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Smitty
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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 2:59 am    Post subject: Smitty's Workshop Reply with quote

Howdy folks, Smitty here. I’m going to us this as a running thread up to keep people updated on what I’m working on. I’ll also use this thread to post stream times. My summer schedule frees up Fridays so I’ll probably stream a few times at twitch.tv/smittytron

To start things off I’ll go over my Summer 2017 playtest. The goal of this test is find proper balance changes that won't go overboard in changing how the game is played.
Before I get into specific changes, I’ll begin with my assessment of where the state of the game is currently.

The balance between Allies and Soviets is in a much happier place this release. By happier I mean I can’t at this point confidently say Allies>Soviets like we all could before the last release. Allies still have an advantage in the early game with medics but their mid game dominance is no more. Even though Allied static had its price nerf, we’ve been playing competitive games under those rules for half a year now; leaving us with the flame tower buff as the only real change that can explain our new state of balance.

What the FT buff did more so than just increasing the speed of fireballs, is that Soviets now have increased survivability in the time of the game where they were most vulnerable vs Allies. This gives them the time they need to build to their strengths – vehicle versatility and teslas.

Lorrydriver often said that the problem with Soviets is that they have to build all their vehicles to be effective. They need flak trucks, tanks, V2s and often APCs to compete. Now that Soviets have the time to build what they need, the consequences regarding vehicles have been turned on their head. What was once the Soviets greatest weakness is now their greatest strength. They get to wield a multifunctional arsenal of vehicles while allies are stuck spamming medium tanks and artillery.

While I believe the win rate is in a better place between the factions, there are still problem areas of the game where one side outperforms the other:
- Allies have an early-game advantage with medics, especially on maps where the enemy ore patch can be camped early with a base crawl.
- Allies lack vehicle versatility
-The Iron Curtain is incredibly powerful, giving Soviets a significant advantage late game unless…
-The Allied player can get GPS up. Even though GPS can be hard to get out, and the Soviet player should at least have one or two IC’s to stop it; once GPS gets up, well, we call it map hacks for a reason.

Aside from faction balance, the strength of base crawling remains a problem but plenty of us are presenting solutions and playtests on the issue. With the flametower change as an example, I don't believe a massive change is necessary there.

With that said, here are the changes I will be testing:

- MCV price from 2000 to 2500, speed down by 10 and construction range down to 14 from 16: These changes target the strength of the MCV which has been well documented. Last release the build time was increased by eight seconds but without the corresponding price increase. The extra cost makes destroying con yards, especially multiple con yards, more rewarding. The speed decrease should primarily aid the defender as they will have more precious seconds to prepare for the base crawl. The construction range reduction targets the strength of bases in general, particularly the range and time in which a base will ‘gobble’ up the map.

- Ranger has an additional infantry slot: This change is designed to carry the usefulness of the ranger later into the game. With this the ranger can drop off two-man rocket teams for eco harass. For those who want to play like Hi, a Tanya/medic ranger is possible here.

- Medic HP reduced from 80 to 50. AMHOL has been calling for this one for a long time. Maybe, just maybe, medics shouldn’t have 60% more health than a rifleman.

- MGG and Phase transport swapped between England and France. British spy replaced by sniper drop. In my Spies, Snipers and the French thread, I detail the issues with Allied special units. This gives each allied faction an offensive unit, and removes the $250 British Spy.

- AA gun and SAM site range changed to 8c0. This is my solution to the SAM site discussion thread started by Orb. It nerfs the AA gun by two cells and buffs the SAM site by half a cell.

- Grenadier explosion changed to small explosion from big explosion. Chance on death to explode changed from 50% to 100%. This is just a test to see if changing the gren explosion would make them too hard to stop in the beginning of games because the large explosion apparently bothers some people. The change to 100% is because I don’t like RNG in an RTS.

- Mammoth turret traverse speed increased from 2 to 3. This might seem self-serving as I have apparently developed a reputation as ‘that guy who builds mammoths’ but this is more of a counter proposal to some build time reduction tests I’ve seen. The mammoth should not be a spammable main battle tank like the heavy, but should instead fill its role of DPS platform. Therefore, if people think the mammoth is underperforming (I don’t think it is) any change should help it perform its role better.

- Iron Curtain invulnerability duration lowered from 20 seconds to 16: The iron curtain is a bit strong at the moment. It’s also difficult for the defending player to judge when an IC will end.

- MIG reload time halved: IIRC MIGs in the original game reloaded very quickly compared to YAKs. MIGs are widely perceived as underpeforming so I figure this is a good place to start.

