Khaara Evolved ( Revamping Alien Evolutions)

SteelcapSteelcap Join Date: 2010-11-19 Member: 75049Members, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, NS2 Community Developer Posts: 27 Advanced user
edited August 2016 in Ideas and Suggestions
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A radical revamp of all existing alien evolutions.

Version 1.1
Changelog:
Posted! Woo first.
Altered Symbiosis to make clear that the user does also regenerate.

A design philosophy present in the original high level design-doc for Natural Selection 2 describes the goals lain out for Evolutions.
  • Evolutions are not upgrades, upgrades are done by commanders.
  • Evolutions should change the way you play.
  • Evolutions should not become obsolete depending on lifeform or phase of the game.
  • Evolutions should synergize across the hive types
  • Evolutions should not be simple mechanic improvements, they should enhance your capability such that they reward using them well.

Throughout NS2's history there has been limited success obtaining these goals. Many evolutions today are simply upgrades, numeric improvements.
  • Some of them change how you play, most don't.
  • Some of them have drawbacks, most don't.
  • Some of them never become obsolete, most will.
  • Some of them are useful for all lifeforms, most aren't.

Goals:
Introduce novel evolutions that conform to the original design intent.
Diversify the game experience such that each round is not easily mechanically predictable before it begins.
Provide a better means of Khaamander decisions directly upgrading alien team beyond biomass and abilities.
Reinvigorate the meta.

To that end I propose the following changes.

Each upgrade path provides 2 potential evolutions for lifeforms to decide between, in addition to an innate upgrade scaling with the maturity of the hive which evolved.

Crag : Defend and Protect
Innate - Carapace; an increase to max armor scaling with hive maturity

om541y2kn2vl.bmp Volatility: Lifeform corpse explodes violently upon death, dealing 60% of it's MaxHP in light damage to all enemies, falling off over it's 2/4/6 meter radius.
pv1oib02qpe0.bmp Symbiosis: Imbues the lifeform with symbiotic motes from the Crag, causing them to radiate regenerative energy. Healing all Khaara within a 3 meter radius for 3 + 1/2/3% max hp per 2 second interval. Causes the lifeform to emit glowing motes and generate an audible buzz with each interval.

Shift : Outmanuever and Redeploy
Innate - Adrenaline; an increase to max energy and energy regen rate scaling with hive maturity

7wi85zc294ys.bmp Aerodynamics: Reduces lifeform's airfriction and increases air acceleration allowing for greater speed while airborn. Hop to it.
8kc5ejcria0p.bmp Pack Instinct: Increases attack speed by 5% for each friendly lifeform within 2/4/6 meters of the user (capped at 25% total)

Shade: Confuse and Deceive
innate - Camouflage; Causes lifeforms to be rendered invisible after a period of being stationary. 2 seconds - 1.9 seconds * Hive Maturity

93jarytaxtd4.bmp Echolocation : Alters hivesight to rely upon sound instead of sight. Outlining nearby surface geometry as well as any noise generating entities within 15/30/45 meters regardless of Line of Sight, but otherwise fading your surroundings into a dense dark fog.
a2jxf912w30i.bmp Disorientation: Causes enemies within 15/25/35 meters of the lifeform to be unable to determine the direction of sounds created by them. While volume still scales with distance, the sound seems to be coming from directly behind the listener regardless of orientation.

Discussion and reasoning below.





Post edited by Steelcap on
FoxyYojimbomeatmachineNintendows

Comments

  • SteelcapSteelcap Join Date: 2010-11-19 Member: 75049Members, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, NS2 Community Developer Posts: 27 Advanced user
    Volatility
    The big one to cover first which I suspect will be the biggest "no way" for most people is Volatility. Simply put I understand that no one likes xenocide, not even xenociders. I would argue that this effectively and fairly replaces the xenocide ability while preserving the spirit of the trope.

    So why 60%.
    It just so happens that 60% of a skulk's maxhp is almost exactly how much hp an armor 1 marine will have after 2 bites. So while the skulk won't be able to advance and chomp res nodes, he also isn't letting the marine run freely behind enemy lines.

    Quick medspam will still save the marine but this feels like an equal investment to the opportunity cost of evolving volatility.

    One crucial factor of this ability is the fact that it deals "Light" damage. This is what makes the ability at all fair even scaling up to fades and onos hp pool.

