State of the Game: Impressions and Daily Test Diary Pt. 2



  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 14

    Build 226: Kingpins: Where to even start

    Here's the worst replay ever: G4b80e410ed6a48d9aff57179db5a896d
    Thanks to @Treisk for forcing this topic on me :)

    I think Kingpins are broken. Not in a "numbers-are-off" way, but a "how-does-this-fit-into-the-vision-for-Atlas" way. Playing with Kingpins feels a lot to me like playing that game where you spread your hand out on a table face-down, take a knife, and start stabbing the spaces in-between your fingers. If you mess up even a little, you're in for a world of hurt, and if you do it well, it's admittedly kind of neat but you couldn't for the life of you explain to your mother why you chose to do it in the first place.

    WARNING: This is all just my opinion, and it's a pretty strong thing to claim, so I'm going to break them 'pins down as granularly as I can. I'm framing these claims matter-of-factly because this post is already huge but please keep in mind they're just my own experiences. I am often very wrong in my observations, so please disagree and let me know why!

    How Reavers work (and Kingpins don't)

    Let's start with a talk about Reavers, the 500-lb scarab in the room. Reavers are a specialty unit in Brood War. They have very specific, challenging, and powerful uses. These typically fall into 3 categories:

    1. Harassing workers (with an upgraded Shuttle)
    2. Defending bases/walls of cannons against specific types of threats (In the very late game)
    3. Supporting a line in Dragoon vs Dragoon fights (with Shuttles when possible)

    Of these, it's important to note that the first two scenarios don't exist in Atlas. I'll focus on that a bit more in a second, but not having the option to instantly slaughter a dozen+ workers or hide inside a screen full of cannons is huge. Let's peek first at the 3rd point: supporting lines of 'Goon, since this seems closest to what you see in Atlas.

    Reavers work because the impact they have is so dramatic. In addition, there are situations in SC where sniping Reavers is hard and requires splitting up armies while defending multiple points. Dragoon battles featuring Reavers often have characteristic features:

    1. The Goons are fat, clunky troops, making it difficult to path by each other
    2. Forming a relatively secure line is fairly easy due to unit width
    3. Running a large enough group of Dragoons far enough forward to snipe a Reaver/shuttle is not trivial
    4. Travel time on Dragoon shots gives additional margin for error on Shuttle micro
    5. Dragoon numbers are somewhat limited as they are pricey Tier-2ish troops, so losing them to Reaver shots is significant
    6. There are cliffs/ramps/choke points to retreat to or fight behind

    So why don't we see a similar dynamic in Atlas?

    Battles in Atlas feature tons of "Upgraded Marines" fighting in relatively open terrain

    1. Most DPS in Atlas are ranged

      • Hard to get an adequate wall for Kingpins
      • If you're making Kingpins you probably don't have the resources, supply, or even micro allowance to adequately wall for them
    2. Most ranged DPS is very long range

      • Many ranged armies will kill a Kingpin in the time it takes to fire a shot from about the same range
    3. Lots of ranged DPS in Atlas have tools for sniping or locking down single units
    4. Ranged DPS is cheap and replaceable

      • There is usually nothing to stop 10-15 tier-1 troops from suicide rushing down 1-3 Kingpins and that will always trade up
      • It's not hard to trade Tier 1 with a Kingpin on a 1-to-1 ratio due to shot selection of Kingpin attack
    5. Ranged DPS tends to kill Kingpins in 1 volley or less
    6. Blocking/eating Kingpin initial volleys is not hard
    7. Terrain is very open and flanks are not terribly hard

      • Even though you are likely to see them coming, Kingpins are too immobile to reposition
      • Team fights make flanks even easier
      • Keeping Kingpins in a "safe place" is very hard, often impossible
      • Opponent can almost always just charge the Kingpin, especially since so many armies are ranged
    8. Spellcasters can 1-shot or lock down a Kingpin (or group of Kingpins!) long enough to kill them while having other applications
    9. Heroes can do this as well and are free and in every battle, usually in multiples

    These are all major problems for the Kingpin. But what makes it worse is that these problems ALSO make it hard to use Shuttles!

