Playtest 206: Stepping Towards Wins

starfighterstarfighter Member, Administrator

Playtest 206: Stepping Towards Wins

Hooray! We finished Test Weekend 3! We were incredibly pleased with how the entire series progressed. Plenty of folks played for several hours straight and there were very few never-ending games! Thank you all so much for your wonderful support and awesomeness

Time to get back to the grind =D.

In this week's build, we've laying the groundwork for our "steps-to-win" system. We want players to have opportunities to advance towards the win condition (killing the nexus) outside of a single death-push after the 20 minute mark.

Shield Batteries

In short, every time you kill an enemy shield battery, you remove a chunk of health from the enemy Nexus. Killing shield batteries is not required, but the Nexus has dramatically more health than in TW3. So, you best be killing as many as you can before you go for the finish
- There are 5 shield batteries laid across the map, one next to each expansion cluster
- Destroying a shield battery removes a chunk of HP from the nexus
- Each Nexus HP is displayed at the top and center of the UI
- Shield batteries do not respawn

Keyboard Functions Reset!

We have created options in the settings -> Keyboard menu that allows a player to customize ~ and ALT hotkey modifiers. If you'd like to get back to the original functionality, use these two settings
- "Enable alt key remove and set from control groups:" - This option will cause "ALT+#" to assign selected units to # and remove them from all other control groups.
- "Allow preset control group modification:" - This allows players to remove units from preset groups like ~ (all army) or F1 (hero). If this is unchecked, units can never be removed from ~.

Nerfing Your Favorite Units

Vela was a bit overpowered this weekend. The biggest problems came from a few places. First, there were a few too many ways for Vela to get additional speed, particularly from Windray's Tailwind upgrade. This allowed Vela to easily avoid confrontation past the midgame. Also, we saw that Deadeye's autoattack damage were frontloaded. In this way, Deadeyes could deal massive poke damage without losing attacks on cooldown. Increasing the attack rate will force Vela to stay more in the fight to deal reasonable damage with Deadeyes. Additionally, Take Aim cooldown has been slightly increased. We like the identity of being a snipey squad, so we don't want to delete the identity of Vela too much, but a tiny nerf will unlikely upset anyone.
- Take Aim cooldown 18 seconds => 24 seconds
- DeadEye attack damage 51 => 22
- DeadEye attack cooldown 3.4 => 1.6
- Tailwind Upgrade has been removed

We also found the healer merc healed a bit too quickly
- Healing charges generated once every 3 => 6 seconds


More VFX have been snuck into the game! Let us know your likes and dislikes :D.


  1. What do you think about Shield Batteries? Did you create interesting attacks/defenses with/against them? How did they play into the normal flow of the game for you?
  2. Were there any merc/squad matchups issues you noticed?
  3. How did you enjoy TW3? :D


  • 1) It seems players are still adapting to them, but they seem to be a very central mechanic, which I like. I alwyas said expansions were the most fun to fight over, and this is basically a similar feeling (especially since their mostly in expansion locations).

    In my game tonight it looked like we were going to lose, but the enemy team slacked a bit on the batteries, and they weren't able to finish us off, which gave us a chance to turn it around.

    I like how they completely change the overall way you look at your strategy for the game. Players can now come up with early game strategies for timing pushes for some early battery aggression, or play the "long game" and try to minimize losses while forming a strong late game composition. Seems very healthy for the game!

    2) I didn't really see TOO many mercs, outside of some early cubes trying to block pathing. I don't use them too much myself either - never been too much of a fan of the merc system.

    The only thing I really enjoy about mercs is they can offer some unique gameplay options you don't see elsewhere in the game - anti air units, muta-style units, drop ships, "recall", etc.

    But something about the whole merc system, just has never felt "right" to me. Doesn't feel naturally added in, more like it's forcefully added on.

    3) The game overall has been feeling much more solid these last few major updates imo. It feels like you can start to show a lot more skill/strategy. Seems like the very early beginnings of a meta may be starting to develop. Visually it's looking more solid. Sounds are starting to be implemented. There's a constant way to pressure your opponent now. It's very easy to see how each team is doing relatively and have somewaht of an idea who is in the lead.

    I'm pleased with the current direction.

    Certain things still don't feel right. Mercs as I mentioned. I also think the "gold max/emergency mode" (or w/e it's called) doesn't feel quite natural - It does serve a purpose, but seems kind of "off" that you go from full production to barely any suddenly.

