Reworking the Domination System

No one likes being dominated. Well, unless they’re into kinky stuff. But that’s not what I’m talking about. Everyone dislikes it. Even people who are dominating others can get annoyed by it. In its current form, the only good thing dominations are good for are the amusing lines that come with them, and even then, you often only hear part of them or the class you’re playing as lacks them. Maybe now, as we’re moving towards a new, more competitive TF2, we can have a look at a new domination system.

Before we begin though, we need to look at the current system. The original purpose, as quoted from the Developer Commentary, is as follows:

In multiplayer games, the content players consume is largely generated by other players. To enhance this, we added features designed to promote relationships between players. For example, the freeze cam shot of a players killer helps the player remember specific troublesome opponents. The nemesis feature adds an additional reminder that certain enemies are more significant than others. It creates a small negative reinforcement loop by giving players an opportunity to score extra points with a revenge kill.

So it’s designed to point out who’s a threat and who isn’t, as is the freezecam when killed, and to create a small amount of annoyance.

Does it do the former part? Yes, but since people have a lot of cosmetics now, people are easier to spot. Does it create a negative loop? Yes. Perhaps too much of a loop. There’s downsides to this. The negative reinforcement loop is often far stronger than it should be and instead of a player avoiding or working out a strategy to avoid a dangerous player, people tend to tunnel-vision towards a nemesis. And not always for a good reason, because a player who dominates you might not be a legitimate danger at all, they just happened to get a bunch of assists. Chances are, you don’t even notice the person who’s dominating you. In other scenarios, you get dominated by a class who will generally win a fight against you. A Pyro dominating a Spy means little since one counters the other.

The announcement of someone who’s killed you multiple times is a somewhat good thing. It’s how the game decides that the threat needs to be announced that bothers most people. That is what needs changing.

As the system currently stands, it’s four kills or assists on one person before you dominate them. So you can kill that Sniper four times, assist in killing them four times or a bit of both, again four times. The biggest problem is the assists part. Medics rarely get kills, so assists make sense on them, but four assists from a Sniper randomly chucking Jarate or a Heavy firing his minigun across the map are annoying.

So really fixing the system is rather simple. It’s just tweaking how many kills and assists you need for a domination. Four kills or assists really doesn’t seem like enough, especially if you only got four assists. I’d recommend bumping it up to five total. But I also have something else in mind. If you’re playing as a non-Medic class, one of the five needed MUST be a kill by your own hands. No more being dominated from four assist by that Heavy spamming half away across the map again. Medics would still have five assists, since it’s often genuinely really hard to get a kill as a Medic. All kills and assists must be done during normal game play, so your five kills/assists should no longer count during Humiliation, when your enemy can’t fight back and you have full on critical hits.

Dominations should also end when a team wins. Players don’t get the extra points for getting revenge, but everything should be cleaned up after a match, even silly things like dominations and revenge.

Another change I’d make is the ability to disable dominations in general. Since they’re no fun for the dominator either, who now has to put up with people constantly running at them, and they can no loner concentrate at the game at hand. The actual class lines should always stay, but I think everyone would like a break from the obnoxious particle effects.

There’s also a final small change I’d make. Destroying an Engineer’s sentry should count towards getting rid of a domination. Because half of playing Engineer is using your sentry, and that’s generally what gets you dominations.

Oh, and do us a favour, Valve. Please give domination lines to the classes that only have generic ones? Cheers.

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