    Shuttles are easy to snipe for the same reasons

    In the time it takes a Kingpin to attack once, I can often move my Raptors/Spitfires/Glacial Rangers/Sandstingers forward and kill the Kingpin. Him getting in a Shuttle doesn't really change that. I have to decide whether to shoot at the Shuttle or the Kingpin (maybe) but often i have time to shoot both due to the huge range and damage on my dudes. Sniping Shuttles feels very, very easy in this game, which just compounds the problem that they don't seem to have much use anyway.

    Isn't there somewhere else Kingpins could be used?

    A quick caveat: Kingpins + Shuttles can do things. I don't think they're optimal. I don't think they're even actually good. But if your control is great and your team is attentive and your opponents don't have much in the way of ranged troops (a LOT of ifs, especially the last one) they can be effective sometimes. They can also just lead to you throwing a match because they all die and you didn't really make a mistake. Anyway!

    1. Crawling Kingpins across the map as part of a push is suicidal

      • If they get flanked and your team isn't all there to guard them, you lose everything while dealing almost no damage
      • So you're forced to stick to side lanes which amplifies their mobility issues
      • Even if your whole team guards them, your opponents can simply go bully the other lanes
      • And take all the creep camps
      • And backdoor your base when you get to the midpoint of the map
    2. Defending bases with them is playing to lose

      • Defending bases usually means A.) You are losing, -or- B.) You are defending vs 1 quick Titan then running back to objectives
      • Kingpins don't fix anything when you're losing since they don't change the dynamic of chain-killing Titans that stream in
      • Kingpins are actively harmful when you're defending vs. 1 quick Titan because they can't go back on offense afterward
      • So Kingpins are in a way worse for defending than Regular Units unless the opponent blunders into a huge wave of attacks and then fails to kill them
    3. Dropping them in the back of a base does nothing

      • There's nothing important to kill and you're investing insane amounts of resources into a gambit with no clear payoff
    4. Using them to support very specific, coordinated team compositions could have merit, but they are take 2 deck slots to use and are easily countered by tons of units, spells, and heroes

      • So it's likely you take an extremely restrictive deck only to be countered passively by stuff the opponent was picking anyway
      • It's not clear they are particularly good at the role anyway when spellcasters can do much the same thing (big splashy damage) without the weaknesses and restrictions
    5. What's left for them to do?

    The answer to all the questions below feels like a No so far to me

    1. Do Kingpins work in a world with no clumped workers?
    2. Can Kingpins work in a world of Upgraded Super-Marines?
    3. Can Kingpins work without shuttles?
    4. If Kingpins cost half as much would they be good?

    If the below were true, I think Kingpins might improve

    1. If the supply limit were much higher and Energy costs lower, would it be possible to add Kingpins to an army without hamstringing your capabilities?
    2. If Kingpins could lift off and fly, but were slow to land, would they be viable? <== I really like testing this option if they are to stay in the game
    3. If slower, tougher, lower-DPS tier-2 were to become more prevalent, would Kingpins be somewhat better?
    4. If Kingpins could kill Wards, would that help? (I had to include this)

    TL;DR Conclusions

    1. Kingpins' biggest problem seems to be that the things they do are not things that are important in a MOBA
    2. For example, defending my tower against interlopers - not important
    3. Dropping in opponent's backfield - not important
    4. They take a huge amount of resources to do these not-important things
    5. From a mechanical perspective, the goal when playing a MOBA is controlling the map and fighting over objectives

      • They seem intentionally bad at these things
    6. They seem very bad at pitched battles in the open against lots of Super-Marines, which happen constantly (by design) in Atlas
    7. What are they supposed to be good at if Atlas is about these army battles?
  • TokOwaTokOwa Member

    On the "risky actions" I think the lack of those high risk-high reward situations is also deliberate. Assuming that both sides have symmetrical opportunities, imagine that the worse team has a "risky action" with a certain chance of succeeding. Obviously it follows that the stronger team also has these "risky actions" but because they are skill-dependent and player conflict driven, the stronger team also has a higher probability of succeeding those actions. Hence, risky actions would at the same time as creating additional comeback mechanic, also creates additional avenues that could snowball the game even harder, and the better team is more likely to take advantage of those opportunities. Sean in his AMA said that the game is specifically designed so that if you lose fights, you are supposed to be able to iterate to a certain extent on your army, and try to fight again. I think the lack of these high volatility moves is part of this design. That being said, there are things in the game that can potentially turn the tide of the game in a flash, like a good vex ult, or a good pyrosaur hits.