    Light damage is 1/4 effective against armor vs normal's 1/2 effectiveness. Meaning it takes 4 points of light damage to reduce the marine's armor by 1. If a marine kills the skulk without being bitten at all, He'll lose 12.6 hp and 7.35 armor, basically nothing. Armor is AMAZING at mitigating light damage. Structures even more so which have a 1/9 mitigation rate against light. The 900 hp onos will only deal 42 damage to the armor of a structure. For demolition, bilebomb is still the ultimate answer, that said.. bilebomb to soften the armor before then exploding with volatility will certainly net some kills.

    Symbiosis
    Regen isn't good.
    In its current incarnation it's really just.. all over the map in terms of how its coded. It has 3 different scalar values that scale at different rates. Level 1 regen has no effect for lifeforms other than skulk and onos, (changing your default regen from 2% to (6 * (1/3) ) aka 2%) The goal with symbiosis is to promote team play and provide every lifeform with the ability to lean more towards support and "back line" play. While it's unlikely to see it on solos its still useful for them and retains basically the same amount of regen for a lerk that it had before. The value of 3 + 3% MaxHP is similar to gorge heal spray, but the 2 second interval means the gorge is healing about 3 times faster, and there's no reason a gorge couldn't also take it to add more passive healing in combat support role.

    Aerodynamics
    Bunnyhops for all.
    This is a replacement for celerity that also has the benefit of altering playstyle. Most expert players tell me that it's not ideal for skulks to spend their time in air as it makes their movement easier to track, to that end I'd propose that skulks by default have the same ground speed as air speed to gently dissuade the constant bunnyhop. However, aerodynamics brings that back and more so, giving all lifeforms the ability to hop around to gain speed. Gorge Bhop? Got you covered. Fade hops between blinks? You betcha. Onos Hops? hell yes! Lerk hops? er.. I suppose.. but mostly what that would do for lerks is reduce the number of flaps it takes them to reach top speed going from one direction to the other, increasing their air manuerability and the potential for frenetic movement.

    Pack Instinct
    Lets all skulk together.
    In an ideal world the alien commander can always be there to enzyme groups of aliens, and indeed still could. But any time you have a group of aliens all together they almost certainly want to all be chomping something together as fast as they can. Based on the math I did a skulk with maximum pack size + enzyme would be biting 3.5 times per second. vs the default of 2.27 times per second. While it does seem like a lot of attack speed.. and it kind of is. (1.5x) the consensus is that more attacks is fairer than attacks dealing more damage, this effectively replaces focus.

    Disorientation
    When silence isn't.
    Silence was evidently the most popular evolution and it made sneaking obsolete. That's a problem, I wanted to preserve the spirit of silence, that being the ability to get the drop on marines but also still have a reason to sneak. Disorientation gives marines an idea of how far away you are (if you aren't sneaking) but not where you are coming from, which finally gives some purpose to sneaky vent play again.

    Echolocation
    A more fun aura.
    Ideally it will look something like this. Aura is another of those super popular upgrades and I wanted to preserve that idea while also giving a more diagetic implimentation and making it more of a thing that's a pain to keep on all the time. Your regular vision is worse and it won't show you things that aren't making noise, IE if a marine is stationary and not shooting, he doesn't show up. Unpowered structures also ideally should not show up. While you can always toggle your hivesight off and on this has the impact of altering your play, and thats what I want.
    Yojimbomeatmachine
  • cooliticcoolitic Right behind you Join Date: 2013-04-02 Member: 184609Members Posts: 1,684 Advanced user
    edited August 2016
    The only upgrades I like here are echolocation and aerodynamics (depending on implementation). Disorientation is just going to be incredibly annoying for marines, volatility isn't going to scale well between solo engagements and team-fights (esp on larger servers). As for symbiosis and pack instinct, I just don't like team-oriented upgrades. Team-oriented abilities should be restricted to per-lifeform since lifeforms should be representing one's overall role(s).

    I do really like the innate abilities though.
    Post edited by coolitic on
    When life gives you lemons, throw it back and demand chocolate.


    IeptBarakatAurOn2
  • The_Welsh_WizardThe_Welsh_Wizard Join Date: 2013-09-10 Member: 188101Members, Reinforced - Supporter Posts: 761 Advanced user
    edited August 2016
    I think innate upgrades in general are a good idea. But the rest isn't.

    Volatility: There is a huge difference between this and xenocide: Xenocide is an attack and it only works if you do not die. Volatility instead only works and deals damage after you are already dead. This is extremely unfun and you should NOT be punished for killing an alien. With Volatility you would be punished.

