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"Look and feel" issues in current ZK

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ZK is an old game that's gone through a lot of mechanics changes, some of these have left the visual effects and models out of sync with the in-game effects.

This is a thread for gathering problems with ZKs current look-and-feel in the hopes that some of them might be solvable with a small mount of work.

To start off I'll list some things that surprised me when I started playing (where I thought of a possible fix I've put it in italics):
  • The Lotus' beam looks much much more damaging than it actually is. A bright, thick, blue-white oscillating beam that has an impressive hit effect (a large white patch with a blue glow and a ton of sparks going everywhere) looks like it should be doing at least 300dps, but instead it does less than the little pew pew lasers of the bandit or the old commander. Maybe switch the color to red, make it thinner and change the hit effect?
  • The Fencer's missiles are almost indistinguishable from a Picket's but do a mere 40% of the damage.
  • The Bouy's very blocky and solid appearance suggests a tanky unit that can take a beating, but it's actually pretty fragile, particularly for its cost.
  • The Crab's armored form really doesn't suggest a 75% reduction in damage taken, 20% would be about right. Perhaps having extra panels slide into place around it when armored up might work?
  • The Shockley's blast wave becomes invisible less than 1/3rd of the way to it's final damage radius and takes an unintuitively long time to finish expanding. Just making it visible would help a lot I expect, though a speed increase would not be uncalled for.
  • The Ravager's long, thin canon suggests a small, fast moving, flat trajectory bullet, rather than a big, slow arcing bullet. Similarly Minotaur.
  • The Thug's damage output was exceptionally disappointing, given the model looks like it should do twice as much damage as a Ravager.
  • The Sling's stubby cannon suggests a mortar: a short ranged, high arc, high AoE shell. It's long ranged, flat arc and no AoE.
  • The huge guns of the Ronin, Knight and Sling all do far less damage than might be expected from such beefy looking hardware.
  • Thug, Siren, Envoy and Ogre don't seem to take advantage of their dual guns properly. Firing from one gun then the other with large gaps in between shots rather than two shots closely spaced (like a Minotaur) as might seem intuitive.
  • A number of units have turret turn speeds only slightly faster than their actual turn speed, this can leave them dancing in place or taking a frustratingly long time to actually fire when ordering a turn. The worst offender is Firewalker, but I also noticed Minotaur because I used to use them a lot (current Cyclops also has this issue).
  • The Detriment's Gauss canons afterimages look like lasers rather than the aftereffects of a fast projectile due to how long they last. They also extend past the actual point of impact.
  • The Minotaur has a lot more hp than it's size and model would suggest. Though there's a more general issue here: Put a Minotaur besides an Ogre, Siren, Jack, Grizzly, Buoy, Shogun and Paladin (and Dante) and ask someone who hasn't seen Zero K before what they think the relative hp ratios of these units are. Siren's model and size are essentially incompatible with its current mechanics and would ideally be changed. Paladin needs to be at least twice its current volume and Dante could also use a size boost. A retexturing and shrinkage of Shogun might help a bit. I'm unsure what to suggest for the others.

And one more that only been annoying me recently:
  • The Cyclops' slow beam looks almost exactly like a Constable's slow beam, but come from the tiniest weapon in the game and does an order of magnitude more damage. Giving the Cyclops beam something other than a plain purple appearance may help somewhat. Making the mini turret a lot bigger and putting it on the frontal area of the tank will also help.


Thoughts?
+11 / -0
5 months ago
Constable beam does damage so it should be disruptor now
+1 / -0

5 months ago
Incredible how to the point this is, many things I've never thought about.

But I know what the objections against some of your suggestions might be: changing hitvolumes alter balance.
+1 / -0


5 months ago
It's hard to stress this enough that zero-k needs work of a graphics designer and programmer that can update all of the effects to modern standard.

Although it's widely known and accepted (I suppose), stating the fact again and again doesn't help with reaching the goal of making new graphics. However, I haven't seen any list done so if we summed it up maybe it would help a bit.

I have a lot of remarks but never cared to write them down as I didn't feel like it would change anything.

+3 / -0
5 months ago
quote:
It's hard to stress this enough that zero-k needs work of a graphics designer and programmer that can update all of the effects to modern standard.

Most of the complains i am hearing from newer players are not about the units or the game mechanics but about it being inferior in graphics and music compared to other games (and being laggy but that is clusterpot issue)

(e.g. FAF which has 6x of Zero-k players even tho Zero-k has way more and better unit mechanics and configuration possibilities)

-> Zero-k has way less player than it deserves (more or less the only players are people which dont care about graphic and focus more on gameplay)
+0 / -0
I'm not sure about the new graphics being so important. Take projectile lights, it actually decreases game readability so it's not an improvement but the opposite.

The OP is not about graphics in themselves, rather about size and appearances not matching unit stats.
+4 / -0
5 months ago
Id says graphics are really important and can improve readability if given the right style not just hi res textures and more particle effects
+2 / -0
Cartoony cel-shaded textures would be pretty timeless.
+2 / -0
It's not how outdated the graphics are (I have no opinion on that), it's how inconsistent and misleading they are that's the issue this thread is about.
+1 / -0
Finally someone else complains about this. Having balanced units with different abilities and such is good, but games feel better when they also make sense, which ZK doesn't in many cases.

