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 Post subject: Bow down
PostPosted: 24 Apr 2011, 01:52 
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Joined: 15 Dec 2004, 20:53
Location: London
I started playing spring yesterday, after many years away. I saw many people playing Zero-K and decided to give it a try.
OMG, godam freaking hell!!!!!!!!!!!!! My mind is blown away.
This is the most amazing surprise i've ever had since the Spring RTS was first released.

I bow down to all who made/are making this wonderfull game! My sincere and honest congratulations!

I only wish there was a polished and finalized professional version for sale so i could buy it. And i really mean it, even though i buy games rather rarely.

(note: http://zero-k.info/Wiki/Manuall is down: "(404) Not Found")
(note2: admiring singleplayer is awesome but playing/watching it online with others is a freaking mess. There is just too much diferent stuff at the same time. There is a game development article about the magic number of diferent things to have, which seems to be 12, but i can't find it)


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 Post subject: Re: Bow down
PostPosted: 24 Apr 2011, 02:12 
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Joined: 15 Dec 2004, 20:53
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Maybe already debated to death, even, but here goes:
"Game Developer Column 1: Seven Deadly Sins for Strategy Games"
http://www.designer-notes.com/?p=106
(the article, actually the whole blog, is very good)

#2 Too much stuff
Quote:
The temptation to pile extra units and buildings and whatnot onto to an already complete design is strong. Indeed, I have seen many developers describe games as simply a collection of stuff (ÔÇ£18 Weapons! 68 Monsters! 29 Levels!ÔÇØ) This approach is wrong-headed. A game design is a collection of interesting decisions, and the ÔÇ£stuffÔÇØ in the game is there not just to fill space but to let you execute decisions. Games can provide too few options for the player but ÔÇô more commonly ÔÇô games provide too many. How many is just right? Obviously, there is no magic number, but it is possible to come up with a good rule-of-thumb for how many different options a player can keep in his or her mind before everything turns to mush. Blizzard uses the number 12 to make sure their RTSÔÇÖs donÔÇÖt get too complex. StarCraft averaged 12 units per side. So did WarCraft 3 (not counting Heroes). And you can bet that StarCraft 2 is going to be in that neighborhood as well. In fact, Blizzard has already announced that, for the sequel, they will be removing some of the old units to make room for the new ones. Players must be able to mentally track their in-game options at one time, and putting too many choices on the table makes it impossible to understand the possibility space.

My first impressions with Zero-K (great, great, great stuff) is that it has too much diferent stuff at the same time.
Remember, i am very acostumed to oTA/Spring and had never seen Zero-K before.


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 Post subject: Re: Bow down
PostPosted: 24 Apr 2011, 02:55 
Cursed Zero-K Developer
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Joined: 07 Nov 2007, 21:48
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PauloMorfeo wrote:
(note: http://zero-k.info/Wiki/Manuall is down: "(404) Not Found")


http://zero-k.info/Wiki/Manual - One L


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 Post subject: Re: Bow down
PostPosted: 24 Apr 2011, 03:33 

Joined: 17 Sep 2008, 03:36
Location: your imagination
Actually, the unit count has been pretty hugely streamlined since it was forked from BA years ago. All of the redundant floaty versions of statics were removed, like the floating hlt, and now the regular versions are simply capable of being built on water. All lot of other redunant type of units were removed (no multiple mex types or jammer types anymore), hell an entire redundant faction was removed. The unit count dropped to around ~150 down from 400 hundred something.

So, I think that game design advise you mentioned is quite excellent, but I think the game has actually already been cut down as far as it can.

At first glance the game is pretty overwhelming given the sheer unit count. Once you have quite a bit of experience with the game, you can appreciate the vast array of differences and unique characteristics each unit has. There are a ton more variables in spring then you would find in say, starcraft for example, that allow for many more possibilities in interesting combinations of stats. So there really are no units in the game just for the sake of being there; they pretty much all have a definitive and unique purpose.

