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How to Fix L4D

June 28th, 2011 by skippy

So recently I started playing Left 4 Dead 2 again.  It’s a fun game, I can hop in and out depending on my schedule, and it’s got zombies.  What’s not to love?

Well for starters the boatload of assholes that sign on for no other purpose than to try and ruin everyone else’s day.

In any sort of online game you get a certain percentage of folks who just want to screw with everyone else, and nearly every one of these games has a mechanism for discouraging that sort of behavior.  One of the most frequently seen of these mechanisms is the vote kick.  And like many other online games L4D has the ability for players to vote an annoying team member out of the game.

The problem is that unlike a lot of these other games, the amount of players is very low.  Only four per team, in fact.  So if you have two assholes who like jerking everybody else around your only choice is to leave the game yourself.  And while I am fine with the theory of “if you don’t like the players you are with, then find some others”  this does not address the long term problem.  Namely: There are no long term consequences for being a d-bag and making the entire game less attractive to customers.

The flip side is any system designed to punish players will probably be abused by the same players that we are worried about.

I think I have a relatively simple and elegant solution to this problem.

Introduce a new mechanic, called blocking.  You can already pull up a list of every player you have gamed with in your recent past through the Steam interface.  All we have to do is add a new command called “Block Player”.

Once a player is blocked, the two of you become invisible to each other.  You can’t chat, pm, or receive voice from each other.  When looking for a game, any server containing a blocked player will not be considered.  If a blocked player is looking for a game, he can’t see your server.

As an option in the multiplayer menu add two check boxes “Use Friend Block” and “Set Auto-Block threshold”.

Friend Block will automatically add the blocked list of everyone on your friends list to your own.  Because I assume if my friends think “Tap-Dat-donkey349” is a smack-tard, chances are I will too.

Auto-Block is a setting where the game checks out the ratio of players you interact with versus the number that block you.  Players determine what percentage is acceptable for their own games.  For instance, I would probably set mine to 50%, meaning that if half the people that have played with a particular guy never want to see him again, chances are I don’t want to meet him.

The potential snag for auto-blocking is what could happen to a new player who just sucks because, well they don’t know what they are doing yet.  If everybody Blocks them after their first game, they would have a 100% Block ratio.  This could be mitigated by introducing a “training wheels” period.  For your first 25-50 games, I’m not sure what would constitute the optimal number here, you are immune from Auto-Blocking.

All of this adds up to making it easier for players to play the game on their own terms, without having to wade through piles of jack-asses.  It’s hard to abuse, because if one player starting Block will have very little effect on the target by itself.

Oh and fun bonus:  The creators of the game could use the stats on Blocking to identify and track problem players, which could allow them to tailor more ingenious ways of thwarting them.  Or just kicking them off of the service entirely.

Now quickly somebody show this to an executive at Valve so they can pay me lots of money to solve all of their other problems.

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20 Responses to “How to Fix L4D”

  1. Ian M Says:

    Sounds like a good idea to me, and not necessarily just for L4D.


  2. Brianna Says:

    It sounds great to me. They tend to run in packs so that would force them to only associate with their own kind, leaving the rest of the game landscapes for us.


  3. SSG Hay Says:

    Sounds like an excellent solution. And just think – they just made TF2 free to play, this is a game that really needs this service.


  4. Viktor Says:

    Just playing devil’s advocate here, but what’s to prevent all the griefing ass-hats from just making up a new user-name every 50 games & continually exploiting the training wheels period to get their kicks. People do this same thing on Xbox Live constantly and that’s not even free-to-play. They’re willing to PAY for the privilege of screwing up someone else’s good time.


    skippy reply on June 29th, 2011 12:58 pm:

    I always welcome a devil’s advocate.

    That won’t work on Steam, because your user-name isn’t your account. For instance if you were to friend me on Steam, and then change your user name, we would still be friends, it would just change your name on my friends list. Additionally, you licence for a game is tied to your Steam account which means in order to make anew one they would have to re-purchase the game.


    Ihmhi reply on June 30th, 2011 1:52 pm:

    Hey skipster, if you didn’t know… Valve is actually really good at listening to their players if you e-mail them directly. Send the article to gaben@valve.com. As in Gabe Newell, the dude who’s large and in charge. He’d probably read it, serious.


    john reply on July 7th, 2011 12:56 pm:

    just throwing this out there, but if you create anew Xbox live account (which is free) all you need is anew email, and the first 30 days of online play are free. so the “griefing ass-hats” can continue to work with new accounts while paying virtually nothing but a few minutes to register a new email address.

    also, brilliant idea skippy. please send this article to valve so we can get this into games.


