Author Topic: Warheads in the AIW2 paradigm  (Read 1847 times)

Offline Fluffiest

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Warheads in the AIW2 paradigm
« on: January 02, 2020, 10:30:25 AM »
Warheads are pretty cool, but just straight porting them from AIWC wouldn't work. The way they functioned there doesn't fit with the design of AIW2.

The basic idea behind warheads in Classic was that they're a single-shot weapon that is powerful enough to crack through defences that you would otherwise not be able to deal with at that point in time. To balance this out, they incur a permanent disadvantage for you in the form of increased AI Progress. You can build as many of them as you want, and spend Science to unlock more powerful types, but actually using them is risky because of the AI Progress increase. You might overcome that difficult obstacle now, but lose to the increased AIP later.

I don't think that fits with AI War 2, so I've been thinking about alternative ways to introduce these "one-shot superweapons".

The obvious way is to make them a capturable. You capture a silo just like you'd capture a new fleet; it contains a limited stockpile of warheads, and once you have them there's no penalty to using them. The good thing about this is that it's easy to understand. The bad part is that they might become "too awesome to use" - you get them, and then never actually use them because you think they might be more helpful later on.

An alternative would be to make them something you can hack for. You'd basically go to a planet with a silo and perform a short hack to obtain a warhead. This fits in well with the game's current design, where the existing "temporary edge vs tough planet" things are. On the minus side, it would suck if the hacking response destroyed your new warhead.

The third option would be to make them part of the Outguard.

I think any of these options would work, although I don't really know which I'd prefer.

The second part of warheads is exactly what they do.
  • Explosive warheads are the "lightning warheads" from AIWC. They basically do a lot of damage to everything in a big radius. They hit friendly units too, so you have to be a bit careful about using them.
  • Gravity warheads are a defensive tool. They temporarily immobilize all mobile units currently on the planet, and apply a gravity-generator style slowing effect to everything for a duration of 20 seconds or so.
  • Jammer warheads are designed to let you bypass defences on a particularly tough enemy planet, or get up close to a guard post with a long range. They greatly reduce the damage dealt by all shots for a short duration, and completely disable tractor beams, paralysis, and gravity. They effectively create a short period where ships can fly around with impunity.
  • Parasite warheads apply the "parasite" effect to every enemy unit on the planet. They're the only warhead type that doesn't affect your own unit, but they also don't directly contribute towards killing anything.

I'm leaning away from the old "nuke" warheads, because while being able to blow up a whole system was pretty cool, they were impossible to balance without arbitrary constraints - i.e. making all the high-mark AI units nuke immune. The result was a weapon that was expensive overkill in almost all situations, and was arbitrarily prevented from working properly in the few situations where it really would have been nice to blow up an entire planet.


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