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Unlock the potential of SEA: a Pitch for new additions

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Sea is generally considered a less fun part of Zero-K, the popular "Sea" maps have it confined to a part of the map as opposed to pure sea dominance. This is not surprising as Sea has less factories, less terrain differences, and less diverse combat in general.

This can be improved:
1. Unlock the potential of sea terrain (modify maps)
2. Add in Zero-K land combat dynamics to sea, but in a new twist (New factories)
3. Add proper escalation/strider for sea to sea combat (new striders)

1. Sea Terrain:
Some people think sea as featureless flat terrain. No, this is wrong. The sea is the MOST complex terrain in the game, with characteristics of Terrain Flatness, Water Depth both in play.

If one takes seafloor movement seriously, one can have a entire family of factories based on underwater traversal. If one take water depth seriously, it can be a way a map can uniquely define its combat dynamics as sink/float time becomes significantly different.

2. Added Combat Dynamics:
Zero-K land combat has multiple tactics in play that sorta counter each other:
i. Riot + Skirm/Super Skrim/Arty
ii. Cloaky bombs
iii. Assault overrun
iv. Raider out flank
v. Wall/Tower/Crab

In the standard sea lane of a map, riotskirm concepts dominates.

3. In land combat, heavy combat striders comes into play at mid game that changes dynamics. For sea, the only striders are artillery and does not change sea combat dynamics, generally only enables bombardment of land. Sea could use striders that change combat dynamics directly.

-----------------------------
Now to achieve most of the above, I propose a new factory, new striders and new buildings:

AmphTanks. Vehicle hill climb ability on land. Includes both floating and seafloor movement units.

Units:
1. Builder: seafloor movement, high movement speed

2. Raider: A floating vehicle with machinegun surface weapon, torpedo anti-sub weapon. This is a high dps sea raider unlike all the existing high alpha raiders. This should enable damaging flanks against high hp units.

3. Riot-Raider: A seafloor movement short ranged "kodachi" (lingering weapon), but with badger mine mechanic to differentiate it from kodachi in land combat (non cloaked mine). Seafloor combat units are hard to balance and soft counters has to be build in, it can not pursue other raiders but fight a defensive battle effectively.

4. Assault: A seafloor movement Jack with more speed, and ground smoothing drill attack (and maybe high damage low rof attack). The counter structure here is raider > assault > riot > raider as it can be kite/swarmed to death by sea raiders. The current sea does not have distinct fast assault option due to siren being riot, griz/bulk is sub-crab mobility, halb is raid-assault and lightweight enough to lose to riot-siren. With a proper assault, combos like assault riot, assault raiders are in play. Ground smoothing needed to make usage smoother and give it a different land battle role. Mix with lobster/limpet for more power.

5. Anti-Air: A floating, >4000hp, AA unit. This unit will be attracting all the fire from anti-surface units when factory is solo, and in mix fact situations it can be used like halberd if not facing lances. (you'd normally just angler for pure AA anyways)

6. Bomb: A floating, cloaked while stationary, "placeholder effects" bomb. This can trap opponent surface units. As far as bombs go it is pretty weak but should be useful enough, especially in mistral wars or securing siren kills and make screening relevant, or as a screen. In land combat, the cheap option when placeholders stop being survivable and as a defensive bomb with with different tactical characteristics, like pwning scorps.

7. Skirmisher: A slowish (buoy speed?) seafloor movement, 450 range ballistic non-homing anti-surface (think Scylla, with lower trajectory) low AoE low duration disarm (say slightly less to weapon cooldown). The base weapons concept is not very strong with low accuracy, low effects on target, but you can stack significant damage for shield breaking purposes and underwater makes it survivable enough. In ground combat it has even lower projectile trajectory, 500 range for faster time on target and can be used in disabling assault overruns like rav/ogre/mino/jack, or other clumsy large units and defenses without large numbers like other skirm.

