The new game of “not equal to each other” is becoming the new focus of NetEase’s game strategy.
From the sudden emergence of “The Fifth Personality” to the “Official Cat and Mouse Mobile Game” that attracted the attention of outsiders, to the “Mission Zero” which is still in the development stage, in less than four years, there have been three highly respected “Asymmetric PVP” NetEase mobile games appeared in front of us. The game type “Asymmetric Confrontation” has long become a familiar concept for NetEase game users.
It is not difficult to imagine that for many players who are used to talking about “balance”, the game design of “asymmetric confrontation” that seems to fundamentally abandon the principle of “fair confrontation” seems to be against the fundamentalists. The betrayal of the e-sports spirit-then the question is, why does NetEase, which has rich experience in e-sports activities, value this “no more e-sports” game type so much?
——Does the game model of “asymmetric confrontation” qualify as the next growth point of e-sports?
Ⅰ. A brief history of asymmetric confrontation games
As the name suggests, compared with traditional competitive games that emphasize “fair duel”, the most prominent feature of “asymmetric confrontation” type games is that the individual strength of the opponents is almost completely not in the same order of magnitude:
In the current “asymmetric confrontation” game, PVP players can basically be divided into two camps, the offensive side and the survival side-although there are only a few offensive players who play the role of search and pursuit, as long as the target is found and locked, one-to-one The heads-up win rate is almost 100%; and for the survival side who plays the role of hiding and decrypting, despite the large number of people, if the topographic features are not used for subtle team cooperation, the probability of defeat in a head-on confrontation is basically 100%;
In a word, in essence, the “asymmetric confrontation game” that is popular today is indeed exactly the same as the hide-and-seek game that most friends were fond of in childhood.
On the other hand, from the perspective of modern game design theory, the roots of the true “asymmetric confrontation” game can be traced back to the TRPG golden age when “Dungeon and Dungeons” is prospering:
As early as the end of the 1980s, with the publication of the second edition of the ADND rule book, many experienced players gradually realized that they could build powerful characters far beyond common sense and easily solve DM with rigorous calculations. Complex mazes and large numbers of monsters designed;
Subsequently, the birth of the third version of the DND rule brought an astonishing number of expanded rule books, and this kind of PC (player) against DM (dungeon master) PVP game to a new peak-despite the absolute strength of both parties It is completely unequal, but the final outcome of success or failure often depends on the familiarity of the PVP parties with the rules of the game-yes, under the appearance of inequality, rigorous digital rules are buried, which is the core of “asymmetric confrontation” Nature.
Of course, although TRPG gave birth to the most basic idea of ”asymmetric confrontation”, this idea has truly become a modern video game, still after the development of graphics technology and the official general level of broadband Internet:
Born from the “Half-Life” module, “Natural Selection 2” (Natural Selection 2) produced by Unknown Worlds Entertainment and released in 2012, “Evolve” (Evolve) produced by Turtle Rock Studios and released in 2015 ), and “Dead by Daylight” (Dead by Daylight), which was born from Behaviour Interactive and almost single-handedly established the status of the modern “asymmetric confrontation” game pattern in 2016, is precisely relying on these masterpieces to continuously improve the game content structure. “Asymmetric PVP” can evolve from a niche mod at the beginning to a dark horse game with a high reputation.
But even so, as experienced players and game developers, we must be clear about a fact:
Although it once received a high degree of attention on the live broadcast platform, there is still a visible gap in the audience size between “asymmetric confrontation” and the real mainstream PVP game type.
Let’s take the representatives of the types mentioned above as examples. Although they have a good basic design, as early as 2014, the maintenance of Natural Selection 2 was handed over by the developer to the community team. ; “Evolution” even after experiencing the storm of free gamification, in 2018 ushered in the end of the off-line service; In contrast, the situation of “Death by Daylight” seems to be better, the “Death by Daylight” seems to be better. “Resident Evil” linked content, let us once again feel the strong popularity of this work, but even so, according to the statistics of DteamDB, “Death by Daylight” has less than 100,000 online users at its peak, and Steam, which has about 600,000 daily online users. Compared with mainstream e-sports games (yes, it is Dota2), it is obviously not in the same order of magnitude.
From private independent developers to large game developers, all signs indicate that “asymmetric confrontation” can easily arouse developers’ desire to challenge production; but at the same time, reality warns us more than once, “asymmetric confrontation” The enjoyment of viewing is obviously higher than the actual experience. In other words, even if you can earn good heat and traffic on the live broadcast platform, how many viewers will eventually turn into players is still unknown.
——So, what are the factors that caused the “asymmetric confrontation” type of PVP game with unlimited potential, after nearly 10 years of long development, still failed to usher in the highlight moment of the life cycle?
The answer may be more direct than our impression.
Ⅱ. Difficult balance
In fact, in the current popular multiplayer confrontation games, “asymmetric” design elements can be said to be everywhere: mainstream MOBA games have a large number of heroes, and the differences in their performance have created a complex relationship of mutual restraint, which is based on mutual constraints. The basic dynamic balance is essentially a side manifestation of “asymmetric architecture”-however, if the degree of “asymmetric” is raised to the system level, the situation is obviously completely different.
Individual individuals with strong individual strength VS groups with mediocre individual strength but outstanding cooperation effects, coupled with huge differences in system architecture, seemingly unequal two parties can often collide with far more than expected results, this is asymmetric The core charm of confrontation games-however, the irreplaceable core difference of “team size” is precisely the weakness of today’s asymmetric PVP games:
One of the most intuitive examples of this is Resident Evil: Resistance.
