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 Post subject: Rocket's Character Design
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:51 am 
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With the changes that were suggested for the beta, Rocket has become a mess of a character. The once simple and clear-cut auto-attack and rocket became weirdly linked to each other, with investing into one undermining the other and killing certain aspects of his playstyle. Players somehow lost control over the laser when it was an RNG ability to begin with. If these proposals actually make it into the live game, I will be sorely disappointed. However, reverting back to the old rocket isn't appealing either, since he is both annoying to play as and play against. I would like to point out specifically why the old rocket is not fun, how the beta changes do not address these problems, and propose some ideas to make him interesting to play with and against.

At rocket's core is his auto-attack and his big missile. The self-knockback is fresh and interesting, and combos well with his auto-attack. Some people are of the opinion that using both of them at the same time is stale and gives him unnecessary burst damage. While this is true numbers-wise, the issues go deeper than that, and nerfing the numbers will not do any good in the long run.

In comparison with the big missile, his laser is surprisingly uninspired. It is just a way to give him area denial that's not a complete copy of saw blade. In trying to differentiate it from saw blade, it became a distinctly worse ability. It introduces an element of platforming for enemies, yes, but hands over all control to the enemies on how much damage it's going to do. What makes Awesomenauts fun are the execution of abilities -- in skillshots, prediction, positioning. Laser has none of these. It is passive in its execution and thus provides no reward for the player even if it does net a kill or hundreds of hit points of damage. If it is ever successful, the vast majority of the time it is the fault of the enemy for platforming incorrectly rather than the skill of the rocket in placing it in the perfect position.

As a consequence of this imbalance between rocket’s two abilities, he feels as if he never reaches his full potential. When first playing with him, the prospect of rocket jump initiation sounds wonderfully unique, but after some time you realize it falls horribly flat. This is because most of the damage he can actively control is stored in his missile, and after spending your one auto attack on the enemy, you can’t hit them anymore. You feebly attempt to deploy your laser, but you run past it before it even deploys. If you have any hope of playing aggressive, laser is always an afterthought, delegated to clearing droid waves at best and spinning uselessly in enemies’ shadows the rest.

Thus, the rocket player is shunted into the optimal playstyle, that is broken in the damage it deals, and disappointingly monotonous. Walk up to enemies, deploy laser, fire auto-attack, rocket away to safety in a split second, and shoot auto-attack from a distance until your cooldowns come back up. Rinse and repeat, and you are left with absurd damage numbers in absolute safety.

Directly nerfing this playstyle with numbers (or restrictive mechanics) is what the beta is attempting to do, but it doesn’t attack the root of the problem, which is what is causing a bursty character to play so passively. Worse still, the laser changes make it even less satisfying to land! Not only are enemies required to platform incorrectly, but they are required to move into your laser as supposed to starting in it and having to get out of it. It also becomes annoyingly difficult to place the center on top of a droid wave or a solar boss, which are realistically its main uses. You can’t punish a sieged derpl or a rocketing jimmy either, since any part of the laser outside of the center has laughably bad DPS. The changes to his missile are no better. In reality it is just a damage nerf, as there is no way to optimize your charges. You either spend them on your missile and get some knockback, or your auto-attack if missile is cooling down.

So what needs to change? Most importantly, laser needs a desperate rework. Rocket is a mobile, bursty character designed to be unpredictable and aggressive. If you were to replace Froggy G’s tornado with laser, for example, he’d feel similarly incomplete. Laser should also be the main source of rocket’s damage in order to shift his missile into what it should be -- mainly utility with some poke damage if necessary. That way, rocket initiation would both be viable and beneficial, while rocketing away from the fight would force him to sacrifice his main damage from landing (in contrast with the current situation where rocketing away guarantees landing your main damage, and doesn’t prevent auto-attack or laser from landing at all). The big missile could even be used as area denial since it has a big aoe already and upgrades that lend itself towards that role. This would preserve some of rocket’s current status while rewarding the gutsy and fun (in my opinion at least) gameplay more.

There are lots of ways to fix laser and make it active. But two main things need to happen in order for it to take real steps towards change. First, it cannot remain stationary and independent of rocket’s position. Secondly, it must be skillfully controlled. Any proposals that do not fix these two critical elements have no chance at fundamentally changing rocket for the better. Outside of that, a large variety of ideas could work.

My idea, in very general terms, is to have something that causes damage rotate around rocket’s body. Sticking as closely to the current mechanics of laser, this would mean simply fixing the center to the center of rocket, moving with him wherever he goes. Jasper’s valid criticism of this is that it would end up being too similar to other abilities such as tornado or seven star strike where you are rewarded simply for being in contact with enemies. This is mostly because of the way hitboxes and distances work in the game, and could be improved by turning it into one, slowly rotating cone (or triangle) of damage. Or you could alter how the damage is dealt, making it deal a fixed amount of damage if it hits enemies at all (which would synergize well with rocketing past enemies at high speeds) instead of small damages over time. If you really want to maintain the ranged aspect of his character, you could even make it a circle a fixed distance away from his body that rotates around slowly. Although each of these implementations is quite different, they are all focused on platforming which was the most attractive component of laser. They also all are noticeably non-static and controllable, which immediately make it more engaging than the current iteration of laser in my opinion.