8. Artillery-Special. A floating vehicle that launches moving on seafloor, non-homing suicide drone tanks (explodes on contact) at opponent with 1200 range (think claymore depth charges). Note that the terrain between target must be flat enough to path for it to hit and the projectile moves in a straight line. This enables long range fire in the underwater domain without being overpowered. For ground combat, the fact that the projectile hugs the ground increases hit rate (of random other targets) even without homing giving it unique characteristics.

Strider-hub Additions:
1. Assault battlecruiser: 900 range tremor on water (make it twin cannons for visuals), move and fire, 15k+ hp. By giving up accuracy or range for a artillery ship, one gains sheer constant dps and hp. This is intended to break late game water shield+cloak balls, also flatten terrain on some coasts for assault. Lobster is tactically disadvantageous compared to smooth coasts to attack.

2. Submerged Riot Tank: A seafloor moving, slow high damage riot tank with outlaw weapon and torpedoes. This in conjunction with heavy assault tank completes full underwater assault force that is difficult to counter without combining slow and mass antisub-riots or terraform, but given the cost the opponent can be expected to have this. In ground combat this works as a no friendly fire heavy screen, unlike dante that mess up your own cloaky stuff in the ultimatum/scorp/pala snipe duel situations.

New defense buildings:
1. Underwater Vertical missile launcher: 600 range, anti-surface missile, low hp for defensive structure. Being underwater, long range attacks (barring the new arty) doesn't work, and even new arty doesn't work if it is walled off. This demands direct assault. (or assault battlecruiser above) This enables practical porcing when envoys and lances are all over the place. In land fights tall walls can enable quite good procing to last till superweapon endgame. This structure also works on land if walled off.

Conclusion:
With all of the above additions: there be
1. Sea Terrain that seriously constrains and improves the capability of a factory
2. New line of tactics revolving subsurface assault, but without being uncounterable by any of the existing sea facts.
3. New escalations that changes the game from mid to late game
4. New incentives at terraforming in a sea combat context, increasing the diversity of terrain even within the context of a single map.

Now if there is some ideas that I'd like but just doesn't fit, I'd like a "movement underwater, only attack above water and 90 degree climb (terraforming ramps is expensive with water)" unit, but it is probably simpler to just let crab walk underwater but not fire underwater for even more terraform tactics.
+4 / -0

45 days ago
I'm certainly not opposed to the notion of a new sea factory. That being said I have some comments:

quote:
AmphTanks. Vehicle hill climb ability on land. Includes both floating and seafloor movement units.

An underwater vehicle-slope-restricted unit is likely to be incompatible with many existing maps. I don't think "just make new maps" is a viable solution to this problem; mapmakers do not seem to have much interest in sea maps on the whole, and people will still want to play the old teams maps which have sea elements.

quote:
In the standard sea lane of a map, riotskirm concepts dominates.

This is the nature of narrow lanes, not of sea in general. In 1v1 or small teams on larger sea maps like Aurelian or Inculta Wet, and even to some extent on Shimmershore and Izki Channel, raider flanking is very much a part of sea play. Assault-ish gameplay with Corsair and Siren has definitely been a valid playstyle also (although possibly not great at the moment due to the current balance state of those units).

+0 / -0
45 days ago
I have issues with sea play in both 1v1 and teams but for different reasons.

In 1v1, sea boils down to this hard-core game of rock-paper-scissors. For some reason, in sea, you have actual hard counters exist, while in every other facet of the game, except perhaps land vs air - they don't exist. I'm talking of course about how sea wolf interacts with other units. Otherwise playing sea is a little bit like a spider mirror where positioning is paramount, which i'm fine with.

In my opinion, sea wolf should be removed, or better yet, all sea units should get the ability to damage underwater units, even if ineffectually. Same goes for amph, hover, i guess, although this is a lot less important while ship factory is so dominant on sea maps.

