Drifters: Do we really need them?

MadFunkMadFunk Join Date: 2002-11-16 Member: 8986Posts: 266Members, Constellation
Herein I argue that the game would be better off without them.
Drifters die easily, and seem to only serve to delay the construction of buildings for the alien team.

Allow the Alien Commander to place structures wherever there is active, connected infestation. Structures would grow slowly over time, but could be sped up by Gorges. This allows the build mechanics for each side to be more similar, while still distinct, and encourages Gorges to coordinate more with the alien commander.

Hives, I imagine, would require infestation nearby to be placed, and would be built in the same way. To compensate for the amount of cyst-chaining that would be required, Hives could be altered to cost less (50~). As with other structures, Gorges could speed up the construction, and I imagine increasing the unattended build time would be a reasonable tweak to compensate for the lack of drifters.

It has always struck me as odd in NS that marine structures appear out of thin air, whereas alien structures (in NS2), despite spreading infestation, have to be sent and deployed from a hive. It seems backwards.

Secondly, since Drifters serve no other purpose (unlike MACs, which can weld and group-build structures), there won't be any great loss of functionality for the Alien Commander.

Comments

  • Classic319Classic319 Join Date: 2010-11-06 Member: 74789Posts: 196Members
    Agree with asking why we need drifters, but i cannot agree with that you are saying drifters are delaying things. Drifters are actually making aliens so easy to make structures(no man-power are needed) and cause super map domination of Alien.
  • SolitarioSolitario Join Date: 2006-10-29 Member: 58097Posts: 245Members
    I agree on Drifters are kind a unnecessary, but if you remove them, the Alien Comm has less to do.
    Sometimes he needs to micro thos Drifters, so they don't get killed by Marines
  • MadFunkMadFunk Join Date: 2002-11-16 Member: 8986Posts: 266Members, Constellation
    edited April 2012
    QUOTE (Classic319 @ Apr 14 2012, 11:37 AM) »
    Agree with asking why we need drifters, but i cannot agree with that you are saying drifters are delaying things. Drifters are actually making aliens so easy to make structures(no man-power are needed) and cause super map domination of Alien.

    They delay things in that, if you want to build an extractor you have to wait for the drifter to get there. The Marines, while they do require someone there to build the structure, don't have this delay. The marine commander drops the building and it appears instantly. For example, consider the difference between a pair Marines building 5 structures, and training and sending 5 drifters to build 5 structures. Which takes less time? Which is easier for the commander to do? Which requires more team coordination (usually)? The answer is Marines, in all three cases.

    I see what you're saying, but I find they do delay the construction of buildings by, at least compared to the Marines, by a fair amount.

    QUOTE (Solitario @ Apr 14 2012, 11:47 AM) »
    I agree on Drifters are kind a unnecessary, but if you remove them, the Alien Comm has less to do.
    Sometimes he needs to micro thos Drifters, so they don't get killed by Marines

    My issue is not with the quantity of things to do, it's the quality and fun of those things. The Alien Comm will, I expect, get more to do as the game nears launch. At the moment, yes, the experience is pretty simple, and needs improvement-- but I think Drifters, in their current form, feel sortof like filler rather than a solid macro element.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • PsiWarpPsiWarp Gifted Gorge Richmond, B.C., Canada Join Date: 2010-08-28 Member: 73810Posts: 1,566Members
    edited April 2012
    I agree. Drifters are far too fragile, any stray grenade or a small burst of rifle bullets will kill them. I would rather try your proposed system really, and perhaps find another role for the Drifter; I always found the Alien Comm. role to focus on buildings & abilities rather than units, with exceptions of course (the Whip).

    Either way, I can't wait for Gorge to be useful again, with his new abilities and the recent changes to alien structures (addressing map control).
    Post edited by Unknown User on
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  • XariusXarius Join Date: 2003-12-21 Member: 24630Posts: 2,186Members
    I don't think drifters should be eliminated all together, imo they can have a purpose, but they should be kept as a 'tech' option similar to marine MACs. Allow alien khamm to put down buildings that grow naturally, allow gorges to significantly speed up the process and have drifters as a tech alternative that will allow the khamm to expand fast without needing gorges. Would be a fair trade-off imo, and put aliens closer to marines in terms of expansion speed. (and their need for either tech or players to be present elsewhere on the map to help build)
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  • MadFunkMadFunk Join Date: 2002-11-16 Member: 8986Posts: 266Members, Constellation
    edited April 2012
    QUOTE (PsiWarp @ Apr 14 2012, 03:01 PM) »
    I agree. Drifters are far too fragile, any stray grenade or a small burst of rifle bullets will kill them. I would rather try your proposed system really, and perhaps find another role for the Drifter; I always found the Alien Comm. role to focus on buildings & abilities rather than units, with exceptions of course (the Whip).

