Co-op Mission Update - October 26, 2017

Co-op Missions Discussion
Hi everyone!

We’re back with some more updates on Fenix and a discussion on the issues that we’re investigating—as well as how we’re planning to address them.

Issue #1: Champions need to die first for Fenix to be most effective.

Whenever a champion dies, it takes over a host shell and gains the stats and abilities of the champion. If a champion always dies first, every host shell of that type effectively has the stats and abilities of the champion! In the perfect scenario, a unit with a 20 percent cost reduction becomes a unit with nearly double the stats and powerful abilities. Mathematically, that is amazing! Of course, we didn’t expect the perfect scenario to play out every time, but we do think we overestimated how often this happens in practice. A bug which previously caused the champion to not transfer to the closest host shell made this even worse. The delay between transfers also didn’t help. The level 11 upgrade “Avenging Protocol” buffs the Champion’s transfer, rather than its overall performance. The message we were giving the player was: “Champions need to die first for Fenix to be most effective.” Managing one of your units to try to get them to die first is not very fun, intuitive, or practical.

Solution: Redesign Avenging Protocol

Not only was Avenging Protocol sending a strange message to the player, it also wasn’t that big of a bonus in most situations. We are looking to make Avenging Protocol grant stacking bonuses to champions when host shells of their type are destroyed in addition to when they transfer. The champions should power up regardless of who dies first. The design intent of the champion transfer mechanic is for the champion to remain on the field as long as there are host shells to transfer to. There’s no reason to require them to die in order to benefit from it.

Issue #2: Reward going deep, not just going wide

When we were first playtesting Fenix internally, making one of every champion and making every unit type was the way to go. It was fun, we got to see each of the awesome personalities on the field, and you got to play with variety of units. It was cool! But we started to worry that this style of play would constitute the one and only build (that problem would turn out to be Carriers…). We therefore started building in advantages to going deep (in other words, to picking a few champions and unit types that would be effective in specific maps and enemy AI compositions). We designed an upgrade around this specifically in Tactical Data Web. Did we need to do more? What happened next was exactly where we went wrong. We started punishing the going wide strategy. We intentionally made Fenix’s upgrades expensive so that you had to commit to only a few tech paths. Not only did it overly restrict going wide, but it also significantly slowed down his econ, with critical researches consuming early resources. By punishing the use of a variety of units, we also exacerbated the dominant single unit strategy (Carriers).

Solution: Adjusting Research Costs

We’re reducing the costs of his special (i.e., nonstandard Protoss) research across the board. We also looked at the Kaldalis AI (Zealot champion) research that you need to help fight early attack waves and clear destructible rocks on expansion sites. We are also removing the gas cost on Kaldalis AI research, which was causing you to have to commit to assimilators too early, thereby slowing expansion time too much. Overall, this allows Fenix to use many different tech options and gives him a straight-up buff to his economy, which lets him ramp into a bigger army much quicker making him much more viable on mutation challenges. In our testing, this has had a huge impact on his playstyle and power. We hope this brings Fenix the glory he deserves.

Overall

Those are the two big design changes we felt needed to be addressed immediately. There are some other changes that are coming with regards to Tactical Data Web, champion balance, and Fenix Armor suits that should make them feel even more impactful. Again, we’d like to thank the community for working with us! Your patience and contributions with Fenix are hugely appreciated!

David Sum
Lead Co-op Designer
This doesn't seem to solve the problem of Fenix having one of the worst maxed armies, it just means you can reach that maxed army faster.

The new AP is a small buff to champions with weaker shells (khaldalis, talis) and should rarely be seen on the higher cost champs, which seems like a waste.

However (before we get too angry), there are still other changes down the line (which involve some of his more powerful abilities like TDW), so hopefully those'll fix his problems.
Thanks for the periodic updates, Mr. Sum. Looking forward to the other changes.
I'm very curious to see how big the stacking bonus gets. Now, I still think it's kind of unfortunate that any unit has to die first, since this turns them into a resource sink (the same problem Zagara has, though hers is on a bigger scale), but I'm willing to see how this plays out in practice before saying more.
Very interesting, and definitely looks into the issues which make Fenix weaker than he should be.

Could a pass on Gateway units be next?
10/26/2017 11:48 AMPosted by David Sum
Reward going deep, not just going wide


hehehe
I really like the detail behind this update, gives insight to the thought processes.

