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Zero-K: Zero-K – November UI work

Learning from GDS, I have been focusing on the user interface this month. The current default looks like a disparate collection of panels arranged in a convention-breaking way and is probably the source of much confusion. Most of the work was spent on making the panels support enough skinning to make them look like they fit together. Another large part of the work was the complete rewrite of two of the widgets. Too many changes needed to be made and the widgets were unmaintainable spaghetti code from at least five years ago.

A not-insignificant amount of effort was expended on keeping the rewrites and new layout options compatible with the old defaults. Maintaining compatibility with the varied way people use and modify their UI probably increased the workload by at least 3x. Some compatibility options were missing over the month but they are probably all present by now. You can try out the latest work in Settings/Hud Presets with “New UI Minimap Left” or “New UI Minimap Right”.

Balance

  • Duck torpedoes are slightly better at homing.
  • Completely submerged units can no longer cloak.
  • Fixed Commander surface visibility and vulnerability. They should now be visible exactly when they can be damaged by weapons with no AoE.
  • Buffed Support Commander’s ability to shoot at things very close to it. In other words, added a workaround for its poorly thought out gun length as compared to its height.

Unit AI

  • Added Global Build Command. It is currently disabled but can be toggled through Game/Worker AI.
  • Added overkill prevention for Ravens against structures.
  • Fixed Raven diving insufficiently low against Commanders with speed modules.
  • Fixed jumpjet activation when retreating.

Interface

Rewrote the command menu:

  • Command menu hides itself if no units are selected.
  • Bound Priority to Ctrl+Q and Repeat to Ctrl+R.
  • Added consistency between clicking and hotkeys. Grid hotkey display is now consistent.
  • Reorganized factory production tab to group units by role and ease of use.
  • Added a command to clear the factory build queue.
  • Fixed Aspis icon border. It used to be bordered as if it were armed.
  • Added an option to make factory queue Alt insert put the new command behind the current construction instead of canceling it when repeat is not enabled. Repeat already has this behaviour.
  • Added an option to make Ctrl disable grid hotkeys while held.
  • Space+Click on command buttons now shows the command hotkey configuration menu.

Rewrote quick unit selector:

  • Factory selection can now be bound to hotkeys. They are unbound by default, I am experimenting with Alt+Q for my first factory, Alt+W for my second factory etc..
  • Selector panel can now be aligned vertically.
  • Fixed some really stupid things related to quick selection positioning itself.
  • Fixed flash upon switching between teams while spectating.
  • Selector supports spacing, padding etc..
  • Selector can now be skinned.

Economy panel:

  • Added warnings for metal excess and energy stall.
  • Changed the metal storage mechanics to make the resource bar actually full when you are excessing metal.
  • Fixed incorrect reporting of energy reclaim.

Reorganized main menu panel:

  • Removed tweak mode, FPS and game flag.
  • Made the menu behave properly when resized, removing or squishing its options.
  • Made the menu able to reduce to 32 pixels high to save space.
  • Rebound widget selector from F11 to Ctrl+F11
  • Removed binding to hide the menu. Esc now opens the menu identically to F10. Hiding the menu can still be bound with hotkeys.
  • Added a button to switch to the lobby, for Chobby users.

Chat:

  • Added an option to disable the backlog arrow when not chatting.
  • Added an option to show the backlog arrow on the left.

Terraform:

  • Build height selection used to queue a terraform command and later queue a construction, based on your ping. Now terraform is properly queuable so both construction and terraform commands are sent simultaneously. This allows for much faster and bug-free structure placement.
  • Improved persistent build height visuals.
  • Persistent build height now works well when constructing floating structures.
  • Each type of terraform now has its own mouse cursor and queue icon.
  • Terraform now split builds, if you tell a spread out line of constructors to make a wall they will each work on their closest block.
  • Added a widget to replace the buttons underneath the minimap.
  • Fixed lasso terraform UI interaction with water.

Misc:

  • Non-Mex structures can no longer be placed on metal spots. This isn’t quite a mere interface change because it is enforced in game mechanics.
  • Fixed docking API position remembering for non-docking widgets and added an option to only dock with the screen edge, not other widgets. Commander upgrade windows now remember their position.
  • Removed Stop and Repeat commands from units that have no use for them (such as Solar Collectors).
  • Added an option to toggle whether the mouse cursor is confined to the game window.
  • Fixed nuke launch warning location.
  • Tooltip healthbar display now updates instantly when a new unit is moused over.
  • Trees are no longer reclaimed by basic area reclaim. To reclaim them with area reclaim either hold Ctrl while giving the order or give the order with a tree at the center (left click and drag on a tree).
  • Fixed Space+Click being non-functional on anything underwater.
  • Fixed floating structure placement (Spring change, thanks USrankAdminhokomoko
  • Recon Commander replaces old Strike Commander on the Commander Selection icon.

Graphics

  • Grid outlines now merge instead of adding their transparency on overlap.
  • Added HDR rendering widget. It is not fully featured so the HDR option is disabled and marked as experimental. Try it on in Settings/Graphics/HDR (experimental).
  • Claw ghosts are now much easier to see.

