Altitude 1.1 is coming soon


#1

To most long time players, Ball essentially died after SL13 (with other modes already dead). Tons of players left following SL12 and then SL13. At the current rate I can’t see ladder surviving past the end of this year. It is only active a few hours per day and a lot of the more experienced players have stopped logging in because it is no longer enjoyable due to poor game quality.

Saving Altitude requires essentially starting over with an overhaul of the game. Unfortunately we have do not have developer support which makes saving Altitude very challenging. But if we don’t make changes ASAP the game will be too dead to revive, as no one will bother trying the game if the servers are all empty. So I feel no choice but to attempt Altitude 1.1.

Many of the upcoming changes I have brought up in the past. But due to being stretched too thin with all I do for the game they haven’t been completed. Luckily a lot of the planned features will work much better and be easier to implement thanks to xal’s server patches.

Primarily these features are much improved pub servers with in-game queues, stats, etc and a few new game modes. But with the current state of the game, it is going to take more significant changes as Altitude as we know it is no longer sustainable.

A couple months ago I decided ladder would need to be shutdown to help grow pubs. When pubs are up they are primarily only Football or TBD, so we haven’t had a way for new players to get into Ball for years. The goal of shutting down ladder is to help get a ball pub server populated again.

More recently I started believing the 6v6 Ball most loved by the competitive Altitude community must be eliminated as well, at least until the game has enough players to fill 6v6 servers. I have believed for years that we need smaller game modes to save the game. Up until very recently though, the plan was the have smaller game modes basically be fillers until enough players were on to play 6v6. Now I am confident that 3v3 or 4v4 must be the primary team size rather than 6v6.

6v6 Ball will be removed from all of my servers and replaced with either 3v3 or 4v4. The biggest challenge with this by far will be having to make new, smaller maps.

Aside from smaller maps I expect the following changes:

  1. No gravity on the ball so that gameplay will be spread more evenly between the bottom and top of maps. This is especially important for football. For maps with obstacles, no gravity for the ball will have to be tested before making any decision.
  2. The traditional top spawn areas will likely be replaced with spawning where you die except following a goal.
  3. Games will be timed somewhere between 5 to 7 minutes with overtime if tied.
  4. Health modifier will almost certainly be changed a little to help make smaller teams & maps work. Ideally all modes on my servers will use the same health modifier to keep it consistent.
  5. Camera view scale will be adjusted so more of the map can be seen. How much more will come from testing the new maps. It could be only a very slight change or more significant.

Overhauling Ball in addition to the other changes will add to my workload. So the current season of ladder will go longer than I wanted and it will set back the next SL a little bit as well. I would like the next SL to use the smaller teams/maps, but it will depend on if they are ready to go within a reasonable time.

It is unfortunate we are forced to sacrifice 6v6 Ball, but it is necessary to save Altitude. At the same time I might be willing to keep ladder around with a 3v3 or 4v4 Ball. To be really successful we will need to split players up into two entirely separate skill tiers (for pubs/unranked play too, not just if ladder stays). Perhaps that will be possible with 3v3.


#2

i have enjoyed this game a lot and i can only say thanks vanish for all your effort
it was very nice game and very nice poople


#3

I don’t think its fair to keep calling it SL. You should change it to something else, if it’s going to be 3v3/4v4. For example past 3v3 tournaments were listed as: Street Ballaz and Trio Trials.


#4

I understand your reasoning, but I might keep the SkyLeague name even if it is not 6v6. Keep in mind the smaller maps are meant to be a replacement, not a different mode. 4v4 wouldn’t feel all that different if done properly although 3v3 would be quite a change.

Anyway the main reason for keeping the name is for marketing. SkyLeague sounds much better than the two examples you provided. The only reason I would possibly consider changing it is Skyleague is the name of a skydiving league. It would be nice to have a unique, but still marketable name for the league if anyone has any good ideas. It should either have a work related to planes/flying or ball (but not something somewhat misleading like street ballaz) and end with league, without being too long. AeroLeague or LunarLeague for example.


