How Plan of Attack died, and why Counter-Strike sucks

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How Plan of Attack died, and why Counter-Strike sucks

Postby Wildfire » Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:39 pm

This is a really long rant about my favorite HL2 mod and why it shouldn't die blah blah whining on the forums 'cause I'm bored whatever.
You probably won't read it, but if you do, have a cookie; you deserve it! :)


Of all the HL2 mods I've played (and I've played a good number of mods), Plan of Attack still continues to strike me as the most fun. Every time I play an HL2 mod (CS: S and DoD: S in particular), I get bored quickly and start thinking about how much more fun I'd be having if I were playing PoA. Unfortunately, there are only 3 Plan of Attack servers left, and if there are players, there are usually never more than 8.

So if Plan of Attack is so fun, why is it dead?
The #1 Reason: Counter-Strike.
Anyone with a good sense of what makes a game fun, after playing both games, can tell you that Counter-Strike is inferior to Plan of Attack.
Unfortunately, the similarities of their features often led people to label PoA as a CS clone.

It's true that they share many features. Round-based gameplay with objectives, weapon purchasing, modern-day combat with real-world weapons. Wow, might as well be the same game, right? Wrong.

Lets take a look at how a couple rounds of CS plays out: The round begins. You purchase a weapon. You head in direction of the bombsite or hostages. Your team will proceed to kill everything you see on the way. Rinse. Repeat.
That's it. The same thing, over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. When its time for the map to change, there's no sense of accomplishment or achievement (unless spawn camping with AWP to get the l33test score counts as a significant achievement). Either the better team stomped the worse team repeatedly, or each team took turns winning and losing. Over and over again.
There is no real incentive to go for the objectives, and thus, no incentive to work together with your team.

How about Plan of Attack?
The round begins. The teams alternate between attack and defend, and if you're attacking, one player on your team is randomly selected to pick one of three objectives to attack. You purchase your weapons. If you're attacking, your team can approach the targeted objective directly, or circle around via a route leading through another objective. If you're defending, its up to your team to guess which objective they enemy will attack and set up a defense before they do, by either splitting up (weakening your forces but ensuring the enemy's route is revealed) or setting up a defense in full force at an objective that is likely to be attacked. If the attackers manage to evade the defending team and enter the objective, they must hold it for 45 seconds. During this time, the defenders will almost certainly home in on the objective being attacked in order to prevent it from being captured. Once the round ends, the attackers and defenders switch roles, and the new attackers must choose to either retaliate and recapture the objective the old attackers got last round, or throw them off by going for the objective on the other side of the map.

If you compare the length of my last paragraph with the one about CS, it becomes clear that Plan of Attack has much more depth than CS. Because of the dynamic 3-objective system, in PoA you won't find yourself doing battle in the exact same areas every round. As a matter of fact, you'll always be doing something different than what you were doing last round. Teamwork and tactics play a huge role in PoA. You are forced to stay with your team if you want to win; going rambo seldom pays off. When the attackers enter the objective and the timer begins counting down on the defenders' screens, they have no choice but to swarm to the objective and stop the attackers. Likewise, attackers must enter the objective in full force; one or two attackers alone can not hold off the inevitable onslaught of defenders rushing in to save their objective. Flanks, counter-attacks, and decoy attacks play a large part of the game and occur naturally as the teams attempt to plan their domination of the map and outsmart their opponents. And the game ends when one team has all 3 objectives in their possession, making the winners clear when it's time to change the map.

And I didn't even mention a good number of Plan of Attack's major features. The class system, experience system, and strategy system help make PoA both different and better than other mods.
And the damage model improves the fun factor as well. No more worrying about taking a stray round to the head at the very start and having to wait 5 minutes for the round to end.
And in PoA, by the time you do die, chances are the attackers are already in the objective and the round will end in 45 seconds (when the capture finishes) or less (when a team is eliminated while trying to clear/hold the objective).

