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Zero-K v1.9.2.0 - Hot Stardust and Curtailed Cloaking

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22 days ago

This is a balance patch, with changes to raiders, artillery, turrets, cloaking and drones. Each of the medium turrets has been nerfed, with a large nerf for Stinger, a fancy nerf for Stardust, and small nerfs for Faraday and Gauss. Most of the raiders with high burst damage have less range, as they may have been buffed a bit too much by the aiming improvements of last year. Some of the more oppressive artillery is a little worse, area cloaking is harder to use in general combat, and commander drones should be less annoying to fight.

Other changes include an excellent new walk animation for Outlaw and some behaviour fixes for Attack-Move.

Units


Duck reliably hits units as small as Glaive, but lost a little range. It is a little sad to see a physics trick go, but Amphbots should not be balanced around around swingy raider interactions.
  • Land range 240 -> 235
  • Projectile velocity increased by 10%
  • Projectile turn rate increased by 39%

Venom lost some range and health.
  • Range 245 -> 240
  • Health 750 -> 740

Dagger lost the most range because it is the fastest.
  • Range 212 -> 205

Blitz didn't lose any range because it is not as popular as other burst damage raiders.

Claymore is more reliably useful, but we are taking care to not make it too powerful too quickly.
  • Health 1260 -> 1300
  • Projectile speed increased by about 50% (both on land and sea)
  • Range 300 -> 280 (both on land and sea)

Sling loses some damage in sympathy with Stinger.
  • Damage 150 -> 140

Badger loses most of the 25% damage buff caused by fixing its 5th Claw bomblet.
  • Mine damage 200 -> 170.

Tremor finally loses the ability to fire while moving, and must pack up to move.

Turrets


Stardust now 'heats up' as it fires, reducing fire rate as it does so. This allows it to retain most of its power against raiders while dealing less sustained damage to tankier assaults.
  • Gains 3.8% heat per shot.
  • Loses 14.3% per second.
  • Slow scales up to 50% at max heat.
  • Starts with 100% heat.

Faraday is more of a weighty choice.
  • Cost 250 -> 260

Gauss deals less damage to lean into its anti-artillery role.
  • Reload 2s -> 2.1s

Stinger is less efficient and easier to assault.
  • Cost 420 -> 450
  • Health 2475 -> 2250

Mechanics


Starting metal is lower to give small units a bit more space to breathe.
  • Income +6 metal, +8 energy -> +5 metal, +8 energy (-1 metal income for commanders).
  • Initial resources 300 metal and energy -> 250 metal and energy.

Cloaking an army for general combat is now harder and less effective.
  • Iris radius 440 -> 400.
  • Increased recloak time for area cloaking 5s -> 6s.
  • Default decloak radius for area cloaking is now 12*footprint + 56, instead of 75. This means most units have a decloak radius of 80, 92 or 104.
  • Imp and Snitch, which have their decloak radius increased 75 -> 80. Other units with personal cloak are unaffected by the decloak radius change.

Companion Drones are cheaper and easier to catch with raiders.
  • Cost 300 -> 200
  • Range 180 -> 150
  • Cruise Alt 100 -> 85
  • Guardian progression 1/1/2/2/3/3 -> 1/1/2/2/2/3

Battle Drones are also cheaper, but Guardian Chassis only receives one for free.
  • Cost 500 -> 350
  • Range 240 -> 200
  • Cruise Alt 100 -> 95
  • Guardian progression 0/0/0/1/1/2 -> 0/0/0/0/1/1

Fractional reload times resulting from status effects are now rounded to the nearest frame, rather than round down. This buffs units with slow damage, particularly against units with a high rate of fire.

Behaviour


  • Moving now consistently grants immunity to being kidnapped by enemy transports.
  • Units on Attack-Move now periodically reset their target. This ensures that they don't end up chasing retreating enemies through enemy lines.
  • Improved Emissary movement packing.
  • The Alt+N default terraform hotkey makes slightly higher walls.
  • Added a Caretaker deathclone, it blocks movement like most deathclones.
  • Made it a little easier to shoot Lotus and Stinger from the bottom of cliffs.
  • Tactical AI is off by default for Emissary.

Visuals


  • Improved Outlaw walk animation.
  • Increased Bulkhead icon size slightly.
  • Added checkbox options for unit halos, platters, selection halos, and selection shapes.
  • Teamplatter widgets use the same base scaling as selection shapes.
  • Map dimension and type are now shown below the map in the lobby.

