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DanseMacabre

ERTs are bad for gameplay and roleplay: Destroy them

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What is an ERT? A miserable little cheat!

I'm going to open with this: On this roleplaying server, who should be solving problems - the characters of the station crew, or a heavily armed group of faceless goons who are non-characters and can in 95% of scenarios wipe out the antagonists on their own? If you answered the latter, you may be a validhunter!

 

In all seriousness, I do not think ERTs are conducive to creating interesting stories. Think about what they really bring to the table - at most, they might attempt to be mediators or simply support for the station. At worst (and in most situations), they take the situation out of the hands of the crew and place it solidly into the hands of the ERT, who will almost always be better equipped to deal with any problem than the crew is. The ERT is not a roleplay enhancement: the distress beacon is an "I win" button, that command clicks when they're forced to deal with the prospect that the valids may not be completely secured. Interesting scenarios, such as the crew being forced to arm themselves and attempt to fortify a location long enough to evacuate, or deal with being subjugated by an occupying force, or trying to attempt a valiant last stand against an enemy they may not be able to defeat? The ERT prevents this. A mercenary team can play admirably, roleplaying along the way, and if they're successful enough? Well, inevitably, the valid squad will come to shut down their round. It simply isn't fair, and it isn't fun for anybody except the valid squad. The worst situation ERTs can lead to is a premature distress beacon, when command totally jumps the gun on calling an ERT and effectively shuts down the rest of the round.

 

Now, I do not actually propose outright removal of the ERT - I would actually really like if we did remove them completely, but I don't think enough popular support exists for this. What I do propose is:

1. The disabling of the NT-ERT - as it is obscenely powerful - and replacing it with something adjacent but less-capable, like NT civil protection. 

2. Making it so an ERT cannot be sent without admin approval during a round when an admin is online. If any admin is not online, the distress beacon can be sent without approval.

3. Delay the spawning of the ERT, so it takes a considerably longer amount of time for them to arrive.

Also welcoming additional suggestions.

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ERTs are the only thing preventing 30 people being beholden to the power fantasy of 5 typically not-very-adequate, subpar, average (or worst case scenario, equally valid-salad) antagonists. 

It's grating how a consistent theme I see not just in this roleplay community but many others is an aversion to consequence. Not everything needs to 'enhance a round'. Getting sucked by a changeling doesn't enhance a round, it is a consequence of playing secret. Do not expect everyone to throw themselves on the sword for the antag so they can have a good round at the expense of their victims. No, getting killed is typically a consequence of an action, and the arrival of an ERT is a consequence of not pre-empting their arrival or necessitating them being called in the first place.

I have seen ERTs routed, even the dreaded Phoenix Team. It is not implausible. What is implausible is the crew going monkey mode and becoming Vietnam-era soldiers as they routinely do, or NT abandoning their station to burn with a big old shrug of their shoulders.

'Enhancing roleplay' is such a loaded term, anyway. It is ridiculously subjective. 

Edited by Susan
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Well, there are only so many things that goes on in antag rounds...

Wizard does his 3 tricks that are safe, Ressurect, plant trees and turn people into animals (erp), loop infinite.

Heavely armed antag groups does their usuall robbery, usually a gimmik like robbing kitchen of all its supplies... running around til they get caught and it becomes a taco standoff or they are free to roam because security doesnt seem to be equipped most of the time to deal with them, and when there are head of staffs and enough people, they still do not try to stop them.

So ERT's are the only thing that can counter it, tho it requires people who can ERT well, usually people who normally plays security, else its a bunch of people who wont be able to do their thing. Iv been it ones and its horrible without knowing how to use guns, and melee, usually a one sided if anything goes bad and the antags start blasting.

Basically just adding meat shields most of the time wich helps nobody.

ERT's could be replaced by just giveing security access to heavyer types of armor and let them deal with it completely.

 

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Right, I have seen this talked about off and on over the past few years and there are a few things that need to be considered when accounting for ERT.