    Either way, I can't wait for Gorge to be useful again, with his new abilities and the recent changes to alien structures (addressing map control).


    I agree. This is exactly what I have been thinking. I have tried to think of what other role the Drifter might serve, but at the moment, they don't seem to do much. If the Aliens are going to have to rely on AI "peons", it might be reasonable, if they stay in the game, to move them to another role, say, resource collection (like Drones, their Starcraft analogue, harvesting Gas). It would put a greater emphasis on protecting Drifters (which, at the moment, are often hard to find escorts for due to their cheap cost and the team's expectation that the Alien Comm. can micro them perfectly all the time).

    Of course, it's a pretty dramatic game (edit: "change" lolwut) to the macro game, I don't know if it's worth even considering at this point. It's just a thought, mostly.

    QUOTE (Xarius @ Apr 14 2012, 04:13 PM) »
    I don't think drifters should be eliminated all together, imo they can have a purpose, but they should be kept as a 'tech' option similar to marine MACs. Allow alien khamm to put down buildings that grow naturally, allow gorges to significantly speed up the process and have drifters as a tech alternative that will allow the khamm to expand fast without needing gorges. Would be a fair trade-off imo, and put aliens closer to marines in terms of expansion speed. (and their need for either tech or players to be present elsewhere on the map to help build)


    Aye, that's basically the issue I have with Drifters in their current form: that they serve a single role, and they don't do it particularly well. Often they end up being more tedious than fun, AI issues aside. Had they a greater purpose, it would be reasonable to keep them in the game, but for this particular suggestion, I feel there's benefit to keeping things simple. Removing drifters outright was the simplest, and most interesting solution I could come up with.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • bobrunbobrun Join Date: 2012-03-06 Member: 148235Posts: 39Members
    What if drifters could be use for bonus res?

    Let's say the harvester generate 1 res each 8 seconds, and 1 bonus res each 20 seconds. The trick is, the bonus res is within the harvester, and cannot be obtained until a drifter goes to the harvester, take the res and bring it back to the hive.

    For balances issues, bonus res could only be obtained at res nodes, not at tech point. You could get a bonus from Crevice, but not from Atrium. It would force the Aliens to play defense sometimes and protect their drifters getting res.

    If aliens get bonus res, marines should be able too. I don't have any original ideas for them, but the comm could upgrade an extractor to get bonus res. Since it's more convenient for marines (no chances of getting res intercepted), you just lower the bonus res to 1 each 30 seconds to balance.

  • haprohapro Join Date: 2012-03-27 Member: 149492Posts: 102Members
    I think drifters are important because it's an asymmetric feature, it gives marines more options for denial, they make the alien commanders job more involved (it's already pretty easy compared to marine commander), and they can be used as flares which everyone seems to forget during rushes. Basically it's a huge buff for aliens. Pushing a room? Just drop 10 cysts, throw up 5 whips and catalyze them all. Put a crag in there too for good measure. Aliens are almost always not limited by their tres but by their commander's ability to produce and manage drifters. Without them, you'd need some sort of similar ~15 second delay between building structures and then that limits things like storing 5 drifters and dropping all the buildings at the same time.
  • ÒŗăNģёÒŗăNģё Join Date: 2012-02-09 Member: 144437Posts: 133Members, Constellation, Squad Five Blue
    How else would we lag the server and kill the com chair, whips? No thanks
  • Dank McShwaggerDank McShwagger Join Date: 2009-06-10 Member: 67784Posts: 324Members
    Question: Are drifters and glowies the same thing? Glowies being the small flying insects seen in some of the concept art.

    I really don't care much for the visuals of the drifter, it seems too cumbersome for it's role. The glowies in the concept art seem more practical for the drifter's role.
  • internetexplorerinternetexplorer Join Date: 2011-10-13 Member: 127255Posts: 1,369Members
    I agree completely. I'd like to see drifters kept but as a scouting/spellcasting unit (with things like flare).
  • MadFunkMadFunk Join Date: 2002-11-16 Member: 8986Posts: 266Members, Constellation
    QUOTE (hapro @ Apr 16 2012, 10:42 AM) »
    I think drifters are important because it's an asymmetric feature, it gives marines more options for denial, they make the alien commanders job more involved (it's already pretty easy compared to marine commander), and they can be used as flares which everyone seems to forget during rushes. Basically it's a huge buff for aliens. Pushing a room? Just drop 10 cysts, throw up 5 whips and catalyze them all. Put a crag in there too for good measure. Aliens are almost always not limited by their tres but by their commander's ability to produce and manage drifters. Without them, you'd need some sort of similar ~15 second delay between building structures and then that limits things like storing 5 drifters and dropping all the buildings at the same time.