Fixes


  • Fixed EMP breaking factories.
  • Fixed Archer unit AI sometimes closing range inappropriately.
  • Fixed Puppy Gather settings under Unit Behaviour not being applied.
  • Damaging or killing drones no longer counts towards endgame stats.
  • Reduced the permeability of the side walls of Shielbot Factory, Cloakbot Factory and Hovercraft Platform.
  • Fixed camera state recall and ctrl/alt+MMB rotation jitters for COFC (the advanced camera).
  • Fixed build spacing widget crash on rapid camera rotation.
  • Disabling a selection widget no longer enables the basic selection squares if any other selection widget is enabled.
  • Fixed Area Mex with Space, and no other modifiers, held.
  • Fixed map terraform masking not applying to smoothing.
+13 / -4
22 days ago
Im a bit concerned about Stardust and chicken mode. Well see how it turns out.

Great update for Tank Factory.
+3 / -0


22 days ago
It does sound like an extra challenge, but maybe that will spice it up.
+0 / -0


21 days ago
Cool stuff. Any more planned where drones VS skirmisher/lance/phantom AI is concerned or is there already a solution?
+0 / -0
21 days ago
Did you just...
quote:
Iris radius 440 -> 400.
Imp and Snitch, which have their decloak radius increased 75 -> 80

You nerfed cloaked Snitches. They were perfectly balanced and fun and were our only weapon against Impaler spam. This is the worst update.
+5 / -0

21 days ago
What CZrankpsaniac wanted to say is that it would be a good idea in his opinion to nerf impalers now.
+1 / -0

21 days ago
The balance stuff looks reasonable based on the comps we saw in the lobster roll.

I'm not loving the stardust change. I was onboarding some new players and they complained that it felt like every unit had special rules, making the game require encyclopedic knowledge of obscure details of special unit features, and "stardusts can overheat" definitely fits in that category.

Also, I'm a little worried that the tremor change will make the tremor less able to counter mobile shieldballs since it can't pursue them and keep firing.
+6 / -0


21 days ago
quote:
What CZrankpsaniac wanted to say is that it would be a good idea in his opinion to nerf impalers now.

What a great day to spam shields
+1 / -0
21 days ago
NOOOO! Static defenses, irises, and tremors have been nerfed. There were ways to defeat them before and now... I think Zero-k is going to get a lot more aggressive. Apparently the nerfherders have succeeded.
+2 / -0

21 days ago
quote:
Fixed camera state recall and ctrl/alt+MMB rotation jitters for COFC (the advanced camera).
tyvm
+1 / -0
Lowering areacloak from 440 to 400 shouldn't be that much of a change. For cloakbot users, that is already a lot of space for Knights and Reavers, and in my experience, being one who makes these cloakballs in 1v1s, even 1500+ metal worth of Knight/Reaver doesn't fill in the cloak field.

However, this affects people not from the cloak factory but simply making Iris to cloak their Grizzly/Lance/Stinger fort/Burst AA/Tankballs through morphing Cornea. Which, I think, should happen because quite frankly, those units are strong enough as-is and do not need any more help from an area cloaker.

I honestly would been fine removing Cornea from constructor buildlist whilst not changing anything else, but this is fairly decent.
Can't wait to test this out as a cloak player.

+0 / -0
So, against Stardust, it's best to sit for a couple of seconds outside of range so the stardust overheats trying to futily shoot at a slightly out-of-range unit...

This seems like annoying janky micro to me.
+4 / -0
21 days ago
I don't understand why skydust was presenting a problem for heavy tanks. Any tank can kill stardust easily...why make it worse?
+2 / -0
https://imgur.com/7aLS8QC/

This is what all cloakies look like to me after the newest patch, the whole texture is the color of the player that has built them.
+1 / -0
21 days ago
many loads were busted reading the patchnotes like holy shit its SO SEXY
+0 / -0
quote:
I'm not loving the stardust change. I was onboarding some new players and they complained that it felt like every unit had special rules, making the game require encyclopedic knowledge of obscure details of special unit features, and "stardusts can overheat" definitely fits in that category.

This is the idea of every new mechanic counting against the complexity budget, and I certainly voiced the concern a few times in testing. I didn't get much pushback for heat so I figure it might not be too complex. I made the mechanic and am still a bit surprised it ended up in the game. I half expect it to go the way of other complex and unique ideas (eg Archer tank and Ronin slowing on reload), as I like to remove unnecessary complexity, but then again things like Disarm and Slow started out small too.

The question to me isn't whether it is complex, but whether it is worth paying the price of complexity. Heat made it into the game because I think medium ranged units need a bit of attention. Part of the power of artillery and long-ranged skirmishers is that such an army can't be stopped by a few Stardusts (which may even be hastily constructed to block an army). While Stardust fulfills a useful role in making the raider game end on open maps, it was also good at stopping assaults. Knight may, in part, be a particular good assault because it can quickly stun a Stardust, limiting the damage it receives.

