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[Squad] Freezing Inferno

Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:31 pm
by neozoid
Maybe the first squad with a custom palette?
Video showcase here.
Download here.

Re: [Squad] Freezing Inferno

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 1:10 am
by Lt.Labcoat
Alright, I said I'd look into balancing this team, and after trying out some stuff and playing for a couple of... hours, as it ended up, I can conclude with this:

Freezeflame Mech should be changed to do damage on it's freeze attacks too (as in, before freezing) and should have it's -1 damage upgrade removed.
The other two are just fine as they are.

...That's pretty much it. See, the thing about Freezeflame Mech is that it's ice attack is REALLY good if it can get it off. And when it didn't damage buildings behind you, it was way too easy to get it off (as in, it could do it every turn without assistance). Having it damage buildings makes it a lot more situational and required much more thoughtful positioning, but without making it basically unable to attack (it still could in almost all turns, just not against the most optimal target). After making that change, the team felt just like how I do with the official teams - not taking any grid damage, but feeling like it was really really close to taking grid damage. Which is the metric I use for judging balance!
This is all without using shields though. With them, they're obviously OP, but so is the Ice Mech - I'm operating on the assumption that the devs/a mod will fix the ridiculous shields+ice combo.

Oh, and that really is just a coincidence that there were so few changes. I was considering other stuff too, like:
-"Not having Freezeflame Mech push" - would have made it easier to attack with and made enemies not instantly unfreeze when pushed onto fire, but decided against it because Freezeflame Mech seemed like it was the strongest of the team already.
-"Freezeflame Mech's +1 damage upgrade should require 3 power" - on the basis that having a 2dmg+fire attack really early seemed really strong. But when I thought about it, the +1 damage doesn't do much as-is (because ice is usually the go-to) and I think if it costed 3 then nobody would get it.
-"Changing Dual Mech's upgrades to not cost so much" - the logic being that it starts with two weapons but I only found myself wanting to upgrade one, but I think lowering them would have made them just too strong. Oh well, it's not like they can't just be a choice.
-"Making the Spitfire Mech weaker because it is obviously too strong" - is what I expected to be doing, because I have the attitude that 'ice as a downside isn't much of a downside', but after actually playing it, it seemed just right. With Ice Mech it's not hard to get in a position where you freeze and get the ice broken in the same turn, but playing with the Spitfire Mech, it was so much harder to get an attack off when you try for that.
-"Fix the Spitfire Mech's animations to stop look like it's winking" - that... is still a problem. Seriously, don't know how you didn't spot that one. Fix it.

So to conclude: good job, this was really fun to play, and surprisingly balanced as-is! Definitely required a lot more thinking than the vanilla teams, but that's not a bad thing. I'm gonna keep playing with these.

Re: [Squad] Freezing Inferno

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:48 am
by Captain Trek
EDIT: Please note that this review is out of date. Marked improvements to gameplay balance, spritework, and upgrade options since this review was posted have boosted this squad's overall rating to an A+.

I was going to discuss balance more in depth, but Labcoat already said a mouthful. As the squad currently stands, I'd say they're on the high side of balanced, similar to Rusting Hulks. I don't know how practical his proposed change is, but it certainly could work if you're very interested in bringing them down another notch.

In any event, this squad has come together very nicely in terms of both gameplay and aesthetics (the chicken walker specially looks amazing now), with a good selection of upgrades (antifreeze requires you to be lucky or in the late game, but that's fine) and the interesting prospect of pretty much always having one mech or the other frozen (occasionally both). The dual mech especially now makes very good use of both weapons and is a great little mech to experiment with, and all three mechs have a lovely "double-edged sword" quality to them that makes positioning them challenging and immensely rewarding. I was concerned the AI would be too cowardly around all the fine, but it doesn't seem too bad most of the time.

Beyond that, you pretty much just need to put the fire and ice colours on the lower halves of each of the Frostfire's barrels and straighten up the Spitfire's gun housing, as we discussed. The "winking" Labcoat mentioned doesn't bother me, but if you want to fix that as well you certainly could. Then you could throw on custom weapon portraits for that extra level of polish.

This squad is right on the borderline between B+ and A-, but on balance I think its especially interesting gameplay and the sheer amount of work you've already put into them (and hopefully a bit more to round them out still to come) push them into a slightly generous A-. This squad is excellent, and on the cusp of being truly outstanding.

Re: [Squad] Freezing Inferno

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 1:36 pm
by neozoid
Thank you for the feedback! :D Will work on polishing them up over the next few days!

I have one question - I'm considering adding a damage up upgrade to the Dual Mech's Ignition Circuit - is it unnecessary or would it be a good addition?

Re: [Squad] Freezing Inferno

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:22 pm
by Lt.Labcoat
If you mean a +1, then yeah, I say go for it.

Re: [Squad] Freezing Inferno

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:02 pm
by neozoid
Oops, added a +2 damage and 1 self damage. Let me know if you think it's terrible/great.
As for the 1 damage on freeze on the Frostfire Cannon, I left that out for now (I may have to play a full campaign with it on and see how it feels), but the main reason is that I feel like it would be unintuitive for some players. Of course, once I complete a full run, I'll make an actual verdict, but just mentioning it for now.

