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Author Topic: Behemoths + Demo gameplay change roadmap  (Read 10353 times)
Daemon
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« on: February 02, 2015, 01:42:43 pm »

Hello.

The following posts is aimed at giving all the details regarding the course of the gameplay change in the title: Behemoths, and the way they interact with Demo charges.

Having caused numerous complaints, whining and cursing devs for years before the release of XR 1.0, on various threads and but mostly ingame, the so-called 'behelaming' or 'behecamping' which refers to the Behemoths' ability to abuse their strength and damage around spawnpoints (subs and flags in particular), finally received, in 2011, its own discussion thread started in the newly created Re-balancing Suggestions forum:

S20: Behemoth spawn point camping usefulness decreased.

This thread, that did not escape the usual Newerth drama, proved to actually be a good place for discussions where very good ideas were bounced around, dissected and in the end, somewhat of a consensus was reached. Later, a group of admins (Daemon, Clemens, Shagroth, Tirza, Groentjuh, with the occasional input of Darkbread, Mchief, Gridfon and DJ) debated the issue further and settled upon the best change that was available at the time, which was implemented in the Evolution sandbox mod and later found its way in XR 1.1.

But what was it all about? These were the main reasons that caused complaining and the desire for a fix to be devised:
Flags:
  • -Behemoths could spawn at flags and camp them, effectively making it almost impossible to recapture.
  • -But even if humans somehow made a successful suicide run to capture a flag, Behes would shortly get it back.
  • -Behemoths could just spawn first when a flag was captured and clean the area of mines and Demo charges set by humans.

Subs:
  • -Behemoths (used by some comms, no less) would spawn to defend the Sub against demorunners.
  • -With their damage and HP, they used to take any fighting chance away from demorunners trying to guard their Demos.
  • -Not only that, but Behemoths would just spawn and 1-hit-1-kill (1h1k) the Demo charges around the Sub.
  • -The above tactics became a real problem in CWs, where everybody knew behespawning was the best way to defend against demoruns and many clans, players and comms just kept on abusing it.

It is obvious that it was a complex problem and there was no easy solution. Least of all, just taking everything away from the Behemoths and rendering them useless. Throughout that discussions thread, a number of fixes and compensations were discussed. What we ended up with was a fix with multiple layers. It fixed the most important problems while keeping the siege units balance.

Problem 1: Behe flag camping and more importantly, capturing.
Solution: Behemoths lost their ability to capture flags.
Compensation: The Nomads ejecting from Ballis and Catas lost their temporary invulnerability, severely lowering their chance of actually escaping death after their siege vehicle was attacked, so they can go back to rearm or go forward to capture flags.

Problem 2: Behe steamrolling demorunners.
Solution: Behe damage vs. units was lowered, so that now, Lvl9+ Savages and Lvl5+ Legos could block and survive a hit.
Compensation: After blocking that tree trunk, human units lose their ability to jump and their speed is reduced by 20%. They survive the hit, but they can't run as far.

Problem 3: Behemoths 1h1k-ing Demo charges.
Solution: In lack of a better idea at the time, the Behemoths would cause the Demos they hit to explode. This would deter Behespawners from hitting Demos around Subs.

The problem with the solution to Problem 3 was that by fixing one issue caused others to appear. Also, the technical difficulties of implementing the fix proved insurmountable and a hack-fix-workaround was used as a last ditch effort. For some reason, because of how convoluted and messy silverback code is, Clemens, with all his usual obsessive dedication, failed to repair it. The !damageradius function, a GS function needed to cause the Demo to explode when hit, simply ignores the unit that hits and kills the object causing the blast, in this case the Demo charge. The Behe that killed the Demo was the only unit immune to its blast!

But because something had to be done, we came up with a workaround, although an unclean one: we figured out the average damage a Behe would get from a Demo exploding, and we forced a damage of 3000hp to artificially be inflicted on the Behe hitting the Demo. If another Behemoth B was actually closer to the Demo explosion (inflicting 6500 damage at it center, thus being able to kill a Behe at gates, for instance), when Behemoth A hit the Demo, the rapidly decaying splash damage would cause Behemoth B to actually take less damage (say, 1500) than Behemoth A, that was further away! And that haunted us.

