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-Respawn System
-Brief History
-Imbalance in Quake
-Increase the Balance?
-Reinvent the Spawn

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Spawn System

Introduction   19 comments
We've all played games (or seen games) where the outcome appeared to be determined by a series of "unlucky spawns" or where one player "spawn rapes" the other. This happens in Q3A, even though id Software took steps to balance the game and make it harder to "rape" a spawned player.

It's said that unlucky spawns can happen to both players, and that the better player will still win. But is this element of chance appropriate for 1on1 competition where the stakes can be high? Can we think of another "sport" where at a crucial moment in the game pure chance can give one or other player a string of free points?

One of the goals of Quake 1on1 gameplay design is ensuring a "fair" contest for the players. Each player should have reasonably equal chances to win, and the victory should be determined by who plays the game best, not who was lucky or who had unfair advantages.

The operation of the random spawn system - or luck - renders this goal laughable, and we might be asking ourselves why we have put up with it for this long. The answer is probably that finding an alternative has been hard, when the game is inherantly imbalanced.

In Quake your strategy is to gain an unequal advantage over your opponent during the course of a game. Each time you frag your opponent they "go back to the beginning" again. You are encouraged to amass more powerful weapons than your opponent, stronger armor, and more health. You are encouraged to control key resources, patrol strategic areas, and force your opponent to attack you from a position of weakness. And since you are supposed to earn all these advantages, they are not considered "unfair".

So what would be unfair? Well, how about if you achieved your advantage in armor by a lucky spawn that happened to put you closer to RA than your opponent? Or how about if, after your first point, your opponent was then so disadvantaged that they could not get back into the game unless you made a big mistake? What if after you fragged them, they respawned right in front of you defenceless?

I'm going to argue in this article that our current respawn system is inappropriate for serious competition. But the issue is clouded by the fact that the "spawn problem" has historically been addressed by various other "fixes" designed to keep the contest fair. That is to say, we took steps to weaken the player in control and steps to strengthen the respawned player in order to try and "fix" it.

Shouldn't the right approach be to address the spawn system first?


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