I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

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tzaeru
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I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by tzaeru » 20 Jul 2017, 17:39

What a catchy title! But bear with me..

Now, I'm not going to suggest any particular changes right now, as there's a really huge patch coming in and that has priority. What I'll do though is to try and translate to a written form my thoughts on why I think that the commander mechanics are not good game design.

Firstly, there's the wreck left by the commander, 2500 metal. This means that in any larger team game, it is always worth it to self-destruct one or more comms for a faster economy kickstart. Since it's a mandatory tactic that is not counterable, there would be almost the same effect if players were just given free metal off the bat. It's extremely unintuitive that you should destroy your most important unit. Unintuitive game mechanics are not good game design, nor are uncounterable, mandatory game mechanics good design.

Aside of self-d'ing near your base, another problem with the wreck is in the frontline. Combined with the blast radius (of which I could also write a whole paragraph), you'll often wipe out enough defenses/units of one team to let the other get both the wrecks. This is manageable in small games where player skills are roughly equal, but in larger games with bigger gaps between skills, I feel this just feels to frustration for everyone in the team who failed to reclaim the metal. One team getting 5000 metal is usually a game over and the result of that might be a single small mistake by a newbie (or even a good) player. If it was 1v1, you could say that the player should be more careful about their comms, but when it's a team game, you just end up punishing everyone else in the team for that single mistake of a single player. I think game mechanics that let a single player's single mistake to consistently decide whole games in a large team match are not good design.

There are also problems related to the commander in 1v1 and small team games. The commander's movement speed and construction speed both give him a huge edge over other T1 constructors. Commander has roughly 3x better build power than tank and kbot T1 cons, while he's also noticeably faster in movement than T1 kbot. Combined with the commander's weaponry, this means that comm pushing is a mandatory tactic. Because you also lose the game by losing the comm, the whole game tends to become a competition of who can juggle their commander the best. There's no chance to be passive with your comm, since if the enemy isn't, they're going to outshine you in expansion very, very fast. While early pushing with comm in itself can be a sound game mechanic - even a mandatory mechanic - what's less sound is the requirement to heavily use the comm in the frontline for first ~15 minutes of the game. Taking risks should be rewarded, but right now there's no alternative to taking those risks, not in early game at least. Again, it's an unintuitive game mechanic that you should constantly be risking your most important unit and it's not making the game any more dynamic or interesting in my opinion.

In summary, I feel that the game revolves too much around commander micro and the successes and failures of that micro.

If you read this far - thank you! Now have a blast with your response. :-)
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Forboding Angel
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by Forboding Angel » 20 Jul 2017, 19:09

I've said this for years. In fact, we got noize to implement a hovercraft commander without weapons as an option in ba many many years ago. It was really popular for a while, but people gravitated back to the normal comms.

Personally, I think that just fixing the issues around the comm would be enough to do the trick, fwiw.
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Ares
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by Ares » 20 Jul 2017, 23:53

In my opinion com metal could be tested at 1500 and 2000 however it needs intensive testing and no other simultaneous changes during this process.

There is very fundamental skill and technique built into the current com metal value as it stands, it is a strong and unique mechanic that really emphasises the risk versus reward playstyle choices of players to the extreme. 2500 drives gameplay and places incredible value on commanders - making them truely live up to their envisioned role as the decisive heart of the game.

There are glaring bugs which should come first on the list of fixes eg disable air collision to finally stop commanders and cons flying across the map and fixing transports. Nothing else in BA needs changing, and any changes should always be tested 1 at a time.

