Red Alert: Let's make everything worth building! + ideas etc

How to make pro players use every available structure/unit?

Discussion about the game and its default mods.
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Fortnight
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Red Alert: Let's make everything worth building! + ideas etc

Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:16 pm

Hello everybody! I've always been a fan of OpenRA ever since it was first created but only lately have I noticed that the changes from the original game has actually spawned a little competitive scene that's pretty fun to watch. What brought me here was FiveAces and his YouTube channel, thanks for many enjoyable hours! Thanks SoScared as well (whom I discovered shortly afterwards).

I've noticed that there are some units that are overlooked, for example the Grenadier. It seems like it's never trained, Rocket Soldiers are picked over it every time. Mammoth Tank also seems like a rare purchase, which is funny because that's what you always built playing Red Alert as a kid.

Anyway, I've been thinking that it would be more fun to watch competitive play if all units and structures were worth while to buy, if the situation allows it of course. I know that there's strictly speaking always a reason for casual players to buy everything but in my book only the pros count when looking at a game from a balance perspective; if they skip out on a thing there's something wrong with that thing.

So in this thread I thought we could discuss how to make every single available unit/structure worth buying in the game? Only counting the mission as successful if the very best players would start building them. First we identify *why* something is not build and then try to think of something that would nullify that reason.

For clarity let's try to keep one thought/idea per post so every post doesn't get so long. Correct me if I'm wrong in any reasoning, it's quite possible I misunderstand the reason why a unit is not built. I'll be the first one to admit that I don't know much about how the game works on a deeper level.

I'll also take the chance to share some general ideas I have for OpenRA in this thread. I don't really know what the engine supports so cut me some slack if I say something that just can't become reality. Sorry for posting multiple times in a row but I really think splitting things into several smaller posts is better than one big post.

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Fortnight
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Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:18 pm

Let's start with:

Sandbag Wall.

Why is it rarely (never) built?

+ Easy to destroy by for example rocket soldiers.
+ Vehicles just run them over (including your own harvesters).
+ Everything shoot through them.
+ The time it takes to plop them down isn't worth it.

What would maybe make it more worth building them for pros?

I actually would like to see a whole new mechanic for sand bags. Consider this:

+ They cost just 10 a piece instead of current 25. Always builds as 1 cell (not like the other walls).
+ They are instantly built. Would like to be able to hold and drag the cursor to "paint them".
+ You place them next to your Rifle Infantry (small circle area around them, as if they are the ones placing them).
+ They can always be built as long as you have 1 Rifle Infantry, Sandbags have nothing to do with the Construction Yard like all other buildings do.

+ All infantry just walk over them. Vehicles destroy them when running them over.
+ All attacks can pass through the bags. Not all attacks are able to damage them though (if targeted).
+ What sandbags actually do is provide damage reduction to all infantry that are right next to the bags (friendly or non-friendly).
+ Damage is halved for all attacks *if* they have passed over the bags that the infantry is standing next to. (Basically a line is drawn between the attacked and the attacker, if the line crosses a sand back the attacked is next to the damage is reduced.)
+ Bags have increased HP so it takes at least two tank shots to remove the bags fully.

I know thats a lot but maybe that's what's needed if pros would ever bother spending time in-game on building sand bags...

As I mentioned in OP I don't know what the engine supports so maybe this is an impossible suggestion. If you have a better idea for making sandbags a viable option in any situation please post it!

Soviet: If these sandbag changes are implemented, replace Barbed-Wire Fence with sandbags since you can't really take cover behind a couple of wires.

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Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:20 pm

With that one out of the way let's move on to:

Wire Fence

Why is it rarely (never) built?

+ First of all they are not available in multiplayer in the first place.
+ Easy to destroy by rocket soldiers.
+ Vehicles just run them over (including your own harvesters).
+ Everything shoot through them.

What would maybe make it more worth building them for pros?

+ Would need to be available for construction in multiplayer.
+ Make them cost just 20 instead of current 25.
+ Make them stop tank shells and rocket shots. Two of those required to destroy one cell of Wire Fence.
+ Basically wire fence would be cheap concrete wall that can be run over, meant to tank a little damage in front of defense.

Friendly units should never pathfind over your own walls btw (if they are right now, I don't know).

