I guess here we disagree fundamentally what the pace of gameplay means. To you it seems to be the amount of time spent in combat from the total amount of time, but to me it also includes how fast players can actually kill each other. I hadn't really tought about it deeply because to me it just seemed obvious that this should be included. This isn't something I can defend by logic because it comes down to definitions. If you gave everyone tenfold shields and put them on a small map, I would still consider (or would have considered) the resulting gameplay slow.
I apologize for the delayed reply, but I was on conference in China last week and even after returning, I was so horribly jet-lagged (and probably came back with a stomach-flu) that I stayed in bed for the weekend.
Consider this: Which scenario in chess has a higher pace?
A: Every player takes about a minute to make his move, but because of the placement of the figures, after every move one chess piece gets captured.
B: Every player only has five seconds to make a move and only manages to capture an opponent piece on every twelvth move.
Both scenarios have a "kill frequency" of about two minutes per player (one minute cumulative) but the second match has less downtime. It's not even a contest: The second scenario is objectively more fast paced. (Although not neccessarily the more interesting and suspensful one.)
Translate that into Halo: Which scenario has a higher pace?
A: Two players fight each other in a 1v1. Duels last around five seconds, but for various reasons (map size, spawns, etc.) it takes ten seconds for them to meet up again after respawn.
B: Two players fight each other in a 1v1. Duels now last ten seconds, but the map and spawns has been modified so that they re-engage after only five seconds.
Again, both scenarios have the same kill frequency (30 seconds individuall, 15 seconds cumulative, assuming 50:50 win-loss ratio) but the second game is more fast paced because more of that time is used in engagement than just faffing about.
I might have jumped the gun by insinuating that kill frequency has nothing
to do with the pace of the game, as it is influenced by the duration of combat. And I want to retract that sentence. But I still stand by my statement that game pacing is first and foremost determined by the time that the players have an interaction with the game (Combat, activating switches, etc. Might be debatable what actually constitutes as "meaningful" interaction. E.g., clamber.) and more importantly by the time they don't
. And the latter is more determined by the "out of combat"-settings of a game - i.e. map size, spawns, movement speed, teleporters but also visual and acoustic feedback (can I hear or see where my teammates are fighting, etc.) - while the former can then
be finetuned by other settings - weapon damage, shield properties, rate of fire, but also strafe speed and so forth - while still retaining (mostly) the same game pace.
I guess the only proper way to reconcile this is to accept that "pace of gameplay" isn't really properly represented by a single spectrum from slow to fast, but lives in (at least) a two dimensional space. As nice as it would be to order games from slowest to fastest, I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that there's no single, natural ordering that everyone can instantly agree on.
I agree. It's not a black-and-white scale and I shouldn't have presented it as such. Mea culpa. But I still firmly believe that in said two-(/multi-)dimensional representation, the gradient
is higher on the axis showing the uptime/downtime-ratio than any other contribution.