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Sea - the problem

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CZrankpsaniac
2 months ago
(edited 2 months ago)

There is one problem with the current sea - it is simply not fun to play with it. It has some really deep flaws that no amount of nerfing or bufiing can fix. These are:
1:Map incompatibility
2:Unit design
3:More unit design
4:Sea to land "interactions"
5:The lack of the pluk (Lack of alternative or troll strategies)

Map Incompatibility
I have classified types of sea into a few categories: wide sea, long sea, perimeter sea and troll sea.
Wide sea - huge, strategically important, has mexes, ability to go around things, sea player has ability to raid.
Long sea - has engrained frontlines, strategically important, porc/heavy units are king, raiders are unusable.
Perimeter sea - not important, ships rarely used, hover and amph use it sometimes to be sneaky. Sea is pretty unused.
Troll sea - Con trolling on Ravaged. Fun and awesome.

From now on, I will talk about long sea. Note that team games will make maps generally regarded as wide sea into long sea by filling the empty space. The problem is simple: long sea is not fun. Also, some design decisions turn artificially wide into long sea - such as the Urchin's power, and the range of the Siren and all of the ships.

Unit Design
I don't know where to begin here. One problem is the non-viability of hovers and amphs on sea maps. Amph performs better on ground then on sea - the only units which can fire underwater are ducks and scallops, both countered by sirens - and hover has only one anti-sub unit - the claymore - which I never found a use for (and they are countered by sirens crazy range). Floating amphs are also immobile - making them vulnerable to artilery above water and to sirens/seawolfs when getting to their position. Sea has no good DPS raider or anti-heavy (Corsair or Scalpel don't count - both countered by Seawolf and then finished off by the Siren they tried to counter).

The Siren/Ronin/Seawolf combo is deadly. Seawolf is not best used as a raider, as they would like you to believe. They are support - making the enemy easy prey. The enemies can be then easily killed by the Ronins or Sirens.

Neither of the 3 are counterable by air - they have too much HP per cost to be countered by wywerns or ravens. Gunships are screwed too - again, too much HP. Zephyrs are really good too - 400M for the DPS or two razors AND mobility? Also, it has radar and good HP?!

So, this makes all the units really hard to counter. They will never lose more metal in an attack then your units will. The Ronin can also snipe helpless above water units - for example, a Scorpion cannont even attempt to dodge the ultrafast plasma death.
So: Siren/Ronin/Seawolf combo
Counters: All naval raiders, Slow ground units, Slow or low HP abovewater units, Slow shortrange underwater units (that means all of them), All statics in their range.
Countered by: Big Bertha spam, Nuclear cleansing, Zenith, DRP, Starlight or a bigger ball of the Siren/Ronin/Seawolf combo.
Mariner or Zephyr or Shogun can be effectively added to the ball for additional uncounterability.

One of really important aspects of every competitive game is making units fun to use. But whats also really important, often forgotten and really hard to do, is to make units fun when they are used on you. The units that make the player feel horrible when they are used on him are the uncounterable ones - getting Berthad to death is much less fun then getting nuked. Berthas, Behes, Impalers, DDMs, Ronins and Shoguns, all suffer from this.

The joke is that the the counters to the combo are those units, which are also really unfun to play against them. These unit are bad design. A safe and uncounterable startegy is much less fun for both sides. The sea combo is also much less fun to play then the potentially dangerous strats on the ground. Its much more satisfying if you can see the enemy getting crushed.

More unit design
Some additional things - when a sea is controlled completely by one team, its impossible to take it back. Hovers and amphs dont stand a chance. The lack of flex-anti-sub is really limiting sea opportunities. Scalpel could try to use its missiles underwater. Mace could too - but its damage could degrade over range. Same with Buoy and Grizzly. Make it so projectiles are slower underwater and lasers and plasma would lose damage over range. Just make everyone try to be anti-sub, just like AA. Also, it would be nice for Duck and Scallop to use their land weapons underwater, it would be more intuitive.