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Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:20 pm

(gameplay idea) Make destroyed walls leave behind a little "foundation" for a while (60 seconds?) which prevents you from building another wall piece on the same spot until the foundation pops out of existance. Otherwise the low cost of the wire fence could become a huge problem. Other buildings would still be buildable on these foundations and all units can walk/shoot through them.

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Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:21 pm

(gameplay idea) Vehicles leave husks when destroyed (that can't be walked through) but buildings explode completely out of existance when destroyed. Shouldn't constructions also leave a "ruin", allowing any Engineer a chance to instantly capture them in order to restore them to red minimal health (same as Mechanic does for vehicles).

I've noticed Engineers aren't used much late game, it's very common to only have them capture a Oil Derrick. This might change that. Could make for interesting attacks where you have to make sure the enemy doesn't have an Engineer around, or to get rid of the barracks before that other key building. Or spend an extra bit of time on destroying the "ruins" with some extra shots. Hiding an extra force after a superweapon to make sure to kill off any restored buildings in the red (this would nerf super weapons a bit). I suppose nukes wouldn't leave ruins behind though. Do nukes leave husks? I'm not sure, maybe vehicles doesn't become husks if they are "overkilled"?

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Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:22 pm

(tutorial idea) Make the game more newbie-friendly with an in-game menu to learn a bit of the game. There's a lot of stuff you won't get without playing many matches and with all the games out today it's unlikely new players will stick around for that long if they feel like they don't understand what's happening in the game.

An in-game wiki accessible from the main menu would be neat, explaining things like spy+this building does this and spy+that building does that. As well as what a promoted unit X does (which ones can be promoted, what earns them experience). Explain that you can block Ore Refineries or War Factories, a strategy that might be overlooked by many. How much money can 1 Harvester bring in? How much more is Gems worth? How much credits fits in a Silo? What's the difference between Wood and Light armor types? What does a Hospital do? Biological Lab? Exactly how much enemy credits does the thief steal? Which building am I supposed to send him into? And much more, for example a "did you know"-section. "Did you know Engineers can be used to reset build-queues of enemies even if they don't actually capture the building?" (Post edit: It was like this when the post was written, I think they no longer reset build queues now.)

I'd love for an option to pit units against each other as well to be able to learn what works. For example: Set 5 Flamers vs 1 War Factory. How long did it take to destroy it? Set 2 Rifle Infantry against 20 Rocket Soldiers? Who would win, how much HP would there be left for survivors? I think providing newbies with tools to quickly become intermediate players would do wonders in player count. Many new people probably goes into OpenRA expecting the same games they played as a kid and will become confused over how much is "wrong" and stop playing.

It's very important to make this wiki in-game accessible btw, all this info is already available if new players want to spend the time and effort on searching for it online. Unless it's right there in-game most will just play something else instead. The pit X against Y thing (as well as the wiki) will probably come in handy when balancing factions as well.
Last edited by Fortnight on Tue Oct 04, 2016 5:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:25 pm

Mammoth Tank

Why is it rarely built? (Reminder that I'm only counting pros here.)

+ Very slow movement speed.
+ Very slow turn speed.
+ Late-game tech (expensive to build, expensive to get to).

What would maybe make it more worth building them for pros?

+ Self-repair up to 100% instead of current 50%.

I'm aware of recent changes to make it able to crush concrete wall as well as a movement speed decrease. The wall crush is a good idea but I would rather reduce movement speed back down again and instead make them able to fully self-repair. This makes them a slow threat that you can't poke away at until it's dead - you have to make sure to kill them in one go or you might as well wait with attacking them or attack the enemy base while he is away with his army.
Last edited by Fortnight on Mon Oct 03, 2016 10:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:26 pm

(gameplay idea) Running over walls should slow the vehicle movement speed by 50% for a second. Mammoth could be slowed by 0%, except when running over concrete which slows the normal 50%. Sandbags doesn't slow any vehicle except wheel-based ones (Ranger). The slowing down would add a small buff to sandbags as well.

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Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:27 pm

(promotion idea) Minelayer vehicles can't get promoted, maybe they should though? Like if they lay 15 mines (doesn't have to trigger, would still take some dedication from the player to place that maby) they get twice the mine detection aura and also detect mines even not in line of sight (seen through the fog of war). Then after 15 more mines they reach max promotion and get rearmed twice as fast. Or deploy its mines twice as fast? Something like that. I'd love it if every single unit could get promotions in the game.

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Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:28 pm

(promotion idea) Dogs could get promoted as well. First they get 1 more cell in vision. Then if they reach another promotion they get faster movement speed.