#5

That’s unfortunate, thank you for all your hard work. I will no longer be supporting or reading these forums.


#6

Bit extreme especially considering I said only said it might still be used, but OK.

I know several players will be lost in the transition for various reasons. But when the choices are let the game fully die within a year (with a few hours or less of usually poor quality games per day and one more SL with no more than 4 teams) or adapt as needed and try to get a fresh start at the expense of losing some veteran players I have to choose the latter.


#7

Did anyone do some kind of analysis or something as to what would ‘save’ the playerbase for this game? Or I guess what I’m asking is: Why would these specific changes be the ones to make?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to changes, if it helps growing the playerbase. I’m not convinced that the reason we have fewer players is the lack of exciting game modes. There used to be a time when we had many more players with essentially exactly the same game as now.

If a new player discovers Alti now, all they’ll likely do is play is the Football map, and possibly get bored after a couple of hours. It would be cool if we could look at Ledow’s logs for example to see if player retention/return-rate is the actual problem, in which case varying gamemodes could indeed be a solution.
Maybe a more ‘random’ gamemode that somehow cancels out some of the player-skill would be nice, if the problem turns out to be new players being turned off the game because either playing Football all day is too repetitive or they simply get killed too often for it to be fun.

Another thing: I’ve never played a 3v3 ball game before, but just thinking about how a 3v3 ball game would play out: It might be wise to revamp the rating-restriction on the Miranda.

It seems to me like on a smaller map and with fewer enemies, a Miranda would be quite powerfull, and even as of now there’s probably people that would like to play, or even main Randa, but can’t do so because they never climbed the ranks high enough. I don’t really understand how a higher rank is an indication of one’s Randa skills (especially since you’d have to climb the ranks with any plane BUT a Randa)… And I only see this becoming more of a problem with the 3v3 gamemode.

But don’t get me wrong, I’d actually love to have the 3v3 mode available (and somehow have more new players come in), it sounds like fun, just trying to give my thoughts and being constructive. If you think my inputs are bullshi… , I won’t be offended. :smiley:


#8

These are just the obvious changes, not really any analysis required to know we need smaller teams. The big question is exactly how low can we go with team size while keeping it enjoyable. I think 4v4 is safe enough, but 3v3 would make the game feel much different and require more extreme redesigns of maps.

Just imagine all the benefits of smaller teams, with the assumption I can make it work as well as 6v6:

  1. Games will be happening for many more hours each day since far fewer players are needed.
  2. The smaller the team size the more feasible it will be to have multiple full servers and be able to make games with players of similar skill rather than have to lump everyone together. This would be a huge step forward in increasing game quality. I think with 3v3 it could be done immediately. However 4v4 probably requires a bit of growth before it would be possible.
  3. Leagues may be able to have a reasonable number of teams again. As is we have to expect a 4 team SL and definitely not more than the 5 from last season.

I don’t really have enough faith 3v3 can work in Altitude as it will throw off the plane balance too much. So probably going to have to go with 4v4. I had 4v4 in ladder a few years ago and it worked reasonably well, but with 6v6 still the primary mode it wasn’t played much.

Personally one thing I never enjoyed about Altitude is how spammy it is. I am not convinced 6v6 is actually the best team size anyway. 4v4 along with slightly larger viewable area will allow for more tactical gameplay.


#9

I personally think 3v3 might be pushing it too far. It can be extremely difficult to carry a team if one of the players is really low rated. However 4v4 seems a lot more doable, especially if a player disconnects. If there is a dc, 2v2 isn’t playable, where as 3v3 would stand a much better chance. Also i do agree with jetlagger in the fact that randa could be very overpowered in 3v3, maybe not so much in 4v4

If enough of the community is willing to stay, 4v4 SL should add around ~2 to the probable ~4 teams we would’ve had which would make it a lot more interesting.

For gravity and spawns, do you mind going into your reasoning for the changes?

I don’t really follow the gravity change other than in the football map, where i agree it could make it better. In normal maps i personally feel gravity is a vital part of the game, but then again the game is dying.