    If mechanics continue to be added like the recent ones, where you can take advantage of them to pressure the opponent, I wonder if the cap/emergency mode will be necessary in the long run? With more solid ways to end the game, various ways to do it, and new ways for player to show skill, the game may end more naturally than having to run out of units.

    Then again, pacing yourself could add to the strategy as well. All I could say is the current system doesn't feel 100% natural right now. It's not a bad system I don't think, just doesn't have that synergy with the rest of the mecahnics yet.

  • ShrikeGamesShrikeGames Member
    edited April 21
    What do you think about Shield Batteries? Did you create interesting attacks/defenses with/against them? How did they play into the normal flow of the game for you?

    I built SO MANY TOWERS to defend them. It was SO fun, before I knew it the playtest was over.. 15minutes ago. I had such a blast playing, even though I only won half my games. The first game I was surprised by how strong the nexus was and how many batteries you need to reasonably take down (3-4 I think is optimal).
    190 towers: Gc7ea656f0ff94ac2ae1aded8871e539a
    82 towers: G0a5793eeaaaf43a0ab414ae642082375
    50 towers: Gc3cdd410a3854e808a6a3ca02a7081aa

    How did you enjoy TW3? :D

    Hell yeah, I am very much liking the direction things are taking.

  • sandsand Member

    1) Not sure it was the intent, but it feels like Shield Batteries are now a major objective and not a minor one. After a solid win against all 3 armies, we pushed for the Nexus but we hadn't killed any batteries (because someone loves to spam 100+ towers... you know who you are!) and it felt nearly impossible to kill the Nexus. We fought off best we could the reinforcements but after a good 2-3 minutes of solid fighting we lost our guys. Needless to say, just seems like a LOT of health if you don't kill any.

    2) Trapper seems kinda meh... tried to make it work this time around but the fact you can't throw the traps and have to waddle up to use them, seems to be a pretty bad first merc unit in comparison.

    3) Loved it :)

  • Questions

    Shield Batteries
    (1.1) - I like the shield batteries, both for the mechanic, but also the polish potential. Sample size of only one complete game tonight, so my impression of them is a little rough, but mechanism-wise, they didn't seem to add a whole lot of change to how I already played the game, which tended to be more lateral in the early game anyway. Mid and late game it did encourage more expansive action on the opponent's side, which I felt was good. It felt more risky, to try to get the advantage of taking down an initial tower given the big fog-of-war, lack of visibility in the center that we were playing with (too many Glorious experiences, I guess). I like those higher level, on-the-fly strategic moments, so this is cool.

    (1.2) - On the other side, it felt like it would be very risky to try and take down nexus without sapping the shields. I guess it would be nice to have as an option for a faster game end if a match is playing out heavily lopsided, but outside of that, I didn't feel any impact from that option being available. See: League of Legends

    (1.3) - Polish-wise, what I mean by it having a lot of potential is that right now (I know it is early), they don't communicate very well. However, it feels like one of those things that can have a great feedback experience in a final iteration, whichever way the design went (even Gungan shield buffalo style, including when one is dropped).

    Merc/Squad Matchups
    (2.1) - Vex w/ Ryme vs. Ryme/Hydros : okay, so I was thinking about this, and I felt like maybe Vex seemed underpowered a bit, didn't seem to have the punch I was used to. On a whim, went back and checked match history. They both got MR! This makes me super happy! Previous to this, it was just fuzzy math I did in my head, but to recognize it having an impact in the game, after the fact, was a cool out-game experience.

    (3.1) - Test Weekend 1: Nervous jitters for the Artillery crew. Small sympathetic sense of ownership from all the tests and calls before TW1. Tired of playing against Cycle's Alder in bot lane, and all the discussion about it.

    (3.2) - Test Weekend 2: Nervous jitters for Steve. Super busy, mainly just wanted to get games in. Enjoyed chatting with the new kids, though. By now, doing illustrations of Alder.

    (3.3) - Test Weekend 3: Everyone's old hat by this point. By now, having seen what feels like a ton of different concepts and tests, it feels like a big task in front of you guys, and that we need to get in more players because everyone is stretched pretty thin. Plus, the chance to play multiple games back to back is so valuable, even just for getting stochastic input on the knobs in the game. By now looking forward to when the NDA is lifted, so as to make more art for public consumption.

