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Zero-K v1.12.4.0 - Combat Engineer

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The most experimental change of this patch gives Engineer Commanders the ability to build units out in the field. The goal is to make it more than the base building chassis. A much more normal change accentuates the speed of Strike Commanders by reducing the speed of the competing Recon Commander. Planes have been tweaked slightly, with the most notable change being Sparrow stealing Owl's radar jammer. Disco Rave Party has some ludicrous buffs since the newish spin-up requirement had a greater than expected impact on its power relative to Zenith.

For all its weird experiments, this patch is more about tech than balance. The engine has been updated with a new decal rendering system that performs better and will let us do more with explosion scars. Unit selections are drawn much faster and many of their edge cases have been solved. A new ambient occlusion shader gives the everything a bit more sense of depth. This is on top of a bunch of fixes and polish that built up over the last few months.

No Cold Take this week, because there was a lot to do for the patch.


Engineer Commander can now pick a unit to build out in the field.
  • Use the Copy Factory Blueprint command on a friendly functional factory to select a unit.
  • The unit can be switched during the game.
  • A unit is automatically selected from the plopped factory.
  • Set your plop selection under Settings/Unit Behaviour/Default States/Misc/Blueprint.

Recon Commander is slower to let Strike have an identity as the speediest commander.
  • Speed 43.5 -> 40.5 elmos/s
  • Jump reload time 20 -> 22/22/20/20/18/16 s
  • Jump speed 180 -> 135/135/142.5/150/157.5/165 elmos/s

Lightning Gun is better, particularly against swarms.
  • Reload time 1.83 -> 1.73s

Owl no longer jams, by popular demand.
  • Removed 700 range radar jammer.

Sparrow is now the radar jamming plane.
  • Now has a 540 range radar jammer.
  • Increased manoeuvrability slightly to make coverage more consistent.

Hacksaw deals more damage to catch up to Phoenix.
  • Damage per volley 1000 -> 1400

Phoenix was a bit too good, especially when reused.
  • Rearm time 8s -> 10s
  • one-shot by Hacksaw as per above

Thunderbird has more health to escape Hacksaw.
  • Health 1200 -> 1600

Disco Rave Party spins faster, also by popular demand.
  • Increased spin cap by 50%, increasing its peak rate of fire from 1 to 1.5 shots/s.
  • The spin bar has been rescaled so 66% is the old maximum.
  • Spin up to 66% is unchanged. It still takes 90s to reach its old spin.
  • Spin from 66% to 100% takes 40s.
  • Aiming is quite slow above 66%, so a fixed target is required to exceed the old spin cap.

Disco Rave Party is also deals more direct damage and is more accurate.
  • Accuracy improved by 20%
  • Red Killer damage 3000 -> 3500 (matches Eos)
  • Orange Roaster damage 300 -> 250
  • Orange Roaster duration 15s -> 8s
  • Orange Roaster AoE radius 320 -> 400 (larger than static shields)
  • Yellow Slammer damage 800 -> 1000
  • Green Stamper damage 400 -> 600
  • Green Stamper smooth radius 240 -> 300
  • Green Stamper smooths more per hit
  • Violet Slugger damage 450 -> 500
  • Violet Slugger slow damage 4500 -> 5000

Aircraft can no longer fly so far outside the map.
  • The external map border starts 400 elmos away, down from 800 elmos.
  • The border is softer, so brushing it is less drastic.


  • Added new explosion crater scars to use the engine's new decal system. The new scars have better performance, stick to the ground properly, and have new features such as glow and variation by weapon type.
  • Added a screen space ambient occlusion widget. Basically, it adds subtle shading to put shadows in every nook and cranny. The widget is enabled for hardware that supports deferred rendering, which is most hardware.
  • Improved the walk animations of the Engineer and Recon Commanders.
  • Disco Rave Party has firing dust and complains every time it tries to turn.
  • Improved the look of Ogre missile explosions.
  • Fixed jittery Detriment launch smoke.
  • Improved Detriment and Jugglenaut stomp effects.
  • Made a few effects that were simulation-limited run at >30Hz if able.
  • Reaver aims more smoothly.


  • Updated selection circle rendering (thanks moreginger, and Beherith for the original shader). Selections look similar, but render much faster and resolve a few graphical edge cases suffered by the previous widget. Selection visuals can be configured under Settings/Interface/Selection/Default Selections.
  • Jumpleg units retain jump commands while midair so they can jump as soon as they find the ground.
  • Hermit auto skirmishes from slightly further away, making it better at dealing with Redback (thanks Mach565).
  • Improved replay controls (thanks moreginger).
  • Improved Athena and Newton selection volumes.
  • Control groups now obey selection rank.
  • Added an option for control groups to ignore some ranks.
  • Autogroups can now be used for buildings.
  • Autogroups no longer override manual groups set during production.
  • Added incomplete French and Ukrainian translations.


