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  • Following recent suggestions to Inferno's layout, I began thinking of map balance in

  • general. Do they have to be balanced? It's important to understand that it's a very big

  • topic that everybody will have different opinions on, depending on why they play and follow

  • the CSGO scene. To demonstrate this, watch Thorin's video for a different perspective.

  • Firstly, what is the definition of 'balanced'? In his video, Thorin considers it a balance

  • of the map-pool as a whole, rather than of individual maps! He argues that since different

  • professional teams have unique play-styles, balancing is more about having a variety of

  • different map styles to choose from and a fair way of picking them, so that each team

  • can play to their strengths and their opponents' weaknesses.

  • I wouldn't even have imagined it from this perspective! However, for this video I'm going

  • to remain boring and consider it from a more traditional, 'per-map' basis where I consider

  • 'balanced' as having equal potential to be won on both CT and the T-side. Any match is

  • naturally balanced by switching teams half-time. This doesn't say anything about the map itself

  • though, since using this logic, any layout is 'balanced'! To get around this, I see it

  • as a game of two halves and consider a very one-sided map to be wasting up to half of

  • its potential. When designing a map, I feel that the focus should be on designing a layout

  • that showcases the skill of the players, both as a team and individually. It feels horrible

  • to be cheaply killed by a sniper half a mile away, or from not looking the right way when

  • entering a bombsite with hundreds of corners. A map that I consider to be very balanced

  • is Dust2. As a terrorist, when I die, it's generally because I was out-played by the

  • other team. On Nuke, on the other hand, it's normally because the enemies are all camped

  • out in obscure positions and there's no chance of a fair fight when up against similarly

  • skilled opponents. Each side has to bring value to a match. And

  • sure, everybody loves the easier side. People play CSGO, craving the next epic ace or situation

  • where they single-handedly hold off an entire team until support arrives. This happens all-too-often

  • on CT-side, where the enemies have to come to you.

  • But remember that for every kill you get, another player has died and has to sit out

  • for the rest of the round. From his point of view, it's no fun if he did everything

  • right but the map itself was against him and instead he's reduced to being just a target

  • to reward the other team with points, money and clips for frag-montages. Some people will

  • point out that the beauty of a map like Nuke is that every victory for the terrorists means

  • something! Sure enough, it does. It often means that the CT side made a big mistake

  • or that some fluky, risky strategy paid off. That's not about skill! That's luck. Once

  • the next round begins, even if the terrorists have enough money for everything they want

  • to buy, the map is too CT-sided to make much of a difference. The outlook remains bleak

  • for that round, even if it means that they'll probably win the game in 20 rounds' time.

  • Add to this the unpredictable nature of the pistol rounds and you'll often see matches

  • determined by how the first couple of rounds of each side play out. It's wasted potential

  • and for every exciting match played on Nuke, there are a hundred more where it plays out

  • in a predictable, boring fashion. Now I'm not saying that each game should have

  • 8-7 scores for each half. There will inevitably be matches where this doesn't happen. But

  • I feel that if you average every game out, a good map should come to about 50-50. Here

  • are some graphs created by Valve from the data that they've collected from popular CSGO

  • maps. And here they are, ordered by balance. If you had to rank the maps from favourite

  • to least favourite, is it similar to this list? If so, you probably enjoy playing on

  • balanced maps! But these findings are further complicated

  • by how different tiers of play result in different balances. For example, the highest skill levels

  • are most likely to win the first 3 rounds as terrorists, but are then less likely to

  • win the remaining 12 rounds. From this you can conclude that the higher

  • the skill level is, the more advantage CTs have once they've got enough money to defend

  • properly. Since the majority of the rounds are played out in this state, it's fascinating

  • to see that the balance in this situation is closest for Dust2. In fact, it's only ever

  • been beaten by Overpass for balance (and since then the map has become CT-sided), so Dust2

  • remains the most consistently balanced map for all skill-levels.