As for spawn placing, i don’t personally see how spawning where you die can work, ie think of a couple of scenarios: someone dies defending the goal, and re-spawns as the other team shoots, and ends up stopping the ball AND clearing it (remember you spawn with a temporary shield around you, so you wouldn’t be killed instantly and have enough time to clear the ball). This also works both ways,an attacking player could re-spawn just as the defenders are about to clear, take advantage of their probable low health, and regains possession right in front of goal.
These are my thoughts on it, and would love to hear your reasoning, but i cant see it working, although, more spawn points could work. Maybe a set defending, midfield and attacking spawn point for each team depending on ball position.

Other than those 2 points, I completely agree with the changes, I think they’re necessary to keep the game alive


#10

A big reason for smaller teams is so only players with similar skill level are playing against each other. Say for 3v3 we can basically divide the typical 6v6 ladder game in half and imagine the it was top 3 against top 3 and bottom 3 against bottom 3. The smaller the teams the more likely you won’t have any significantly lower rated player to carry.

Ideally we’d be able to balance planes for different game modes, but we can’t. So we have to balance other factors to provide balance to the planes as much as possible. Maps will have to be a little more open, especially around the goal to make sure randas can’t dance around waiting for an opening. Respawns near the goal area will make any scoring opportunities for randas much more difficult as well.

As I said gravity on the ball definitely has to go for football as it really ruins the gameplay on a completely open map. I am undecided about regular ball maps, but at the same time it would be nice to have it off for both for consistency. I also like having the entire map more utilized rather than the ball more often on the lower parts of the map (although removal of top spawn points will already help greatly). If it doesn’t work well enough gravity will stay though.

Of course spawning isn’t going to occur exactly where you die everytime. For example there will be an area surrounding the goal where no spawns can occur. If you die there your spawn will be pushed outside of that area.

A lot of the concepts being introduced, particular for football which will be 1000x better than the current football, are based on other games which have proven to work well. Having dedicated spawn areas for ball has always been one of the worst aspects of the mode.


#11

One thing to be mindful of is changes between different maps. I do a lot of that on my servers, and it is not always welcomed. Newer players seem not to mind, and instead enjoy the variety. But, some of the older players (which, ironically were the target of Alti+, to get them interested in returning to the game) complain that it is too difficult to get used to new physics. For example, on ball_whl, the two biggest gripes are the jagged walls and the lack of ball gravity. The walls issue doesn’t affect your designs (I just think you don’t bounce pass off the out-of-bounds line in soccer), but the gravity does.

If, in Altitude 1.1, some maps have ball gravity and some don’t, you may hear complaints about how playing that map ruins a player’s accuracy on other maps. I certainly do hear that. 4v4 soccer may not need such a large map, and so you may want to play with standard vs no ball gravity a little to see how it plays. I don’t personally have a problem switching back and forth, but maybe I am just not good enough and finely tuned to the exact physics of Altitude for it to matter. My point here is simply to weigh the pros and cons making this variable across maps. In an earlier post, you stressed that things like viewable area, plane scale, health, etc. are likely to be consistent across Altitude 1.1 (and I think that will make a lot of people happy). This is the one place, ball gravity, where you appear to be considering a variable setting. So, I just thought your decision on this point might benefit from my experience.

I do wish ball_whl got more playing time, It is large, but the jagged walls do force game play into the field, it has no ball gravity so the whole map is open, you can’t dunk so that increases passing and the role of a goalie, there are in-map spawn zones such that you spawn at the one closest one to where you died, and the spawn health changes based on how many players are on the map to keep it competitive and fun from 3v3 up to 7v7.

When the Altitude 1.1 servers start up, I will probably shutdown Football+ (EU) to lower the number of “other” servers new players might see, it doesn’t get used a lot anyway, and it costs me ~$9/month.

