The Theory of Gaming

June 23, 2008

On the new pyro changes…

Filed under: Patches — Tags: , , , — spotpuff @ 11:34

Ugh. I’m beginning to think Valve does not play test these changes, which makes me wonder why they can’t release more of these things sooner if they’re just cooking up terrible ideas and releasing them.

The pyro is absolutely insane now. You absolutely cannot survive a close encounter with one no matter what class you are. Their high amount of ammo combined with no reload requirement, now instant crits from behind, beyond soldier level HP, excellent speed and “wall of fire so you can’t see shit” weapon means you are basically screwed when a pyro jumps on you. And for those saying get real bounce a pyro away with rockets/stickies/whatever, play some Dustbowl 3. Many maps have tight corridors and you cannot avoid a pyro if he jumps on you… you’re screwed.

Damage has been increased to the point where a pyro can take out a heavy and his medic if he gets the jump on them… in about two seconds. You can kill a heavy now before he spins up the gun if you jump on him, and the medic only has to eat about 1.5s of pyro fire before he is in death range from the burn.

Light classes? Light classes are screwed. Pyros will drop your health into “You’re going to die even if you run away” range within about 1 second now… as a medic or soldier even you’re screwed, so scouts, spies and engineers don’t stand a chance.

Spies have been rendered obsolete by what is basically AOE backstab with the Backburner. Instant crits from behind + no damage dropoff = omgwtfbbq. And for those saying “Well, just face the pyro” don’t forget he runs faster than 8/9 classes in the game if they’re backpedalling, never mind the strategy of having two pyros with backburners pincer a group of enemies… turn this way, you’re screwed, turn the other way, still screwed. The backburner basically amounts to AOE backstab, with range.

At least the Axtinguisher is, for all intents and purposes, totally useless. It’s the last unlock and it’s totally unnecessary; if you’re going to run up to someone and axe them, you might as well just run up and backburner them to death given how much damage it does now. It’s a great idea for a weapon, but also totally unnecessary. Things die so quickly to pyro fire now the axtinguisher is nothing more than a novelty. Again, that’s fine though.

The flare gun makes soldiers lives at longer than medium range hell. Pyros can duck around corners and flare gun you until you are on fire and they’re out of effective rocket range. It also gives snipers fits, but pretty much everyone is affected other than engineers right next to a dispenser.

Pyros have made Critzkrieg basically useless because if you get jumped and you’re on a soldier or demo, you’re both dead unless you bust out the uber, and you’ve wasted the charge. Half the time soldiers are self-rocketing to death on a pyro now because of the increased pyro and self-rocket damage. Makes sense, soldiers were so overpowered before.

Let’s not forget that Valve also released two new maps that are now considered official. Never mind that they are player generated custom maps. It makes total sense it takes this long to come up with map ideas. I look forward to future Valve map packs filled with Castle4, CanalZone, 32smooth and many other original Valve ideas.

Just like Blizzard used to rigorously play test all their new encounters without mods and ensured they were beatable before release, I’m sure Valve is rigorously play testing these new patches before release to ensure damage is reasonable and the pyro isn’t overpowered. Really. We won’t see any patches soon nerfing the pyro. He’s perfectly balanced and doesn’t require any changes to be a perfectly viable and balanced class to play. Valve is infallible when it comes to class balance, and the pyro is another shining example of that.

OK I’m all sarcasm-ed out for the day. I’m sure pyro players are loving the new changes, but it’s not a matter of adapting to the new pyro class… it’s a matter of holy crap everything falls over in 2 seconds now and there are too many hiding places to check while assaulting a base.

June 18, 2008

New pyro achievements and unlockables revealed, more maps to come

Filed under: Game Analysis — spotpuff @ 16:40

Valve released the list of upcoming pyro achievements and unlockables, as well as the additional maps that will be added to the “official” list.

See for more info.  Initial thoughts?

  • Backburner is going to be brutal.  Anyone who’s run into pyro crits knows you get dropped in less than a second usually (~400 DPS).
  • +50 HP with the backburner puts the pyro at soldier level HP. Joy.
  • Airblast has a lot of great tactical applications.  Cooldown needs to be long enough that soldiers aren’t useless vs pyros.
  • Flare gun is going to give snipers fits… which is fine with me.  Won’t be useful vs engineers that have a dispenser nearby.
  • Valve still can’t release new maps to save their lives.
  • Achievements are in-line with actual gameplay now for the most part.  Things like “kill someone with a taunt” are fun, but impossible unless you’re farming achievements.

