0059 Feedback and Critiques

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0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby Omi » Sun Mar 01, 2009 6:19 pm

Regarding STF, I really think this mod has come a long way!  The Engineer income system is really awesome, and offers the player a lot of flexibility in how they manage their economy.  Here are a couple rough edges that I noticed:

The good:

All the units feel great!
No seriously, you've outdone yourself this time, Herc.  The units all have great character and feel in the game.  I was tricked a couple times by some abilities (such as a Psionic Storm that didn't hurt Mutalisks), but these are hardly points that can be held against the game.  Very nice!

The economy works very, very well
You have found a wonderful alternative to the mineral/gas system of StarCraft!  It could use some tweaking, but the concept that you've put forward works very well.  I'm very impressed!

Guards were a much-needed addition
Before, it was way too easy for players to rush facility units against an economy-driven player.  Having Guards available early (and trainable at such a fast rate) helps protect a player from early harassment.  I might suggest that the Guards be buffed a bit, and have their costs increased (150/2, maybe?).

The bad:

Early-game economy:
Saving up to build your addon facility breaks the pace of the game, because the player very quickly changes from microing their workers at a good pace to having to wait for 500 cash.  It is not fun for a player to have to wait on anything in an RTS.  Sure, sometimes players opt to save for extreme rush builds (4-6 pool, 8rax, etc.), but generally, the common openings should feel like they click.  Supply should become available just as a new worker is needed, etc.  Literal examples from StarCraft won't carry over to STF directly, but the same premise needs to be respected.  If you can keep the momentum in the early game, the fun will carry into the late game.

Flags, and land capture
The land capture system, while innovative, feels more like Sim City than a competitive RTS game.  There isn't a whole lot of reason to place flags, except that they give enough supply for one mercenary each.  Their placement is limited, yet their position has no effect on their use.  Beyond committing 100 cash to an additional 5 supply, there isn't any element of choice offered here, and having to build flags everywhere is really annoying.  Perhaps a better way of doing this might be to use supply-offering refineries, built on top of geysers as capture points?  As soon as there's a lot of action, and players are killing each other's flags, rebuilding suddenly becomes a chore.

Upgrades feel out of place
The upgrades seem to be scattered way too nebulously around the tech tree.  For example, Kevlar Armor, an upgrade for the Engineer and Guard only is researched at the Espionage Facility.  I can understand how this may have a design implication, luring the player into needing the Espionage Facility in order to get that particular armour upgrade, but the resulting interface isn't very intuitive.  Also, having upgrades with multiple levels mixed in with single-level upgrades can be a bit confusing, too.  A lot of units have specific attack and/or armour upgrades, and some don't.  It just feels like there are a ton of upgrades mashed into each of the facilities without much tact.

In each of the facilities, I think there should only be a handful of upgrades for the units trained specifically at that facility.  They should drastically affect the units bound to their effect.  In StarCraft, the Vulture had two upgrades: Speed and Spider Mines.  Each upgrade would enhance the unit in a different aspect and affect how the unit was used in game.  For instance, Spider Mines could hold off higher-tech units, because it prevented an enemy from encroaching until they unlocked detectors, providing the Terran with ample time to tech or expand in the meantime.  On the other hand, the speed upgrade allowed the Vulture to harass the enemy, producing an entirely different role.  The upgrades available at the facilities in STF should do the same.

Ultimately, this is a wonderful improvement over past versions, in so many ways.  STF's style is nearly there, and I can see that it's possible now that STF could meet StarCraft in terms of gameplay mechanics.  I'm looking forward to seeing the other races, and the ensuing team-play.

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0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby IskatuMesk » Sun Mar 01, 2009 6:40 pm

What I like about STF is that p_q has totally shattered the boundaries of modding with his knowledge of exe editing. It's incredible what he's done and it's really awesome to see STF get updated to modern standards like that.
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0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby Hearst » Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:46 am

Well,
I have a little bit of input regarding the maps, they really need to be updated, seeing as how, the vespene geysers are not being used anymore, is there a way to implament a way of putting it to use?  Is there a new map pack that's going to either supplement the current one, or is there going to be a total re release? Input please.

