Thoughts and Questions About the SpineCrawler

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Hello fellow Starcraft players! I'd thought I'd write this up to examine the spine crawler in a weird light - not a balance or viability light, no. But rather, through a series of thoughts and questions. It's presented in a series of questions, and my thoughts on the question.

TLDR: Get over it and read it. I've broken it up into sections so read a single section if you want. This is not a balance thread or anything of the sort, but rather something to think about.

How the Spine Crawler Attacks

The pokes! How I love them pokes! If an enemy unit gets a little too close to the spine crawler, they shall feel its wrath...via a really hard knock on the head. The hit appears to be guaranteed, meaning the spine crawler will continue to stretch quickly to the enemy's location until it hits it. You'll notice that fast units, such as speedlings will cause the spine to stretch pretty far sometimes to hit its target. This brings me to the first of a series of questions:

Does the Spine Crawler Have a Constant Attack Speed?

What I mean by this is, does the spine crawler have a set attack speed for its attack animation (i.e it'll stretch 5 feet/sec)? Or is it the case that it bases it's speed on the enemy it's attack (it'll stretch faster in order to catch a zergling rather than a drone)?

My Thoughts:

It appears to me that the spine crawler has a constant attack speed. It never seems to go particularly faster when attack some units rather than others. I think it was simply programmed with an attack speed that they'd know outrun any unit in the game. This is similar to the following question:

Does the Spine Crawler Have a Maximum Length?

As the spine crawler attacks, it stretches. Some units running away from the spine crawler causes the spine to stretch over a longer distance. Is there a maximum to this stretch distance, or is it programmed in such a way to allow as much stretch as needed?

My Thoughts:

It wouldn't surprise me if it's able to stretch as far as needed. With these two factors considered, I move on to my third question:

Does the Spine Crawler Actually Have a Guaranteed Hit?

There's actually a few questions hidden in this one. I'll start with the most practical one, and save the other for the next section, as it's my favorite consideration. Consider the case of a spine crawler starting to hit a marine. If it's shot to zero life during the attack, is the attack canceled, or will it still register a hit?

My Thoughts:

Honestly, I'm not sure. It happens so quickly, I doubt if anyone has ever noticed. I'd think that the attack would be canceled. But let's move on to my favorite question:

Is It Possible to Outrun a Spine Crawler Forever?

Consider if some of the answers to the questions above were as follows:
  • The spine crawler can stretch as far as it needs to in order to hit its target
  • The spine crawler has an independent attack speed, regardless of its target
  • The spine crawler is guaranteed to hit once the attack animation has started
  • If all of the above are true, consider an enemy unit that can outrun the attack speed of the spine crawler. It is then possible that the unit can permanently evade the spine crawler!

    My Thoughts:

    I find this conclusion hilarious - imagine a spine crawler stretching across an entire map to hit a unit =P

    This actually raises a bunch of other questions I won't cover such as:
  • Would the spine crawler scout the map as it attacks a unit infinitely evading it?
  • What happens if a unit cloaks mid attack animation of the spine crawler, is the attack canceled?
  • If the spine is mid-stretch, say the case of the infinite kiting, once the cooldown for its attack is reached, does it attack again? Would it cancel its current attack to start a new one, or would it try completing the second hit while still carrying out the first hit?
  • It also begs the question, do other things such as projectiles from things such as the Terran's Missile Turret behave in a similar fashion?

    Well, those were some of my thoughts and questions on the spine crawler. I hoped you enjoyed it and I hope it spawned some interesting thoughts. Good day fellow gamers.

    Thank you Locke for examining this!!!
    This is indeed interesting, and I hadn't thought about it before, thanks for this topic.

    I put some insanely fast zerglings into the map editor and tried it out. First at around 30 speed, then around 60. Got into range, and then moved far away from it halfway through the attack animation.

    It does let the spine crawler stretch extremely far, but you can only see it stretch while it is still on your screen. Once you move the screen so that the original location of the spine crawler is no longer visible, the entire spine is removed from your view. With the spine crawler in view, it does seem to continue to stretch and contract at the same speed as normal, only for a much longer duration.

    More interestingly, if there is another target for the spine crawler while it is still extended, it will not begin the animation for attack on time. Despite that, at around the time that it should have struck the target given its attack speed, it does so. At that moment, the animation is taken over by the animation of the spine crawler striking its next target. That is to say, it appears like the spine crawler head teleports to the next target at the moment of impact. The sound for the starting animation is likewise missing, although the satisfying thud of impact remains. Thus the attack speed of the crawler remains constant.

    At 60 speed, blood spatter where the zergling is hit is significantly further out than at 30 speed. This is expected given the invisible projectile nature of the attack.


    Here's some additional answers from our lovely testers!

    02/11/2013 04:18 AMPosted by TornadoXIII
    Blink will dodge a spine crawler hit, as well as cloaking.

