Enforcing teams to play in cases where teams are down by any amount of players and don't have anybody else to sub in had been commonplace since the IDL days, because by the way their rules were written, once a game starts, there is nothing that should be allowed to interfere with the progress of a game outside of extreme circumstances. As of late, however, the people at WDL and IFL have been confronting these situations differently, as to provide unfortunate teams with better chances at playing fair matches. Each of these procedures come with their own sets of pros and cons, so let's see how they measure up.
"No pausing, must play even if down by n amount of members"
+ Ensures that games end on time (30 minutes max in regular season matches and 40 minutes on average in playoff matches);
+ Encourages fair play by preventing players from intentionally timing themselves out, as there would be nothing to gain from doing so.
- If anybody in a team times out and doesn't return within the next 2 minutes, that team is pretty much guaranteed to lose no matter how good they are or how much they practised for the game -- it's the equivalent of forfeiting, pretty much;
- Also encourages malicious people to attack vulnerable players' connections (via DDOS and other means) during gametime, as doing so would mean certain victory to their opponents.
"Void a given round if a team member times out or faces unplayable levels of lag and the team has nobody else to fill in; start it over once they're good to go again"
+ Prevents teams from getting screwed over if one of their members faces an untimely short-term connection problem;
+ Effectively reduces the casualties resulted from connection attacks, as their influence on game results is reasonably diminished.
- Malicious players could time themselves out intentionally, as to provoke a round nullification so they get another chance at getting favourable results;
- Might prolong matches indefinitely, up to the admins' discretion;
- Subject to ridicule from certain players asking for a restart if they face even the shortest moments of lag or packet loss, meaning there would need to be a "lag scale" upon which to fairly judge this ruling on.
With the direction that competition has been going, most of the community figureheads are in favour of the latter ruling as it ultimately allows for better, more competitive games. Yet, its cons are still quite troubling and most certainly will rear their ugly heads eventually, so we must seek out a new solution that prevents these loopholes while still maintaining the fair nature of this rule.
The idea for a solution I have is actually reminiscent of one clause from the IDL/WDL rulebook: the one that addressed server crashes during games. These are the aforementioned "extreme circumstances", that the IDL approached in a very interesting way. It reads:
WDL Rulebook wrote:Server crashes are handled at the league's discretion and on a case-by-case basis. However, these are guidelines the league generally follows.
In the event of a server crash, games are replayed from the last benchmark. Scores and statistics up until the last benchmark will be carried over and recorded respectively. Other information (flag possession, player positions, etc.) as well as all events occurring after the benchmark will be discarded. Each game has eight benchmarks:
Should a team feel that something extraordinary happened very close to a benchmark, they can appeal to the commissioner to have it included in the game replay. For example, if a player is imminently about to score, a team can have the commissioner or review the demo to ensure there was no possibility of the player not scoring (within the realm of normalcy), and award the flag capture.
The suggestion I'd like to pitch in is pretty much to apply this clause to player timeouts. It resolves the current ruling's most glaring problem, and mitigates the other issues decently enough. So, if the GFA were to implement it...
"Stop the current round if a team member times out or faces unplayable levels of lag and the team has nobody else to fill in; start over from the last benchmark once they're good to go again"
+ All of the pros of the second ruling;
+ Gives no clear advantage to players who time themselves out midgame;
+ Prolongs matches less than the second ruling would.
- Consistent player monitoring would be necessary to notice when exactly a player has become unable to play in order to properly implement this;
- Could cause problems for stats;
- The "lag scale" would most likely still need to be a thing.
If you were to ask me, the main issues concerning the idea I proposed are pretty much workload-related (especially on the stats department since I dunno if whoever made them would make such a workaround so quickly), but it does leave a lot less room for exploitation or unfairness, so I feel it is overall a much better alternative than what we've seen. Lemme know your thoughts!!