One thing I did want to mention: I think Fenix himself could benefit from being affected by upgrades. He doesn't seem to scale as well as the game goes on, even with the +10 damage upgrade on the forge.

I'm looking forward to trying him out after the patch, and the surprises you guys have at Blizzcon!
I thought this thread is locked *facepalm*. Posted all my thoughts in another thread:
https://us.battle.net/forums/en/sc2/topic/20759395933
These are some very interesting changes. I can't comment how effective they will be, but I'm interested to see how they turn out.
Thanks for sharing the design process that lead you to the current round of changes. Always nice to hear the thought process behind changes.

I like the avenging protocol change for his legionnaire, adept, and scout based armies. Definitely fits design wise to have these units taking losses. If you never lose zealots or adepts you’ll reach max too early anyway.
Thanks for the update! I think these changes should make Fenix more interesting and fun to play.

To build on this update, I was thinking, what if Avenging Protocol gave champion specific buffs that reinforce their role, such as armor, bonus damage or range etc. That way, the 3 champs that tend to die more often (khaldalis, talis, mojo), could have more minor buffs that complement their role, while the other 3 champions could have more impactful AP buffs, to compensate the loss of expensive units like carriers or Colossi. Also, the devs then have the freedom to make some pretty interesting and unique avenging protocol buffs, instead of movement and attack speed for every champ.

For tactical data web, it would be cool if other champions contribute towards unit count for TDW. Therefore, if you wanted to go a 6 champion build, the other 5 champs would buff TDW, meaning only 5 of each unit is needed to have all 6 champs fully powered. This would encourage diverse builds utilizing multiple champions while still allowing focused builds for certain situations.
Great Job another post in the coop forum. Thanks guys! :)
*facepalm*..... Ha.... Legionnaire is not tanker. It is just money thief
10/26/2017 02:25 PMPosted by ILIKEPIE
This doesn't seem to solve the problem of Fenix having one of the worst maxed armies, it just means you can reach that maxed army faster.


Depending on how fast and high the buff empowers champions, Talis and Kaldalis could potentially get incredibly terrifying. Kaldalis has AoE damage, so if he gets strong enough he could dramatically increase the strength of Fenix's army.
Thanks for the heads up, as always. Love the very detailed update and cant wait for some field testing!
10/26/2017 02:25 PMPosted by ILIKEPIE
This doesn't seem to solve the problem of Fenix having one of the worst maxed armies, it just means you can reach that maxed army faster.

From my experience Fenix have very good endgame army (if you don't just mass carriers) however getting there feels like a chore. I'm glad that the issue got addressed directly.
10/26/2017 02:25 PMPosted by ILIKEPIE
The new AP is a small buff to champions with weaker shells (khaldalis, talis) and should rarely be seen on the higher cost champs, which seems like a waste.

Well... yea, Colarion, Warbringer and Taldarin still wont benefit much but Kaldalis, Talis and Mojo might get powerful enough to make up for it, we will have to see in practice. Also depends on how 'stack up' mechanic works and whats the numbers.

From my experience Fenix have very good endgame army (if you don't just mass carriers) however getting there feels like a chore. I'm glad that the issue got addressed directly.

It's still fairly weaker than a lot of 200/200 armies (or 100/100) for other commanders. Vorazun can burst armies down to nothing in seconds. Abby dishes an incredible amount of damage and his units are nigh unkillable. Alarak destroys armies before they reach them. Strong is relative.
Reducing upgrade costs and making Avenger protocol stack and trigger if any similar unit dies...

Best case this is what Fenix needs,worst case, it's good step at least. Pumped to try it anyways!
The openness in which David talks about their work is great. I hope we will see such updates often. And they don't have to be tied to game changes, posts about designing commanders, both old and new, would be very interesting.
10/26/2017 05:47 PMPosted by ILIKEPIE
It's still fairly weaker than a lot of 200/200 armies (or 100/100) for other commanders.

200/200 army shouldn't necessarily mean equivalent to other 200/200. DPS/resource is the meaning.
So what about Avenging protocol also reduces abilities ‘ cool down? I mean some of the AI have researches give them abilities with cool down like Talis, Taldarin and Mojo, while others are bonuses with attack which can be strengthened by attack speed.

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