    Symbiosis/Pack Instinct: I do not like inconsistent upgrades. You should not be forced to play in big packs by game design, you should always be able to play the way you think is more valuable. If you decide to move in a pack, the decision should be made because of tactics.

    Aerodynamics: I am unsure of how it would really play. But looks like celerity in very weak.

    Echolocation: This ability does nothing? You can already hear sounds with your ears.

    Disorientation: This would be really annoying.

    Camouflage: Has always been annoying and will always be annoying and extremely unfun to play against. Now every alien player should have this by default when researching Shade hive? Pls no.
    FoxyKasharic
  • FoxyFoxy United Kingdom Join Date: 2014-08-19 Member: 198032Members, Forum Admins, Playtest Lead, Forum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Reinforced - Shadow, Forum staff Posts: 462 mod
    Great ideas, I can see you've put a lot of time and thought into these. Volatility would be hard to implement fairly but it would be interesting to see an implementation of it.
    AurOn2twiliteblue
  • IeptBarakatIeptBarakat The most difficult name to speak ingame. Join Date: 2009-07-10 Member: 68107Members, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, NS2 Map Tester, Reinforced - Diamond, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 2,679 Advanced user
    edited August 2016
    Let me start off by saying I like the effort you put into this, now then..

    Disorientation would be terrible for any game, I mean, just look at the name.

    Disorientation being introduced into the game would benefit people who don't even use the upgrade, because you don't know if the enemy has it so why even bother trusting your hearing to begin with?

    What is fun about half of all sounds you hear not being where they're supposed to be? At least with Silence you can still trust what you hear.

    I think what you're suggesting is interesting, but a big part of what I like about Natural Selection is the choice between alien upgrades and how they influence my playstyle, by turning one of the abilities of each chamber into an innate upgrade you are effectively turning a possible variation into an expected element.

    Lastly, Focus was greatly needed despite how some people dislike it, it helps alien lifeform damage scale in the lategame where they are supposed to still have an advantage. The problem of course, is Focus is essentially the perfect upgrade as it blends perfectly with the hit and run tactics that is expected of a higher skill player, as your Pack Instinct suggestion would only help players who stay in combat longer because despite having an attack speed increase, they would still have to be in the engagement longer to benefit from it which would make them an easier kill against marines who can aim.
  • cooliticcoolitic Right behind you Join Date: 2013-04-02 Member: 184609Members Posts: 1,684 Advanced user
    edited August 2016
    The problem with focus is that it doesn't really change one's play-style (in many pub engagements too), it's just a straight buff that doesn't serve a proper purpose.
    When life gives you lemons, throw it back and demand chocolate.


  • IeptBarakatIeptBarakat The most difficult name to speak ingame. Join Date: 2009-07-10 Member: 68107Members, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, NS2 Map Tester, Reinforced - Diamond, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 2,679 Advanced user
    edited August 2016
    coolitic wrote: »
    The problem with focus is that it doesn't really change one's play-style (in many pub engagements too), it's just a straight buff that doesn't serve a proper purpose.

    It does serve a proper purpose, lifeforms that rely on hit and run tactics are still effective in the late game thanks to it.

    The alternative of course, is increasing alien damage at increments based on biomass or how many hives they have up.
  • SteelcapSteelcap Join Date: 2010-11-19 Member: 75049Members, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, NS2 Community Developer Posts: 27 Advanced user
    I've heard an argument for Pack Instinct being a damage buff rather than an attack speed one, however let me propose something a bit more... radical.

    What if Enzyme was an attack damage buff rather than an attack speed one. By putting the damage buff behind a commander activated drifter dependent ability, it's possible for it to be a simple upgrade rather than requiring explicit trade off and gives aliens much needed siege breaking power. It provides targeted offensive buff in the same way that nano-shield provides targeted defensive buff and it means that there's a fair way for marines to fight against lone fades benefiting from it, that being the knowledge that it must be coming from a drifter and the drifter is vulnerable and killable even if the fade is elusive.

    Secondly let me address Disorientation, there seems to be some confusion about how it functions.

    Disorientation removes the locality of sounds created by the user, they play at a volume appropriate for the distance but equally through both (all) audio channels such that it is impossible to identify easily where they're coming from. This is not the same as making no sound trustworthy which would be the effect for example of an evolution which caused your sounds to seem to be coming from a different non-local position (opposite direction that they really are)

    If you can discern a direction to the sound you know therefor that it is not a disoriented sound. If rotating doesn't have any affect on it, it's evidently disoriented.

