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starlight

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4 months ago
Over at https://zero-k.info/Forum/Post/262725#262725 I (we?) was encouraged to take this to a new thread.

I dislike starlight and I think I'm not the only one. Its annoyingly precise and drama-free as it casually melts big awesome (helpless) superunits that would love to walk over and kill it, if only they could make the journey. Opinions no doubt differ, but I prefer the zenith and IMO it is functionally 90% overlap with starlight anyway.

So imagine if you will, starlight stops being a "superweapon" as you know it. It ends up somewhere between bertha and zenith on the price scale, probably at the low end of that. Also functionally it ends up closer to bertha. But it operates entirely differently. It is a big spotlight that sees all, and lovingly lights it on fire, just a bit. This burning love reveals cloaked units pretty effectively, and does a good bit of damage to huge targets like shields, but isn't going to do much to most things. Not quickly anyway.

Also it would be usually sub-optimal to point the spotlight at the same thing for a long time. Its great use is in scouting, revealing, and applying pressure. Your army is expected to do the real work. It makes the path safer for your paladin, it shows where that pesky lance ball is, it makes the snipers unsafe, it lays bare the impaler spam so you can pursue them, it shows your air player where the AA is lurking, it gives your arty an edge. It could maybe drive away spammy arty units from open ground. Also it can pressure the enemy shieldball just as you attack it, aided by perfect vision, but its not going to be another zenith coming down like a ton of bricks. (Because you should get out there and fight.)

There could perhaps be a D-attack mode with more burn, and a loss of vision.

This got a bit of support from FIrankLobHunter and skepticism from CArankTarkin, I'd be pleased to see more.
+1 / -0
Regarding the comment by EErankAdminAnarchid in the other thread (just trying to move it over here), about this spotlight being too good at killing mexes, I think the trick is to make it slow enough at that job that it is a waste of time to try it. There should be better things do to with it.
+0 / -0

4 months ago
I agree Starlight is OP and is a "I win" button.

On the other hand it costs a ton and a game has to end sooner or later.
+3 / -0
I also missed the part about perfect vision when i objected that this thing would delete mexes trivially.

That rather trivializes the whole intel game, i think. No need to sneak widows around the enemy base to spot their singus or antis, just point the eye of sauron there.

Swift already does this to an extent, but each swift wave is a rather significant incremental payment, and it's deniable.

Overall i think it has extremely low chances of making the game fun.
+1 / -0

4 months ago
Yeah, you might be right about the fun. However do you suppose if it has the same starlight limitation with crawling the target area around, that it leaves open the roles of existing units? It would take time to go look here and look there, and time is precious, and also the enemy knows what you are looking at. Because its on fire. Not a subtle tool.
+0 / -0
quote:
Yeah, you might be right about the fun. However do you suppose if it has the same starlight limitation with crawling the target area around, that it leaves open the roles of existing units? It would take time to go look here and look there, and time is precious, and also the enemy knows what you are looking at. Because its on fire. Not a subtle tool.

In balance discussions around Zero-K there's this local jargonism called "owling". It comes from the Owl. Not the current radar plane but the previous Owl, which was an Arm (Nova) reconnaissance satellite in Complete Annihilation.

The Owl could also only be shot at by air superiority fighters. It was i think quite powerful at some points, so it got owled for a while, meaning that it was so slow and expensive that noone would build it except very rarely. The recommended treatment for the symptom of owling is amputation. The eponymical satellite was deleted a bit later. It was not missed, i think.

---

It looks like you're preemptively owling the eye of sauron, which is an indicator of it not being a thing that can be fun levels of powerful.

---

If you really want to create a weapon with this role, does it really have to inherit anything from Starlight?
It could be a stockpile weapon like a weaker, but longer-range teleporting inferno, or anything else. You can, in fact, start from the fundamentals.