Below are links to my playtest maps.
Team Maps:
Six Below Zero - http://resource.openra.net/maps/21602/
Opposite Force - http://resource.openra.net/maps/21603/
Vihaan Lunta - http://resource.openra.net/maps/21609/
Tandem - http://resource.openra.net/maps/21601/

1v1:
Pitfight - http://resource.openra.net/maps/21610/
Interference - http://resource.openra.net/maps/21605/
Behind the Veil - http://resource.openra.net/maps/21606/
Agenda - http://resource.openra.net/maps/21607/
Shadow Fiend - http://resource.openra.net/maps/21574/
Patches - http://resource.openra.net/maps/21619/
Sirocco - http://resource.openra.net/maps/21573/
Roadkings - http://resource.openra.net/maps/21644/
Hesperian Grove - http://resource.openra.net/maps/21645/
Desert Rats - http://resource.openra.net/maps/21733/

There are a few things I wanted to do with this playtest that I haven’t figured out yet. The first is extra engineer abilities. Engi husk salvage is something high on my list. The idea is that the engineer would salvage a husk for a percentage of the destroyed vehicle’s value, using ExternalCapture and CashTrickler. The problem is that the mechanic uses Capture to restore husks, so using the engineer to salvage a husk restores it to a working vehicle instead of removing it as intended.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is that GPS is simply too strong. I’d like to test two possible nerfs, one being the removal of infantry dots from GPS detection. The other would be making GPS visual to only the commander, meaning that units should not auto fire into the fog of war just because GPS tells them to.

I'll post more thoughts on the game later. If you have a specific map you want to see this playtest on feel free to contact me through the OpenRA discord.

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Lifetime OpenRA winnings: $183.03 .... Still shocked I made money doing this.


Last edited by Smitty on Sun Aug 27, 2017 1:55 am; edited 10 times in total
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FRenzy
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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 8:13 am  Reply with quote

Great job Smitty, I feel good about all the changes you are proposing. Smile


If I may however point out a remark (is this post the good place for it ? Otherwise, where ?), concerning medics. Reducing their HP is a good point to start. But it seems to me, that the real problem with medics is their healing "power" so-to-say.

Mixing enough medics inside an infantry blob makes the frontline quite difficult to kill (especially for Soviets who lack effective anti-infantry weaponry)

I think it has to do with the burst value, which gives an initial and significant advantage in engagements.

I'd suggest reducing the burst effect and/or reducing the healing value.


Nevertheless, thanks for the initiative !

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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 9:21 am  Reply with quote

Even though I love that people wanna bring out their ideas and test every variation of RA but currently there are already so many testing maps existing aka SoScareds changes, Navy changes from Blackened, Onoms attack priority changes.

I feel that will soon get out of hand if we test too much at the same time.

To topic I feel like RA doesnt necessarly has to change how its currently played but it finally needs way more viable buildorders and strategies you can go for and SoScareds testmaps currently provide that feeling for me.

Btw the change I would like to have for SoScareds testmap would be the Mammoth Tank change...his turret is unbearable to micro currently.

Mammoth Tanks for live!
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Smitty
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 4:40 am  Reply with quote

FRenzy wrote (View Post):
Great job Smitty, I feel good about all the changes you are proposing. Smile

If I may however point out a remark (is this post the good place for it ? Otherwise, where ?), concerning medics. Reducing their HP is a good point to start. But it seems to me, that the real problem with medics is their healing "power" so-to-say.



The HP nerf primarily targets using medics as meatshields. A nerf to their healing power is certainly on my radar for a potential second playtest. I've also wondered if a medic really should be able to toss heal bombs from 4 cells away.

ZxGanon wrote (View Post):

Even though I love that people wanna bring out their ideas and test every variation of RA but currently there are already so many testing maps existing aka SoScareds changes, Navy changes from Blackened, Onoms attack priority changes.

I feel that will soon get out of hand if we test too much at the same time.



You should have seen how many playtests OMnom alone put out a few months ago Drunk

We got a little bunt out on the testing last time, so a secondary purpose of my playtest is to have one with changes conservative enough to test while still feeling like playing the core game.

_____

Going to try my hand at streaming Friday. Say around 6:00 p.m. UTC. Could use some co-hosts in discord if folks want to join.

twitch.tv/smittytron

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Lorrydriver
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:18 pm  Reply with quote

I've played a few games on these maps I'd say that I do like most of the changes.

Two things though: As we already talked about, snipers seem too powerful, almost like having a rather sleepy but still dangerous Tanya on heroin.
Secondly, I think the AA-Gun should slightly outrange the SAM-Site slightly, perhaps the change difference shouldn't be as high as 2.5 but rather 1-1.5, reason being that the release that changed the yak vision. In my opinion that has increased the need for the AA-Gun to be superior to the SAM-Site a lot. Also, it felt very hard to deal with air units as allies once you lost air superiority.

