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August 10, 2017

Void Rifts


Void Rifts is an older mutator that causes Void Rifts to randomly appear on the map and spawn enemy units. I'm focusing on it now because on one side, it's a very good mutator, but on the other side it has its problems. When it was released, I considered it as one of the most fun mutators to play against as it rewards multitasking and provide a challenge without artificially making enemy units stronger.



Minimap

Let's start with a technical problem. Players rely on the minimap to see where Void Rifts are, but their visibility on the minimap differs based on the texture settings. On the low setting there are only dots, on medium/high settings there is a small icon and only on the extreme setting we get full minimap icon and good visibility. Gameplay should never be significantly affected by graphical settings and this is an issue. CtG's video showcases this well.



Diversity

The second problem is with its strength. I'm all for a challenge, but Void Rifts alone are harder than most mutations with three mutators. This hurts the diversity. When you sit down and try to think of good mutations with Void Rifts, you find yourself severely limited. You can't add too many mutators without the difficulty spiraling out of control. In CtG's Mutation Database all mutations with Void Rifts are ranked between the most difficult (average mutation - 3.1/5 difficulty, average mutation with Void Rifts - 4.5/5 difficulty). If the mutator was weaker, there would be more possible combinations with other mutators and players could experience it in different ways. As it stands, any combination with even a weak mutator will result in a significant challenge for majority of players.

So what would be good ways to change the mutator? Rather than straight up nerfing unit/voidrift spawn rate, a more subtle change that affects later stages of the game could work. Perhaps a cap for maximum Void Rifts on the map, or more elegantly - increasing the delay between Void Rift spawns as more Void Rifts are active on the map. That way the pressure on early/mid game stays the same, but it wouldn't spiral out of control completely.


Early Game

Early game is often crucial when dealing with Void Rifts. The first Void Rifts spawn at 2:20. If players are unlucky and Void Rifts spawn in places they can't immediately reach— for example deep behind enemy lines—players will most likely lose the game. If Void Rifts spawned at 3:00, more commanders would have options to deal with them as it would line up with hero units spawning. Also, the requirements for position of the rifts should be tighter for the first few spawns. The game already checks how far they are from player's bases, units around, pathing, etc., but players can still get unlucky with their spawn.

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