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    PlanetQuake | Features | Articles | The Gauntlet: FFA vs Teamplay

The Gauntlet
While ConfusedUs is out, a madman faces off against F4nt0m45 to settle for once and for all whether free-for-all is superior to teamplay.
  — by F4nt0m45 and a madman

Welcome to the "The Gauntlet"! They say that there are two sides to every argument, and the debates within the Quake community are no exception. That's why we created "The Gauntlet".

Special message from a madman:
This week ConfusedUs was unavailable and thus I, madman from the PQ Mailbag, am tackling F4nt0m45 head-on in the latest edition of the gauntlet. No celebrity judges, no cute tricks, just a good old-fashioned verbal brawl. The issue: FFA vs Teamplay. Which is superior? Well, tonight we might just settle this age-old argument once and for all.

3... 2... 1... FIGHT!

a madman: Greetings, folks. Madman here, standing in to replace the normal confusion caused by ConfusedUs and to square off against F4nt0m45 to prove, for once and for all, that he's dead wrong.

So, why don't you get us started with the topic, Fant? I can't wait to begin. *cracks knuckles*

F4nt0m45: You plan on proving me wrong? That's only been done once, and that was last week by ConfusedUs, but I was just confused. I assure you he didn't actually win that one, there was just a slight mixup. Now you want to prove that plain old, vanilla, free for all DM is better than team orientated game modes? I'm sorry, but you just can't be right.

Take a look at server stats my friend, DM takes a backseat to team games by far. Just take a look at the GameSpy Stats page. Of course Counter-Hack is up there in first place, a teamplay game I might add. Look at Q3 where Urban Terror and Rocket Arena are up above plain DM. Now UT you can play in DM mode, but its often Last Man Standing, CTF, Cap `N Hold, etc, and not DM. While of course RA3 is either 1v1 or Team DM. Numbers don't lie.

a madman: Oh, but numbers DO lie. Just because something is popular doesn't mean it's good. Titanic? SW Episode 1? Hell, Richard Nixon won a presidential election. If you force-feed the public garbage long enough they'll start to think they like it. If you'd like a gaming example allow me point out the mass appeal of the "_____ Hunter" line of games and the endless "_____ Tycoon" series. You yourself don't like Counter-Strike, and it's the most popular example you can give. You then go on to point out that Rocket Arena 3 is popular - is it not the most polished example of dueling the Quake servers have to offer? Since you were so kind as to point out the Quake 3 stats page I'd like to point out that the #3 mod, after RA3, is vanilla DM. Those two certainly represent a sizable portion of the Quakers out there.

I don't think I even need to argue with you today; it seems like you're more than happy enough to win my argument for me. But let's take another game that's rather popular right now - Jedi Knight II. Apparently FFA is by far and away the most popular mode right now, duel is in second place, and CTF isn't exactly a close third. It seems to me that when people are given the choice to play well-designed deathmatch they'll take it. Apparently I'm not the only person that's getting tired of endless variations of capture the flag/suitcase/bomb/scientist.

F4nt0m45: Hey I liked the Titanic! Err.. I mean, I was forced by elves to watch it. You're right though, popular doesn't equal good. That doesn't mean plain old DM is better than Teamplay though. The whole Cap the still is younger than your boring old DM. Every FPS out there has DM capabilities, so in theory, wouldn't that make DM the tired, worn endlessly warped game mode? The only way I can find DM enjoyable is with a goofy mod of sorts like Bouncy or Alternate Fire. Those are only fun because they take plain old DM and spice it up, while game developers just give you some maps that were thrown together at the last minute, along with some boring weapons.