Firstly, what are ERT for? Ask yourself that question properly and you will find that they are to help de-escalate when all other options fail / are no longer viable. Normally this includes command and ISD intervention. Crew militia is not a valid form of de-escalation (on most rounds, of course this is case by case); most people when confronted with killers will either try to run or hide, not outright work out the best way to kill the terrorists that appeared at their place of work. This is a HRP server, on an average round crew shouldn't be jumping in to kill the bad guys.

Secondly I totally agree with Sue when they explain about actions having consequences. If you as an antag plan to kill off the entire security department or cripple it to the point of no longer being functional without even attempting to negotiate reasonably, expect an ERT. Doing  well in a firefight with sec doesn't unlock the station for you and it should not be encouraged to be that way. Think of escalation as a spring; the harder you push on the spring, the tougher it gets until it snaps back and hits you in the face.

Finally, ERTs are supposed to be strong. I cannot make this point clear enough. If you have fucked the station hard enough for an ERT to be justified then sending people who are worse / on par with station sec doesn't make any sense from a lore or realistic perspective. NT has the resources to get some properly armed people for the task of anti-terrorism, gimping them because you want to murderbone as an antag seems silly to me.

However, I do not believe ERT should be called when there are still reasonable ways to deal with the antag on station. If as command you are refusing to negotiate reasonably because you have a power complex you shouldn't immediately jump to an ERT. If one officer in security dies and you have three more plus a HoS don't call an ERT. I cannot remember if questions about appropriate ERT usage are in the command app, but if they are not they should be. Warnings and punishments should be handed out if you call ERTs without a justifiable reason.

ERTs do not take roleplay away when they are used appropriately, in fact they add a lore-friendly way to cool a round off. That is their purpose, they need not to be changed.

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6 minutes ago, SHODAN said:

Firstly, what are ERT for? Ask yourself that question properly and you will find that they are to help de-escalate when all other options fail / are no longer viable. Normally this includes command and ISD intervention. Crew militia is not a valid form of de-escalation (on most rounds, of course this is case by case); most people when confronted with killers will either try to run or hide, not outright work out the best way to kill the terrorists that appeared at their place of work. This is a HRP server, on an average round crew shouldn't be jumping in to kill the bad guys.

From my experience, most erts don't de-escalate anything and just kill the antags anyway. Descalation can be done just as fine by the crew.

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1 minute ago, Alberyk said:

From my experience, most erts don't de-escalate anything and just kill the antags anyway. Descalation can be done just as fine by the crew.

That is a form of de-escalation. If the threat is dead the situation has passed, ERT normally have to shoot the threat because they are normally called if the threat has been killing people.

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I'd be interested in seeing how this form of ERT plays out, but I am wary due to the issues Sue pointed out.

 

Some of my least favorite rounds revolve around being ordered around, powerless to do anything or affect the roleplay in any meaningful way beyond "oh no im scared", "please don't kill me", and mechanical gameplay. I think that if the restrictions around the crew being able to fend off attacks on their own were loosened slightly, it may have a better chance of succeeding. That said, simply not having the practically guaranteed ERT safety net would give many characters the justification they need to fight for their survival, rather than "waiting it out" until help arrives.

 

Would this be "healthier" for roleplay? I honestly cannot say, but I am curious to see how it goes.

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Agreeing with every word Sue's said here. ERTs have existed historically to keep murderbone in check, and naturally do so by virtue of only being staffed by ghosts - so in the process of mass killing, they're filled out larger.

If you're going hard enough to necessitate ERT, then you've generally done something in the eyes of Command deserving of a new obstacle. Without them, we return to the more cancerous era of constant militias which can never be easily prevented without killing half the crew often singlehandedly. A marked improvement, I am sure.

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Voting for dismissal due to the reasons stated above.
Susan and Shodan are pretty much on point here.

I also believe that either command needs to be more responsible when it comes to calling a ERT or we need to enforce that mechanically so command only gets a "gimped" ERT if they are called without sufficient "escalation".

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I personally think a middle ground should be found instead.  Whereupon a weaker, less armed team is sent in it's place, maybe even default to Legion AND THEN the ERT.  The legion I'd argue is weaker on a 4 v 4 basis due to the NT ERT's much higher equipment availability.  (My opinion)

What I'd propose is that remove NT ERT from a first distress beacon, give the beacon a time-out timer, and then after X amount of minutes whereupon the other Legion/random responders are defeated, only then does it escalate to a level where the ERT is needed.  This also gives the antags the ability to stop the call, as they can find the heads of staff, and makes the goal of defending those command members priority for anyone who remains.

