The Lurg Prawn (Project 6014)

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Shiver
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The Lurg Prawn (Project 6014)

Post by Shiver » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:47 pm

I'm responsible for this thing. P6014 got dropped a long time ago obviously, but I recently read some old forum posts and watched some YouTube videos to see that the Prawn has garnered some negative reactions. I thought I'd put up a response detailing what I was trying to do when I designed it.

Quick refresher: The Lurg Prawn has low top speed, medium acceleration, and fast turning. Its primary armament shoots a long-range projectile that travels forward and swerves left and right in a serpentine pattern, inflicting 4 damage on contact. Its secondary armament deploys many defensive pods that linger for a long duration before expiry, inflict no damage upon contact with the opposing ship, but slightly impede the opposing ship's trajectory and turn rate. The pods block projectiles such as Earthling missiles and absorb shots from Chmmr satellites. The main gun draws a moderate amount of energy to fire, while the pods are cheap and spammable. The ship's battery can be depleted for a time if the main gun is used too heavily. Finally, the Prawn passively regenerates crew at a very slow rate.

The other 6014 ships never got proper AIs written for them, but this one did. It follows a very defensive script, keeping away from its opponent as best as it can, deploying pods everywhere, and turning back around to hurl out shots when a pursuer follows after it. The plan was for the Prawn to break many common strategies players learned from SC2 and force them to try new things. Remember kiting things with Fwiffo? I do! Most enemies in SC2's adventure mode could be picked apart while playing "keep away". This carried over into PvP, where new players trying out online melee in #uqm-arena would default to running away and kiting most of the time, much to my disgust. With that in mind, I wanted this ship to be something players absolutely could not kite or snipe at from safety, something that forces them to be pro-active against. Being defensive and perhaps irritating itself didn't matter if it made the player try other tactics.

To people who found Lurg too hard: The intended solutions to the Lurg Prawn are Chmmr, Utwig, and Yehat; big bruisers which can chase the Prawn down, withstand its attacks, then punch its face in. Yes guys, you're supposed to attack the ship. If it's making tedious, drawn-out matches, it's because you won't attack it. The correct approach is not supposed to be a cakewalk, but it's really not that hard with some practice. We all had to practice some to learn how to kite things with Spathi, remember that?

To people who found Lurg too easy: So you used Chmmr and steamrolled the fight at the end of the demo. In the full game, that's intended to be the last time you have access to the Chmmr Avatar (spoiler: they're antagonists). Thus, getting good with "blocking" ships becomes a component of beating P6014, and everyone gets to learn the joy of a new and different playstyle.

Why is the Prawn built to wreck flanking ships (Pkunk, Slylandro, Arilou), given that those are among the most aggressive types in Star Control? That wasn't my goal, it just happened that way. If I had designed other enemies, I would have built at least one that would be best handled by flanking ships.

The one regret I have is that there's no way for the player to know that the pods it drops don't deal any damage. People see dozens of moving bubbles and instinctively don't want their ship to touch them. The Prawn's counters are not intuitive because of this. Perhaps different art would have communicated that the pods were obstacles, not dangers, or changing the movement pattern of said pods to move slower, but home in on the enemy ship and its projectiles so as to continue being a good defense. I imagine the Prawn would have gotten more work on ship balance or AI if the project had continued full steam.

Yes, it's a gimmicky ship. A flawed design? Maybe. Full disclosure, the Lurg were not intended to be the big bad of P6014, and the Chmmr weren't either. We never got around to making the actual end-game threat, but if they had a ship I assure you I would have gone out of my way to make it a total bastard in a completely different way.
Last edited by Shiver on Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:49 am, edited 2 times in total.

krulle
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Re: The Lurg Prawn (Project 6014)

Post by krulle » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:50 am

Thank you for explaining your whys for a ship you designed.
Having never player Project 6014, I haven't seen the ship before, so I can't really say.
But the way you described your intentions I started thinking all the time "okay, this tactic won't work, nor that one, huh? be careful when moving in with light ships then,...."...
I like the ideas, and I agree that in-game balancing would've happened later.
But with the amount of ships SC has, you will always find combinations which are close to unplayable.
Adding more ships will just make it all more difficult to balance so that each ship can beat eacch other ship (when respecting the RU or point value of the ships).