    For your last paragraph, I strongly disagree with your conclusion as it leaves out the crucial element of the game, namely the different strategies in the form of the armies created. This is also what irks me about the "risky actions" discussion. By claiming that there are no risky actions, without considering armies and strategy (how you order your macro), you are indirectly asking for there to be more ways to comeback independent of your armies. The way I understand the game, your capabilities and set of viable actions comes as a function of your army, your opponents' armies and your respective army handling skill. Hence, when one strategy is better than another, it is natural that the set of viable decisions for the worse strategy shrinks and for the better team grows. The same goes for the other variables, when there is a discrepancy in skill, the set of good decisions changes in favour of the better team, when the better team gets further ahead economically, the same.

    So when analysing the game we had, I don't think that the game played out solely as a result of what happened throughout the game. The strategies employed by the players directly impact on their capabilities, both individually and as a team. As I perceived that their overall strategy was worse than ours, it was quite apparent to me that we were in a favorable situation from the start, even independently of skill levels (even if there probably was a skill mismatch too). So when your strategy doesn't really bring the correct tools to the table, it's your responsibility to improve your strategy, not the game's to provide you with solutions independently of your strategy. If you decided to not bring certain cards that were necessary to deal with such a situation, then you were basically performing a cheese. Contrary to your conclusion, I absolutely do think that there were ways for them to 'dig their way out of the hole'. But they really had to play well along the skill dimensions and the strategic dimensions, which on the strategic part I don't think they did. They actually had some good actions that reduced our lead in the latter stages of the game, but by then we had already enough buffer to adjust and come back to deal with what they had.

    There aren't any mechanics that wipes the lead away though, there's nothing that really 'resets' to 0, but I think this is deliberate, referring back to the argument made in my first paragraph. Atlas is a game that requires a string of good decisions to actually edge out the game, or at least making a higher proportion of right decisions compared to the opposing team. Personally, if I played a game and did really well, and the opponent did one move that invalidated most of my lead or wiped out all my lead, that would feel horrible. It's kinda gimmicky and I think it's a better game as a result. If it is an even game and someone beats me through several engagements, it's much easier to come to terms with it being a fair loss than if I am winning and suddenly someone takes a huge dump on everything over the course of a second, which would suck.

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 16

    Units: Shadow, Precogniter, Seedbot

    Gonna go back to my roots and look at some specific units. Nothing super in-depth, just some dudes I've been thinking a lot about lately.

    Shadows and the 4-slot deck

    Shadows are cool. Shadows are specialists. Shadows feel either dominant or dead-weight, depending on the state of the game, and often within the same game. Shadows can be countered by pushing "Tab" during the game, seeing my deck list, and deciding to buy Ward upgrades.

    Shadows feel VERY restrictive.

    1. Shadows enable powerful timing attacks

      • They come online during the early-midgame
      • The first and second Shadow are tremendously powerful if the opponent has not rushed detection
    2. Shadow timing attacks tend to absolutely decimate unprepared teams
    3. Shadows tend to do absolutely nothing once the opponent has detection and outside of timing attacks

      • Killing/avoiding them is very easy and they tend to generate little or no value for their cost
    4. Armies with Sentinels can virtually ignore Shadows
    5. Armies without Sentinels tend to lose the midgame singlehandedly to Shadows
    6. Shadows feel like an all-or-nothing midgame gambit with little outside application

      • You are rolling the dice on opponent detection to try to steal a game
      • With the damage nerf, they are even less effective in the late game or if they only channel for a short time
      • As a result, the strategic implications feel very limited
    7. Limited deck slots + Shadows feels like it encourages gambling on the potential for an uninteractive win that has little to do with army battles

      • If I burn a slot on Shadows and my opponent doesn't make Sents/get wards, my team has a very high chance of just winning by stealing the midgame for free
      • If I burn a slot on Shadows and they do make Sents/get wards, I have wasted one of my precious slots on a faction (Blue) that desperately needs synergy

    Blue is a tricky faction because it is much more synergistic than the other factions. Blue's units work well in concert but are very exploitable alone. Every slot is precious, and even with 5 slots Blue was forced to cut important units.