(GameScript - the scripting language that governs many items/states/weapons behaviour, like the wards to explode when targets are in range etc.)

Now, even though from 2012 to 2014 the change was in the Evolution sandbox mod, it wasn't played enough so it failed to produce proper feedback. Most such changes can only be properly tested on mainstream pubs anyway, because of, well, lack of players! As such, some other issues came up when it hit the general population.

So, while the solution to the 3rd Problem did prevent Behes from spawning at Sub to kill Demos, it had side effects.
  • The solution was hacky and inconsistent. Behes hitting Demo could be damaged more than Behes closer to the demo.
  • It lowered Behemoths' offensive ability, since humans quickly figured out that Behe trains and pushes can be countered with a Demo spam Behes can do absolutely nothing about.
  • Moreover, using Demos defensively against Behes, combined with Demohugging (standing right on demo) would force Behes to actually not want to hit either (Demo or Lego) or get the 3000 damage penalty.

As you know, although enough players liked this new situation, there were many that didn't, especially comms, and especially the offensive Behe nerfing. That was not the intention of the fix, which aimed at preventing Behes from spawning at Subs and killing Demos placed by demorunners. Other counter-fixes were considered, like giving Behes researchable upgrades (armor, speed), but they would only unnecessarily complicate things further. And lately, another problem (that i've mentioned) began annoying players more and more: Demohugging. Legos would abuse-protect Demos by placing them and standing right on top of them, making them immune to Preds hitting them. And since Behes were shy at attacking Demos anyway, that's OP right there. Again, technical difficulties prevented devs from fixing it from within the silveback code - a deep rewriting solution would be needed and it would side-affect god knows how many things! There's the discussion that tried to figure out a way to fix that:

Discuss: Demo Pack

And a good idea did come up! This solution:
  • Would prevent the Behes from killing demos around Subs;
  • Would revert the unwanted offensive Behe nerf that took place;
  • Would give Beasts a way to bounce Legos off their Demos so those can actually be defused by foot units;
  • Would get rid of the hacky solution previously implemented;
  • Would bring behaviour consistency accross the spectrum.

And the solution was: To make Demos die after 3 hits from any melee unit. This means, the faster the unit, the better suited to defuse it; also, that Behemoth don't actually have time to do it, but they can push the Demohugging Legos aside.

The solution was coded, tested and implemented as soon as possible. Fortunately, it was done days before any NSL game took place, and it was announced in the changelog and by me personally, ingame, a bunch of times. It did not occur mid-season, and if any NSL game would have actually taken place, the change would have had to wait until the NSL ended. And in the latest NSLs, Humans tend to have the upper hand when similarly skilled teams face off, so delaying it would have further favored the Humans. If it were devised sooner, it would have been added sooner. But lazy people are lazy and many prefer whining ingame to posting suggestions and arguments on forum.

So, there it is. It goes to show this was not an issue taken lightly. But if y'all know a better way to take care of this, go post!
« Last Edit: February 02, 2015, 02:13:27 pm by Daemon » Logged

Feathers
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« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2015, 10:52:49 am »

I don't know if this is possible to code or not.

Code Behemoths so that they can not damage units that hold a demopack on them or units that have recently dropped a demopack (say 10 seconds as an example). Or if this is too overpowered, make sure behemoths can only damage the demopack wielding unit only 1/3 (or any over fraction) of its health.
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Daemon
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« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2015, 11:04:07 am »

There should be a seemingly logical explanation for it, and demos don't carry shield generators on them. That would be an exploit too, because everyone would just use demo to ignore behes Smiley.

Anyway, the current solution seems fine and it will be a while before a final assessment of its effectiveness.
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H3027
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« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2015, 05:02:32 pm »

My earlier suggestion was to add a short respawntime after taking behemoth, like 5 seconds. The behemoth is by far the biggest unit in game, so it taking a while to be prepared to spawn on the battlefield wouldnt be experienced as unnatural. That would massively increase the chance for demos to blow up before the behes can spawn.

Of course the beast team could spawn behes a little earlier, but it would still make them loose time for being lame. And since they usually have to defend multiple sublairs the success of behespawning is dependent on their reaction time which thus gets delayed. As for offensive use of behemoths I dont think that delay is too dramatic, since the sublair is already exposed to potential enemy siege during the whole building process which the behe delay only expands by a small part of that, furthermore it can be protected by shaman shield during that time.