Speaking of ball_whl, goodbye old friend :cry:

Thanks for all your work on Altitude in general, and on 1.1. I look forward to the new maps and game play. One benefit of 4v4 which hasn’t been discussed enough is that sometimes (not as often as we would like) there are too many players waiting on Ladder. Smaller teams would mean there are times we might get as many as 4 competitive games going at once, and wouldn’t that be nice. If we could eventually develop some serverRequestPlayerChangeServer logic to rotate the players around so everyone gets a chance to play everyone else, that would be nice.


#12

I’m excited for this! Let me know if there’s anything I can help with, as well. I’m a web designer (professionally) and would be willing to come up with a new site. Heck, even new graphics. I’m willing to donate monetarily / purchase the upgrade too


#13

I agree about the plan. I bet it’s shocking for almost everyone to see these changes all together but consider this will require time to be optimized. What doesn’t work will be cut and it won’t come all together.
I really like the idea of smaller and faster games, it won’t only help ladder to be more played and popular but also help new and old players understanding better the dynamics of ball mode.

About next SkyLeague, it would be perfect to start introducing something like 4vs4 and see what has to be fixed and how the actual maps work with it. Surely having more teams would be easier.
I don’t understand what is the problem with the name, if someone comes up with a nice name let’s change it but actually SkyLeague is the one that fits better!
1 last note, it would be nice to have a 4vs4 for TBD too, and i’m pretty sure 80% of the maps would work perfectly without any change.

Thanks Van for all the power of will you punting into this, I’m sure it’s the right direction! Also without making a names list, thanks to all the great people that still support Alti! :sunny:


#14

I’m really not sure about SkyLeague yet. “Soon” could end up being a rather long time when it comes to 4v4 Ball being ready. I haven’t made as much progress as I’d like as I’m waiting to see what can be done with the Altitude server (and possibly even client if devs provide any assistance), which could greatly affect my work.

The main issue with 4v4 ball is requiring all new maps while not knowing exactly the size, etc that will work best. So probably have to make a few concept maps first and test them out to see if they feel about right.

I’m primarily focused on Ball right now so not sure what I will try to do with TBD. Although I would prefer to adjust TBD maps a bit for smaller teams, I agree existing TBD maps wouldn’t be bad with 4v4. Not sure if I will host 4v4 TBD servers with existing maps for now or stick with 5v5. I feel lowering team size may need a slightly lower time between death and respawn to maintain balance, and it sounds like this may not be possible to change.

Regarding biell’s comments, yes everything needs to be as consistent as possible. Gravity on the ball and health modifier are likely the changes that have the most impact (if hp is even changed at all). Both probably are going to have to stay the same across all standard modes to not throw people way off when switching modes (allowing for more obscure modes like dodgeball to have significantly more hp if it would help).

My original intentions for football/soccer were to try to make it feel a lot more like the sport, aside from having normal walls. Guessing you probably never played on the football map I briefly tested a couple years ago. Everyone who tried it much preferred it over ball_football, but I never took the time to finish it up and launch it primarily due to my code really only designed for ladder play at the time. It had very large goals, larger than whl, and was intended for each team to have one and only one dedicated goalie. The map was also very large with spawning where you die and the attacking team had to shoot from outside a box surrounding the goal. The expectation was probably to make it biplane only in order to make it more about ball movement and less about killing. Plane restrictions is unfortunately a huge problem for a pub server, although recently xal may have found a workaround to make plane restrictions work without any issue.

Also it still didn’t really feel quite how I wanted with planes. Specifically there was way too much ball chasing and not the more positional play I was looking for. although it is understandably not as easy to maintain proper positioning with planes that are in constant motion. I think 4v4 will force players to think more about their positioning not simply ball chase all game.

I believe I’m going to have to settle for working within Altitude’s original design and not trying to pull off too much accuracy. It will be somewhat in between ball_football and my map although it won’t be just one map. It will be multiple open maps with slightly different borders (still basic shapes, nothing like regular ball). It might be possible some maps have a few very simple obstacles for variety but will still be almost entirely open. Spawning will be where you die or at least very close. More of the map will be view-able (applies to all of Altitude 1.1) to allow for better passing and ability to avoid weapon spam. Goals will likely be whl sized or slightly bigger. Ideally just large enough where you should generally have a chance to score if you can place your shot away from any (non-dedicated) goalie sitting in front of the goal.

ball_whl is a very nice map too, not sure why people are still playing ball_football.


