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#1 Posted by InspectorFowler (79 posts) -

Last week's Bombcast comments about Overwatch where they wondered if Overwatch sort of...dynamically balances...made me wonder too (I believe they referenced Mario Party).

The number of times a control point gets to 99% and then the momentum shifts (often in favor of the previously losing team) is suspicious. I mean, nearly impossible suspicious. I don't like getting stomped, nor is it fun to just dominate if your team is accidentally good, but it's just as frustrating to be winning and suddenly be like, "How did we get team wiped? Are they doing more damage? How are they getting ultimates so fast?"

I wonder if there is any reasonable way to define and track some of this stuff. I have fun playing, but the sheer quantity of "we're going to lose" or "we're going to win" followed by "what the hell is happening?" really makes me wonder. I've played a ton of shooters and I've never seen one where the balance shifted this fast, or this aggressively.

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#2 Edited by AdequatelyPrepared (2522 posts) -

I'm just going to say that it's very likely that something like this would have been picked up on by someone crunching the numbers already. With how the gaming community can be, Overwatch would have already been torn a new one over something like this.

Worth remembering that on control point and payload maps that the advantage does slowly shift to the defending team. First point is close to the attacking side spawn and far from the defending side spawn, whereas the last point is usually close to defending side spawn and further away from the attacking side spawn.

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#3 Posted by MindBullet (692 posts) -

Yeah, I don't think it happens enough in my experience for me to think there's an actual "drama" system in place. In the case of payload maps, it's definitely designed to favor the defense more as the payload nears it's destination, so I can see that leading to cases where the defending team can make a last minute save.

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#4 Posted by Atwa (1672 posts) -

Early on I could have sworn the ultimates seemed to charge faster for the team close to losing, but I cannot tell and probably is just being salty from losing.

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#5 Posted by InspectorFowler (79 posts) -

I notice it primarily on the maps where both teams have to capture the central point, where it's symmetrical. The payload maps are just designed in such a way that there are always 2-3 chokepoints near the final objective, making sniping/turrets/Bastion very effective defense tools, which has a similar effect.

It doesn't do stat tracking like other games do, and it doesn't reveal damage numbers or anything in the game client. Damage dealt seems to charge ultimates faster, so if your team is suddenly doing more DPS, wouldn't quicker ults follow?

I'm on the good end of this as much as the bad. But it's just as puzzling either way.

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#6 Posted by Vortextk (811 posts) -

Beginning of the game attackers have spawn advantage, easier to push. End of game defenders have spawn advantage, easier to defend, and usually a better setup for them.

99% happens a lot because even if someone is contesting the point in a king of the hill map, the team with the point continues to gain points UNTIL 99 when they need it to be clear of enemies to win. Payload's will actually stop with someone contesting but for split seconds at a time unlike overtime when it again the team pushing it needs several seconds of it cleared to win.

Also, once you realize how overtime works, a fast lucio/tracer etc can pop in and out of the point to keep overtime going and a team is ready to lay it on the line at the last second with aggressive pushes in a last ditch effort to win. The game feels balanced to make these happen more often, but because of systems and map design not rubberbanding.

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#7 Edited by MezZa (3026 posts) -

I think it's worth noting that people usually enter "all-in" mode on King of the hill objectives in those overtime situations. I've had plenty of games where we took the point back during overtime because the team stopped being skittish about going in and risking it all. A cornered animal fights harder, nothing left to lose, and all that. It doesn't necessarily mean that we were stronger or even playing more skillfully suddenly. Plus, sometimes teams just throw the game. It happens.

As for payloads, the maps are designed to shift advantage from attacker to defender as the payload progresses. So what's easy right away becomes much harder to move later on. It's very likely that a payload won't be held until one of the last checkpoints if teams are both evenly matched.

There were plenty of competitive minds analyzing and memorizing every number in the game by going into custom games with other testers and the practice zone. If there was foul play involved it would have been noticed right away by these people unless it's completely insignificant to begin with.

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#8 Posted by Mike (17959 posts) -

No way. If this was happening the internet would be screaming about it, it wouldn't have been discovered by one person who, by the sound of it, has played only very little of the game.

