Viech's feedback on Norf's gameplay

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Viech's feedback on Norf's gameplay

Postby Viech » Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:58 pm UTC

Hi Norfenstein,

I've been inactive in development for a couple of months but I plan to slowly get back into it now. I'm happy that you filled the gap and took over gameplay work. Unfortunately I wasn't able to test your changes yet as my ISP spoiled my attempt to join the last dev game, I'll see if it works next week. First of all you should know that I'm not bitter if you removed or simplified something I developed in the past. In some cases I agree with you and should've done it differently in the past. In other cases I plan to argue towards a compromise though, as I put quite a lot of thought into some of the things I developed. For now my feedback will be on a purely theoretical level. I guess that's fine, I'm a theorist anyway and I've always believed that a good gameplay looks good on paper, too.

Let's start with agreement. This takes me directly to Stamina. Stamina was a stupid feature and instead of trying to fix it I should've removed it, too. It is good for two things: Limiting the time you can sprint, so that sprinting is any different from walking at all, and limiting the amount of successive jumps, preventing excessive strafejumping. Sprinting always felt pointless to me – it allows you to reach the enemy closer to their base for the cost of disabling jumps and thus making the fight less interesting. From a design perspective there's no merit in faster traveling like this, if anything it makes people who don't use it or are out of stamina fall behind in a rush. During fights toggling between walking and sprinting is meaningful but ducking, jumping and switching directions are more powerful strategies that gives the feedback that an alien attacker wants to get. Limiting the amount of jumps as such doesn't quite fit the fast paced style of our game – again I see no merit in doing it. If we want to lower the effectiveness of human strafejumping there's better ways to do it that involve the movement physics. But why even do that if aliens can profit from it and we admit it to be a feature and not a bug? Let's just try what happens if humans can jump (but not sprint) as they wish. I'm sure our balance can adapt to that. On a sidenote, your human speed decrease reads like it may be over the top.

Then there's locational damage. It renders small aliens horribly broken as they require counterintuitive play. I'm not strictly an advocate of removing vertical damage zones alltogether. Personally I had prefered to experiment with randomized damage, e.g. have a dretch bite do 30-40 damage instead of the magic 36 that was chosen exactly so that a certain number of hits is needed in a certain area for a guaranteed kill. The damage modifiers themselves suffered under this hit-counting as they were never chosen directly but indirectly by the "how many hits do I need to …" calculus, too. With range-randomized damage, small modifiers would still pay off and there would be a certain reward for jumping to head level, which is intuitive, yet not requiring it, which would be unsafe and annoying for the dretch. Naturally this implies that we would fix the bug that dretches, mantises and marauders can even headbite from the ground. Either way – that's just my way of thinking here. Your more radical approach of not having vertical damage zones at all works just as well, I'm just moarning the side effect of decreasing the skill ceiling a bit.

Let's get to disagreement. Of all the things I did for Unvanquished, I take great pride in bringing the momentum system to where it is. It's the perfect illusion. I somehow managed to make it so that individual performance is rewarded with unobstrusive visual feedback and turned into a sort of team progress that reflects the team's recent performance and how well they use the new weaponry they unlock. It's a perfect illusion because while it offers all that to the player, the dev game records of momentum gain show that it grows pretty much linearly (and equally) for both teams on average. That means it gives us the complete control over what upgrade is unlocked, on average, after how many minutes of the match, which is pretty damn awesome and worth maintaining. The momentum system as it stands now is by far too spot-on to overload it with anti-camping mechanics. There's also no need to simplify it, really. It was the result of a long design process with lots of test games and quite a few different approaches and this was about as straight-forward as it got. I dislike being too specific when giving feedback, but awarding momentum only for certain targets doesn't even sound like simplification to me. Either way, please don't mess with momentum before you don't value it for what it has become, that would very likey result in a regresssion. (If it ain't broken, don't fix it.)

Let's get to informed indifference. Build points. Actually, my own approach is too complex to be any good. The mining is just too much math that players are asked to keep track of. What's worse is that it allows slow games to get even slower. By a magnitude. Mine and Ishq's idea back then was to make the loss of structures matter. A noble goal I still find, as it's a much more natural and intuitive camping-counter than any nasty messing around one may do to my innocent momentum system. By now I think the goal wasn't worth the trouble we got ourselves into by allowing a fuckton of buildings to be placed on the map if no team cares to attack for too long. Making the build point pool depend directly on the number and efficiency (distance to each other – that part of my design was good!) of drills/leeches (while in addition allowing the replacement of existing buildables even if there is no positive amount of points left) sounds like a better approach indeed. I'm not sure if that's what you're doing but either way, go ahead with your experiments and simplifications. Just remember it should be a requirement to have any notion of drills and leeches in your system, if only to give two nice models a function and increase the economic complexity of our game slightly.

Build everywhere. Meh, why not. My power code is computationally inefficient and gameplay-insignificant anyway and I don't particularly look forward to porting it to CBSE either. What I moarn more than my code is the satisfaction that you get when you blow up one egg and destroy a whole forward. Repeater explosions as such are fun, too, even though the repeater never really found its way into the game. Speaking of the repeater, maybe we can figure out a new use for the model together. I would hate to throw it out or give it an insignificant alibi ability only (hello defense computer). I'm not as indifferent about your setting number two. It renders Reactor and Overmind insignificant, which is bad. We do want some notion of weak spots, don't we? To be more pragmatic about it, if a game element doesn't serve an important unique goal, cut it. We should certainly not remove Overmind and Reactor from the game given that we have nice models for them. I don't see a better use for them than to be responsible for power everywhere on the map. It's a good and simple design.

Simplification of personal credits. It should be obvious that, if we allow the purchase of one-time equipment (grenades) at the armory, and/or if we want to have extremely powerful weapons/classes in the late game (Luci, the Tyrant if it was any good), and/or if we want to allow players to make meaningful economic decisions (grenade rush with or without jetpack), then in in all these cases we need to limit the availability of these items in some way. Up to this point, we seem to agree as you didn't fully remove the credit system, though you quite radically cut it down to a bare minimum. I feel your current approach may be a loss in terms of personal reward, making the skillful assaults in the first minutes of the game less of a deal and making it quite irrelevant how many dretches you blast in the air during your luci rush. Maybe there's a middle ground here.

That's it for now, I hope to be giving more feedback in the near future. Keep up the good work! :smile:
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Re: Viech's feedback on Norf's gameplay

Postby Comet_ » Tue Oct 20, 2015 7:13 pm UTC

As always, very collected and well-stated opinions. I agree with all your points especially the last about personal credits.
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Re: Viech's feedback on Norf's gameplay

Postby Tom » Tue Oct 20, 2015 10:32 pm UTC

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