Dune 2000 balance topic

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OmegaBolt
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Dune 2000 balance topic

Post by OmegaBolt »

I want to create a single topic where all D2k balance discussion and suggestions go, so we can collate the thoughts for potential future implementation. I helped make the mod more like the original game, and so any suggestions that I really agree with I will endeavour to get in the mod, with of course consensus from more permanent / deepyl involved members of the ORA team.

Please note this doesn't mean following every suggestion as I think they should emphasize the original game's gameplay ethos and mechanics that make it very fun and stand out from the other ORA mods.

It would be particularly nice to hear from competitive players and perhaps provide replays that show the present state of D2k gameplay.

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Post by OmegaBolt »

My first suggestion is: do you think support powers would make battle's more interesting?

The Death Hand and Ornithopters could perform more of a battlefield role of creating 'no-go' areas for units, rather than being weak base killers. I don't think base killers are necessary in Dune considering buildings are already so weak and camping isn't much of a problem, the game is more about battlefield control.

The Death Hand for instance could be much faster, provide a warning at the target location, and wipe out a cluster of units; or, it could create a radiation field that damages units in the area. Ornithopter's could circle around the target area for a set amount of time, bombing anything there until they run out time or ammunition.

Next, what about new support weapons? Such as EMP, some kind of unit shield that increases unit strength temporarily, maybe a spice injection that improves unit stats in other ways. Maybe a temporary cloaking power for Ordos? An area map reveal weapon to look into enemy bases? Maybe Ordos gets a host of sabotage abilities. Harkonnen has abilities that improve their units but also hurt them, giving them a meat grinder army. Atreides tries to maintain their units and improve them incrementally.

These could make the battlefield more dynamic so mass production doesn't come to a stalemate. They could also cost money and be another cash sink, something that definitely suits Dune 2000.

Second suggestion: unit upgrades.

Think Warcraft/Starcraft. D2k already has building upgrades, but what about upgrades that improve unit stats? Again, it would be another cash sink and add an element of arms race to the mass production, possibly forcing a choice between producing more units quickly by not paying for the upgrade, or going for stronger units with an upgrade.

They could be straight upgrades, like an armour/firepower boost (could be especially good if there were a structure armour one), or they could specifically make certain weapons better in some regard, like increasing spread of the artillery weapon or make missile tanks hurt all units in a line like a harpoon. Would be interesting to hear ideas.

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Post by SoScared »

Prematurely Marn and I started out with some custom mod playtesting of D2K after an idea of adding a defensive tab to make building slabs a thing:

Dune2000 defense tab test:
http://www.sleipnirstuff.com/forum/view ... 83&t=19504

previous discussions on D2K mod balancing:

Dune 2000 mod - what's to be done with it? - discussion
http://www.sleipnirstuff.com/forum/view ... =dune+2000

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Post by SoScared »

The most interesting and reliable features/changes from the above mod are:

Slabs/walls/defensive structure moved into a defensive build tab - encourages more use of slabs and reduces the enormous menu from the main build tab.

Slabs have the same adjacent gap as buildings to prevent accidental far slab placement.

Sight range of all buildings was slightly increased due to inability to see nearby slabs.

Fixed slow building repair issue, repair amount was increased significantly due to inflated HP stats in Dune.

Trikes and Light Infantry do less damage vs buildings.

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Post by OmegaBolt »

Yeah I've seen the defense tab thing but personally I don't think it's a good direction. D2k is about mass production and battlefield control, so you should really have units in good positions to defend, not rely on static defences. I don't particularly like the idea of making building defences easier because of that. They're a choice you can make, whether to add a defence as a deterrent or continue to build up and get a slight edge.

As for concrete, it's kinda the same thing. You definitely want to take the time to build concrete for things like power plants, but for the rest it's an option. A building with concrete and higher strength helps protect you from attack, but if you want to play really aggressively then you can go without it and leave somewhat of an opening for your opponant.