In teams, ships have great units, but a very strong player cannot necessarily gain a massive advantage over a decent player, due to the mechanics being pretty limited. Then, it becomes much more important who the air player is, as ships have very bad anti air, or a supportive player who builds shields -- shields are very strong in these battles, or the lance spammer.

As for a second sea factory, maybe a rover vs tank dynamic would be nice.
+1 / -0

45 days ago
quote:
In my opinion, sea wolf should be removed, or better yet, all sea units should get the ability to damage underwater units, even if ineffectually

I am of the opinion that the underwater units mechanic is a meaningful distinguishing point between land and sea games, and as such I would be reluctant to lose it unless convinced of one of the following:
* Units working like Seawolf/Duck pose an irreconcilable problem for sea design and balance
* Units workling like Seawolf/Duck are a fundamental driver of sea gameplay being unpopular

Speaking for myself, I am not personally convinced of either of those things.
+1 / -0
45 days ago
Maps is like a chicken and egg problem. There'd be no map if there is no units for it. Most of the underwater world is flat so only a small terraform or lobster around land-sea junction should be enough.

---------------

Raiding naturally work in more open maps, but sea raiding is still weaker compared to equal sized land areas. Scorchers and Glaives have massive dps and speed, where successful penetration of defense often means fact snipe or other game changing damage, making it more worthwhile to try even given narrowish areas.

As for assault, the problem is that games generally end up with siren front lance rear, and a bigger siren ball can't attack this efficiently. Siren have pretty poor dps while lance have good effective dps and that is also front loaded high alpha and focus fired over friendly units. Mass siren efficiency goes down quickly as they get in each other's way relative to siren lance, and the speed differential is too low to chase down lances before getting blown up even if you kill the screen.

Now there is siren drop, but that is unworkable once anti-likho levels of AA shows up which should be expected. Finally there is lobster, which would work in theory but I haven't see it work out in practice. It probably depends on game version in particular.

Now not most assaults could attack a riot-skirm head on land, but tanks, rovers and shield works enough to be reasonable if not quite meta. Just need higher density combat power than the defending riots and ideally enough speed to chase down the skirm.

Basically there is a niche for a pure assault that is really good at assault as opposed to riot-assault-arty combo thingy~
+0 / -0
I can write more later, but for now here are the two main things I think we've learned about underwater units over various iterations:
  • The longest range underwater unit is at great risk of being OP. This is because underwater units are protected from the usual sources of AoE attrition, such as Bertha, Shogun, and Likho. Balls of Serpent and midrange Scallop were big issues that only seemed solvable by adding a lot of longer ranged surface-to-underwater weapons, which would eventually remove the whole distinct feel of being underwater.
  • Controlling and parsing underwater combat situations is finicky and difficult. Variation in sea floor terrain is difficult to see, so most maps avoid it. It is hard to judge the trajectory of Ronin-style dumbfire torpedoes when they are shot between forces on the surface and sea floor. Effective AoE ranges are difficult to judge between the two separate planes, and the balance of AoE can change depending on depth, which is not really visible to the player.

Basically, there are good reasons behind all the slow moving projectiles in sea being homing torpedoes, and all the units that shoot while underwater having short range.

On assaults in sea, Corsair is pretty good as an assault. It isn't quite as tanky as a standard assault, but it is quite fast and deals a lot of damage. It beats Siren.

Anyway, feel free to make a mod for expanded sea to try out your ideas. I'm not saying the issues are insurmountable, just that they are pretty large. Lots of models from land units exist, and test maps can be generated by changing the sea level on land maps.