    (3.4) - Games-wise, TW3 had some interesting interactions. I feel like I was less focused strictly on bringing up the new players, in part because we'd been closer to the main master thread for a while leading up to TW3, and at this point it required a lot more focus in the game. Previous tests we tended to be on the dev threads, having already started to move past them in regular testing, so in a way, one tended to focus more on bringing the players up to speed and less on the game. At least, that's kind of what I remember (haven't gone back to look at notes). Still, it felt much cleaner overall with the "simplified" mercenary system, by many metrics.

  • HazardHazard Member

    @starfighter said:


    1. What do you think about Shield Batteries? Did you create interesting attacks/defenses with/against them? How did they play into the normal flow of the game for you?

    Oh my god I love Shield Batteries compared to no Shield Batteries! Having objectives is so much fun! I really enjoyed Playing the game and having little feelings of "Good job you killed the Shield Battery you are one step closer to victory". I didn't work too much on defending our own shield batteries and I preferred Offense Offense Offense. With what feel like actual objectives beyond just towers I also like Spigots a lot more. I think the Juggs they create have a lot more purpose and use because they are so important to assaulting bases. I really really really can't wait until the next test weekend!

    @starfighter said:
    2. Were there any merc/squad matchups issues you noticed?

    Everything seemed to go well. Art issues with Vela were talked about in how it's hard to see when a unit is marked because they dusty yellow glow just doesn't really jump out at you.

    Played some Eris games and had a lot of fun.

    @ZenoSpyridon said:
    I didn't really see TOO many mercs, outside of some early cubes trying to block pathing. I don't use them too much myself either - never been too much of a fan of the merc system.

    I didn't see too many either. Or maybe I would call that a good amount since I'm mostly seeing people's squads and that's what the game is about right? Other than some dropships/TP's and an occasional motivator Mercs seemed to have fallen solidly into the support role and are no longer a super important focus in the game which I like.

    1. How did you enjoy TW3? :D

    It was Intense I loved it! :D

    4. Vela Changes!
    Oh my god I love the Vela changes so so much!

    - Take Aim cooldown 18 seconds => 24 seconds

    This was a very interesting change. You really feel the 6 seconds. If you are going for a T2/T3 Skip raptors build. the long time delay between attacks make it so you can't snipe enough to quickly take out a large portion of an enemies units before they get to you or destroy a tower. I like this change because it focuses me to look and use Vela as a squad that works together instead of just a squad that works for the Deadeyes.

    - DeadEye attack damage 51 => 22
    - DeadEye attack cooldown 3.4 => 1.6

    The changes to the deadeye's attack really changed how Vela feels. I never realized it before but the front loading of the damage that deadeye's do was also really important to the only build T2 Units Meta. You could shoot and immediately retreat and get results because 204 damage on most targets will definitely take out a unit or two.

    With the damage not being so front loaded it makes it a lot harder/near impossible for your army to consist of just deadeyes. It especially kills in the early game where you are no longer able to take out enemy gem miner things in just a volley or so and then retreat immediately.

    If I'm not making sense look at it this way. Before your dead eyes get to their target. Shoot once. Do 200 Damage and can immediately retreat to safety with minimum risk. Now in order to do the same amount of damage they have to go to their target, shoot, wait 1.6 seconds Shoot AGAIN. and only then can they retreat. This gives the enemy a lot more time to react and leaves your deadeye's vulnerable for longer. This really changed the feel of Vela's early game with T2 Strat.

    • Tailwind Upgrade has been removed

    I didn't notice this super a whole bunch.

    Bonus Notes
    RAPTORS RAPTORS RAPTORS! With how good deadeye and T2 Strat was compared to building raptors I completely ignored them tbh. This sucked because raptors are conceptually my favorite unit and because it felt like a major part of Vela's squad was useless.

    They had low hp, low damage, and low attack speed.

    But then I continued ignoring them after you put in the revamped charm store because deadeyes were so good. Now that I can lean on Deadeyes so hard I have been forced to use raptors. And man let me tell you they ROCK! With Quad Damage upgrades or 3 Damage 1 Defense(Health or shoes) Raptors are a beastly force to be reckoned with. I am sorry I ever doubted these little guys.

  • SpookySpooky Member
    edited April 21
    1. What do you think about Shield Batteries? Did you create interesting attacks/defenses with/against them? > How did they play into the normal flow of the game for you?

    I like the addition of shield batteries, because it takes more time and effort to close out a game. Also, I feel it allows more opportunity for comebacks. Without taking down the majority of shield batteries attacking the core doesn't seem like an option in the mid-late game unless the match is far in your favor. That being said, the batteries plus the new tower positions don't give one room to engage well in that space. I feel like removing batteries and returning the towers to their original position, either on the side or center expansions, would provide a more diverse feeling to the map; while still capturing the good aspects of this new mechanism.