I already feel like there are too many tabs with too few options, would be nice to get some merged (although keeping separate production queues of the factories).
SoScared wrote: Slabs have the same adjacent gap as buildings to prevent accidental far slab placement.
Not exactly sure what that means but the reason they can be built farther here is because in the original game you could build adjacent to other concrete slabs, and so expand farther. That's not possible in ORA.

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Post by SoScared »

As for defensive structures their cost were increased due to the new accessability. The changes were also tested out on maps that had limited chokes and so defensive structure spam didn't really become a thing.

In the D2K games we had before Marn's mod, with the exception of use with power plants, the slabs became completely redundant. No joke, the player who built slabs for his structures simply lost. No exceptions. Once you figured out how to spot and hold off rushes there was no longer a need for slabs for either tech-, production stuctures or refineries. With the current state of the mod we took the macro to ridiculous levels late 2015 as D2K games became (relatively) more competetive. It did not matter how cunning or micro oriented the players were, the result ended up being exactly the same.

I honestly think the defensive tab is not only neccessary but unavoidable if we want to see them incorporated into competetive play. I agree tho the amount of tabs is silly long. E.g. the 'light vehicles' tab with 2-3 units. Light and vehicles could perhaps share the same tab and the upgrade tab could have it's own segment above the tabs like in original D2K.

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Post by SoScared »

OmegaBolt wrote: Not exactly sure what that means but the reason they can be built farther here is because in the original game you could build adjacent to other concrete slabs, and so expand farther. That's not possible in ORA.
Often players would build the 2x2 slab ahead of the first powerplant, as far towards the nearest spice field as possible, only to later learn that the powerplant has 1 cell less range. You'd have to place them halfway on top of the slab if you don't want to slow down your build. An annoyance to say the least.

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Post by OmegaBolt »

SoScared wrote: As for defensive structures their cost were increased due to the new accessability. The changes were also tested out on maps that had limited chokes and so defensive structure spam didn't really become a thing.
I would still rather buff defences than give them their own production tab with just a few options and allow them to get churned out at the same time as other buildings.

An even more interesting buff for defences could be that they provide a bonus to defence to surrounding units, or something similar. That way they'd be even more useful. Might be too far out, but there's plenty of options.
SoScared wrote: In the D2K games we had before Marn's mod, with the exception of use with power plants, the slabs became completely redundant. No joke, the player who built slabs for his structures simply lost. No exceptions. Once you figured out how to spot and hold off rushes there was no longer a need for slabs for either tech-, production stuctures or refineries.
Would people be against completely removing concrete? As much as I like the idea, I don't think it's very fun to do ingame. Even having a separate production queue still requires you to click on the icon, place it, then place another building on top, and that whole process is pretty stale. Emperor: Battle for Dune didn't have it. Maybe there's a better way to add an effect like weathering without requiring that whole process...
SoScared wrote: With the current state of the mod we took the macro to ridiculous levels late 2015 as D2K games became (relatively) more competetive. It did not matter how cunning or micro oriented the players were, the result ended up being exactly the same.
I think D2k is a macro game though, it's like that in vanilla too. I want to add more ways to influence the battles (such as support powers as I suggested, or unit upgrades) so there are more options, but I don't think it should change into a different game like the other two mods have.
SoScared wrote: Often players would build the 2x2 slab ahead of the first powerplant, as far towards the nearest spice field as possible, only to later learn that the powerplant has 1 cell less range. You'd have to place them halfway on top of the slab if you don't want to slow down your build. An annoyance to say the least.
I get your point but isn't that also the fault of the player? I feel like concrete slabs would be even more annoying if you had less ability to place them where you want, like with walls or defences.

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Post by SoScared »

Another cool slab feature I forgot to mention was the increased movement speed on slabs. As in Dune 2 all units would move quickly on slabs.

D2K without slabs would be pretty bland imo - part of what made the early Dune games special is the placing of concrete slabs, laying the foundations for your base in a build hostile environment. Building structures in D2K takes a long time compared to slabs (ref. Marn's edition, less cost) so the tab switching didn't feel like much of an issue - when using hotkeys it certainly isn't.