    With only 4 slots, I have to decide if I want to gamble on an uninteractive win or if I want to build a complete army. And if my opponent just checks my deck choice and gets wards, I'm out of luck anyway most likely.

    Precogniters have redundant abilities and feel restrictive to take/build

    1. Precogniters have two abilities that do virtually the same thing, limiting utility

      • Even Quadrapi abilities have slightly different application and weight
      • That said, Precogniters feel kind of like a White reskin of Quads
    2. There aren't a ton of white units that benefit from getting a 90% damage shield

      • White units are squishy and often masses of similar units - focus firing against White isn't too common outside of Windrays
    3. Precogniters encourage the enemy to leave an area. But so do Deadeyes and Zephyrs, which are easier to get and have more utility

      • More Deadeyes is always better than less Deadeyes - where do I squeeze in a Precog?
    4. White feels like it needs critical mass of its lower-tier units to "do its thing". Detouring to build Precogs is costly and time consuming and doesn't make White better at killing

      • It doesn't necessarily make them better at controlling space, either, since other units can already do that
    5. Precogniters are Tier 3, limiting utility throughout the game, and compete with Windrays

      • White already has a Tier 3 deck slot locked up, making it hard to take Precogs as well and have a balanced deck

    Seedbots feel like they hard-counter melee during laning when options are limited

    This is a tough one for me. I'm fine with counters, and I'm fine with hero counters to a degree, but currently hero choices are quite limited in Atlas which makes them stronger than usual. It's also more punishing to be forced to lane-swap or double up a lane than in many MOBAs due to there being only 3 heroes per team.

    Seedbots would already be very good against melee without such a big slow. With the slow, they don't just beat melee early - they feel like they completely crush it. It's very easy to wipe a melee army to the man in a 1v1 if they don't beat a full retreat the instant you start planting saplings.

    I don't know if this is a problem or just a thing to note. It feels very hopeless as a melee hero seeing Alder in my lane, and feels pretty invincible being Alder vs. a melee hero. I think I'd personally support a reduction in the slow component, maybe to 80% instead of 60%, to see if that makes skirmishes a little less disastrous for the melee player without hurting them much vs. other ranged.

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 16

    Addendum: Why doubling up a lane early isn't good in Atlas

    • 2 heroes in a lane should bully 1 hero, right? Normally giving up a lane to dominate a second might help achieve parity, or give the chance for some hero kills.
    • Well, there are systems in Atlas that seem prevent this from working as I originally expected:

    Gem spawns can be destroyed safely by a ranged hero even against 2 in lane

    • This is the biggest factor that makes double-laning feel suboptimal. If the other team puts 1 hero with decent ranged troops in the same lane, they can slow the rate of gem collection, often by 50% or so, without putting themselves in serious risk.
    • Once they have finished claiming their unopposed Titan, they often have time to collapse on the "bullied" lane and reclaim/contest it, all while having claimed a resource advantage and while forcing the opponent to react to a Titan!
    • I don't see any way around this with the current mechanics in place.

    Hero kills aren't very valuable

    • And even if they were, the extra XP/Shards the other team is getting from their unopposed Titan lane probably makes up for anything lost.

    If all else fails, the bullied hero can go creep

    • In this case you're just trading Titans 1-for-1 while the other team is getting extra resources from neutral camps.
    • You're not even achieving parity unless you're winning the third lane.