Omi mentioned that the flags were a bit impractical, and I kinda agree.  So what about using the geysers as a cap point for supply?  doing this will make use of the vespene geysers and you could go in two directions with this; you could leave leave the geysers where they are and only allow each geyser to be capped once increasing your supply buy 20 each time, this now makes your supply locations a little more critical.  This will mean that defending your supply will ensure that you won't get supply blocked by a surprise attack as well as it still makes you leave your base and scout for the geysers to cap. 

Another way is you can leave the one geyser in your base and have it so that you can build a supply node on the geyser and have it so you can upgrade the building.  This makes the other geysers less important and requiring less of them on the map.  This will also mean that you can keep an eye on your supply at all times and wont get suprise attacked and supply blocked.  As for the amount of supply you'd get from each upgrade would be about 25.  Yes I know it's a bit of a high number but maxing the upgrades to 3 means that they will need to capture others to be able to keep up they're macro and make use of that cash flow. this will also promote expanding a bit more, and thus retaining some classic StarCraft awesomeness.

And for a third option, as I mentioned earlier about the flags, though they are a little impractical they are a cool idea.  So in keeping the flags, perhaps you could change couple things to make everything work a little smoother like; maybe making the build times quicker or even bumping up the hp of the flag.  You could maybe even increase the supply of the flag.

This is purely my opinion and I have a lot, but these are the ones that made it to paper, please let me know what your take on the flags/supply in general is, and what can be done in this matter, and a couple opening build orders for Human, seeing how I'm always waiting for stuff to happen.  :P 

I look forward to reading your input in this matter.


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0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby Hercanic » Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:33 am

Geysers remain for the Zerg AI to function. They will be utilized by the Observers in a special way later on.

What I’m hearing about Territory Claims is the frequency of building them is a chore. I wanted people to need to expand outward, but am unable to alter the placement redzone distance. To compensate, I gave Claims low supply.

I think I might have a solution. I will increase the Claim’s placement size several fold. This will also make them hard to find positions for with doodads and terrain getting in the way, but I can increase the supply each Claim gives, so players won’t need to build as many nor as frequently. The key is finding the right balance of expansion and gain.




Dear DarkOMEN:
All the units feel great!
No seriously, you've outdone yourself this time, Herc.  The units all have great character and feel in the game.  I was tricked a couple times by some abilities (such as a Psionic Storm that didn't hurt Mutalisks), but these are hardly points that can be held against the game.  Very nice!

Ah, thank you! On Napalm, I actually fell for that several times myself, and I’m the one who changed it! I really need to get a fire graphic on that ability…

As for the units, thank you! I took great care in giving each unit something different, unique, and fun to their attack and how they worked. The units of the other two races follow that same, principle, too. No unit will simply be x health and y damage.


The economy works very, very well
You have found a wonderful alternative to the mineral/gas system of StarCraft!  It could use some tweaking, but the concept that you've put forward works very well.  I'm very impressed!

Thank you! I’m glad it’s working well.

Guards were a much-needed addition
Before, it was way too easy for players to rush facility units against an economy-driven player.  Having Guards available early (and trainable at such a fast rate) helps protect a player from early harassment.  I might suggest that the Guards be buffed a bit, and have their costs increased (150/2, maybe?).

Buff them in any particular way? I do not want them to cost any influence, however.



Early-game economy:
Saving up to build your addon facility breaks the pace of the game, because the player very quickly changes from microing their workers at a good pace to having to wait for 500 cash.  It is not fun for a player to have to wait on anything in an RTS.  Sure, sometimes players opt to save for extreme rush builds (4-6 pool, 8rax, etc.), but generally, the common openings should feel like they click.  Supply should become available just as a new worker is needed, etc.  Literal examples from StarCraft won't carry over to STF directly, but the same premise needs to be respected.  If you can keep the momentum in the early game, the fun will carry into the late game.

Well, I could cheapen the facility cost, or bring down the cost on some of the territory buildings.