As a gift for Leng Fanyong’s “Resident Evil 3”, “Resist Evil: Resistance” adopts a fairly standard “one-to-many” asymmetric confrontation game standard mode-4 players playing “survivors” must work together. Cooperate to solve various traps and monsters laid by the “controller” players, and finally escape in a limited time; in the process of confrontation, whether it is the “survivor” quickly solves obstacles and arrives in a new area, or the “controller” The mechanism designed to defeat the members of the “survivor” team can tilt the balance of the time limit to determine the victory or defeat; in short, despite the limited scale, for CAPCOM, the initial design concept of “Resist Evil: Resistance”, It’s not just a “multiplayer gimmick”.
However, after the game was officially launched, CAPCOM’s envisioned “players playing different roles each show their skills in a death fight” did not appear in the actual PVP of “Resist Evil: Resistance”. Instead, it was almost an overwhelming “controller”. Advantageous situation-Compared with the “survivor” multi-person team that must be familiar with the performance positioning of different roles and must go through a long period of time to reach a tacit understanding, the “controller” who is in charge of the overall situation not only has a lower threshold for getting started, but also The novice team of “survivors” in Tuan Sansha can also use simple mechanism chains to quickly defeat them, and greatly enhance their own advantages through the game’s own kill time compensation mechanism. In a word, “Resident Evil: Resistance” at the beginning of its launch was neither exciting nor beautiful. Except for some “manipulator” players who enjoy it, no one wants to have fun in this game.
However, this one-sided situation has not lasted forever. As time goes by, many experienced “Resident Evil” series of multiplayer battle games have gradually mastered the role performance and game skills of “Survivor”, regardless of It is not difficult for the team of “survivors” who are getting better together to break through traps or use character skills to solve difficult monsters. At the same time, the disadvantage of “two fists is hard to beat four hands” is finally ” The manipulator’s body is completely exposed, even if it is personally controlling the monster, it is still difficult to survive the attack of the “survivor” like a wolf like a tiger-as the so-called Fengshui turns, this huge reversal of the advantages and disadvantages of both offensive and defensive , Is undoubtedly one of the most impressive content of “Resist Evil: Resistance”.
But in any case, this kind of PVP game experience with a huge gap between front and back is destined to be impossible to sustain the player’s enthusiasm and attention for a long time. In a very short time, the popularity of “Resist Evil: Resistance” fell all the way to the bottom. Of course, there are many factors such as network connection quality and plug-ins, but in the final analysis, the lack of balance in the actual sense of the game experience process is the core reason for the final failure of this asymmetric PVP game from the popular IP.
So, in the face of this dilemma, where should asymmetric adversarial games go?
The solution may be more radical than our imagination.
Ⅲ. Return to the essence of symmetry
In fact, even though “balance” has long become a familiar term for us, the difficulty of achieving true “balance” in a PVP game is definitely much higher than most people expected-even if the performance of both chess pieces is complete. A turn-based game that is consistent, clear rules at a glance, and does not need to consider hand speed at all, may still have a balanced design that completely collapses.
Undoubtedly, the most typical example of this is Gobang.
At first glance, there seems to be nothing unusual about this extremely simple two-player game, but in fact, if there are no bans and special rules, there is no balance at all in this game-the first black game is played. The winning rate is 100%.
The reason why there are three-handed exchange, five-handed and two-handed in today’s official renju game, as well as rules such as the Yamaguchi rule (five-hand-n-hand), is to force the balance of the advantages of the black and the white at the rule level. It can be seen that, instead of pursuing mathematical “balance” like formula balancing, directly adjusting the core systems of both PVP parties on a more basic level can often achieve better results.
Indeed, so far, most asymmetric confrontation games have tried in this dimension; the reason why most attempts failed to achieve the expected results in the end, there is only one reason:
The strength is far from enough.
Let’s look at another example:
This casual game, launched on the PS4 platform in October 2016, is a fairly concise asymmetrical PVP work: multiple players playing the role of the “survivor” must avoid the gunfire of the “defender” while mixing in Among the miscellaneous soldiers wandering around on the map, they are waiting for the opportunity to collect gold coins to accumulate victory points; for the “defender” alone, they only need to condescendingly beat every suspicious enemy soldier in the field of vision to squeeze the gold coins they collected. Make sure that no “survivors” collect enough victory points within the time limit. The difficulty curve of rule learning is basically negligible.
Although the basic structure seems unremarkable, the most unusual aspect of “Pixel Battle” lies in the vision of the game in front of both PVP parties:
Obviously, the “defender” who enjoys the VR field of vision is completely unable to spy on the “survivor”‘s course of action by peeking at the TV and operating the handle; for the “survivors”, they no longer use words but gestures to each other. Adjusting and cooperating at any time has become one of the most effective tactics to win confrontation-this design that creates differences in game rules from the hardware level and effectively blocks cheating means is exactly the “Pixel War” as an asymmetric PVP and family party game The most prominent highlight.
Since it is impossible to solve the balance problem with weights, directly modify the balance cantilever to obtain fairness.
In this way, the real prospects of the “asymmetric confrontation game” suddenly became much clearer:
Compared with continuing to compete for the market on a single platform (mobile phone, PC or host) that is becoming saturated, combining the terminal characteristics of different platforms and the habits of players to design game rules to create cross-platform works that are self-contained. It is the real advantage of “asymmetric confrontation games”; further speaking, this core selling point lies in the game type of “systematic differences”, which has the potential to jump out of the fixed circle of video games and become offline playgrounds and real-life games. The new heat growth point.
In the final analysis, for asymmetric PVP games that emphasize “asymmetry” from the starting point, thoroughly implementing “asymmetry” from software to hardware is the solution to all problems, isn’t it?