Red Alert Global League: Season 7 - Post-Season Discussion

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netnazgul
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Red Alert Global League: Season 7 - Post-Season Discussion

Post by netnazgul » Sat Jul 13, 2019 10:19 am

This time I really took my time to write this one. The result is I don't really remember much of the season game-wise. Still I'll try to pick up details from tables and memory, and in any case there is a number of pending topics to discuss regardless.

1. The Rulebook
The ruleset of RAGL grew with additions and amendments by each season, so as we came to S07 it became quite cumbersome, uncomfortable to find relevant information. So I took the time to refine it into a much more formal style, drawing inspiration from stuff like FIA or UEFA regulations. I feel the result was worth the effort, as it is now structured and numbered, so with any specific rule you can just mention its number.
With such formal presentation though, the official maintenance of the League should be more formal and solid as well; we had several issues with that through the season, and the regulations themselves too have gaps to be filled. This is one of the aims to improve at next season - to have a set of regulations complete and thorough enough for officials to not require much of a manual input, though at the same time provide officialls with means to act within the regulations but at their discretion when exceptional events occur.

2. Automation
Thanks to Punsho who did all the dirty work on backend, RAGL now has the automated result submission through the use of a dedicated discord bot. This is a huge success in terms of maintenance, completing the effort done into scripting Google Sheets tables for fixtures and scoreboards. Tiebreakers and playoffs are still to be reported manually as their format is harder to formalize, as are various delays and strikes, which is also a thing to look at in the future.

3. Format
I am of opinion that the format revision went with mostly favourable feedback. Moving to doublematch weeks with increase of players count per group allowed to shorten the season span, but to improve the dynamics of the season at the same time. "Delay hell" is still an issue, but mostly happens due to players sometimes failing to make an effort to schedule their games earlier rather than later, resulting in a zeitnot situation for them during the latter stages.
Reducing the structure to just 2 tiers vertically allowed faster progression and rotation around the league, but was also done to counter the reduced playerbase last season; the regulations now allow to feed practically any number of newcomers in, with either filling current tiers, or holding the qualification stage, or getting the Recruits tier back. Though I see the structure better working in a way that the higher in the structure you are the more matches you have to play, so short elimination-format qualifications into ~10 players groups of Minions into ~14-16 players division of Masters feels the best possible scenario in this regard: newcomers are not overwhelmed with games to be played while top players have to grind their way for the win; this also results in a higher percentage of games having top level play potential, which is great for streamers/casters, but more on that later.
Playoffs format still has not been time-constrained yet, and that produces huge delays and hype-killers every time. This should be fixed next season, likely with imposing a hard deadline of 1-2 weeks to play the match.

4. Coverage
In two words - coverage sucked. Great thanks to FiveAces in this regard who practically dragged the League highlights singlehandedly. My plans to hold regular RAGL streams and continue on weekly text reports failed miserably. Not going to do a 100% promise to do both next season, but I'm hoping to. Maybe also some kind of public announcement of match schedules might help involving other streamers as well, but not much relying on this part as you well know that RAGL games usually happen spontaneously and sporadically. But nevertheless streamers' announcement of their streams able to cover RAGL also helps players to accomodate their time accordingly.

5. Playerbase and the course
I'm happy to see that we got past the playerbase dip happened after Season 5 and are now on the rise, with the number of forfeits reduced to a minimum as well. OpenRA Academy played a role this season, feeding a good number of players in and overall advertising the competitive 1v1 play. Lets see what the next season brings in terms of player counts.
We were also lucky to finally capture players existing outside of RAGL for now, with Bain, Mo and Dying Fetus expectedly reaching the top of their respective Minions groups ;)

6. Gameplay rules
Finally, some key points regarding the next season gameplay changes:
- making engineers expendable as default option, with a possible opt-out when both players agree; this impacts early game play with oil derricks somewhat, but I think it still provides dynamic play with capturables switching sides more frequently, at the same time providing some engineer play during later stages of the game as well.
- applying ERCC refinery to all RAGL maps; modified refinery has much better balance all around in that it has an access from the top, resulting in more reliable and versatile refinery positions around ore patches. Also less non-passable cells and more paths to the dock point mean that ore trucks have less possibilities to get stuck (the next release also has some improvements in that regard). At the same time this creates a new precedent of RAGL incorporating a non-vanilla feature, which might lead to maps being made specifically with ERCC in mind and not backwards-compatible (read: imbalanced when played without the modified refinery), strategies/tactics getting altered due to this and overall the tournament drifting away from being a pinnacle of vanilla gameplay. All this still needs to be considered and discussed before we commit to the feature, though at the moment we think it won't make that big of an impact on vanilla gameplay, remaining a single exception of the "keeping close to vanilla" guideline.

RAGL stays true to its bi-annual nature of spring/autumn seasons, so we have some months to talk the stuff over before preparing the next competition.

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ZxGanon
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Re: Red Alert Global League: Season 7 - Post-Season Discussion

Post by ZxGanon » Sat Jul 13, 2019 10:24 am

neat

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Upps
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Re: Red Alert Global League: Season 7 - Post-Season Discussion

Post by Upps » Sat Jul 13, 2019 2:55 pm

The only real issue of this season was for me the coverage special the missing of the frontline reports.
Also a resume of the season like the Play Of The Season videos by NoobMapMaker would been good.

The replay folder http://openra.mine.nu/mIRROR/ora_replay ... son_Seven/ is a mess! Also I would wish a link for the game-versions or a .zip on this storage for all (upcoming) seasons/tournaments.

For the RAGL-Players intern we should use the Discord result-bot only with a spoiler protection (I know I failed by myself with that).
Good thing to hear ERCC will probably get his chance in RAGL!

At the end a question for the near future, will we have before the next RAGL Season starts a map contest?

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