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A way to place more than 5 at a time might very well be enough: something like CTRL + ALT placing 50 at a time would remove the issue with turrets as they don't really need precise placement or a shape more complicated than a big cluster.
Being able to place things in a line a la AIWC could make minefields more appealing: but that's a lot more work and the AI fleetballs can get so ridiculously wide that placing mines in a line might be worse than simply clustering them near the wormhole, so that idea can wait.
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Yeah, You/Arcen are in a rough place these days, no question. I think everyone here wants you to succeed! It's

I think the thing with refleeting is that if it's too easy to refleet the player wins attrition wars, and that's Bad. So if it's time consuming it gives the AI a chance to counterattack if you've lost your fleet (and for the AI to reinforce). If you are trying to refleet and the AI is attacking you and potentially taking out your weaker planets, that's exciting.

But if you're in a spot where you are well-defended and the AI can't do anything to you while you watch netflix and rebuild, well, that's boring. But it also means that you are playing the game "well" (or you're a turtle); your defenses are stronger than the current AIP's worth of AI counterattack ability.

So I'm not entirely sure what to do about that.
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AI War II / Re: My personal issues with Fleets
« Last post by BadgerBadger on Today at 11:51:32 AM »
Can't you just speed the game up for refleeting? It goes pretty quick at 5x game speed.
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AI War II / Re: My personal issues with Fleets
« Last post by Draco18s on Today at 11:19:01 AM »
4. As far as the "Netflix time" goes, I know that was a thing in the first game, and it's something that I always hated and would like to see resolved in this game.  My hope is that having more intermediate goals will make that less of a thing.  But it's also possible that refleeting needs some major rework in some fashion.  Maybe fleet ships cost very little metal to build, and build something like 3x faster or whatever, but then all have an ongoing upkeep cost in metal so that you do still have to keep capturing metal.  That starts overlapping heavily with energy, though, if we introduce metal upkeeps.

Sure, sure. And I don't know what the solution is either. Something does need to happen, but I don't know what would work.
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Thanks for all the kind words, everybody.  I'm just struggling lately in general, with so many emotionally-heavy things going on.  Some of them are very good things in my life, but it's still a lot of emotion.  Other things are hard and things I never thought I'd have to deal with, and I'm still grieving for a lot of things in general.

One of the big things I've been grieving is my financial independence.  AI War 2 doesn't remotely pay the bills yet, and that's very scary.   Arcen's income fell by half compared to even last year, which was already so bad that I had to lay off the last of my staff there.  So far the summer sale is going solidly "meh" at best, and while I wasn't counting on that income it sure would have been nice.  I'm hoping that the game makes a big splash in October with 1.0, and that I can follow it up with a great expansion in Q1 next year and then just keep working on stuff for a lot of years to come...

But if those things don't pan out, then I'm kind of hosed.  I'm personally basically close to $300k in the hole for making AI War 2, despite the kickstarter and all that, and the focus has always been on making sure it's a great game even if it takes a bunch of extra time.  But this has been such a winding road and nobody is ever fully happy, so it can really have me questioning if I even know what I'm doing and should be in this career.  I love this job, but it has cost me a lot in my life (after giving me a lot for a while), and I'm not confident that I can continue to exist doing this fulltime like I have for the last 10 years.  That terrifies me more than anything else right now, because there's not something else that I want to do instead.

Some of what I've been working on while I've been a bit absentee lately has been things that help reduce my expenses and make it more likely that I won't get pushed out.  I don't want AI War 2 to be my last game.  I know I can finish this one one way or the other, but I have no idea what the future looks like after that.  In the past I always had more safety nets, and expenses I could reduce, and if I had to staff I could lay off if it really came down to it.  And it did come down to it, and I lost everybody and everything, but then still the losses continue even beyond that.  I could set up a patreon or something, but I'm not sure there's enough support for that and right now I need to put all the energy I do have into the game itself.  So I guess that's a backup plan for later.

And the reality is that if I'm able to work on interesting programming and/or design problems for some other developer, I could be happy, too.  And so there are probably a number of options I could exercise without being pushed completely out of the industry.  But... I'm really not ready to lose my independence on top of everything else.  A lot of times it feels like my entire life has been steadily stripped away over the last four years, and I just can't let that continue if there's anything I can do about it.

The truth is there's a lot of good things that have also come about in the last half year that would never have happened if I hadn't lost my old life, so I am grateful for that and most of the time try to stay optimistic in general.  But sometimes that facade cracks a bit, and when people say things that reinforce some of my own insecurities (that I don't know what I'm doing, mainly, or that I'll never be able to make the majority of people happy), then that is particularly sapping.