    1. How did you enjoy TW3? :D

    Thoroughly :-)

  • LeviathanLeviathan Member
    edited April 21
    1. What do you think about Shield Batteries? Did you create interesting attacks/defenses with/against them? How did they play into the normal flow of the game for you?

    I like the locations of the shield batteries because it makes the expansions that much more important. The build-able towers are more cost effective than before because they are protecting the shield generator and expansions instead of just the expansion.

    Something I have yet to try, but suspect will end well, is to build minimal towers to bait the enemy into attacking the generator to set up a strong flank.

    1. How did you enjoy TW3?

    This was my first test weekend and I fell in love. I am excited to see the progress of the game and cant wait for more.

  • DeaucalionDeaucalion Member
    edited April 21

    Shield Generators

    I enjoyed the shield generators. The flow of the game did not actually change much. My team used early Jug Aspects to push in and knock down one or two reward towers/shield generators. Later, we won a decisive engagement and destroyed the nexus in one final push.

    What stood out to me was that I spent much less time destroying enemy expansions. I'm curious to know if the decreased pressure on expansions that I perceived is born out in the aggregated match data. It feels like generators are a much less "punishing" form of victory progression. The problem with expansions is that losing one is a direct hit to scrap upgrade progression, which can lead to a snowballing disadvantage in combat situations. So hopefully generators will add a little more scrap rubber-banding.

    The map is feeling a little cluttered with objectives. I don't really feel that I have to choose what objective I am pushing. I just walk down a lane and hit both a reward tower and a shield generator. In one game, my team grouped up and pushed through a tower on one end of the map, then walked horizontally along our opponent's side and destroyed most of their objective structures. It might be more interesting if different objectives were more segregated, so that attackers and defenders could make meaningful choices about what to prioritize.


    I played Hydros again this week and once again went for a scuttleguard + enhancer comp. I stop at tech level 2 and focus on items for the rest of the game (Steal Bangle, Soul Shard, Blitz Orb). If I understand what it does correctly, the activated ability of the Steel Bangle is probably more powerful than any of the ults in the game, and its current vex is so understated that I don't think people realize what is happening to them.

    I feel that focusing on powerful items grants a noticeable advantage over players who invest in higher tech levels (at least for Hydros). However, I my success might also be due to favorable match-ups, since I didn't face off against a Ryme or flying mercenaries.

    I'm didn't build any towers. I'm concerned that towers are a trap because they cost scrap, and so building a lot of towers puts you at an upgrade disadvantage. So you just end up losing the game, but more slowly. Perhaps building a few might be good against an opponent focused on harassment. It seems like they work against some of the goals Sean mentioned about encouraging players to leave some units back to protect their expansions.

  • Shield Generators

    When I am taking an enemy base it feels like I'm actually helping the team by taking out the nexus shield. However, it is still way too risky to attack the base 8/10 times. You have to make sure that they aren't close, but rarely do you ever see this.


    Mercs don't feel all that special, they can help squads with an early game, but they don't match the squad! They don't belong! The items/charms are the same time.


    I enjoyed it! I wish there was some longer PvP!

  • AceAlAceAl Member

    @starfighter said:


    1. What do you think about Shield Batteries? Did you create interesting attacks/defenses with/against them? How did they play into the normal flow of the game for you?

    It could just be the inertia from having existing strategies, but I didn't notice any real change. The option of counter jungling has been dismissed out-of-hand (did not actually attempt it) due to the extra tower, reducing options by one. Otherwise we continued to skirmish on the spigots geysers and only the side with strategic initiative (and juggernauts) destroyed shield batteries.

    Sadly, that side was not mine in either game.

    In fact, since the fights were still predominantly over geysers and I predominantly lost, the shield batteries were just another casualty of the A-moving unstoppable late-game juggernaut.

    On the plus side, this didn't seem to slow down the game. The juggernauts destroyed enough shield batteries that their 3-man late game push was just as devastating as before.

    @starfighter said:
    2. Were there any merc/squad matchups issues you noticed?

    Vela does not seem to be fixed. Against squads without their own speed enhancements she trades too efficiently even from T1, so the T3 mobility loss (and even the T2 CD changes) isn't a factor. But it could be purely psychological - psychological warfare is a key part of the desired sniper fantasy after all.

    @starfighter said:
    3. How did you enjoy TW3? :D

    Great! Good to play against some newer tactics and help people understand the game.

