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Z & Z Expansion
 System Req.

Mike Interview - Z:SS balance

MaD - In Z and Z Exp, the pyros had the same range of a tough, just slightly less armour and a higher damage output - although costing 50% more. In Z:SS pyros doesn't seem to have good armour (although the stats aren't in the manual, could you send them to me? :), and are basically short ranged units that have a hard time getting close, making them very specialized units.
Were the Z:SS pyros inspired in the Starcraft's Firebat?

Mike - Not directly. Again, it was quite early on that the spacing of units was decided, and the eventual stats were derived from this overall scheme. The Pyro in Steel Soldiers was designed to be a fairly "cheap and cheerful" attacker, just a little above the basic Psycho. They do have one of the shortest ranges, but they have the added bonus of setting things alight,
which causes damage to something even after it's stopped being fired upon.
The trick to using them really effectively is to make sure that they're in firing range before the enemy gets into line of sight with them - the terrain plays a huge part in this.

MaD - Many players and reviewers get totally flabbergasted when they see the toughs efficiency, specially in large groups - even though he can be countered by light tanks and mortars. The tough certainly needs its great armour and attack power to stand tank fire. But with all that pluses in just one unit - specially long weapon range - it renders most other robots less
attractive, even while useful. How do you analyse the toughs role in Z:SS matches, and can't anything be done to somewhat limit the toughs abuse we so often see in multi games?

Mike - You can't accuse us of inappropriately naming our units! [Editor note: ROFL :)]
The Tough was always designed to be quite a hard nut. He does have a number of weaknesses, though, like his slow movement, slow fire rate, and huge minimum range. One thing I don't know if you guys have noticed is that robots can't fire and
move at the same time, whereas tanks can. This makes tight groups of Toughs (especially if they're in a bunker or an APC) relatively easy to take out if you can get a tank, preferably a quick one like a Jeep or Light Tank, inside their minimum fire range. The toughs then can't move quick enough to get into a firing position, and your tank can just follow them, firing all the time.
Even so, possibly we over-did it a little with the Tough, we might be looking at toning him down a little for a future patch.

MaD - The Laser, with his short to medium range and weapon recharge time is quite a mistery for me. Only good things I've seen it do is inside APCs and near bridges entrances. Could you shed some light into some good and cost-effective uses for him?

Mike - The Laser is actually a really hard unit if you use him right. Their shots penetrate and pass through their targets, so you can hit multiple enemies with each shot - it makes them really good against rushes! The best way to use them is to get them around the enemy - this way you get a good scatter of shots behind the unit you're concentrating on.

MaD - In Z the robots efficiency linearly increases with their cost. In Z:SS units have variable efficiency against different targets and in different situations, theoretically implying into more refined gameplay and more thought involved in the production strategy of the units. How do you feel this turned out to be in the final game? Did it increase the number of different units you need for best efficiency, in equal proportions, or did it narrow down the units you'll build the most and set the other units as co-players?

Mike - There are a number of units that could be considered "general-use", but each of these have their weak points. They're great for covering the more specialised units, or those really strong units with complete blind spots, too. None of these general-use units are the strongest on their own, though, that's why combinations work so effectively.

Next: Z:SS balance considerations - Part II






Mike Montgomery

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