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#9 Edited by 49th (3858 posts) -

This discussion is so weird, it's like some kind of conspiracy theory. There is absolutely no way the game is dynamically changing, it's just that during overtime players are more likely to jump on the point and take risks. The only thing players should be doing in overtime is trying to touch the objective and not lose the game, regardless of which class you're playing. That's the reason these crazy swings happen, before overtime players often don't play the objective because they don't want to die or they'll just ignore it and play team death match instead.

This phenomenon has been happening in TF2 since the dawn of time, I've won so many matches during overtime after being stuck at the same area for the whole game because that's the only time everyone pushes.

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#10 Edited by RickRockmann (146 posts) -

In a lot of fighting games (Street Fighter V and Guilty Gear Xrd are two great modern examples of this), health bars aren't actually a 1:1 visual representation of how much damage you're taking. Even though characters have consistent HP values (e.g. Ryu has 1,000 HP in SFV), damage mitigation modifiers kick in when your health bar hits certain thresholds - at 150 health, Ryu only take 75% damage from attacks. This trick doesn't really change anything about how the game plays, but it gives the illusion of closer matches. You can look at your opponent's lifebar at the end of a round you lost and say "man, I got them down to a quarter of their lifebar, that was close," but when you factor in damage scaling it ends up being a little bit less close than you thought.

This is what they were talking about on the Bombcast. I highly doubt there's a system in Overwatch that tweaks actual weapon damage values or ultimate charge rates to "fix" games, but I wouldn't be surprised if the payload moved slower towards the end of a track or the control point counter ticked slightly slower in the 90s than it does in the 20s to make matches feel closer.

EDIT: Oops, should have fact-checked my Street Fighter knowledge drop before posting. The actual mechanics of damage scaling are a bit different from what I had originally posted, but the effect is the same

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#11 Posted by imsh_pl (4208 posts) -

I mean, the reason why the timer often times stops at 99% isn't really that shocking. While your team's progress fills up just by the virtue of the control point being yours (regardless of who occupies the point), you can't win objective mode as long as there's an enemy on the objective, at which point the timer halts at maximum progress that isn't 100%, and the game enters Overtime. Overtime lasts as long as the enemy team is within the point (as soon as they leave the overtime bar starts to rapidly drain, only to be refilled again should the enemy reenter the capture area).

It's kind sad the the Bombcrew apparently don't understand how the game works but whatever.

On top of that, it would be suicide in the eyes of the esports sphere if it ever was discovered that the game artificially creates drama by violating its own rules. And seeing how Blizzard cares a lot about maintaining a competitively attractive game, I doubt they would ever do that.

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#12 Posted by FrodoBaggins (1797 posts) -

Contesting the objective and overtime are your answer.

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#13 Posted by musclerider (859 posts) -

I'm not in love with the way overtime works for that very reason. I'm all for comebacks but sometimes the violent swings do make it seem a little bit ridiculous.

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#14 Posted by zaccheus (2085 posts) -

Contesting the objective and overtime are your answer.

That's right. Overwatch has systems to create drama, they just aren't the hidden insidious kind that are implied here or on the bombcast. I think it's absurd to think that Blizzard would have a hidden system in their game that the internet wouldn't have discovered already. The game has been in beta forever.

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#15 Posted by jacksukeru (6746 posts) -

Someone would have figured it out by now, if so, I'm sure.

I do love that Blizzard has enough of a reputation for creating "feel good, skinner machine" type games that they create this sort of suspicion though.

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#16 Posted by WilliamFlattener (195 posts) -

Yeah, I don't think it happens enough in my experience for me to think there's an actual "drama" system in place. In the case of payload maps, it's definitely designed to favor the defense more as the payload nears it's destination, so I can see that leading to cases where the defending team can make a last minute save.

I nominate "Drama System" as the official term going forward.

I wondered the same things as Jeff, but with a tad less antagonism. Without any numbers crunched, I'm skeptical that Blizzard would risk the impending controversy ("Blizzard eSports Game is rigged!!!1!1") but every time I sit down with the game I'm struck by how much momentum flip-flopping goes on. Like... possibly a suspicious amount.