USrankDave[tB] in my experience Seawolf isn't powerful enough to form a full third of an RPS triangle. Swarms of Seawolf can achieve particular goals against an opponent that has left themselves open, but generally Seawolf seems to be pretty inefficient compared to the rest of sea, so I think most of the ship game happens on the surface. Seawolf is meant to be a bit of a mix of a bomber and Scythe. If it was forming the backbone of an army throughout the game then I'd say something was wrong, but it doesn't seem to be doing that.
+0 / -0

45 days ago
quote:
Units working like Seawolf/Duck pose an irreconcilable problem for sea design and balance


That would bring up the following question:

How do you determine if it is irreconciable or not? In other words: At what point would you be convinced?
+1 / -0
45 days ago
quote:
The longest range underwater unit is at great risk of being OP. This is because underwater units are protected from the usual sources of AoE attrition, such as Bertha, Shogun, and Likho. Balls of Serpent and midrange Scallop were big issues that only seemed solvable by adding a lot of longer ranged surface-to-underwater weapons, which would eventually remove the whole distinct feel of being underwater.

The longest range underwater unit is likely OP because there are no longer ranged weapons to threaten it.

But how is longest ranged above water weapon not op? This is because they have very limited damage projection, with combination of low accuracy, low damage, and inability to hit moving things.

The whole everything underwater must be homing idea is what limits long range underwater units. Imagine if impalers were homing like racks.

quote:

Controlling and parsing underwater combat situations is finicky and difficult. Variation in sea floor terrain is difficult to see, so most maps avoid it. It is hard to judge the trajectory of Ronin-style dumbfire torpedoes when they are shot between forces on the surface and sea floor. Effective AoE ranges are difficult to judge between the two separate planes, and the balance of AoE can change depending on depth, which is not really visible to the player.

The game does not offer usable cues for depth, but that is something that can be improved. One can copy space RTS games like homeworld for UI that helps with depth perception. It would also help to standardize submarines as "just above seafloor" depth I guess, to prevent 3 depth level confusion.

Variation in sea floor depth is also harder to identify because there is no commonly understood texture indicating terrain unlike land. Note that land terrain can be utterly invisible in poorly textured maps like some ultra dark larva maps.

Separate depth weapons trajectory is hard to see without cues, but if projectiles leave lingering launch and termination cues, players can pick up previous trails to work out the geometry. The biggest problem with battle management for the player in this case is range control. However I am not sure if this level of micro needs to be accessible in a game with unit AI that can handle this okayish.

One problem that makes visual information hard to figure out is the sheer density of units, one can have ships and hover over a whole gaggle of amphbots at different state of float/sink state all blocking each other. Perhaps what is needed is actually huge and liberal application of AoE to disperse everything. In land warfare awfully hard to parse high density shieldballs happen, but thankfully someone generally snitches them. Alternative some crazy dense gauss spire/caretaker hole/spider can be impossible to take in with one or even two camera angles but it can be hit from long range and one doesn't have to figure it out.
+1 / -0
45 days ago
Now that I've thought more on it, the other sea units also pose the problem of being near to, while not to the same level as seawolf, hard counters -- siren really can't get near the skirm boat for example, while most land riots can dodge with effective micro.

I often feel that while playing sea, instead of focusing on tactical or strategic decisions, i'm having the need to focus more on my build order, so I don't lose the next round of rock-paper-scissors (it feels out of balance).

But, perhaps this is due in part to a lack of tools being available to escape this cycle.

I'd like to hear others that don't enjoy sea chime in too.
+3 / -0
quote:
How do you determine if it is irreconciable or not? In other words: At what point would you be convinced?

I think I could be convinced if the sea meta was clearly degenerate (e.g. repeatedly boiling down to a relatively small number of unfun playstyles) in a way that had some meaningful link to Seawolf/Duck.

I am a LONG way from being convinced of that. Sea seems a lot healthier at the moment than it has been for most of the time I have been playing the game (Serpent meta, Siren meta, the multiple different Scallop metas, etc). Sea doesn't have nearly as much variation as land, but that seems mostly driven by the fact that it has many fewer factories.

If anything is a problem at the moment it is probably a surface artillery blob backed by Siren or similar (in teams anyway), and I don't think that has much to do with Seawolf/Duck.

