Unit interactions in GoA

Hey guys i know that there is a "feedback" thread about this topic https://forums.guardiansofatlas.com/discussion/589/battles-abilities-and-unit-control-tw4-megathread/p1 but it is more about very specific feedback and not so much about discussing the design, etc (i think?) so i wanted to open a new thread about it.

Ok so what do i mean with "unit interactions" ? In general unit design itself might look ok at first, potentially even fun but as soon as you are in game all this theory is basically meaningless and what counts is actually being able to do interesting things with your units against whatever the enemy throws at you.
What is a "fun" unit interaction? It's an interaction where both parties have multiple tactical possibilities (do i even wanna engage right now or retreat, that's probably the most important decision right there) and what is even more important imo, you need the opportunity to outmicro the enemy if you are good enough.
The important part here is "good enough", the micro has to be in a place where you can get better and better at it. It shouldn't be clear what happens in an engagement before it even happens, this would mean that the strategy of what you build is more important than controlling your units in game. (a good example of a fun unit interaction is sc2 banelings vs marines)
I think GoA lacks these interesting unit interactions atm for the most part. While there is a lot of "dancing around" going on, basically decision making on when and how to engage, the control in these engagements itself and the variety of outcomes based on the armies availabe is just not there yet in my opinion.

I know this sounds horribly negative and it maybe is, the thing is i think the game has potential. It does a lot of things in a good way atm (how macro works, titans as a useful engine (to force players to interact), being less frustrating for new players despite having rts elements in it, etc) but especially because it is in theory a micro focused game there isn't enough actually interesting unit interactions going on atm.
So that's how i see it, what is your opinion? If you disagree with this can you name which interactions are fun/interesting and why you think so? I feel that would help a lot.
Thanks for reading this and hopefully this sparks a good discussion even if the majority might disagree ^^

Comments

  • I Agree with you at approximately 30% haha.

    Two things to clarify my RTS experience

    • First I would like to say that I absolutely don't like engagement in SC2, way too much damage output, death balling effect with big armies. With smaller armies it was often stutter stepping to the max while the other players was desesperatly A-clicking until you made a mistake. (My point of view, I obviously can be wrong but that what I felt at T and P master level)

    • Second, I Loved fights in WC3, hyper micro intensive, lots of interaction, cool micro moves etc (what I felt at noob level)

    In fact, I think the main difference between the two games was that in WC3, at some point, both players WANT to engage and fight, whereas, in SC2, there is always one player who wants to engage while the other doesn't

    And from my GoA experience (I think I played about 100 games now), I feel like you have a bit of both but with a very more WC3 feeling for the first 10-15 minutes and then, it slowly (or in build 239 kinda quickly) become very high damage, with a lot of "dancing around" like you said and engagement become the most important part to secure a win. However, with all the abilities, I feel like you can still influence the outcome by microing well during these fights (at least, a lot more than in SC2 but less than in war3)

    To conclude, I would say that I agree with you that there can be more cool "units interactions" but I think the units are already very cool in the current state + the movement speed and flow of the game is nice, it's just the game which is a very too high damage for me when everyone hits T3 stuff (and a bit because of Titans which force fights 3v3 in middle with all ability at the same place)

    Still love this game tho :+1:

  • Hey, although I disagree with your observation, I totally understand why you feel this way and it is indeed one of the biggest challenges this game currently has, balance wise.

    First of all, I definitely think there are a lot of cool unit interactions. For example, the way that tier 1 units can pick off high tier casters, such as sandstingers dashing on an apocalyte, or scuttleguards rolling in and surrounding a big bramblethorn. These are awesome unit interactions I think. It feels amazing when I catch a tech unit with a terrapin charge for example.

    Why do we not feel these feeling as much anymore? While there are some units that are good at unit interactions, some are just very good at sweeping all the unit interactions away. Units tend to be okey in smaller numbers, but become extremely strong in higher numbers. For example, Bramblethorns. One Bramblethorn is fine. Two Bramblethorns is fine. Three Bramblethorns is okay. Three Bramblethorns and 5 Big Melee units of Blue, not fine at all. There is so much dps and stat efficiency in this composition that it is impossible to create a different composition of similar strength. To illustrate, 2 Nautilusks are 12 supply, but only do half dmg of an Aquadillo who is 10 supply.

    This does not only apply to high tier units. Howling Commando's are kind of part of the problem. Once someone has a large army of howling commando, almost all tier 1 ranged combat vs them is off the table. There are just these super powerful units that are so versatile and have such a specific counter that they shape the gameplay to revolve around them. Subsequently, all unit interactions that otherwise existed kinda gets sidelined.