If none of this sounds even remotely more fun than CS to you, you might as well go play Barbie Horse Adventures, because enjoyable FPS's are apparently not your cup of tea.
Any way you slice it, PoA is at worst an improved CS. At best, it's a simple, yet deep multiplayer team-based FPS that outdoes most similar games with its sheer fun.


So what is wrong PoA? And seriously, why did it die?
Plan of Attack was one of, if not THE first HL2 mods to be released. Unfortunately, such a quick release was not without a major weakness: Unpolished-ness.

PoA was very visually unpolished, which was always a turnoff for a lot of people in the HL2 community, and most decided to either wait until PoA left beta (which didn't happen) or for other prettier mods to come out.

PoA was also unpolished in terms of code. It is based on an ancient copy of the Source SDK, and a lot of features seem to have been implemented a little roughly.

While none of this did much to detract from the gameplay, in a world where omgrealisticgraphics Counter-Strike is king, your games can't just be fun anymore if you want people to play them; they have to be pretty.

And then there was that horrible lag bug that plagued Beta 4: the final nail in the coffin for PoA. More than 10 players on any given server made the machine's CPU usage skyrocket, creating unplayable lag for all clients.

With no word from the devs on whether or not a fix and update was coming, the server and player numbers dwindled down into virtual nothingness. The devs, too busy with real life to continue development, announced they were very unlikely to work on the mod again and released the source code publicly exactly a year after the initial release.

And I'm getting tired of typing so I'm done now. I'm sure you get the point.


In conclusion, Plan of Attack (which is awesome fun), is kind of sorta like Counter-Strike (which sucks), but leagues better in almost every concievable way.

Plan of Attack, unlike CS, does not deserve to die.
Now, if only I could write that paper due next week with as much ease as I wrote all this.


CS sux omgwtflolfagroflpwntbbq
-Wild
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Postby Bob » Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:11 pm

=) i approve.
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Postby madgernader » Sun Apr 01, 2007 8:42 am

I also agree with you, although I never played PoA due to my bad internet, I had read about it multiple times and thought it was a good idea and sounded like it would be fun, and i bet the community hadn't been plagued by all the immature people as seen in Counter-Strike.


My question for you is, if you feel so strongly about it not dieing and stuff, why not try and form a team and continue work on it, it is open source code now, so you could easily go through without being public and clean/update all the source code and make it look better etc. and release a "updated" version of it, and based on your points code issues and prettiness are what in part is making it die. (I'm counting the lag as code issue). Granted I don't know if you have a different mod project, but it is a valid question...
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Postby steven_m64 » Sun Apr 01, 2007 3:35 pm

i think POA would have been quite a bit better if it used a better recoil system, something like what hostile intent has or the version i made for a mod i was working on called conflicts (witch is now merged into HIPR.)
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Postby Wildfire » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:00 am

madgernader wrote:My question for you is, if you feel so strongly about it not dieing and stuff, why not try and form a team and continue work on it, it is open source code now, so you could easily go through without being public and clean/update all the source code and make it look better etc. and release a "updated" version of it, and based on your points code issues and prettiness are what in part is making it die. (I'm counting the lag as code issue). Granted I don't know if you have a different mod project, but it is a valid question...

Before PoA went open source, I actually started a project to rebuild the mod from the ground up. After they released the source code, it became the PoA Community Project.

While we did do a few things that have helped PoA keep going as long as it has (most notably finding the lag issue and releasing a server-side hotfix to patch it... there are still a couple servers left and a few people who play several times a week), there really isn't anything else we can do short of a total overhaul to bring back a large number of players.


I definitely think its possible to bring back PoA in all its glory; I remember at least 100+ servers and 1000+ players in the days following the original launch.

But as confident as I am that it can be done, I'm simply not in a position to do it myself right now. Being a full time college student and mod developer at the same time is super hard. Plus, my C++ skills are pretty laughable right now (C++ class not available at my college anymore... WTF?!)

Hopefully I'll have time to really work on this in the summer, because it would be a dream come true to see the words "Plan of Attack is BACK!" on the front of every HL2 fan site.
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