Fixes

  • Fixed a lups error.
  • Lightning spark effects now form a circle, not a square.
  • Debris is now more consistent in inheriting unit momentum, it no longer drops vertically.
  • Fixed old Reef naming conflict.
  • Fixed invisible Crane wreck.
  • Fixed edge extension with water level modoption.
  • Fixed initial queue mex positions with water level modoption.
  • Added/fixed start boxes for Flooded Valley v2 and Onyx Cauldron 1.7.
  • Removed the little flags that sometimes appear in the top left corner of the map.
  • Removed some deprecated unit tags.
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Zero-K: Zero-K v1.4.11.0 – Overpowered Raven Update

What this update lacks in balance changes it more than makes up for in stealth balance changes. These stealth changes are in the form of unit AI improvements and so, thanks to our motto ‘That which can be destroyed by widgets should be’, can be implemented without as much forethought as would be applied to real balance changes. We tend to even go further and implement unit AI directly into the game logic when it is merely possible (and often technically infeasible) for such a widget to exist.

Perhaps the most significant change is to Ravens. Now they only dive as low as they need to in order to reliably hit their target. This should make them much better against large, slow units (such as Reef) while leaving them unchanged against small units (such as Skeeter).

These notes also include changes from v1.4.10.0 to v1.4.10.2.

Balance

Advanced Radar no longer reduces radar wobble. The mechanic broke with an engine update, is barely used, and only existed due to legacy.

Removed Reef antinuke. Lets see how it goes.

Bantha can now shoot its Tachyon Accelerator at planes.

Commander Balance

Lightning Gun:

  • Damage – 256/640 -> 220/550 (EMP with flux 960 -> 825)
  • Reload Time – 1.83 -> 1.66

This has two main effects:

  • Bandit no longer 1-shot
  • Common units around 800 health (eg LLT, Warrior, Banshee) no longer stunned on the first shot

Derived stats:

  • DPS 140/350 -> 132/330
  • stun uptime 55% -> 60% (duration is 1s)

Also, fixed the Flux Amplifier upgrade accidentally reducing Lightning Gun’s accuracy.

Unit AI

Raven is now conservative about diving, carefully considering the size and maximum speed of its target and only diving as low as required to (almost) guarantee a hit. Previously it would dive as low as it could go against all targets.

Burst beam lasers (HLT, Penetrator etc..) now aim better against fast targets. Previously they would aim such that the unit would be hit in the middle of their beam time. This caused them to lead fast targets to a ridiculous extent and allow them to dodge and escape damage.

Buoy, Impaler, Rogue, Thug, Hermit, Rocko, Reef and Detriment (missile) now have overkill prevention against structures. Their in-flight projectiles project an aura of doom towards their target and cause potential assailants from thinking twice about increasing the doom further than necessary. This is basically an extension of the same change for missiles from the Overpowered Missile Update. Hammer, Ravager, Reaper, Crabe and Goliath (main gun) missed out for technical reasons but should gain the same overkill prevention in the future.

Units with slow moving projectiles now de-prioritize fast moving targets based on their current speed. For example, Hermits may now shoot stunned Glaives before unstunned Glaives just because they are much more likely to kill a stationary target. Scalpels are more likely to shoot at slow aircraft than fast aircraft.

User Interface

We’ve had a few interface improvements. Mostly to bombers and transports.

  • Alt+r is now a hotkey for Repeat.
  • Cleaned up the selection key hotkey menu and added a few more options.
  • Double pressing L with a mixed selection of transports and units now causes the selected transports to pick up the units and, if the units have orders, ferry them to their destination.
  • Bombers now set themselves to Fire at Will or Hold Fire depending on whether they have an Attack Move or Patrol command.
  • Bombers with a single Attack Move command will fire at the first target they come across and not return after reloading. Set bombers to retreat, patrol or queue multiple commands to override this behaviour. The aim of the change is to make Attack Move for bombers behave a bit more like Attack.
  • I was surprised to discovered that Air Repair Pads can have a command queue, like factories, which are applied to aircraft when they are let go. I remember implementing this and apparently did so eight months ago yet completely forgot.

Fixes

Removed almost all of the weapons from Zero-K (around 6400) to significantly improve load times. Also, removed about 400 units.

  • Reduced Firewalker and Racketeer firing and impact sound volume.
  • Fixed Recon commander breaking if Personal SHield and Disruptor Bomb are equipped.
  • Cloaked Warlord no longer gives its position away with wakes.
  • Fixed some wreck values and names.
  • Fixed Claws incorrectly being set to hold fire when cloaked.
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Zero-K: Server with scale testing

The first server update with visible user throttling is soon to be released. This is part of ongoing work to make the server able to scale to a large number of players. Currently, everyone can see everyone else and this which works for a few hundred users. However, the server is expected to die with the load under even conservative release estimates (at least for a short period, which is when stability is most important).

The change amounts to reducing the usefulness of the user list in #zk. Other players will not appear to be online unless you share a battle room or non-#zk channel with them.

We understand that this hurts the usefulness of #zk for our current community, however, the feature needs testing. We plan to enable full visibility throttling for #zk for a few days. After we are happy that it works we plan to throttle visibility after the first 100 people in #zk, effectively reducing the user list to its current usefulness when the user count is low.
Third party lobbies may be broken by the change. SWL might receive an update in time. I have not heard anything from the developers of other lobbies. ZKL is still supported, for now, so has an update for the change.

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