Let's not forget that Capture the whatever isn't the only teamplay game mode. There's also Team Deathmatch that forces teams to actually coordinate attacks, run items, and frag together. Instead of a bunch of headless chickens running around with guns firing at whatever moves. That's fun for about five minutes, then the lameness kicks into high gear. As far your Jedi Knight 2 comment, I think that's sort of an unfair judgement. Look at any game ever released, then look at its online stats shortly after the release. DM always prevails there because its easy for gamers to jump into. They eventually stray from DM to play something that gives them a sense of purpose on a server.

a madman: Funny, though, that the typical gameplayer seems to think that teamplay alone isn't enough to base a game on. Look at the sales of a few examples: Q3: Team Arena. Tribes 2. Command & Conquer: Renegades. None of those were exactly stunning successes. Allow me to repeat my previous statement. "When people are given the choice to play well-designed deathmatch they'll take it." Sure... vanilla Q3 was, quite frankly, boring. The weapons were less of representations of guns than they were archetypes. You had a long-range, powerful, instant-hit weapon with a long reload. You had a close-range weapon with a moderately long reload time. You had a powerful weapon that shot projectiles rapidly, you had a weapon that shot slow explosive projectiles, and so forth. Yawn. They're the same weapons that have been in every id game since Doom, and virtually every other FPS as well.

All it takes, though, are a few variations to make it new again. Again you gave me a few of the examples I needed. Instagib. Generations. Bazooka Quake 3, even. I can play any of those for hours and never mourn the lack of an objective other than shedding blood. Obviously, you agree. We're not talking specifically about vanilla DM, after all, but FFA.

F4nt0m45: Teamplay isn't enough to base a game on? All three games you named have/had serious flaws that held them back. Of course Team Arena was outrageously priced for what should have came in the plain old Q3 box. Tribes 2 needed an entire truckload of Bug-B-Gon. Then Command and Conquer I've heard of some latency issues, and some bugs that have severely hindered gameplay, although people still certainly dig it. I hate to lean on Counter-Strike again, but people actually PAID for that mod. People have even paid for the Strategy guide, which I suppose is just a book full of links to places to find cheats. Teamplay doesn't sell games usually, you're right once again, but it does keep the players there. Often people just play DM to hone their skills so they can make it into a TDM clan. Others just play DM because its simple, and they're too lazy to recognize that there's game modes out there that aren't insanely boring after ten to fifteen minutes. As far as Q3's weapons being the same thing since we've seen since the days of DooM, how about DM? I think I've been seeing that since the days of DooM also. So wouldn't DM make you yawn then too?

I see you're stooping pretty low here, self pimping and all. I'd throw some links out for some popular team play mods, but I'd be able to go on for days. Not to mention that Alternate Fire is often known for its wonderful game mode Return the Flag. Hopefully you're starting to recognize that DM is just an intro into real gaming.

a madman: I'm not stooping, I'm merely pointing out a good FFA mod. I have to take issue with your "intro to real gaming" statement, though. Teamplay is a crutch. In DM you rise and fall solely on your own merits, rather than riding your team's coattails to victory. If you're good at, for instance, instagib, everyone on the server knows it. In CTF, on the other hand, you don't exactly have to be an expert to play defense. You're fighting weakened opponents from advantageous positions - of course you can kill the invaders! You're supposed to win those encounters. Teamplay is also innately slower-paced. The way I see it, teamplay is for people that can't keep up with a normal game.

F4nt0m45: Can't keep up with the normal game?! Pfffffft. Alliance, that speaks for itself. Play it instagib style then you won't have to worry about weakened opponents. All you'll have to worry about is catching mad rabbit on crack in your crosshairs. Unfortunately the community behind the mod abandonded it after version 3.0, due to some things of which I won't blab on about. Regardless that mod puts any game to shame in the speed department, hands down. Nothing's faster, and more insane. And if you're worried about what other players think about your skills then just make them look at the scoreboard, which will show every single thing you've done in that game. As far as riding coat tails to victory... If you're riding coat tails on a team, then you're team's going to crash and burn. If you have a 4v4 CTF match, and one guy on the blue team sucks, then it hurts the team as a whole. In DM if you suck, it shows, which I'm sure you're quite familiar with. I'm sure there's plenty of screen shots out there with you sitting at the bottom of the scoreboard.

a madman: Feel free to try to give even one more example of a teamplay game that's half as frantic as a real game of DM. And now you're the one really stooping, using the scoreboard as a measure of TEAM performance. Way to go there chief, that's how to be a real team player. Sure you're on the right side?

