Blog #6--OP Unit Design

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Blog #6--OP Unit Design Empty Blog #6--OP Unit Design

Post  rut on Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:26 pm

Some things in life are inevitable. Likewise in a discussion of a hero-centric custom game, I guarantee there will be quite a bit of balance discussion. I originally wanted to avoid this by streamlining the different units, but over the course of building the game, I've actually come to embrace imbalance.

I know that sounds weird, so let me explain.

After much experimentation, I came to the simple realization that the more powerful the unit you're controlling feels, the more fun you'll have playing it. There are other factors, of course, but I think that might be the very most important.

It really comes down to the feel of the unit. I'm not talking exclusively about the handling or responsiveness here--those are important, but there's something more. Let me just come out and say it: I want every unit to feel OP.

OP, for those of you who aren't familiar with the term, means overpowered. Obviously it would be, by definition, impossible for every unit to be OP. However, every unit can feel OP if it excels at what it's meant to do. Combat units need to feel powerful, support units need to feel synergistic, and units with weak stats need to have abilities that feel OP.

Abilities, then, are key to making units feel right. I originally wanted abilities to be streamlined, meaning they would all be variations of the same basic types (for example, originally half the units were going to have stuns and the other half were going to have slows). However, with the advent of some of the more 'creative' abilities and seeing how they increased the entertainment value of the game, I changed that goal around 100%.

It is now my goal that every single unit will have at least 1 ability that 'makes' the unit. By 'make,' I mean make fun or worthwhile. Hopefully there will be no unit that you'd be afraid to random. Even if you get the slowest, clunkiest unit (we're looking at you, thor), I hope you can get enjoyment out of using its ridiculously OP strike cannons.

Some examples of these abilities are the sentry's guardian shield, the marine's rapid shot, the zealot's charge, the immortal's hardened shields, the stalker's blink, the scv's depot wall, and of course the siege tank's megaball. And for the units that don't have any amazing, OP-feeling abilities, they have fantastic stats that make it easy for them to score kills (ie mutalisk and ghost).

With this in mind, the burden of proof for convincing me to nerf an ability becomes much more difficult. I know that the siege tank's megaball is ridiculously overpowered. But the siege tank has the lowest health possible for a unit with 0 base speed and has no defensive capabilities whatsoever. Without its OP offensive ability (which is the only reason anyone would ever want to play it!) the siege tank would be a boring unit.

That being said, I have nerfed abilities in the past when it's been proven to me that they were harming the quality of the game. I played against a planned-team made of 4 immortals that all upgraded hardened shields asap and crushed my team with ease. The same happened when I played a team of 4 excellent siege tanks--it was the most one-sided game I'd seen, and it was apparent the megaball had to be nerfed. When I do nerf an ability, it will likely come to fruition via raising the cooldown, since I don't want to harm the feeling of power in the ability.

I know this was a long discussion, but I've gotten a lot of feedback saying the units are imbalanced. The marine, scv, stalker, immortal, roach, thor, siege tank, and sentry have all be described to me as OP. Mission accomplished!


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