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CDT Update 3 - Apprentice DST pre-change discussion

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Main issue that needs discussion is re-balancing/improving the DST without adversely affecting current DST enthusiasts.

Also please bear in mind that this tower is an anti-air tower today and have been for a long while.  The targeting priority is Wyvern/Djinn/Mage is a testament to that.  Ideally the community can agree that given the vast array of other towers it is reasonable and in fact ideal for the DST to continue to function as an anti-air then nuisance enemy killing tower.

Priority System
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There is room to enhance the targeting system, but personally I think the original 3 should remain there and in that order.  Mages may seem out of place, but they are pesky and often stay out of reach of other towers and are troublesome especially for new players.

My gut instinct is to put Goblin Copters immediately after current list.  However WAY back in 7.38d (July 2012) the following change was made.
-- Projectile Towers now favor targeting other enemies over Goblin Copters (since the flares will mostly distract projectile tower shots anyway).

There is a whole history of this and it isn't a straight forward task to rectify the targeting w/regards to Copters, although it has been discussed within the CDT that it is possible.

Aside from Copters there are plenty of other pesky enemy types that I wouldn't mind zapping with an improved DST.  Special and/or game changing ones come to mind.  Sharken/Harbingers/Ogres/(perhaps increased preference towards a subset of golden enemies, still using the same priority) as many players are feeling the pain of golden buff change.  Personally I wouldn't be a big fan of getting Ogres near the front of an extended priority queue as the DST would keep shooting at them until they die at which point a Wyvern could fly right it and smack the crystal or a Djinn de-summon a tower.  The same could be said for the Harbinger, but I have a special place in my heart for that guy hence he is higher in the queue :)


Damage changes
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Ideally everyone is now aware that reducing the attack rate of the DST, makes these towers ineffectual against flying enemies, even Wyverns would overwhelm them.  Not acceptable for an anti-air tower.  The proposed DPS wasn't the issue with the DST.  I don't recall any complaints that the DPS was too low, especially considering where it has been for 5 years.  In 8.1 the projectiles were overkill for almost all mobs, with the exception of Ogres in campaign and others in very late survivals and ofc Pirate Invasion.  We're open to suggestions, on this I've seen anywhere from a 50% increase in damage (with an increase in rate as well resulting in 2x the current DPS) up to a little over 3x DPS.  More suggestions are welcome and please take into account how the golden buff change is affecting Wyverns and such.


Projectile Speed and Target hit rate
-------------------------------------
Projectiles missing their target have been a constant issue with the DST.  The projectile speed could be increased as several other towers had done long ago 7.06B and 7.17B.

The projectile could be configured to hit the target instantaneously, but personally (not sole opinion of CDT) I think that would be silly and the animation of a projectile would be only for display purposes getting to enemy after they are dead, could end up looking like it was still missing targets frequently.

I did see an idea for homing.  It sounds interesting, but would change the tower feel and behavior a bit too much for my taste, but this is a discussion and not a decree.

At the moment I'm can't think of any hero homing abilities, I suppose you could consider the lightning tower as homing, but in to me homing looks like the goblin copter missiles.  I think it would be better and more fun to create a huntress gun or Apprentice staff with a homing ability first and tackle the DST target hit percentage with increased projectile speed.

One thing that we need more input on is if the missing of target issue is based on difficulty.  Everyone is all too familiar with this happening on NM, but is it commonplace on Insane and below?  If not, the projectile speed could be increased exclusively for NM.


Advocacy and use
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As it seems to be going with 8.2 out, previous non-Apprentice builders have started to use the lightning towers.  I believe the reason for this is because re-balance had no downside so existing users would still use them and start showing them to other players who would then start using them and showing their friends, etc.

With the combination of no longer performing its anti-air duties and thus the above optimal way of gaining usage were strong reasons why I was opposed to the rate reduction (and voted against it).  If the handful of DST enthusiasts could no longer use it (for at least what it did in 8.1), then it would fall further into oblivion.  However if we go this route and get everyone on board or at the bare minimum have an solid understanding of the issues before hand, then it could follow the way of the Lightning tower and EST.


Health
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For whatever reason perhaps lost to time the Apprentice towers have health that is as low as 1/4 of an equivalent usage Squire tower (these numbers are taken at a App stat @3583, Squire stat 3583).  The only tower that has any durability is the Fire Ball tower having 74% of a harpoons health.  The DST has only 26% of a harpoons health.  More recent towers, such as Jester towers also are far durable, and the Apprentices fall behind again.  The DST has only 38% of the Party Popper's health (App stat @3583, Jester @3610).  EagleOne has requested a bump in the DST health by 100% - 120% (high end resulting in a fully upgraded health of 78,223 with Tower Health stat @3583) which would give it 57% of harpoons health.

