Sumo as a Team Game

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sinewav
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Sumo as a Team Game

Post by sinewav »

This writing comes out of a short rant of mine on Discord. I was openly expressing my disappointment at removing the WST map's opening grind. The wall of text below is not a complaint about WST, Sumo, or any of it's variants, nor do I think Sumo needs to change. After all, Sumo is one of the most popular game modes. I just want us to explore the shortcomings of Sumo as a team game.

Background

For those who don't remember the history of WST, it started with a discussion about large scale Sumo tournaments that involved many players on a team.[1] Up until that point there was only TST and the TST map. If two "Sumo clans" (an actual thing) wanted to compete there was no appropriate server for them to play. I proposed a well received map with two spawn points that would sensibly allow teams to scale in size. The prototype for WST was the Team Sumo Knockout.[2] This was eventually rebranded to War Sumo (think Sumo Clan War).[3] And later there was even an attempted Mega Team Sumo tournament with 3v3v3v3.

Looking back over these old threads I can safely say there wasn't a clear objective other than adding more teammates to Sumo matches. However, WST arose out of a time of renewed experimentation with Sumo.[4] I personally had hoped that Sumo would evolve into a team sport that had similar complexity as Fortress, and I thought a map involving a grind was a good start. We now know that making Sumo a true team game is a difficult problem.

Definitions

Sumo has become a generic term for action that happens in a zone, for any game mode, whether that zone shrinks or not. I've even seen players boxing each other referred to, stupidly, as "Sumoing". Sumo as a game mode is basically "stay in the circle." It lends itself to a lot of individual skill, but not much when it comes to teamwork. You can try to match player against player, but the dynamic, ever shifting environment of a Sumo ring makes this nearly impossible to maintain. Generally, the team with the best individual Sumo players will almost always out-perform all others, no matter how those other teams strategize.

Sumo is missing defined roles for teammates. In Sumo, you have vague titles such as attacker, defender, and mazer -- but these describe playing styles more than positions. In the best use of the terms, a defender "mazes" inside the zone and the attacker pressures opponents from outside. In practice, any teammate outside the zone is a liability, so a team made entirely of "defenders" should always preform better. This is true no matter how many people are on the team.

Can there be defined roles in Sumo as it is today? I think the answer is "probably not." An environment consisting of a single area with stacked zones is too constrained and too chaotic to give teammates special jobs. Any role or intent would likely dissolve immediately.

Team and Game Mechanics

Zone-based servers can offer, at the least, three different gameplay objectives:
  • Enter a zone from outside
  • Protect a zone by encircling it
  • Fight for control of a zone from inside
Each of these requires a slightly different skill. Sumo really only features the last objective, which limits the need for a variety of skills.

Team games have roles and specializations. In addition to roles, teams are often required to make decisions and create strategies that require coordination over the course of a game. I recognize there are some team decisions and strategies in Team Sumo, but these are few and rather subtle.

Given these feature of zone-based servers and team games, what would it take to amplify the team dynamic in Sumo?

Possibilities

Before offering ideas on how to make Sumo a true team game we need to consider how far Sumo can be stretched until it is no longer Sumo-like. The zone fight is the centerpiece, so any changes need to directly affect this interaction in some way without taking away from it. Here are a some suggestions:

1. More zones. This is a nod to long-lost servers such as classic 4-Zone Sumo and some Wild-Fort maps. Having zones in places other than the center of the map would require decision-making on the part of teammates. Maybe some zones don't shrink? Or shrink at different rates? Or have different sizes?

2. Overload the zones. Every sumo game mode, team or otherwise, tends to tailor the zone size to the number of players. But what if we deliberately add more players than could possibly fit in the zone? Some players would have to interact outside, or act as reserve players. Maybe you think this looks too much like a broken Fortress zone with 10 players around it? I don't think that's a bad thing and it is an interesting starting point. How can we develop this idea?

3. Game stages and side quests. There is no shortage of ideas when it comes to map design and scripting. What if Sumo had stages where some zones need to be conquered before moving on to others? Death zones could partition off Sumo zones until later in the round, zones can shrink AND move (like in Flower Power Sumo). Spawn points can be stretched across the map to have teammates fight 1v1 matches while others fight in a main zone. Let's not forget we can rotate through multiple maps in a match.

Aside: In this space I imagined showing a map I thought of the other day that had rim_accel launchers, a middle Sumo zone, and two static zones on each side, but decided it was too gimmicky and didn't really create an environment that could evolve into something requiring high strategy and team coordination. Maybe I'll have another idea soon -- I'm going to keep working on this problem.

Conclusion

Some of what I've written probably looks like nostalgia for CTWF or old-school Sumo. This is less about nostalgia and more about adding at least one more team game in Armagetron. These days all we have is Fortress. That's not bad, we all love it, but we used to have CTF and occasionally Wild Fort or other tournaments like Inca, plus countless other events you can see on the wiki's Challenge Board. We play a lot of Sumo. If we are going to play so much, let's put some effort into making a version that compares to 6v6 Fort.