I think I am more likely to be convinced of the other dot point, that "units workling like Seawolf/Duck are a fundamental driver of sea gameplay being unpopular", and I don't think I'd be easy to convince of that either. It would be very easy to end up with sea being a bland, boring and worse version of land going down that route.
+0 / -0

45 days ago
quote:
Basically there is a niche for a pure assault that is really good at assault as opposed to riot-assault-arty combo thingy~

I agree that if a second sea factory is added, a more "pure" assault unit than Corsair or Siren is a natural thing to add.

If I were to design a second sea factory, I would at least consider splitting the existing ship units between the two new factories, and then adding new units to both to bring them up to feature-complete status. Might be difficult to do since the existing ship factory fits together pretty tightly, but worth thinking about.
+0 / -0
quote:
If I were to design a second sea factory, I would at least consider splitting the existing ship units between the two new factories, and then adding new units to both to bring them up to feature-complete status.

Shipfact2 seems less fun than land-sea factories that work in multiple domains.

And if one iterates:
Vehicle - Sea Surface (Hover)
Vehicle - Sea floor (amphtanks)
Bots - Sea floor (amphbots)
Bots - Sea Surface (swimbots ? alligator/frog bots of doom!!!1?!!!!)

Then there is spider/air/jump combo with sea, but that is really high on the gimmick scale.

As for ships, didn't the old very expensive ship design work poorly and unit costs had to be scaled down? Pure heavy facts seems hard to balance. If I am to go for a new "thematic" sea only factory I'd probably go for hydrofoils/Catamaran/Trimaran as the fast sea factory.
+0 / -0
quote:
Shipfact2 seems less fun than land-sea factories that work in multiple domains.

There's a difficult balancing act with hybrid land-sea factories; for the balance to work across a reasonable variety of maps, the hybrid factories like amph/hover need to be quite a bit worse (or at least, less able to stand alone) at sea compared to the ship factor(y/ies).

I think there is scope for a new sea factory to have a bit more capability on land than the existing ship factory (for example, a hybrid-terrain assault unit that helps to expand a foothold for a beach landing), but making it another fully hybrid factory like amph/hover seems like it is making that space pretty crowded, without increasing the variety of plops in 1v1 games on mostly-water maps.
+0 / -0


44 days ago
First of all, I'm not saying don't try. If you make a mod (or inspire someone else to make a mod) that demonstrates improvements to sea then I expect it would go into the base game. My posts as a mix of talking about the issues we've come across while designing sea, and explaining why this isn't low hanging fruit that you could reasonably expect others to have already picked.

quote:
The longest range underwater unit is likely OP because there are no longer ranged weapons to threaten it.

But how is longest ranged above water weapon not op? This is because they have very limited damage projection, with combination of low accuracy, low damage, and inability to hit moving things.

The whole everything underwater must be homing idea is what limits long range underwater units. Imagine if impalers were homing like racks.

This sort of relates to my second dot point, as underwater weapons have to deal with more problems than land weapons.
  • What happens when a weapon is fired upwards from the sea floor and misses? Does it run along the surface of the sea, time out, explode?
  • The flight time for weapons at the same 2D range can vary a lot depending on sea depth. Imagine balancing a unit like Harpy, but where its cruise altitude is determined by the map.
  • Land artillery such as Bertha and Shogun can hit terrain for a bit of AoE damage when they miss, making outcomes less binary. An underwater weapon that misses a surface unit does not do this by default.
  • Weapons with spherical or ballistic range change their effective range depending on sea depth.
  • Crawling bombs always change their effective AoE based on sea depth. This is why Limpet has such large AoE.

Basically, the land weapon designs seem like they won't work. New things would be required. Maybe burnblow, maybe lua that explodes a projectile when it surfaces. The implications for targeting are probably complex. Given the response to Impaler, I don't expect something as simple as an unguided Serpent to both not feel bad and be balanced, and even if Serpent worked it would need to be one of a range of artillery options.