It seems like what you want is a weapon that both creates sight and fire in an area, and has no per-fire cost except time. Does it have to have global range? Does it have to have continuous operation mode? Does it have to be a static long ranged weapon? How much dps do you actually imagine it having? ZK sticky unit fire seems to always have 15 DPS so if you're set on using fire as a mechanic, that's the minimum that will apply to every unit in its effect area.

And the damage to shields? Why does it do extra damage to shields? Does it shoot a dozen parallel rays instead of having AoE?
+2 / -0

4 months ago
I'd be willing to substitute it for a precision lightning blast on 30s cooldown.
+0 / -0
Thanks for the analysis EErankAdminAnarchid, also the historical view. Most new ideas are actually old, in ZK.

Regarding extra damage to shields, yeah I was visualizing it being implemented as lots of parallel "projectiles" which each applied a small amount of fire damage. They would (in my imagined implementation) be distributed by randomly and approximately evenly (something computationally convenient). I haven't done the math (because I haven't looked up the hitbox size), but I am guessing the large surface area of a aspis would allow the shield to face ruin while individual units are mostly too tough to be worth cooking. Countering shields, to an extent, is interesting in the lobpot. Countering spam in general is interesting...

As far as alternative weapons, I think I actually like this imagined version of the starlight, so its not just to recycle what exists. I find the combination of vision with limited damage to be appealing because it is not yet another way to blow things up, its only a modifier on your army. The visual of a beam is cool, the slow scanning around in cool.

Never knew the meaning of Owling. Owling I suppose is the extreme end of balance by nerfing. Some amount of nerf is clearly part of the deal, and the balance/nerf I would want for this would have it prioritizing front-line support.

Range? Who knows, larger than a tacnuke, otherwise its doomed. Needs to be enough to follow the front line back a bit. But it doesn't need to spy on the back of a base, IMO.

I am tempted to try modding this behavior in to play with. The visual reveal of sparrow is probably a useful example.

quote:
I'd be willing to substitute it for a precision lightning blast on 30s cooldown.

Yeah dunno, maybe its just me, but I kinda get bored with just another way to apply damage from afar. The focus should be on units zipping around doing their thing. IMO.
+0 / -0

4 months ago
First, I kinda like the idea of orbital weapon, for the epic lulz if nothing else.

Given the motto of ZK (one unit, one role), starlight should do one or the other thing. Either it is an intelligence asset (i.e. see anything on the map), or it is an inferno-lighter anywhere on the map.

If it is a direct damage weapon (like it is now, and like zenith is), then it will be neither stronger nor weaker than zenith. On most maps zenith already has effectively global reach, and can 1-shot just about anything of value. So switching meteor strike for damage over time does not really change much in terms of overall capability, but due to slow damage over time the starlight can be far more counterable (and, thus, cheaper to get).

To make the thing somewhat less useful as direct mex denial thing, the beam steering speed can be reduced even more than it is now, thus making it REALLY slow. So while you could, in theory, eat enemy mexes with it, it would not be an efficient thing to do. Even singu can be, in principle, taken apart under shields and rebuilt elsewhere if it gets targeted (so it does not go kaboom).

However, I'd argue that the more interesting role would be as area denial weapon (to burn out enemy arty spam in front of advancing army, or to deny flea coverage to enemy striders). It does not need a very high dps in this case (5 would be enough), just a very large AOE (about the same spot as inferno, maybe a bit bigger).

As for all-seeing-eye role I tend to agree with EErankAdminAnarchid that revealing more info is not what makes RTS fun.

One radical redesign concept that could be fun is to have an "orbital insertion" weapon which can deploy a bunch of assault units deep into enemy territory (but not with pinpoint accuracy). Kinda like overcharged version of the lobster. So you build the thing, roll a few tanks next to it, and once it is charged up it can lob them very far into enemy base. Or maybe you fancy lobbing something more fun like a dante or a few krows. Either way, giving the ability to deploy conventional units behind the artillery lines would be interesting IMO.