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#17 Posted by BigDaveisCheap (79 posts) -

This, to me, is a symptom of great design or as others have put it a "drama system". As already pointed out by vortextk king of the hill maps continue to progress up to 99 before being contested, defender spawn is right outside the last point in CP or Payload and offense right outside the first. This all builds to a beautiful crescendo at the beginning and especially end of a game that could often make it feel like something must be going on behind the scenes.

Essentially by virtue of brilliant design Blizzard has built in catch up mechanics so good that people are forced to doubt if they're artificial or not.

@imsh_pl said:

It's kind sad the the Bombcrew apparently don't understand how the game works but whatever.

Yeah, I find myself saying this about most games they play and rep in videos and shows. I understand the reason why, they're generalists and have to touch a lot of games so nuance, by its very nature, escapes them but it's still a bummer when it happens. Still love those wacky dudes though.

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#18 Posted by hermes (2558 posts) -

It wouldn't be hard... like making the progression of capturing the points polynomial instead of lineal, so that going from 99% to 100% is a lot more demanding than going from 3% to 4%; or making the payload harder to move the closer they are from the final point. Those would be harder to notice and measure than other factors because things like damage output have a visual representation; they wouldn't technically be "cheating" since it can affect both teams alike.

It is similar to rubber band AI in racing games or sport games; and it would explain how many games end up with scores like 99% to 100%, or with the payload being stopped at less than 10 meters of the target.

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#19 Edited by ALavaPenguin (948 posts) -

I guess I don't quite get what this is actually talking about. As far as I can tell, there is just a system in a lot of matches that to actually win you have to have complete dominance over the point for the last number of seconds due to the overtime system. It seems overt and obvious. Nothing about that seems hidden, and some spawn points on maps are balanced with making it difficult to have that complete dominance.

Are they saying as the point gets closer, the losing team gets some sort of special hidden "advantages" like faster ult recharge, more damage, ect? If that is the case that would be crummy, but also these constant close 99% games seem completely reasonable as the result of the overtime uncontested system... and it seems odd to jump to the conclusion otherwise when an uncontested overtime system seems so easily the culprit. There could be more to it, hidden rubber banding, but I am not sure why people think an overt and completely unhidden overtime system in the way it is implemented would not lead to this situation constantly. Maybe on some maps it is balanced a bit rough with the respawns, but still... that is another issue. It seems reasonable that the system that is overt would lead to this constantly.

Maybe I am misunderstanding the conspiracy theory of what people are saying.

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#20 Posted by ripelivejam (12959 posts) -

CHEMTRAILS!!!!

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#21 Posted by Cerberus3Dog (1004 posts) -

If your objective is defending in one of the play modes, it becomes easier for you to get back into the fight as the match moves on (the distance from spawn to the fight gets progressively shorter over time)

So if the attacking team gets up to 99%, there are more chances the defending team can win making for these close matches. At least that is my thinking.

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#22 Edited by Twiggy199 (623 posts) -

I just think it's a kind of last team push, teams seem to come together a lot better when the match is about to end.

For instance I'm playing Mercy, most of the match I'm healing criticals or anyone I happen to cross paths with, powering up defence or tanks to unleash some damage, we start losing, I carry on as I am. We get down to 95%, my whole game changes, I'm searching out and healing every character to the last pixel trying to keep everyone alive knowing that if one character goes down after I've used my ult, we've lost. I'm trying to use my ultimate at the most decisive moment for maximum effect. I don't think this is any sort of conspiracy, someone would of crunched the numbers by now, surely.

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#23 Posted by Marz (6095 posts) -

I find that when the overtime counter starts, people actually start playing the game instead of going off and doing their own thing.

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#24 Posted by Excitable_Misunderstood_Genius (344 posts) -

@marz said:

I find that when the overtime counter starts, people actually start playing the game instead of going off and doing their own thing.

This.

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#25 Posted by pyrodactyl (4221 posts) -

Could it be that the 99% is just a lie and that last 1% is actually 10% or something?

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#26 Posted by MezZa (3026 posts) -

@pyrodactyl: Well, once 99% hits you can visibly see the timer count down in overtime. And once the bar empties it's game. So there's no falsifying the overtime countdown. Players going all out and fighting on the point will prolong the timer though. Which is what makes the 99% mark comebacks frequent.