Even with a wide range of underwater weapons, I still expect the underwater domain to dominate. Even if half the sea artillery is underwater, being immune to half of the long range attrition options is really powerful. This seems fundamentally bad to me since underwater units interact less with the rest of the game. I think sea is at its best when most fighting revolves around armies on the surface, with units that fire underwater acting as support.
+2 / -0
quote:
I am a LONG way from being convinced of that. Sea seems a lot healthier at the moment than it has been for most of the time I have been playing the game (Serpent meta, Siren meta, the multiple different Scallop metas, etc). Sea doesn't have nearly as much variation as land, but that seems mostly driven by the fact that it has many fewer factories.


I'm just thinking about what kind of game play is workable and what is cancer, in terms of archtypical combat concept:

Good tactical matchups:
1. Riot-Skirm vs Riot-Skirm:
Both sides can fight a micro-ed, sustained fight involving:
-sniping riots and flood raiders or just win attrition
-sniping opponent skirm, perhaps using lower value bait and surprising positioning
This is pretty workable and can work up to end game.

2. Porc push vs Assault:
-Porc will try to push defenses up to the opponent
-Assault will attack the porc to keep it from taking the map.
Assault can choose point and time of attack and gain local advantage thus break the front edge. The depth and greater strength of statics means assault can't break the entire defense line in one go and has to retire to repair, replenish high attrition units and reorganize. In this time the porcer rebuilds thus maintain sort of equilibrium until one side controls the map.

3. Riot-Skirm vs Assault:
-Skirm will try to pressure and induce attrition and win with greater value over time
-Assault will try to avoid attrition (with terrain/maneuver) until positioned to counter with overrun
This can sometimes result skirm getting overrun quickly, but in balanced game states generally there is much positioning and the skirm side can generally get away with a sizeable part of their force after a big fight.

4. Raider vs Raider:
-Mutual position game to damage enemy econ and to avoid damage. This can be stable up to end game with two aggressive players especially in mirrors, but with one or both player is conserving army, eventually army value lost will exceed expected damage to econ making it no longer worth spending in attacks. Transitions into assault vs porc or raider against riot into riot-skirm. Raiding does not work without cohesion to concentrate force, so hard to make work in teams.

5. Bomb vs Riot Skirm: (btw I put ulti/widow as a bomb)
- The skrim will try to always induce damage on opponent
- The bomber will have to feed/stall/bait the skirm until positioned to bomb, similar to assaults
The final encounter may be fast, and the bomb may be defused or land. Not particular fun for the skirm but still fair.

Unfun, but Non-stable matchups: This situation is not very interesting, but transitions to other game states naturally:
1. Porc vs Arty (out ranging skirm)
The porc would get equal range arty and transition to riot-skirm fight, or longer range fixed artillery and transition into porc-assault fight.

There is the degenerate case where the porc result in full shield/terra-wall vs full arty, but reasonable players on reasonable maps just fight somewhere else. The degenerate case becomes the normal case when porc is strategic, like super weapons or silos in range to super, but it is such a rare and end game state that its okay so mindless "build 30 shields to keep building alive" is okay.

2. Bomb vs Bomb: Once one or both side figures out the situation, transition into anti-bomb enables an advantage.

3. Bomb vs Assault: Assault have poor screening capabilities, and assault units designs itself have to deal the bombs. At least it is over quickly.

4. Porc vs Porc. One side or both would realize it is impossible to porc the other side and build artillery or units.

Degenerate matchups:
1. Assault vs Assault (can be riot in Z-K, both are similar)
The default case is that there is significant defender's advantage and thus it makes no sense to attack if in a good tactical defensive position: staring contest. If the fighting happens it is all over in a hurry as the winning side compound their advantage with n^2 law. Either game have transition available to avoid a big fight, or the big fight is "well designed" or the game is bad!

