I first started working on this rework in April, with the help of @1galbatorix1. It went through a multitude of revisions, with different power progressions and mechanics. The rework described in this post is the most logical version we could think of.
Let’s begin by listing all of the main issues that Absolver Beam has.
Absolver Beam’s firepower progression has 21 levels instead of the standard 12, complicating balancing in relation to other weapons.
Absolver Beam overperforms against minibosses while having a damage output on the low-end of the bearable range. At the same time, its damage is irrelevant against standard enemies, practically sublimating most of them regardless of power level.
While it deals a ridiculous amount of damage per hit, it has no spread and a very low rate of fire. This makes the weapon not viable for any timed waves (for example, Surfing the Wave, High Speed Chase, etc.).
The first change is to its fire rate - fully charging the weapon takes 1 second instead of 1.8. This aims to help with issue #3 - it can’t be fully remedied (we considered giving the weapon spread at high power, but that would make it either too weak or too strong), but it can be lessened this way.
The width of the beam can also be adjusted. Currently, when fully charged, Absolver Beam is 200px wide. I’d like to propose changing it as follows:
It starts off at 120px on 0, gains 10px per level on 1-10 and gains 20px on 20. It would reach its current width on 8, and would max out at 240px on max power. Different charge levels would scale as well. The uncharged beam is currently 32px wide, it could instead be set to 1/5th of the fully charged beam’s width (so it would range from 24 to 48 pixels).
With fire rate and beam width out of the way, let’s now talk about damage.
To fix the first problem, I suggest the following progression:
At 0, it deals 75 base damage, and gains 70 on 1-10. On 20 it gains 140 damage. Its damage when fully charged is equal to base damage times 20. This gives us 1500 DPS on 0, 15500 on 10 and 18300 on 20 when using the weapon when fully charged.
Since IA said they wanted to balance Absolver Beam alongside Laser Cannon, I think giving Absolver a moderately high DPS isn’t a bad idea. Regarding its overheat, due to overall lower versatility, we suggest 8 fully charged shots before overheating. This can be lowered if it’s decided to be overkill during testing.
To fix the second problem (overperformance against minibosses), I propose splitting the damage dealt equally across struck targets. This would mean that minibosses would no longer be instakilled, while the weapon would largely retain its ability to clear out weaker enemies. Targets like bubbles and feathers would be counted towards that number, making them able to serve as protection to a limited degree. It would also help tone down the weapon’s performance against bosses like Bossa Nova and Apple Core, which rely to a great degree on blocking player shots, therefore limiting their effective damage output.
This is a mechanic I discussed with galbatorix in great detail, because it’s not very straightforward. Actually balancing this out might not be so easy, when we consider bosses that spawn chickens as part of their standard attacks (Egg City, Egg Cannon, Henterprise). After considering multiple options (bosses always taking full damage, enemies spawned by these bosses just not counting towards the number, etc.) we came to the conclusion that it’d be best to just implement the mechanic in its basic form, and only change it if it turns out to be a problem during testing. Theoretically, it should be possible to simply get up close and personal with the boss if the player wishes to avoid hitting chickens.
In case damage splitting doesn’t perform quite as well, it could receive a slight increase, for example by adding 2.5% of the total damage, as described in the table below. This way hitting more enemies would still reduce per-target damage, but would increase the weapon’s total damage output with each next enemy.
Some other stuff I’d like to talk about.
Firstly, I think that destroying projectiles is fine, but I’m not sure if it’d be particularly balanced with a shorter charge time. Either way, I don’t think it should be able to delete lasers, force fields and other similar attacks.
Secondly, at max charge it should have the ability to destroy feathers. And if not, it should have a massive amount of knockback against them.
And now, I’d like to touch on another aspect of the weapon that I feel needs some improvements - its audiovisual design.
I’ll begin with the charging sound.
Out of the three sounds that we had so far, the current one is by far the worst one. You can’t easily tell when its pitch changes (probably because it has pretty much no high-end frequencies), and it can barely be heard in-game, let alone function as an indicator for the charge level.
I’d suggest going back to the 2nd sound, since it best fits the current firing sound (unless you’d prefer to hunt for a 4th sample that might work better).
The current firing sound is, for the most part, fine. There are two things I’d change about it:
Slightly increase the pitch for charged beams. From what I can tell, currently the sound is played at 50% speed when fully charged. I’d suggest increasing that to 60%. This would fix the issue that @youraveragegrant mentioned, of the firing sound seeming “low quality”, which is caused by the rather extreme pitch reduction.
As for the firing sound’s pitch getting lower the higher the power level is, I’d suggest either inverting it (so that it becomes higher in pitch, the same as other weapons) or getting rid of it completely.
An uncharged beam currently seems to have a fade-in effect applied to the sound. I don’t think this sound particularly good. I suggest you reduce its strength so that it just tones the transient down a bit. This would give the firing sound more of a punch without being too harsh.
As for the visual design, the charging effect looks good in my opinion. The beam, however, leaves a lot to be desired.
Aside from that fact that the white-hot beam of destruction isn’t actually white in the slightest, it simply looks boring.
Now, I’ve been trying to figure out a better design that could realistically be implemented. One thing (well, the only thing, really) I could suggest is replacing the current sprite with one that looks more deathlaser-ish, scaling it and layering it over itself a few times. Each of these could be then colored and faded out separately to create the desired effect. If we combine that with additive blend, we could probably achieve a similar effect with only two layers.
We can do this with a single sprite (so there would be no issue of having to store more assets), and it would look way better.
Here’s a simple example of how that could look like:
Since this is mainly subjective, I decided to make a poll. Please vote for whether or not you’d like the look of the beam to be changed.
- The beam looks fine as it is, there’s no need to change it.
- The beam could look better, I think something like this would be an improvement.
And that’s the end of this post. I was going to make one about Lightning Fryer, but in the light of the upcoming reworks, I decided to switch my focus over to the automatic weapons. After a few days of testing, I’ll make a post covering Vulcan, Boron, Hypergun, Riddler, and Photon, any potential issues that exist with their reworks and our solutions to them.