    And yes, it's disorienting, that's the point entirely, but it is drastically more fair than silence which you are simply incapable of hearing in a game that has a lot of reliance on sound. You can, in this environment where the silence upgrade doesn't exist, rely on the fact that if you hear a sound you can trust how far away it is, there is no form of audio dampening that will augment their perceived distance from you.

    The downside of disorientation is that the user simply has no way of being confident in the ability of the hearer to discern their position, it isn't a perfect silence and in situations where there is only one vector for an attack to be coming from its effectively useless, it is used to its greatest advantage in environments where attacks can be coming from many deceptive angles.

  • IeptBarakatIeptBarakat The most difficult name to speak ingame. Join Date: 2009-07-10 Member: 68107Members, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, NS2 Map Tester, Reinforced - Diamond, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 2,679 Advanced user
    Even if the direction is fixed, being unable to accurately gauge the position between yourself and something you hear would effectively kill hearing and severely hamper map awareness as a player skill.

    Add to this that echolocation doesn't seem like a useful skill for engagments, you would be fighting late game aliens without the ability to discern their position mid combat since this possibly nerfed version of silence is essentially a freebie. Imagine firefights where all the alien sounds were placed behind you.

    While silence is still powerful as it is right now, it comes at the tradeoff of potential speed or increased energy, which prevents it from being the only choice to go with. So by going what I understand, this is actually more broken than what people consider silence is, just because the availability of it.
    coolitic
  • SteelcapSteelcap Join Date: 2010-11-19 Member: 75049Members, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, NS2 Community Developer Posts: 27 Advanced user
    I think you'll find in practice that it's still rather obvious which sounds are being disoriented and which aren't, but I'll leave that to the proof of concept mod to reveal.
    meatmachine
  • cooliticcoolitic Right behind you Join Date: 2013-04-02 Member: 184609Members Posts: 1,684 Advanced user
    If enzyme becomes a damage buff, then you need to increase energy usage accordingly.
    When life gives you lemons, throw it back and demand chocolate.


  • snbsnb Join Date: 2006-11-09 Member: 58499Members Posts: 37 Fully active user
    What's the downside to Volatility, and how does it in any way affect the way you play? You play regularly, but explode upon death, potentially rewarding you for dying. That's a straight up terrible concept.

    Also, disorientation doesn't make any sense the way you pitched it. Why would the mere presence of an alien alter a marine's senses? I guess you could come up with reasons if you wanted to (pheromones or whatever), but the point is, it would just be unnecessarily frustrating and annoying. I'd suggest it having the effect silence has now as a base (possibly lessened, like a muffled sound instead of more quiet/silent) and the disorientation effect only when the marine is parasited. Also, sounds produced by it should be reasonably well distinguishable from normal sounds, so it only adds paranoia instead of frustration.

    I like the pack play one, though. It's been suggested before, saying it'd help teach rookies grasp teamplay. Worth a shot.

  • SteelcapSteelcap Join Date: 2010-11-19 Member: 75049Members, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, NS2 Community Developer Posts: 27 Advanced user
    The downside to Volatility is.. well, ideally you shouldn't be playing suicidally, you should be attempting to survive fights. It's poor play to pick fights you can't win. It's entirely possible that the fact that you researched an ability that deals damage when you die won't tempt you to make risky engagements that you obviously can't win, maybe it won't make you jump into the center of a big pack of marines just so you multiply your volatility damage by as many marines as possible... But, you will.

    As for disorientation, I simply cannot understand why people keep refering to this as "frustrating". Why is it more frustrating to know how far away a sound is and not its direction than it is to never get to even hear the skulk. No, I can't make it only affect marines that have been parasited. While it's interesting to make parasite a general "attack vector" for aliens to influence marines (seriously it's a fun concept) it would basically render the disorientation a skulk only upgrade and one of the design concepts was that the evolutions have to have a purpose on every life form.
  • snbsnb Join Date: 2006-11-09 Member: 58499Members Posts: 37 Fully active user
    Steelcap wrote: »
    As for disorientation, I simply cannot understand why people keep refering to this as "frustrating". Why is it more frustrating to know how far away a sound is and not its direction than it is to never get to even hear the skulk.

    A sense not being stimulated can be partially compensated by the enhancement of other senses. A sense being disorientated just f---s with your brain and, in this particular context, introduces a factor of randomness that should never be present in a multiplayer environment.
    The_Welsh_Wizard
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