Improving Battlefield for Players – An Open Letter to DICE

Dear Dice,

With the imminent release of Battlefield 4 everyone is looking forward to the improved visuals and gameplay but there’s one element which isn’t being mentioned and appears to be often overlooked – administration. You’ll admit yourself that the multiplayer aspect of BF is critically important and yet the administration of that, done not by yourself but by players, lacks capabilities that is, I hate to say it, putting people off the game. The recent Double XP event bought out, as so often happens, the worst aspects of players as they clammer for maximum points – base raping, jet ramming, player stacking, etc – and this has keenly highlighted the problem. To the point where I’ve seen players enraged to the point of leaving for a few days and, in some cases, potentially longer. You see, people see it as your fault, not the idiots.

Let me do a quick introduction. I’m Darkstorm40, a member of The MoGZ of War Battlefield clan. MoGZ is short for “Mature GamerZ” which is precisely what we are – many are middle aged family men (with the exception of our founder and leader ShadowQueen who is a middle aged family woman!). We’re not idiotic “noobs” who don’t know what we’re doing and we play the game, importantly, for fun. Our clan servers have one rule – play fair. Having said that, this includes both gameplay and language – any offensive language (swears being accepted) and you’re gone. I can’t think of any other clans and servers I’ve come across with such a tolerant gameplay element, yet a strict policy on offence.

We’re also rather polite – admins send messages to people when kicked, etc. For this we usually get abuse (and in the case of ShadowQueen she got a death threat the other night).

And that’s what this letter is about. I’ve always been taught that I should never complain about something unless I’m prepared to do something about it. So, this is me doing just that. As I see it, Battlefield administration suffers in the following way…

  • Good admins – improve the capabilities for admins generally so they can do what they need to quicker and with less issue
  • Badmins – administrators who wield their power to only better themselves and/or their clan
  • Bad players – those who base rape, jet ram, etc. Basically, don’t play fairly and to the detriment of their fellow players
  • Finding a game – bear with me, this does come under administration but I’m referring to being able to find an appropriate server to play on

So, with assistance from my fellow clan members, here are some solutions that I think would help all the above.

Good Admins

  • Allow server owners to set specific rules. You often start a game and the server lists a host of rules. Why not allow these to actually be enforced? That way admins have less reason to actually doing anything – most badmins, I don’t believe, are and are actually just trying to enforce a set of rules that they’ve defined (however idiotic they may be). So, if they don’t want C4 on a map why now allow a server switch that prevents this? Even base-raping, I believe, can be prevented in such a way (although that’s a bigger issues – I’ve detailed that later). This would also allow some great creativity – for example, if you implemented an “include” or “exclude” function for weapons you could easily, via the use of the “include”, to have matches where only knives can be used. As a clan we already play these matches but there’s no way to actually enforce it. Equally, all those clans who don’t want shotgun use – they can add these to their “exclude” list and don’t have to worry. This would need some further thought on implementation – for example, if you set up a game where only a specific weapon can be used it would restrict classes (just as long as the game recognised that and limits the classes to just those available it should be fine). Gadgets should also be part of the same system too, so those who want to exclude M320s can.
  • Balancing should be based on the players current skill, not their level (play long enough and ANYBODY can be a Colonel 100, it doesn’t mean they’re any good). To help admins out this skill level should be used for balancing and shown to players. So, you may play a game where there are a lot of Colonel 100’s on one side and people may think this unfair and complain to the administrator. Yet, it may not be those causing the imbalance (usually you can look at the top of the scoreboard to see who, but people joining late to the game can skew this).
  • No matter how good the game is at balancing people who join, what can it do if people leave during a match? At the moment it’s up to the admins to do this during the game. So, how about giving the admins options for sides to be re-balanced during the match? First of all, you’d have to ensure there’s no penalty to being moves across sides. Then give server admins 3 options – no automatic balance, automatic balance all the time and, finally, automatic balance when no admins are playing. The automatic balance would move people across teams during a match to ensure balance. However, it wouldn’t keep moving the same person as that would be really annoying.
  • Be able to set up servers that only a platoon can access. Let’s keep the password function for those who need it but BF should have a better knowledge of platoons (which I don’t think it really does at the moment) and who’s ‘in them. Then a server could be set up to only allow a specific platoons (or platoons) to access it – makes it much easier for “clan” matches and practise servers then trying to distribute passwords. At the moment the password option is often not used which means you get “randoms” on the server which you end up having to kick.
  • Allow us to limit skill levels on a server – and going back to an earlier point make this a genuine skill level rather than their rank. When I first started playing I tried to play on servers intended for new players but they were often populated by skilful players who were anything other than new.
  • Introduce an administration messaging facility, separate from the platforms own messaging. This would allow admins to send a player a message – for example, a warning. This would appear as an indicator of some kind to the player on their screen suggesting they need to action it urgently. An overlay on the screen would appear upon selection, showing the message. Because not all admins speak the same language as the players an “on the fly” translation option should be available. The player would not be able to reply back as the message would be for them to do something rather than for general discussion. This would also mean that messages can be tracked so that banning can only take place after warnings have taken place, etc. Admins should have the option of setting up prepared messages to make it easier and quicker to send them. However, they should also be able to write new ones as required.
  • Provide the feature to exchange players across sides. At the moment when sides are full there is no way to manually re-balance.

