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Commander Power-Levels/uses

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21 days ago
Currently, Recon reigns supreme. It has about 10% more speed (small advantage), 15% less health (significant disadvantage), and a jump ability (massive advantage) compared to its closest comparisons.

Other commanders lack a massive advantage like that until level 3 begins giving real differences, but during most competative play, commanders are not worth morphing like that.

I contend there should be clear trade-offs between them, such that recon isn't as much an obvious choice. Its powerful ability to pick its fights also means that optimal play involves a lot of aggressive higher micro commander use. Its fine for this to be an option, but I think other commanders should have something comparable.

What do people want to do here?

I favor either a small set of tweaks, roughly -1 BP for recon commander, +1 BP for support, +3 speed -100 health for strike commander, -3 speed +100 health for guardian commander.

Either that, or granting each other commander a major ability. Something on the level of +100% range -50% damage for guardian (just a unique starting weapon, even), a weak starting shield for strike, and perhaps some minor additional energy generation for support (+1-2 e/sec).

Ideally, I think each commander should be for Assault(strike), Light Assault/Expansion(recon), Defense(guardian), and low micro econ(support). Right now its mostly about good/bad/cheese, which is not as interesting a distinction
+4 / -0
21 days ago
careful offering range.. you need to understand how powerful that stat is..

in many situations if your out-ranged you have to push or your situation gets worse

and being bated into chasing a long range com into enemy territory may lead to feeding or being unable to eat the dead enemy

its very strong
+0 / -0

21 days ago
Certainly range is strong. Its why I was considering just a unique beam-laser variant that is 2x range half damage instead, as the most extreme cases are the most problematic (once you get any upgrades or the like).

That said, I am by no means convinced its the right path, it was just the easiest example of a "defensive" ability I could think of. Shield superficially seems defensive, both really is a powerful ability to enable aggression. If you have any ideas though, please throw them out there, I wasn't terribly pleased with most of my ideas.
+0 / -0
Jump is an activable ability that is not attainable by other means, is useful immediately, and stays useful for the whole game.

IMO chassis special abilities should all be like that.

Stat boosts are incomparably boring in comparison - especially for things like shields or weapon range.

Build range makes a logical choice for Engine, since it is also useful both early and late, and not otherwise boostable.

For Striker, the natural similar offer could be monopoly on cloak, with the module preinstalled.

Guard could perhaps have crab-mode or halberd-mode armour. If shields, then shield should be its monopoly.

quote:
Ideally, I think each commander should be for Assault(strike), Light Assault/Expansion(recon), Defense(guardian), and low micro econ(support).

I have no understanding what light assault or defense mean in this context, tbh.
+5 / -0

21 days ago
I love this subject and think commander variety in competitive play is lacking. Innovation here definitely has my vote.
+2 / -0
21 days ago
@Sparkles, I would welcome new designs too because custom commanders seem mostly boring right now in my opinion.
+2 / -0

21 days ago
quote:
I have no understanding what light assault or defense mean in this context, tbh.

Defense meaning having the ability to stop your things from being destroyed. In this context range was seen as valuable, it can cover a larger area more thoroughly than speed really can, and combined with lower damage is perhaps risking when attacking. In theory, lower speed also means longer time to get in offensive position, which means more defensively oriented.

For Light Assault, I meant just that - the ability to deal low amounts of damage while attacking, followed by retreating, as compared to a heavier assault from a strike commander.
+0 / -0

21 days ago
One option would be to use the campaign commander. A player could choose a certain number of modules at the start.
+0 / -0
I think the whole custom commander shenanigans are somewhat at odds with the rest of the game's design. For example, a major problem with them is that you can't look at a commander and know what upgrades they have. However, every other unit in the game has its behavior completely predictable if you're familiar with them. Given how quickly Zero-K matches develop and turn around, this obscurity can decide games and add an unfortunate layer of guessing to it.

As much as I am a fan of custom units, maybe it would be best if the commanders had linear, non-custom upgrade paths.

As far as commander balance goes, I agree that recon is by far the best atm, specially since everyone seems to agree that high-level commanders are a waste of metal and only useful for cheese/troll tactics. Which means that all the fancy upgrades the others can get are irrelevant.

The only module which might be worth picking another commander over, I think, is lazarus device.
+0 / -0
Right now Recon is hands-down the best because it's the best chassis to help you expand in early game, which is How You Win Zero-K. Chassis balance should either make other options better for expansion or better at mid/lategame tasks, if this can be done without making them unstoppable rushdown units.

