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New heavy shield support Funnelweb

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A thread to discuss my ongoing idea for a Funnelweb change: https://github.com/ZeroK-RTS/Zero-K/pull/3247

Moving to this thread at USrankShadowWolfTJC's request.

I'm currently working on new shield textures for the Funnelweb (and making it not link).
+2 / -0
Continuing from here: http://zero-k.info/Forum/Post/191423#191423

how do you feel about Funnelweb having normal buildpower but being unable to assist?

I dislike that idea as that is not present with any other constructor. It's ok to make it unable to start constructions, but I don't think disallowing it from assisting is really needed.

Honestly, if it comes to the decision, I'd rather have a strong shield or a strong builder than a mediocre shield and a mediocre builder.

Is it having two unique features (shield regen delay and no assist), rather than one, a dealbreaker?
I think it being able to assist would need the buildpower turned down (or it becomes better than the equivalent mass of caretakers and Aegis for base defence unless the base is under Bertha bombardment), turning it into a mediocre builder rather than a highly specialized builder...
Would a strong shield with a mediocre builder sidearm be appropriate for a strider?
+0 / -0

8 months ago
Perhaps if it could only repair then it would have a tight enough role to deviate from "other constructor"s, and obsolete fewer units?
+2 / -0

8 months ago
I don't really understand why it should be used in the base as a builder. Caretakers will generally do that job much better, and if your base it actually being berthaed, the shield won't regenerate, thus being pretty pointless. Isn't it designed to perform much better at the front line? There, its high hp alone will make it a great builder that can reclaim right in the action.
+3 / -0
8 months ago
For those who want to view the discussion from the start, here's where it started: http://zero-k.info/Forum/Post/191395#191395
I've made a Work In Progress merge request for a new Funnelweb! :)

Mostly I'm wanting feedback on what I've done wrong code-wise, thoughts on this from a gameplay perspective and any tips for how to fix the outstanding issues (at the bottom). Even if this never merges I'd be quite grateful for any feedback given. :)

Unit role:
This new Funnelweb is a genuine support strider. Weaponless, it is intended to protect fragile units on attacks on heavy porc and as a means of quickly taking advantage of victory in battle.

Unit abilities:
A large and strong shield of 36000hp that regenerates at a modest 300hp/s rate allows regeneration in 2 mins, but requires a full minute after being hit before it will start to regenerate.
Additionally, it has a large amount of resurrection, repair and reclaim ability, equivalent to 100bp, but only has 10 for actual construction assistance. Notably, it cannot terraform or build.
The usual slow spider movement of the Funnelweb.
HP kept at 12000 for now.
Cost remains 4500.

Unit analysis and impact on battlefield:
* Its energy consumption and cost make it a late game unit.
* It requires a large army to prevent enemy units getting under its shields, but has enough hp that assassinations are less likely.
* There are two main ways of using it: Protection or negating attrition.
It can either protect an assault force for a quick and devastating strike OR it can hang around after an attack, resurrecting fallen units and thus negating attrition. Doing the latter is likely to deplete its shield and render it useless for unit protection.

Comparison with existing units with similar roles:
Its shield has more hp per unit of metal than the Aspis (equivalent to 6000 metal of Aspis), but it's regeneration is weaker (equivalent to 3600 metal worth) and it is much more vulnerable to sustained bombardment due to its regeneration delay.
Its cost and lack of regen on being attacked make it a worse choice for maintaining a continual presence at the front or for supplying shield power for felons (though see TODO below).
Its large shield size make it worse at defending smaller forces against attack.

Its resurrection power is equivalent to 4000 metal worth of athena, its battlefield reclaim and repair is equivalent to 3000 worth of welders (or the aforementioned 4000 worth of athena).
Its lack of maneuverability, lack of cloak and inability to build or terraform mean it does not replace the athena in the latter's role as scavenger and spec-ops.
Its higher cost, lesser speed and inability to be in multiple places at once mean it is mildly worse at battlefield repair and reclaim than the welder.

Initial playtesting thoughts:
Fairly large micro requirements at present, but does it's job well. Likely to be far more useful in Campaign, FFA and 16v16 matches than 1v1 or 2v2s.

Thoughts on balance:
I am considering removing the resurrection entirely due to its snowballing effect. (it depends whether people consider snowballing good or bad, I've heard arguments either way for RTSs)
Its high hp makes assassinations hard and allowing that could add interesting gameplay. Considering reducing hp to a fragile 6000.