The Cutter deals microscopic damage and the Hunter is secretly a Dagger.

The underwater weapons feel wrong. They don't really have a good noise compared to ground and are really hard too see. They just don't feel satisfying.

And lastly, on sea maps with ground, there is almost nothing to raid or assault! The expensive E structures and coms are all hiding on the ground. This can make sea-only raiders and assaults feel a bit pointless.

Sea to land "interactions"
Sea to land interactions are in theory a very fun idea. But this has two fatal flaws. 1: The interactions are not fun. 2: Where are the land to sea interactions?

Terrorizing ground forces with an invincible Ronin is not that much fun. But let me give you an example of good interactions. Imagine a slow, hard to detect, aquatic moving fortress. Near the shore, the fortress jumps out of the water with jumpjets and becomes a static building, only movable with jumpjets. Unless the ground reacts quickly, it destroys the shoreline. But they can counter it. The fortress would have one flaw - the jumpjets take 45 seconds to recharge. What about land to sea interactions? You could do things like making Claws and Skuttles amphibious. Make units on the seafloor cloakable. Or why not take our trusty jumping fortress, build it on the ground, jump into the sea, attach to the seafloor, and continue destruction?

I think these interactions would be a lot better then the ones we have now.

The lack of the pluk

Some dont want to admit it, but dangerous and troll strategies make Zero-K a better game. More options and less monotonous certainty is always good. Sea just doesn't have enough complexity to have them. The lack of cloak underwater removes a lot of options. I have some really crazy amazing ideas. Why not make gunships able to go underwater? Why not make more sea striders?

But I have written enough. I do have some more clear ideas what to do with sea (for another post).

By the way, I lied.
quote:
Siren/Ronin/Seawolf combo
Countered by: Big Bertha spam, Nuclear cleansing, Zenith, DRP, Starlight or a bigger ball of the Siren/Ronin/Seawolf combo.
There is another counter. It's easy and it is used a large portion by the community. It's simple: Do not play sea maps.
And that is everything I have to say.
why did i spend so much time writing this
+0 / -0


AUrankAquanim
2 months ago
(edited 2 months ago)

As the person more-or-less responsible for the current state of sea (although there are many things I can't really change) I have a few comments:

First, is this based on any games played under the most recent patch?

quote:
The problem is simple: long sea is not fun.

Long anything is less fun IMO. It's true that most sea maps are pretty rubbish but I don't have the time to fix that by myself.

quote:
Troll sea - Con trolling on Ravaged. Fun and awesome.

Defeated by a single skydust in your base. The only reason this strategy still lives is general incompetence on the part of defenders.

quote:
such as the Urchin's power

Is Urchin even good?

quote:
One problem is the non-viability of hovers and amphs on sea maps.

Should hover and amph be equally as viable as ships on a map which is mostly water? The answer most people have given me is "no". Claymore is indeed a problem which hopefully the most recent patch has rectified a little. In my experience Duck, Grizzly, Halberd and Penetrator definitely play roles in sea battles.

It's true that Scallop is beaten badly by Siren but the previous Scallop-ball meta was incredibly stupid.

quote:
The Siren/Ronin/Seawolf combo is deadly. Seawolf is not best used as a raider, as they would like you to believe. They are support - making the enemy easy prey. The enemies can be then easily killed by the Ronins or Sirens.

Two of these units were nerfed in the most recent patch. I suspect that the existence of Limpet may make Seawolf weaker. Siren and Ronin may need to be weaker still but that requires more data. Reef disarm missile may possibly also impact this siren/roninball strategy.

quote:
Zephyrs are really good too - 400M for the DPS or two razors AND mobility? Also, it has radar and good HP?!

I've also been told that Zephyr is terribad (though I must admit I don't really agree with that assessment either). I'd have to check on why it has radar.

quote:
The Cutter deals microscopic damage and the Hunter is secretly a Dagger.

These units see much more use in 1v1.

quote:
Some additional things - when a sea is controlled completely by one team, its impossible to take it back.