Reorganizing the commander upgrade system should give more room to breathe if you're looking for special abilities for other chassis. Upgrades are rarely used in competitive play and either a meme or a metal sink in casual play. This seems like a closely related issue to Recon being the only viable choice.

A criticism of the commander upgrade system is that it can't decide whether to lock the commander into a specialized role or let it become whatever it wants. You can make a kind of tanky recon commander by always picking health upgrades, but being able to do so is weird and probably kind of a trap.

Consider a different system for managing commander upgrades. Instead of picking two things at each level with some arbitrary breaking points for weapons and/or major abilities, each chassis gets some paths they can upgrade one at a time. MOST differences between chassis are represented by paths. The tree might look something like..

Recon:
  • Starting Weapon -> Choice of Recon Weapons, swappable with morph at any time
  • Jump Jets (just enough to get up a cliff, long recharge) -> Faster Recharge -> Longer Distance
  • Choose one of.. (or both?)
    • Radar Jammer -> Personal Cloak
    • Faster Movement -> Faster Movement

Guardian:
  • Starting Weapon -> Choice of Guardian Weapons, swappable with morph at any time
  • More Health -> More Health -> More Health
  • Choose one of.. (or both?)
    • Personal Shield -> Area Shield
    • AA Weapon -> Better AA Weapon

Strike:
  • Starting Weapon -> Choice of Strike Weapons, swappable with morph at any time
  • Faster Movement -> Faster Movement -> Faster Movement
  • Choose one of.. (or both?)
    • Personal Cloak -> Area Cloak
    • Some D-gun -> Some better D-gun

Engineer:
  • Starting Weapon -> Choice of Engineer Weapons, swappable with morph at any time
  • More Buildpower -> More Buildpower -> More Buildpower
  • Choose one of.. (or both?)
    • Build Capacitor (store BP for quick builds) -> More Build Capacitor
    • Longer Radar -> Stealth Detect Field

Damage potential of each chassis determined by the set of weapons they can choose.
+1 / -0
We talked about this on Discord and came up with these relatively conservative changes. In short:
  • Recon pays for jump with lower BP.
  • Strike is faster.
  • Guardian has innate drones.
  • Engineer is faster and has more BP.

The drone change does not look conservative at all, but something is required to make Guardian more attractive than Strike. Without the drones, Strike with an Adv Health module is essentially Guardian with +30 regen and +400 health, for only 400 metal and one slot. Guardian requires three regen, and one health (for a total of 600 metal and four slots) to become as good as a Strike with Adv Health. The top-level Drone modules have a total value of 1600 metal, but I suspect drones are overpriced.

Since there is a lack of reliable sources for commander attributes I have written them out below. The attributes in red are changes, with the old values in brackets.

Strike:
Health 4200/4200/4600/5200/5800/6400
Speed 43.5 (40.5)
Regen 5/5/10/16/25/35 (5/5/12.5/20/27.5/35)
BP 10
Build Range 144

Guardian:
Health 4400/4400/5000/5700/6600/7600
Speed 40.5
Regen 5
Light Drones 1/1/2/2/3/3
Heavy Drones 0/0/0/1/1/2
BP 10
Build Range 144

Support:
Health 3800/3800/4000/4300/4600/5000
Speed 39 (36)
Regen 5
BP 12/14/16/18/21/24 (10/12/14/16/18/20)
Build Range 232/232/244/256/268/280

Recon:
Health 3250/3250/3400/3600/3800/4000
Speed 43.5
Regen 5
BP 8 (10)
Build Range 144

Some things to note while comparing commanders:
Module Cost Effect Penalty
Regen 150 +10 -100 HP
Health 150 +600
Adv Health 400 +1600 -3 (-10%) speed
Speed 150 +3 (+8%)
BP 150 +4

Other changes:
Module Cost Effect Penalty
Range 150 +10% -1 (-2.5%) speed
Damage 150 +7.5% -1 (-2.5%) speed
Cloak 400 Cloaking -8 speed
  • Light Drone rebuild delay 15s -> 12s
  • Heavy Drone rebuild delay 25s -> 18s
+9 / -0
I think the Support speed buff may be excessive, but is well within the tolerances of the system, and I may well just be overly conservative with my old go-to commander. I approve of all of these changes.
+2 / -0
it was a good idea to balance range module with a speed debuf since those two stats are very strong
+0 / -0

21 days ago
A thought occurred to me for commanders; something that could mitigate some of the balance issues that come to mind is instead a unique commander handicap bonus. But, only apply it to the commander, as trying to implement any kind of handicap based perhaps on !predict results would be ruinous for balancing. I posit the following:

First, for each type of commander, one type of variable bonus is given to the underdog; 45% or less (these are options, I'm not that versed in what works and what doesn't). Maybe a 1% change for every 5% of win chance (so a 1-9% change)
Guardian: Health regen rate.
Strike: Increased fire rate.
Recon: Increased damage.
Engineer: Commander's passive energy/metal income.