For example 150,000 simulteanous changes would be stupid, so lets hope no one does that.
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dansan
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by dansan » 21 Jul 2017, 08:19

I think strong units are good to reward for micro. And micro is important to reward experienced players.
Having at T1 a unit with high HP and BP means that you can either use it to quickly grow your homebase (eco) or advance the front. It is a strategic decision.
That the com is worth so much metal has nothing to do with HP and BP, but has that funny eco side effect. IMHO that metal outcome could be lowered to whatever a unit with that much HP is normally worth (like a Zeus maybe?). It would destroy 3-spot-teching, but the strategic decision HP vs BP would still be valid.
Then there is the problem of coms @ T2 and T3. Currently they are best cloaked and hidden at that game time. Sometimes they are useful against krogs. But that's basically it. I like how TechA gives the player the option to heavily invest eco into his com, and get for that a unit that is still competitive at T2 and T3 front pushing. Again the player gets to decide if he wants to invest the eco into his base/tech or front pushing.
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ympale
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by ympale » 21 Jul 2017, 10:54

Just an personal opinion, but I think that the easiest and also most correct way to remedy the small games situation is to just make the comms slower, maybe even about half of the current speed. The comm is supposed to be one of slowest units in the Annihilation games, anyway. I know it's only slightly, but frankly, comm shouldn't be able to outrun Krogoth.
That said, they are also supposed to be one of the tankiest units. 10 times the current HP is still reasonable IMHO, after the speed "nerf".

I agree with the idea that comms shouldn't be sacrificed for eco, or as a simple combomb. I don't know if it's possible to make it so that comms don't leave wrecks at all, but AFAIK simply changing the metal value also means different repair rate.
BTW, maybe bit off-topic, but just to remind, PA had similar counter-intuitive mechanic in comm reclaim, which has been fixed.

Also, one other way to battle the comm sacrifice could be to disable self-destruct for commanders, or better yet, self-destructing the comm meaning self-destruct of the player's entire army and surrender of the player, probably with some kind of prompt requiring confirmation.
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tzaeru
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by tzaeru » 21 Jul 2017, 11:06

dansan wrote:Having at T1 a unit with high HP and BP means that you can either use it to quickly grow your homebase (eco) or advance the front. It is a strategic decision.
Practically, there's very rarely a real choice though. If it's a 1v1 or a small team game, you're forced to advance since your commander BP in your base is too much for your resources anyhow. Plus, if the opponent advances with their comm, they're going to hog up a bigger slice of the map. In large team games, it's similar if you're in a forward position in a map with more metal in the middle than in DSD.

I actually like the commander micro myself and I love early pushing with him, I just dislike that the commander micro tends to be the most relevant part for the first ~15 mins of 1v1s and small team games. If it was optional, it'd be nicer, but as I argue above, I don't think it's optional.
dansan wrote:That the com is worth so much metal has nothing to do with HP and BP, but has that funny eco side effect. IMHO that metal outcome could be lowered to whatever a unit with that much HP is normally worth (like a Zeus maybe?). It would destroy 3-spot-teching, but the strategic decision HP vs BP would still be valid.
Zeus' wreck is ~300m, I kinda feel that if comm's was that low, it'd really strongly encourage early combombing especially in larger team games since the metal loss would be so much smaller..

I'd love to experience around with something like 1000-1500 though. Or alternatively, lower comm blast radius to make combombs destroy less of a sparsely built base and then have drastically lower comm wreck.
dansan wrote:Then there is the problem of coms @ T2 and T3.
[..]
Again the player gets to decide if he wants to invest the eco into his base/tech or front pushing.
I kinda feel that when we're talking of T3 eco, BA doesn't really reward front pushing in any particular way vs. it rewards trying to find a complete opening through which one can take it to the enemy base straight away, be it by long range plasmas, T3 spam, or anything the like. Microing a single unit at this stage sounds extremely difficult to get worthwhile.

Here, I feel the strongly exponential eco of BA's kinda makes the game less strategical and tactical in late game, but that's really a whole topic of its own.
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Jools
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by Jools » 21 Jul 2017, 12:35

ympale wrote:I don't know if it's possible to make it so that comms don't leave wrecks at all, but AFAIK simply changing the metal value also means different repair rate.
Of course it's possible: that's how it works in Total Annihilation and almost all other spring games except ba.
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raaar
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by raaar » 23 Jul 2017, 19:29

walking bomb commander a bad game mechanic?

really?
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Forboding Angel
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by Forboding Angel » 24 Jul 2017, 02:17

Realistically, a comm explosion shouldn't be any more forceful than the combined force of an energy and a metal storage facility blowing up.