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So I was sent this after I got my ass robusted as an Antag, and I was initially VERY against the idea of removing ERTs, but I can very much agree on one part of your post here, NT ERTs should be either Admin Only for when the Antags are being horrible little gremlins that are killing the entire station like a fat kid at a candy store.

I think the only other issue with the ERTs is also mentioned by you, the time it takes them to get here and their silent connection, let's say the Antags do not have a radio for whatever reason, SuperLing gone in maint after Monkey Mode or something or a disparate Merc term that got Ion'd and didn't turn on their headsets again, I think that ERTs should take a little bit more time to get there and also have an announcement you can always see on station.

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On 20/10/2020 at 09:31, Arrow768 said:

Voting for dismissal due to the reasons stated above.

There seems to be quite a lot of people saying that something needs to be done about NT-ERT. Unless we want to make another thread I'd like to keep talking about it.

As was suggested even by you, the way to go is probably making NT-ERT spawn dependent on things like:

  • How much (alive, non-antag) security is there? Someone came up with a nice formula that would essentially allow to spawn as many NT-ERTs as there are antags minus active security (so none if you have two antags and two security - some other ERT would get called instead).
  • How much havoc they've done. This could be hard to calculate because of indirect deaths through explosions and whatnot, but at least direct kills (or damage) by them could probably be counted.
  • How late it is in the round, or even what kind of traitor it is.
  • The overall other composition of the station staff. If it's a lowpop round maybe heavier ERT is justified.

And the why? Because right now I watched another NT-ERT - just a single guy - obliterate two antags 10 seconds after they didn't drop their guns as he asked. That's definitely not helpful to the round's roleplay.

Edited by Amunak
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ERTs having a longer shuttle time and making the announcement global again doesn't seem a bad idea at all. More prep time is fine as long as it's not like ten solid minutes of waiting.

28 minutes ago, Amunak said:

As was suggested even by you, the way to go is probably making NT-ERT spawn dependent on things like:

  • How much (alive, non-antag) security is there? Someone came up with a nice formula that would essentially allow to spawn as many NT-ERTs as there are antags minus active security (so none if you have two antags and two security - some other ERT would get called instead).
  • How much havoc they've done. This could be hard to calculate because of indirect deaths through explosions and whatnot, but at least direct kills (or damage) by them could probably be counted.
  • How late it is in the round, or even what kind of traitor it is.
  • The overall other composition of the station staff. If it's a lowpop round maybe heavier ERT is justified.

And the why? Because right now I watched another NT-ERT - just a single guy - obliterate two antags 10 seconds after they didn't drop their guns as he asked. That's definitely not helpful to the round's roleplay.

You get that ERT already scales naturally to the amount of dead crew/security, kills, etc.? By creating ghosts or making people want to cryo, you make a larger ERT to fight later on. Generally getting ERT called is a result of some heavy escalation (A cult going loud, mercenaries tearing shit up, the armoury being emptied by antags, etc.) , and dying to an ERT means you didn't take them seriously or kept escalating.

As for two antags dying to one ERT, that sounds like either a remarkable display of incompetence (losing a 2v1 with antag tools) or they just deserved it (Did they go aggro without a plan? Did they not back down and try to retreat?) - if it was a bad escalation on the ERT player's part, ahelps exist. Antags leaving the round doesn't hurt roleplay, it's just two less people with the magic 'you can do bad things' tag.

Edited by Carver
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32 minutes ago, Carver said:

You get that ERT already scales naturally to the amount of dead crew/security, kills, etc.? By creating ghosts or making people want to cryo, you make a larger ERT to fight later on.

Not sure what you mean? The number of ghosts is independent. I often just ghost because I don't have time or will to commit to a round, and if I didn't dislike the idea of NT-ERT I could join as an ERT without participating in the round before. There are plenty of people who do this, but who do join the ERT when it gets called.