    My issue with Drifters is not that their removal should (and would) make the role of Alien Comm easier, it is just that their continued presence has not equalled fun (in my experience). They eat up time APM, so to speak, but they don't necessarily do it in a 'fun' way. Compared to other options that could take up his attention could provide more fun gameplay. I never find managing drifters fun. While I agree about denial, by the looks of 205 and future changes, this will be less of an issue, as 'newborn' structures and the removal of catalyze will make that kind of whip rush much harder.

    I agree with you point about the speed at which structures can be placed, though. Again, I'm hoping 205 will address this somewhat.

    I appreciate you made this post before the 205 changes to the Alien Comm were announced. I'm just glad that it looks like the changes there could provide a synthesis of our different opinions on the subject.
    QUOTE (Dank McShwagger @ Apr 16 2012, 01:39 PM) »
    Question: Are drifters and glowies the same thing? Glowies being the small flying insects seen in some of the concept art.

    I really don't care much for the visuals of the drifter, it seems too cumbersome for it's role. The glowies in the concept art seem more practical for the drifter's role.

    It would be cool to have "glowies" float around infestation and/or the hives, and deploying to "become" a structure when the Alien Comm places one. The A. Comm wouldn't interact with them directly, they would just add a brief delay before alien structures actually manifest.
  • GORGEousGORGEous Join Date: 2012-02-19 Member: 146762Posts: 1,456Members, NS2 Map Tester
    Drifters are necessary to allow marines to deny structures like second hive, RTs, defensive whips/crags or even offensive bases. Drifters should be very fragile, much like macs are.

    Also, drifters hardly take up much APM. It requires about 20 APM to play alien commander.
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  • ArkantiArkanti pub baddie Join Date: 2011-07-22 Member: 111781Posts: 694Members, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow
    I think the main problem you guys have with drifters is the currently awful AI pathfinding(and the drifter's proclivity to get stuck outside the map) more than anything else, as a concept they're fine but the current execution is off.
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  • MadFunkMadFunk Join Date: 2002-11-16 Member: 8986Posts: 266Members, Constellation
    edited April 2012
    QUOTE (GORGEous @ Apr 17 2012, 01:30 AM) »
    Drifters are necessary to allow marines to deny structures like second hive, RTs, defensive whips/crags or even offensive bases. Drifters should be very fragile, much like macs are.

    Also, drifters hardly take up much APM. It requires about 20 APM to play alien commander.

    I hesitated to use the term APM, but I couldn't come to anything more appropriate. I hate to compare the game again to SC2, but during development of that game, Blizzard realized that the simplification of the controls and mechanics reduced the amount of APM required to play the game. This wasn't a bad thing, necessarily, but from a competitive standpoint it reduced the skill required to really outplay your opponent and from a fun perspective-- well, it ran the risk of becoming boring and easy.

    To combat this, they added new macro mechanics to "soak up" APM. The Zerg Queen spawning Larva, Terrans calling down MULES, Protoss liberally applying Chrono Boost.

    Similarly, the RTS aspect of NS2, while not as fast paced (yet?), still has to have the same elements examined. What's taking up APM? Is it fun? Does it make sense thematically? Is it continually engaging, even if you do it every game?

    The problem I have with drifters is not that they are difficult to manage, or that the marines shouldn't be able to deny alien structures, it's that they're boring and unoriginal, and haven't been really improved along with the game. They feel vestigial, for lack of a better word, an idea that was tried but hasn't really been refined. I can't help but feel they were put in initially because the new Alien Comm needed something to do, so why not archetypical Zerg Drones? They're sufficiently alien, and they mirror the AI workers for the Marines.

    I have no problem with adapting ideas, but the gameplay with drifters is pretty weak. I imagine most people don't find managing drifters to be the high point of the NS2 experience. I would rank it basically at the bottom. I'd rather not have to worry about protecting and ordering around napkin units whose only purpose is to build a single structure, to infestation I've already spread, on top of all the other things I will have to be doing as Alien Comm.