Rnoodles
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Re: Sumo as a Team Game

Post by Rnoodles »

I feel like there are still more available tactics in the original wst map then the new one. You have the grinding and somewhat defined positions. I think we might just be looking for a fun change. In saying that I don't think the new WST map is as clear cut as we think. In the practise matches we have had, ive found our team does well when we have 2 people attacking and 1 zone holder, or 2 players targeting one player until its 3v2. But like you mentioned, these aren't defined positions and it probably wont take long for the most effective meta for the new map to be discovered.

I've been thinking of some random idea for sumo/new game modes and I have no idea if they would be good or not >_< . But ill just put them here.

- (New WST map) We could try having position 1 for both teams spawn in the centre of the zone, either back to back or facing each other. This would give atleast one defined position and it would mean fighting for the middle space at the start of the round would depend on aggression and unpredictability OR test out new grinding techniques by linking up with team mates who would spawn somewhere on the outside of the zone to potentially give your team a space or pressure advantage. As it is currently, I think there is 1 player from each team that are aimed directly through the middle of the zone. These players more often then not try to take middle but if they are pressured by 1 or more enemy players, they will leave the danger area and positions 2 or 3 will try take middle space.

Unrelated to WST:

- 3v3v3 sumo? (possible lags but I feel like it would be super fun)

- "Jugganaught" sumo - I was thinking along the lines of WST or Sumobar. 1 player either based on spawn, score or random selection is the jugga. They have an ability of some kind. More speed, more accel, higher rubber regen, more rubber ect. (ability could even have a cool down?) The ability could also be a disadvantage ie slower speed, less rubber, longer tail? ect. Players could even get more points for killing the jugga or jugga status could be passed on to the person that killed them. I feel like heaps of game modes would be fun and interesting if this could be scripted.

-Plant the bomb?
I was picturing teams of 2, 4-6 players. Each team has their own fortress zone and their own respawner/home. The respawner/home is situation at the centre of the enemy fortress zone. A flag/bomb would need to be picked up by a team and taken to the centre of the enemy fortress zone to score points. The position of the flag/bomb would need to be positioned so each team has equal opportunity OR both teams have a flag/bomb to plant.

- Not so different fort physics?
I know this is a bit nono for about half of the community, plus some of you oldies cant handle triple binding :< :mrgreen: but fort could be made a little bit more intense IMO if the physics were slightly different (filthy CTFer ik). Something like cycle_delay 0.09 or 0.08 are still thick binds and require as much precision skill as the default 0.1 delay. Increased accel, decreased speed and increased rubber regen could allow the skilful covering of holes as defence.
The only reason I bring this point up is because I've come to love fort but I hate how its not as dynamic as ctf. In ctf the defender can attack the enemy attacker or cover a hole without compromising their defence.

Also to better organise testing of future game modes, could we possibly get something like this added to the discord? !add test. It would make testing out new game modes alot easier.

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sinewav
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Re: Sumo as a Team Game

Post by sinewav »

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IDEA: Three Sumo zones for five players. The two outside shrink faster than the center zone and the conquest rate is such that even one person in a zone can basically keep it alive.

THEORY: Teams need to grind for position and decide how to divide players. As the round progresses, teams need to decide if they should abandon zones for others. These are standard size zones with a radius of 40m, so it's possible to encircle and protect one.

Word
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Re: Sumo as a Team Game

Post by Word »

Another parameter you can think about changing is the time one has to spend in the zone so it doesn't collapse. It'd be interesting to see what happens when you change it so that, for example, a teammate has to be inside a zone for 5 minutes and then both teammates can decide to leave the zone for 5 (2, 3...) minutes etc., so the time during which you can leave the zone alone to attack another zone can be "recharged" and you have some more freedom to pursue an aggressive team strategy. The current co-dependence is, by comparison, a little too extreme to me and often uninteresting because it effectively forces at least one teammate to camp and maze the whole time, while the other one is either trying to do the same and often takes up space in a cannibalistic way, or going to attack another zone but ends up dead on arrival most of the time, because the other teammate didn't survive inside the teams' zone.

Olive
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Re: Sumo as a Team Game

Post by Olive »

sinewav wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 6:31 am
Sumo is missing defined roles for teammates. In Sumo, you have vague titles such as attacker, defender, and mazer -- but these describe playing styles more than positions. In the best use of the terms, a defender "mazes" inside the zone and the attacker pressures opponents from outside. In practice, any teammate outside the zone is a liability, so a team made entirely of "defenders" should always preform better. This is true no matter how many people are on the team.
I don't agree. Role fluidity is greater in sumo than fort, but viewing positions as playing styles is a bit too reductive. Teammates outside of the zone (attackers) are not a liability whenever the teammate inside the zone (defenders) comfortably occupies quality space. It's the attacker's job to bring discomfort to other defenders or steal the prime real estate. Whenever they succeed and steal enough space, they can of course transition back to defending. This is no different from a sweeper and defender sharing a zone in fort after a cut or hole. In both gamemodes the roles are predefined and thus more akin to positions. The course of the game might call for a player in whatever role to temporarily adopt a different playing style.
Olive a.k.a ZeMu, MoonFlower & chicken.

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