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Hidden Teaming
#1
I have gone through many changes as a player. I started out as a teamer in the original Agf and became a die-hard "solo" player in the new Agf. I even became a moderator to penalize teamers in the "solo" server. At the time, I thought I had all of the answers. However, I had heard talk about so-called "hidden teaming," so I played in invisible mode to see it for myself, and it is all too real. I have experienced the game from more perspectives than probably any other player, so I am one of the most qualified players to speak on this issue.

Teaming is not a playstyle, but rather a spectrum of playstyles. Every move a player makes in the game will advantage some players and disadvantage others. The degree of teaming depends on how far a player is willing to go. Every player is a teamer to an extent, and for a good reason. The only way to be a pure solo player is by not attacking any players unless absolutely no one else is nearby (even then, they are technically disadvantaging them). Of course, no one wants to play like that. Players are naturally attracted to the chaos and will naturally go to where the action is. This is how large battles form. In these large battles with many players, different forms of teaming are bound to occur. As the number of players increases, so does the complexity. There will almost never be a straight split to eat all of the players at once, so players must make decisions of when to split, who to split on, when to shoot a virus, and who to shoot the virus at. This creates many opportunities for teaming to occur, whether or not it is intentional.

The problem is when people do not recognize that teaming comes in a variety of forms. Most players limit the definition of teaming to feeding and splitrunning. This allows experienced players to get away with other forms of teaming and still maintain their status as "solo" players. These other forms of teaming include:
  • Targeting players with viruses
  • Blocking/breaking other players’ viruses
  • Savaging certain players and not others
  • Using mass donations as an advantage
While playing in invisible mode, I have experienced hidden teaming firsthand. I am very popular in Agf, so when I play with my name, players who enjoy battling me and know that I am a fair player allow me to enter battles. Without my name, I am usually the first choice for players to attack and keep me away. Most of Agf’s top players play nicely with each other and usually do not make cheap shots when passing each other, but without my name, I get endlessly split on and chased for miles simply because they do not know me. This puts new players at a huge disadvantage. The worst part is that these new players do not even see it as teaming.

This problem becomes even worse when “solo” players team against other teamers. A new player who gets caught teaming even once automatically and permanently becomes the first choice for “solo” players to target. “Solo” players endlessly team on them, even when they have stopped teaming. This only makes them revert back to teaming.

Moderation is not the solution, it only worsens this problem. New players who constantly get teamed on by “solo” players resort to teaming because they have no other choice, but they are the ones who get frozen for it. Moderators can also make mistakes. I have even gotten frozen a few times while not playing with my name. Sometimes it was due to lag and other times it was because of a failed split. If I was playing with my regular name, I would have gotten the benefit of the doubt. Any skilled player knows that the way to improve is by taking more risks, so moderation can be damaging to new players trying to move out of their comfort zone. Instead, they have to play with constant anxiety and hesitation before taking any risks, knowing that a failed plan may appear as teaming. This makes for boring, inorganic gameplay.

I have learned a lot over the past year. I have learned that teaming is not as clear-cut as I thought it was. I now understand the struggle that inexperienced players face on the server every day. I used to play to try to kill everyone (especially teamers), but now, I try to not play aggressively, especially against new players. I try to create a welcoming environment for players to learn and improve. I do not split on players when I already know that I have won, I instead give them mass for them to keep trying and continue the battle. Even when they team on me or use other tactics that I do not like, I give them kindness in return, keeping in mind that I was a new player at one time. Most of the top players from before 2018 will stay as top players; there is no longer the need to prove a point to anyone. What Agf needs is a place for players to do whatever they want and be bound by nothing except for the laws of physics, not by arbitrary, external forces.
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#2
wow Finky!!!  That was VERY well said and covers the topic to great extent with much clarity.  Awesome!!
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#3
(04-29-2021, 01:06 PM)Mindless Wrote: wow Finky!!!  That was VERY well said and covers the topic to great extent with much clarity.  Awesome!!
Finky? xD
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#4
this is a good thread a post. doubt it'll get much attention. as someone who has played for over 5 years now and was a hardcore teamer back in agf i know that's split running ect is what people classify as teaming. when in reality there is more to it. personally doesn't affect me... but i know it can run off new players.

by the way finky, I'm "self feeding is weak" any other players back in 2016 will know me by "[sinister] gui" probably not because i played at weird times since im Italian.

peace brothers.
Do or don't. There is no try. 

