Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

I have played this game a couple of months. I saw that the developers want the communities opinions on matters on the Red Alert mod. Here are mine, summarized in a big and well structured post.

Discussion about the game and its default mods.
Que_Boi_de_Rasa
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Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by Que_Boi_de_Rasa » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:21 pm

Hello! I'm known as Que Boi de Rasa, aka "The Strategic Genius" and I'm a well respected member of this community. I started playing some months ago and here are some thoughts after playing this game so far. These are targeted at the developers (as I saw the update of you asking for the communities thoughts on where Red Alert should go).

Balance related things

Here are some of the things I think are balance related issues. I am mainly a 3v3 and 4v4 player, which probably might give a different perspective on some things.

Allied AA-turrets

I think that AA-turrets are way too powerful. There not a single thing I hate more to play against.

Allied AA-turrets are much stronger than Soviet SAM-sites. I have no idea why. I remember it being the opposite in the original C&C Red Alert games (there Allied AA was near useless because it had very limited range).

It is my opinion that it is widely known that allied AA is much stronger. In team games it is common for Soviet teammates to request that Allied teammates build AA-turrets for them, because of this.

AA-turrets have too long range

(The opposite of the original games, where SAM-site used to have longer range). See this picture on how big the difference is (blue circle is range of AA-turret, red circle is range of SAM-site).
aa-range.png
aa-range.png (328.12 KiB) Viewed 1536 times
This is problematic because a player controlling aircraft rarely ever get the chance to move away after finding an enemy turrets. Usually it is over the moment the turret is even spotted. Aircraft are the most expensive and fragile units in the game, so there is nothing more frustrating than spotting a turret, knowing it is already too late.

Of course you can still stay out of the range. But this leads to very stale games, where a cautious player would never attack near the allied enemies bases with aircraft, it is simply too risky. This also makes base pushes more problematic in team games. Because you cannot use aircraft to snipe of enemy artillery when an AA-turret is near.

AA-turrets do damage immediately

Another related problem is the fact that AA-turrets don't shoot projectiles. So you cannot run away from their fire. This adds to the problem of their large range, because usually it will start firing immediately after it has been spotted.

SAM-sites are much more interesting because a player can micro their aircraft away from the missiles if they are good enough.

I have a suggestion on a nice way to attempt fix this. Make the AA-turret have a slower turret rotation speed. So the turret will need to spend some time to target incoming aircraft. The rotation speed need to be big enough so it can still track down MIG:s coming at a reasonably wide angle.

AA-turrets do more damage

I tested this in single player by manually targeting Chinooks. I would say it takes SAM-sites about 50% longer to kill a Chinook than it takes a allied AA-turret.

A very frustrating moment which has happened to me is that I see and exposed enemy nuke silo, the player has no AA guarding it in their base. I have 8 MIG:s, I attack the silo. But then one of the Allied players on the enemy team drops down an AA-turret, killing all 8 MIG:s valued at 16 000 credits, for one turret costing 800 credits. I learned after this that one should never attack enemy bases with aircraft, unless you are completely sure they can't build AA-turrets. I think this is stupid and leads to more boring games.

Suggestions

- Make the AA-turret have a slower turret rotation speed. So the turret will need to spend some time to target incoming aircraft. The rotation speed need to be big enough so it can still track down MIG:s coming at a reasonably wide angle.
- Rebalance the range/damage output of the turrets

Advanced Chrono shift on naval maps

I think Advanced Chronoshift is a bit too strong on some naval maps (like Bombardment islands).

I think Advanced Chronoshere is a bit too strong on large 3v3 or 4v4 naval maps. A regular chronoshift will transport five units which can be defended by leaving some units or towers to guard your base. The advanced chronoshift will not chrono ten, eleven, twelve but THIRTEEN units anywhere on the map.

This isn't as big of problem on "land" maps than it is on naval maps, because on land maps you can usually avoid having units teleported to your base by pressuring their front. An example map where I think it is overpowered to play against is Bombardment islands.

I have no concrete suggestions on how to solve this. Maybe increase the cool down?

Chrono MCV

I know this is a widely debated problem. First of all I don't think it makes any sense. You cannot chrono demo trucks, they will explode immediately (probably killing your own or your team mates units when you attempt it for the first time).

I know you can defend against this by filling your base with buildings scattered such that there is no room for an MCV to deploy. But a combo which is quite common in team games is where you a base nuke first, and then chrono your own base there and claim it as your own.