Second, I would implement a penalty to the probable victor's Commander at say 60% or greater chance of victory. This could scale a 1% change for every 10% of win chance (so a 6-10% change)
Guardian: Reduced health.
Strike: Reduced damage.
Recon: Reduced movement speed.
Engineer: Reduced build speed.

When evaluating the bonuses/negatives, this allows a way to balance the commanders with just a couple of new variables, rather than looking at the whole progression of each type of commander. Thoughts?
+0 / -0
21 days ago
AUrankAdminGoogleFrog Are you planning on testing these arbitrary changes properly or will they just get added and whatever happens, happens?
+0 / -1
googlefrog doesn't want changes to work out badly of course.. I make mistakes.. sometimes I am too proud to admit it because I am human.. i have looked at the words and actions of you both and to me its obvious you both care about the game and the community.. googlefrog puts in lots of work and he does listen to reason a normal human amount.. pointing at pride does not combat pride effectively at all.. pride is a mirror.. if we can show our similarities ~ our own flawed natures and how we are all naturally over sure of ourselves sometimes.. well lets just say.. i believe that if i was googlefrog i would have done exactly the same things.

plus he finally fixed quake after 2 years of begging so that's proof he will listen eventually

its normal that a dev is reluctant to make the game the community wants.. idk why but you see it on most games.. but its probably because part of a mans passion is his own vision or maybe its that the community has many play-styles that the dev does not utilize.
i doubt its a power game. if you open the door to addressing the concerns of all the players it may stretch the game in so many directions that it starts to mutate into a different feeling when playing it. and how on earth do you deal with 2 players with opposite desires for the same situation.. we need a leader in control.. no leader is perfect.. but this leader is good.

the game is also very good.. and quite balanced now.. or at-least it was.. i think these changes have reasons and are sometimes experiments that just needed a bit of time so googlefrog could be sure.. im guessing that after a while of the nerf,buff,ner,buff cycle googlefrog learned to wait a while to see if the community had fully understood the changes and had not just rejected them before learning how to play with the changes

Huixtocihuatl makes a good point about how the game is getting so tight now that testing changes is often seen as disruptive because balance is already getting so good. but i have faith that googlefrogs insight and experience will pay off in the long run we just need faith
+0 / -0


21 days ago
Such a thoughtful post is wasted on FIrankHuixtocihuatl. He knows that his post is based on false pretense. He is just attempting to troll.

FIrankHuixtocihuatl don't say anything unless you actually have anything to add. This is a warning.
+1 / -0

21 days ago
quote:
its normal that a dev is reluctant to make the game the community wants.

Given how large "the community" of Zero-K (let alone a commercial game) is and the variety of contradictory opinions people have, it is entirely impossible to make or even define "the game the community wants".
+7 / -0
21 days ago
maybe Huixtocihuatl means well.. lets pretend he is not a revolutionist and just a cue for how a % of the community may feel.. im sure he just needed reassurances that we are all on the same side. googlefrog has earned the communities favor and his respect is unquestioned. however Huixtocihuatl is just being cheeky and bating you a bit with his less diplomatic question. amounting mostly to concerns regarding balance changes.. balance changes are always going to spark heated emotions because it disrupts strategies

im sure googlefrog will change things back if they dont work out but we should give him a chance

and he reverted the most serious issues already! + some people had fun using op puppy for a few days =P
+0 / -0


21 days ago
I really liked the old Concussion Shot commander.
It was a relatively weak ability that what mostly a threat to bunched up low HP units but could be upgraded to long range that could harass the enemy positions pretty safely.
The enemy had lots of time to react and adapt to your investment into the upgrades before the upgrades actually paid off.
This is quite different from the typical double laser coms or dgun coms that just suddenly appears and starts to tear everything apart.
+5 / -0
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