+1 / -0
4 months ago
Starlight can't hide.

I've seen it more often where a starlight gets hit by shockleys and loses the game for it's team because it's a giant liability that can be trashed by about 3k metal For the duration of the game.
+1 / -0

4 months ago
quote:
However, I'd argue that the more interesting role would be as area denial weapon (to burn out enemy arty spam in front of advancing army, or to deny flea coverage to enemy striders). It does not need a very high dps in this case (5 would be enough), just a very large AOE (about the same spot as inferno, maybe a bit bigger).

This would be a nice improvement over the current state, certainly. Adjust the damage/range/area to find appropriate balance, set the price at about 10k metal. It will get built, and used, before things escalate to zenith.
+0 / -0
I suppose its useful to consider how "new starlight" as visualized by FIrankLobHunter differs from bertha.

Both can be used to suppress units in an area (or snipe mexes if thats your thing).

Both are effective against shields (to an extent).

The starlight-2 would presumably be much better at attacking shields, and much worse against units. A sufficiently dense army might be a decent target, but still less good than bertha, which gets collateral damage rather than "gentle rain of fire".

The starlight-2 would more reliably expose cloaked things, could even sweep an area.

The starlight-2 would be feasible to point at your own army in order to screen for it or remove close-in fleas.

The starlight-2 would presumably cost more, and be harder to get rid of.

Shields weakened by startlight-2 would be good targets for bertha.

I visualize starlight-2 being harder to use defensively, because you may not know where the threat is going to appear, it is slower to re-aim, and its not going to be great against big iron.
+1 / -0

4 months ago
I did not think of the implications of using it to target your own detri to keep ulti at bay... However, 10k in fleas achieve the same (and better) result, and do not damage the detri in the process.
+0 / -0

4 months ago
quote:
However, 10k in fleas

Hah, I've played enough lobpot to know screens are a theory. ;)
+1 / -0
I am all for nerfing starlight, as well as cut the damage and HP of all towers except llt and picket in half.

I roll my eyes as I watch people post high cost towers are weak as I watch a SL protected by a deso, and the deso kills ENDLESS waves of units trying to rush the SL.

That, or take all the large area shields out of the game.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, how do you want a match to end? You can either have foritications that force literal spam of artil to break with a super that just breathes it all out of existance, or you can have units to control and static defenses to delay (but not stop).

If you have static defeneses to full stop and no super, in a game in which resources are infinite, you have infinite lasting matches.

That won't be true in 1v1, but it will in lob pot when no single player has the income to push through extreme porc.

If anything, I am for more game enders.
+1 / -0

4 months ago
I like the current starlight, it's an interesting design for a superweapon.

In terms of game balance, its effectiveness can be tweaked in a number of ways. Some that come to mind are replacing some of its direct DPS by slow or stun damage, and reducing the aiming speed so it's less able to quickly destroy invading armies.

A starlight costs as much as 6 paladins or about 25-30 grizzlies or cyclops!
Replace half of those grizzlies and cyclops for their cost in area shields, raiders, riots, hermits, whatever and the team building the starlight would probably be overrun....It'd be kind of amazing how teams would get to actually building the 60K metal starlight + supporting units at all!

What tends to happen is that the large armies get nuked so people stop trying to use them.

Often the prevalence of something in games isn't due to it having great cost-effectiveness directly but due to the great cost-effectiveness of something else that keeps its counters in check.



+1 / -0


4 months ago
quote:
I am tempted to try modding this behavior in to play with. The visual reveal of sparrow is probably a useful example.

That sounds cool. If all else fails, it could be a fun mission-specific unit or artefact.

A map-mod could also be interesting, with both teams just starting with the weapon, or a rezzable wreck.