Known TODO:
Shield links (it shouldn't transfer shield strength or at least should stop regenerating when it does)
Shield should take energy (~72) to charge (currently doesn't charge at all if it's a builder and has shieldPowerRegenEnergy set :( )
It should do automatic rez/repair/reclaim with a prioritization setting allowing a user to pick what it should prioritize (to reduce micro burden).
Should be able to move and rez/repair/reclaim simultaneously (so it can reclaim without slowing down the assault).
Fix rez and reclaim graphics (currently getting two styles of nano fog)
+0 / -0
8 months ago
Although I've got a few critical bones to pick about the unit's gameplay concept, for the time, I'll focus on the unit's balance.

For starters, I'm worried about how OP a 4500-cost unit with more shield health than a Paladin would be, even if the shield couldn't self-repair at all. I mean, the Aspis's shield has 3600 HP, and it costs as much as a Jack, which has 6000 HP, but unlike the Jack, it can use that shield health to help protect other, more fragile units, such as a few Rogues, from harm. Imagine needing to bring enough firepower to bring down a freaking Paladin, just to bring down such an OP shield, from a unit that costs less than half of a Paladin!
+0 / -0
I don't really understand why it should be used in the base as a builder. Caretakers will generally do that job much better, and if your base it actually being berthaed, the shield won't regenerate, thus being pretty pointless. Isn't it designed to perform much better at the front line? There, its high hp alone will make it a great builder that can reclaim right in the action.

Is the main point of base shields to protect from bertha bombardment?
I was thinking of them as protecting against sudden attacks, but if it's mostly as an anti-bertha measure then I guess keeping the 100 bp won't obsolete the caretaker+aegis combo.
Do you think 100bp will be alright or too much?
Or is perhaps the whole idea of it being dual-role frontline support (shielding + repair&reclaim) a non-starter?

USrankShadowWolfTJC : Are you worried that it might obsolete another unit or that it becomes a bit of a no-brainer to include in your army? Note that it does have a number of weaknesses that an Aegis doesn't due to its size and lack of in-battle regen.
+1 / -0
GBrankdyth68: Kind of both, actually.

Imagine pitting a couple Dantes and one of your Funnelwebs, which doesn't have drones, but has 36,000 shield HP, against a Paladin, which costs a mere 1000 metal less than 2 Dantes and a Funnelweb combined. Methinks the Paladin wouldn't last against a couple shield-protected Dantes. Also, if you're thinking about keeping the Paladin at a distance from such a combination, consider that an Iris, which gives shorter-ranged units the opportunity to sneak up to longer-ranged units, costs a mere 600 metal.

Edit: Now imagine if, instead of Dantes, you have lots of Knights hiding underneath that Funnelweb. Yeah...
+0 / -0

8 months ago
I don't generally see experienced players building aegis in their base, ever. Usually terraform is used when there is a serious bertha threat. This is why I don't understand why somebody would want to have an even more expensive shield in their base.

100 bp for 4500 cost besides the shield sounds a little excessive for me. I'd have gone for 20-30 and increased it if it still needed a buff.

+2 / -0
8 months ago
By the way, as far as unit concepts are concerned, this idea of a Funnelweb that's shielded and capable of building/resurrecting stuff reminds me of an idea for a construction strider that I brainstormed in the past, called the Prometheus:
At 1st glance, this unit might seem pointless, until you realize that this strider is, like the commander, not only tough, but capable of defending itself reasonably well, and between its strong shielding and high buildpower, unless it's met with a strong force, it could not only reclaim or terraform while under fire, but it could protect whatever it builds from enemies long enough to finish building them before they're destroyed.

Only my idea of a shielded construction strider would've been no more expensive than, say, an Ultimatum (which costs 2000 metal), and since it would've focused solely on building and reclaiming on the front lines, it would've been given a shield no bigger than a Felon's, and have enough HP and firepower to ward off a small raiding party, or at least weather a small assault force long enough to get a Stardust or 3 online.
+0 / -0

8 months ago
CHrankAdminDeinFreund : Ah, I see. I'll put it at 40 for now then (880 metal of caretakers, making it very much a sidearm/sideshow).
I'm still working on shield look, turns out I'm not great at designing shield looks... know anyone who is more of an artist and might be willing to help?

USrankShadowWolfTJC : Two questions: Which units do you think would become obsolete? How would late game gameplay be changed to be less fun?