Please provide your feedback.  The link below is EagleOne's very detailed feedback.
https://dungeondefenders.com/1/topic/138437/apprentice-tower-balance-suggestion?scrollTo=138437&page=1


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Targeting:

The DST, I thought, was supposed to help against wyverns and 'pesky' enemies which don't get taken out by the other defenses. It can then quickly snipe the 'pesky' enemies. By 'pesky' I mean mobs which stay back or simply wreck your defenses rather than focusing on your crystals; that is, djinns which will de-summon your defenses, copters which will wreck your defenses with high dps, sharken which will mess with your build by pushing towers around, mages which stand back out of reach of other towers and summon endless minions (very annoying also in survival games), and finally harbingers which sit back often out of range of other towers and wreck players trying to upgrade and, in later survival waves, also start bothering towers. Ogres could also be counted in this, but they are simply too tanky for DSTs currently. So in terms of targeting priority, in my mind it should focus on the mobs I mentioned. As wyverns are, one of the few mobs we can not stun with for example gas traps, it makes sense they are focused first. Djinn, sharken and copters should be next I think, although I agree with the previous change of excluding copters from that, no point wasting shots on flares. Mages and harbingers should be targeted last. However, as it currently stands the DST won't actually be very effective against all of these, at least on NM. Looking at the dps from EagleOne's post, it would take about 30 seconds to kill an enemy with 20M health. Depending on the map of course, this is not good enough to really be a counter to djinns. Am I right in saying that djinns will only stop their channeling if they take a certain amount of damage from either players or summoned minions? On most late game maps, and especially on survivals, a DST, or even a few DSTs won't be able to take out a channeling djinn before it finishes. (This is from memory, please correct me if I am way off here...). Harbingers have this same problem but even worse, as the only map they spawn on is ember and they have a lot of health there. Wyverns, sharken and mages can all be killed in a few shots. Therefore I think the best targeting order is:

1. Wyverns

2. Sharken

3. Mages

4. Djinns

5. Harbingers

This way it prioritizes mobs it can actually kill before they do much damage, and then starts chipping away at the more tanky enemies.


DPS:

As I pointed out above, their DPS is simply too low. I think EagleOne points this out as well. My preferred way of increasing their effective dps would be to improve their accuracy, and my preferred way of increasing their accuracy would be to increase the projectile speed, possibly depending on the difficulty of the map. Mobs move faster on harder difficulties which, in my mind, would increase the number of missed shots, and also the rate of attack necessary to keep up with the spawn rate of mobs. This means that I would like to see that on NM the projectile speed is increased so that it hits almost all of the time, and I do not want to see the tower rate scaling decreased. On top of that I would also be in favour of a straight up damage boost.


Health:

I think the point of this tower especially is to place it way behind all other defenses so that it does not get hit, possibly even with a reflect or two to protect it; so I do not think they need a health boost. I do not know how feasible it is on all maps to expect to place them so they don't get hit at all though. I must say I do not use them very often, they are just not worth it currently.

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My preferred way of increasing their effective dps would be to improve their accuracy, and my preferred way of increasing their accuracy would be to increase the projectile speed

You should see how piss poor DST are at targeting Ogres bouncing on the fan in Sky City. They can't hit the Ogres for *** and will miss at least 4/5 shots. Crap accuracy and prediction and crazy slow projectile speed.
Although DSTs are top notch for Wyvern, Djinns and Copters, but for anything else that moves fast they suck hard and especially for 8 DU it's not worth building them unless you are covering a known Wyvern / Djinn Path(Sky City South Crystal if you build mid).
But then again, compared to Harpoons, they aren't even good enough for Wyverns, Djinns and Copters given the accuracy and rate of Harpoons.

What I'd like to see is DSTs doing hit-scan attacks at a slightly reduced firing rate and slightly increased damage. That way they are not crazy OP, but can take out Djinns etc. with accuracy. Their current projectile speed and tracking is pretty bad and not suitable for leading targets and hitting them accurately.

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What I'd like to see is DSTs doing hit-scan attacks at a slightly reduced firing rate and slightly increased damage. That way they are not crazy OP, but can take out Djinns etc. with accuracy.

We already tried reducing rate and increasing damage and this was met with opposition. I'm not sure if a vast accuracy improvement would offset any rate reduction enough for people to find it acceptable.

