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It seems like there are a few things now that nobody really uses anymore, and when they do, it doesn't go very well. For instance, Stardust.
Stardust needs a buff, it is no longer good against assaults, true, but it is no longer good at anything right now.
I have heard a few suggestions from some people, such as:
-make it start with no heat
-lessen the rate it gets heated at
and thats about it actually, but also what if it had some sort of technology that made it do more damage the smaller a unit is ? instead of more damage to bigger units. not sure how that would go though.

Also, it seems like Gunships is both OP and really bad at the same time. everyone is complaining about Jack Drops (charon) and the rest of the factory is rarely used, because apparently it's not that good.
I couldn't come up with much on how to fix this though, any ideas?
+2 / -0
quote:
but also what if it had some sort of technology that made it do more damage the smaller a unit is


I think one of the big things devs try to maintain is no complicated damage systems. Weapons should do equal damage to all units.
+3 / -0
I actually like stardusts. I see llt and stardust both play the role of anti raid. An llt will not stop a heavy raid unit, so will need 2. If you build 2, you are in the price range of stardust, which is way better then 2 llts. However, you can get a lot up faster, so when that is important, go llt.
+1 / -0


16 days ago
It's safer for things to be a bit bad than a bit too good. Stardust does seem to be a bit too bad, but I think the game as a whole is better for it compared to when it was more powerful. Buffing it is on the radar, but it isn't a high priority. I'm most motivated by the prospect of removing heat.

Gunships are in a similar spot, but it is trickier as it's mostly that the game has changed around them, rather than them being explicitly nerfed. Based on their history, many of them aren't far off breaking something.
  • Wasp needs to be heavy and slow to avert viable gunship plops.
  • Blastwing could gain less explosion damage and enough DoT to kill a mex, nobody has done it yet.
  • Locust is always on a knife edge of being terrible or able to ball into a deadly swarm.
  • Harpy was ok but did not like the buffs to light raider health. It is probably the safest to buff.
  • Nimbus seems solid and useful.
  • Trident likewise.
  • Revenant has always been in search of a role that isn't just cheese.
  • Krow has perhaps been outclassed by other striders becoming more standard, and people generally exploring more of the game.
  • The transports seem fine.
To help, anyone could make a few tweaks and host some test games.
+1 / -0

16 days ago
For me:
- Transports were always very strong, just also very clunky to use, so few people bothered. I think it could use slight cost increase (and maybe also slight hp increase) to help fight early drop rush and roach drops.
- Locust is okay, as you mentioned it's always on knife's edge. It looses with every raider for cost but it makes up for it with being the fastest of them all.
- Harpy is in very poor spot - it could use buffs - I think it's biggest problem is that it's slower than molases. It could be alleviated by speeding it up a bit or giving it enough range to be able to poke riots without fight back (mainly Ogre)
- Nimbus is very good, maybe a bit too tanky, but I wouldn't change it
- Revenant seems to find some use recently with some success - so also I wouldn't touch it. It's funny that it feels faster than Harpy...
- Krow is underwhelming for its cost
- Gnat is very very strong against anything bigger than glaive
- Blastwing is useless currently, there was a good thread about blastwing buffs - mainly increase fire time to have tool to counter stealth and decrease explosion dmg to avoid chain exploding situations - I'd also change it to drop projectile on death that drops and makes the fire instead of just making fire wherever it explodes to make it useful even when killed high in air.
+2 / -0

15 days ago
quote:
It's safer for things to be a bit bad than a bit too good. Stardust does seem to be a bit too bad, but I think the game as a whole is better for it compared to when it was more powerful. Buffing it is on the radar, but it isn't a high priority. I'm most motivated by the prospect of removing heat.


What if instead of heat it has ammo? I think pickets work that way, don't they?

Pickets can fire something like 5 times, and can reload as soon as the first missile is shot if they no longer have a target.

You could give stardust a lot of ammo, but some reload time. A lot of ammo will cover the use case for killing a lot of raiders (but not necessarily a really long sustained feed) and will cover the use case of being built and not being instantly able to kill a fac (or whatever the use case was to nerf the on built surprise effect).

It could run out of ammo against assaults.

The difference would be that it has sustained DPS so long as it has ammo, as opposed to drecreasing DPS as soon as it starts firing.
+2 / -0


15 days ago
Regenerating ammo storage sounds very similar to heat, except that heat is smooth and ammo is a sudden DPS drop. They seem about as good as each other. Picket doesn't have ammo in the same way. Rather, it has three separate weapons that only interact via the restriction that one firing blocks the others for about a second. All the burst-missile weapons work like this - separately acting launchers that cannot fire simultaneously. Stardust has one gun so it can't support this. So ammo would be a new mechanic, incurring the same cost as heat.