    Temporarily rotating into lanes is still valuable

    • It's just that doubling up a lane early is probably not. This can really hurt teams when one of their lanes is hard-countered early, such as an Alder v. Hydros matchup where the Alder player keeps flipping to the Hydros lane.
  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 23

    I believe Vex's dominance limits testing options and unit choices

    One thing to talk about today, and it's a big one.

    Vex is on virtually every team, making testing anything he is good against very, very hard

    1. Most games have at least 1 Vex. Most games between good players have 2 Vexes

      • In the last 10 days of playtesting, all but one of my games had at least 1 Vex in it
      • The majority of these games had a Vex on each team
    2. Many armies, such as White, feel heavily disadvantaged early against Vex
    3. Many units feel very poor against his basic troops and abilities
    4. Why?

    Vex feels like the strongest Hero by a very wide margin

    1. Vex is easy to play
    2. Vex fits on any team
    3. Vex is fantastic solo and as support
    4. Vex has the best Basic Ability in the game by a big margin

      • Vex with a skeleton crew can poke safely and indefinitely at another army
      • Basic Ability kills 3 of the 8 basic unit types on its own in an AOE
      • Tremendous range means enemy can't reciprocate in any way
      • Can't really be dodged up close
      • Strips plated shield
      • Strips all charges from enemy healers <== This is super strong
      • Unlike other hero abilities, Vex's Basic scales noticeably with his level
      • I would take Vex's basic ability over nearly every other hero in the game's Basic + Ultimate combo
    5. Vex has the best Ultimate in the game by a lot

      • Much faster startup than similar ultimates
      • Often impossible to dodge completely
      • Massive damage - can wipe multiple armies
      • Huge AOE
      • Fairly hard to see startup - compare to Celesta which can't be missed
      • Clears out anything nearby, i.e. anything that could potentially threaten him
      • Unavoidable in corridors - where it is sometimes necessary to fight
      • Steals entire games out of nowhere
      • Since Vex wins almost every 1v1, you often have to throw multiple armies at him - then his Ult kills everything because dodging with 2-3 armies is way harder than 1
    6. Vex has one of the best basic units in the game

      • Huge DPS, long range, surprising amount of HP
      • Can protect them with his Basic Ability
      • Only needs a handful of them to gun down high-priority targets
      • Very good early vs. other basic units
    7. Vex can tech rush better than most heroes due to early-game dominance in lane

      • Most heroes can't beat him 1v1 - only Ryme seems to do well without having a big Supply advantage
      • Vex can skip any supply upgrades and go straight to T2-T3
      • Red has a ton of great options for tech rushing at both T2 and T3 designed to hard-counter many early-game strats
      • Since opponents often have to overload on T1 just to compete with Vex in lane, his T2 hard counters to T1 often come online and completely dominate (See: Lavaspitters)
    8. Spitfires support tech rushes well because they can still gun down high-priority targets in small numbers

    So where might the problem lie?

    Clearly Vex should be the best at something - but right now he feels like the best at everything. So what might be the "big problems" with Vex and what could maybe be done to fix them?

    1. Vex's Basic Ability feels like it has too much range and damage and scales too well with level

      • Many basic units die from one cast. This makes playing White vs. Vex incredibly difficult and frustrating
      • Vex's ability to endlessly poke from out of range means that he can prevent you from doing anything while building an inevitable advantage
      • You can't chase Vex out of lane even if you have superior numbers
      • Does it need to hit so hard that it can kill groups of T1 while also sapping Heal and Plated charges?
    2. Vex's Ult feels like it casts much too fast and hits too hard (and maybe even has too wide an AOE)

      • Losing to Vex ult feels awful because it's often the only thing that went wrong in a game - and you still lose
      • There are times you just can't dodge his ult, but getting hit can be an immediate game over - your team is never going to recover
      • Compare it to Ryme's ult, which has similar cast times but does a tiny AOE and causes almost no damage - Vex's is simply vastly superior
      • Compare to Celesta ult, which clears space in a similar way but is hugely telegraphed and slow
      • No other Ult in the game seems designed to simply steal entire games in 1 cast (unless, with a Celesta ult, you choose to stand directly under it)
      • "What's the design decision behind his ult winning the game if it hits?" and the follow-up: "Why don't other ults do that?"
    3. Vex feels like he does a lot of the stuff White wants to do, but does much of it better and has more versatility