#15

Thinking about the next SL, I’m not sure it should be 4v4. Like you said, you haven’t been able to make enough progress as of yet. Ofc it’s not your fault, it’s gonna take A LOT of work to transition over to 4v4, But in order to have a proper 4v4 SL, i think we need to have a 4v4 ladder up for at least a few months for people to get used to the different gameplay. That being said, I’m not sure it would be wise to wait that long for another SL, so maybe we should consider a 6v6 SL for the time being, and transition to 4v4 after. Alternatively, we could do a 4v4 or 5v5 tbd tourney in the meantime but I’m not sure how many players would be interested


#16

Having a proper SL isn’t really possible right now either way. 6v6 SL would surely be no more than 4 teams which is barely worthwhile in my opinion. Even 4v4 wouldn’t be that much better right now without taking a little time to attract some new players and get old players coming back with the new features.

I don’t think there is much of a need to have it running elsewhere for months. Really just need enough time to figure out the formula to create maps with decent gameplay and have enough maps for league play. No reason a league can’t be for a relatively new mode as everyone will be equally inexperienced and learning along the way. However, It may indeed be a good idea to hold some other tournament(s) in the meantime while we sort everything out for Ball.


#17

Speaking of formulas…

Occurs to me the proper map size for a 4v4 would be roughly 1/4 to 1/3 normal size.

You’re reducing the player volume by 1/3, it would stand to reason that the maps would have to shrink accordingly.


#18

Not quite that simple because any spawn and hp changes will affect map size. Really if we played around with those we could get by with the current map sizes if we absolutely can’t afford the time to make all new maps. We’d still have to modify the layouts a bit to prevent biplane and especially randa from becoming too overpowered. Smaller maps would certainly be better though.


#19

You’re right, of course. Making a new series of maps would be too time consuming to hold any tournament over this summer.

If you decided to run an SL earlier than planned… without the HP or spawn changes, simply shrinking the current maps by 1/4 ought to make that easily possible.

I would offer my time to make those changes, to all maps within the standard SL map pool, if there is enough interest in holding a ‘quickie’ SL over the summer.

Shouldn’t take me more than a day’s time to mod & balance 24 maps.

(Too bad Nikon is MIA… he had produced many smaller maps that never became part of Alti’s map pool.)

It would be nice to have all the mods online and functional in time to run an SL, but with the current state of things, perhaps a test SL of the smaller maps would be in order…

That would give us some feedback on the 4v4 set-up, before making any wholesale changes.

With the current number of active clans, splitting them into 6 man teams, shouldn’t be all that difficult.

If enough interest exists, I will fix-up a couple of the core maps like grotto, cave, & asteroids… You can give them a run and decide if it works. Then, with some feedback, decide on the changes necessary…


#20

Thanks for the offer, but I want to have the spawn changes included right from the start. Keep in mind I added 4v4 to ladder a couple years ago so we already know how it plays from just scaling down the 6v6 maps. Also we should start with 4 or 5 maps to make sure we get those working right before converting more. That is how many I did in the previous iteration of 4v4.

I think you greatly underestimate how long it would take to shrink maps. The slicing of map graphics makes editing a hassle. If you resize sliced objects in the editor they usually will not remain perfectly connected/aligned. Generally when working on a map I have to take all the sliced bits and reassemble them in an image editor before reimporting them back into the map editor. I did this with many maps already when making the refined ladder versions, but I think a good amount will still have to go through this process. And then with most maps it will take some work to fix it from being too cramped, etc.

So basically if you or anyone else wants to help now, the best way would likely be taking maps that are fully sliced and reassembling all the graphics to be used later. If so I can make a list of which maps need this.

Which maps from Nikon are you referring to? I don’t recall his smaller maps. I did already get in touch with him this week though in preparation for the map changes. He is away for awhile currently, but when he is able he wants to help with the conversion of his maps.