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MatchMaker Meta Meta Map Mapping

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SErankGodde
3 months ago
(edited 3 months ago)

So in continuation from this battlethread http://zero-k.info/Battles/Detail/492211 , I thought we would discuss and perhaps map out the meta of metas on maps in Zero-K.

So first we must ask ourselves what good gameplay in Zero-K is, before we can answer what maps should be preferred over others for ranked 1v1 play.

Some potential criteria:
Diverse strategic options
Starting factory diversity
Transitional gameplay
Macro focus
Micro focus
Focused gameplay
Well defined meta
Variety

Some of these criteria are somewhat conflicting.
I for example, like flat maps that promote raider gameplay which have focused gameplay on expansion(macro) and raiding(micro), and a pretty well defined meta, but raider maps typically lack transitional gameplay as the game is often decided by the raider phase and the strategic options aren't that diverse in terms of unit choices, starting factories and transitions in gameplay. However, Zero-K balance in general have nerfed raider gameplay and especially Rovers as Scorchers and Ravagers aren't quite as dominant as they used to be.

While a well defined meta might initially seem bad for diverse strategic options and variety, the opposite(an undefined meta) simply means that the gameplay on that map is unexplored and that the meta might eventually devolve into boring gameplay.
However, exploring an undefined meta is still enjoyable to me.

A map that Fealthas complain about is Vittra. I like Vittra even though I think there is a dominant starting factory(Spiders) and an initially dominant strategy(fast expansion and missile silo rush), but other players rarely if ever use this dominant strategy, so I just win by default most of the time. However, I think that the gameplay options would open up after reaching the stage where missilo silo is fielded by both players. Potentially, players can counter missile silo by simply spreading out the buildings so that Napalm missiles are unable to make cost.
However, if players simply realize that Spiders can easily outexpand the enemy by harassing, forcing out defenses and scouting incoming units with Fleas, countering incoming raiders with fast Venom riots or newly built light porc and transitioning into Recluse and Redbacks if necessary(Recluse is arguably the best skirmisher on this map), then I think we could have interesting Spider mirrors on this map with midgame transitions into Missile Silo, Firewalkers or maybe even airplay.

I think transitional phases are interesting even if they are obligatory. There is still interplay in the timing of the transitions and the commitment of resources in the transition.
If airplay or a missile silo transition is obligatory on some maps, I wouldn't mind it as it usually opens up more possibilities in gameplay.

Fealthas favourite map is Hide and Seek which I somewhat dislike simply because it is a difficult map to play as it requires excessive micro to expand, harass and counterharass constantly. I think that Cloakybots are the dominant factory here as it lack any RPS that some factories have on this map. While both Jumpbots and Spiders would seem to be able to abuse the cliffs on this map, Jumpbots just cannot contend against Flea harassment if they end up facing Spiders while also having trouble defending against masses of Bandits if they face shieldbots. Spiders on the other hand struggle against mass raider play and especially Glaives which the fast but finicky Venoms have trouble dealing with reliably while slow Redbacks riots simply are too slow. The Amphbot raiders simply lack the DPS against light porc to be a threat like Glaives or Bandits.
Cloakbots vs Jumpbots are arguably balanced on this map but I would not like to contend with mass Bandit harassment with anything in the Jumpbot factory.
That leaves Cloakbot VS Shieldbots where I would still give Cloakbots a slight advantage where the faster Glaives pose a much bigger threat in raider run-bys. With the support of some light porc, the skirmishing advantage that Bandits have against Glaives disappear. Bandits can still skirmish Glaives excellently in no-mans land and slightly contested territories though. However, Cloakbots can still support their ranks with the relatively fast Ronins which is pretty good at fending off and pushing back Outlaw and Thug parties. Sharpshooters/snipers and Thunderbirds makes Felons almost unusable on this map as the Cloakbot player can simply withdraw from lanes that are contested by a large shieldbot ball, and if the shieldball goes too far, it is easy to defend against with Snipers or disarming the shieldball with a Thunderbird and running in with Glaives and Ronins.
Thunderbird advantage also goes to cloakbots as the faster Glaives can run down disarmed Bandits while Ronins can also keep up with the slower shieldbot units.
I only dislike map this map because it is challenging. I always feel like I can't keep up with everything.
Hide and Seek could still pose as the archetype of good gameplay in 1v1 Zero-K I think. Raider run-bys are always threatening unless the enemy makes excessive amounts of defences. There are several transition phases in a good game on Hide and Seek such as transitioning into skirmishers, assaults, air, eco and defense.
However, this isn't Starcraft where we have to balance the maps for 3 different races and 6 different match-ups. We don't have to limit ourselves to a strict map formula just because some players like certain types of gameplay. All symmetrical maps in Zero-K are balanced as both players have the same options.
Now, it can be argued that all maps should have several viable starting factories in the same vein that all the 3 races in Starcraft have to be viable on a competitive map.
However, I think it is fine if some maps just have 1 viable starting factory.
Why shouldn't the map designer be able to design maps specifically for certain factories or certain kinds of gameplay in mind?