  • And remember that this data is collected from matchmaking. The pro-level teams will be above

  • this again and I would expect to have even more of an advantage on CT-side if the trends

  • continue. Tactics will no doubt have more of a role to play as you move up into professional

  • tiered matches but on a personal level, they have a natural advantage when in a defensive

  • position. Thorin's arguments for one-sided maps made

  • sense to me when I watched his video but, with hindsight, I don't see how the points

  • don't also apply to balanced maps- if not more so! For example, he brings up the case

  • of TSM VS NIP on Nuke. They both have history of having a strong CT-side on the map and

  • yet NIP managed to win the first 3 as terrorists. They lost the remaining 12 rounds of the half,

  • only to then pull it back and win once they were on CT. He uses this as an example of

  • how two strong CT-sided teams should battle it out on a CT-sided map, where they display

  • their mastery on the stronger side by locking the map down and denying the other side most

  • of the rounds. It certainly makes the rounds where terrorists

  • manage to win more exciting. But I feel that it devalues the rest of them, both to play

  • and to watch since it's usually filled with slaughters as the terrorist side fails one

  • rush after another. I feel it's wrong for the outcome of a match to be determined by

  • so few rounds- especially notoriously random pistol ones. Victory in CSGO should be a delicious

  • and delicate combination of a number of factors, like skill, economy, team-work and so on,

  • like a well-made meal. When a map is so one-sided I think it puts too much emphasis on one element.

  • If CS:GO is a roast meal then Nuke is a plate full of potatoes. Yes, they're nice, but you

  • need to leave room for everything else. As T-side, even a strong team with a good economy

  • and tactics doesn't give them a good shot at winning the round! It's infuriating.

  • Compare this with balanced maps. Every round is equally important and winnable if the teams

  • do the right things, unlike Nuke where it's easy to see the outcome half an hour before

  • we reach it since victory is all-too-often decided from the random nature of the pistol

  • rounds. When the map is balanced, it opens up a lot more opportunities for the teams

  • to play in their own style, rather than sticking to an over-powered, tried and tested CT defence

  • that you can't do much about, even if you're prepared for it. In fact, I'd argue that a

  • balanced map gives CT-sided teams MORE room to shine: surely that would be better testament

  • to their ability than simply trouncing teams on a CT-sided map? 15-0 as CTs on Nuke? Well

  • done, you stuck to a tried-and-tested defence on the easier side. 15-0 on Dust2? Incredible!

  • You successfully gauged your opponents' attacks and countered them.

  • Balanced maps give teams more options, more counters and in my opinion, a higher skill-ceiling.

  • It's about understanding the opponent and devising a counter-strategy, rather than just

  • being good at CT-side and choosing CT-sided maps and losing on ones that aren't.

  • That's right. I think that balanced maps have the potential to have a higher skill-ceiling.

  • With one-sided maps, once the tactics, counter-tactics, counter-counter-tactics of the map are done,

  • what determines the winner boils down to the ability of the players and the map's natural

  • biases. If both teams are ridiculously talented then it's the positioning that plays a big

  • part in who will win. I see a biased map where one team has limited options as being like

  • a chess board where some pieces are missing from one of the sides. In low-level games,

  • this won't matter that much, but in higher ones, even a mere pawn can make a big difference.

  • Let's look at the skill-ceiling in balanced maps instead. I still love the map but people

  • are saying that Dust2 has become stale. Is that because it's too balanced? I don't think

  • so. It just isn't complex enough. Just because a map's balanced, doesn't mean it's good!

  • Here's one that I made in 2 minutes. It's balanced. Doesn't mean it's fun to play. The

  • difficulty is that it becomes exponentially more difficult to balance maps as you add

  • more to them. This isn't helped by tactics that may be thought up for the map in a week,

  • month or years' time. What I don't like is people confusing complicated, one-sided maps

  • as 'having a high skill-ceiling'. It's just bad map design.

  • Enough of this, let's get to my conclusion. Ultimately, Valve chooses what happens. They

  • have things of their own to balance: CSGO's success depends on pleasing a number of different

  • audiences, ranging from the newbies and case-openers, all the way to good players and professional

  • leagues. And they, with their infinite wisdom, have decided to remove Nuke from the main

  • map pool. I suspect that they wanted to give their new

  • Train map a chance to be tested and that they chose Nuke to go since it has consistently

  • scored the lowest in terms of round outcome balance, has had the fewest successful bomb

  • plants and more rounds with all terrorists being eliminated than any other map. And perhaps

  • these factors have knock-on effects, like fewer people being interested in the map and

  • therefore poorer spectator stats for Nuke matches and twitch streams. I know that I'm

  • less likely to watch a totally one-sided match than, say, a close Inferno game where the

  • balance tips every couple of rounds. So in conclusion, map balance is a touchy

  • subject but I want more balanced maps and think that they benefit the game as a whole,

  • both to watch and to play.

Following recent suggestions to Inferno's layout, I began thinking of map balance in

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B1 UK map balanced sided nuke skill balance

The Beauty of Map Balance

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    劉錚 posted on 2015/11/12
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