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Zero-K v1.7.7.0 - Commander modules tweaks (discussion)

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In this thread, I would like to discuss commander module tweaks starting from Zero-K v1.7.7.0, for sake of further refinement.

First, detailed rationale for changes already made:


1. Light particle beam:
DPS - 165 -> 180

It already have lower range than starting beam laser (310 vs 330), and divides damage between 3 shoots per second, instead of being "continuous" laser beam - which means more damage gets "wasted" while finishing off damaged targets (most notable in case of its intended target - raiders).
To give any incentive for paying to swap beam laser into this shorter range weapon, damage got minimally boosted.

2. Riot Cannon:
Range - 275 -> 300
Reload - 2s -> 1.63s

Reduced reload time and increased range to exactly match ripper's riot canon - now both weapons are exactly the same DPS and range (without module upgrades), their also match CEG exactly.

Riot Cannon was filling same role as Heavy Machine Gun - crowd control weapon with AoE. Hoever, Riot Cannon have lower range:
275 vs 285
...and very high damage granulation - shooting once per 2 seconds - "wasting" much more potential on finishing damaged targets. Then, it had much lower DPS than HMG (110 vs 180), resulting in being strictly worse than HMG in every aspect. On top of that, it is available only to Guardian Chassis (akin to heavy rockets), versus HMG available to all except Engineer. Last but not least, practical AoE was worse than those of HMG, despite being theoretically bigger - HMG's bullet spread and fast fire rate (with every bullet having 2/3 of Riot Cannon's AoE) increased practical AoE of HMG dramatically, leaving much to be desired for Riot Cannon.

This change aims to make it weapon at least worth considering. Before, it had worse range and worse DPS than even retired peashooter (+worse aspect of damage granulation), for which you had to pay for an "upgrade".

Now, it have minimally higher damage than Heavy Rocket, with less granulation (reload 2s vs 3s), and much lower range (300 vs 430), at same chassis restrictions (Guardian only) and upgrade availabilities (Napalm Warhead).

3. Heavy Rocket:
AoE - 75 -> 96

Made AoE at least as big as single bullet from Heavy Machine Gun...

4. Disruptor Ammo:
Heavy Machine gun with Disruptor Ammo:
DPS - 90 -> 135

Shotgun with disruptor Ammo:
DPS - 96 -> 144

Unified direct damage reduction to 25%.
Previously, this particular upgrade was single worst deal in modules department, making weapons affected suddenly unable to kill weakest raiders (Glaive) in one burst. Now, it isn't a strict downgrade, and might find some utility.

5. Napalm Warhead:
Riot with Napalm:
DPS - 86 -> 100
AoE - 144 -> 170
Heavy Rocket with Napalm:
DPS - 180 -> 135
AoE - 128 -> 144
Cratering - 0 - > 1

Unified direct damage reduction to 25% - previously, it was highest on the weakest weapons (Riot Cannon), making it a strict downgrade. OTOH, on already very good Heavy Rockets, it was reducing direct damage by 0% (sic!).
Unified AoE gain. Added cratering to Heavy Rocket with Napalm Warhead, due to that version having sensibly big AoE (128 previously, now 144), and similar (and smaller) rockets on units doing cratering.


Changes planned, but not implemented (yet) - It was decided, that they would require making rush-morph into lvl 4 (without taking modules) less viable, especially for Recon Commander:


Cluster Bomb:
DPS - 80 -> 120

This weapon occupy lvl 4 weapon slot, and is restricted to Guardian and Recon chassis - in case of Guardian, it means, that this special weapon is direct replacement for "regular" weapon, yet it was literally 50% worse than peashooter, at 30 seconds reload time, totaling 80 DPS (and lack of accuracy), with rather regular range. Now, it matches peashooter's DPS, thus becomes minimally sensible to consider mounting it on Guardian. Still won't rival Disruptor Bomb effectiveness on Recon, but at least might see some use.

Concussion Shell
DPS - 30 -> 40

This weapon occupy lvl 4 weapon slot Recon - at the same time, having respectable range of 450 elmos and possibility of throwing some light units on direct hit. It pays for it by being lowest damage of all - at 30 DPS, it was like Yeti, some heard about it, but no one can prove seeing in the wild.
Now, it got a boost to still minimal 40 DPS. Still won't rival Disruptor Bomb on Recon by any means, but might find some utility for someone. Maybe.


Observations and questions related to the changes welcome. I will try to explain everything that is not clear, too - feel free to ask.


