Hero Revival

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IskatuMesk
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Hero Revival

Postby IskatuMesk » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:32 am

Let's say we're playing a big ol' campaign. Let's rule out all writing and plot and otherwise necessary justifications or considerations.

One of the things I am facing in my design challenges is heroes. So, let's break down my experiences with heroes and consider them for a few moments.

Wc3: Heroes are tied to altars except in RPG maps. If they die in RPG maps because you fucked up, you lose. If they die in a B&D map, you push a button, pay the pimp some green, and they pop out again. Also, there's the odd item that lets you rez.

Brood War, Exigo: Your hero bites the dust anywhere and you lose.

Hots: Your hero autorevives. I lost one mission because of this and enormous carelessness, otherwise you kind of don't care. In RPG maps, you lose (usually) but in an RPG-like addition to BND maps (the platform) you auto revive anyways.

So, there's a bit of not really knowing what is going on. I was talking to a coon earlier and he expressed considerable dislike for the auto revive in hots. Until now, I had considered most campaigns I would create using heroes to just use the wc3 system. It seemed functional enough. But the more I thought about it, the more it really did bother me. Wc3 didn't punish you for being careless at all. Sure, my maps would be a lot harder, and having a hero out of commission for a while could be bad, but due to their huge scale, you still wouldn't really suffer diverse effects from losing your hero.

However, in BW and most memorably Exigo, despite heroes being fairly strong, I often felt inclined to hide them in places so they don't accidentally off themselves. It happened quite often in Exigo, and lead to much rage. In RPG maps, heroes could often end up with no health and prove to be a real liability despite leaning on their offensive power. In BW RPG maps, well they weren't RPG maps and I hated them. I don't like RPG maps in RTS games, but I was looking at probably having to make a few of my own to break some B&D monotony. Plus, I had a few ideas I figured I could employ to bring much needed life to the incredibly boring installation maps common in the average campaign.

First, though, I needed to figure out a big problem. How was I going to handle heroes?

My heroes are of the non-leveling variety. If I am to increase a hero's power, either through abilities or stats, I will do it through triggers. Hots talents are convoluted and largely uninteresting, while my design doesn't need an attribute-oriented system like wc3.

The death systems of all of these games have advantages and disadvantages. There's two major end of the spectrums - Heroes are horrifically OP, like in hots, or they are often a liability, like Exigo. In a big map, it can really suck to lose your hero accidentally and get totally fucked. But heroes are typically really strong, and having an expendable super unit at a whim seems silly. I want heroes to be fairly centric to your strengths when you get them, but something you need to look after.

I started thinking about something similar to Reincarnate from wc3. The actual description for this in my concept script is as follows;

Code: Select all

unlock - Reincarnation (passive)

"When Lazarus takes fatal damage he turns into a pile of embers and is reborn with 15% of his max health after 20 seconds. This ability has a 160 second cooldown."


Of course, the numbers would be subjective to testing.

There's a few reasons behind this initial design. The first reason is, I don't want to fuck over the player because he wasn't paying attention and X big bad walked into your dude, or you got rammed into a really shitty defensive spot and your hero got stuck. However, I do want to punish you for being careless.

I think auto-reviving at your home is too much. Some kind of penalty should be incurred. But a monetary penalty is largely worthless. We don't have levels or anything of the sort, so some kind of level drain would be too arbitrary. Death having some kind of res sickness or debuff could have really unintended and ugly side effects in something as fast paced as my 300 apm multi-base missions.

At the same time, I wanted a system I could effortlessly employ in any kind of RPG map. This seemed to suit the idea the best. If you somehow wipe half your army but win a fight, your hero will eventually be available again, but kind of vulnerable until he, in the case of Lazarus, health steals or cooldowns his way back up. Alternatively, in the defensive situation, he'll come back a little while after the battle will have progressed or ended. The res timer is lengthy enough that it can't easily be abused, but short enough that you can weave into it with your army movements.

Of course, if he dies while it's on cooldown, it's game over.

We're talking about big maps. There won't be a map smaller than 256x256. When it comes to any kind of design or balancing decision, we need to consider all possible routes of potential for this or that action to influence or be influenced by that motion.

Since our campaign involves huge armies and multi-base gameplay, it is not unfathomable for the player to get caught off guard and out of position multiple times in a short interval. In any given engagement, you could easily lose your hero and your army. While you may still be in a really strong position elsewhere on the map, the hero's death will arbitrarily fail you. This will lead to the player trying to avoid this - the hero will get stuffed in the base and otherwise ignored. Again, on the flip side, we have the incredibly abusive hots hero system. Hots, however, also suffers from non-existent enemy AI, no such multi-base gameplay, and no real threat of losing the game just because your hero died. These problems all compound each other.

However, if we hypothetically say we are using the hots auto-revive, our heroes will still be overpowered anyways. They will be overpowered in the sense that you get an X powerful unit for nothing that you really don't need to keep alive. Our gameplay is longer, slower, more drawn out - auto revives become stronger as a result.