Expect to see a lot of pyros running around tomorrow.

June 10, 2008

Upcoming pyro achievements and speculation

Filed under: Game Analysis — spotpuff @ 9:30

Pyro has been confirmed as the next achievement pack by Valve.  No one knows what the unlockables will be, but Valve has acknowledged they did a terrible job with the Medic achievements and will try to make the pyro achievements more in-line with actual gameplay rather than the imaginary land of chocolate gameplay that involves needle gunning scouts to death.

The only confirmed unlockable is the Axtinguisher, an axe that does 50% damage unless an enemy is on fire, in which case it will score a guaranteed critical strike (195 damage).  Yikes.  I hope they fix melee hit detection first so you aren’g being axetinguished by people 10 feet away.  Valve has also said they’re changing the pyro class to make him less sucky, which I’m sure pyro fans are glad to hear.

I had some ideas on pyro unlockables I thought we’d see, and the Axtinguisher is close to what I had in mind.  My idea was to have an axe that maimed people so that they walked slower, so if you ignited them they couldn’t get to health as quickly.  However, the Axtinguisher is a much better idea since maiming people isn’t as good as killing them, and the pyro being the 3rd fastest class in the game allows him to melee people pretty easily, so maiming them serves no purpose.  If you wanted to prevent them from getting health, well, just keep torching them with the flamethrower until they’re dead.  No maiming required.

The other ideas I had were a flamethrower that cannot crit but that can light objects/walls/floors on fire, creating a “firewall” that would prevent people from walking over it.  It would be an area-denial type weapon much like the sticky launcher, but not last nearly as long.  The idea is to give the pyro a way to run away from people by laying down some fire that people aren’t going to want to walk across.

The shotgun is a bit trickier; the “crit people that are opn fire” idea has already been used (not to say that they couldn’t use it again for a weapon, but I doubt they would) so maybe the pyro could get a flare launcher that lit up dark areas for a while (similar to the sniper’s flare in TF1) or a secondary weapon that left an oil trail that you could ignite (similar to the idea above, just a different execution).

We’ll all just have to wait and see what Valve has in store.

June 6, 2008

Facestab explanation

Filed under: Game Analysis — Tags: , , — spotpuff @ 13:28

One of the big problems in TF2 right now is “facestabbing” where a spy will seemingly be in front of you, or even running right at you, but miraculously land a backstab one hit kill on you.

A thread posted in the Steam forums
has a brief explanation as to why this can happen:

The backstab problem is due to the time delay between when you fire and when the hit lands, and the discrepancy between whether it should be a backstab at the start and/or the end. If we make the start case authoritive, players get facestabbed if they turn around before the hit lands. If we make the end case authoritive, Spies claim they got screwed when they got a backstab animation and no instant kill. Right now we have a system somewhere in the middle, where we allow the Spy to keep the backstab as long as the receiver doesn’t turn to look almost directly at the Spy. This is something we’re still hoping to improve.

Latency and multiple client synchronization is an ever-present problem in online gaming.  The server has to decide how to synchronize the data coming in with all the clients it is hosting.  A soldier with 200 ping may see a spy in front of him when the spy is actually beside him, resulting in an apparent facestab due to the server accepting the spy’s data instead of the soldier’s.

Melee in general in TF2 is problematic.  I’m sure most people have had an experience with being meleed seemingly from 10 feet away due to lag.  On your opponent’s screen, they’re right next to you, but on yours they’re 10 feet away.  The server accepts their data and says you are being hit, and you’re busy trying to figure out what is going on while avoiding death.

There’s no real good solution here with the spy since everyone is going to have latency when playing over the internet.  Even if you’re lucky enough to have very low ping, your enemies may have somewhat higher ping.  And while 50ms doesn’t sound like much, in terms of melee movement and directional-facing detection, it can mean the difference between a facestab and a harmless melee attack.

Personally I feel right now the facestab detection is horrible.  Backstabs land in a 180 degree arc behind the player on level ground and from the bottom and top of the player.  To avoid a backstab you essentially have to face where you think the spy is going to be when the stab actually lands, which is practically impossible.  Plus adding luck into a skill based game is sort of annoying, although for whatever reason a certain level of randomness is included in most games in terms of damage ranges, but when a weapon is an instant kill, the stakes are somewhat higher.

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