This is a problem. It's not obvious how to change that without making ships underpowered though.

quote:
The underwater weapons feel wrong. They don't really have a good noise compared to ground and are really hard too see. They just don't feel satisfying.

This probably can't be fixed.

quote:
Make units on the seafloor cloakable.

Due to the mechanics of how decloak radius works I have been told this is not technically feasible. This does limit design space significantly but it's just a fact.

quote:
But let me give you an example of good interactions. Imagine a slow, hard to detect, aquatic moving fortress. Near the shore, the fortress jumps out of the water with jumpjets and becomes a static building, only movable with jumpjets. Unless the ground reacts quickly, it destroys the shoreline. But they can counter it. The fortress would have one flaw - the jumpjets take 45 seconds to recharge.

I think you have mistaken complication for good design.
[Spoiler]
+2 / -0

CZrankpsaniac
2 months ago
(edited 2 months ago)

quote:
Long anything is less fun IMO. It's true that most sea maps are pretty rubbish but I don't have the time to fix that by myself.

Agree 100%. But we should at least try to make long sea more fun.
quote:
Is Urchin even good?

Yes. It is OP, compare it to the Defender. Spammed in FFAs on La Isla Bonita for example. But Siren and Ronin hard-counter it, so it is not seen on sea maps.
quote:
Should hover and amph be equally as viable as ships on a map which is mostly water? The answer most people have given me is "no". Claymore is indeed a problem which hopefully the most recent patch has rectified a little. In my experience Duck, Grizzly, Halberd and Penetrator definitely play roles in sea battles.

It's true that Scallop is beaten badly by Siren but the previous Scallop-ball meta was incredibly stupid.

Ships should be indeed slightly overpowered compared to hover/amph. But slightly. But Hover and Amphs are completely non-viable, even both of them at once against just ships. Their anti-sub gets countered by Siren. Pene works, the others I've seen used, but they didn't really work.

quote:
Two of these units were nerfed in the most recent patch. I suspect that the existence of Limpet may make Seawolf weaker. Siren and Ronin may need to be weaker still but that requires more data. Reef disarm missile may possibly also impact this siren/roninball strategy.

The recent change just does not change the fact that Ronins are not fun to play against. Limpet is interesting, but to me it seems not very useful against heavy units. I fear Reef will get kited by the roninball.

quote:
I've also been told that Zephyr is terribad (though I must admit I don't really agree with that assessment either). I'd have to check on why it has radar.

Well... Zephyr is bad against air, but very good against gunships. Once air starts being a threat to your ball (1200M of ravens to counter a ronin!? Reclaim from their corpses will be your ronin insurance) you can afford flails.

quote:
The underwater weapons feel wrong. They don't really have a good noise compared to ground and are really hard too see. They just don't feel satisfying.

quote:
This probably can't be fixed.

And I thought this was gonna be the easiest fix. Whats the problem of making the projectiles higher contrast, look bigger, and shinier?

quote:
I think you have mistaken complication for good design.

And you might be following the trend of simplicity and minimalism being good design. All good RTS games are built around complexity. Zero-K is one of them. Complexity allows for strategy. A swimming jumping fortress feels to me that could fit right in with other ZK's unit designs. But this was just an example. Or I might just be misinterpreting you.

quote:
These posts always seem to work out this way...

Well... The ideas I have are complicated. I just want to know if people do agree if this is a problem (well... people don't really play sea maps) and if my post seems to adress the core of the problem.

+0 / -0


PLrankAdminSprung
2 months ago
quote:
(Urchin is) Spammed in FFAs on La Isla Bonita for example. But Siren and Ronin hard-counter it, so it is not seen on sea maps.

Sounds like it has a niche which it excels at but hardly OP.

quote:
Complexity allows for strategy.