Plus, I feel automation is a bad thing. While Supreme Commander apologists fight to have an RTS where the entire game plays itself, I felt that the auto revive in hots and the altars in wc3 were too arbitrary. However, a system like what the coon suggested, where you have to fly something over and revive the hero yourself in X time, sounds irritating in a game environment where every action per minute needs to be valuable in tangible activity, not just adhering to some oddball mechanic designed simply to bloat actions (cough macro mechanics).

The reincarnate system sounds most ideal in a RPG environment. You can't cheese big fights with it, but if you slip up a few times it's a safety net. I can choose to pursue an RPG design where every individual fight is really tough without feeling uncertain about unexpected deaths. The safety net is minimal in such a regard, but it is there, and it's more than enough for my targeted skill level in gameplay.

The problems really begin to creep up when we consider my B&D maps. Enormous, filled with units, and home to some of the nastiest bosses, these maps are all over the fucking place and often contain multiple team scenarios. That 20 second rez leeway may as well be one second if shit really hits the fan in one of these. Players will most certainly be inclined to, at most, devote the hero to base defense.

In consideration, this is not necessarily a bad thing. We don't want our heroes to be overwhelmingly strong like Kerrigan in hots or anything in wc3. Our heroes will be super strong, sure, but the maps will be quite large scale in terms of armies and combat content. In my current concept, you will be facing down over four dozen ravens an attack group from your opponents sporting new, highly aggressive tactical AI on your second mission. No hero you command will be able to take that many seeker missiles at once. There's nothing saying that can't happen in any given map. How would we balance our revive around that?

Few things are more frustrating than losing to arbitrary mechanics or shit largely out of your control. But, somewhere, the line in the East Indian lottery must be drawn.

The easiest way out is to simply not have heroes in B&D maps. But I think having a strong hero available to help deal with all the ridiculous minibosses that will be flying around would add some diversity in a very long campaign.
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Re: Hero Revival

Postby RazorclawX » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:06 am

I am against forcing a revive at the point of death. If you played Warcraft 3 with the Tauren Chieftain, you already know how Reincarnation can be a huge liability (pretend for a moment you can't escape with Town Portal)-- your army is gone, your Hero is by himself, surrounded, and all you do is MAYBE kill a few more guys before you die again. In other words, your Hero can be in a situation where you are unable to recover them in a meaningful way.

Secondly, forcing the player to hide the Hero in the base completely eliminates the point of having a Hero to begin with, especially if you don't offer any way to mitigate or rectify any damage they may sustain (Starcraft had this problem in spades). A Hero, by definition, should be heroic, and hiding in the back of the base out of the way is not the way to do that.

Time penalties for death must be within reason. Where you only control that Hero, there is no real good reason why you shouldn't have that Hero back after 10 seconds, but when you have an army in play, and the Hero is the centerpiece of said army, time can be the thing that can make or break things (in particular if your Hero is not available during the time when you really needed it). HotS only occasionally dealt with that, and that was only if you were extremely careless (60 seconds is almost like a slap on the wrist).
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Re: Hero Revival

Postby Taeradun » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:26 am

another approach is what Red Alert 2 (at least Yuri's Revenge anyway) did and have it so when a hero dies they remain "dead" for the rest of the mission but as far as plot is concerned you pretend they surived and they appear again in the following mission (or may be respawned for an end-of-mission cutscene). or if the map has multiple objectives and you're feeling generous you could respawn a dead hero at the end of each objective (or full-heal them if they survived so the player isn't at a disadvantage if their hero took damage without dying)

of course this mostly only works with B&D type maps (maybe small squad maps too i guess) and where you don't have objectives like "bring hero to location". it has a bunch of downsides but is a good solution in a situation where the player may otherwise hide the hero out of danger and ignore them.
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Re: Hero Revival

Postby Krazy » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:54 am

I've seen some lotr style maps use a system for certain units where when they die, they go into a long cooldown and then respawn *at the same place they died*. If your map is going to have a lot of crap on it, then the player certainly wouldn't want to let the hero get trapped by enemy spam that can kill them over and over again. If there was a way to diminish the penalty for a hero that dies to 12 seeker missiles in your base to a hero that dies to a clumsy lazy push, I suspect some players would appreciate it.

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Re: Hero Revival

Postby IskatuMesk » Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:31 am

RazorclawX wrote:I am against forcing a revive at the point of death. If you played Warcraft 3 with the Tauren Chieftain, you already know how Reincarnation can be a huge liability (pretend for a moment you can't escape with Town Portal)-- your army is gone, your Hero is by himself, surrounded, and all you do is MAYBE kill a few more guys before you die again. In other words, your Hero can be in a situation where you are unable to recover them in a meaningful way.


Yeah, this is the major point of contention with the reincarnation idea. In particular, I have a scenario in my head where you have an army across that map that wipes with your hero in it (particularly in an island map) and you really logically have no way of securing that area again. You're pretty much fucked at that point regardless. Which leads us back to the next problem.

Secondly, forcing the player to hide the Hero in the base completely eliminates the point of having a Hero to begin with, especially if you don't offer any way to mitigate or rectify any damage they may sustain (Starcraft had this problem in spades). A Hero, by definition, should be heroic, and hiding in the back of the base out of the way is not the way to do that.