      • Basic Ability does similar things in combat to Vela's, but also just kills stuff on its own
      • Long range, high damage troops but much more HP
      • Fast, pokey, hard to pin down like Vela but if someone succeeds in pinning him down he can just blow up all their stuff
      • Extremely strong when protected by an ally and allowed to DPS but (unlike White) can dominate a 1v1 slugfest as well
      • Amazing siege at T2 (Lavaspitters feel way overtuned at the moment)
      • Counters White very well 1v1, making White even harder to justify playing since there will usually be a Vex in the game
    4. Lavaspitters seem to beat everything but T3 right now and Vex can rush them safely

      • This is a problem with Spitters feeling way too good at beating flanks more than Vex but he has the easiest time jamming and supporting them without sacrificing anything

    Vex feels like a Hero while other heroes feel like Specialists with good abilities

    It's possible that if other heroes felt "on Vex's level" it might all balance out - if everyone could 1shot basic troops or armies it might not matter - though this would change the flavor of the game and push the balance toward hero micro with units being supporters, not armies onto themselves. I'm not sure, but it feels like bringing Vex down several notches to be in reason compared to other heroes might work better for the purposes of the current builds.

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 23

    Vex Ideas

    1. What if his ult did a % of unit's max health? Maybe 35%-50%? It would be a little better vs. Big Tanks but way worse at killing every last T1 and T2 unit in its path
    2. What if his basic was just a DoT (slightly stronger than the current one)? It would still sap heals/plates and do reasonable damage but wouldn't outright kill half the Basic Units in the game
    3. What if his basic had 2 less range? And possibly a slightly longer cooldown?
    4. What if Spitfires had ~10 less HP?
  • SlammeRSlammeR Member
    edited July 20

    Hmm, I don't really agree with your assessment of vex's strength. I think Vex is good for sure, but not by that
    wide of a margin. I honestly have not played as vex recently but from playing against vex I have not noticed
    him feeling stronger than other heroes. Too me spitfires feel a bit weak actually, they have low dps for their
    supply and I think Eris and Alder can both bully them early. Especially as Eris I feel like I can win a 1v1 against
    vex because I have superior dps with my sandstingers and Eris's basic ability is better than fireball at poking
    because it doesn't miss as easily.

    I Don't play blue or Grath much, so I can't really speak on them.

    I think Celeste is one hero which suffers really hard vs Vex, but in my opinion Celeste is currently the weakest hero, maybe along with Hydros. I think Vela can handle Vex perfectly fine, in fact in some ways I think Vela is very good against vex because deadeyes are perhaps the best unit in the game for dealing with lava spitters.

    In my opinion Vela has on of the stronger 1v1 early lane as she has such a strong range control.
    Vela can easily dance with vex and his spitfires early as they are a bit slow so they have a hard time getting close enough to Vela, thus Vela can poke away safely and also snipe gems for days, I think Vela has a much harder time vs a mobile hero like Eris or celeste who can catch raptors and erase them.

    I think Lava spitters are really strong before I knew how good they were I lost some annoying games as they erased my army, however, I actually like their power atm. Perhaps they will need to be tuned down, I think their mobility vs the insane damage may be a problem, but I like how they are such a defining unit in an engagement. when facing spitters you have to actually think about how to take an engagement, even if you are 2v1 often you should not try to jump on spitters. I like how spiteres instead force you to play a positioning game, taking fights when the spitters are out of position, sniping them while they are unburrowed etc. In addition there are some pretty solid counters to Spitters, they die easily to deadeyes, many aoe spells wreck them.

    One last thing, I agree with the assessment of Vexes Ult., It is probably one of the best Ultes in the game right now and while I don't mind asymmetry among hero abilities I do think that perhaps the amount of damage combined with how fast it casts is too good; especially combined with his very solid basic ability.

    As a bit of context, my last six wins all included a Vex on the enemy team while only two of those games I had a vex as an ally. Vex is certainly one of the most popular heroes right now though.

