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All Gens What Is Competitive Depth?

Discussion in 'Tiers' started by Disaster Area, Feb 7, 2018.

  1. Disaster Area

    Disaster Area Little Ball of Fur and Power Member

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    Since Ortheore is proposing using competitive depth in his approach for tiering guidelines, I want to know... what is it?

    I did some searching online and found some articles on competitive depth but I still don't entirely get it...

    https://esportsedition.com/overwatch/casual-vs-competitive-competitive-depth/
    https://esportsedition.com/overwatch/competitive-depth-rebuked/
    Competitive Depth and Exploitation in 'Super Smash Bros. Melee' - PopMatters

    definitely a lot of stuff in there can't be applied to competitive Pokemon. Ultimately though there's not many games like competitive Pokemon, and very few if any other games actively modify the game rules as much as the Pokemon community does, in the way that we do.
     
  2. Ortheore

    Ortheore Leader

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    To me competitive depth is the extent to which a player can continue to improve at a game and thus gain an edge over their competitors.

    In the context of competitive pokemon, this means it rewards mental skills like risk-reward analysis, pattern recognition and the like, but also it rewards players who advance their understanding of the game and are able to apply that understanding. This means knowing what is effective, planning effectively for various scenarios and understanding how specific conditions impact the progress of a match as a whole and various other things. Understanding of the game is the key factor imo, as mental skills are present in literally every competitive game (they're the reason competitive scissor-paper-rock is a thing lol).

    In regards to game-specific competitive depth, two notable factors are complexity and diversity (though it's debatable how distinct they really are). It should be obvious that these two factors scale proportionately with a game's depth, as it becomes more difficult to fully understand a game, or come close to solving it to whatever extent that's possible. And that is where balance comes in. If something is simply too powerful for a given metagame, it eliminates a lot of the nuance required to understand the game, instead causing things to revolve around abusing that threat and countering that threat. And thus we arrive at familiar notions of broken.

    idk, this could probably use some refinement, but I think that's the gist of it
     
  3. Disaster Area

    Disaster Area Little Ball of Fur and Power Member

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    I really don't think that's always true. If something can run a lot of different sets, even if the game revolves around it, that means that the game may still have a fair bit of competitive depth. For example, RBY Mewtwo, ADV Kyogre... these Pokemon can run many sets and different sets can be responded to in different ways. There is much nuance and depth in that.

    (I will also remark how there are players who support pretty much having ubers as the 1U tier in most gens because they think like that too)
     
  4. Disaster Area

    Disaster Area Little Ball of Fur and Power Member

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    Hmm. Is RBY OU starting to approach a limit on this btw? It kind of felt like it was before the mechanics shift, at least. Should we ban Chansey?

    Why don't we just use the familiar notions of broken then?
    "A pokemon is too powerful" - relative to the rest of the game.


    Actually you know what that actually sounds like a good definition in some ways for what makes something banworthy. Just... it feels vague to me, just like how competitive depth feels vague.
     
  5. Ortheore

    Ortheore Leader

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    No, something running a lot of different sets does not necessarily mean that a meta revolving around it has depth, particularly if they all function in the same manner, as one pokemon is rarely capable of sustaining the complexity/diversity required for such a tier to meet a reasonable standard. RBY M2 is an interesting example here because you cite it as having multiple sets, but there's almost no variation in how it is handled- you either PP stall or spam Explosion, with less than half a dozen pokemon being effective in achieving those tasks. There is no nuance in those different approaches, unless you consider lucking into a matchup where you don't have to lean on M2 to outstall the opposing M2 to be nuance. I honestly don't know what it is you see in rby ubers, RBY M2 is on par with MRay in how it sodomises the game.

    As for the idea that ubers ought to be the baseline for every gen, I honestly think that's a perfectly reasonable position to hold, at least for every gen except rby (I'm also assuming ubers means no MRay). I don't know whether I'd fully agree (I'm still really torn on g3 as a whole), but it seems fair enough to me
    That's actually an interesting point. I hadn't really considered cases where the metagame progresses to a solved state through simply being pushed to that state by players rather than being compromised by some toxic element. I definitely don't think we should ban things because players optimise their play to a greater degree- we might as well implement bans out of boredom then, which would be incredibly stupid. Perhaps some criterion identifying such scenarios and either shutting down needless suspects or delaying them significantly to allow things to develop some more would be necessary

    That said, suggesting that pre-Crystal RBY was approaching a solved state is blatantly untrue. I've used this counter-example before, but Gengar's decline and the dominance of lead StarZam has nothing to do with Crystal mech changes.

    We don't use the familiar notions of broken because although they're a major piece in the puzzle, they don't represent the whole picture. I'm not going to reiterate why it's important we don't rely solely on them because I've stated those points several times now. The reason I drew things back to the familiar notions of broken was to demonstrate that my approach encapsulates those concepts rather than discarding them.