    I think either Shards has to be more scarce or high tier units need to be scaled down. Specifically big melee tier 3. Red Tier 3 is actually one of the best designed at the moment, because they provide additional utility. If they hit with their spells, they cash in on that utility, but if they don't, they are not actually very dangerous based on their base stats.

    I think you touch a good point with strategies being too important. I'm fine with this if they are able to balance it better. I think if there were multiple different strategies that could compete against each other, the unit interactions would come out more prominently. The best matches I've had this patch was in complete mirror matchups. I felt that those games had plenty of unit interactions.

  • I would say the game definitely has the room to develop more complex unit interactions. I think whenever this discussion comes into play, the shining example is of course, Brood War, where after 10+ years the meta is still developing w/o patches, and that is at least in due part to the ways unit interact with each other.

    I won't go into too much detail and I need my sleep, but I just want to bring up discussion on your quintessential unit interaction.

    SC2 Banelings v Marines.

    Yeah okay, Bio v LBM TvZ was $$$ to watch in terms of tactical play, and one part of this was the banelings v marines (Life v Dream last year...the S2SL season 1/2 sets, christ), but this interaction has actually been criticised as unhealthy for the game. Banelings is basically a-move and then see how well the terran player can split. This is fairly binary and doesn't let the zerg do much but watch banelings get focused. You asked for multiple tactical options for each side, but in the end it usually comes down to the terran's micro (or lackof!).

    (On an off-topic tangent, SC2 is most definitely the more fluid/fun game to play - BW nowadays requires a real drive to learn and overcoming the archaic controls - but BW engagements are really a thing of beauty, the way it's spread across half the map. I hope Atlas can captivate some of this widespread feeling rather than localising it all in small skirmishes into titan fight.)

  • @Atimo You capture my experience completly, I also prefer wc3 kinda micro with fewer units and less damage. What SC2 did well, on the other hand, is harassing and multitasking; dropship in the main, oracles or banshees picking off workers, forward pylons across the map etc to catch your opponent off guard.

    I also agree with TokOwa, there certainly are "interesting unit interactions", but some things just are too imba in patch 239. Another example is Deadeye vs Purifier, which is supposed to be a counter I guess, but using good micro your team can protect the purifiers with tanks body blocking. Or if you're facing Apocalytes you can use Quadrapus channeling ability to mitigate a chunk of damage on your purifiers, etc.

    I mean I agree there should be interesting unit interactions, I just think there are, but the game has other design and balance problems. I also don't share your experience, at all...

    @Olethros While there is a lot of "dancing around" going on, basically decision making on when and how to engage, the control in these engagements itself and the variety of outcomes based on the armies availabe is just not there yet in my opinion.

    First of all, I still don't get your distinction between "decision making on how to engage" and "the control in those engagements", are they not the same thing?
    Secondly, I think the room for micro is huge and if you WOULD have impeccable control, you would be the single best player in this game by far.. There are a few handful of really good players, but imo, almost everyone still WILL do pretty big mistakes and in a year, looking back at the tournament VODS, my guess is that almost every game will illuminate this. My point is that micro is hard.

    Also, I think "micro" should involve a certain sense of game knowledge, if that's what you mean with "decision making"; "is it worth pushing forward with my bramblethorn, probably losing it, if that means I will create space for our ranged units?" Or "is it worth using my batterhorn to split the enemies up?". To me, that's what micro is about.
    You say yourself:

    @Olethros It's an interaction where both parties have multiple tactical possibilities (do i even wanna engage right now or retreat, that's probably the most important decision right there)

    And I agree, but I just don't see how THIS is a problem in this game, I think the problem lies more in balance and something more vague about map objectives/map design.

  • OlethrosOlethros Member
    edited September 14

    @TokOwa said:

    First of all, I definitely think there are a lot of cool unit interactions. For example, the way that tier 1 units can pick off high tier casters, such as sandstingers dashing on an apocalyte, or scuttleguards rolling in and surrounding a big bramblethorn. These are awesome unit interactions I think. It feels amazing when I catch a tech unit with a terrapin charge for example.

    Ok let me say that i think your examples are good ones and i kinda agree. I think body blocking in general has the potential to be quite interesting, especially with low unit counts. In general i think the unit interactions get worse and worse the more units are actually on the field. This being a 3vs3 obviously accelerates this.

    @TokOwa said:
    Why do we not feel these feeling as much anymore? While there are some units that are good at unit interactions, some are just very good at sweeping all the unit interactions away. Units tend to be okey in smaller numbers, but become extremely strong in higher numbers. For example, Bramblethorns. One Bramblethorn is fine. Two Bramblethorns is fine. Three Bramblethorns is okay. Three Bramblethorns and 5 Big Melee units of Blue, not fine at all. There is so much dps and stat efficiency in this composition that it is impossible to create a different composition of similar strength. To illustrate, 2 Nautilusks are 12 supply, but only do half dmg of an Aquadillo who is 10 supply.