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#5
New AGF.io server with teaming allowed is planned for release soon
Have any questions? Send me a message here: http://agarioforums.net/private.php?action=send&uid=1
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#6
(04-30-2021, 07:55 PM)Sora Wrote: New AGF.io server with teaming allowed is planned for release soon

Thanks Sora, could you possibly combine all players into a single server allowing all playstyles? I can foresee some problems in having both a regular server and a “solo” server. Both servers would be lowly populated, with the regular server being dominated by splitrun teamers and no one being experienced enough to fight them and the “solo” server being dominated by Agf’s experienced players still teaming in ways I described in my original post, as there would still be the problem of solo play not being possible to enforce properly.

What Agf needs is a single server where each and every player is free to do whatever they want. Individual players have the responsibility of keeping each other in check without relying on moderators and their subjective opinions. Many players have their own personal definitions of teaming as well as their own unwritten rules, so it is best to have a server that allows players to enforce their opinions through battling and allow the majority to rule naturally.
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#7
This is not well thought.

1. Mindless and Supergirl dominated the predecessor server that allowed teaming. They prove the server wasn’t balanced. So much that a new server needed to be made.

The balancing problem has never been fixed and so the same thing could happen again and what a big surprise, Mindless started a campaign to get a teaming server.

That wouldn’t be a big problem if there were 2 servers but if there is only one it’s going to be a big problem.

2. After the Solo Agf server had been made  the teaming Agf server didn’t have enough players and needed to be closed. Now you suggest to transform  the server that had more players to the server that didn’t have enough.

Only two people stated they want a teaming Agf server, no one else did. Why are u so sure that your idea is representing the opinion of the majority?

3. You are either ignoring the solo players, or you are wrong when you think that the majority of them is in fear of the moderators and therefore would prefer to have a teaming server. That’s an assumption you can’t make. I have NEVER heard of any Agar solo player that they like the state of agar FFA. Probably 100% would support a moderated Agar solo server. And you say it’s better for Solo players to have a teaming server? There is no way that this is correct.
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#8
If there is only one server ' team' , you cannot do whatever you want, there is some that won't be able to because being overwhelmed by the majority and usually the reality is point no 1 from RedFox . How would solo players able to do a 1v1 with teams that would jump on them  at the first chance they get, how many get frustrated when that happens even now when dealing with Solos, imagine with teams! Talking about ' freedom' , i think players will have this ' freedom' by choosing which server they want to play.. 2 servers is a good idea.
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#9
If a person is not experimented he is better off in the solo server instead of the teaming server. If there is only 1 teaming server then the new people don't have a chance. I would rather begin when I can deal with one person or a couple of person instead of teamers.

Finky did not live through this nightmare (point no 1 from RedFox) and cannot judge and thus would let history repeat itself as so many youngling forget about the past and make the same errors... but we did
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#10
The old server was working fine until Supergirl and Mindless destroyed it by power abusing and teaming which was extremely selfish. This cannot be allowed to happen again. I cannot overexaggerate how bad it was. Some sort of moderation is required to prevent this.

Some people are just saying what changes should be made to suit their own playstyle. They don't realise that these changes might not suit the silent majority of players who play the server. The fact is the server is at its best when there are more players on and any changes should keep them in mind.

Some players also want everyone else to play the way they want them to play and will abuse other players in chat for not conforming or target them in-game. If everyone played the same way the server would be predictable and boring. It is the differences in playstyles and the randomness it brings, that makes the server great when it is at its best.

Subtle forms of teaming will always happen as long as players are identifiable through names or skins. Players like some players more than others and treat them differently - it's human nature. People can receive help when the do not want it. If you want to be truly solo, play invisible unnamed with no skins.
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#11
(05-01-2021, 03:59 AM)Redfox Wrote: 1. Mindless and Supergirl dominated the predecessor server that allowed teaming. They prove the server wasn’t balanced. So much that a new server needed to be made.