Suggestions

I have three different suggestions on how to solve this:

1. Don't allow enemies to chrono MCV:s (should be simple)

2. Make deployed MCVs teleport back as undeployed MCV

This gives the attacking player the opportunity to build a few structures in the enemy base, but when chrono runs out, they loose the ability to build more structures.

3. Make the deployed conyard teleport back

If anything is blocking its way when it comes back, those things will be crushed. This is as comparable to having your demo truck explode next to your army when you try to chrono it.

Naval gameplay

I think that there is a problem with naval warfare. Usually the player who gets naval units first will easily be able to camp the enemies water, and kill any naval structures as they are built. I don't know how to solve this. But I think that it makes naval gameplay a lot less dynamic and more boring.

Artillery

I think this unit is boring. It is very immobile, which makes it hard to micro. It also fire a lot of projectiles which fly very fast, which makes dodging projectiles (like you can with V2 Rockets) not worth it.

This unit is also widely used in a 3v3 and 4v4 base pushing tactics on maps cramped maps like Ore Gardens. Where the attacking players will push by building cheap structures combined with AA-turrets, AT-turrets/Tesla coils and artillery. The AA-turrets will shut down any aircraft trying to snipe the artilleries, while the artilleries will destroy enemy structures, base defenses, counter artillery and infantry. This a very boring but effective tactic.

I suggest making the artillery behave more like the V2 (this was originally suggested by someone else I played with). This means that the artillery will be more maneuverable, with slower firing rate (so it is worth dodging projectiles) and slower projectile speed (so it is easier to dodge projectiles).

GPS

I suggest that the GPS work differently. In its current state it is very strong, as it will allow you to pick of enemy artillery without having vision of them. It also allows you to see where enemies are planning to attack. All in all GPS is very strong, usually to the point that a team without Allied players in 3v3 or 4v4 will be at a big disadvantage late-game, because the enemy will always have a "greater picture" about what is happening on the battle field when GPS is online.

I propose changing the GPS so it works like a spy plane, but on the whole map at regular intervals. So when activated, the GPS will reveal the entire map for like 30 seconds. Then the player needs to wait a couple of minutes until they can use it again.

The Soviet Hind thing

I will just say that I think it is good gameplay-wise that the hind belongs to the Allies. The Soviets also have the Yak, but otherwise the Allied would have nothing comparable.

One thing that would be nice though would be to implement cargo planes, which are the Soviet equivalent to Chinooks, which can transport units by air. They need to get loaded on the airports, and will drop off units with parachutes mid air. This would solve the balance problems where on some maps, there are areas which are not accessible by Soviet players.

Closing thoughts

I hope that you have taken your time to read this, and consider the problems and suggestions listed here. All in all I want to thank you for this amazing game! Despite these things which I consider problems, I think it is a great game which I will continue to play. But I think it would be even better if the solutions above get implemented.

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Wippie
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Re: Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by Wippie » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:17 pm

I notice you didnt mention the Gap Gens. Any thoughts on them?

I disagree on the artillery subject. They are easy to micro in teamgames. I try never to use them. Normally players scatter a few around the aa gun and gap gen and they will automatiy be cost effective

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Sleipnir
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Re: Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by Sleipnir » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:40 pm

Que_Boi_de_Rasa wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:21 pm
Allied AA-turrets
The upcoming playtest (Changelog link) will be making some balance tweaks to nerf AA and buff SAM. I have no idea whether this will be enough, but it seems like a start.
Que_Boi_de_Rasa wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:21 pm
2. Make deployed MCVs teleport back as undeployed MCV
I like this idea. I have implemented it in #15300.

Que_Boi_de_Rasa
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Re: Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by Que_Boi_de_Rasa » Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:43 pm

Wippie wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:17 pm
I notice you didnt mention the Gap Gens. Any thoughts on them?
Didn't come to mind when writing the post. But now when you mention it, I have a few thoughts. They makes base pushing even more effective in team games. The only safe way to get vision is to use spy plane, or iron curtain tanks and use to get vision. Attempting to use aircraft will usually be shut down by AA-turrets. And base defenses will deal with non-invulnerable attacking units. I find it frustrating to play against.

On naval maps, they are very ineffective at covering bases, because you can simply force fire the middle of the "gap" with cruisers.

When not used in base pushes, I don't think they are problematic.

Mobile gap generator are not used nearly as much as the gap generator tower.

I am not sure if I fully understand the mechanic behind them, to me it seems like it will not only make it black, but also reducing the vision range of any units looking into the generated "gap".

And it is intimidating seeing black dots everywhere. So they definitely have a psychological function as well.