32 minutes ago, Carver said:

As for two antags dying to one ERT, that sounds like either a remarkable display of incompetence (losing a 2v1 with antag tools) or they just deserved it (Did they go aggro without a plan? Did they not back down and try to retreat?) 

It was a borg antag and a human (former sec I think?), the ERT just ION'd the borg who was closer and then obliterated the human with ballistics. All in a timeframe of about 10 seconds (after talking with them for a minute or two trying to get them to surrender, which they didn't seem to do, they just stood there and talked.

It's not my place to judge whether it was justified, I didn't participate in it and I didn't even see what the antags did previously, so maybe it was justified. But what I don't like about it is the whole situation: lore-wise ERTs (and NT-ERTs especially) are there to end the threat, which makes sense. But ending the threat also means ending whatever was going on before, and with decent antags that's often more fun for everyone.

Edited by Amunak
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1 hour ago, Amunak said:

Not sure what you mean? The number of ghosts is independent. I often just ghost because I don't have time or will to commit to a round, and if I didn't dislike the idea of NT-ERT I could join as an ERT without participating in the round before. There are plenty of people who do this, but who do join the ERT when it gets called.

You naturally create more ghosts than usual by killing people. Observers joining it isn't really a problem either, IMO, but most often you get the 'killed by murderboners and seeking to rejoin' types - or the cryo types who just didn't want to play at that moment.

1 hour ago, Amunak said:

It was a borg antag and a human (former sec I think?), the ERT just ION'd the borg who was closer and then obliterated the human with ballistics. All in a timeframe of about 10 seconds (after talking with them for a minute or two trying to get them to surrender, which they didn't seem to do, they just stood there and talked.

It's not my place to judge whether it was justified, I didn't participate in it and I didn't even see what the antags did previously, so maybe it was justified. But what I don't like about it is the whole situation: lore-wise ERTs (and NT-ERTs especially) are there to end the threat, which makes sense. But ending the threat also means ending whatever was going on before, and with decent antags that's often more fun for everyone.

If it was a good minute or so of trying and they did nothing, seems justified enough. Antags aren't always 'fun for everyone' - more often if an ERT is called it's because the antags were more 'code red for everyone', and so are met with an escalation that they should prepare to face. I like the thought of preparation, which is why someone's earlier idea of extending the time it takes for RTs to arrive and making the distress beacon announcement global again sounded pretty good.

Edited by Carver
tired typing
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Whitelisted command players are, by definition, surely trusted to call ERT when it is required. Likewise, maybe one day people will accept playing antag comes with repercussions and consequences that go above and beyond playing out power fantasies at the expense of everyone else. I'm sorry, but good antags - offstation ones, given the onstation ones are so fundermentally flawed they're pointless to discuss - will beat station security each and every time. Likewise, NT ERT really isn't that strong after the armor nerfs and if having full auto ballistics is such a problem, maybe - just maybe - it's also unbalanced on the merc side too.

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On 26/10/2020 at 07:42, Lemei said:

I'm sorry, but good antags - offstation ones, given the onstation ones are so fundermentally flawed they're pointless to discuss - will beat station security each and every time. 

A high quality security team and a high quality mercenary team will always, always, always see the security team beat the mercenaries. Why? By virtue of numbers and the cooperation of the station- there is very little that the mercs can use to get a one-up on sec. The only thing that can really turn the time is an expertly placed bomb or an absolute armory blitzkrieg.

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15 minutes ago, DanseMacabre said:

A high quality security team and a high quality mercenary team will always, always, always see the security team beat the mercenaries. Why? By virtue of numbers and the cooperation of the station- there is very little that the mercs can use to get a one-up on sec. The only thing that can really turn the time is an expertly placed bomb or an absolute armory blitzkrieg.

I can guarantee you this is wrong by virtue of if mercenaries are just as mechanically skilled, they can kill an entire fully geared security team in about 2-3 minutes in a hallway fight without even needing to use their uplinks. Full auto weapons are incredibly strong.

The station is fairly worthless if you kill Security outright (no cloning or revival methods, and if there are synth officers then take or destroy their brains), and proper use of the uplink and strong co-ordination will best an ERT as well (though the NT ERT is arguably on equal grounds equipment-wise to a Merc team).

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