I introduced my roommate to the game a couple months ago. For the first month he mostly tried against the AI, just with one factory. Once he got familiar with the game he started trying out other facs slowly, and had a blast discovering all the different ways to play. Eventually there should be a campaign mode which would do exactly that. Introduce you gradually to the elements of the game and let you slowly learn your way through everything. Because, you are absolutely right, the vast roster of units gives the game tremendous complexity and depth, but it is deep to the point of overwhelming at a first look, and looks like just a big mess.

Actually, that is largly the motivation behind the unit unlock system. While the rts purist inside me really dislikes the idea of not everything being availaible to new players in online matches, it does help to make the game more accessable. You start with a much more bare-bones game, and gives you a chance to explore more options as you become more experienced with it.

Anyway, I'm glad Zero-K otherwise made a very good impression on you. Hopefully it will draw more players to spring! (Be sure to tell your friends ;D)


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 Post subject: Re: Bow down
PostPosted: 24 Apr 2011, 08:43 
Spring Developer
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Joined: 22 Sep 2007, 08:51
+1 to luckywaldo7

I guess, if commercial success was the ultimate goal, unit-count would still have to be reduced a lot, but i really prefer it as it is.. allowing for much much more hours of interesting play, where you still can find out new stuff, and get to know new unit-types after weeks or months, and new tactics after years. you could say that this makes 0K a niche project, but i am sure that the empty space in that niche is a better place to be then trying to squeeze in between the gaps between the big commercial games.
you could even make noob-autohosts or noob-tournaments where all labs except one is blocked.


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 Post subject: Re: Bow down
PostPosted: 24 Apr 2011, 16:50 
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PauloMorfeo wrote:
http://www.designer-notes.com/?p=106
I disagree about 1 & 2.

1: Scripted campaign is a must, this is what makes the campaign fun, what makes the player want to play further. When the campaign is nothing but skirmishes battle after skirmish battle, it gets boring fast. I'd say 1 goes together with 7: Story should not be pe told in cutscene (which are too often badly dubbed and poorly linked to the actual game), but instead the story should be conveyed through the scripting of the missions.


2: Having lots of units in RTS is a good thing, I loved TA for that. And I'm always disappointed when in other RTS I've seen all ten units in the first half an hour and then know that nothing else will ever pop up. But of course, the engine should allow for many ways for units to be different. Like, navy, proper aircraft, infantry vs tanks, all terrain units, direct fire vs slow ballistic fire, etc.. And the difference between units should be easy to get. For instance, s44 is bad in that aspect, for in it there are tons of tanks, but they all bear weird names, have no apparent difference in their design, and so I have no idea what each does. Instead, the game designer should play on preconceived notion of the player to convey clues about role from design. For exemple, bike shaped units gives idea of fast but fragile, units with big apparent tanks are flamers, compact units are more sturdy, etc....


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 Post subject: Re: Bow down
PostPosted: 24 Apr 2011, 19:43 
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zwzsg wrote:
For instance, s44 is bad in that aspect, for in it there are tons of tanks, but they all bear weird names, have no apparent difference in their design, and so I have no idea what each does. Instead, the game designer should play on preconceived notion of the player to convey clues about role from design.


Our hands were rather tied in regards to that, and we've paid the price ever since in a veritable collection of complaints and missed players.

I agree on the matter of scripted campaigns, particularly as they serve as the requisite training both for multiplayer and as an attractor for people who are not interested in multiplayer.

As for the unit list, while I personally agree with you zwzsg, it is clear that most voluble players of RTS do not share our perspective - those who play multiplayer often gravitate to simplified unit selections anyway in employing optimal builds.


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 Post subject: Re: Bow down
PostPosted: 25 Apr 2011, 02:20 
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Joined: 22 Feb 2006, 01:02
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Quote:
All lot of other redunant type of units were removed
There are still some things that are confusing for new players, ie small/big radar, a dozen of energy producing buildings, multiple defense turrets etc. Imo it would fit zeroK to combine more units. To steal a popular example from starcraft: tanks could deploy to become artillery. Carpet/Precision bombers could be one unit, with selectable bomb load. ....