Flags, and land capture
The land capture system, while innovative, feels more like Sim City than a competitive RTS game.  There isn't a whole lot of reason to place flags, except that they give enough supply for one mercenary each.  Their placement is limited, yet their position has no effect on their use.  Beyond committing 100 cash to an additional 5 supply, there isn't any element of choice offered here, and having to build flags everywhere is really annoying.  Perhaps a better way of doing this might be to use supply-offering refineries, built on top of geysers as capture points?  As soon as there's a lot of action, and players are killing each other's flags, rebuilding suddenly becomes a chore.

Well, the Claims form a choice with Pumps and Shops, as all three demand territory. Each map and base becomes a puzzle to maximize space through intelligent placement.


Upgrades feel out of place
The upgrades seem to be scattered way too nebulously around the tech tree.  For example, Kevlar Armor, an upgrade for the Engineer and Guard only is researched at the Espionage Facility.  I can understand how this may have a design implication, luring the player into needing the Espionage Facility in order to get that particular armour upgrade, but the resulting interface isn't very intuitive.  Also, having upgrades with multiple levels mixed in with single-level upgrades can be a bit confusing, too.  A lot of units have specific attack and/or armour upgrades, and some don't.  It just feels like there are a ton of upgrades mashed into each of the facilities without much tact.

Every add-on has 5-6 upgrades, with 2-3 upgrades per unit. Damage and armor upgrades for Humans are single-unit improvements, save Kevlar buffing Engineers and Guards. The three Guard upgrades are split among the Facilities. Assault has the Frag Grenade, giving them something more to micro. Espionage has Kevlar to give them a little extra meat. Pyrotechnic doesn’t have any as they already possess six upgrades with two abilities (Napalm and Landmines). Finally, the Hanger has the energy upgrade for late game.

What exactly do you mean by scattered? Aside from the Guard, all mercenaries are upgraded by their Facility.


In each of the facilities, I think there should only be a handful of upgrades for the units trained specifically at that facility.  They should drastically affect the units bound to their effect.  In StarCraft, the Vulture had two upgrades: Speed and Spider Mines.  Each upgrade would enhance the unit in a different aspect and affect how the unit was used in game.  For instance, Spider Mines could hold off higher-tech units, because it prevented an enemy from encroaching until they unlocked detectors, providing the Terran with ample time to tech or expand in the meantime.  On the other hand, the speed upgrade allowed the Vulture to harass the enemy, producing an entirely different role.  The upgrades available at the facilities in STF should do the same.

I agree, upgrades need to have meaning, importance, and create interesting choices. The upgrade system in STF is still fairly rough.


Ultimately, this is a wonderful improvement over past versions, in so many ways.  STF's style is nearly there, and I can see that it's possible now that STF could meet StarCraft in terms of gameplay mechanics.  I'm looking forward to seeing the other races, and the ensuing team-play.

Thank you! I'm very glad you were still around to play it! Now we just need to hunt down Dragon, etc. =o)




Dear DarkHearst:
Well,
I have a little bit of input regarding the maps, they really need to be updated, seeing as how, the vespene geysers are not being used anymore, is there a way to implament a way of putting it to use?  Is there a new map pack that's going to either supplement the current one, or is there going to be a total re release? Input please.

Geysers remain for the Zerg AI.

The maps were made by fans of the original STF. DarkOMEN has a few in there himself.


Omi mentioned that the flags were a bit impractical, and I kinda agree.  So what about using the geysers as a cap point for supply?  doing this will make use of the vespene geysers and you could go in two directions with this; you could leave leave the geysers where they are and only allow each geyser to be capped once increasing your supply buy 20 each time, this now makes your supply locations a little more critical.  This will mean that defending your supply will ensure that you won't get supply blocked by a surprise attack as well as it still makes you leave your base and scout for the geysers to cap.

