Author Topic: Potential Gameplay/Balance Changes - Kessel, Puffin, Starkelp  (Read 977 times)

Offline Kesseleth

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Earlier today in the Discord chatroom a discussion took place about potential balance changes to the game in order to increase the level of strategic thinking, make the game more challenging, and allow for more player choice. I compiled the major points of the discussion into a document and am interested in getting feedback - Puffin has noted that it would solve some of the issues brought up in his earlier post about the issues with fleets, and in addition I think the changes would make the strategic layer of AI War 2 more interesting overall. The document is pasted below, due to my desire to avoid Google Drive where possible.

The following document details a set of potential design changes discussed by Kessel, Puffin, and Starkelp. These changes are intended to increase challenge and provide interesting gameplay more in line with the original AI War, while still maintaining the fleet system and its design advantages.

    • 1: Fleet Factories
        ? In addition to a fleet centerpiece and its fleet ships, capturing a fleet gains the player a Fleet Factory. This factory cannot traverse wormholes and as such must stay on the same planet as the fleet was spawned on.
        ? The fleet will cease to recover if the factory is destroyed. New ships cannot be created and the centerpiece, once crippled, cannot be repaired. Possible consequences for the destruction of a Fleet Factory are:
            ? A: Destruction to remains with a significant time before it can be repaired (ie 30 minutes), after which time the factory is repaired, the centerpiece can be repaired, and new ships may be built.
            ? B: Destruction to remains that can be rebuilt immediately, but the fleet receives a level down. Note: This is my personal favorite. -Kessel
            ? C: A combination of A and B, with a time penalty and a level down.
            ? D: Permanent destruction. The fleet can no longer be built, and the centerpiece will die to no remains rather than be crippled. You cannot recover.
        ? Choosing between penalty types may be on the game creation menu or one may be chosen for design purposes. AIP increases may be inserted into any of the four penalty options as needed for balance.
        ? The result is more careful fleet conquering – simply taking any fleet that looks good is no longer an option. All fleet planets must be carefully defended in order to take advantage of the fleet properly. This will reduce the “grab and go” style of gameplay where players head to a planet, grab the fleets and science, and then abandon it to the AI. This will still be possible for science but not fleets, so more defense in depth and conscious planet conquering will be necessary.
        ? Tentatively, the AI will deliberately target planets with Fleet Factories on them. This makes them valuable planets to help distract from the player’s home world and set up whipping boys or similar, but also risky because there are serious consequences if they are lost.
        ? The above could be expanded to other important structures (such as the structure which increases the global turret cap), with serious consequences for loss and deliberate targeting.
    • 2: Rebalanced Golems and Spire Frigates
        ? Currently golems are simply a neat and powerful centerpiece when in Classic they were rare and very powerful. I (Kessel) have not had the opportunity to see any Spire Frigates in play but I hear they too are not as powerful as they might be optimally.
        ? To resolve this, Golems and Spire Frigates should be reworked. Their power would be increased substantially and they would no longer be available in starting fleets.
        ? Golems would come alongside fleets that are significantly larger than fleets for transport ships. Spire Frigates would remain as one-unit fleets but their power would be adjusted to make them significant forces in their own right.
        ? To deal with increased player power, their spawns should be reduced substantially, with only around 4 or 5 of each in a standard map, and possibly less as per balance testing. See “Fleet Rework” for ways to prevent players collecting all of the Golems and Spire Frigates and steamrolling the AI.
    • 3: Fleet Rework
        ? The galaxy creation would be reworked such that only weaker fleets spawn near the player. These are “easy pickings”, so to speak – not very powerful but also not difficult to obtain.
        ? Powerful units such as Golems and Spire Frigates spawn far from the player. This would result in them being difficult to capture in the early game.
            ? The previous points are already in place somewhat, if I recall, but in my (Kessel) current game, it would be possible for a golem to be captured within an hour or so of beginning the campaign, which should no longer be the case, especially in light of Rebalanced Golems and Spire Frigates.
        ? Powerful units such as Golems and Spire Frigates carry serious consequences for obtaining. These may include:
            ? A: An AIP increase on the order of 10 or 20 AIP, or possibly more.