+2 / -1

21 days ago
Sounds legit
+0 / -0
21 days ago
when evaluating weapons with significant damage (and/or other effects) but high reload times, spike damage is more relevant than dps, as it allows them to have a significant impact with relatively low exposure time.

weapons that can kill relatively tough targets (or many relatively weak ones) on one hit can be brokenly effective even if the average dps is relatively low.

Are you considering increasing the effects on cluster bomb and concussion shell or lowering the reload times?

The slow mod having less damage reduction is a nice change, something I've asked for several times over the last few years.

You should also check other underused weapons like the hellfire grenade.

Even if you buff the various weapons to more reasonable values. Builds based on getting cloak, disruption bomb and disintegrator will probably still be dominant.
+3 / -0
21 days ago
PTrankraaar I pointed this out to catlady in chat, and they did not take it too well. She doesn't seem to understand how good high alpha weapons are and considers the overkill dmg to be something that makes them bad.

+1 / -1
This seems relevant to the discussion.
< USrankFealthas> hm.....riot cannon buffs
< USrankFealthas> wat
< PLrankCatLady> Fealthas, and anyone interested in the reasoning behind every particular comm module tweak: https://zero-k.info/Forum/Thread/28689?postID=205543
< USrankFealthas> That post doesn't even mention the alpha that riot cannon does
< USrankFealthas> which is what made it 10x more useful than HMG in a real game
< PLrankCatLady> it does mention that, read with udnerstanding please. It is called "damage granulation"
< USrankFealthas> and applies some convoluted reasoning about how HMG has better aoe?
< USrankFealthas> wat
< PLrankCatLady> Fealthas, no, riot cannon wasn't 10x more useful in real game, thats why you basically never seen it in real games
< USrankFealthas> I used it quite a bit
< PLrankCatLady> as opposed to HMG
< PLrankCatLady> what is convulted about HMG having AoE that is 96 per bullet?
< USrankFealthas> it was much better for catching raiders and blowing them up before the other player responmded
< PLrankCatLady> with bullet spread on top of it?
< PLrankCatLady> if we start on players not responding, then lance is best anti-raider, big alpha
< USrankFealthas> riot cannon mandatory now I guess
< PLrankCatLady> modules got a rebalance, with worst modules getting a buff, and outrageously/buggy storng modules (heavy rocket with napalm without damage reduction) getting slight nerf
< USrankFealthas> cuz balance done by nubs
< PLrankCatLady> Fealthas, the Pull Request was discussed for 1,5 months, I haven't seen your input in the github
< USrankFealthas> also 2 second into an engagement, riot cannon does 440 dmg
< PLrankCatLady but, you're sitll able and welcome to discuss it in the thread - be prepared to come with actual numbers, not insults, though
< USrankFealthas> and hmg only 360
< PLrankCatLady> that is simply untrue. HMG had 180 DPS, riot had 110 DPS
< USrankFealthas> ...
< USrankFealthas> yup this is why nubs shouldn't balance
< PLrankCatLady> What was the comment about someone liking someone to feel like a victim... of math
< USrankFealthas> go test it before making a fool of yourself
< PLrankCatLady> Quality feedback.
< USrankFealthas> first 220 dmg is applied instantly, then after 2s annother 220 is
< USrankFealthas> this is like basic stuff
< PLrankCatLady> that is damage per who;le 4 seconds time
< USrankFealthas> while hmg is applied linearly
< USrankFealthas> no...
< PLrankCatLady> cutting the artifical frame of example as you want
< PLrankCatLady> lance does 2x damage one milisecond after single reload time
< PLrankCatLady> and applying damage linearly in case of slow-moving unit like comm is actually a GOOD thing, not bad
< PLrankCatLady> cause when you kill an intended target - a raider - that had 2 hp, you wait another full reload time before you can shoot anything else
< PLrankCatLady> thats why HMg was seen in real games, and riot cannon was a noob trap
< PLrankCatLady> thats why ripper rover, using it, is single worst riot in game, too.
< USrankFealthas> no, its not bad
< USrankFealthas> it did its job just fine
< PLrankCatLady> (and comms riot was, BTw, worse than ripper's riot)
< USrankFealthas> yes, and was also 50 metal instead of 220
< PLrankCatLady> Discussion with you is like discussing climate change deniers, Fealthas. I present you numbers and reasoning, you go "no, it was fine before".
< USrankFealthas> Catlady your understanding of weapon usefullnes is really bad, and I guess that makes sense considering your sub-2k elo, indicating you don't know how to play the game at all
< PLrankCatLady> also, you're probably single person in ZK worls that think ripper is doing good riot'y job.
< USrankFealthas> your reasoning is total shit and ignores reality
< PLrankCatLady> as said, "quality feedback". If you're going to respond with insult to math and reasoning, then have fun, but don't expect to be taken seriously.
I was going to write something about the power of alpha (frontloaded first strike damage) but I'm not sure it would help. I'll see where the thread goes.