Another way is you can leave the one geyser in your base and have it so that you can build a supply node on the geyser and have it so you can upgrade the building.  This makes the other geysers less important and requiring less of them on the map.  This will also mean that you can keep an eye on your supply at all times and wont get suprise attacked and supply blocked.  As for the amount of supply you'd get from each upgrade would be about 25.  Yes I know it's a bit of a high number but maxing the upgrades to 3 means that they will need to capture others to be able to keep up they're macro and make use of that cash flow. this will also promote expanding a bit more, and thus retaining some classic StarCraft awesomeness.

Nice ideas, but Geysers will be used by the Observers in a very specific way. They are not available for Humans to use as well.


And for a third option, as I mentioned earlier about the flags, though they are a little impractical they are a cool idea.  So in keeping the flags, perhaps you could change couple things to make everything work a little smoother like; maybe making the build times quicker or even bumping up the hp of the flag.  You could maybe even increase the supply of the flag.

Claims are already pretty beefy at 1k hp, the most of the three territory buildings. Their build time is also pretty low. I don’t think the speed is what people are finding clumsy about the system, but rather the frequency.

It was actually easier a few versions prior when Engineers earned resources without being inside Shops. In those versions, you had plenty of Engineers available to build Claims, so it wasn’t an issue.


This is purely my opinion and I have a lot, but these are the ones that made it to paper, please let me know what your take on the flags/supply in general is, and what can be done in this matter, and a couple opening build orders for Human, seeing how I'm always waiting for stuff to happen.

I look forward to reading your input in this matter.

Thank you for the feedback! I always appreciate it immensely. As for build orders, heh, we’re still tweaking that part out. =o)
Last edited by Hercanic on Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby IGTN » Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:34 pm

You're up again!  I have to say, the new version is amazing.

I think I may have found a couple bugs on the top of a map.  Specifically, mortar shells weren't falling on buildings that were too close to it (no room to spawn?) but the soldiers were still attacking, wasting their time.
e: I see this is a known issue.

Also, hubs on the top of the map can't build facilities, and I've also had an attempt to build an oil pump at the top of the map turned into a money sink (no pump built).

Finally, will you be publishing a unit equivalency list or releasing an STF map editor?
Last edited by IGTN on Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby Hercanic » Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:31 am

Dear IGTN:
Thank you! Do I know you by any other alias?

If the graphic of a building is larger than the placement box, it will not be created along whatever edges of the map it spills over on, since SC doesn't render beyond the bounds of a map. That is why the Oil Pump and Hub facilities did not build at the top of the map, because they spill over. Though, in the case of the facility, it may be due to the offset nature of the unit dimensions. I need to finesse the dimensions, but I'm basically working blind with it. The unit dimensions are larger on Facilities so that Engineers can reach them for repair.

Yes, I'll release a map editor. I haven't taken the time to do so as I was not sure there'd be an interest at this stage.
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Re: 0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby IGTN » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:24 am

My old alias was I_Got_This_Name; I decided to shorten it to just the initials.

I have a few ideas for STF UMS maps (campaign style, maybe linked into a campaign) that I'd like to take a whack at making, hence asking about the editor.  I tried finding my own unit equivalencies, and got a pretty complete list out of Staredit (place all the units, play in STF), but the Oil Pump stumped me, and when I went into STF, built one, saved, and loaded in SC it crashed.  Did I miss the unit equivalency for it, or is it in fact unplaceable in regular Staredit?

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Re: 0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby Lavarinth » Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:13 am

Roll of thumb for STF maps: Make the top area inaccessible.
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Re: 0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby Hercanic » Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:27 pm

Dear IGTN:
Ahh, I remember you! Man, it's awesome seeing all these old faces coming out of the woodwork. =o)

The Oil Pump crashing is odd, though I wasn't aware saved games could be opened in StarEdit. Anywho, here's a list:


Buildings
Hub = Command Center
Assault Facility = Machine Shop
Pyrotechnic Facility = Physics Lab
Espionage Facility = Covert Ops

Airfield = Starport
Hanger = Control Tower

Territory Claim = Supply Depot
Sweatshop = Science Facility
Oil Pump = Armory

Sentrygun = Missile Turret
Barricade = Engineering Bay



Units
Engineer = Terran SCV
Guard = Terran Battlecruiser

Gunner = Protoss Corsair
Lancer = Protoss Dragoon

Asher = Protoss High Templar
Grenadier = Terran Vulture

Ranger = Protoss Zealot
Sniper = Protoss Observer

Osprey = Protoss Shuttle
Harrier = Protoss Scout
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Re: 0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby IGTN » Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:09 am

The Oil Pump crash might have been a placement issue, or it could have been something (anything) else, in SC (not StarEdit).