Having said that, particularly considering the name, I feel like accuracy should be a feature of a tower called the "deadly striker."

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@Alhanalem quote:

We already tried reducing rate and increasing damage and this was met with opposition. I'm not sure if a vast accuracy improvement would offset any rate reduction enough for people to find it acceptable.

Its not the rate at which the tower shoots that is important, but the rate at which it hits mobs :) As long as that rate does not go down, I don't think there will be any problem. Making the accuracy of these towers 100%, or close to 100%, I think you could get away with lowering the tower rate slightly without upsetting anyone.


@Black Mamba quote:

My preferred way of increasing their effective dps would be to improve their accuracy, and my preferred way of increasing their accuracy would be to increase the projectile speed

You should see how piss poor DST are at targeting Ogres bouncing on the fan in Sky City. They can't hit the Ogres for *** and will miss at least 4/5 shots. Crap accuracy and prediction and crazy slow projectile speed.
Although DSTs are top notch for Wyvern, Djinns and Copters, but for anything else that moves fast they suck hard and especially for 8 DU it's not worth building them unless you are covering a known Wyvern / Djinn Path(Sky City South Crystal if you build mid).
But then again, compared to Harpoons, they aren't even good enough for Wyverns, Djinns and Copters given the accuracy and rate of Harpoons.

What I'd like to see is DSTs doing hit-scan attacks at a slightly reduced firing rate and slightly increased damage. That way they are not crazy OP, but can take out Djinns etc. with accuracy. Their current projectile speed and tracking is pretty bad and not suitable for leading targets and hitting them accurately.

This is exactly the reason why I would like to see these towers be more accurate :) What do you mean with hit-scan attacks? I'm not familiar with the term.

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Quoting directky from Wiki:
A Hitscan in computer games, most commonly in first person shooters, is a calculation performed by a game to find the point at which a given line intersects a game object, and is commonly used to determine whether a bullet or projectile hit a target after being fired from a weapon. A projectile weapon which uses unmodified hitscan information to dictate whether or not it has hit its target is often called a hitscan weapon. Deploying the weapon calls the hitscan function, and if an object is detected in the path of the projectile, a hit is registered. Since the effect is immediate, the projectiles effectively travel at infinite speed and have a linear or otherwise simple trajectory — a practical approximation of a bullet's speed and accuracy over short distances.

[[62132,users]] -- Here you can read about hit-scan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitscan
Basically it eliminates projectile tracking/leading and adds almost 100% accuracy and is fairly simple.
Although in the case of DST the only possible drawback I could see is the lack of animation or seeing the projectiles actually hitting the targets(visually) since the hit-scan type weapons have a near instantaneous projectile speed it would be extremely hard for CDT to code their projectiles to make look as if they did hit the target. Which IMO isn't a deal-breaker.
And in the heat of the battle, I don't think anyone is going to notice whether they are seeing the animation or not. We can just have the projectile effect removed and add a muzzle flash on the DST itself when it shoots(kinda like a gun). That way you know it fired something and mostly hit the target considering it is now a hit-scan type.
_________________________________________

We already tried reducing rate and increasing damage and this was met with opposition. I'm not sure if a vast accuracy improvement would offset any rate reduction enough for people to find it acceptable. Having said that, particularly considering the name, I feel like accuracy should be a feature of a tower called the "deadly striker."

Yeah, I mean we can test it out again with improved accuracy, I don't think people will oppose if the DST becomes more accurate, which they should be as you mentioned. 

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The short explanaation about "hitscan":

A hitscan is when you draw a line to see if you hit something. e.g. you're "scanning" for a "hit."

Basically, an instant attack that hits as long as something is in the line of fire at the time of firing. Many shooters use hitscan for gun/bullet weapons where realism isnt completely necessasry (as bullets don't actually travel instantly to their target).

So basically, making the DST "hitscan" would essentially mean the travel time for the shots is eliminated and they thus never miss. (That doesn't mean the visual effect has to be instant)

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@EagleOne quote:


@ThePoet424 quote:

A hitscan targeting system sounds like a good idea then.

Visual-wise that would match a teleporting projectile like suggested in my own created thread.

That it does extremely well: https://youtu.be/5LHqIoKYcrE (note, this is not a hitscan, just the projectile teleporting to reduce the travel time. NOTE, this is just testing of options and is by no means a confirmation of actions)

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How different is that projectile travel time in that video versus if DST was hit-scan type?
Also can you test how it looks and feel in real-time situations?
Like for example have the DST sitting at south in Sky City and put an Ogre on one of the blow-up fans between North & mid to see whether the animation/projectile teleporting looks accurate enough or not. Especially when the Ogres are jumping up and down constantly.