  • Okay, It's a while coming but I am going to put down a more critical reaction to the Shield Batteries patch.

    I actually like the concept of the batteries, I like that it maintains the possibility of all-ins, while making a slow, methodical, map control based approach more rewarding than the all-in backdoor style that carried me through TW3. But I do have some issues with it:

    I feel as though the two sides of the map are almost filled to the brim with things. Putting the shield batteries in the "natural" expansions necessitated the addition of a tower guarding them which made it so that in my games, I felt that the "natural" expansion was an area of far less contention. Whereas before, that expansion would be a significant source of early conflict, now that it has a tower guarding it, it is essentially never worth the cost in supply to go in there to try to attack your opponent's economy. And even if you find yourself in that area, the shield battery becomes the #1 priority and the expansion is just scenery. I think this area would be better served by being more open as it was before, without the extra tower and the battery. You can build your own static defense.

    The fringe bases that were guarded by towers originally, however, became much more contested areas with the addition of the battery, so I think keeping the batteries up there alongside the tower and expansions would be good for bringing the game to the far edges of the map that might otherwise be ignored. 3 shield batteries, by the middle tri-expo, and the far top and bottom ones, would strike me as a good medium. In addition to cluttering the natural expansions, I felt that the shield batteries often delayed the games to the point where the juggernaut units had scaled over time to become so powerful, that just one of them could solo a base before the small handful of units that either side had left in the very late game could actually kill the things. Too many batteries.

    One of the things that I said above, was that "it is essentially never worth the cost in supply to go after your opponent's economy." That is related my biggest problem with the game right now. Scrap is too abundant, upgrades are too weak, it is never worth it to expand greedily at the expense of map control. Shield batteries did not help. Shield batteries drop a BUTTLOAD of scrap upon being destroyed. Towers drop scrap upon being healed. Claiming the Juggernauts at mid provides you with scrap. Leveling up provides you with scrap. I think even killing neutrals can provide you with scrap! This game is many parts a MOBA - so map control/lane dominance, and the building-killing that it translates into, especially with the juggernaut mechanic, is the most important piece in order to win the game. In an RTS like SC2, you can trade map control and aggression for expanding greedily in order to get a long term advantage against you opponent. I would expect, that in Atlas which is in many ways an RTS, that this would also be the case. Nope. Expanding gets you scrap, but so does contesting juggernaut nodes, taking towers, and especially taking shield batteries. In fact, I would say you actually get more scrap just going through the normal progression of objectives and ignoring any expansions bar the one at the beginning. The game tries to reward the player for doing things by hurling out scrap 24/7, but all that does is devalue the reward the player receives for expanding, And in addition, by pushing, you would also get 50 extra supply for killing the healers, and weaken the enemy nexus with each battery destroyed. There is no diverging play styles because push is so clearly stronger. I think either expansions ought to be more valuable or scrap more scarce. Or the whole system overhauled. Otherwise, pushing ASAP is the only viable option.

    And if scrap is more scarce - upgrades need to be better too. With the exception of the speed upgrade and teching up, upgrades purchased with scrap feel very underwhelming. I'm not actually sure if a level 3 blitz orb really has any impact on a fight. It seems small when I read it on the tooltip, and it definitely feels small in game play. In Atlas, an upgrade advantage can never overcome a positioning advantage or a concave or being outnumbered against someone with halfway decent control. In fact, I'm not sure upgrades would have much impact in a head to head fight since they are so minor. Upgrades are what should make expansion worth it for the player, but they are not powerful enough to ever make giving up early map control a sensible style.

    In summary -

    Upgrades stink, scrap is worthless, expanding is worthless, map control is op, the objectives are cluttered, expansions are less contested, shield batteries drag out the game to overpowered juggernaut simulator 2016.

    That was my best attempt at constructive criticism at 2am and reading it over I am sure it is too mean but I am too tired to go back through and tone it down. I actually really love Atlas and I enjoy playing it. Controlling an RTS style army in a MOBA style map is very fun, and I like what the team is doing with mercs, squads, juggernauts, expansions, and most everything else. Scrap has got to be reformed though. Thanks for reading! I really do love the game! Great job thus far!

  • VoltzVoltz Member

    1.) What do you think about Shield Batteries? Did you create interesting attacks/defenses with/against them? How did they play into the normal flow of the game for you?

    Yes, I think this a good way to evolve the game. It incentives multitasking and sort of guides the player into harassing expansions. This will make the game more interesting for both sides.

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