I even think that 1v1 metal games on maps like Metal Heck or even Mini_SuperSpeedMetal_Wide are interesting.
I remember playing a series of games on Metal Heck against Drone and they were pretty fun and interesting. Drone is arguably a better Metal map player than I am. However, Metal maps plays hugely different from the rest of Zero-K maps to the point that you could say that Metal maps is a completely different game from the rest of Zero-K. It is much less about controlling territory, raiding and micromanagement but rather quickly transitioning between different phases and assessing the opponents transitions and timing attacks. Personally I wouldn't mind a map like Metal Heck in the 1v1 MatchMaker map pool.

The gameplay that the MatchMaker map pool promotes is up to us, and personally I like varied gameplay. Small maps, big maps, macro maps, micro maps, air maps, ship maps, metal maps. All is appreciated by Goddes love.
+5 / -0


CHrankAdminDeinFreund
3 months ago
(edited 3 months ago)

Regarding micro, I think there are two different things you've thrown together. When looking at Hide and Seek, the challenging part to me is watching all the different pathways and keeping them defended while also keeping an eye on what undefended pathways there are to enemy mexes.

If we compare this to CCR or other open maps, which I also find very micro intensive, the challenge there is about always doing perfect raider kiting and maintaining local superiority.

Even though both types require you to constantly watch over your units, I find the former to be much more interesting than the latter. Moving your raiders in an optimal way to avoid taking damage and dish out maximum damage is something I'd expect the computer to do for me. Predicting the optimal attack route or defense location feels much more interactive with the human part of your opponent.

PS: Try finding DErankfxrs for a round. Last time I calculated the stats, he was the best mini superspeedmetal wide player.
+2 / -0

NLrankWesley
3 months ago
(edited 3 months ago)

Fixed :>
+1 / -0


SErankGodde
3 months ago
(edited 3 months ago)

I think raider micro is simply much more taxing for the human to do on Hide and Seek than it is on CCR. When you are controlling Glaives in a lane, you have to watch over them constantly as you are running into an unknown amount of defenses and enemy raiders. You have to quickly decide if you fight or flee and what the priority targets are. Maybe you can get that Con and mexes with your Glaives before you get surrounded and pounded by Bandits.

Raiding on CCR is arguably much simpler as it is mostly done in consolidated pushes where you have radar cover near your expansions. The best expansion direction is arguably in the middle of the map as it allows you to spot incoming units on radar and then choose where you reinforce with your own raiders. There is usually only 1 reinforcement line on CCR and you don't have to really dedicate units to different lanes which you are forced to on Hide and Seek. If you face bad odds when you are trying to raid on CCR, you can simply retreat and consolidate your forces further back which isn't really possible on Hide and Seek.

Making good raiding AI isn't easy. It is more than just trying to kite the enemy Scorchers with your Scorchers while trying to take minimum damage. It is maneuvering that gives enough time for your cons to make defences. It is scouting enemy defences and expecting where the enemy will be. It is diverting enemy units so that you have local fire superiority in other areas. It is sacrificing units to deny mexes from the enemy.
If you can write an AI to automate raiding on CCR, that AI would be even better on Hide and Seek where there are simply more lanes to keep track of and faster reaction time needed as you face unknown forces in their respective lanes. Choosing, between fight and flight, between sacrifice or unit preservation and choosing the priority targets.
+0 / -0


PLrankOrfelius
3 months ago
(edited 3 months ago)

I want every map in the MatchMaker be like Desert Needle Small. It is trully the greatest of maps beloved by the whole community.
+2 / -0


SErankGodde
3 months ago
I can't say I am a fan of Desert Needle either.
Raiding plays minimal importance and most games are won by simply outecoing my opponent and a devastating raider run-by after stunning the enemy forces with Thunderbirds.
+0 / -0




EErankAdminAnarchid
3 months ago
(edited 3 months ago)

Is "focused gameplay" a term for "has a macro or micro focus" ?

Or generally "gameplay focuses on thing X, everything else is suicide"?
+0 / -0


SErankGodde
3 months ago
Yeah, more like the latter.

Like say there is a map with where the meta have become so strict that basically every game looks the same on that map as it all comes down to execution.
The meta on Comet Catcher Redux is pretty strict by Zero-K standards but I still enjoy it. I wouldn't mind if there are some maps in the 1v1 map pool where the meta have been thoroughly explored, giving few to no strategic options but forcing the players to perfect their mechanical skills while looking for small tactical advantages.
+0 / -0




EErankAdminAnarchid
3 months ago
(edited 3 months ago)

In that case these points are more or less either the same, or subclasses of each other:

quote:

Macro focus
Micro focus
Focused gameplay
Well defined meta


For what it's worth, i think the metaball of all of this is not really incompatible with the other possible virtues. For example, a map could have a well defined meta in which you either start amphs or hovers (with some cheese options), and then transition into ships.

This combines diverse strategies (cheese vs srs play), diverse starting factories (more than one!), transitionality, and yet it's quite "defined" in that that you're getting cooked if you do something else.

Macro/micro focus on their own of course do conflict.
+1 / -0