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#27 Posted by Anonymous_Jesse (285 posts) -

I think it happens and I'm okay with it. A tiny bit quicker charge time and a slight damage boost would make it work.

It'll be interesting to see if the up coming competitive mode has more stomps.

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#28 Posted by pyrodactyl (4221 posts) -

@mezza said:

@pyrodactyl: Well, once 99% hits you can visibly see the timer count down in overtime. And once the bar empties it's game. So there's no falsifying the overtime countdown. Players going all out and fighting on the point will prolong the timer though. Which is what makes the 99% mark comebacks frequent.

So in overtime the 99% figure is actually a lie

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#29 Posted by Seinenfeld (108 posts) -

Yeah hearing this on the Bombcast was insane, as the competitive community would have already kicked up a fuss about it, and if you pay attention in game you can see why these games happen. The overtime mechanic itself is why close finishes happen. A really big example of how there's not any weird comeback.rubberbanding stuff is 2 CP maps, where if the offense team caps in the first push they can often easily roll the second cap as they have a huge ult advantage (and these are the opposite of the games the Bombers were talking about as they are over in 2 minutes, and they suck).

Also for KOTH maps they are small and it's often easy to stall out the end as you just need to touch the point to extend overtime, so you'll get switches to Tracer and D.Va and there'll be a Lucio coming in and out of a window on the point. KOTH is just madness TBH.

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#30 Edited by MezZa (3026 posts) -

@pyrodactyl: Not really a lie because the game doesn't specifically define getting 100% as absolute game ending victory. You trigger overtime by building the point to 100%. At this point the percentage is gone unless you fail to hold. If you don't succeed in overtime by succesfully holding the point at 100% for the duration of overtime then you get bumped back down to 99% and the opponent has the point. If you capture it again then it goes back to overtime immediately because you're already at max percent essentially. It's comparable to killing an opponent in a game with second wind revives. You took the opponent down but the game gives your opponent a chance to respond and make a comeback. If they can't within a few seconds, they lose. The game doesn't try to hide this from you so it's hardly a lie. Maybe a surprise your first capture game or two, but after its pretty clear how it works.

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#31 Edited by TheHT (15722 posts) -

The 99 thing is because while you're fighting on the point (contested), the number still ticks up. Then we get into overtime and people (sometimes) get their shit together and take the point, or keep refreshing the overtime timer until either you get your shit together or the team holding the point successfully stops you from refreshing overtime. One side wins when overtime runs out (which begins to run out after the point stops being contested while at 99%, and refreshes whenever someone steps in the capture area), or when it isn't contested at 99% in the first place and consequently never enters overtime.

It's just the overtime really. ovaltine.

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#32 Posted by paulmako (1951 posts) -

It's called good map design.

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#33 Posted by Bollard (8080 posts) -

@mezza said:

@pyrodactyl: Well, once 99% hits you can visibly see the timer count down in overtime. And once the bar empties it's game. So there's no falsifying the overtime countdown. Players going all out and fighting on the point will prolong the timer though. Which is what makes the 99% mark comebacks frequent.

So in overtime the 99% figure is actually a lie

No, the overtime rules are incredibly clear.

When you hit 99%, if the point is uncontested (no enemies on/near it) you win. If it is contested, it will go into overtime. As long as the point is contested, the overtime meter will not go down at all. When it is no longer contested the other team have a few seconds to get on the point before they lose. It's fairly simple.

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#34 Posted by TobbRobb (6509 posts) -

It's not fudging anything. Overtime is just a super clever way to make this kind of thing occur naturally.

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#35 Posted by geirr (3693 posts) -
@bollard said:

No, the overtime rules are incredibly clear.

When you hit 99%, if the point is uncontested (no enemies on/near it) you win. If it is contested, it will go into overtime. As long as the point is contested, the overtime meter will not go down at all. When it is no longer contested the other team have a few seconds to get on the point before they lose. It's fairly simple.

This is true but also only apparent to people who play the game a lot or who investigate how this works on their own. I don't think the somewhat lacking tutorial in the game tries to explain any of these mechanics. It does however tell you how to move, and aim, so that's something.