom and so on. We have a map – virtual environment, players – interacting objects, weapons – player-to-player interaction tools and items – environment-to-player interaction tools. Environment-to-player interaction can have either a positive or a negative influence – positive influence is a result of picking up the item or changing current position, negative one is a result of reflecting player-to-player interaction (self-damage, falling damage). Player-to-player interaction in deathmatch can be only negative. What do “positive” and “negative” mean here? Considering this model we suppose the “positive” thing to improve current player’s position and the “negative” thing to make it worse. In terms of deathmatch, where a player’s position consists of his amount of health, ammo, current set of weapons and place at the map, improvement of every part (i.e. increasing health or ammo) leads to improvement of player’s current position and vice versa.
What’s the main deathmatch guideline? Positive result can be performed only with environment-to-player interaction while negative ones can be reached with both environment-to-player and player-to-player ones. And... the main guideline. The basic term of deathmatch is score. You lose a score if the main part of your position (in terms considerd above) gets zero. In “one versus one” deathmatch its equal to giving the score to your opponent as long as the only difference makes sence. In “free for all” its customary to give the score to the opponent who turned that part of your position to zero. So, player-to-player interaction becomes the main interaction of the deathmatch, because it influences opponent’s position a lot. Whats the problem of such a concept?
Every interaction takes time to learn and to master it and in ideal concept interaction’s influence should be proportional to that time. But even the ideal concept performed in real life, doesn’t work so perfectly as long as it’s affected with “human element” and banal luck. So the main problem of deathmatch in its initial state is very strong influence of player-to-player interaction which minimizes importance of other interactions making the concept one-sided, flat and disproportional. You can see, it led to decreased deathmatch popularity in last years.
Now its time to reinvent deathmatch! What we need is just to increase the influence of positive environment-to-player interaction, making it fundamental. In new concept you should perform interaction with environment to get a score while player-to-player interaction is performed to prevent it. Why so? Because environment-to-player interaction aspects and tools are more easier to learn and do not take so much to master. Once they are mastered, the concept results in tactical game where you cant rely only on your aim as long as it doesn’t get a score for you, in terms of deathmatch.
What is proposed in practice? Consider a map for duel. Let there be 4 points on the map called bases, which could be reached by a player with some challenge; that should be risky but not hard task. Every base, excepting one which is empty, has a rune (no distinction between runes) which can be stolen from the base by a player. The player who collects all the 3 runes, gets a score, his collected runes spawn at bases on the longest distance from this player (who just got the score) and the nearest to him base gets no rune. If player dies, all his collected runes drop out from him and get pickable at their current place, they do not return to bases. So, as you can see, when runes get shared between players, the fight takes place.
Why is this concept good? It solves most of current deathmatch problems caused by old concept, bringing competition to the next level and just making the game fresh and fun as never before. On the top level, it’s more interesting to watch, because it takes very solid movement skills to get all the runes in the shortest time. No more camping; you can be fragged by an opponent for about 1000 times, but if he doesn’t collect runes, his scores are still zero. That’s kinda strategy and planning skills which are required to win the game – “brain exceeds the aim”. Applying this concept to TDM and FFA with some modifications we can get the most exciting game ever. Didn’t you dream about that all the time?
Some thoughts on another gametypes.
TDM - more runes, for example 7 runes, 8 bases. Team should collect all the 7 runes, then runes spawn, the empty base gets chosen following the same to duel gametype way.
FFA - 1 rune, all the other spawns are empty. After picking the rune it spawns randomly on the one of empty spawns. The game is quite fun when all the players exactly hear where did it spawn and run scared to get it, fragging each other on the move =)