Ultimately I am trying to communicate that it is laser that needs to be drastically changed before rocket will ever be fun and not brokenly overpowered at the same time. And it is only from a strong second ability that useful adjustments to his big missile can be made. The auto-attack missile combo is annoying, but would become less appealing if a) it did less damage by itself, b) came at the opportunity cost of sticking around and using his second ability, and c) removed the option of later initiation and general mobility. I am open to criticisms of my analysis of his design as well as suggestions for laser replacements.

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 Post subject: Re: Rocket's Character Design
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:20 am 
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1,284 words:

  • I don't like what direction Rocket's going in

  • Rework Laser Trap to be Rocket's main source of damage

      Have it originate from Rocket's body instead of being deployed as a projectile

      Implementation thereof may vary—make it reliable

  • Improve Rocket Launch's utility and reduce its burst potential with Charged Salvo

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 Post subject: Re: Rocket's Character Design
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:34 pm 
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tl;dr from what I understand: Rocket's damage output is a joke because Laser Trap is a joke, and nerfing his mobility will just turn him into a pure joke. Laser Trap needs to be usable on base to make it good.

Biggest bandaid fix: Add Borgo Cigar Cutter (Insta-Trap) to the base laser as well as a bit of size and slow. That way it isn't a worse Sawblade and is just a larger Sawblade without the burst.
The ability does need a rework at its core (making the laser spin around Rocket seems to be a popular opinion but we don't need a Scoop with Dizzy's mobility kthnkz) but fully reworking an ability takes time and planning which we don't have if we want Rocket to be viable while also being fun to play against.

Just add Borgo Cigar Cutter to base for now. And as a proposed change to Borgo: let the center of the trap slowly float towards enemies or something.

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 Post subject: Re: Rocket's Character Design
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:12 pm 
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I have an idea! :yoolip:
Let's remove churro's Black Mail and give it to Rocket! So that laser traps become sticky and phhahaa look how they run :lolstar:

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 Post subject: Re: Rocket's Character Design
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:16 pm 
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I think Laser Trap will be fine in if they revert the self-placement change. It has quite consistent damage on base now and cirean cigar box was nerfed.

Rocket Launch
>chAHrGe UpP meCh4N1c or a lockout on when he is damaged or a cooldown increase from 7.5s to 10s given how powerful the ability is

Also change Zurian Bomb Wrangler to particles giving + 50% speed to allies.( it is underpicked because its lame, but when somebody uses it it the zoning is just unbearable because its so safe, the downtime is 4 seconds and it covers the entire map).
A speed up would make him an actual Commander as well

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 Post subject: Re: Rocket's Character Design
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:19 pm 
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Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V from that other Rocket thread.

The Lord Protector wrote:
I can't remember if it has been mentioned before (and I think it has), but just have Rocket draw his attacks from an ammo pool of four rockets:

    Four rockets at base, 2.5 seconds recharge per rocket (for 10 seconds total)

    Charged Salvo now loads rockets while the LMB is held, subtracting one from his ammo every 0.7 seconds, and firing once the mouse button is released or all rockets are loaded*

    Rocket Launch consumes two rockets and keeps its 7.5 second cooldown

      Alternatively, have it consume all four rockets but increase rocket regeneration speed to 500% for 2 seconds if the big rocket hits an enemy

    Add a synergy between Laser Trap and rocket regeneration somehow

This would kill the damage stacking hyper burst (unless you load two rockets in Salvo, which would be less damage anyway) but still leave Rocket untouched elsewhere. You could even replace some of his boring upgrades with things that modify his ammo, if you like.

* This could stand to load even faster (~0.4 seconds) because of the inherent downtime from rocket regeneration anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: Rocket's Character Design
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:46 pm 
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What I'm trying to say is that band-aid fixes are never going to work, and changing big missile is pointless if you don't make beneficial changes to laser first. Unfortunately, it seems that band-aid fixes are all that's going to happen (Yoolip has almost the exact same problem), and I want to communicate that players shouldn't be set at ease by a character whose fundamental flaws aren't addressed.

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 Post subject: Re: Rocket's Character Design
 Post Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:45 am 
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What if we did something wacky, and have laser trap connect between two points. Then make that rotate around rocket
Then you can like, make walls of laser or something to actually make people wonder if they should run through it.

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 Post subject: Re: Rocket's Character Design
 Post Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:35 am 
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The linking of his abilities does specifically solve his faceburst in way that does not take away at the immediacy of them, unlike chargeups or lockouts. That is what I like about it. Unfortunately it also makes using the abilities feel unrewarding and erratic, so it should go.

As for the laser, I do agree his mobility would be better complemented by an ability that was attached to him. But that would bring his playstyle closer to all these mobility focused nauts who try to rub their damage on their enemies. It would also require a lot more time to get right than is available for this update.

I think some of the other changes such as reduced self knockback and laser DoT timings are an improvement however.

What if Rocket launch was more focused on keeping enemies in the laser instead of dealing burst. We could further reduce the self knockback, and make the enemy knockback significant.

And in order to deal with the faceburst we could strongly reduce Rocket Launch base damage. To compensate it could increase over distance like Scoop's hammer.


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 Post subject: Re: Rocket's Character Design
 Post Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:39 am 
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make Rocket Launch's hitbox smaller and just give him some number tweaks for now.

Q. is it possible to make a naut more susceptible to CC? it might be interesting to have rocket be this little rat flying around who is hit 25% harder by CC. thought for food.


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