    02/11/2013 08:41 AMPosted by Locke
    The extension animation still occurs if cloaked while running away from the spine crawler, but no hit is registered.

    The extended spine does not grant any additional vision, but the animation extends through the fog of war. If I don't give vision of the spine crawler to myself (I'm controlling the zerglings), I can see the full length of the animation even through the fog of war. I believe that's standard when being attacked by units outside of your vision.
    Edited by SanitysBrink on 2/11/2013 5:14 PM PST
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    Shameless bump.

    No one else has thought about this or messed with a unit editor to try it? =P
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    Posts: 14,151
    Damn. You sure put a lot of thought and effort into this. lol

    02/09/2013 06:52 PMPosted by SanitysBrink
    What happens if a unit cloaks mid attack animation of the spine crawler, is the attack canceled?


    I think it would still damage it.
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    Very interesting thread. I like it.
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    Posts: 252
    To test it, all someone has to do is increase the range to like 1000 and give the zerg player vision of the map. Then we'd see just how far that spine can stretch!
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    02/10/2013 11:45 AMPosted by blitz
    Very interesting thread. I like it.


    would love to see a video of someone making a spine crawler stretch across the whole map
    Edited by raiderryan on 2/10/2013 11:53 AM PST
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    1: The Spine Crawler doesn't have an attack speed persay, it does have a cooldown rate of when it attacks next. It's currently set to 1.85 seconds.

    2: It's sight range is set to 11, so once something moves out of it's range, it won't attack. The only acception would be if it's in mid attack as it seems to have a bit of a target/strike mechanic. Whether the animation itself has a maximum range, not sure. I've seen it go as far as range 22(maybe). It may just be programmed to stretch as far as it's needed to try and complete it's attack.

    3: Yes, it's hit is guaranteed, much like a hit from a Marine's rifle. Even if the unit dies, the attack will still be completed if the unit dies during mid attack from a Crawler.

    4: I honestly cannot answer this one. I do not know of any units that are the same speed as the crawler's tenticle attack.
    Edited by Myke on 2/10/2013 12:25 PM PST
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    1: The Spine Crawler doesn't have an attack speed persay, it does have a cooldown rate of when it attacks next. It's currently set to 1.85 seconds.

    2: It's sight range is set to 11, so once something moves out of it's range, it won't attack. The only acception would be if it's in mid attack as it seems to have a bit of a target/strike mechanic. Whether the animation itself has a maximum range, not sure. I've seen it go as far as range 22(maybe). It may just be programmed to stretch as far as it's needed to try and complete it's attack.

    3: Yes, it's hit is guaranteed, much like a hit from a Marine's rifle. Even if the unit dies, the attack will still be completed if the unit dies during mid attack from a Crawler.

    4: I honestly cannot answer this one. I do not know of any units that are the same speed as the crawler's tenticle attack.


    1. When I say attack speed, I mean literally the speed of the attack - the speed of the stretch animation.

    2. The mid attack is what I'm most interested in.

    3. Are you completely sure? The damage doesn't seem to be dealt until the head touches the unit.

    4. That's what imagination (and unit editors) are for!

    EDIT:

    Thanks for point 1. It reminded me of a question I was going to ask.

    If the spine is mid-stretch, say the case of the infinite kiting, once the cooldown for its attack is reached, does it attack again? Would it cancel its current attack to start a new one, or would it try completing the second hit while still carrying out the first hit?
    Edited by SanitysBrink on 2/10/2013 12:43 PM PST
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    well, the fastest unit to test with is a speedling on creep (which is marginally faster than a charging zealot).

    so grab a friend and run speedlings around a spinecrawler to see if you can dodge it!
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    well, the fastest unit to test with is a speedling on creep (which is marginally faster than a charging zealot).

    so grab a friend and run speedlings around a spinecrawler to see if you can dodge it!


    I think all zerg players know the answer to that one - no =/
    The spine crawler's attack is faster than the speedlings speed. But as mentioned above, I believe it is theoretically possible to outrun one forever.
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    well, the fastest unit to test with is a speedling on creep (which is marginally faster than a charging zealot).

    so grab a friend and run speedlings around a spinecrawler to see if you can dodge it!


    I think all zerg players know the answer to that one - no =/
    The spine crawler's attack is faster than the speedlings speed. But as mentioned above, I believe it is theoretically possible to outrun one forever.