The purposes behind heat, why it isn't a straight buff, are:
  • To be great against raiders (better than LLT) without also being great at killing assaults.
  • To make constructors and bases more vulnerable to raids (and to assaults). The old Stardust that started at full power could be plopped in front of raiders by relatively small groups of constructors, making defense just a matter of having radar and enough BP on hand. It was about investment in economy (via expanding cons) being too close to defense (via forward constructors that can plop stardust), not about offense.
+2 / -0
14 days ago
From the perspective of ex-starcraft player, though new at ZK

ZK Air is defined by Likho where escalation of AoE high alpha attack is "balanced" by super long range, super high alpha AA.

There can probably be more air play diversity by scaling back both Likho and AA. In a game with flex AA it would be smoother to have most air defense work through that.

Really would be better of have a fully flesh out air and gunship that enable full unit control based counter play (with balanced attrition model: no loss air units is asking for deathball that needed to be countered by uber AA). This will involve a rescaling of interaction times between the two sides (unit speed, dps, alpha, etc)
+1 / -0
A slower Likho is an interesting idea. I have thought it was weird that Raven is slower, given their intended roles. But overall I think planes are doing pretty well. They don't dominate 1v1 and manage to persist for quite a while in teamgames, without making the entire game hinge on the success of air. Likho and Thunderbird seem good. Phoenix is about as powerful as it can afford to be, if small units are to exist, although it could certainly be easier to control. Raven probably has room to be a bit better as it isn't so good at sniping commanders anymore. I think we're in a better spot than when air was defined by Raven.

I want planes to behave like planes, and not just be an extra level of ground units that floats above the rest of the game. It makes things feel different and matches the level of simulation we're going for. So planes are always going to be pretty fast, and gunships reasonably fast too. AA is going to need more range than the average ground unit as a result. But there is space for a bit of tweaking.

Things seem to be basically fine at the moment, and reaching somewhere better takes work. A lot of people could step up to it. But it takes more than a proposal. Most of the work is in testing, refinement, and keeping an eye on the result. The reasoning behind a set of numbers is more valuable than the numbers themselves. And I wouldn't want to do a large change at this point, because things seem basically fine.
+3 / -0
"To help, anyone could make a few tweaks and host some test games. "

I already did that with Swift/Raptor changes but it was mostly ignored by everyone apart from DErankAdminmojjj What's the next step after testing it in few games?
+3 / -0


14 days ago
The most important thing is to store the changes, reasoning, and test results somewhere permanent. This way it isn't dependent on timing. Ideally the test results would describe how the unit used to behave as well, since it isn't always clear.
+2 / -0
I don't think airplane and AA is unbalanced, but it is not set at a point that enable a big space for gunship play.

Something like likho is designed with truly minimum exposure time and thus minimum counter play. The amount of exposure time is a function of:

Sorties per Unit of time * (Defensive Weapon Range - Offensive Weapon Range) * Turn Radius Factor / Unit Speed

Defensive Response time is similarly

(Detection Range - Weapons Release Range) / Unit Speed

From these equations one can see that cutting the offensive air unit weapon range can enable a reduction of defensive weapon range requirements while maintaining tactical balance, without changing unit speed. (strategic balance will take analysis of maps) Increasing the total exposure time by cutting alpha damage and increasing sorties also makes counter play more feasible. With multiple engagements both sides can adapt rather than have everything based on raw guesses of opponent capability.

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The common design in Starcraft is that AA has less range than the longest ranged ground units at play, and this led to a lot of air transport based game play that is one of the coolest part of that game.

There is transport skirmish with starcraft shuttle-reaver and prism-immortal. There is air transport artillery terrain 'abuse'. There is transport raids with dropship marines. There is transport pick up unit saves left and right. Transports fly around the edge of the battle area doing all sort of mobility and defense services. There are many match videos of those things.

In ZK the transport is often zoned out with powerful long range AA and air-land skirmish is out, and air-land assault (which is not about completely avoiding losses) is what remains. Many of the tactical mobility services is done by lobster instead.

Similar ranges between anti-ground and anti-air weapon also promotes a lot of air-ground combined arms forces in which air hovers over ground. Compositions like Mutalisk Zerging, Marine Science Vessal, VoldRay-Ground, Raven-Mech and so on.