  • Added lava to Stronghold because it looks like it wants it.
  • Added boxes for Ravaged Remake v1.2


Some awards show up almost every game in nonsensical ways. To address this, the minimum threshold for a few awards has been raised.
  • Spoils of War requires 3.3x more reclaim.
  • Slow King requires 2x more slow damage.
  • Peacemaker requires 4x more disarm damage.


  • Add customParams.turn_accel_factor to control the angular inertia of units.
  • Add Spring.Utilities.ConcatArrays to concatenate arrays.


  • Fixed split switching spectators to players in the split room.
  • Fixed load order of replays so the most recent replays show up first.
  • Fixed Bellicose Islands boxes (edge gap east).
  • Fixed a rare issue with the external map grid (thanks AntlerForce).
  • Fixed Newton launcher auto-jump sometimes causing jumps on the launch pad.
  • Fixed Envoy overkill prevention.
  • Fixed command insert not working with line formations.
  • Fixed jumping units sometimes using their walk animation mid-air.
  • Fixed shields sometimes not activating when rapidly thrown out of the water.
  • Units no longer move to clear the "entrance" of plane factories when a plane is built.
  • Units that start retreating are no longer automatically deselected for spectators.
  • Fixed the select damaged/healthy hotkey presets.
  • Fixed Fire Once leaving Set Target applied.
  • Fixed Restore not working correctly on random maps and maps with changed water level.
  • Fixed Sparrow's wingtip ribbons.
  • Fixed teleportation sometimes leaving tracks.
  • Fixed slow and Stardust heat rounding.
  • Fixed missing ghosts for some campaign-only structures.
  • Fixed orbital drops of ships trying to land ships on the sea floor.
+21 / -0

51 days ago
Performance on newer machines is definitely noticeable :). But sad cause odin nerf :(
+0 / -0

50 days ago
Nice :)

Ooph, harsh nerfs to recon com. Particularly the slower jumping speed makes it much harder to escape a duck ball.
+1 / -0
50 days ago
Only nerfs for recon? If jump is the main differentiator than maybe should have not been nerfed (reload increased and speed decreased)
+0 / -0
50 days ago
THank you for the hard work! Interesting changes.
+1 / -0




P.S (PLEASE SUPPORT https://www.patreon.com/googlefrog )
+9 / -0

50 days ago
Thanks for the hard work! That we can have so much fun with this beloved game!
+0 / -0
50 days ago
Thanks Frog, these look great.

I'm particularly keen to see the impact of the owl/sparrow change, I think that's a great change and long overdue.

I do wonder if this update may make the owl obsolete - why have a radar plane if we can just build advanced radar? I wonder if something like increasing the LOS on the owl might make it have a role.
+0 / -0
I think that Owl's already generous vision radius will cause it to go on having a role. Certainly if I am playing with Lances I am going to go on begging my air player to provide targets with Owls. Even without the jammer, Owl is quite a bit less vulnerable near the front line than Advradar (and has more direct LoS anyway).
+4 / -0
44 days ago
Use the Copy Factory Blueprint command on a friendly functional factory to select a unit.

cool idea, but this hasn't worked the few times I've tried copying a unit from a teammate's factory. is the expected behavior that I can only copy units from my own factory?
+0 / -0
44 days ago
You need to be in range of the factory for it to work
+0 / -0

44 days ago
+0 / -0
44 days ago
hmm, I tried it a few times when the update first dropped. I made sure to stand directly on top of my teammate's factory, but no dice. I'll give it another shot next time I'm in lobster pot.
+0 / -0
44 days ago
The Owl and Sparrow cost stay the same?
+0 / -0

42 days ago
took my downvote down. after playnig w odin it feels still fun and rewarding without the heavy cheese
+0 / -0
23 days ago
Im unhappy about the Owl.
+0 / -0

23 days ago
Old Owl was way too strong though, pretty much a mandatory unit in lobpot.
+1 / -0
It is still a mandatory unit in lob pot, and not because of the jamming.

If one team has them and the other does not, one is blind and one makes informed decisions. Whoever controls the sky tends to win, even if victory does not come from the sky itself.

IMO the only thing removing jamming from the owl did is AA has an easier time sniping owls, so we have to be a bit more careful when handling them. Attack-move, while sometimes suicidal, still does enough of a good job to maintain a distance automatically. Set the owls to retreat at 30% and they pretty much don't die unless they mistakenly dive right in or the enemy suddently completes an artemis.

Owl is still a VERY strong unit.

With that said, I've expressed this many times before, ZK has extreme ground to air defenses and not having jamming does make it so owls need to be cared for more frequently.
+0 / -0
23 days ago
Just need to pair a sparrow with an owl now....
slightly more expensive, but does give on demand scouting on the front if needed urgently
+0 / -0