In fact, that's exactly the problem with teamplay games. Every team seems to have a mandatory glory hound, useless moron, and/or asshole. No comment on which of these you fall into, but of course there's nothing to say that someone can't fall into multiple categories. There's also no rule that says you can't have multiples of each of these categories on your team at the same time.

Sure, I'm sure you can try to come back with a comment about public servers not being true teamplay, or something to that effect, but that's not the argument here. We're not talking about an ideal case, we're talking about actual teamplay with actual people. To use your example, is it FUN to be on the blue team in a 4v4 CTF game with a player that hasn't mapped the "fire" button to anything? The more people there are online, the more jerks and incompetents you inevitably run into. In DM I can just consider them an easy frag, but in teamplay I'm stuck working with them. Don't even get me started on people that think it's hilarious to set their entire team on fire at the beginning of the match in Return to Castle Wolfenstein.

F4nt0m45: I only mentioned the scoreboard because you were all worried about your self image, which now that I think about it, I wonder why you worry. I'm pretty sure your self image is trash anyways. I'm not a glory hound, a useless moron, nor am I an.. well ok, maybe I'm an asshole. Public servers technically aren't true teamplay, but its still team play.

If its a pub game and you have a weak link on your chain, then you should try to help the poor fool out. After all if you help them out, then you'll have a new fragging buddy, and what's wrong with that? It's a team game, and that doesn't necessarily mean that the whole team is good. Chances are the other team's going to have a weak player or two also, so why fret? It's not like if your team wins on a pub server you get some glorious prize. You just get some bragging rights. In DM if you win a round then you just have everyone on your ass the next round, whoopdee doo! DM is just completely mindless and requires little to no skill whatsoever. All you have to do is stumble upon a weapon and let the ammo fly hoping you hit someone. If you get a frag, you get a frag, but that guy who just sits on the server owning all day has your number, no doubt. Problems like that don't occur in CTF. When there's one guy on the server who totally owns, he still has to rely on his team. In DM if a guy totally owns then he wins game after game after game, with nobody getting a chance to have fun.

a madman: I hope you realize that your smack talk does nothing to disguise the weakness of your argument, nor do your attempts to confuse the issue. Every point you make about DM's weaknesses holds true for teamplay as well. If the only way to get frags in a DM game is to grab a gun and shoot wildly (perhaps that's why you've never won a tournament...), then that goes doubly so for team games. After all, you can just sit on a pile of ammo and wait for people to come to you. That's the way the maps are designed. As for the golden opportunity to turn newbies into skilled players, I say screw it. The days are few and far between that I want to play babysitter for anything, be it a new player or a suitcase.

The problem you still haven't addressed, though, is that cheaters, lamers, and morons affect teamplay MUCH more than they ever could in FFA. If that weren't the case, do you really think you'd be calling the most popular teamplay mod "Counter-Hack?" One person is all it takes to knock the flag-carrier into the void, to block the exit from the respawn, or to gun down all of his teammates in the first few seconds of the match. It doesn't matter what the game is, if there's a way to ruin it then you can bet that people are doing it. In FFA if someone knocks you into the void you just do it back to them, and if someone's cheating it doesn't take long to turn the server into an 8v1 team game. In DM, the problem is self-correcting.

F4nt0m45: You can't just grab a gun in teamplay modes and shoot wildly. You'll end up respawning so fast you'll see your own gibs. Of course you can just camp out and wait for people to come to you, and to an extent, that's playing defense. The only difference is a good defensive player knows that standing in one stop at all times will undoubtely cause him to get fragged. Players with an ounce of skill take note of campers if they're visible and know the next time they come around the corner, there's a good chance that guy camping the RA is still there. People just can't hop on a server and own the server like its a piece of cake without practice. Not everyone has been playing since the days of Q1, and know how CTF works. I know it's hard to believe but it's true, so to an extent as a mature gamer it's your responsibility to help out the lonesome newbie.