    I also think the issue of being able to deny alien structures, as I stated in the post above, will be less of an issue when the "newborn"/"mature" mechanics are introduced in the next patch or so.

    I will say this, it is hard to not make the SC2 comparison, especially for the Kharaa. People call cysts creep tumors all the time. NS is at its best when it's doing things differently. I think it's worth thinking outside the box on this one, for the sake of a faster, more satisfying game. Less time playing with AI, more time playing with your team.

    QUOTE (Arkanti @ Apr 17 2012, 01:55 AM) »
    I think the main problem you guys have with drifters is the currently awful AI pathfinding(and the drifter's proclivity to get stuck outside the map) more than anything else, as a concept they're fine but the current execution is off.

    I won't lie, the AI can be annoying, but I have accepted since I bought NS2 (and back when I played NS) that the game is not a finished product. I think Drifters are better abandoned now, before release. I imagine from a development standpoint it would make things a teensy bit easier.

    My main point though, stands aside from the current AI. It is functional, but Drifters are still not fun for me. I know I'm not alone in wondering "does this really need to be in the game?". I honestly feel that Drifters only slow the game down in their current form, and I think they're better cut than tweaked. Less is more sometimes.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • VenatosVenatos Join Date: 2012-03-31 Member: 149762Posts: 214Members, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold
    we allready have lights spreading out form the hive over the cysts, why not evolve it further?

    it could be as simple as a constant lightstream that originates at the hive, folows the cysts and stops at the apointed site where the selected sturcture was placed. it could even have the speed of a drifter if thats desired.

    i would immagine a cyst-like bubble spawning, that grows until it surrounds about 1/3 of the space the grown structure would need, then it ruptures and tadaa your newborn structure is here.

    the more i think about it, the more i like it, spreading my seed over my cyst network.
    it is simple, it feels more natural for the khaam, and is very easy to balance.

    i hope you like the idea, it just came to me ;)
  • RiseRise Join Date: 2012-04-17 Member: 150595Posts: 148Members
    I agree, I find drifters to be tedious and cumbersome, and ultimately unnecessary with the cyst function.

    The alien commander doesn't need a high APM if the goal is for him to be a relaxed garden tender.

    Plus, any action spared not being used on tedious button clicking is time saved for actually serving as a communications and intel relay for your team - You know, actually leading.
    That's why this isn't a strait up RTS and can't be approached like one.
  • RiCexEaTeRRiCexEaTeR Join Date: 2010-05-10 Member: 71700Posts: 130Members, Reinforced - Shadow
    Wow having the creep slowly creep up and form a building would be very cool and novel (and really demonstrate the awesomeness of the engine and rendering!). Having the drone build on creep is too Starcraft for me and changing the system would really set this game apart. Try the general discussion thread To garner more attention!
  • Soul_RiderSoul_Rider Mod Bean Join Date: 2004-06-19 Member: 29388Posts: 3,260Members, Constellation, Squad Five Blue
    Why not have a glowie from the hive break off and follow the infestation trail to the placed building automatically.

    The glowie replaces the drifter. It can have the same health, but as it is much smaller in size it is a lot harder to hit. It is too easy for me as a marine to kill drifters because they are huge.
  • WorthyRivalWorthyRival Black Armor Division Join Date: 2006-11-07 Member: 58470Posts: 557Members, Constellation, Reinforced - Supporter, Reinforced - Silver, Reinforced - Gold, Reinforced - Diamond, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow
    I'd love the new material system layered over the animation of a growing structure, similar to the animation skulks have when they die. it would give the impression and feel like the structure was growing out of the infestation add a fade out effect when structure almost complete. Remove the drifter from the interface and ta da structures growing out of infestation.
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  • PsiWarpPsiWarp Gifted Gorge Richmond, B.C., Canada Join Date: 2010-08-28 Member: 73810Posts: 1,566Members
    ^- Good idea, but I do like seeing the tiny structure grow, so perhaps the initial appearance would work for me :P
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  • MadFunkMadFunk Join Date: 2002-11-16 Member: 8986Posts: 266Members, Constellation
    edited April 2012
    QUOTE (Rise @ Apr 17 2012, 11:33 AM) »
    I agree, I find drifters to be tedious and cumbersome, and ultimately unnecessary with the cyst function.

    The alien commander doesn't need a high APM if the goal is for him to be a relaxed garden tender.

    Plus, any action spared not being used on tedious button clicking is time saved for actually serving as a communications and intel relay for your team - You know, actually leading.
    That's why this isn't a strait up RTS and can't be approached like one.