I don't find mono-air compositions as all that interesting compared to air-surface comps, and relatively similar weapon ranges and tempos for each enables tight force integration.

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I think the spiritually closest air combat model to zk from 'major' titles out of the OTA branch would be wargame:red dragon

There is some nice ideas on how to get fast airplanes and helicopters into the same game without breaking stuff though. Different AA ranges for airplanes and helicopters is one thing, the other is different vision system of air spotting and land spotting, so one can spot airplanes far far ahead of ground forces and thus react in time.

There are also meaningful micro ground against air, with the radar AA on/off toggle (Radar AA on gets detected and hit by SEAD planes) being a somewhat interesting mechanic. Zk cloaky AA could do this, but fire state setting is not set to hotkey, most facts don't get cloaky AA and Lihko is too long ranged, tough and fast to be all that effectively counter-played here. Still, a toggle or special command like jump (or armored form...etc) enable land to counter-play air without matching unit speed.

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

In a infinite eco game like OTA successors, it is only pretty acceptable to have nearly "invulnerable" units like backline map ranging artillery or superweapons as long as damage inflicted is low and barrier to entry is high. As such, all air can be balanced by nerfing attack power.

The design space for air is large and not fully explored in zk imo. High alpha bomber airplanes is just one conceptualization of air units. There are everything from serious strafing based attacks (swift but serious damage), LOS weapons evasion skirmishers (low flying, easy raider target), weapon trajectory limited air weapons (counter by terraform/terrain), low damage sustained attrition aircraft, air based terrain denial, line holding attrition aircraft, tactical ground air mobility tactics, force multiplier aircrafts, flying attitude tactics and alternative terrain-air interactions are all potentially very interesting.

Kind of a loss if AA need to remain at its zoning out state because nerfing it would result in likho killing all~

Still, it would be a large project to explore all that and probably take a significant fork.
+1 / -0
13 days ago
I for one would suggest a buff to krow would be a good thing at the moment, building one currently is just a metal donation. Would be nice to increase its cost a bit and buff the HP and dps of the guns.

The way you have to skirmish with it doesn't really fit an assault gunship. The guns may appear to have a lot of damage but most of the time only 1 or 2 are firing because it spends too long turning. Also because the beams are very narrow and there is no impact it just looks really lack luster.

The one I did in here http://zero-k.info/Mods/Detail/15 has similar guns to reaver with burst, and some tweaks to make the carpet bomb look better.
Obviously it's a bit overpowered and needs dialed back a bit, but its a good starting point.
Cost could be more like 6-7k as there isn't really any striders in that price range.
+3 / -0
13 days ago
I would be careful buffing krow.

http://zero-k.info/Battles/Detail/1277754
+0 / -0


12 days ago
Many gunships have been powerful in the past so I don't think air needs a radical change to bring this about.

In general, I don't want Starcraft style air in Zero-K. Planes and gunships should fill a distinct strategic role in the game, and not just feel like floating ground units. More specifically, I'm talking about the high tech mainlineair units of Starcraft, rather than transports and raiders such as Muta and Wraith. Transports and raiders seem to have a unique role on the game. For other units, like Broodlord and Void Ray, the ability to fly essentially does the following:
  • Confers all-terrain pathing and the ability to (mostly) phase through units.
  • Changes which weapons are allowed to shoot at it.
  • Makes the unit use flying armour/weapon upgrades.

We already have all-terrain units of average speed (spiders) so I don't think we need this with the addition of floating. Also, all-terrain is less important in ZK as the maps are much more open, so a flying unit of average speed would behave a lot like just another ground unit.

The design of Zero-K is firmly against weapon and armour types that modify how much damage is dealt. We're also wary of target restrictions as they are basically just 100% effective armour (with unit AI that doesn't waste its time shooting). So any target restriction had better be unambiguous and well justified. The upshot is, if air units start looking too much like floating ground units, then it becomes hard to justify AA as a class of target restrictions. AA would morph from being a nuke/anti-nuke style strategic-zoning interaction into more of a tactical "weapon X is not allowed to shoot unit Y" interaction. Air isn't supposed to fight AA fairly, or even be part of an army that fights AA. Sometimes a big blob of AA is like a weak anti-nuke. To use air in the area you've got to use other forces to destroy it.

Basically, I'm not looking to promote this:
quote:
Similar ranges between anti-ground and anti-air weapon also promotes a lot of air-ground combined arms forces in which air hovers over ground. Compositions like Mutalisk Zerging, Marine Science Vessal, VoldRay-Ground, Raven-Mech and so on.