The fluff surrounding the comm explosion was always that the backpack was volatile. But consider what the commander is capable of. +2/+40 and 1000/1000 storage. That is massively dwarfed by 2 storage buildings, 2 solars and a mex.

An argument could be made that the Dgun bla bla bla bla, though, so there is that.

My REAL point is that it would make a lot more sense if the comm explosion was no more than a fusion. It would solve the massive issues of commbombing, and it would still have a effect on units attacking it when it died. 2 Comms dgunning each other no longer decimate half the map.

If you wanted to go real creative with it, halve the comm's BP output and double his build range. That would make him a lot more useful early game as he no longer represents ecostall simulator 9000 and can expand metal/energy income more efficiently than t1 cons. The comm has an effective buildpower of 3. t1 cons (without looking I'm guessing) have an effective buildpower of either 1 or 1.5, so 2 or 3 cons = commander bp output anyway. A comm with longer build range supported by a few more cons would be a lot more benefit imo than a comm who just serves to make you stall, at which point the extra BP is wasted anyway.

He would still be effective on the front lines, although he wouldn't be able to throw up llts like it's no big deal, so the extreme push ability would be lessened, but he still has the dgun, so he's still effective on the front lines, but by doing the aforementioned changes (to bp power/distance), the guy who has his comm in base making eco and helping build units isn't effectively punished for doing so.
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Silentwings
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by Silentwings » 24 Jul 2017, 03:56

walking bomb commander a bad game mechanic?
Pro and cons etc, but if you want a strictly skill based game in which a slightly stronger team almost always wins, imo you don't design multi-player BA anyway. It's a community first and a ranking system second.

Coms are a *fantastic* source of entertainment and social interaction - which is easily ignored in the short term, and very important in the long term.
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Forboding Angel
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by Forboding Angel » 24 Jul 2017, 04:01

I would say that in the long term the comm gets less important, unless you are just looking at it from a metal source pov.

Maybe it would be more accurate to say that the comm gets more and more irrelevant as the game progresses with some interspersed moments of importance (like dgunning t3).
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Silentwings
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by Silentwings » 24 Jul 2017, 09:35

You misunderstand - my "short term" and "long term" in viewtopic.php?f=44&t=36307&p=582834#p582822 refer to the timescale of months/years on which players remain interested in being part of the community.

But yes, in a single game, commanders often become less important (or already dead) at 20+ minutes and beyond. Perhaps allow morph into afus ... :lol:
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Forboding Angel
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by Forboding Angel » 24 Jul 2017, 11:03

All things considered, an eradicator could be more appropriate :-)
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tzaeru
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by tzaeru » 24 Jul 2017, 15:16

Forboding Angel wrote:My REAL point is that it would make a lot more sense if the comm explosion was no more than a fusion. It would solve the massive issues of commbombing, and it would still have a effect on units attacking it when it died. 2 Comms dgunning each other no longer decimate half the map.
A slightly smaller size than now would be pretty nice. Like, keep players able to punish inattention via a good bomb, just not quite as easily as now.
Forboding Angel wrote:If you wanted to go real creative with it, halve the comm's BP output and double his build range.
Essentially I like this idea. In tandem, T1 labs could be slightly faster to build to keep the initial build queue times the same. But I'd be happy with a smaller change, like 25% and 25%.
Forboding Angel wrote:The comm has an effective buildpower of 3. t1 cons (without looking I'm guessing) have an effective buildpower of either 1 or 1.5, so 2 or 3 cons = commander bp output anyway.
Even worse than that - IIRC t1 kbot is 80 workertime and t1 vehicle is 90. So commander is almost 4x better builder than a single T1 con.