PLrankCatLady, if you are making and maintaining a change then it is your job to take feedback. It is often the case that feedback is not focused on the actual underlying issue or, on occasion, appears to contradict the state or history of the game. USrankFealthas gave fairly good feedback here, apart from a bit of hyperbole and calling you a nub. You switched to sarcasm and ridicule far too easily and thus missed an opportunity to learn about alpha and the experience that USrankFealthas had playing the game.
+3 / -1

20 days ago
I looked at USrankFealthas's commanders and one of them is using a Riot Cannon, but it is also using a Heavy Machine Gun as a second weapon. That is interesting. I would like to know why that makes more sense than using a second Riot Cannon so I can understand how good alpha is really.
+1 / -0
This was actually quality feedback, thank you.

The hellfire grenade was considered, but it is falling into the same boat as concussion/cluster bombs - it must be ensured first, that rushing to lvl 4 module-less just to take 2nd weapon/special weapon won't become a single sensible choice. Also, hellfire grenade biggest problem is not benefiting from weapon damage upgrades (as you pointed out), which is thing that should be tackled first, IMO.

As for the cluster/conc, the idea was to keep them very long reload (as they are) but increase damage - keeping them strictly in glass cannon role. Somehow effective (still IMO not as much as currently most used weapons) if used skillfully, but leaving you dead in the field when raiders swarm you.

I agree with you that even after becoming somehow more useful, the boosted weapons won't rival any of the established combos. I had to weak them up very conservatively - AUrankAdminGoogleFrog seems to be very afraid of Commander modules becoming viable alternative to investing same metal into units (for the fact that commanders are basically irreplaceable, amongst other reasons), so even getting current tweaks into game was "some ride", as to speak of ;)

I understand what alpha is. At the same time, I don't think it is that much relevant in case of slow, bulky unit like Guardian commander, which can not jump away (which either becomes even more slow with upgrades, or sacrifices tons of metaloenergy and hardware slots to achieve somehow better speed of movement).

If the "alpha is everything" line of thinking would be followed, then the cluster bomb/concussions shell should be used extensively - instead, they are not, even on a Recon commander that can utilize them somehow more effectively than other builds.

Last but not least - we also need to take into account what kind of targets commander equipped with a riot cannon faces (raiders). in such case, the damage "wasted" on damage granulation vastly outperforms any hypothetical gain with attempting to kite with Guardian Commander (?!) for alpha strike. The fact that riot canon was barely used, and that riot-cannon wielding Ripper is generally considered to be a worst riot in game, seems to reinforce this point of view.

Side note - it was all written in the chat transcript you posted. If the aim was to bring sympathy to Fealthas, it failed - his way of giving feedback deteriorated into pointless insults and failure to present counter arguments, rather fast.

Any "quality feedback" he presented there was answered on the base of actual merit, and of course, he is still welcome to return with counter arguments (as long as it is kept at least "basic civil"). Judging chances after actually trying them (which was not the Fealthas case) would help, too, even if not strictly necessary requirement for a civil discussion.

+0 / -1
20 days ago
USrankOflameo I wouldn't look into upgrade levels beyond 2, as they are mostly for the lulz. My most used commander is the econ com one. 2nd most is the MEGA guardian with armor+riot. Never morphed past level 2. The rocket guardian is for rushing on small maps(3rd most used). Jumpy one is just a copy of what anarchid does and lobber is my DGUN teamgame trollcomm, but I think dgun got removed and I never got rid of it.

If you're doing troll-comms HMG is probably better because of the higher DPS, and in teamgames nobody makes raiders anyways, which really cuts opportunities for riot to shine.

+0 / -1
Given that - as you admitted - you're not even morphing past level 2, where your idea of having vast knowledge about Commanders, Morphs, and their interactions (especially on 2-weapon wielding ones) comes from?

Don't get me wrong - input from people using Commanders even on lvl 1 only is valuable for balancing weapons. Hoever, your lack of experience in the matter, mixed with presenting opinions in very authoritarian (and devoid of any math calculations) makes me seriously considering option that you're arguing for the sake of arguing, without even testing the changes in question (in practice).

