Zoura's Creeper World 4 Demo Tech Critique

Zoura3025 · 83

Zoura3025

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on: July 31, 2020, 06:42:42 am
Well, that's an overly long title that no one's gonna want to click on.

Anyhow, welcome to my what I like to call my "tech critique", where I focus on the negatives and things I would change about creeper world 4 rather than lick virgil's boots about everything.  ;)
In all seriousness, though, this is meant to be less of a full-review and more of a harsher, critical look on the game, outlining what I'd like to see tweaked or changed. I'll try to organize this the best I can, but I am garbage at word display work and it'll look like trash anyhow.

Disclaimer: I have an unhealthy love for complexity in RTSes
Disclaimer II: I've played up to the Mark V sample world at the time of writing.
Disclaimer III: I'm a turtler. Does this matter? Maybe. I took over 45 minutes on every level but the tutorial.

Enough disclaiming, let's start with-

Section 1: Economy

In my humble turtling opinion, an RTS's sense of economy is very important. I like to feel each building feel less-impactful on my resource reserves; watch as I go from barely being able to build a pair of cannons to being able to produce enough guns to make the geneva convention eye me with suspicion. With the advent of the new resources, this would be the perfect time to really expand on creeper world's sense of economy. So, does the slice of CW4 we've gotten so far feel like an economy improvement?

In my opinion: Ehhhh...

If I can be so bold, towers produce way too much energy, even with their ramping. I think one tower can produce 1.1-1.2 energy per second per unit (EPSPU) when fully spaced out? That's enough energy to support building a whole new weapon, nevermind the dinky 0.3-0.5/second cost to have it firing. During my gameplay, the only time I ever struggled with energy was during the mission literally designed to make you struggle with energy (the mission where miners are your only source of energy). I think during my gameplay, my energy production capped out at around 55 or so. You know where my consumption capped out at? Roughly 20. Considering towers are the basic "build this thing to start" unit, I just felt it was way too easy to become literally over-powered (that's having too much spare energy/power, not feeling too unbalanced).
My suggestion to fix this is simple: Nerf soylent. Nerf it hard. One tower should produce a max of 0.3, maybe 0.5 if you wanna push it. I want a reason to switch some miners to energy; to spend some effort on collector panels (even though I haven't been able to build them yet).

Of course, there's other resources! Namely, anticreeper, arg, and liftic. Let's run them off, too:

Anticreeper hardly felt like a part of the demo. It was relevant in one mission; otherwise, without a sprayer or bomber or anything to use it on, it just... Didn't do anything. I think I used miners twice: once on the level where you get no soylent, and the other being on the pyramid level with the anticreeper drones. I'm sure the full game will give AC plenty of uses, but this is about the demo, so... Not great.

Arg was really easy to get, but I figure that was by design, since, well, the Mark V test also introduces the resources redon and arg into the demo. To be honest, I just wait in anticipation for weapons that use more of the stuff; it's too easy to produce too much of the stuff.

Liftic wasn't a resource in the demo. It was a mini-objective. No units use liftic, and it can't be produced: It was pretty much just "thing I had to connect my network to #7". Just... Kind of lackluster, but I'm willing to excuse it in the demo.

So, overall? Secondary resources felt, well, secondary. They're either way too easy to get, or are virtually irrelevant. Combine that with the fact that energy's too easy to get, and resource obtaining just feels... Generally unbalanced.

Economy rating: 4/10 - Not game-ruining, but the lack of balance is only excusable for an early-access demo.

Section 2: Unit Variety

*sigh* They're all gonna think I hate this game...

Disclaimer Number IV: This is, in fact, the demo. I can't access all units. I'll try to be gentle here, but no guarantees.

The unit variety in the demo was, well, disappointing. Towers, Miners, Pylons, and only energy defenses plus missile launchers. I don't know why it bothers me, since  Creeper World 3's unitbase was almost entirely energy-dependent (except for, like, the Sprayer, Bomber, and Forge), and I love the unit variety there; maybe it's just because Creeper World 4 has like triple the resources. To be honest, this kind of factors into another bit I'll get into in section 3, where it feels like there were corners cut here and there in the jump to 3D.

That said, the units I have seen do the jobs they need to do. Infrastructure, (over)power production, and - of course - the gun-gun shoot-shoot. I guess the bare bones-ness just feels a little lackluster compared to the potential that was there.