    TL; DR
    I don't think vex is overly strong.
    I like how strong Spitters are, probably will have to be tuned down though.
    Vex's Ult may be too good.

  • TokOwaTokOwa Member

    I'm inclined to agree more with Slammer. Vex has an edge with versatility, but that is about it. He benefited from Red being strong overall, and the nerf to devilkin dervish and the buff to Non T1 HP has put him further back in line. He's still good, but not gamebreakingly so.

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 20

    I respectfully disagree. I think it's hard to understand how strong he is because on average both teams have a Vex on them. That helps mask his dominance I think but it does not feel like the sign of a healthy hero.

    Vex can kill multiple T1 units at once with his basic ability starting at low levels. No other hero can do anything like this.

    Vex's ult can kill entire armies without support. No other hero's ult can consistently do anything like this.

    Vex is supremely versatile despite being a great hit-and-run hero.

    Vex is nearly impossible to catch due to huge range and ability to get speed buffs at T2 if needed.

    Vex can always just dive in and blow his ult at point-blank range to at least trade evenly. I think people really underestimate this last point and how ridiculous it makes him when he's already #1.

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 26

    Reposting from Tokowa's thread since I was originally writing this piece for here:

    Capture Mechanics vs. Titan Mechanics - Which is the issue?

    I find all 3 methods of capturing Titans interesting mechanically and from a gameplay standpoint. I've had fun fighting over Titans regardless of how they spawn. There are pros and cons to each method (some more than others, I think)

    I personally think the Titan mechanics are a bigger issue than the capture method. For example, if a single Titan wasn't enough to start the inevitable Titan-Defense-Chain where you never leave your base despite the enemy being nowhere near it, killing a tanky, stally army only to have them get the Titan might not be an actual issue.

    I think if Titans functioned differently it would help smooth over some of the issues with capture mechanics, which I think all have potential to work

    RNG-based, slow gem spawns

    1. Seem to favor ranged, hit-and-run armies too much

      • Random spawn locations far from the fountain make sniping gems easy
      • Longer spawn/capture times give fast ranged armies time to veer off and flank/take objectives
    2. Melee is mostly reduced to flanking roles/support at the start
    3. Putting 2 heroes in a lane early seems very bad

      • The opponent can stop trying to get gems and just snipe them, reducing capture speed by about half
      • The opponent gets the empty lane for free
      • Thus they capture Titan 1 in half the time, then can rotate both heroes to contest the 2v1ed lane
      • They also get resources faster, making the subsequent fight over center slightly easier
      • Very best case if you have 2 heroes in 1 lane is to come out even - doesn't seem worth it
    4. Longer spawn times do give more time to try to sneak in alternate objectives, which is interesting

    Capture zones

    First off, let me talk quickly about how these games tend to go, then I'll discuss the mode:

    1. Tanky army set up on top of the Titan

      • Ranged armies have to fall back while fighting so the tanky army can do this if it wants
    2. All players arrive at a Titan spawn and start fighting (maybe 1-2 heroes are off contesting other titans)
    3. The tanky army stays on top of the Titan no matter what

      • There's not really a way for an opposing tanky army to smash forward and do the same until the fight has been mostly won
    4. The tanky army mostly loses the fight on average because it is focused on standing on top of the Capture point
    5. Titan spawns. Tanky army leaves (possibly in shambles)
    6. Team whose army won the fight must defend against Titan. But their numbers are reduced and it takes a while to do regardless
    7. Team that won the Titan runs off to take Titan 2 while rebuilding a cheap tanky army
    8. By the time the first Titan is dead they are set up, have rebuild cheap tanky units, and are halfway to capping the Titan or more
    9. Defending army tries to contest Titan but by now it's too far along to realistically win against a tanky army just trying to stall
    10. Repeat for the rest of the game

    Which results in:

    • This mode seems to overwhelmingly favor tanky armies

      • Most tank heroes can't be dislodged in the first Titan wave at all
      • Many heroes have no hope of capping a Titan because they cannot sit on the capture point for any length of time
    • Favors armies designed to stall rather than win fights
    • Seems to promote extreme snowballing - comebacks feel rarer than ever
    • Armies get stuck defending endless Titan waves very early in a game - game is often decided at 12-15 minute mark
    • Winning battles does not feel like it contributes toward winning the game - getting to a Titan spawn first seems like the only thing that matters most of the time
    • Results in very unintuitive and frustrating games

      • Does provide opportunities for tanks to shine and alternate methods of gameplay - would be interesting to see in smaller doses
    • Many of the problems seem to stem from the Titan itself rather than the capture zone idea

      • If the Titan wasn't so overwhelming that you often can't recover from a single one in the midgame, killing the tanky army might actually matter
      • If it was realistically possible to contest the next Titan after losing the first one in a chain, this might not be a problem
    • How can Titans be made more fun or interesting and less an inevitability?

    Short-range, short-duration gem spawns

    1. Feel the most balanced so far
    2. Feel less restrictive than cap zones but more than long-duration spawns
    3. Don't seem to favor range/melee so much that it's an obvious issue
    4. Do seem to penalize leaving the lane more than other 2 modes
    5. Feels structurally less interesting than the longer gem spawns as it narrows field of play and play options somewhat
    6. Makes putting 2 heroes in a lane less restrictive than long gem spawns

    The issue may be with Titans rather than capture mode

    1. Fighting over Titans, for the most part, feels very fun
    2. Once a Titan is spawned, the fun often stops

      • Defending against a Titan is often either trivial (very early) or hopeless (mid-lategame when you are stuck in base too long to contest further objectives)
      • Losing Titan chains is very unpleasant and can happen even when you win battles/have superior armies
    3. Winning a Titan doesn't feel particularly fun either

      • Most common followup - send Titan at enemy and then PvE unopposed for several minutes/the rest of the game
      • Fighting behind Titans can be fun - but there's little incentive to do this most of the time, and you're mostly just stalling for the Titan
    4. Losing to a wave of Titans that you're spending every resource trying to kill while enemy is all the way across the map feels very frustrating and unintuitive

      • Enemy stops having to take any risks and you have no chance to try to steal a win because you can never leave base
    5. Do other people feel the same way? Are Titans themselves fun, or is it just the fight to win them?
    6. If Titans themselves aren't fun, why not just award "A Point" for each cap, and have the game end/buildings crumble at XYZ points?

    Capture zones might work if Titan without army support wasn't so devastating and non-interactive

    1. I don't think anything is intrinsically wrong with capture zones (except they are so small)
    2. It's the incredible power of a solo Titan that makes losing the fight but winning the Titan such a huge victory
    3. If Titans represent the idea of "permanent advantage" in a MOBA (Gold, XP, Items), is there a way to make that mechanic more interactive and less absolute?

    Some ideas that would make solo Titans less destructive

    1. Titans don't get shot by towers, but have lowish HP (and maybe attack at longer range)

      • Can still kill bases solo if ignored, but armies are required to tank for them if you want to bust through a defending army
    2. Titans despawn after killing 1 building (and maybe can't be controlled)

      • Can mitigate Titan damage through number of towers in a lane, for example
      • Willing to lose 1 tower? Ignore that Titan and get to the next spawn!
    3. Titans do little on their own but give buffs to nearby armies

      • Help overcome defender's advantage for a time without just being wins
      • Require support making Titan chains less likely

    These are just some thoughts I have on Titan mechanics vs. Capture Zone mechanics. Hope they are interesting to consider!

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 26

    On Titans, Interaction, and the Importance of Army Battles

    1. Once a Titan is in play, the game usually becomes notably less interactive
    2. Once a Titan chain has started, there are long stretches of uninteractive play
    3. Titans seem to drastically reduce the importance of army battles once in play
    4. This makes me feel disinclined to appreciate the mechanic, since I enjoy the interactive + army battles portion of the game
    5. Could Titans encourage interaction while still giving a consistent and gradual advantage to the winning side?

    Short little addendum but important enough to me to separate off from the main post!

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