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 Post subject: Re: Bow down
PostPosted: 25 Apr 2011, 02:49 
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Joined: 23 Oct 2004, 00:43
No, I think ZK has gone as far as it can wrt consolidating roles. I don't want to see individual units wear too many hats.

And I think the units are clearly documented. Instead of learning the complicated behaviors of units, you just learn the unit - each one is simple. A siege-tank is no simpler than two separate units.

Imho, ZK could use a couple of simplifications, but not in terms of cutting units

1) The Puppy are cool as hell, but don't really seem to *fit* into ZK. That sucker could be a whole game all on its own.

2) Energy-grid weapons like the Annihilator. ZK is complicated enough. This feature doesn't add nearly enough value to accommodate its cost in frustration and confusion. It would be fine for a simpler game, but for ZK it's just adding one more thing to a game that already is bursting at the seams.


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 Post subject: Re: Bow down
PostPosted: 25 Apr 2011, 03:57 

Joined: 17 Sep 2008, 03:36
Location: your imagination
knorke wrote:
Carpet/Precision bombers could be one unit, with selectable bomb load. ....

Thats a terrible idea. ZK bombers are strong (and expensive) for a reason. Each one is an investment with specific strengths and weakness. Area bombers are great against armies and windmill/solar farms, precision bombers are good for sniping fusions and heavy units. The point is that you cannot invest entirely in doing both. Each bomber you make is a decision in what attack power you want to have.

I know that's just one example, but you want to avoid having units that can multitask too much for this reason.

Pxtl wrote:
No, I think ZK has gone as far as it can wrt consolidating roles. I don't want to see individual units wear too many hats.

And I think the units are clearly documented. Instead of learning the complicated behaviors of units, you just learn the unit - each one is simple. A siege-tank is no simpler than two separate units.

Imho, ZK could use a couple of simplifications, but not in terms of cutting units

1) The Puppy are cool as hell, but don't really seem to *fit* into ZK. That sucker could be a whole game all on its own.

2) Energy-grid weapons like the Annihilator. ZK is complicated enough. This feature doesn't add nearly enough value to accommodate its cost in frustration and confusion. It would be fine for a simpler game, but for ZK it's just adding one more thing to a game that already is bursting at the seams.

I actually rather agree with you on both points.

1) Puppy was already in game as a way for jump lab to be able to counter naked expansion, and also something good against some skirmishers. The grey goo ability came later, just out of nowhere for lulz. It doesn't bother me to have that special grey goo ability ingame but it wouldn't hurt my feelings if it was removed either. Puppy itself is necessary though.

2) Along with the pylon overdrive system there was somewhat the idea of making most defenses require grid connection. The idea was to see less lines of defenses pointed at each other across the halfway point of the map, and see something more like satellite bases. It was only really half implemented though, so in the end it doesn't really feel like it belongs either. I don't know if I would rather see it fully implemented or dropped.


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 Post subject: Re: Bow down
PostPosted: 25 Apr 2011, 13:31 

Joined: 10 Jun 2008, 02:28
Pxtl wrote:
1) The Puppy are cool as hell, but don't really seem to *fit* into ZK. That sucker could be a whole game all on its own.

I like it. Gimmicks like the puppy and the newton give ZK an interesting air, where you can do risky experimental stuff that mostly never works but when it does...

In fact, I would consider things like the puppy, the newton and to some extent the Jack experimental units more than the striders. They smack of a new technology in live fire testing.

Kinda sorry that CA's gravity plane in the concept lab never made it to ZK.


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 Post subject: Re: Bow down
PostPosted: 25 Apr 2011, 19:45 
Cursed Zero-K Developer
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Joined: 07 Nov 2007, 21:48
Location: Horse
I like that the heavy defense weapons need to be connected to a grid now. That means they are used as defense or area control for an established base, and cannot be plopped next to an enemy base as a purely offensive base killer. Very cool idea. Also note that the Annihilator now fires faster to balance out this limitation.


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