Some of that was probably TMI, but it's just kind of an honest look at where my mind is at right now.  Most days I'm okay, because I just compartmentalize that stuff away.  But sometimes it comes out, particularly when I feel like I'm being dogpiled all at once by a lot of criticism from a lot of people, or when people threaten to leave the game or community because they don't agree with some short-term changes.  I've been... abandoned a lot.  And while nobody owes me anything, and I do want to hear about things like "my playstyle doesn't feel valid anymore, and that makes me very unhappy" or "there are some specific issues that are so annoying that they're making me not want to play," I'd appreciate it if that's paired with "maybe you'll have an idea on how to fix that"  or "I have some thoughts on how to fix that" or "maybe we should discuss alternatives to that" so that I know it's meant to be... building something that you want, not me accidentally alienating someone and them walking out because of that.




Alienating a huge part of the playerbase is definitely something that is on my mind a lot when making so many large changes, but personally I was really hating the game back in April because there was too much tedium and not enough large and interesting decisions.  So I tried to hit the tedium first, and mostly succeeded with that, but accidentally introduced some new forms of tedium.  And then the very latest stuff with "Fleets V3" is aimed at adding more interesting decisions.  The midgame was always barren in AIWC, and that's just not ok there or here.  So I hope to have a flood of more ideas either from myself or you guys on things to capture and do in the midgame and onwards, new hacks to use on the AI, and things like that.  There should definitely be more peaks and valleys in the middle of the game, rather than one long plateau.

I think that there has been some attitude of "well, we never solved that plateau in AIWC, so it probably won't be solved here either," but I think it comes down to being willing to change mechanics (like the new waves stuff) or add extra things to do (like the fleet hubs) that create more of a chance for back and forth in the game.

And then beyond that, the other piece is that we really need to figure out something about refleeting so there aren't these points where you're waiting around for things to rebuild.  Because making you wait for things is stupid on a ton of levels.  I want you to be playing the whole time.  Not just sitting in endless combat, but there should be something engaging your brain in interesting ways the entire time.

<joke>Maybe in order to refleet, you have to play a quick game of Pipe Dream, and when that's done the fleet is back.</joke>

But in seriousness, the problem with refleeting is that it is automated (which is good if it's quick), but slow (which is fine if you have something else to do).  If there was a way to accelerate refleeting by... doing something... that would be potentially very interesting.  Aka, maybe there's some sort of "mission" that some of your big centerpieces can go on by themselves, and if you win that mission boom your fleet is back.  Maybe that costs 1 AIP.

Maybe refleeting in general somehow costs AIP instead of time.  Maybe it's something radical like fleet ships can't be rebuilt over time, and factories go away, but after your full cohort of ships is dead, the AIP goes up by 1 and you get your fleet back as soon as metal allows.  Or something.  That has a whole lot of problems with it, but you get the idea: basically it's trading wall-clock time for instead giving the AI a permanent tiny boost in place of that.

I'd rather have games be 3 hours shorter on average, with you not waiting around for stuff to happen anymore, but instead there being an ever-increasing sense of brinkmanship and danger, where things get more and more tense.  I was never trying to pad out this game or the original game in terms of campaign lengths, and there's no reason to do so (they're plenty long even if you chop 3 hours off).  I want you to be doing interesting things, and have lots of interesting goals all the way through.

A big barrier for new players is also the aimlessness that can crop up in the midgame.  They see ways they can get stronger, but what's really the best path to hurt the enemy?  Having a lot more things that are ways to hurt the enemy should help reduce that sort of feeling, I think.  I remember we lost RCIX from the community back in 2012 or something along those lines, after him being active and instrumental with the game for years, because he just always felt aimless in the middle of AIWC.  It wasn't netflix time -- though I'm sure that didn't help -- it was that he didn't have a sense of what was best to do next in order to advance his agenda against the AI, and so kind of left in analysis paralysis.  After 2-3 years of being super involved in the game, he suddenly revealed to me he'd never actually finished one, and he enjoyed helping with design and feedback via mantis and the forums more than actually playing the game.  And then he was gone.  That always stung quite a bit.  And that's not the only person where something like that happened.

I really hate finding out in a belated fashion that people have been feeling unhappy about something, and they kind of only tell me as a parting message.  If netflix time exists (and I know it does), it must be killed.  If mechanics that alienate you exist, then they must be either revised, made optional, or something along those lines.  I just need people to trust... me, I guess.  That I have your interests in mind at all times, and I'm not off on some crazy vision quest of my own.  The game is inherently sandboxy, and I am trying to some extent to make it all things to all people, which will always be fraught.  But there are enough common themes that I think we can agree upon:

1. If something requires a lot of micro, then that's going to annoy most people.
2. If something requires a lot of waiting around (netflix time), that's bad also.
3. If something requires you to do something you actively don't want to do (play Pipe Dream to refleet?), then that's also bad and/or should be optional.
4. If something makes the meta of the game too simple, then that's definitely bad.
5. If something makes it so that the skill floor is too high for basic play, then you might not feel that's bad, but I absolutely do.
6. If something makes you do the same action over and over again in every game or in a single game, that's bad and boring.