+0 / -3
20 days ago
wow nicedownvote smurf --> PLrankISD
+0 / -1
If possible, please keep this (Development forum section) discussion on topic, and as technical as possible. Thank you.

+0 / -1
It looks like the smurf also has developed the technical ability to self-upvote.

+3 / -1
Whats currently cooking re Commander's Modules Tweaks:

1. Light Particle Beam with Disruptor Ammo and Heavy Particle Beam with Disruptor Ammo:
Unified damage reduction to -25%, like other weapons using Disruptor Ammo module (omitted last time due to accident).

Light Particle Beam with Disruptor Ammo is now same weapon with damage reduced and slow added, instead of becoming vastly different weapon (before, reload time went from 0.33 second to 2 seconds, and damage was rising accordingly. Weapon was also looking very differently, more akin to Moderator's weapon, but with vastly different characteristics).

2. Unified Light Particle Beam to become same as Redback's weapon...
...for consistency (akin to Riot Cannon being same as Ripper's weapon). As a result:
DPS - 180 -> 210
Range - 310 -> 300

It is worth to note that this change - apart from consistency - follows Quant's law. LPB's strengths and weaknesses are boosted vs Beam Laser (damage is boosted further, but range is reduced even more).

+1 / -0
With beamlaser having 330 range and the lpb with 210 dps, the beam laser is no longer equivalent: it's not worth sacrificing 30% dps to get 10% more range unless it's trying to fill some niche or the ranges are relatively long. 15% more range seems like would be a more balanced tradeoff.

I think the beam laser had 350 some patches ago before being made the basic weapon (there's no longer the 50 M cost involved).

I'm not sure if it got nerfed to prevent it from scratching ronins with 3 range upgrades, or devs didn't really think about it.

btw missile launcher could use a small buff : the engineer commander's heavy particle beam has 95% as much range and deals 250+ dps compared to just 160dps from 2x missile launchers.

It's also worth thinking about roles : should some chassis have access to relatively better weapons to trade for the fact that they're worse on other aspects (base hp, mobility,etc.). As some weapons are shared, I think they should be equivalent.

It would also be interesting to improve the upgrades. At the moment it's generally better to get HP and range relative to speed or damage, although speed is very important for expensive builds.
+0 / -0

17 days ago
The Beam Laser range nerf was to stop it from becoming anti-skirmisher with so few upgrades. Commanders shouldn't be able to go around consistently killing skirmishers at range.
+0 / -1
Perhaps it would have been a better idea to nerf range upgrades rather than the laser?
Range is already known to be a problematic stat that lots of units are finely balance around.
+0 / -0
Given that the Beam Laser is now "free" (in fact, credited - you pay 5 metaloenergy for weapon choice at lvl 2) starter weapon, I see no problem with it having current 330 range. It is still, ironically, one of most solid weapons, basically surpassed significantly only by Heavy Machine Gun as generalist, or very specialized weapons (Heavy Rockets or Heavy Particle Beam for range).

That said, I am glad that HPB is (to become) something worth considering now over Beam Laser - as long as you're in need of heavier DPS at the cost of range. I also like the consistency with Redback's weapon - you see the characteristic effect, you know what to expect.

Mind you, all - the changes from round 2 PR (Pull Request) are about Light Particle Beam, not beamlaser (beamlaser wasn't touched in any form). Just stressing it to ensure that we are on same topic.

At same time, I am strongly against making range/damage upgrades worse than they are already. Every one of them comes with hefty 2,5% downgrade in speed (paying for it, eh?), and range is already owled to 7,5% gain, as opposed to 10% for damage upgrades. Reducing it further would make longer-range weapons (Heavy Rockets, Missiles, some builds on Heavy Particle Beam) quite pointless.

As for Missiles, I agree that on paper, they seem underwhelming. Hoever, due to homing, their actual damage is higher than you would expect (no wasted shoots) - it is basically Fencer (possibly, dual one), without requirement to stand still for fire, and with higher HP. Dedicated Strike chassis 2x missiles (regen! ...and possible shield) builds that I've seen in action were quite oppressive, able to dispatch raiders, riots, and variety of skirmishers. I'm not very keen on making it even stronger in damage - if I would be to decide, I would bring their range minimally up, to be on pair with Heavy Rockets (they are already long range focused weapon).

Side note:
I must admit that I am not a fan of the beam commanders from start, and preferred peashooter + weapons of choice upon morphing, for a cost. But, it seems to coherently follow an idea for bulky lvl 1 Commanders, together with the HP buff, and I don't see it as important enough to "fight" over it.

+0 / -0