As a nitpicking that doesn't make much a difference to your argument: you do seem to have forgotten that shields can't cloak, that Paladin is the strider skirmisher not optimized for front-line combat and that ultimatum already fulfills the "sneak up on them and murder them" role.
+1 / -0
8 months ago
how do i assist in this process.. i will do what i can to help

i got your back bro
+1 / -0

8 months ago
Thanks AUrankSmokeDragon! That means a lot :)
Essentially, the new funnelweb shield needs to have a new look due to it's power (thickness?) and the fact it can't link. Could you pick some colors and a new texture if needed? Here's the placeholder: https://github.com/ZeroK-RTS/Zero-K/pull/3247/files#diff-ad58ac395d5335201ac0db0779bdecf9
Do you feel up for making those changes and merging in?
+0 / -0
8 months ago
Maybe the Paladin wasn't the best example of a unit that would become obsolete (since it might already have some balance issues of its own that need to be worked on). Perhaps a Detriment would be a better example?

A couple Funnelwebs, which would cost 9,000 total, would have a combined shield strength of 72,000, which is almost as much HP as a Detriment, which costs 24,000, and has 85,800 HP. Although a Detriment would have a dps of about 1,605 when up against shields, that kind of damage could be easily matched by 2 or 3 Dantes (which each cost 3,500), or 7 Reavers (which each cost only 220). Of course, neither 3 Dantes nor 10 Reavers would stand a ghost of a chance against a Detriment, but when you add in the Funnelwebs with shields that have 36,000 HP each, along with an Iris to keep the Detriment from automatically targeting them before they can get close enough to the Detriment, then unless the Detriment somehow had the ability to penetrate through shields, and as long as the Dantes or Reavers stay within the Funnelweb's shields, they'll probably come out on top of the Detriment without even taking a single loss (until the Detriment blows up like a Singularity Reactor), with a combined cost that's about 20,100 for 3 Dantes, 2 Funnelwebs, and an Iris, or 11,800 for 20 Reavers, 2 Funnelwebs, and an Iris.

For another example, let's pit a couple Dantes against a Funnelweb, an Iris, and 8 Reavers. Both sides would cost about the same, but the 8 Reavers would have a combined dps of 2,056 (which is about the same as a couple Dantes), and be supported by a shield with a strength of 36,000 HP (while a single Dante has just 11,000 HP). Again, assuming that the Dantes can't penetrate through shields, I'd expect the Reavers, Funnelweb, and Iris to come out on top without losing a single unit.

Now do you see how concerned I am about this new Funnelweb being both a no-brainer to include in the army, and a unit that would basically make all other striders obsolete?
+0 / -0

8 months ago
USrankShadowWolfTJC : How does that differ from including a Funnelweb's worth of Aspis in your army? (As long as a battle, including initial probes, lasts 24 seconds or longer the Aspis will absorb more damage)

Side note: By the numbers, a Detriment can't make cost against any combat unit without doing a lot of kiting. Its cost in Dantes will melt it in short order (just tried this out in fact).
+2 / -0
It would take 10 Aspis to match your Funnelweb in shield strength, while the Funnelweb would cost 1500 metal less than the 10 Aspis (which would have a combined cost of 6000). On top of that, the Funnelweb would have 11,000 HP, while the 10 Aspis would have a combined HP total of 7000. Perhaps that's what you intend for this version of the Funnelweb?

Even if you try to handicap the Funnelweb with shield regeneration that only kicks in after a long period of time, or the inability to link with other shields, even if you remove its ability to reclaim or resurrect, I'd still consider this Funnelweb to be OP in the sense that it makes not only Aegis obsolete, but also many other striders as well.

Edit: Also, while I'm uncertain, I do think there's a possibility that bunches of Aspis shield walkers would be susceptible to AoE attacks, such as from a Thunderbird or Likho. The Funnelweb would have no such vulnerability.
+0 / -0

8 months ago
Isn't changing the properties of the shield harder to balance than lowering the shield's hp and radius?
+0 / -0
8 months ago
Replace Funnelweb in Nebula:

But value Nebula 6000, it very expensive, need 4300-4800, but not > 5000.

Why replace? For fun lobsters!
+5 / -0
8 months ago
yes i will help but just not today ill start tomorrow .. today im getting a broken bone delt with
+1 / -0
Implemented shield-unlinking.
Buildpower reduced to 50.
Shield is now quite visually distinctive:

AUrankSmokeDragon: If you're still willing I'd quite like to improve on the shield look.

CHrankAdminDeinFreund: Any ideas for how to get shield recharge delay working with energy prioritization? Currently I can either:
* Get regen delay working but be impossible to disable and always consume up to 72 energy when charging, completely crashing your eco if you have less than that coming in.
* Have regen delay working but the shield not consume energy when charging.
* Make an awful hack that checks to see if shield hp has gone down in the last frame and sets a timer to prevent shield regeneration for the next X seconds.

Naturally, none are the right solution.
The tricky bit is checking that the shield has been hit and taken damage...
+2 / -0
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