Badmins

  • Make admins more accountable. When someone is banned or kicked ensure the player knows who did it, rather than allow them to hide behind the simple “admin” moniker.
  • Kicking or banning must be accompanied by a message from the admin explaining why.
  • Kicking or banning can only be done after a warning has been sent first and then only after a minimum period of time has passed since it was sent to allow the user to action it.

Bad Players

  • Jet ramming – and by this I mean both ramming your vehicle into another and into the ground. The simple solution here is to prevent vehicle collision from doing any damage to the recipient. In the case of ramming into the ground it’s clear cut who the recipient is – anyone on the ground. In the case of mid-air collisions the person causing the crash is usually whoever nose caused the impact. If it’s a nose-to-nose impact then I’d say that standards rules apply and both vehicles are destroyed. Jet ramming would still be possible but it would be a lot more skilful to achieve. Another option is simply to allow vehicle collision to not cause any damage.
  • Base raping, though, is something that I think can be controlled. WE currently have out-of-bound areas – why not extend this so that we have a different one for the enemy base. And in this type different rules apply – an enemy entering it, for example, will be immediately killed, so no vehicle stealing at the base is possible. Also, bullets entering (and exiting) the base will do no damage. However, there should be an overlap as this currently doesn’t stop people from camping just outside the base waiting for people to exit. If you allow the base users to be able to shoot further out then the main boundaries of their base then it means that they can kill such campers whereas they can’t kill back. This is just a quick suggestion off the top of my head – I’m sure with more thought something even better could be come up with.
  • Why can users have multiple profiles? This means that players can hide their, otherwise, well honed skills by setting up a new user. Or use one to cause trouble and use another to be more serious with. Make it one user profile for the whole again and then separate divisions for the different platforms.

Finding a Game

  • Nice and easy this one – give us more search capabilities. Allow us to avoid servers that ban any kind of ground to air missile (usually owned by people who like flying and don’t want it interrupted), for example, or indeed any other kind of rule set.
  • We also need to know more – at the moment you browse and join quite blind. If I want to play Caspian Border I don’t want to enter the game when there’s only a few tickets remaining. Equally I may not went to join a 1200 ticket game. So, for each game, show the start tickets and the minimum number remaining – from there we can make a decision on joining. Also allow, before joining a server, for us to see the server message in case there are rules are restrictions we may not like.
  • Allow squad joining. If you’ve invited some friends you want to join a game where you won’t be split and can be kept together.
  • Allow admins to be able to to reserve one or more places on a side for their own team – so if a platoon member is trying to join and can’t you can ensure that when a place does become available it’s not taken by a “random”. This would mean that the game would need to be aware of people’s platoons.

I believe the one change from all the above that would give the biggest benefit is allowing automatic administering of rules. However, the ability for admins to send messages directly to players and for ban actions to only take place after such messaging would come a close second.

Battlefield is a great game but is ruined most by the actions of a minority of “idiot” players. I think these suggestions would help prevent some of this and really lift the quality and perception of the game further still. If you would at least consider any of them then it will be greatly appreciated.

David Artiss (Darkstorm40).

I shared this, not surprisingly, with a number of DICE personnel via Twitter, including the official Battlefield account. The feedback from that account was…

Thanks for taking the time to share such detailed feedback. We’ll make sure this gets to the team.

I never heard anything else.

Darkstorm40
About Darkstorm40
Relatively recent convert to Battlefield but now hooked. Not the best aim or sharpest reflexes but good team player. Hates people complaining unnecessarily and believes you should always offer solutions - yes, I'm looking at all the Battlefield 4 haters. General IT bod during the day and all-round geek at all other times. Owner of bfmedic.com.

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