In this combat scenario, pure strength and force cohesion is more important than details of positioning. Very annoying in random pick up team games. (this includes much pain in likes of world of tank/ships, mobas, etc)

-----------------------------
If one view it this way, one can probably figure out a meta-style balance, for example:

assault >= riotskirm >= bomb >> assault

Just avoid assault-assault dominant meta, especially when transition costs are taken into account. In normal zero-k unit density limits prevents assault-assault dominance, but not with lobsters or drops, if they ever becomes good....

---------------------------
Sea is boring because there is like 1 army comp (even if it takes 3~4 factories). that have no counters on a meta level.
+0 / -0
quote:
Even with a wide range of underwater weapons, I still expect the underwater domain to dominate. Even if half the sea artillery is underwater, being immune to half of the long range attrition options is really powerful. This seems fundamentally bad to me since underwater units interact less with the rest of the game. I think sea is at its best when most fighting revolves around armies on the surface, with units that fire underwater acting as support.


I don't think attrition immunity is all that powerful. Weapons like big bertha or impaler is immune to almost all attrition but they are not always game winners, and often as n00b traps that lose games in inefficient metal use.

There is a wide range of low attrition assets that can be invested in zero-k and a super standoff weapon only makes sense if it pays itself back more than alternatives. If the unit kill 50 metal per minute and equal cost in underwater fusion makes 55 metal per minute, the latter is a better investment. Now energy generation counts as the baseline interest rate of metal, with early investment in combat unit you can gain greater advantages. For example, rush out a heavy unit and get early attrition advantage, which can invested in snowballing a win or, if defensive terrain and excessive force density prevents it, investment in eco, end game weapons and so on. There is also the investment in defenses, if you invest 1000 metal to not break regen of 600 metal of shield, the shield+unit overruns you and evict you from sea.

For really low damage artillery, there is a window between where "econ-interest rate is higher than expected rate of kill" and "can't make cost before super race ends". That is hardly meta-defining even if survivable.

The category of underwater attacker already exists, it is called the Scylla. Now imagine a Scylla 2 that have free missiles, but costs 10k metal with reload of 3 minutes. Is this a better if not op unit? Well if the game lasts another 30 minutes, but most games don't last another 30 minutes after a 10k strider, so it is no good.

And resistance to some of long range attrition does not translates to well protected at all. Unit characteristics like mobility, range, and hit points is still very important. If a unit is really fragile to direct attack you'd see it being done, with exciting things like flanks or sirens being dropped/lobstered/newtoned on top of a camp and all kind of fun stuff.

In a numbers game it is always possible to balance the power level, the real question is whether players would like the gameplay results.

quote:
Basically, the land weapon designs seem like they won't work. New things would be required. Maybe burnblow, maybe lua that explodes a projectile when it surfaces.

It does seem like significant coding work is needed to make good feeling sea weapons. What kind of learning curve is z-k modding? I may have some significant free time in a few month.

quote:
I think there is scope for a new sea factory to have a bit more capability on land than the existing ship factory (for example, a hybrid-terrain assault unit that helps to expand a foothold for a beach landing), but making it another fully hybrid factory like amph/hover seems like it is making that space pretty crowded, without increasing the variety of plops in 1v1 games on mostly-water maps.

I think there is lost opportunity for sea-hybrid mixed plop-able maps. We know that you can have a land map that is not traversable except by spiders: sure all spider mirror here, plus some random gunships. So you add flatter features until other factories become competitive.

Similarly in theory you could start with a sea map that is 100% ship dominated, and add land until hybrids becomes viable, perhaps some land short cuts to parts of the map or even land only mexes.

It just seems to me that faction by map driven balance is more robust than balance by plain old playtesting. Map-based balance on differential mobility means that all factions can always have a role in some map or some part of a map while the underpowered faction in symmetrical terrain elements may be ignored completely.