    That is a pretty useless guideline though, and just repeating "it seems as vague as anything else" isn't going to get this discussion anywhere. It blindly dismisses the position as a whole and ignores any attempts to define the position further, heck it rejects the idea that it's even possible to do that. I'm all for disagreement because that's how ideas are strengthened and developed, but one line critiques aren't going to achieve that
     
  6. Disaster Area

    Disaster Area Little Ball of Fur and Power Member

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    I think that a game that revolves around effectively using / beating a specific Pokemon is usually deep. If it's not what we want in a metagame, that's fine, but I don't think that a game that revolves around a specific Pokemon is competitively shallow because of revolving around that Pokemon. I don't see what's not deep about what you described.

    ---

    I will say that I see why Mewtwo is too powerful in RBY. But I just don't see how RBY Ubers is not a game with plenty of competitive depth, although that may be because I simply don't understand or don't appear to understand the notion of competitive depth.
     
  7. Ortheore

    Ortheore Leader

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    I don't know what you see as deep. Why do you think rby ubers is deep?

    I'm going to say that for a game to be considered deep it must be possible to significantly improve at the game even after many years of scrutiny and metagame development by elite players. Obviously, that's far from an ideal definition, given that it integrates a massive time period.

    Thinking on what makes a game feel deep, it's that there are a lot of options available, but also your choices and other events (opp choices, hax) can have significant direct and indirect implications for future decisions in the match, creating advantages and disadvantages. When we battle we create sub-goals that work towards our goal of winning. e.g. to put my Lapras in a favourable position I need to KO their Chansey and paralyse their Starmie (that's one sub-goal comprised of two more specific sub-goals).

    A meta where gameplay is shallow might see lots of inconsequential events, or events that have limited impact, only affecting one sub-goal (e.g. if getting 30% chip damage on something meant you were 30% closer to X threat sweeping and nothing else). I'm going to suggest that RBY 6U's problem is that there are too many of these events. By contrast, some events can define the entire match, impacting every other possible sub-goal. For instance, throwing out early paralysis and catching a Chansey. This is an event that has huge ramifications for pretty much every pokemon on your team- Egg can't easily land sleep, Lax can now switch in easily on Chansey and damage the opposing team, your own Chansey now gets stalled out by the opposing Chansey and so on. It greatly impacts your sub-goals, in turn forcing you to apply your understanding of the game to re-evaluate your position and objectives. A deep game has lots of events that matter, having broad and/or highly impactful consequences

    So there are at least two components to depth already outlined (there's probably more if you look at written pieces on game design, but combing through search engine results is enough to make we want to gouge my eyes). Actually, now that I think on the stuff on sub-goals, simply having lots of them is important, so that's three.
    • The player has lots of significant, substantially different options available in order to achieve victory
    • Over the course of a match the player will generate a significant number of sub-goals in order to get the win
    • Gameplay naturally generates lots of events whose consequences are highly impactful and/or broad in their impact on player sub-goals
    There's bound to be more to it, but that at least is progressing towards something more useful
     
    EmmaTheOnly and Disaster Area like this.
  8. Disaster Area

    Disaster Area Little Ball of Fur and Power Member

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    Because there is some room for nuanced play and nuanced building, and more than one style of team. There is clearly even some room for innovative solutions to problems the game presents (look at the new Mew and Mewtwo sets which have been created over the past couple of years). Whilst the confines of viable Pokemon, sets, and teams, is smaller than in other tiers, the flipside of that is that it enables a faster exploration of the depth and nuances of specific matchups.

    It was tricky to enunciate but that's why I think that RBY Ubers is adequately deep.

    That's an interesting definition. Like you say, though, it is not a terribly useful one, but I understand what you're getting at by it.

    That being said, I think it's interesting then to compare the (elite) metagame development of various RBY lower tiers (such as 3U or 4U where new sets and approaches were advanced beyond the time period in which we elucidated the first boundary between those tiers and the tiers below) with that of RBY Ubers. I'm unsure whether by that metric, and with those comparisons, that RBY Ubers is not deep by that definition. I would say that it is deep if I had to give an answer though.

    Hmm, now that is different but much more interesting, and I think by this standard then RBY Ubers and ORAS Ubers + Mega Ray are not deep, but almost anything else is.

    I will definitely agree that it has progressed to something useful.

    I guess my problem with it then, once we've established that that is at least a part of what it means, is that it's not stringent enough for my taste. I guess I'm trying to say, there are Pokemon I would like banned (plenty of stuff in ADV Ubers, Pdon & co. in ORAS) which I think are too powerful but don't necessarily limit competitive depth too much, or at least I think it's far less clear cut than it would be if we simply include the notion of a Pokemon being too powerful as a part of the guidelines regarding what makes something banworthy.
     

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