Game Design in CM

This originally began as a post in response to What is the communities view of changes in CM? - #26 by joooks , but devolved into me talking about what makes a good change. Because that didn’t really fit the purpose of the original post, I’m moving it here to talk about what makes a good change, and how CM is designed.

I’ve always loved games like SC2, Natural Selection, EVE Online, and CSM13 is the asymmetry going on. To start what I think the community wants to see, I’m going to talk a bit about game design.

To start, lets differentiate Symmetrical game design from Semi- Asymmetrical and Asymmetrical games. A symmetrical game is one where both sides are playing with the exact same mechanics. From my examples here I’ll use StarCraft 2, specifically when its two of the same race fighting. Exact same map, mechanics, etc. Semi-Asymmetrical games are those where the underlying strategy or mechanics are the same for both sides. EVE does this by have a lot of ships and modules, allowing lots of counter play, but all ships are governed by the same rule set. Asymmetrical games may still have very general rules underlying them all (When your health hits 0 you die, armor reduces damage, etc.) but the way teams operate are different on a mechanical level, like Natural Selection.

CSM13 falls strongly on the Asymmetrical side of things. There’s actually 3 different teams in CSM13, 2 of them just happened to almost always be 100% the same, but they all have different thoughts.
Teams and their objective:
Because there is no conflict between a queen and her hive, nor is there anyone to really “contest” what she says, Xenos are all one team. They have one goal: Secure the Almayer

Marines (Groundside):
I’m splitting the Groundside marines off to a separate “team” from the Command Marines. The reason is simple, the groundside marines generally are pretty short to medium term sighted, and do not always even always follow the plan. Their thoughts generally consist of “I need to go this direction” “I need to save this guy” “I need to barricade here” “I want to kill this xeno” etc. This is in part to the danger of getting permaed or capped and having to sit the round out. They want to win, but they also want to stay alive and sometimes those get in the way.

Marines (Command/Shipside):
These are the long term folks. The XO/CO has a plan in 15 minutes of round start which will have a serious impact on the next 2 hours. Command is far less concerned about the life of PVT Urist McRifleman than winning in the long term. In no small part, its a numbers game aswell. There is one mechanic which separates these into two teams: The Mutiny. It officially designates Command as a third REFOR. Unfortunately, most of the time that means a xeno default victory.

All 3 have levels of Semi- Asymmetrical design within their team, and in fact between the two marine teams they are only Semi- Asymmetrical. Encouraging players to fill out the specialist rolls increases that, as certain squads might be more apts to certain tasks. E.G. A squad with no comtechs but 3 medics should probably front line for the Marine Ground team.

Thats the game design portion of the talk out. Here’s what I think makes a good change. Not in specifics, but in general:

Gameplay changes which increase asynchronous gameplay. Especially between Marine Ground and Xeno, but also among marines.

Increasing round variety.

Punishing teams for delaying too long (Pylon and Evac defense for Marines, and Nuke or boredom for Xenos)

All of the contribute to a more interesting gameplay loop that keeps people coming back.

Thanks for coming to my Xedtalk