The old server also had powerups, so the amount of mass the player in first place had at any given time was much larger than it is now. The first phase of the “solo” server had an inaccurate anti-teaming algorithm and the current phase of the “solo” server has moderators. I do not think that teaming has really been given a fair chance yet.

(05-01-2021, 03:59 AM)Redfox Wrote: That wouldn’t be a big problem if there were 2 servers but if there is only one it’s going to be a big problem.

If there are 2 servers, they would both likely be more disbalanced than it is now. Most experienced players will likely stay in the “solo” server, and few players will be experienced enough to fight the teams in the regular server. Meanwhile, teaming will still go on in the “solo” server, circling back to the point of this thread. What Agf needs is a smooth gradient of skill levels for new players to progress, and the only way to accomplish that is by combining players of all levels and playstyles. The “solo” players have been training in their server for over a year and a half now, so this new server should not be too difficult of a switch.

(05-01-2021, 03:59 AM)Redfox Wrote: Only two people stated they want a teaming Agf server, no one else did. Why are u so sure that your idea is representing the opinion of the majority?

Most of Agf's most experienced players are skilled enough to beat teams by themselves without the help of moderators. The problem right now is that it is very easy for a team to dominate a "solo" server where many players refuse to team (in its traditional sense). A truly balanced server needs teams to be able to prevent other teams from taking over without having to be hidden about it. Currently, there are several periods throughout the day where the server is dead. During these periods, players should be able to splitrun to preserve the server’s mass and prevent it from decaying into nothingness. They should also be able to team on players from other servers who come to sweep the server’s mass just for it to decay in the secret rooms. This way, there is always enough mass on the map to keep the server dynamic throughout the day.

I think that this server would represent the opinion of the majority because even though a team is naturally stronger than a “solo” player of the same skill level, many of the “solo” players have the skill and experience on their side. An even split of “solo” players and teamers on the server would give each side an equal chance, meaning whichever side has more players at a given time would be more powerful, and this would fluctuate throughout the day. Moderators do not know what is best for the majority, the majority does. I think we should keep both servers up for 2 weeks and then only have the regular server up for 2 weeks and compare the results. Like I said, I do not think that teaming has really been given a fair chance yet. If this server is tried out and turns out to not be balanced, it would most likely be due to some other underlying issue, not that teams are simply “just too strong”. Other adjustments can always be made if necessary, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. We need to change one variable at a time, and currently, the most important variable to change is the rules of the server.



Personally, I would still be a mostly solo player (in its traditional sense). I enjoy participating in large solo battles as well as fighting big teams. The real problem right now is one of the most abusive forms of teaming that never seems to get dealt with, and that is targeting. It is difficult for me to play casually with other players when I have someone constantly targeting me. I should not be forced to savage the other players and cause them to close out the game just to save myself. I should be able to use any form of teaming with other players to defend myself. The targeter would see this and maybe get a teammate as well, and at that point it is fair game. A degree of teaming will always exist in any server and thus requires a degree of teaming to counter it.
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#12
(05-01-2021, 04:54 AM)Démone Wrote: How would solo players able to do a 1v1 with teams that would jump on them  at the first chance they get, how many get frustrated when that happens even now when dealing with Solos, imagine with teams!

Just team on them! This is what we are already doing to an extent. I specifically remember a day when you were fighting a massive team and I helped you by shooting viruses at them, and you thanked me for it in the chat. It should have perfectly acceptable for me to give you my mass and/or for us to splitrun team against them, as it would have had the same end result. If a player dislikes a certain playstyle enough, they should feel no shame in defeating them by any means necessary.
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#13
(05-01-2021, 04:58 AM)Light* Wrote: If a person is not experimented he is better off in the solo server instead of the teaming server.  If there is only 1 teaming server then the new people don't have a chance.  I would rather begin when I can deal with one person or a couple of person instead of teamers.