Personally though I don't really care if the DST animation doesn't look appropriate as long as it is hitting the targets with 100% accuracy. But I can understand people wanting to have accurate representation of DST attacks if it is made hit-scan.

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The animation definitely matters.  You don't want it to be confusing visually.  It's okay if there's a lag between the kill and the animation of the shot arriving, but it shouldn't be too big.

It shouldn't be hard to close the gap between the animation and hitscan attack, though, so I can't imagine it'll be terribly hard to address.

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The animation you're talking about is probably the actual tower doing the movements, not the projectile? Correct me if I misunderstood.

The tower can have it's current animation, but what I want to see is how does the teleporting of projectile look if the DSTs are made hit-scan. Not that for me it makes any difference becasue more often than not I'm paying attention on the minimap rather than looking at towers and how they are animating! :D

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Hey, I wanted to add my opinion to the discussion.

I really love the 'teleport the shot to the target' idea. It looks good and I imagine it helps a ton on accuracy.
So that change alone makes the DST quite more usefull.

About the dmg and attack rate: I think dmg wise it should be a bit above the harpoon turret. Maybe same dps/du as the harpoon.
That way the Harpoon is still better for killing ogers when there are two or more, but the DST is still valuable for that task. And the attack rate should not go down at all, maybe a bit higher attack rate even. Reason beeing the huge numbers of enemies in lategame. If you use the DST as an anti air turret but it cannot shoot all the enemies before the next bunch of enemies spawns, your defense will be overrun eventually.
For now i think the attack rate can also stay the same, but if we get even bigger enemie counts the DST maybe should get a slight buff in attack rate. It is still a very very slow turret compared to all the other turrets.

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One additional improvement I'd like to make is, DSTs don't get affected by the Copter's trap-flares that it sends out to distract ranged towers. I have tested this quite a bit, and 9/10 shots a DST misses at a medium-long range if there is a copter stuck at some place and its constantly throwing out flares. Of course this would be in line with my suggestion of having hit-scan attack type on DST + reduced firing rate but increased damage.

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RE: goblin copters. DTS's shoot through walls. Why would a flare stop them?


Remove the ability for flares to block their projectiles and they become more useful already.

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I'm a long-time lover of DST. Since vanilla of course (when most towers were pretty well-balanced.) Even through the time they were fairly useless compared to other towers. And then of course once we could get our fire rate and range high enough to make them lethal again. A huge issue, however, has always been their DU cost versus effectiveness. Especially after vanilla. There are too many better choices for your DU (regardless of enemy type.)

Even as an Adept lover extraordinaire, and lover of DST. I'll only use them in builds where most of the damage turrets are Summoner minions. Thereby leaving most of the DU free for experimentation. Otherwise, if DU are too limited, you usually can't justify the high cost of one. Not when there are mass-area things like auras and traps, Squire towers with plenty of damage that can double as walls, etc. In their current state, lowering the cost by a unit or two would help in itself. The last time it was raised in cost: the game was very different in myriad ways. Having them cheaper, now, won't make them OP.

Lots of great ideas above in terms of sharpening their accuracy. If that can truly be done with hitscan, along with timing the animation to match visually, we'd have a great setup. That and, as Mamba suggested, make them immune to Goblin Copter flares. Those two accuracy bonuses alone would make them far more valuable. That and perhaps slightly buff the DPS. Assuming the priority list is kept as aforementioned. With flying/nuisance mobs prioritized before any tanky ground ones or trash mobs.

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That's what I've been saying all along -- DSTs don't need more rate -- simply make them 100% accurate(I personally still don't care about matching animation), increase the damage slightly and make them immune to Copter Flares(which I believe pretty much falls under 100% accuracy).

AND, re-work their targeting priority in this way -- 

  1. Copters.
  2. Djinns.
  3. Mages & Spiders.
  4. Rest.
  5. Ogres.

Can't remember what is their priority right now.
Reason I include Mages and Spiders over Rest/Others is simple -- these 2 tend to get stuck the most on almost all maps.
Reason I did not include Wyverns in top 3 priority is simple -- there's way too many of them in end game to justify the DST wasting its shots in killing them rather than Copters, Djinns and others. Besides, right now Auras and other towers are more than enough for Wyverns.


Also, if we want to spice things up a bit, then perhaps have DST changed to a homing shot if hit-scan isn't achievable with current animation or other technical limitations! :P

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