Would be neat it dogs also share their promotion level with other dogs around them (for pack hunting). So one maxed dog won't outrun other dogs on their team, they all run as fast as each other.

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Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:30 pm

(gameplay idea) Let the Radar Dome give 4 more cells of vision, from current 10 to a whopping 14. Could keep cloaked-unit detection as 10, maybe even reduce it to 8 for balance?

The idea of this is to make it viable to not hide away the Radar Dome at the back of the base, sure it's safer there but placing it near the front line would give a lot more strategic value in the vision. Such huge vision would maybe make it worth to build another Radar Dome in an outpost, just for the vision. A decent strategic option?

If powered down the vision should be reduced to just 4 cells and 0 cells cloaked-unit detection. Maybe it's already reduced like that in the game, I don't know.

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Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:30 pm

Grenadier

Why is it rarely built?

+ Rocket Soldier has too much value being able to fire into the sky as well, even with the added price.
+ Flammable, might kill other friendly units in the group once killed (could become chain reaction).
+ Fairly long delay between throws.
+ Basically can't hit a moving target.

What would maybe make it more worth building them for pros?

+ Make them cost 150 instead of current 160 (just so you can get two Grenadiers for the price of one Rocket Soldier).
+ Make the build time (training time) exactly the same as Rifle Infantry.
+ Does 3 times more damage against pillboxes and Flame Towers specifically.
+ The units could try to lead moving targets (meaning: aim into the cell the target will be once the grenade gets there).
+ Never explode unless actually killed by an explosion (or flame).

Would maybe also become more popular if Rocket Soldiers were also "flammable" upon death. Don't they also carry explosives around after all?

Honestly though, what about making the flammable explosion-on-death only graphical? Meaning it would do no damage to those around him, just making them prone for visual effect. So much else have changed from the original Red Alert so it's strange that this explosion-on-death thing is still around, it seems to just make pros afraid to mix grenadiers into their ranks.

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Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:33 pm

(promotion idea) Tesla Coil veterancy! Why can't the guys operating defensive structures get better at their job too? A veteran Tesla Coil could require half power to operate or maybe increase its HP from current 400 to 500? Everything should earn experience, I'd be happy with just a slight buff just to mark a unit as having done a good job.

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Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:35 pm

(promotion idea) Engineers never stops learning, how about after fully capturing an enemy structure (not neutral) they gain 1 rank, doubling their capture speed. Would make them less throwaway.

A rank 1 engineer can upgrade to a Master Engineer if they fully capture yet another enemy structure and this is where they get interesting.

Master Engineer (general/veteran or whatever maxed promotion is called):
+ If you have no Construction Yard: You can still build buildings if you have at least 1 Master Engineer on the map. Doubles construction time required, pauses construction timer if no Master Engineer is standing still, auto-resumes if one of them is standing still.
+ If you have a Construction Yard: You build buildings as normal, any number of Master Engineers does not increase building time.
+ You can place your buildings in a small circle area around a Master Engineer!
+ If the building is not in range of a Construction Yard it will however be built with red HP.
+ You can then either repair the building as normal or sacrifice a Engineer by walking it into the building, restoring its health to full.

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Post by Fortnight » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:35 pm

(faction idea) I noticed that Allies have three factions and Soviet has only two. My suggestion is the third Soviet faction, with works in a special way. It depends on the Master Engineer promotion idea above.

+ This faction can't build any of the special stuff that Russia/Ukraine can build.
+ It also can't build a Mobile Construction Vehicle! This faction will only ever have 1 Construction Yard (unless it captures another one from an enemy faction).
+ However, Engineers will get max rank as soon as they are built (always build "Master Engineers" at the regular 500 credit cost).
+ Does not have Flame Tower, instead it has "Heavy Turret". Works and cost exactly as much as the Allied "Turret" except it has two barrels and therefore does twice the damage.

As you might notice this faction is weak against infantry due to having no such base defense, so it must build dogs or have their own infantry guards here and there.

Being able to fly out Engineers to for example set up a Heavy Turret near the enemy base and then use the Engineer to repair its health would be a lot of fun to watch (remember that it adds 500 to the price of the turret or the repair cost if the Engineer is not used to repait it, plus the risk of it getting destroyed during construction). Concrete walls built next to the Engineer would naturally also have red HP (be in a near-destroyed state).

What name to call this faction I haven't thought about.

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