B1 Intermediate UK 2516 Folder Collection
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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.
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The Beauty of Map Balance

2516 Folder Collection
劉錚 published on November 13, 2015    劉錚 translated    Kristi Yang reviewed
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