Finky did not live through this nightmare (point no 1 from RedFox) and cannot judge and thus would let history repeat itself as so many youngling forget about the past and make the same errors... but we did

If a person is not experienced, they will have a hard time in either server. One server would be dominated by inexperienced teamers and the other would be dominated by experienced "solo" players; both would have their tradeoffs. If all players are combined into a single server, then the teamers and "solo" players would keep each other in check and the server would be naturally balanced.

Also, although my memories of the old Agf are faint, I actually did start playing Agma towards the end of 2016 (for a while I thought it was 2018, but I just verified with my brother who introduced me to the game. I thought I started when I was towards the end of 8th grade, but it turns out I was actually towards the beginning of 7th grade!). I took a few breaks here and there and I was gone for most of 2019. However, my brother and I both agree, much like many other players, that teams were not the problem, power-spammers were. No one here has experience with a power-free teaming server for Agf, and this is something that we have yet to try.
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#14
(05-01-2021, 04:36 PM)AgmaFan Wrote: The old server was working fine until Supergirl and Mindless destroyed it by power abusing and teaming which was extremely selfish. This cannot be allowed to happen again. I cannot overexaggerate how bad it was. Some sort of moderation is required to prevent this.

A power-free teaming server has not been tested yet, and this is something that I am wanting to try. Teams would need pure skill to stay on top, and other players would be able to team against them without feeling shame.

(05-01-2021, 04:36 PM)AgmaFan Wrote: Some people are just saying what changes should be made to suit their own playstyle. They don't realise that these changes might not suit the silent majority of players who play the server. The fact is the server is at its best when there are more players on and any changes should keep them in mind.

I am not trying to change the server to suit one playstyle, that's exactly what the "solo" server has been doing. I want Agf to allow ALL playstyles, and this should not affect the "solo" players very negatively. Agf has many talented players that are capable of fighting teams, so the server should be able to regulate itself just fine. What I am saying is that instead of moderators enforcing their own definition of teaming by freezing and banning, players would be able to enforce their own definitions through battling and teaming back on them when they feel that it is necessary. This is what is already going on currently. Many players are well aware of the types of teaming that are condoned by moderators, and I am sure that many players would full-on team against other teams if they could. Allowing teaming to its fullest extent would create a natural balance within the server. Instead of it being a pointless war between open teamers and hidden teamers, it would come down to which open teamers have more skill.

(05-01-2021, 04:36 PM)AgmaFan Wrote: Some players also want everyone else to play the way they want them to play and will abuse other players in chat for not conforming or target them in-game. If everyone played the same way the server would be predictable and boring. It is the differences in playstyles and the randomness it brings, that makes the server great when it is at its best.

Exactly. Targeters are a big problem, especially in Agf, where they have a great advantage over players trying to play solo. Targeters can get away with teaming by shooting viruses and helping their opponents as just a tiny cell, but players who are getting targeted cannot do much besides savage them, and in many cases, savaging is difficult without some of the mass being fed to other players. These players who are getting targeted are essentially checkmated between targeters and moderators, and this is wrong. Players who are getting targeted should have the right to team on their targeters without fear of punishment. No player should get banned for standing up to a bully via teaming.

(05-01-2021, 04:36 PM)AgmaFan Wrote: Subtle forms of teaming will always happen as long as players are identifiable through names or skins. Players like some players more than others and treat them differently - it's human nature. People can receive help when the do not want it. If you want to be truly solo, play invisible unnamed with no skins.

This is what I have been doing for a while. The only difference is that instead being the one receiving help, I am the one getting helped against.
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#15
To everyone: the main takeaway that I want you all to get from this is that players should never feel ashamed of teaming, even if they are devoted "solo" players, as if teaming is somehow beneath them. Many players support moderators freezing and banning teamers, but act as if teaming against the teamers is somehow crossing the line. I have been playing in Splitrun Paradise a lot recently, and even in that server, I am a mostly solo player (in its traditional sense). Like in any server, there are certain players who constantly target me as well as other players relentlessly by shooting viruses at me when I am fighting others or even directly feeding my opponents. Even though I am a mostly solo player, I am never afraid to occasionally give a nearby player a party invite to put the targeters in their place. This should be a choice that players are free to make in any server, including Agf.
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