If you get around to coding, i might spend an hour or two on making a model.
+1 / -0

4 months ago
NOrankskuggmodzer0 rezzable wrecks on a map are a real cool idea. Take a decent-size stalemate map like Delta Siege and place a couple, this could make for some interesting test material.
+0 / -0
I'd prefer it if we had a game ending 60K unit like the one I made for my mod (flies, transforms into ground combat form, stupidly powerful dgun missile). This is because it's far more interactive a way of ending the game and can require a lot more thought and skill from the user.

There's a variety of ways of making a game-ending unit, but they need to cause a lot critical damage fairly quickly while not having any easy counters, but still feeling like it's possible to delay the end or make life harder and even win if you properly break the enemy. They also need to be relatively "newby friendly" in that it shouldn't be easy to permanently lose them.

Some random ideas brainstormed:

* A simple teleporting Detriment with a "home base" building that needs a ton of powering to teleport it around would count (it inevitably ends the game eventually unless you kill the "home" but has counterplay to delay the end by ambushing with ultimatums and armies to damage it into retreating or by pushing in and striking or stunning the teleporter).

* A detri-level resurrecting mech that returns to larval form when "destroyed" which will rez itself against after a bit. Said larval form being invincible (and stun immune!) but needs take less than X damage over a 10 seconds period or it will return to life. Can also have jump and modest movement speed to allow it to inevitably return to friendly lines but be delayable by good play and cooperation by the enemy team.

* Basically my mod game ender but with respawn and modest nerfs: Giant supercloak (800e/s but can recloak under fire after, say, 7 seconds without firing) stealth plane with a big dgun bomb and modest ground lasers, transforms into a nasty ground mech. When destroyed can be respawned for cheap (e.g. 3k metal) by a "home base" building over a couple of minutes. Allows various bits of counterplay such as quick reacting air and AA to bring it down before it can recloak and ground forces to fight the mech, while still inevitably winning the game eventually if the base building isn't destroyed.

* Super soldier serum building. Transform a given unit into a "supersoldier" version with boosts varying according to its cost (e.g. a glaive might get 100xhp, 10x regen, 2x speed, 10x dps, 2x range, while a cyclops would get a mere 10xhp, 2x speed, 2x damage, 0.5xreload, 1.5x range). Only one boosted unit allowed at a time (boosting a new one removes the boost of the old one). Destroying the building doesn't kill the supersoldier!

Hmm...
Wonder if I should make a new thread for this?

I'd probably implement any of the above if I thought they had a good chance at getting merged.
+1 / -0

4 months ago
quote:
A starlight costs as much as 6 paladins or about 25-30 grizzlies or cyclops!
Replace half of those grizzlies and cyclops for their cost in area shields, raiders, riots, hermits, whatever and the team building the starlight would probably be overrun....It'd be kind of amazing how teams would get to actually building the 60K metal starlight + supporting units at all!

Yet it happens all the time. I've seen and played in many games where one team goes all-in on offensive, and do heroic things, but the defenders sit tight a go for a superweapon. Offensives are often just metal donations. A few times I've called for offensive wreck-reclaimer-units to try and pay for the expeditions.

quote:
If anything, I am for more game enders.

That could be detriment, but the superweapons render it moot. An ideal superweapon (or demi-superweapon) IMO would help your units advance and end the game via fiery conquest. Though honestly I also think zenith isn't so bad.... if the game doesn't proceed too directly to it.





quote:
If you get around to coding, i might spend an hour or two on making a model.

Oy, now coding a new weapon effect would be new ground for me, so we need modest expectations. It'll be interesting. The effect I would want would draw an awful lot from starlight at this time, I think that would be how I try to start.

It only takes "and hour or two" for you to make a model? Man. I've taken a good long look at the documentation for that.

If I may engage in a bit of self-promotion while I have your eyes, I did put a sizable number of hours into the harder-than-it-looks making trollcoms less of an antipattern which is where most of my interest lies, and is probably were I would put most of my coding free time. (With a detour to see if I can make a "spotlight" work.)
+0 / -0
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