    I agree 100%.

    QUOTE (Soul_Rider @ Apr 17 2012, 06:27 PM) »
    Why not have a glowie from the hive break off and follow the infestation trail to the placed building automatically.

    The glowie replaces the drifter. It can have the same health, but as it is much smaller in size it is a lot harder to hit. It is too easy for me as a marine to kill drifters because they are huge.

    It's true. You basically just have to sneeze in the same room as one and it dies. Plus, with your idea, alien structures are still "deniable" but require less micro-management. Win-win. Great compromise between old and new.

    QUOTE (RiCexEaTeR @ Apr 17 2012, 03:57 PM) »
    Wow having the creep slowly creep up and form a building would be very cool and novel (and really demonstrate the awesomeness of the engine and rendering!). Having the drone build on creep is too Starcraft for me and changing the system would really set this game apart.
    QUOTE (WorthyRival @ Apr 17 2012, 09:47 PM) »
    I'd love the new material system layered over the animation of a growing structure, similar to the animation skulks have when they die. it would give the impression and feel like the structure was growing out of the infestation add a fade out effect when structure almost complete. Remove the drifter from the interface and ta da structures growing out of infestation.
    QUOTE (PsiWarp @ Apr 17 2012, 10:03 PM) »
    ^- Good idea, but I do like seeing the tiny structure grow, so perhaps the initial appearance would work for me :P

    Would be awesome to see structures "bubble up" from infestation. I definitely had that kind of imagery in mind when I created the thread, but I felt I'd be able to sell my position better if I stayed away from the flair and focused on the function. I'm glad enough of ye are comfortable with the basic idea to move beyond the function to start visualizing what it might look like-- it means the idea has legs, and that's got me excited.

    Also, sup Rice. Not often I recognize a name I've pubbed with (my memory is pretty crap though).

    I trust implicitly that if UWE implements this or a similar concept they will do the visuals justice.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • WorthyRivalWorthyRival Black Armor Division Join Date: 2006-11-07 Member: 58470Posts: 557Members, Constellation, Reinforced - Supporter, Reinforced - Silver, Reinforced - Gold, Reinforced - Diamond, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow
    QUOTE (PsiWarp @ Apr 18 2012, 12:03 PM) »
    ^- Good idea, but I do like seeing the tiny structure grow, so perhaps the initial appearance would work for me :P


    Not to worry the layer I was suggesting is partially transparent so you would see through it to some degree.
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  • Cyborg16Cyborg16 Join Date: 2006-11-18 Member: 58656Posts: 44Members
    Growing structures directly from infestation: I like it.

    Slightly different idea for the drifters: they can be used to spread infestation, by creating a "super cyst" which is like a normal cyst except that it can survive for about two minutes without being attached to an infestation chain. After that it starts to die unless connected or replaced(?) with another drifter. This would make rapid expansion to another hive room easier (no whole cyst chain) while also more vulnerable (needs drifters, less infestation around to warn of approaching marines).

    At the same time the normal spread/linking of infestation could be slower (have to wait for cysts to build before chaining) and possibly partially automatic (gaps get filled in by auto mini-cysts or something).
  • RiseRise Join Date: 2012-04-17 Member: 150595Posts: 148Members
    I was in a game earlier where the alien commander built so many drifters that the game was crawling for 20 minutes before it finally crashed. He thought he was being clever building an army to rush the command chair, but all he really did was ruin the game.

    That's one reason not to have them. Certainly there needs to be a limit on the number that can be built at least.

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  • OutlawDrOutlawDr Join Date: 2009-06-21 Member: 67887Posts: 423Members
    edited April 2012
    The main arguments for keeping drifters are that they present the marines a target to deny alien structures and act as a speed bump for alien expansion.

    So keep the drifter, but remove the micro managment.

    The khamm simply places a structure somewhere and a drifter automatically spawns from the closest hive (at no TRES cost) and moves to the location to build the structure. The drifter can still be killed on the way, but the khamm doesn't have to worry too much about babysitting by directly interacting with the drifter. If the drifter is killed on the way, the building is canceled and the khamm will need to place the structure again. TRES is spent only when the drifter actually starts building. Alien players on the ground will then be charged with protecting the drifters as they move into place. This blends better with the design goal of the kham, since it moves the focus more to the environment and less on individual units.

    Drifters could spawn from eggs. So even though they cost zero TRES, they do cost "spawn time"....which makes having more hives and more eggs that much more desirable. Killing a drifter will not only delay alien expansion but alien reinforcement as well.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
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