            ? B: A significant exogalactic attack upon activation of a powerful fleet.
            ? C: A combination of A and B. Note: My personal favorite. -Kessel
        ? Tentatively, some additonal possible fleet centerpieces should be added, as a sort of middle ground between the nearby fleets and powerful ones. These would come with a weakened version of the consequences for powerful fleets, such as 1-5 AIP gain and a small exogalactic attack.
        ? All of this is in addition to Fleet Factories.
    • 4: Results in Gameplay
        ? Players will have to be more careful about which fleets they capture, as Fleet Factories mean players must defend the planets the fleets are found on. This helps with the current strategy of grabbing as many fleets as possible and becoming powerful early.
        ? Planets that fleets spawn on will be valuable and important to defend. This is analogous to certain special structures in AI War 1, which gave valuable bonuses but were lost permanently if destroyed. This is either equally harsh or slightly less so, depending on decisions made above, but will help make gameplay more interesting and tactical.
        ? Golems and Spire Frigates will become rare and powerful units, with only a few showing up in every game, but with game-changing impact for choosing to capture them. This, again, makes gameplay more interesting and tactical as it becomes important to choose fleets carefully.
        ? Powerful units being more distant gives a greater feeling of progression as the player may amass more and stronger types of fleets as they explore beyond their starting area. This is important for Point 5.
    • 5: Increased Replayability and Player Choice
        ? The above changes, in particular the changes that Golems and Spire Frigates are more powerful and incur significant AIP to obtain, allows for more varied paths to victory. Broadly speaking, the two main paths would be as follows.
            ? Path 1: The low AIP path.
                • A player may take the “easy pickings” fleets nearest them, which incur no AIP gain, and capture few or no fleets past this point.
                • AIP would remain low throughout the game, but the player would have a fairly limited fleet to work with. The gameplay style would be a guerilla styled hit-and-run campaign  as the player will likely keep captures and AIP to a minimum.
                • This was a common tactic in AI War 1 and the proposed changes would allow its return while keeping changes such as fleets.
            ? Path 2: The high AIP path.
                • Alternatively, a player may choose to amass large amounts of power. This could include capturing every Golem and Spire Frigate on the map as well as many of the less powerful fleets, and potentially some of the middling fleets if they are added.
                • This would cause a very significant increase in AI Progress, likely of several hundred points. The player would gain significant power as a result of these captures but would have to contend with enormous waves, huge threat, and difficult battles.
        ? Other paths would be somewhere in between low and high AIP paths, possibly capturing some powerful fleets but not all, and a variable number of middling or weaker fleets, depending on the map, difficulty, etc.
        ? Fallen Spire, once added, would be a sort of extreme version of Path 2, with AIP reaching three or four times the level seen in Path 2 but with far more Golems and Spire Frigates on the player’s side, and potentially extremely powerful Fallen Spire-exclusive ships.
        ? Extensive balance testing will be necessary for ensuring that, with the changes implemented, neither extreme is at a notable advantage. AIP cannot be so dangerous that it vastly overpowers the added strength from powerful fleets, making high-AIP runs frustrating or borderline impossible. Conversely, the powerful cannot be so strong that the player is merely handicapping themselves by not capturing any, even with the added AIP from fleet captures.

These changes will be presented and possibly implemented depending on reception. Updates forthcoming.

Offline x4000

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Re: Potential Gameplay/Balance Changes - Kessel, Puffin, Starkelp
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2019, 02:10:34 PM »
Thanks for writing all this up!  I am a fan, although I have some changes in mind (mostly minor) based on also having a bunch of other changes that I'm proposing at the same time.  The full list of stuff is now here:

Fleet Factories I called Fleet Hubs just to make it not confusing with the other kind of factories that we have.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline ulu

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Re: Potential Gameplay/Balance Changes - Kessel, Puffin, Starkelp
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2019, 06:16:57 AM »
I would refrain from introducing new units that can be permanently destroyed. Permanently destructible units should occur only on the home planet in my opinion. Loosing an advanced factory in the classic game was almost always a reason to reload and therefore a nuisance. To make it clear that you should not lose the fleet hub, you just give it an AIP of 50 or more.