All this fleets rework stuff came about because I was seeing too many things hitting items 1, 4, 5, and 6 popping up, over and over.  To the point that it was making ME not want to play the game and kind of hate it, and so I knew some major changes had to happen.  It had been a long time of hearing complaints from a wide variety of people on related topics to one another, so I kind of compiled those ideas into the fleets stuff and went from there.  But the first implementation of fleets was definitely not something I expected to be the Perfect Final Answer that would get no changes.



I'm a big fan of the tesla changes that Draco18s proposes, and so I've added that to my todo list: https://bugtracker.arcengames.com/view.php?id=21334

For the armor stuff, I agree with AnnoyingOrange that that should be at the very least shelved for now as it might introduce a ton of problems.  It's something we could look at post-1.0, as part of an expansion period or something.



Wow that's a lot of text.  Sorry for the long ramble, but I wanted to thank you all again for your support as well as just make my state of mind and personal position a little more clear.
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We could make it so that you get 1/5th as many minefields, for instance, and make each minefield 5x larger and so that it lasts 5x more times. That probably wouldn't be the end of the world, since those are contact style fields. In fact it might actually make them more useful.

There were a few little problems that made me make mines into single-use. First that damage boosts such as the Military Command Stations affect them, so it was causing weird things like a Paralysis Mine set up to hit 5 times to only hit in 3 or 4, because it's killing itself faster. Second was they had a tendency to start being repaired all the time, so Engineers were rushing to their deaths.

I believe I could make those changes work fine. Just those two issues would return, though they're not the end of the world either. I do like how making them lower in number would allow for reasonable translocation based minefields, without the funny chain reaction madness.

But for turrets, making it so that there are 1/5th or 1/10th as many of those, and they do 5x or 10x more damage and have the same amount more health... we'd easily run into cases where reload times are the big limiting factor, and/or they all start needing multi-shot of some sort.

Agreed...Concussion Turrets would meet that point very quickly. Though maybe even 1/2 would be a big improvement without going too far into those cases?

I can think of one big improvement as a side effect of this: Fewer Grenade and Tesla visual effects. Those can be a bit unpleasant.

I want to note one oddity I spotted - these lines:

"Ok, now there are at least a 60 minefields in the beginning of AI War 2."

"(Visually there could actually be more turrets-> as there are 5 currently visually on a single count)"

These are Pre-Fleets things. Turrets don't show up in groups in a single unit anymore, and you don't start with Minefields on every planet either, though you do have more real Turrets and Minefields when you start capturing Battlestations.

Maybe some of these thoughts could be applied to Strikecraft? Fewer but better? Not to the degree of 1/5 or 1/10 though I would think. That'd help with a space problem maybe (the sheer number of units all running decollision logic) and the feedback that they're very chafty.
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AI War II / Re: My personal issues with Fleets
« Last post by x4000 on Today at 10:27:42 AM »
Hey all!

Running around like a madman the last couple of days, and that's likely to continue for the next couple.  Blah.  I also slept extra yesterday after being up until 2:30am working on the latest release, then having to be up at 7.  I'm too old for that stuff.  :P

Various topics:

1. Instigators being always on is good, I'm not sure how I missed that.  It looks like in svn those have already seen some important buffs, which I'm glad about.  I agree with the idea of those being something that are more scary like the svn changes make them, but not something that you have to drop everything this very instant to deal with (giving the player a ramp-up time to deal with them as they have time is good for not making this a time management game all of a sudden, heh).

2. Really glad that you're liking the proposed changes, Puffin -- I'm definitely pleased with all the new hacking opportunities, too.  The idea for the waves was something that came about directly from your complaints, so definitely keep those coming.  When there's something that is just low-level unsettling and feels slightly wrong about some mechanic, sometimes it pops to the forefront of our minds and other times it just keeps being an uneasy thing.  I'd always like to hear about those, because often there's something that we can at least try to do that would make it better.

3. As for the negative vibes, I know the spirit that they were said in, and I totally get it and don't hold a grudge or something.  I'm just... emotionally redlining it these days, so I don't have a lot of extra capacity and it leaves me feeling a bit more fragile/vulnerable than usual.  It doesn't mean I don't want criticism -- far from it, that would be terrifying as the game would come out terrible without constructive criticism and identifying pain points .

But I'm just... really in need of knowing that people are on my side in the sense that they trust me to work with them on problems, and that people aren't going to be ragequitting the community/game because of something that is temporarily not the way they want.  I know that's not really what you were directly saying, and I'm not trying to make you feel bad at all in return either, but that's the sort of place my mind goes right now just because I'm really feeling overwhelmed and also worried about the future of this game, Arcen, my ability to be a game developer, etc. 