I thought I placed an armory in my unit listing map, but on closer examination I didn't.  Thanks for the equivalency list; it's good to be back to mapping.

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Re: 0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby poiuy_qwert » Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:15 pm

You can always use SCMDraft to make STF maps. You need the latest version from this thread, or you will get a crash, then just add the STF exe to the Data MPQ list (make sure its at the bottom) in a new profiles settings.

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Re: 0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby aiurz » Mon May 11, 2009 4:37 pm

What size map is this generally supposed to be played on?

I tinkered around a little bit solo and one thing I noticed is that the pace seems to have sort of slowed to a drag in the early game, and there's not much room for variation in build orders.  I can really only think of 2 different builds that would be viable in the early game heads up match which would be 2x sweatshop/fac and sweatshop/oil/fac.  I figured you could also try to do some funky sweatshop/hub economy build but since guards need a fac then it makes it really hard to defend unless you want to build sentries.

From the early game if you go 2x sweatfac it feels like you would be sacrificing map control to the other player b/c I have the feeling that guards don't perform well vs. most of what I would assume be the opening units from fac players (Ranger for espionage, Gunner for assault and the firebat from pyro) in exchange for what seems like a much healthier economy (you can basically pump engineers).  Map control however seems to be hardly necessary because even if you gain map control you are not going to be able to take advantage of it (I assume you mean for the Human players to have to expand ie map control will have to play a big factor) without a proper economy, and even then map control and aggressive play will only be rewarded in the mid-late game and completely ignored in the beginning. 

On the old forums I think I remember people saying that they wanted more early game action and less set-up, and the way Humans worked in the old game sort of fostered that, since all combat units were essentially on the same tier so there was less "stages" of the game and being that once ospreys hit the air the game became pretty centered around HW+ospreys running around the map.  However, I feel that the way the economy works in this game there is very distinct stages in the game where there will be essentially nothing happening (in the limited Human/Human 1v1 setting) for what could be long periods of time.

For example:  let's say I decide to start by building a sweatshop and an oil thing with 2 of my first engineers, and grab an espionage fac.  Once my sweatshop finishes, I load my idle engineer and my building engineer into it, and I load my last engineer into the oil thing once it finishes.  After 1 round of gas, I move my oil engineer to my sweatshop and wait 2 oil rounds when I get just enough resources (something like 2xx/20) to start my first combat unit.  I build a Ranger because snipers suck 1v1 vs. basically every other combat unit and I scout the map out.  Meanwhile I move all 3 of my engineers into my oil refinery to save for either Ranger speed or Concussion grenades and make engineers.

If the other player had gone 2x sweatshop fac, he would likely have a guard, probably even more defending his ramp/choke.  Vs. 1 guard my ranger will probably win unless the guard is up a cliff in which case I have to run, and even if he isn't on a ramp I will probably be forced to run and save my ranger because  I'm pretty sure there's no way I can beat 2 guards not to mention I probably won't have enough time to kill a sweatshop by the time a 3rd guard pops out.  What this means is that vs. a player who went for an economy heavy build is able to defend my early game pressure (this is basically the fastest you will be able to put pressure on another player from what I have seen).  What I don't like about this is that really is no possible way for a player to be able to harass in the early game.  Obviously this won't be seen as much of a problem especially when you think how big of a ruckus the scout made in the old STF version when I started pressuring early with it, but it should be especially when you take into consideration that you start each player out with 1000 resources.  I haven't done too much maths yet in regards to this, but I am pretty certain that 1000 minerals is a boatload and hard to obtain in this game.  In my opinion this seems like a really really really clunky fix to a very boring early game.  I haven't followed the development of the new version at all besides just now downloading the beta, but have you considered any different fixes?  Would lowering resource costs and tweaking the mining mechanic unbalance the other planned matchups of the game or create any unsavory gameplay effects? 
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Re: 0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby aiurz » Mon May 11, 2009 9:08 pm

I played some more with the single player and looked at the timings of various things.