    You raise a good point here. Certain units are too strong being basically amoved (stat efficiency).
    At the same time i think the map itself creates a problem here. It's just very hard to move around with a lot of units, to kite, to spread, etc. It's a bit tiny and if 2-3 armies meet at certain points (even mid tbh) there isn't much room to pull weak units back, and do other kinds of micro. (the pathing also makes this hard sometimes)

    @TokOwa said:
    I think either Shards has to be more scarce or high tier units need to be scaled down. Specifically big melee tier 3. Red Tier 3 is actually one of the best designed at the moment, because they provide additional utility. If they hit with their spells, they cash in on that utility, but if they don't, they are not actually very dangerous based on their base stats.

    I actually don't like apocs that much. As you already said, when their ability hits it's basically worth it due to the high burts, when not it's kinda worthless. That seems to be too binary tbh. I would like it more if the spell was weaker in some form but either 1. the dmg is more reliable or 2. you can use it more often
    The spell itself creates the dynamic of "getting out of the circle" which isn't that bad, but isn't really hugely interesting either. I would prefer a "starcraft storm" design here, where it's damage over time so the impact of the spell is decided by how fast the enemy reacts and there are simply more possible outcomes.

    @TokOwa said:
    I think you touch a good point with strategies being too important. I'm fine with this if they are able to balance it better. I think if there were multiple different strategies that could compete against each other, the unit interactions would come out more prominently. The best matches I've had this patch was in complete mirror matchups. I felt that those games had plenty of unit interactions.

    In general i don't like it if the strategy someone chooses is already basically deciding the outcome of the game/engagement. Sure if you are smarter about it you should gain an advantage, 100%. But especially with how the titan fights work you almost have to be ready to fight the enemy at certain times and there isn't much other stuff you could do to get an advantage elsewhere. I think forcing the players to interact this way is ok, but if you do that you also have to make sure that the fights are the best part about the game.

    @Atimo said:
    I Agree with you at approximately 30% haha.

    Two things to clarify my RTS experience

    • First I would like to say that I absolutely don't like engagement in SC2, way too much damage output, death balling effect with big armies. With smaller armies it was often stutter stepping to the max while the other players was desesperatly A-clicking until you made a mistake. (My point of view, I obviously can be wrong but that what I felt at T and P master level)

    • Second, I Loved fights in WC3, hyper micro intensive, lots of interaction, cool micro moves etc (what I felt at noob level)

    In fact, I think the main difference between the two games was that in WC3, at some point, both players WANT to engage and fight, whereas, in SC2, there is always one player who wants to engage while the other doesn't

    Well i am not saying make this more like sc2, i never played wc3 so i don't have any experience there, i just watched it a bit. It's really more about general design philosophies and how to apply these to units and unit interactions. I only chose banelings vs marines as an example to illustrate how in that instance the micro is basically the main deciding factor, which i think is nice. As someone else said it's probably too much about the terran here, i certainly can agree with that.

    Regarding wc3 though: I think the hero was way more prominent in that game right? I think the hero mechanic is extremely underdeveloped in GoA and i think that is a mistake. The hero would be a stable factor no matter if you just lost army units or not, i think that would be good for the game.

    @Atimo said:
    To conclude, I would say that I agree with you that there can be more cool "units interactions" but I think the units are already very cool in the current state + the movement speed and flow of the game is nice, it's just the game which is a very too high damage for me when everyone hits T3 stuff (and a bit because of Titans which force fights 3v3 in middle with all ability at the same place)

    I think the fact that you have potentially a lot of units (3 armies) engaging on small space makes this worse. If i think about it i probably would think that small armies with stronger heroes would be better for the micro abilities. At least if the map stays as small as it is now.

    @Dragomadryl said:
    I would say the game definitely has the room to develop more complex unit interactions. I think whenever this discussion comes into play, the shining example is of course, Brood War, where after 10+ years the meta is still developing w/o patches, and that is at least in due part to the ways unit interact with each other.

    I won't go into too much detail and I need my sleep, but I just want to bring up discussion on your quintessential unit interaction.

    Well sure BW is probably a shining example. A lot of this was possible due to the pathign though, a pathing system which you won't see in new games.

    @Dragomadryl said:
    SC2 Banelings v Marines.