I agree with many of them. here's some more:
- detriment's big arm guns being a secondary weapon in terms of "power" (dps and range)
- glaive's tiny gun dealing more dps than the bandit's lasers
- open gauss turret looks more frail than a lotus, yet it's tougher than the much bigger stinger
- artemis' rapid fire capabilities (reload for stockpiled rockets is once every 1.8s)
- tremor's nonsensical ground deformation abilities
- halberd's extreme weightless armor
- lance's energy beam is much thicker than the barrel
- massed small raiders cost-effectively killing slow heavy riots which should counter them : glaives and fleas vs maces, redbacks, scorpions..
- ultimatum's attack animation



For most of this you don't need more designers or programmers, you need to have the current ones WANTING to do it. It seems easy enough to change the numbers or adjust the models (for example, shorten the barrels on reaper if it's meant to be a clumsy short range weapon with slow projectiles).



+3 / -0
5 months ago
Maybe I am terribly uncool, but none of ZK's graphic effects have ever bothered me. My only concern is "how does it play"? And it plays pretty good.
+2 / -0


5 months ago
Hunter is definitely a model with such an issue. I was very surprised to find such a bulky ship is only 100m. When you have an army of hunters its visually more scary than the reality, which I think is one of many things that makes ships feel really bad for some people. I've even seen player like godde overestimate the strength of a large force of hunters when he charge into urchins and they just evaporate. They should be half the model size.
+3 / -0


5 months ago
All cannon weapons look exactly the same. If you ever are unlucky to be in a situation where you'll have Ravagers, Slings, Cerberus and a Crabe shooting at around the same place, you won't have great fun telling which of the projectiles will gently pat you on your back and which will roflpwn you three times over.
+7 / -0
quote:
Hunter is definitely a model with such an issue

Fixed.

quote:
This is a thread for gathering problems with ZKs current look-and-feel in the hopes that some of them might be solvable with a small mount of work.

This is now a thread where i tell you how to fix that.

Most other things mentioned above fall into one of four categories:

1) Things that require new models. Historically ZK has low mana for modelling, especially when off-peak (when the model doesn't come with a fancy thing-doer unit upgrade). In GBrankdyth68's list that's Buoy and Crab; in PTrankraaar's list that's Gauss.

Low probability of ever getting fixed due to high amount of effort required (do prove me wrong!). Full model replacements also needs some discussion because it will often impact balance.

2) Things that can plausibly be achieved with unit model modifications without requiring a full model replacement. Mostly unit cannons. Ravager, Minotaur, Badger, etc. Requires minimal knowledge of 3d work and some acquisition of skill with Spring's 3d asset workflow, very doable for a beginner contributor. Very easy to get approved because of zero non-aesthetic consequences.

3) Particle effects. Explosions, trails, projectile graphics. Tons of low-effect, but fairly low-difficulty work. Most of difficulty comes from reading up what's on the table wrt Spring's weapondef parameter, and the CEG language. But many of CEG effects can be copied etc. Again, no effects besides aesthetics (and maybe performance) = easy to get approved.

4) Things that require balance changes or significant code work. Hard to do, hard to get approved. E.g. "Thug needs to do more damage" or "it would be cool to have modern GPU particles instead of CEG".

TL;DR get your working copy dirty and start racking up commit count, respect and privilege with things that are easy to learn (minor model modifications and particles) and which you want to do but noone else will.
+2 / -0
4 months ago
i have one too:

The Merl / Implager Missles, loks like a Rocket thats do more Damage wiith a Explosion (AOE).


I have thought so many times that this is not a rocket.
Even the Pillager (or the Heavy Tank Artillery) does more explosion damage (AOE) than the Implager's missile.
+4 / -0

4 months ago
EErankAdminAnarchid
quote:
"Thug needs to do more damage"

I was thinking of the opposite as the better solution: a model switch or change.
Making Thug do damage based on its model would ruin balance.

I'll be giving the Fencer missile and the Cyclops slow beam effects a poke when I next get a burst of energy.
+1 / -0


4 months ago
Tweaking Thug will be difficult because of how the guns are integrated into its frame, and replacing it will be difficult to sell because the current model is very high-quality.
+0 / -0
Maybe making cannon's thickness proportional to damage and cannon's length proportional to range would be in order among plasma weapons? Not necessarily direct proportions - maybe square root.
+0 / -0
This is what beam lasers kind of already do, so i see no reason for this to not apply to cannons.

If you squint, some of the projectiles also are already slightly bigger - but imo that ratio could be vastly increased.

Subtle color variations - from pure yellow to orange to even reddish - could also help maybe a bit.

Additionally, the texture of the sprite that represents the projectile can be played with, e.g. adding lots of softglow while only slightly changing the size of the fully opaque core, or changing the shape of this softglow.

For example, like this - all just sprite and weapon config, no additional particles!


+1 / -0

4 months ago
Ideally the look of a plasma ball would be fully derivable from its damage, speed and AoE.
+0 / -0
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