Complexity just makes the best strategy harder to figure out.
+0 / -0



RUrankFirepluk
2 months ago
(edited 2 months ago)

1. remove sea/amphibious factories
2. make water passable by all units at the cost of small but constant HP drain
3. unfeature pure sea maps
4. ?!?!?
5. profit, balance is much better now
+0 / -1


USrankOflameo
2 months ago
Maybe if we had at least two naval factories like we have two flying factories. Can you dump all of those unused units in a factory and turn the Nebula into an Aircraft carrier sea ship that can build the rest of the unused plains instead of just its drones?
+0 / -0


AUrankAquanim
2 months ago
(edited 2 months ago)

quote:
The recent change just does not change the fact that Ronins are not fun to play against. Limpet is interesting, but to me it seems not very useful against heavy units. I fear Reef will get kited by the roninball.

Wolverine, Funnelweb, Penetrator, etc. aren't real fun to play against either IMO but they are balanced to a spot where they're possible to deal with so they're not so bad. (Well, maybe not Penetrator...) My intention would be to put Ronin in a similar spot. Ronin was commonly thought to be useless before it got a projectile speed boost; that buff has now been mostly reverted along with reductions to its HP, DPS and turret turn rate. I suspect that it's not useless (and in fact wasn't useless in the first place) but it could well be less oppressive now.

It wouldn't surprise me to find out that Siren needs a further rethink but I'd like to see what a range reduction does to it first before trying something more dramatic.

Limpet probably isn't good against heavies, that's true.

The disarm missile outranges Ronin by a lot.

quote:
Ships should be indeed slightly overpowered compared to hover/amph. But slightly. But Hover and Amphs are completely non-viable, even both of them at once against just ships.

My preferred route to fixing this would involve giving Hover and Amph a bit more versatility (which would allow some of their more oppressive units on land to be taken down a peg as well) but since that affects land balance it's not an easy thing to do.

quote:
1. remove sea/amphibious factories
2. make water passable by all units at the cost of small but constant HP drain
3. unfeature pure sea maps
4. ?!?!?
5. profit, balance is much better now

I would really want to know what the ?!?!? is.

quote:
And I thought this was gonna be the easiest fix. Whats the problem of making the projectiles higher contrast, look bigger, and shinier?

Seeing things underwater is harder, and torpedoes are fundamentally visually uninteresting. If somebody else wants to have a go at improving the effects I have no objections to that though; I am hardly an expert in the field.

quote:
Maybe if we had at least two naval factories like we have two flying factories.

This idea's been raised a few times. I'm not vehemently opposed to it but there are some big practical problems including
- how to give another amph/hover/ship factory its own distinct identity
- somebody would need to do a lot of modelling work
- it's probably easier than train factory but it's still a lot of work
+0 / -0


USrankOflameo
2 months ago
I found a great theme for a new sea Oriented factory if we decide to pursue it. It would be a Seasteading factory. It would be about powerful terraforming, and land unit support.

I think it should have some kind of synergy with the Jumpbot factory. It can have a weakness of no singular anti-air unit and has to rely on a surfboard + ground anit-air unit combo instead.
+0 / -0

AUrankhedgehogs
2 months ago
(edited 2 months ago)

quote:
Complexity just makes the best strategy harder to figure out.


There should be no "best strategy", only bad and stupid ones, but not one strategy that beats all.
In effect:
There are only "wrong" answers.
quote:
Should hover and amph be equally as viable as ships on a map which is mostly water?


Should two factories that are made for land as well be on an equal standing as a proper navy?
Simple reasons:
If they are on an equal standing then they can beat navies and land forces.
Ships have far more HP, and firepower than 3 of them, and so the sea should be more cost efficient on sea maps

+0 / -0



GBrank[GBC]1v0ry_k1ng
2 months ago
The whole idea of having a factory that can only traverse a terrain subtype (eg. water), but is OP within that subtype, is inherently shitty.