E.g. using the Shofixti to fight Mycon is enormously difficult. As Mycon I tended to only fire when the Shofixti had a certain distance from me (to avoid blasting myself), and focus on repairing. There are few Human pilots who can actually USE the pea shooter of the Shofixti and cause damage. And the self-destruct could not take a podship down.

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Shiver
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Re: The Lurg Prawn (Project 6014)

Post by Shiver » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:44 am

krulle wrote:But with the amount of ships SC has, you will always find combinations which are close to unplayable.
Adding more ships will just make it all more difficult to balance so that each ship can beat eacch other ship (when respecting the RU or point value of the ships).
That's somewhat true for PvP, but balancing ships for a single player campaign really isn't that precarious. I was even willing to have ships that weren't great for PvP if it meant they worked well for the main game. The biggest challenge is in programming a decent AI.

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Re: The Lurg Prawn (Project 6014)

Post by Lukipela » Wed Nov 21, 2018 7:59 am

This was my exact problem. Being so used to not losing any crew at all with the Eluder in the original game really makes any fight where you have to aggressively dive in and take losses in the process really uncomfortable.

Since it seems quite obvious P6014 isn't going anywhere, do you know if the full story is available anywhere? It would be interesting to know what was planned.

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Re: The Lurg Prawn (Project 6014)

Post by Quasispatial » Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:51 am

Lukipela wrote:
Wed Nov 21, 2018 7:59 am
This was my exact problem. Being so used to not losing any crew at all with the Eluder in the original game really makes any fight where you have to aggressively dive in and take losses in the process really uncomfortable.
Yeah, that was the main problem. The key troublemakers are the words "have to". The only method that can effectively attack the Prawn is "brute force". There's very little in the way of skill involved. Maneuverable or long-range ships, such as the Cruiser, Skiff or Blade, become entirely useless because the only thing that matters is health and firepower, at least assuming you aren't willing to spend half an hour staying out of range of the slow Prawn, hoping you get lucky to get chip damage in here and there. Maneuverability and ship-handling skill just doesn't factor in very much, and the problem's made worse by the Prawn's relatively short range and slow speed, which means that it's up to the player to make the "stupid" decision of just rushing in like the next Leeroy Jenkins. This makes the Prawn an inherently un-fun ship to play against. For these reasons, I personally consider it a bad design.

Plain and simple, you never want a ship which poses the ultimatum "do this stupid thing or we'll have a stalemate". It's just a terrible idea overall. Imagine how much better the ship could have been if the ship was small and fast, and the bubbles didn't block shots. It'd have a modus operandi of rushing ahead of an enemy, dropping bubbles, and then with that it could immobilize its target for a short time. This'd make its opponent vulnerable in a similar way to what the Intruder does, except on a temporary basis, allowing the speedy ship to safely attack its target for a short while before having to retreat due to its empty energy banks.
Lukipela wrote:
Wed Nov 21, 2018 7:59 am
Since it seems quite obvious P6014 isn't going anywhere, do you know if the full story is available anywhere? It would be interesting to know what was planned.
This thread may be what you're looking for.
http://star-control.com/community/viewt ... ?f=9&t=895
"Sentient life. We are the Ur-Quan. Independence is intolerable. Blah, blah, blah." - the Spathi High Council, Star Control II.

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Re: The Lurg Prawn (Project 6014)

Post by Shiver » Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:49 am

Lukipela wrote:Since it seems quite obvious P6014 isn't going anywhere, do you know if the full story is available anywhere? It would be interesting to know what was planned.
I don't, sorry. The links I've tried on the P6014 page throw up an error 404 and that 'Chenjesu' fellow in these forums shouldn't be listened to under any circumstance.


Quasispatial wrote:Maneuverability and ship-handling skill just doesn't factor in very much [...]
Yet there are a pretty significant contingent of players that struggled to defeat the ship at all. The UQM HD art guy lowered the number of prawns the player fights at the end of the demo because they were kicking his ass. I told someone else who was struggling to try using Chmmr and they retorted that "Lurg is a Chmmr counter". :facepalm: The Can't Do Melee crowd was a pretty frustrating bunch! An alternate difficulty setting for combat would have been the only answer for their problems, I think.