Unit Variety Rating: 6.5/10 - Optimistic, but damn if I don't feel a little beaten down over just how much was cut off from me during the demo (even though I know why it's done like that).

Section 3: Adaptation

This may be the nicest I am in this critique, so consider this section your "rest stop".

Time and time again, the games industry likes to remind us that turning a 2D game into a 3D game is hard. Like, really hard. (Say hi, Sonic Team.) And so, I must delegate a section to the obvious question: How does Creeper World 4 fare in the "jump to 3D" department.

It's worth noting that Creeper World (with the exception of CW2) has always had a 3rd axis at least in principle. I mean, units have to "raise", terrain/creeper has varying heights, etc. It's just that CW4 is the first to have a real, recognized 3rd axis. So, with this in mind, how did the jump go?

It went great. Hats off, this is a very capable 3D adaptation. The physics and game speed feel good (though as others have pointed out, Creeper feels extra thick this time around) and the changes to the minor details make sense (line of sight for towers and infrastructure connections, for example) and feel good to circumnavigate. I got a sort of 6th sense of enjoyment when the game forced me to build towers all they way down a mountain because connection ranges are 3D now (though, lemme say, as someone who only ever played from top view, it could be tricky sometimes).

Though I personally prefer CW3, I have no doubt CW4's engine is competent enough to convince me full-3D creeper world is the way of the future.

Adaptation Rating: 9/10 - There was definitely a bit of collateral, but I love this game's engine. Hats off, virgil, hats off.

Section 4: Loose Ends

This is just a place for me to put some mild nitpicks that really don't belong in their own category, nor do they specifically harm the game's rating.

- I wish missile ranges were coloured to show different height coverages. Kind of annoying to handle missile placement in top-view.
- Cannons feel a little too good at deep creeper and kind of wonky with large mats of thin creeper (though the latter may just be me).
- Line of sight for cannons doesn't make sense sometimes; I get that they have height, so they can hit a layer above them, but why is there a blind spot for hitting the layer above them?
- Is it just me, or are mortars just too oppressive with the newly thickened creeper? It just feels like 2 mortars could hold off a 500 creeper per second emitter, sometimes.
- Factories can store way too much of any given resource. I get that adding an extra storage building would be a nuisance, but I can always build more than one (especially since factories cost a dinky 25 energy)...
- Compared to how many miners you need to get a good amount of bluite/AC going, sometimes it feels like redon just spits way too much of itself at you.

Bonus Section: Wishlist

This is a fun little area where I pool my suggestions for out there ideas.

- A 4RPL tag that allows me to increase the energy production of the player's base with a custom unit (for example, a custom environmental generator or something).
- Somekind of "trebuchet" that acts like an anticreeper mortar. Maybe built using Arg?
- The ability to build those pipe things from that one level. Probably built using Arg or Liftic.
- And that's about all I have.

Bonus Section 2: Final Thought

First of all" I just want to say that I love this game so far. I just wanted to give a good, harsh rip of it before the game's really out. Does my opinion matter? Prolly not, but I still just want to get this out.

Thanks for reading my long post, and have a great day!

(09:06:07) Zoura3025: But for us diehard fans: "Time is Sanity"


Karsten75

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Reply #1 on: July 31, 2020, 10:54:18 am
As I read through this, I got to  wonder...

|You spend considerable time emphasizing how excessive energy supply is

Quote
If I can be so bold, towers produce way too much energy, even with their ramping. ...


But then, you first  item on the wishlist:
Quote
A 4RPL tag that allows me to increase the energy production of the player's base with a custom unit (for example, a custom environmental generator or something).

'If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.'

Albert Einstein
(1879-1955)


Zoura3025

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Reply #2 on: July 31, 2020, 04:21:18 pm
As I read through this, I got to  wonder...

|You spend considerable time emphasizing how excessive energy supply is

Quote
If I can be so bold, towers produce way too much energy, even with their ramping. ...


But then, you first  item on the wishlist:
Quote
A 4RPL tag that allows me to increase the energy production of the player's base with a custom unit (for example, a custom environmental generator or something).

That's a fair point to being up; albeit, the idea woulld be to necessitate alternate means of power, rather than necessarily just overall reduce the supply. I mean, there's three ways to get energy, but when one is so vastly superior to the others, it kind of ruins the point of having the diversity.

(09:06:07) Zoura3025: But for us diehard fans: "Time is Sanity"