Kinda needlessly a lot IMHO.
Forboding Angel wrote:He would still be effective on the front lines, although he wouldn't be able to throw up llts like it's no big deal, so the extreme push ability would be lessened, but he still has the dgun, so he's still effective on the front lines, but by doing the aforementioned changes (to bp power/distance), the guy who has his comm in base making eco and helping build units isn't effectively punished for doing so.
This is the exact role I would hope for commander regarding frontline; good, important, used in early push, but not mandatory to always have him there throughout whole T1 phase.
Silentwings wrote:
walking bomb commander a bad game mechanic?
Pro and cons etc, but if you want a strictly skill based game in which a slightly stronger team almost always wins, imo you don't design multi-player BA anyway. It's a community first and a ranking system second.

Coms are a *fantastic* source of entertainment and social interaction - which is easily ignored in the short term, and very important in the long term.
This, too, is very true. Commander is one of those things which makes BA unique amongst other modern RTS. Taking unique things out would be the last thing we want to do. And there's a chance for some epic story telling from all them wild combombs, coms surviving rushes with 1% hp, etc.

So, I'd never want to see comms go away as a crucial part of the game.
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Forboding Angel
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by Forboding Angel » 24 Jul 2017, 19:04

tzaeru wrote:This, too, is very true. Commander is one of those things which makes BA unique amongst other modern RTS. Taking unique things out would be the last thing we want to do. And there's a chance for some epic story telling from all them wild combombs, coms surviving rushes with 1% hp, etc.

So, I'd never want to see comms go away as a crucial part of the game.
This is pretty rare though in the grand scheme of things. Atm, after x amount of time, you essentially end up putting him on assist and forgetting about him, or hiding him and saving him for the metal or the commbomb should it be needed.

Which brings me to another point I've been saying forever. Instead of having mass nanoturrets, give factory and con bp a large boost. Honestly, there isn't anything cool about having to build 20 nanoturrets to support a single factory.
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klapmongool
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by klapmongool » 24 Jul 2017, 19:13

Please stop fucking up BA already.
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Forboding Angel
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by Forboding Angel » 24 Jul 2017, 23:41

Trying to make the most important unit in the game more useful in the early/late game while giving multiple avenues for use instead of forcing you to use it one specific way is "fucking up BA"?
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by very_bad_soldier » 25 Jul 2017, 21:06

Commander gameplay (exactly how it is) is pretty much BA's spine, it is it's DNA. If you think the commander is a bad game mechanic then, no offense, I really think BA is not the game for you. It's like tennis players coming to a chess forum and claiming that the king is bad gameplay mechanic and should be changed.
If you have major concerns like this one and want them changed then I think it is appropriate to do this in a fork of BA. It would be fair to the BA community and out of respect for the BA heritage to not experiment with current BA which is basically in a stable state since some years with only occasional minor adjustments. This is how we like it.

tl;dr
What klap said...
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Forboding Angel
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by Forboding Angel » 25 Jul 2017, 23:46

I am not the OP. Additionally, the commander is not a bad game mechanic. Read the post title:

I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic


You are free to play whatever version of BA tickles your fancy.
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albator
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Re: I think the commander as it is is a bad game mechanic

Post by albator » 26 Jul 2017, 00:22

Another sarcastic thread.

For the serious players, start ask yourself the questions:

- how do I killed T3 unit when I am still T1 ? -> commander
- i need to use 2k worth unit to kill commander, it the game over ? no -> commander wreck allow the owner of the commander to recover if it get the metal if he is into defense usually. That is the other way around stands usually if the owner of the commander was the attackant. Eventually it helps the players being the closest to to the wreck to use the metal. It participate to do the game more interesting.

Those stuffs have been though out decades ago for a reason. You only pin point a particular scenario (dsd, and btw that is a 2v2 map) that is not relevant to the the game...
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