I remember watching a Youtube video of a mod where the vision range of units was increased across all units. I think something like that might be effective in making the vision range loss less drastic, but still useful enough to make them worth being used.

Que_Boi_de_Rasa
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Re: Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by Que_Boi_de_Rasa » Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:48 pm

One more thing: Mine layers

They currently require a lot of micro management, which is usually better spent doing other stuff, which usually makes other vehicles more worth it.

It is an interesting unit.

I think they would be a lot more useful if one could queue put the placing of multiple mines by holding shift and clicking.

I also think it is a bit weird that friendly units will run into minefields. But I read somewhere that doing otherwise was tested and lead to balance issues.

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Graion Dilach
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Re: Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by Graion Dilach » Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:32 pm

Regarding the Advanced Chronosphere - how helpful of a nerf would it be if we would change it's range from the current 5 cell wide circle to a 3x3 rectangle? One shoulda really ask Smitty & co. about it, but I guess https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/pull/15014 will be merged into next +1, opening the possibility to do that.

Also pretty sure mines already have a batch-mine shortcut. Might be ctrl though.

Another solution to the chrono-MCV issue could be that we disallow deploying the chronoed MCV until it is teleported back, which is relatively easy to do and the requirements from the engine side are a lot easier to implement as well (it only requires a ChronoshiftCondition property to Chronoshiftable triggered by the CS engine-side).

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Inq
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Re: Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by Inq » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:26 am

Graion Dilach wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:32 pm
Another solution to the chrono-MCV issue could be that we disallow deploying the chronoed MCV until it is teleported back, which is relatively easy to do and the requirements from the engine side are a lot easier to implement as well (it only requires a ChronoshiftCondition property to Chronoshiftable triggered by the CS engine-side).
Seems like a smart solution to that particular problem.

Eagle XI
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Re: Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by Eagle XI » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:03 am

You can try the MCV becoming self-emp'd for an few seconds after being chronoed, so it cant react to anything in that time window right after teleporting.
An different finetuning could be an special rule for MCVS that it will suffer damage whenever teleports, at first had thought to take half of its health away, that may be too harsh so like 1/3 of its maximum health instead.

SirCake
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Re: Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by SirCake » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:44 am

Nice thoughts. Agree with all of QbdR’s complaints. Not that those havent been raised before, but nice analysis still.

Que_Boi_de_Rasa
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Re: Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by Que_Boi_de_Rasa » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:30 pm

Graion Dilach wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:32 pm
Also pretty sure mines already have a batch-mine shortcut. Might be ctrl though.
I had no idea! Wow, thanks very much!

Will definitely try mine-layer tactics again, knowing this!

lawANDorder
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Re: Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by lawANDorder » Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:36 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it was an interesting read. As others pointed out, many of these complaints are known issues and will need to be addressed carefully. Don't be intimidated if more experienced players disagree with your suggestions, the more feedback we can gather here, on github or irc (discord is not as transparent as these channels), the better is everyone's picture of what the playerbase as a whole thinks of OpenRA's default mods and the better are our chances to make them more enjoyable for everyone.

Edited for fairness towards those whose posts got removed in a discussion that escalated without any real reason.
Last edited by lawANDorder on Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.

camundahl
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Re: Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by camundahl » Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:42 pm

I think they are all good points.

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Sleipnir
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Re: Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by Sleipnir » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:18 pm

I have deleted a series of comments from this thread that clearly violate the forum rules against flaming/abusing others, and derailing topics.

The original post triggering the discussion in these comments was based around the idea that OpenRA's gameplay should not be changed on a whim. This first point was on topic, but was presented in a way that triggered further comments insulting the character of other forum members and other off-topic discussion.

In the spirit of transparency, I admit a conflict of interest with deleting these comments (I was involved in the discussion), but the forum rules are clear and apply to me as well as others.

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avalach21
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Re: Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by avalach21 » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:35 pm

Que_Boi_de_Rasa wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:21 pm
Hello! I'm known as Que Boi de Rasa, aka "The Strategic Genius" and I'm a well respected member of this community.
This thread got really dramatic lol.. I will say that calling oneself “well respected” is opening yourself a bit to ridicule (let your respect speak for itself IMO) but yea, this is a discussion board so there is nothing wrong with someone bringing up things to discuss, no matter who they are.

Also right off the bat you say that you mainly play 3 v 3 and 4 v 4. I also enjoy team games but pretty much every RTS I have ever played has been primarily balanced around 1 v 1 matchups and usually 2 v 2 at most for team games. I think for example, even Blizzard’s official stance for WC3 and SC2 balance was definitely based primarily on 1 v 1, but tops out at teams 2 v 2 matchups at most. I am curious if pchote has a comment on OpenRA’s stance on this.