If there is to be a new ship type faction I wonder if a dredging ship would be a good idea (free terra-make land into water).

+0 / -0
quote:
I don't think attrition immunity is all that powerful. Weapons like big bertha or impaler is immune to almost all attrition but they are not always game winners, and often as n00b traps that lose games in inefficient metal use.

The observation that attrition immunity for long-range underwater units is very powerful is based on observed empirical evidence, not theorycrafting. Something stronger than theorycrafting is required as a counter-argument to that empirical evidence.

(For that matter, Impaler is generally felt to be extremely strong at the moment.)

quote:
Similarly in theory you could start with a sea map that is 100% ship dominated, and add land until hybrids becomes viable, perhaps some land short cuts to parts of the map or even land only mexes.

A few hybrid maps along these lines exist (see for example Cull and Coagulation Marsh). They are mostly felt to be unfun to play on, because both ships and land factories feel very bad to play, so you are essentially locked into hover, amph and air. Perhaps they would be more fun if ZK were different, but I think it would have to be very different... and remaking the game and the map pool seems like throwing away a lot of existing work for a pretty nebulous reward.

There have been points in time at which Amph was viable (or even felt to be strongest) on Sparkles Reef, or Hovercraft on Shimmershore. I believe it was generally felt that this was not a good balance outcome.

There are also a few maps which are mostly land maps, but ships are technically ploppable and see some use in teams games (see for example Thornford, Onyx Cauldron and Firebreak). These maps can be pretty okay.
+0 / -0
44 days ago
IMO, sea is in a rather good state. I would balance the different ships a bit better, especially nerf Siren. I would also increase the cost and power of all ships except shipcon to make them feel more like ships.

All kinds of well balanced sea units can be added in a 2nd sea fac for all I care. But I would be cautious with dependencies on underwater terrain.
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quote:
I don't think attrition immunity is all that powerful. Weapons like big bertha or impaler is immune to almost all attrition but they are not always game winners, and often as n00b traps that lose games in inefficient metal use.

I'll fill in the gap for you (even though AUrankAdminAquanim's comment about this being obervation not fact is sufficient). I was talking about combat units, armies, units that fight at close-mid range. Bertha is not such a unit. Attrition immunity is very powerful on armies. Or, to put it another way, you're sort of implying that your solution to underwater units being resistant to attrition would be to give them combat stats as terribly inefficient as Bertha. This seems like a poor solution to me.

quote:
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In a numbers game it is always possible to balance the power level, the real question is whether players would like the gameplay results.

Yes, and this is why I don't think the few paragraphs preceding the quote are particularly relevant. It is possible for any unit design to not break the game if its stats are bad enough (ie, if its Owled). But we're talking about designing viable units that feel reasonably good to use and play against, not edge cases.

quote:
It does seem like significant coding work is needed to make good feeling sea weapons. What kind of learning curve is z-k modding? I may have some significant free time in a few month.

Depends where you start, perhaps ask USrankShaman. I think much more of the work in in design and testing though. Many weapons can be conceived and coded, but the tricky part is to make a weapon that fits in and makes sense.

quote:
Sea is boring because there is like 1 army comp (even if it takes 3~4 factories). that have no counters on a meta level.

What is this comp? Siren, Lance with Shogun and AA? I think we'll always feel like we're close to knowing 'the' sea comp simply because it has fewer units. I'm not sure it's so clear though.

Also, I'm not particularly interested in making ZK work on pure sea maps. Sea should interact with land by providing artillery and making landings. I think a lot of variety in sea can come from how it interacts with the land domains of a map, rather than there being a large selection of factories.
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I suspect that the "true" endgame composition of sea involves a lot of Grizzly. In principle Grizzly (with some cover against underwater and light surface units) beats pretty much everything on the surface given enough time and density. However the Grizzly composition is expensive and clunky, so games are often more likely to end by superweapon than they are to go in this direction, unless the game is on a really small map like Coastal.
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