I'd really recommend trying out Marn's defensive tab version tho (including the complete range of unit/structure tweaks). Sorry for being pushy on the version but it literally recieved unanimously positive feedback from community players and started producing some serious good games with the latest versions.
OmegaBolt wrote: I get your point but isn't that also the fault of the player? I feel like concrete slabs would be even more annoying if you had less ability to place them where you want, like with walls or defences.
I wouldn't call it a player fault if it means everyone has to learn it one time or another by trial and error. Either that or increase the build range for structures from 3 to 4 cell range.

*the triggering issue with the slab vs structure range is that the power plant (and barracks) is a 2x3 structure that can be placed at different distancess depending on if you place it north/south vs east/west. Perhaps there's another option to fix that issue.

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Post by SoScared »

The hardest part on developing game balance on D2K currently is the map pool. Theres so few decent maps available you can count them on one hand and there's currently not that many good custom maps out there. We need more playable maps available with balance playtesting.

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Post by OmegaBolt »

SoScared wrote: The hardest part on developing game balance on D2K currently is the map pool. Theres so few decent maps available you can count them on one hand and there's currently not that many good custom maps out there. We need more playable maps available with balance playtesting.
Yeah, well we added hopefully two new decent ones recently and I would like to find more. Seems like a two headed thing though, in that map design needs to be informed by game design so it depends what kind of gameplay people really want. Perhaps more conversions of original maps would be a better basis, I'm not sure.

Two new recent additions, one of them was from the Russian tournament.
https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/pull/11390
https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/pull/11511

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Post by Kwendy »

It's surprising how in current balance literally all units are constantly in use. The only one who I don't see often is saboteur.
Also I am mostly the one using freman, but it counts :D

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Post by IIIStrife »

TBH though, missile turrets, Tanks and Siege Tanks need a sight and range buff. Their range basically being a bit more than the average combat tank, doesn't really make them too useful like in the original.

Carryalls also need a look at sometime, they're supposed to suto-carry harvesters from refineries to spice, and from spice to the refineries when full, but most of the time, they don't carry them back to the spice.

Really puts a damper on your economy, especially when harvesters also sometimes stop gathering, as the spice at their targeted location disappears due to being harvested, and they never change targets.

Also unsure if this is a thing in the current other games, but moving large armies short distances is a bit annoying as some will randomly stop along the way, while others won't move at all.

Also would like if one day, the Starport tab operates how it's supposed to, in that you order units and they're delivered at a fixed rate of about 10-20 seconds (forgot which it is), and they arrive in bulk, up to 8 units being delivered.

I like it though. Just some kinks, and bugs that make it personally a bit... iffy to play it atm.

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Post by JOo »

OpenRA`s D2k was "never" even close the original balance ... because everyone working on it had its own idea of how that should look like

@Omegabolt : i think it was you that added a faster balance (before the gamespeed-slider came out) ? so its close to the original D2k with highest speed ...

reaperrr eventually adjusted it all but calculated it all wrong ...here the prove :

your PR
https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/pull/9106

reaperrr's PR
https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/pull/9453

now everyone is already talking about "balancing d2k" although the original balance was never actually implemented ...

nobody plays OpenRA's D2k because its a fucking disaster ... its way too fast overall (and im not speaking about the trikes or raiders )

i give you "just" an example ...

in the original "Dune 2000" ... a windtrap would take 24 seconds to build ... on normal speed

however in "OpenRA D2k" the windtrap takes only 8 seconds to build ... on normal speed

the reason why it was made faster , is because you said ... " i want to play it like i play dune 2000, on the fastest speed , because thats how i play it "


now there is good things on d2k ... we got a couple of developers namely pchote , matija-hustic ... and more ... to add gameplay-mechanics

mechanics like the carryall and the worms + wormtrails ... theses are mechanics that make a huge difference to red alert and tiberian dawn ...

these are the "only" things ... that makes d2k different from our TD or RA ... so all my thanks go to these people

the lack of efforts towards the original balance and already talking about "balancing this unblanaced mess even further away from the original" is like spitting in every true dune2000-fans face ...

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