  5. Leon Says:

    That’s why I only play L4D2 with friends (tho we once were using a private server and an admin jumped into our unused 4th slot and farted about using various gravity and weapon hacks pissing us off).

    I remember reading an article a few months back where Valve was musing about tracking which players caused other players to rage-quit mid-game. They would track this ‘douchebag quotient’ (my term) and charge them extra for games. Then they would lower the prices for other people with lower ‘douchebag quotient’. Very interesting idea.


    Gwenyvier reply on June 30th, 2011 3:13 pm:

    I do not play LfD2… all I play is Spiral Knights(which is also Steam now. if you play it look me up, same name that I use on here is my IGN), but I LOVE the idea of a douchebag tax. You going to purposefully piss off people on your team and make the game not fun? Ok, you can pay more then. The worse you act, the more you pay. Seriously I love that idea. Rewarding people for acting correctly and punishing them for acting badly is a grand way to get your community to act civilized instead of a raving horde of brat pack rejects.

    2 hrs sleep in the last 36, if I sound a bit… dumber then usual, that’s why. Insomnia sucks. :p



  6. Signalist Says:

    brilliant idea, and it wouldn’t even take long to code such mechanism, the idea Leon mentioned is also interesting.

    And skippy, don’t make us to suggest this consept to Valve, at least not before you have patented the idea, you’ll get much more money that way.


  7. Ben Says:

    I agree. One time this dude thought tk’ing was hilarious. So hilarious in fact that every time my friend and I voted him out he would return and kill us again.


    Signalist reply on July 3rd, 2011 4:20 pm:

    tk’ing indeed is not fun, I remember one COD4 server where this one guy was constantly running in after I would threw a grenade, he’d be killed, and for next half an hour he would hunt me down non-stop and shoot me because of his own stupidity, when I finally started shooting back he started complaining, and soon enough the host decided to resolve the problem with a ban, guess who was the one banned?


    Sequoia reply on July 4th, 2011 6:39 pm:

    I remember that a-hole. What a dick.


  8. Texan Says:

    Sorry to be another devil’s advocate, but there is another unfortunate hole- what happens when the d-bags travel around in groups banning everyone because they can? Throwing your own words back at you, “the flip side is any system designed to punish players will probably be abused by the same players that we are worried about.” This can be done, and it’s a good idea, but there are other things to consider. While I despise what Halo has become, their multiplayer has some good solutions to these problems. One of the biggest is what qualifies as a d-bag. Most of this is solved by your percentage, but what about when I’m playing to win and everyone else is drunk and just screwing around. All of us are d-bags to each other, so you need to mark servers as “fun” or “serious” or something like that. It can be done, though, and I like it.


    skippy reply on July 4th, 2011 8:34 am:

    ” what happens when the d-bags travel around in groups banning everyone because they can?”
    It’s not a banning per se. The D-bags will never see the player that they blocked again, which will prevent a group of four from repeatedly hitting the same opponent. All a block means is “I never want to play with that guy again”

    And what qualifies as a d-bag is whatever makes another player not want to play with you again. If you are serious, the fun/drunk players will block you, but serious the players won’t. If you are a fun/drunk player the player the serious players will block you, and if you are a griefer everyone will block you.


    That One Guy reply on July 7th, 2011 2:46 pm:

    Skippy… I could kiss you for this. no homo :P


  9. Kristopher Says:

    Blizzard has such a mechanism already in World of Warcraft’s Pick Up Game dungeons.

    Anyone you /ignore will not be queued with you a second time.

    It is also self limiting … ignore too many folks, and it will take forever for you to queue.


  10. ltc_insane Says:

    You know Skippy i just thought of an awesome idea for dealing with assholes in Left4Dead as a game mechanic (it’s probably a tad unrealistic and still open to abuse under certain circumstances) is that have a voting system for assholes so that if the majority vote them out you get a brief cut scene or even no cut scene where the offending player is tied up and left as zombie bait and attracts a horde to them while you escape.


    john reply on July 7th, 2011 1:00 pm:

    this is also a very interesting idea that i’m exceptionally fond of.


  11. Leon Says:

    Someone causes me grief I roast him and the zombies alike. It is fun to have one person shooting at you. They do make great bait for zombies after you incap them too :)

    You guys Xbox or PC gamers?


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