    Yeah okay, Bio v LBM TvZ was $$$ to watch in terms of tactical play, and one part of this was the banelings v marines (Life v Dream last year...the S2SL season 1/2 sets, christ), but this interaction has actually been criticised as unhealthy for the game. Banelings is basically a-move and then see how well the terran player can split. This is fairly binary and doesn't let the zerg do much but watch banelings get focused. You asked for multiple tactical options for each side, but in the end it usually comes down to the terran's micro (or lackof!).

    Ok i can see where you are coming from. I didn't wanna imply that this is the perfect unit interaction, banelings are probably too bursty and yes the micro is mostly on the terran side (i think a good zerg can do more than just a move, but whatever :P) I just used this as an example where the micro plays a huge role in deciding the outcome of the fight. Which is a good thing. Maybe hellions vs speedlings would be a better example? A lot of juking possibilities, in general hellions beat zerglings unless you get the surround, etc

    @Dragomadryl said:
    (On an off-topic tangent, SC2 is most definitely the more fluid/fun game to play - BW nowadays requires a real drive to learn and overcoming the archaic controls - but BW engagements are really a thing of beauty, the way it's spread across half the map. I hope Atlas can captivate some of this widespread feeling rather than localising it all in small skirmishes into titan fight.)

    I think the basic idea in pretty much any game is that low unit count engagements are always more interesting and more about the actual micro than big count unit interactions. I feel like that is the way GoA should go as well, make engagements mostly about low unit counts. Either because you have to spread it over the map or just because you cannot build huge armies.

    @HoolaBandoola said:
    I also agree with TokOwa, there certainly are "interesting unit interactions", but some things just are too imba in patch 239. Another example is Deadeye vs Purifier, which is supposed to be a counter I guess, but using good micro your team can protect the purifiers with tanks body blocking. Or if you're facing Apocalytes you can use Quadrapus channeling ability to mitigate a chunk of damage on your purifiers, etc.
    I mean I agree there should be interesting unit interactions, I just think there are, but the game has other design and balance problems. I also don't share your experience, at all...

    Hey it is fine if you don't agree with me, i just wanna generae discussion and any pov helps here.
    While i see what you say with clutch spell usages to buff your own units, at the same time there isn't much direct interaction with an opponent going on here. Yes you react to an opponent here for sure, but it doesn't really force him to outmicro you in another way. So yeah these tactical spells are interesting in the sense of allowing certain strategies, but it doesn't do much for both players trying to outmicro each other in a fun way.
    Body blocking, etc are the best examples of interesting UI atm.

    @HoolaBandoola said:
    First of all, I still don't get your distinction between "decision making on how to engage" and "the control in those engagements", are they not the same thing?
    Secondly, I think the room for micro is huge and if you WOULD have impeccable control, you would be the single best player in this game by far.. There are a few handful of really good players, but imo, almost everyone still WILL do pretty big mistakes and in a year, looking back at the tournament VODS, my guess is that almost every game will illuminate this. My point is that micro is hard.

    Well one thing is rather waiting till the enemy maybe used a few spells (apocs, etc) and you can finaly engage freely (before that you try to bait him using it, etc -> that's what i meant with "dancing around" pretty much)
    The other thing is when you actually engage how much your micro influences the outcome of the fight. How hard is it do it very well, can you improve on it a lot so you stay motivated getting better, etc
    So while i feel that it is true that nobody plays it "perfectly" (or rather as perfect as a human can) i think ost of it is rather due to the decision making and not so much about the mechanical part. Which is imo a problem.

    @HoolaBandoola said:
    Also, I think "micro" should involve a certain sense of game knowledge, if that's what you mean with "decision making"; "is it worth pushing forward with my bramblethorn, probably losing it, if that means I will create space for our ranged units?" Or "is it worth using my batterhorn to split the enemies up?". To me, that's what micro is about.

    Oh yeah it absolutely should have decision making being important, i don't disagree with that at all. I think it always will have this part though, it's basically a given for the most part i think.
    But imo the mechanical aspect is even more important. Getting better at the mechanical part is the motivating factor in pretty much any game/sport and it is also what is exciting to watch. We watch Messi play football because he can do stuff noone else can, good decision making is obviously a part of that though.

  • Wow, what a huge beast of a post!

    Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that Apocs didn't have issues. But from a unit interaction perspective I think they are more interesting than a-moving aquadillos and bramblethorns for example. I like the way that the value is not guaranteed.

    Cramped maps and armies is both a blessing and a curse. Personally I think it's a good way of getting terrain involved at smaller army sizes. It is also an aspect of teamplay that can be very rewarding. I think large open areas would bring its own issues, such as ranged armies having less safe space, faster units being more powerful etc.

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