This was not done to fix any particular problem but because I simply never enjoyed the stamina system in Tremulous/Unvanquished and wanted to see if removing it entirely would be an improvement. In my opinion it is, but from everyone's feedback there seem to be two issues:
1) Humans are annoyingly slow. Part of this might be people not yet being used to bunnyhopping everywhere as a human, but it probably has more to do with Unvanquished's maps not having enough long, open space to get up to speed. When such corridors are available humans are actually faster than they used to be since I tried to match the new human speeds with the average speed of sprinting/walking cycles -- and ended up making them faster than that because it felt way, way too slow.
2) Human movement is not as interesting as it could be. I don't like Tremulous's stamina system, but that doesn't mean stamina can't be done better. Urban Terror's system, for example, feels fine to me. And with or without stamina, more movement options like ledge-climbing, sliding, etc. would be fun and interesting. Something like the wall-kicking from Warsaw would make bunnyhopping more viable too (since you could maintain momentum around sharp corners).
This seems to be generally well-liked, but has the effect actually been noticeable, or are people just appreciating the reduction in camping caused by other changes? If you were in any of the games I was a part of -- except for the very first one on the first day we tested this -- then it wasn't even turned on. There, apparently, are now enough others incentives for people to play aggressively, and since in your base your structures will steal some of your kills anyway I no longer think this is something worth considering.
This change was not motivated by dretch floor-headbites. As I mentioned in the original post, I don't think vertically stacked locational damage makes a lot of sense for melee-range attacks since when up-close the part you hit has less to do with how well you aim than simply how high up you are (either while standing, as with tyrants, or because you're jumping constantly anyway, like marauders do, etc.). I'm sure there's disagreement on this point, but don't let it overshadow what I think are the more important benefits of front-back locational damage: it promotes alien teamwork and is more tactically interesting:
Humans naturally have an easier time fighting together -- with range weapons you can easily stand back and focus fire on a single target. Aliens in melee range tend to just get in each other's way. But if your teammates can do 50% more damage attacking the human that's focused on you, that goes a long way towards giving aliens a reason to fight together, which besides being more fun is really something you'd expect from a hive/swarm of insectoid creatures.
Similar to that, you might also expect aliens to rely on stalking and ambushing more than the headlong rush towards the guys-with-guns you typically see in Tremulous and Unvanquished. If locational damage was less about aiming well and more about how you attack (e.g. from behind, having successfully remained hidden as some humans passed you by), I think aliens would be more tactically rewarding and more thematically appropriate.
These are also the reasons I don't think aliens should have vulnerable damage regions -- the swarming and stalking are things that are better thematically suited to aliens than humans, and they're in part meant to make up for some of the inherent disadvantage of melee attacks.
I think this change (along with build point pools) makes playing a builder much more fun and I very much wouldn't want to go back to having power/creep building restrictions. I'm largely indifferent about retaining overminds/reactors as single points of failure for teams, which seems to be the biggest concern about this. I don't think it's necessary, but that kind of capture-the-flag focus can be fun.
Besides desperately needing UI for queued build points, I think this change was a big success. As a builder I no longer have to worry about doing things "wrong" and permanently losing build points due to bad placement or a risky forward base that didn't pay off.
I'm especially pleased with how this directly and obviously rewards map control -- if the enemy team isn't be aggressive enough you can spread drills/leaches around the map and gain a lot of build points for use on the front-line. "Spamming" drills/leaches around the map with no defenses might seem like a misfeature but it was actually completely intentional: think of them as flags a team can use to stake a claim to part of a map, which the other team is free to contest if they're able.
This does suggest one change we might want: you shouldn't be able to "secretly" claim something so it should really hard, or impossible, to hide drills/leaches. Bright lights, loud noises, or just always showing up on radar for everyone would be an improvement.
First, an aside:
Ishq wrote:Simple Momentum: The idea of momentum is that the inner workings are meant to be opaque to the user. Doing what "feels" right, like attacking, killing, building, or helping your team in some way should result in momentum.
I might be in a tiny minority here, but I hate it when games make systems opaque because they're intended to be intuitive enough to not need explanation. It's basically always the case that you're better off learning how the system actually works because player intuition never exactly lines up with designer intuition. Even if there's good feedback for doing something considered "right" there's no way to know what things you aren't doing are also "right".
It turns out that's not hugely relevant, though, because, as Viech has since explained to me, the current momentum system isn't really that complicated outside of the largely ignorable way momentum scales over time (ignorable because it doesn't affect the decisions you make in-game). So "simple momentum" isn't the best name for this change as the only major difference is building no longer gives momentum and spawns are the only structure you get momentum for destroying.
Viech wrote:Do you actually enjoy the fact that killing enemy non-spawn structures doesn't give you anything, neither credits nor momentum? I think it's nice to have an additional motivation to do what sometimes needs to be done to break base. It's possible that a perimeter turret is everything you can kill with your current team upgrades and I don't see why it should feel more like a necessity than a success.
As an attacker, no, I didn't enjoy that, but as a builder, yes, I very much appreciated being free to push turrets or a booster forward to help my team without the risk of "feeding" the enemy momentum. I can see how gaining momentum from building in the first place should offset potential gains from the enemy destroying your structures, but it'd feel much nicer to me if the whole process were momentum-neutral.
So why make spawns exceptional? Because this was really a kind of philosophical experiment. Momentum was designed so that everything we as designers wanted to reward as "good behavior" in-game could be directly rewarded with momentum. My theory is that there's no need to go to the trouble of assigning rewards to anything but the core objectives of the game (of which there are exactly two: destroy all enemy spawns and kill all enemy players) because by rewarding those things, all other "good behavior" is indirectly rewarded. Anything that doesn't help you win the game doesn't deserve a reward. It's a much simpler system to understand for players and there's no way to get it wrong by accidently incentivizing useless or harmful actions.
All that said, my opinion on this isn't very strong. I made this change because I wanted to test the theory with actual gameplay. From what I've seen it seems valid, but I don't know how many games one would have to play to be sure.
I think, at minimum, this showed that there are fun improvements we could make to how player upgrades work that haven't previously been considered. Unfortunately, any serious structural changes to this probably have to be planned out ahead of time if we want the game to remain playable during testing. I think this redesign should be our next top priority.