Yep. Somewhere, a balance can be struck. But I think the end result will be a system that has not been seen yet. HKS suggested having some kind of revive mechanic that shuts down or weakens your structures during/after it is used. This would make sense logically for one of the heroes the player will have in this campaign, but not for all of them.

Our heroes in this will have ways to mitigate and repair damage in different manners. For our example hero, he has life leech on all of his abilities and a shield.

Time penalties for death must be within reason. Where you only control that Hero, there is no real good reason why you shouldn't have that Hero back after 10 seconds, but when you have an army in play, and the Hero is the centerpiece of said army, time can be the thing that can make or break things (in particular if your Hero is not available during the time when you really needed it). HotS only occasionally dealt with that, and that was only if you were extremely careless (60 seconds is almost like a slap on the wrist).


Yeah. Let's say it's a small scale map and the enemy has X minibosses or heroes of their own that enter play. If you goof up and are stuck with some kind of timer, in some situations your base units really won't be able to deal with those opponents. I hope to avoid those kinds of situations by balancing units and bosses accordingly, but when dealing with heroes in this kind of circumstance, it really throws a lot of balancing difficulties.

Despite the ridiculous damage things do to buildings in sc2, it was usually possible to "hold out" for your hero's revival in even the most dire of circumstances where your base is dying.

another approach is what Red Alert 2 (at least Yuri's Revenge anyway) did and have it so when a hero dies they remain "dead" for the rest of the mission but as far as plot is concerned you pretend they surived and they appear again in the following mission (or may be respawned for an end-of-mission cutscene). or if the map has multiple objectives and you're feeling generous you could respawn a dead hero at the end of each objective (or full-heal them if they survived so the player isn't at a disadvantage if their hero took damage without dying)


This would be an interesting idea for RPG maps, actually, specifically big boss fights involving multiple heroes.

I've seen some lotr style maps use a system for certain units where when they die, they go into a long cooldown and then respawn *at the same place they died*. If your map is going to have a lot of crap on it, then the player certainly wouldn't want to let the hero get trapped by enemy spam that can kill them over and over again. If there was a way to diminish the penalty for a hero that dies to 12 seeker missiles in your base to a hero that dies to a clumsy lazy push, I suspect some players would appreciate it.


Dawn of War 2. Units could not actually die. You only lost if everything you had died. It was chain revive your way through everything. Haha, that game was so retarded.

I agree in that if such a system were employed, you'd have to have some kind of system in place so that the weird slipup doesn't set you behind for several minutes in your own base. A different play on the reincarnation system, has potential.
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Re: Hero Revival

Postby Ricky_Honejasi » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:48 am

A random possibility could be allowing quick hero revival but they are allowed to revive up to X times (globally or per hero). Not saying it's logic story-wise but anyway.

By the way, you can put multiple types of hero revival together. You aren't forced to just pick one or another if it does help. For example, allowing quicker hero revival at resource costs or let the much slower auto-revive kick in rather than just one or another.

As a side things :
1) If you want heroes to have a big impact yet avoid them soloing everything then maybe your heroes should mostly be army buffers (AoE ability of +%X for Y secs) or having auras. In other words, useful with an army, mostly useless without. Then it add the strategy of determinating which front your hero is most needed.

2) If said campaign is made in SC2, remember that specific units can have a better movement priority. Thus, heroes could have a better movement priority so they can push allied units away to avoid deaths due to being stuck in the middle of your army. Higher movement priority also have the side effect of pushing enemy units away but it's probably a minor detail in your case.

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Re: Hero Revival

Postby mark_009_vn » Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:36 pm

My Black and Sunny campaign originally meant have a hero (Yuki) spawning within a certain point in the mission against the Sorrowsong. Now because of time constraint the fight was unfinished, the Sorrowsong was supposed to have a custom model, a special attack which spans across the entire map, and Yuki was meant to be a magical girl with retarded amount of destructive power, etc, etc,... But the idea of spawning heroes exclusively to fight bosses and mini bosses were still there, especially when my bosses were scripted to be extremely mobile, only harass weak spots in your defenses, and run away in the presense of enemy units (this was achieved by constantly spamming the "Send units to random suicide missions" script.)

The hero at this point became the only one to really turn the tide of the battle. You cannot defeat the boss with just your units alone since he'll far more mobile than your army and you'll still have to deal with his cronies. But the hero could just zap in magically and micro the boss to death. Of course you'll still have to watch out since if your hero dies, you die.

On the other hand, I also got a mission where the hero (Mark_009_vn) was meant to be a liability. I'm fat, slow, 40hp and no armor, and possess no attack of any kind, Your ultimate goal is to protect me until the time runs out, and the map was designed so that I'll be raped whether or not you stuck me in your bases or not (the map was designed to encourage the AI to drop and build Scouts/Carriers, so even if you put me in a Dropship and fly around chances are I'm still going to die...)

Of course, those are just some of my experiments with heroes so and forth....
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