Compositions like this are what I'm calling tactical uses of air units. These are armies of units with somewhat similar speed that move around in a blob and fight. The air units contribute the same sorts of things as ground units: firepower, abilities, and being in a target category. I imagine Muta-Zergling is more like the air/ground combination that I'm going for as this seems like a raiding army rather than a fighting army. But, in particular, Voidray-Ground just seems like a blob that strengthens the army it's in by adding another target restriction class.

ZK air is not necessarily meant to be used in an army blob. It is better suited to rapid response, support, to flank, or to snipe valuable targets. It creates a softer version of the nuke/antinuke interaction to give ground forces unarmed targets of value. Air units are fast but don't have the stats to rival ground units. I'm not opposed to people putting gunships in armies. Nimbus works fairly well behind a lot of armies, and Harpy has in the past. But I wouldn't bring their speeds down to ground units of a similar class.

I'm not sure if I'm even looking to promote meaningful micro between air and AA, or more than exists. The skill test for the player making the AA is a combination of valuation of what to defend and a bit of 'tower defense'. The skill of air is to judge what they can kill for what sorts of losses, and to decide whether its worth it. (Also, You can set fire state to a hotkey in the hotkeys menu.)

quote:
The common design in Starcraft is that AA has less range than the longest ranged ground units at play, and this led to a lot of air transport based game play that is one of the coolest part of that game.

On transports, I think the Starcraft transports are unique to Starcraft. They are precluded by various things deep in the design of Zero-K. I'm talking about how fast they can pick up and put down units. This seems vital to many transport tricks in Starcraft. The issue is, in ZK, we try to avoid mechanics that would be ridiculous in the hands of someone with infinite micro, and those that would simply be removed. For example, the spy in Red Alert 2 doesn't have a camouflage ability against someone who can check each of their units every game frame. Instant transports that are tanky enough to exist in battle would warp the game significantly with good unit AI. I'm sure Starcraft gets a lot out of it, but we have plenty else going on.

Less tricky stuff, such as drops, exist in ZK. I've even seen Lance and Crab repositioned via transport. Perhaps they could be a bit faster to pick up and put down their target, but I wouldn't do anything extreme. Also, don't forget that ZK battles already have plenty of tactical mobility as most units move while firing.

quote:
There is some nice ideas on how to get fast airplanes and helicopters into the same game without breaking stuff though. Different AA ranges for airplanes and helicopters is one thing, the other is different vision system of air spotting and land spotting, so one can spot airplanes far far ahead of ground forces and thus react in time.

In a similar vein to what I wrote about target restrictions, we value simplicity too much to do this. Weapons should have a single range. Units should have a single sight range. There actually already is a separate vision system for air though - detection of air units ignores terrain. The default behaviour of Spring has units detect aircraft at at 50% greater range. We removed this intentionally.

I have buffed gunships in the past by reducing AA damage and plane health by the same proportion. I think I've done it twice so far, and I'm not sure how much room there is left though. Flex AA puts a limit on how low plane health can go, and the aircraft that are the most resistent to flex AA (Nimbus and Likho) seem to be in a decent spot. So perhaps the answer is simply to give individual buffs to units that need it.

quote:
In a infinite eco game like OTA successors, it is only pretty acceptable to have nearly "invulnerable" units like backline map ranging artillery or superweapons as long as damage inflicted is low and barrier to entry is high. As such, all air can be balanced by nerfing attack power.

Many of the nerfs for Likho have been to its reload time. This is a form of reducing its overall attrition power. I'm not keen on reducing its damage though, as that might ruin the feel. Reducing range or speed sound fine though. I'm just not actually sure that air, as an entire category, is too prominent at the moment. So a nerf to Likho would need some sort of nerf to AA, or buff to other bombers, which makes things a lot trickier.

quote:
The design space for air is large and not fully explored in zk imo. High alpha bomber airplanes is just one conceptualization of air units....

Yes, there is more to explore in air-space. I recall there being two slots in the build list that anyone could try to fill. Arguably Phoenix is a slot that could be filled too. But this is much harder than just modding in a cool plane. Bombers can easily become oppressively unkillable or die without doing much. I don't recall anyone making an attempt on a strafer. I suppose your point is that this would be much easier with slower air units and AA ranges normalised down to ground unit ranges, but I'm basically saying that I'm not going to overhaul the unique characteristics of air just because it would be easier.

I don't think any sort of fork is required to explore bombers.
+2 / -0