However, excellent job on your playtest maps, I'd highly recommend everyone to try them out, subtle changes that still change the dynamic in the game slightly without forcing the game to go into a clompletely other direction. I'd say the changes also go very well with most of SoS changes.
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SoScared
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 3:19 pm  Reply with quote

More alternatives on game balancing and changes will benefit the game one way or another. I don't believe adding more play-tests poses a threat to the balancing process as long as the involved can differentiate the context of each individual change.

Looking forward to the stream!
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eskimo
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 4:54 pm  Reply with quote

The IC and GPS changes are interesting. Be nice to see them in action.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 5:18 pm  Reply with quote

Sorry for not implementing and only suggesting. GPS could also only work in a large radius from the tech center. This would also give incentive to build multiple allied tech centers.
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SoScared
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 7:25 pm  Reply with quote

@noobmapmaker: that's a really cool idea.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 8:17 pm  Reply with quote

noobmapmaker wrote (View Post):
Sorry for not implementing and only suggesting. GPS could also only work in a large radius from the tech center. This would also give incentive to build multiple allied tech centers.


I wanted to do this for the Radar Jammer just for fun, but I could never figure out how to do it.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:34 pm  Reply with quote

Only caught the one game, which was an MCV fest Laughing

Just came on twitch to watch, but you've all gone. Please make the video available offline Smile
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 4:05 am  Reply with quote

eskimo wrote (View Post):
Only caught the one game, which was an MCV fest Laughing

Just came on twitch to watch, but you've all gone. Please make the video available offline Smile


It's 5 am and I'm bored, and it's your fault, Smitty Sad ENABLE VOD!!!
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Smitty
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:49 pm  Reply with quote

AMHOL wrote (View Post):

It's 5 am and I'm bored, and it's your fault, Smitty Sad ENABLE VOD!!!


I should have that working now and theoretically I have the sound woes from last time sorted out, or at least fixable in stream.

Looking to stream again today, lets say sometime after 5:00 p.m. UTC. I'll have to cut it off at 8:00 p.m. to go tend to a smoker. Something about bacon-wrapped onion rings. Grin

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Smitty
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 7:08 pm  Reply with quote

Some thoughts after the first couple weeks of the playtest:

- Snipers have been the most obvious change so far. They seem a tad strong at the moment so I’ll test later with a reduced fire rate. Outside of that they prove to be high-priority micro targets for both the user and the opposing player. (The user can a-move, but to keep the snipers alive they need good positioning and occasionally some stop-key to get them back into stealth.) This makes them more than just an a-move unit, which is always a plus.

- The phase transport to France is a success just based on the fact that Hi is now able to build Fake Structures AND stealth APC’s.

- The medic impact is also noticeable. I've seen players not tanking with them in the tests.

- The construction radius reduction has a positive effect on base sprawl, but may require some maps to be edited for secondary ore patch placement. (e.g. Desert Rats and Sidestep)

- For whatever reason I haven’t seen too many Soviet late games with my tests, which makes it hard to judge the changes to mammoths, migs and the Iron Curtain. I’ve seen some lobbies with SMT maps going, so if you’ve got some replays with the changes in action, let me know.

And a couple thoughts going forward:

- I’ve got a list of small changes I might add to a later playtest. One change I’m looking at is to take the crush ability away from MCVs. I’ve seen lone MCVs get out of far too many pickles, and this would improve the odds of killing a facechecked MCV if your infantry are blocking it. (I know someone will say it doesn’t make sense that a giant transformer can’t run over people. But you have to remember that in the transform sequence the front of the truck ends up inside the construction yard. Having human entrails inside a work area is a major health code violation!)

- There are some production speed ideas that I’d like to weigh in on. Soscared is testing increased production speed on war factories, and has also suggessted a $500 barracks to address the barracks spam. And a few months ago omnom tested a cheaper war factory, (1600 or 1650 I believe) which had some positive feedback from players, myself included.
I’d like to see the $500 barracks and the $1650 war factory merged in a test. The increased wf production speed seems overclocked to me, and also doesn’t do anything about the openers. The cheaper wf should make the single ref opener more viable with a couple extra rifles to defend, or perhaps with a pillbox instead. This would also compensate for the loss of the extra $100 from the increase to rax price.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:14 pm  Reply with quote

About the warfactory speedreduction: it doesnt do much for the opener, but I do think that it creates more viable strategies in post-opening/midgame. However, with the costreduction things might get overclocked indeed. I do think it is good that you need less warfactories to reach the speedcap, simply because theyre way more expensive and no-one builds more than 2-3 WFs per game. My gutfeeling says: 8/9 or even 10 barracks to reach the speedcap and 5 WFs to reach the speedcap. But better test your changes first and then evaluate.

My support for the WF change comes mainly becuase I think it would be fun to make smaller and larger tankblobs possible as an alternative to infantry - or in combination with infantry. Nowadays tanks serve mainly to soak up damage and to squash, but it would be nice to actually use them as a attackforce as well.

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