As far as your weak argument about cheaters, did you forget people cheat in FFA too? I've heard countless complaints of people using AIM bots on instagib FFA servers, so how does that differ from teamplay? If it happens in a CTF game, the guy gets the boot, problem solved. If it happens in a FFA then sure, you can turn it into a 8v1, but then wouldn't that be team work to an extent? Last time I checked if a group teams up on another guy, its consider team play. I don't believe cheating has anything at all to do with this arguement whatsoever. The more players you have, the more cheaters there will be, it's as simple as that. Sure Counter-Hack has a huge problem with cheaters, but there's some 30k people playing it at any given time during the day. If there were 30k people playing FFA Q3, there would be just as big of a cheating problem too. Quit wasting space, and make some points.

a madman: You know, fant, one of these days you'll stop dodging the issue and come face to face with the facts. Teamplay simply has two critical flaws. Individual skill doesn't count for enough, and people trying to screw up the game have far too easy of a time doing so. On one side, the larger the team is the less one player's skill will affect the gameplay. Thus on a large enough server it's practically a flip of a coin to decide which team will win, and you'll be on the losing side half the time. On a small server, though, one jerk is enough to ruin the game for everyone. Either way you play, you're not having much fun.

In pure deathmatch, on the other hand, skill is everything. Llamas and morons are just target practice, though nothing says you can't take the time to teach them how to play - it's just not required like it would be to win in teamplay. Cheaters, on the other hand, are just an excuse for everyone to get vindictive. That's not teamplay, it's the online equivalent of schoolyard justice. Simply put, though, cheaters can't screw up the balance of the game like they can - and DO - in teamplay.

So if you're not having a good time in DM, it's your own fault due to your lack of skillz. In that case you can either try harder or just go back to camping in teamplay. Any closing thoughts from you, f4nt, or is it too late for you to try actually thinking at this point?

F4nt0m45: Did you have a really horrifying childhood experience at school playing football with uneven teams or something? I don't know what game/server you've been playing on that's full of skill lacking newbies, and cheaters, but I'm still yet to find it. Sure I've played games where there was a newbie, maybe even two, but it was still fully playable. Besides, if its a public game, you're there to have FUN, not to sit proudly atop the scoreboard. Individual skills don't count in team play, you're right. The point is to work as a team, which sometimes doesn't work out to smoothly on public games because everyone wants to be the "hero" who makes the game winning cap. The important part is that you have a good time playing a game you like. I'm sorry but DM just doesn't give me that feeling that CTF does. DM has too much luck involved in it, while CTF you have to work together and make sure your base is covered. You have to cover your flag carrier, keep baddies out of your base and occasionaly hunt your flag down. In DM you just run around aimlessly collecting items and occasionally round a corner and bump into someone. Then a small duel ensues and someone's fragged. Then you just repeat that over and over. After years and years of that, I'm done with it.

Would you like to find out sometime who's lacking the skillz? I assure you I'm chock full of skill, FFA just bores me endlessly. I assume that games like CTF just have too much going on for your simple mind to really get a grasp on things. How about you go and gather your thoughts, and think a bit about all these insults you're throwing out. You just might meet me on a server sometime, and I'd hate to totally embarrass you.

a madman: Funny, I thought I was the one that WAS thinking during this debate. All I can say, though, is... anytime. I'm sure we'll find out what you're really full of - I'm guessing meaty giblets. First, though, we need to decide on a mod... and that's a debate for another week.

Madman is the evil genius behind the PQ mailbag, where the foolish user mail has convinced him that random people on the internet can't be trusted to guard a pencil, much less a flag.

F4nt0m45 is a PQ newsie who always has at least 2-person backup to check his mail or visit the grocery store.

Want to have your say in this debate? We can't wait to hear from you! All it takes is a little mail to

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