(This is all on Python)
-The fastest I can get a ranger to a position close to me is approx 1:30.

-By 1:30 I can have 2 guards defending my ramp, which is more than enough to fend off 1 ranger.  By the time the ranger gets to my base (providing he gets lucky and scouts me first spawning next to him) I can have 6 engineers, 2 sweatshops, and be in the middle of building an oil pump.  The player with the ranger has a sweatshop, an oil pump, and 4 engineers (1 of which just finished building). 

-By 1:30 I can have a 2nd hub almost finished, and be about 25% through with a sentry gun.  By 2:30 I can have 2 sweatshops, 4 engineers, and a sentry gun.  If I place them right I am pretty sure that this would be enough to handle any ranger aggression with the only problem being that in order for this build to work the player with the ranger would need to scout me last.

Honestly the only build orders I see being possibly viable are sweatshop/pump/fac and 2sweat/fac.  On ramped maps, getting any fac units early is really pointless because there will be no way you can be aggressive and there is really no way to capitalize on your map control advantage, or the tech advantage you gain from getting fac units quickly.  On top of that, most of the fac units start without any mobility at all, so any early game aggression will be really risky because you would risk one of those scenarios where enemy fleets pass each other during the night etc. etc. and a really big problem with this is that the game progresses so slowly without that 1k mineral boost that the game pace would crawl and you would be spending a lot of time just looking at your shit to build.

It just feels like my options in the early game and going into the midgame are really really limited.

[edit]
I tweaked my fast hub builds and made it so I could get a sentry done at :55 but I still feel like a fast hub build would be vastly inferior to the other builds I tried because having a fast 2nd hub does absolutely nothing for you besides the fact that it lets you mass engineers twice as fast.
Last edited by aiurz on Wed May 13, 2009 1:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby aiurz » Wed May 13, 2009 1:04 am

Other things I noticed:

-I don't know why the weird tax mechanic is put in, like what purpose it serves towards the gameplay in any way besides showcasing that it is possible to do it in a mod.  This might be that I only really see the early game of the mod and probably because I am only seeing one of the races in its mirror matchup, but if its purpose is really only to reward players for using their economy shouldn't the fact that they are getting extra upgrades/units/map control be enough?

-Sort of related, I don't really understand the escalating oil costs of units, and I don't even understand it more when I see that oil costs escalate for all human players.  Not only do I not understand the point of having to increase the costs of units as the game goes on (hindering game momentum) but the fact that all human players share the escalation means when you get your 2nd hub, you essentially either need a much much much better oil economy than the other player or you are forced to get the fac that they didn't pick.  This is only a 1v1, I'm sure there are worse examples in team games.
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Re: 0059 Feedback and Critiques

Postby Hercanic » Wed May 13, 2009 1:33 am

Thank you for such excellent feedback, AuirZ. It has certainly been a while, and it's a pleasure to see your face grace Bootcamp once more. If I may ask, how did you find out about the new STF?


What size map is this generally supposed to be played on?

Typically 128x128 unless dealing with larger games of 6-8 players. Ideal maps are ones of limited space to press Humans on their territory needs, as large 256x256 maps are essentially the equivalent to money maps for Humans in STF. Plenty of terrain elements should be present to take advantage of STF's largely ground-based gameplay, such as trees for cover, high ground for positional advantages, and doodads to stress territory claiming. Cliffs will favor Snipers, chokes will favor Pyrotechnics, and small maps will favor Assault.


It just feels like my options in the early game and going into the midgame are really really limited.

I agree, the game flow is still very rough and in need to refinement. Much of my time has been devoted toward diversifing the individual units and expanding their micro gameplay, so there hasn't been as much deep analysis on game flow, economy, etc as I'd like. I am more than open to suggestions as I figure out and test different possibilities.
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