One element of skill that comes into play when fighting against the Prawn is that you continue to "slide" after running into a pile of Lurg pods. If you turn your ship to face where you think you can hit the Prawn after your turn jets shut down, you can sometimes land trick shots on them. This doesn't really negate the overall problem that Lurg fights indeed don't involve much skill, as great accuracy is wholly unnecessary for any of its counters to beat it, and doesn't really help something like Supox pull off an upset. I think I've beaten Lurg with Zoq-Fot-Pik (two tongue flicks = dead Lurg), and that had to have taken some actual skillful play to pull off, but my memory is hazy so many years out.

and the problem's made worse by the Prawn's relatively short range and slow speed
The prawn's projectile has Druuge-like range, actually. It's not as fast, and it weaves around, but it can tag things pretty far away from it.

which means that it's up to the player to make the "stupid" decision of just rushing in like the next Leeroy Jenkins. Plain and simple, you never want a ship which poses the ultimatum "do this stupid thing or we'll have a stalemate".
"Playing offense" isn't stupid. I made the Prawn to encourage people to try the shieldy ships, and that's what those ships do. Would you say Utwig and Yehat are bad ships too, because Leeroy Jenkins? Beyond that, I don't take umbrage to your general assessment that 1) the end result was bad 2) the ship's design is far too constrained.

Imagine how much better the ship could have been if the ship was small and fast, and the bubbles didn't block shots. It'd have a modus operandi of rushing ahead of an enemy, dropping bubbles, and then with that it could immobilize its target for a short time. This'd make its opponent vulnerable in a similar way to what the Intruder does, except on a temporary basis, allowing the speedy ship to safely attack its target for a short while before having to retreat due to its empty energy banks.
High speed + snares + regenerating crew would be an atrocity worse than the Doog Constructor from SC3. I'm going to assume you would drop the crew regen, because a fast ship with some kind of temporary snare (which seems to be what you're getting at) could be a lot of fun.

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Re: The Lurg Prawn (Project 6014)

Post by Quasispatial » Sat Nov 24, 2018 7:22 pm

Shiver wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:49 am
The prawn's projectile has Druuge-like range, actually. It's not as fast, and it weaves around, but it can tag things pretty far away from it.
It may have a fair max range, but I was talking more about effective range. A slow projectile with long range is fairly easy for most ships to avoid, so after a certain distance, they don't really factor into it much in practice.
Shiver wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:49 am
"Playing offense" isn't stupid. I made the Prawn to encourage people to try the shieldy ships, and that's what those ships do. Would you say Utwig and Yehat are bad ships too, because Leeroy Jenkins? Beyond that, I don't take umbrage to your general assessment that 1) the end result was bad 2) the ship's design is far too constrained.
Whilst the thought may have been good to encourage the shield-ships, it didn't really work out. Shields to not take damage in there doesn't help if you can't fire back anyway - you're just prolonging the inevitable. I wasn't insinuating that playing offense was stupid in general. I was just saying that, against the Lurg, going on the offense was a bad idea, and not only because the bubbles made it so that going on the offense didn't actually work when it came to causing damage. The bubbles just blocked all the shots, and so you mostly just got nowhere.

If you wanted to encourage the shield ships, it's better to do it in a way that isn't detrimental to everyone else. The Podship is an ideal example of a ship that just can't deal with shielded vessels. Something to consider for the future.
Shiver wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:49 am
High speed + snares + regenerating crew would be an atrocity worse than the Doog Constructor from SC3. I'm going to assume you would drop the crew regen, because a fast ship with some kind of temporary snare (which seems to be what you're getting at) could be a lot of fun.
Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about the crew regen entirely. Your assumption is indeed correct. Crew regeneration over time plus high speed would be a nightmare without equal.
"Sentient life. We are the Ur-Quan. Independence is intolerable. Blah, blah, blah." - the Spathi High Council, Star Control II.

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