There aren't many ways to make Stardust worse vs assaults without making it similarly worse against raiders, at least without redesigning its weapon or dipping into armour classes. Heat exploits the fact that a Stardust vs. raider battle is generally resolved much more quickly than a Stardust vs. assault battle. The solution is simply to give Stardust less DPS in longer battles. It's a pretty ugly solution, but it's all we could think of, and I think the complexity price is worth paying, at least to see what transpires.

On complexity in general, I don't think Zero-K is uniquely complex, rather, I think we could do a lot better at easing people into the complexity. Many games would completely obscure the hidden states and modifiers that make the underlying game run. I'm thinking of C&C armour classes or the entirety of Company of Heroes style games. Zero-K attempts a level of transparency that probably backfires (sometimes) by giving people the impression that they need to understand it all to play. For example, I put a heat gauge on Stardust so people could see how it is working, or at least that something is happening, but I could have easily left it off. I doubt that new players, and possibly many others, would have noticed. I think the best onboarding reassures people that they don't need to know very much to start playing and having fun. Most of my Age of Empires 2 playtime is probably from before I knew about variable food gather rates or the hidden armour classes (the ones that don't show up on the UI).

quote:
So, against Stardust, it's best to sit for a couple of seconds outside of range so the stardust overheats trying to futily shoot at a slightly out-of-range unit...

This seems like annoying janky micro to me.

Do you have a test case or is this all theory? This is the first thing I thought of. First of all I discovered that the behaviour you're talking about doesn't exist. Stardust doesn't shoot at stationary units beyond its range. The I tried jinking in and out of range to abuse the aim lookahead and projectile travel time. It is of course possible to configure heat such that jinking in an out of range causes real heat rise, so I made sure not to do that.

Stardust intermittently reaches about 20% heat with a setup like this. It dissipates in about a second. The Glaives have to be pretty spread to avoid AoE from each other. The Stardust loses a lot of heat switching between targets and being confused. It could be pushed higher with a perfect widget, but then again a perfect widget could do a lot of things. The benefit is sufficiently low for me to not worry about it.

quote:
I don't understand why skydust was presenting a problem for heavy tanks. Any tank can kill stardust easily...why make it worse?

Skydust was very efficient, even vs Minotaur. It had 145% more DPS/Cost than Lotus. Attacking into that sort of damage is very tricky when the defenses have a little support. It's now down to 27% more DPS/cost after about 7 seconds of firing.

quote:
Cool stuff. Any more planned where drones VS skirmisher/lance/phantom AI is concerned or is there already a solution?

It is a problem. Maybe someone is working on it.

quote:
This is what all cloakies look like to me after the newest patch, the whole texture is the color of the player that has built them.

As far as I know nothing changed with those models. A missing texture could be a corrupt download. Try verifying files or deleting the game archive in Zero-K/games.
+6 / -0

21 days ago
But why only iris is nerfed? Cornea should be nerfed as well.
So snitch is bit nerfed. Sad. Doesn't seems too critical but not forgiving for any error with nerfed iris range. Snitch was pretty good balanced in use with cloaker. I doubt that shield ball will be start dominate more as there was few players who effectively use them in game.
Sad part is also about start metal nerf. Seems that two com player start is even more unbalanced now. As plates is available then second factory doesn't give great benefit against them.
Tremor moving fire nerf is strange. Never have seen any effective use of it.
Stardust nerf is pretty bad. Can't now effectively use as emergency defence. It was one of few defense buildings which never was universal op because of range limit.
Faraday nerf is small. Doesn't make any difference for it to stun entire raven ball which cluster in bombing. :D
+2 / -0


21 days ago
I like the direction of everything I'm seeing here! Still need to nerf terraform cost though.
+0 / -3


21 days ago
Cornera is also effectively nerfed by the area cloak radius and recloak time changes. I haven't seen so much of a problem with it as a static cloaker is a lot less flexible and much easier to track down.

A nerf to flash defense is one of the intended nerfs for Stardust. It's more of a design change than a tweak, so I'm more interested in seeing the overall effect on how it fights different types of units, rather than getting the values perfect first try. It was technically nerfed against everything so it may need a slight buff to counteract the change, if the change even turns out to have a good effect.

quote:
I like the direction of everything I'm seeing here! Still need to nerf terraform cost though.

Of course, it's a Ravager buff. Terraform cost will be nerfed when someone explores it thoroughly, integrates it into their game, and shows it to be far too powerful. I don't like preemptively quashing potentially interesting and creative approaches. There is certainly a lot of potentially power things to do with terraform in theory, but until I see it I won't know whether the cost is too low for its power.
+5 / -0

21 days ago
tiny input:
maybe imp decloak radius -> 7.9 because it is still simply worse than snitch.

(this post doesn`t require an answer)
+0 / -0
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