Allied AA-turrets

AA guns are powerful and may be better than SAM sites. Mammoth tanks are also very powerful and better than Medium tanks. We should expect each team to have strengths and weaknesses so saying that one side has something better than the other seems kind of pointless and expected. Then you also have to take into account power consumption and cost differences, as well as the fact that Soviets get early easy access to mobile AA to fill in any range gaps..

I will say that having an AA gun spawn underneath your airforce and gun them all down before you even have a remote chance to escape is one of the most annoying things in the game.. There’s no other structure I want so badly to behave like a War/Starcraft/Generals style building where you get some “construction” time to either take it out or escape its range… but that instantaneous building spawn mechanic is part of classic C&C. It’s part of the game and sometimes annoying shit happens..


Chronosphere

Advanced Chronoshift

I’m not sure I understand the problem here… and again you are referring to 3 v 3 and 4 v 4 team games. I think at some point you just have to accept that crazy shit is going to inevitably happen in team games as they get larger and larger.. Just think of something crazier and do it better/faster than them... that’s the joy of playing an RTS.

Chrono MCV

This is a huge discussion in itself and probably warrants its own thread IMO if changes to this are actually being considered. IMO, I think that the behavior of chronoshifting an MCV in RA1 and 2 should be a primary reference point and that an effort should be made to balance around that behavior. I am pretty sure you could chrono your MCV in each game and it would behave the same as it currently does in OpenRA but I’d love if someone with better memory than me can confirm or correct that.

Again, I don’t think that mentioning how something can be used effectively in some scenario is grounds for saying it needs to be nerfed. You would have to illustrate how it is being overused (~never a better alternative in all situations), too easy to accomplish, and/or too impossible to counter before suggesting the game needs to be altered. Superweapons are powerful but they take a considerable amount of tech, money and power investment as a trade off. When you have a high tech high player team game, it should be expected that multiple superweapons can & will be coordinated for maximum effectiveness. Don’t be surprised if you get hit by 2 nukes within seconds of each other, have someone chronoshift a 12 piece army + MCV on top of your base and then have that all Iron Curtained.. it’s part of the game.


Naval Gameplay

I’m a huge fan of naval gameplay (some people here suggest to just cut navy entirely  ) and people have discussed the coast camping issue before. I would like to say that many naval maps, you can move your base away from the shore to negate this issue entirely (especially if it’s a soviet player with subs) but this topic has been well discussed and you can seek out the previous discussions if you are curious.



Artillery

I don’t really see an issue in anything you said. You just find the role they take in 3 v 3 and 4 v 4 “boring.” I find them fun for the most part.. if only their targeting logic worked properly (I assume it’s broken because they do retarded shit all the time).

GPS

This conversation has also happened before. I don’t really have a strong opinion on this other than it used to expose the entire map & fog of war in the original game and there is nothing wrong with it being a useful tool for the Allies after the extensive tech/power/time investment.

Soviet Hind

I am a strong supporter of trying to figure out a way to move the Hind to the Soviets and introducing a replacement that functions identically as the hind (or close to it) under a different more appropriate unit. I really think having an apache with chaingun (TD style) and a longbow with missles with some kind of visual distinction between the two would be the best/easiest thing to do. I really found pchotes ideas on making the hind and yak fill more nuanced roles interesting as well. Also this gives soviets the opportunity to have the “transport helicopter” back, or at least the discussion of it (which seems to be brought up quite a bit)


Closing thoughts

I love RTS games and the original C&Cs are some of my favorites. OpenRA does a fantastic job of keeping the C&C spirit alive today and hopefully for many many more years to come. It is awesome how this is such an open platform and community, and it’s great we can discuss changes to the game directly with both the developer(s) as well as the community at large who have supported this project passionately for many years. My only suggestion would be that many if not most of these topics have already been discussed before and many still have active threads discussing them. I would think it’s more appropriate to join in those discussions to share your thoughts, or start new specific discussions if necessary, rather than making a gigantic megapost of suggested changes from the “well respected ‘strategic genius.’” :-p anyways I think I saw some of your videos on the OpenRA reddit page and they were pretty funny lol

SirCake
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Re: Thoughts from a player playing Red Alert for a couple of months

Post by SirCake » Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:15 am

From a combined gameplay, “realism” and close to the original point of view I think
allow to chrono mcv + deploy but the teleport back as undeployed seems best of QbdR’s proposals.
chrono mcv tilts big maps into allies favour to the point of frustration atm.

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