The new download has custom weapon icons, Spitfire's sprite blinking is fixed, Frostfire mech's sprite tweaked to have fire and ice colors, the damage up upgrade on Ignition Blast, and a couple other tweaks here and there. Let me know if you find anything else! :)

Re: [Squad] Freezing Inferno

Posted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 4:12 am
by Captain Trek
Hmm. The chopped together weapon icons are a bit of ghetto solution, but they work for what they are (maybe double-up on the barrels for the Frostfire Cannon?). I'm a bit concerned though that perhaps the +2 damage upgrade on the Ignition Blast might serve to make the Dual Mech too similar to the Hazardous Mechs' Leap Mech. Labcoat, what do you think?

Nice work on the Frostfire's sprite, though. That's exactly what I was envisioning and it's looking really good now.

Re: [Squad] Freezing Inferno

Posted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:50 pm
by neozoid
Went ahead and added the 1 damage on ice shots as a challenge mode. Should be visible in Mod Content > Configure Mods > Freezing Inferno > Settings (gear) > Challenge Mode.

Re: [Squad] Freezing Inferno

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:22 am
by neozoid
Changed Ignition Blast's second upgrade from +2 damage to Coolant, which prevents the attack from burning self or allies for 2 cores.

Re: [Squad] Freezing Inferno

Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 5:52 pm
by Captain Trek

I'm actually really impressed by how far you've come, Neo. You've gone to an exceptional amount of effort refining this squad and at this point it just feels "right".

Now, obviously the biggest changes since my last review were in reducing the Frostfire Mech's movement and correspondingly increasing the Dual Mech's movement. I did try the "challenge mode" that implemented Lt. Labcoat's suggestion of having the Frostfire Mech's ice shots also deal damage, but it was just too punishing in the end, as the cross shots are often physically unable to avoid shooting a building, and the end result was pretty frustrating. The reduction to two base movement is an excellent compromise, as it too is a change that serves to reduce the mech's flexibility throughout the campaign, but in a way that feels much more natural and fair. I also appreciate that giving the Frostfire a third point of movement has now, in effect, been positioned as the "obvious" spend for the reactor core you receive from your first time pod on the first island. As I have said before, most squads possess such an option on at least one of their mechs. As for the Dual Mech, the increased movement helps to promote its function as a support unit and enables riskier plays (ever tried blocking a spawn with the Dual while it is also on fire? I have) without completely stealing the show, since the increased flexibility doesn't allow it, with its initially melee-only non-directly damaging weapons, to become OP the way it does for the Frostfire. Both these units just feel really good to play with now, as the Spitfire did already, and the squad overall I feel is powerful, but balanced.

Beyond that, most of what I said in the second paragraph of my original review still applies. I do rather like the new Coolant upgrade on the Ignition Circuit, as it helps further promote the idea that the Dual Mech's weapons are a sort of yin and yang reflection of each other and allows mech to retain its playstyle (wherein it's never going to deal direct damage) throughout the game, whereas the +2 damage upgrade idea did not. Coolant also makes for an interesting dichotomy when pitted against the Flash Freeze's Antifreeze upgrade, as you typically would neither want 'nor have enough cores to take both). Both also further reinforce the notion of everything being a double-edged sword, as running Coolant can prevent you from unfreezing the Spitfire Mech in a critical moment, just as Antifreeze can prevent you from putting yourself out when you're on fire (while also still attacking) in a critical moment.

Honestly, the Dual Mech was a stroke of genius, and one that seems to be aging like a fine wine...

Finally, of course, we have the graphical improvements, which are extremely welcome. The weapon icons have a lot more of a unique sense of personality to them now, and distracting little issues with the Frostfire's animation and the Spitfire's sprite have thankfully been rectified. There is still a discernible degree of jankiness that I feel will always exist, but the squad is in a good overall place aesthetically, and see the next paragraph.

All of which finally brings me to the thorny issue of what updated rating to give this squad now and I will freely admit that I was torn. Visually, this squad is never going to be as "slick" and near-flawless as RF1995. However, the creator of RF1995 has freely acknowledged that he lifted and modified unused assets from the game files, whereas Freezing Inferno's were cut from whole cloth and I know they took an incredible amount of work. Moreover, it could be argued this squad is now more cohesive than RF1995, as that squad's Minelayer Mech still feels (and will always feel) set apart from and a bit out of place compared to the other members of the squad, whereas the members of Freezing Inferno all work beautifully together.

Ultimately, though, as with my original rating, I simply cannot ignore the sheer amount of passion - the overwhelming heart and soul that was poured into this squad. Yes, the sprites and animations are a little choppier than RF1995's, but now that their most glaring issues have been corrected it can easily be argued that this only serves to lend the squad a unique, slightly awkward charm. I have decided this awkward charm fits with the underlying nature of the squad, existing as it does at the awkward intersection of fire and ice, with awkward-looking mechs sporting awkward-to-use but fantastic abilities.

As such, my final, updated rating for this squad is an A+. Just as with RF1995, this squad is now in a position where I firmly believe everyone should try playing it at least once. A squad that's had this much work put into perfecting it deserves nothing less.

Bloody well done, mate. Bloody well done.