+1 / -0


AUrankAquanim
2 months ago
Your opinion is duly noted GBrank[GBC]1v0ry_k1ng .
+0 / -0

CZrankpsaniac
2 months ago
By the way AUrankAquanim, what sea map would you consider fun for medium/large team games? I want to know what current sea was designed to be good at.
+0 / -0


AUrankAquanim
2 months ago
(edited 2 months ago)

My original goal (more or less) was for fun games on maps like Flooded Valley, Cull, flooded Titan Duel (for smaller games) or Inculca Wet, Bellicose Islands (for larger games). Also the sea parts of maps like Malibu Beach and Zeta Siege (that one is a bit dubious).

It would be nice if Paradise Lost, IslandTest and Sands of War were decent as well.

I would explicitly not make guarantees of fun on Coastal, Tangerine, any variation of Small Supreme *, Porky Islands, Sail Away, Sapphire Shores, Talus-wet. I would in general be dubious of how well maps with multiple large seas separated by a bridge, or maps with large landmasses with water in the middle, will play out.

I am unsure about AquariusCrossing and Rapids.
+0 / -0


AUrankSnuggleBass
2 months ago
I still haven't learned sea, and thus have no opinion. If someone were interested, I'd be happy to belt out some games on sea maps to try and reach an understanding. AUrankAquanim? AUrankAdminGoogleFrog? We could organise a time to be on? I really enjoy exploring/establishing meta.

I personally think that ships should be OP in their domain, but that hover and amph should offer options to improve your composition even if they can't compete directly. Similar to how JJ/planes tends not to have the meat to be a competitive first fac, but is relevant due to the diversity it offers for a second fac or second player. There is always a trade-off between mobility and power, and hover and amphs are simply more mobile due to their multi-domain advantage.

IMO both hover and amph are both too vanilla on land and near irrelevant on water, and thus up for revision.
+0 / -0


AUrankAquanim
2 months ago
(edited 2 months ago)

We could give it a shot sometime although my (limited) experience is that the 1v1 meta is considerably healthier - the slow movement speed of Ronin and Siren holds them back a lot more in that environment.

Putting a sea map in 1v1 matchmaking might be interesting.
+1 / -0

ATrankSkasi
2 months ago
quote:
The whole idea of having a factory that can only traverse a terrain subtype (eg. water), but is OP within that subtype, is inherently shitty.


The whole idea of having a factory that can only traverse a terrain subtype (eg. water), without dominating that subtype, is inherently shitty.

Might as well remove shipyards. And lvehs/tanks while at it. A couple years down the line remove shield- and cloaky bots. A decade later only air units will remain.
+0 / -0


JPrankgajop
2 months ago
quote:
Putting a sea map in 1v1 matchmaking might be interesting.

This would be the bestest.
+0 / -0



GBrank[GBC]1v0ry_k1ng
2 months ago
quote:
The whole idea of having a factory that can only traverse a terrain subtype (eg. water), without dominating that subtype, is inherently shitty.


A sexy solution is to allow sea to interact with land meaningfully.

Eg. give the sea fac enough units that can traverse inland land that it is not actually limited to one subtype.

It doesn't have to be brilliant at land, but a fleet that can cross landbridges to get to a different sea would make the likes of Supreme Battlefield a lot more playable.

The design of OP sea within the sea and with limited land interaction might work if only we had the maps designed to work around it, but we don't.

Just my opinion ofc.
+0 / -0




AUrankAdminGoogleFrog
2 months ago
AUrankSnuggleBass are you around now?
+0 / -0


FIrankVermind
2 months ago
(edited 2 months ago)

In NOTA sea battles, ships are huge, slow, and expensive. they can't traverse land. Some of them have long enough range that it does not matter. There is also a electronic warfare ship which hides the radar dots of itself and other ships around it for a large area.

Subs are detectable by destroyers, urchins and other subs only and do not sink ships with one shot, subs are cheaper but good in numbers.

Hovers are cheap (like basic units from most land factories), small, and can do a lot of damage in numbers. In sea, hovers are only a match for ships in much greater numbers.

Here's something about the range, could not find a good sea replay just now...


+0 / -0
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