    You would have to find one ground unit that is equal speed.
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    i know that spines will hit speedlings, but i don't know if i've ever had the optimal escape conditions (ling already at full speed and running directly away from spine before target acquired), to see how far you can make it stretch (or if it cancels)

    You would have to find one ground unit that is equal speed.

    or make one in the editor
    Edited by Oboeman on 2/10/2013 1:14 PM PST
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    i know that spines will hit speedlings, but i don't know if i've ever had the optimal escape conditions (ling already at full speed and running directly away from spine before target acquired), to see how far you can make it stretch (or if it cancels)

    You would have to find one ground unit that is equal speed.

    or make one in the editor


    I've had almost ideal situations, but you're correct. I've never had perfectly ideal conditions so technically I don't know for sure.
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    The spine should always hit and be able to hit again at the correct time set by the attack speed.
    It is the way it is programmed. The further a unit gets away, the faster the spine crawler will speed up until it is hit then it will race back to be able to hit the next unit.

    I know it is possible to dodge projectiles forever (aka photon cannons) but I doubt you can dodge spines forever since the spine needs to be able to attack at 1.85 wep speed (or whatever it is) so it would need to do the whole attack animation in that time frame (lunge, strike, return).
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    Posts: 2,311
    1: The Spine Crawler doesn't have an attack speed persay, it does have a cooldown rate of when it attacks next. It's currently set to 1.85 seconds.

    2: It's sight range is set to 11, so once something moves out of it's range, it won't attack. The only acception would be if it's in mid attack as it seems to have a bit of a target/strike mechanic. Whether the animation itself has a maximum range, not sure. I've seen it go as far as range 22(maybe). It may just be programmed to stretch as far as it's needed to try and complete it's attack.

    3: Yes, it's hit is guaranteed, much like a hit from a Marine's rifle. Even if the unit dies, the attack will still be completed if the unit dies during mid attack from a Crawler.

    4: I honestly cannot answer this one. I do not know of any units that are the same speed as the crawler's tenticle attack.


    1. When I say attack speed, I mean literally the speed of the attack - the speed of the stretch animation.

    2. The mid attack is what I'm most interested in.

    3. Are you completely sure? The damage doesn't seem to be dealt until the head touches the unit.

    4. That's what imagination (and unit editors) are for!

    EDIT:

    Thanks for point 1. It reminded me of a question I was going to ask.

    If the spine is mid-stretch, say the case of the infinite kiting, once the cooldown for its attack is reached, does it attack again? Would it cancel its current attack to start a new one, or would it try completing the second hit while still carrying out the first hit?


    1: I don't know the speed of the animation. I assume it correlates to the cooldown time of the attacks. I don't think there's a way to find out without accessing the editor. I may have a look tonight.

    1b: If the cooldown is reached & the Spine Crawler is still "reaching" another attack will not be initiated until the target has been hit.

    2: Once a Crawler launches an attack, it will continue to "attempt" said attack until it reaches the target's location where the spike on the end hits where the body is, regardless if said unit is alive or not at the time of the strike.

    3: I'm pretty sure. I play Zerg a lot(when I do play) and I tend to use Spine Crawler's a fair bit. Damage isn't dealt until the spike hit's the unit. What I meant by "guaranteed hit" is once the Crawler has it's target, it will launch the tenticle until target is reached, then the damage part of the attack takes place.
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    02/10/2013 01:39 PMPosted by Zakarious
    The further a unit gets away, the faster the spine crawler will speed up until it is hit then it will race back to be able to hit the next unit.


    I'm really curious about this. From my own personal experience, the spine never seems to go any faster to complete it's animation. It seems to just have a speed of attack that they know will hit anything quickly enough.
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    1b: If the cooldown is reached & the Spine Crawler is still "reaching" another attack will not be initiated until the target has been hit.

    It does the whole animation in that time frame. Which means it has to lunge, hit, and return no matter how far the unit got (unless it got out of sight range I believe). It speeds up correlating to the distance needed in the time frame, not a set speed like projectiles.

    I think that is how it works anyway.

    02/10/2013 01:43 PMPosted by SanitysBrink
    I'm really curious about this. From my own personal experience, the spine never seems to go any faster to complete it's animation. It seems to just have a speed of attack that they know will hit anything quickly enough.

    That is because you have only seen it with 7 range and whatever sight range (unless you have used the editor).
    Because of the weapon speed, it has to go fast enough to do the whole attack animation in that set time.
    Edited by Zakarious on 2/10/2013 1:46 PM PST
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    1b: If the cooldown is reached & the Spine Crawler is still "reaching" another attack will not be initiated until the target has been hit.

    It does the whole animation in that time frame. Which means it has to lunge, hit, and return no matter how far the unit got (unless it got out of sight range I believe). It speeds up correlating to the distance needed in the time frame, not a set speed like projectiles.

    I think that is how it works anyway.


    How do you explain long lunge times on escaping units?
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    02/10/2013 01:45 PMPosted by Myke
    How do you explain long lunge times on escaping units?

    Faster return time probably.
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    i tried to find some relevant stats in the editor but i couldn't find them.

    I was looking for damage point and slop range, but didn't see any details in the data.
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