All in all I think a behe spawn delay would be a very effective measure against behe spawning with little negative side effects in offensive use.
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Second Witch: When the hurlyburly's done, / When the battle's lost and won.
Daemon
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« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2015, 05:28:36 pm »

I agree.
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H3027
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« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2015, 07:54:01 pm »

My suggestion against Demohugging (standing on demo block spamming) is to add a little self-defence to the demo pack while making standing on the demo less useful. There are 4 different alternations that come into my mind:

1. The smoke of the demo is poisonous and damages the enemy as well as the owner of the demo pack, but only if you stand right on it (like demohuggers do it). Since the damage radius is very small, the demo can get dispached with a predator without getting damaged. Besides that team damage for the smoke is disabled so it can't get abused to kill pminers of your own team. This also means that teamwork is rewarded: 1 demo runner going alone can't defend his demo without getting damaged, 2 demo runners however (due to teamdamage being disabled) can defend the demos of each other.

2. Same as 1., just that the poision damage also interupts blocks like being damaged by a surge would.

3. Same as 1., just that the demo smoke doesn't damage humans, but acts like a drug giving them a handicap (state) making them unable to block as long as they stand right on top of it.

4. Same as 3., just that only the demo owner is unable to block on it, while everyone else is, rewarding team-demorunning.
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« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2015, 11:00:07 am »

Of course the beast team could spawn behes a little earlier, but it would still make them loose time for being lame. And since they usually have to defend multiple sublairs the success of behespawning is dependent on their reaction time which thus gets delayed.

This might work for CWs. For pubs, I think nothing will change. It's often easy to see the demo runner ahead of time and spawn timely.
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« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2015, 05:08:52 pm »

@Tirza
If I understood correctly, you mean that when someone attempts to spawn (not respawn) with a behemoth, he has to wait 5 seconds before actually getting to do so? In what screen/view should he be in then?
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« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2015, 05:27:33 pm »

@Hakugei:

Depends on what's easier to implement (it would always be added in the loadout screen though):

1. Each time you enter the loadout screen with a behemonth or freshly equip a behemoth 5 seconds respawntime are getting added to the existing respawntime (the downside would be that you could camp in the loadout screen until someone gives you a sign to instantly spawn or you hear that a sublair is being attacked).

2. Each time you choose a spawn location or press spawn (if there's only one location to spawn) a loading display appears (similar to the gold request dialog in the loadout) "behemoth preparing to spawn", counting down from 5 to 0 and you'll automatically spawn after 5 seconds on the choosen location. This method would be harder to abuse.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 06:38:31 pm by H3027 » Logged



First Witch: When shall we three meet again / In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
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« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2015, 06:36:42 pm »

Alright, I get the gist of it.
Some potentially tricky stuff to implement.
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Gridfon
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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2015, 07:53:01 pm »

1. Each time you enter the loadout screen with a behemonth or freshly equip a behemoth 5 seconds respawntime are getting added to the existing respawntime (the downside would be that you could camp in the loadout screen until someone gives you a sign to instantly spawn or you hear that a sublair is being attacked).

You can actually see the small version of the map from the loadout. If I want to spawn behe, I first mark the demo runner, and then sit in the loadout until I see the marked guy come close to the sub.  Rolleyes
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Daemon
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« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2015, 08:02:52 pm »

Not that i like this idea especially much since i consider it discriminatory in a functional way, but it's better than nothing. Lingering in loadout, waiting for 1 demorunner to come close will not only cost your team important time you could be using differently, but you can also not see other demorunners or other threats elsewhere. Also, idling in loadout is not not something you want in cws.
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« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2015, 08:21:34 pm »

How about no refund for behemoth? Or only a half refund.

EDIT: But then again, it sucks if gate fails. Nvm.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 08:30:27 pm by Nanaa » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2015, 08:43:44 pm »

How about behe tree does 1/2 (adjust as necessary)  damage to units, but normal amount to buildings and siege?
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Daemon
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« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2015, 08:58:46 pm »

That was done before and it will further reduce beheflying effect as Nanaa will surely point out.
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