Right now it's entirely possible I could be forced out of this industry if things don't turn around.  And yet I'm having fewer hours to work because of all those other life stuff, and extra parenting (which I love but which is also cutting into my work time in a major way), and so that's very disheartening in a completely other fashion.  I'll get through it, but it's just a matter of every day I kind of have to mentally steel myself for getting whatever I need to do done.  It will be easier after the move, which is good.

4. As far as the "Netflix time" goes, I know that was a thing in the first game, and it's something that I always hated and would like to see resolved in this game.  My hope is that having more intermediate goals will make that less of a thing.  But it's also possible that refleeting needs some major rework in some fashion.  Maybe fleet ships cost very little metal to build, and build something like 3x faster or whatever, but then all have an ongoing upkeep cost in metal so that you do still have to keep capturing metal.  That starts overlapping heavily with energy, though, if we introduce metal upkeeps.

5. Puffin, as far as things that you could potentially work on... I'm a bit concerned about the economy (metal and energy income, specifically) at the moment.  I'm not unhappy with how much things cost, or the falloff in costs on lower-mark ships.  I think that's all good.  But those things, paired with the buffs to let things like command stations be upgraded by science, and upgrade in general as of the EXP updates to the game... I think that players are now too rich, and have less to spend it on than before.

My thought is that we just need to tone down how much energy collectors and command stations generate at mark 1, and possibly the same with the metal generators.  Versus making any changes to ships.  Then the ZPG is an obvious "wow that's a ton of energy" thing again, and players are encouraged to take more planets, etc.  But I don't really know how much to reduce these things by.  I wonder if the discord crowd or forum crowd has some thoughts on that.
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This is something that I thought was worth discussing, and I've put it on mantis: https://bugtracker.arcengames.com/view.php?id=21333

It was brought up in a response to one of the recent blog posts, so I just copy/pasted there.

The tedium of placing turrets and minefields has come up a number of times, so I totally get that's a thing, but I'm positive that there's no way that complicated build patterns are going to fit into my dev schedule prior to 1.0 even if I were to cut multiplayer until 2.0 or something.  There's just no time for that, and that sort of thing is super time-consuming.  So it comes down to potentially having fewer but more effective turrets and minefields, and that's something that needs discussion before I just make a change like that.

Cheers!
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Having read all of that I begin to wonder...
What if tesla effects had their damage scale up as there were more targets.

(Numbers arbitrary)

1 target: 0% damage
2 targets: 20% damage (to each)
10 targets: 100% damage (to each)
50 targets: 200% damage (to each)

The idea being that electricity requires that it conduct in order to actually hurt you. You can grip a high voltage wire all day....until you touch something else with a lower potential for the electricity to form a path through you. That's when it burns.
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I'm rusty on my memory of how these systems worked in the two games.  Can you give any added thoughts on these?  Is part of the reason you're saying multi-shot is equivalent is the fact that the multiple shots can only go to one target per shot, and not stack a bunch of shots onto a single target in AIW2 if they don't have enough targets to sink all their shots into?

I'm saying it's perfectly equivalent gameplay wise.
Let's imagine you have a tesla ship with these stats: its area of effect weapon will do 2000 damage per target, to up to 20 targets in range, in a range of 10000 from the ship itself, and its reload time is 2 seconds.
Now let's take a multishot ship with these stats: it has 20x2000 multishot, so it hits up to 20 target in range, each one of them for 2000 damage, its weapon range is 10000, and its reload time is 2 seconds.
Those two ships are functionally identical: not similar, 100% identical.
There is no situation in which one of the two would do more damage than the other, or even distribute the damage in a different way.

I don't think the AIWC multishot would work well without damage mitigation via armor, in most cases it would be identical to a single big shot with the combined damage of a whole salvo gameplay-wise while being worse performance-wise.
In theory, diminishing returns if multiple shots are fired on the same ship could change this, but I would expect it to be far too taxing on the CPU.
I'm not sure armor mitigation is a good idea to bring back either, it would require a ton of work and might very well not work out.

In any case, these are minor issues in my opinion: I mostly mention them to see if anyone has clever ideas about those.

I personally like the current multishot system, since I think it keeps design space open better. However, just to toss a few ideas for differentiating things:

Multishot is allowed to have up to 10% of it's shots hit the same target (So if a multishot 20 ship comes up against 20 ships, it hits each once. Against 15 ships, it hits them all once, and then the first five again. Against 10 ships it hits them all twice. Against 5 ships it still hits them all twice. (Having said that, 20% of all shots on one target might be better). Then multishot is a little more flexible but still keeps a distinct design space. If all the shots are still doing the same damage, it should be possible to keep that as having a very low performance hit, I would think?)

True tesla effects are quite rare and short range... I wonder if you could do something interesting with them. Maybe they hit for variable damage and a short variable paralysis hit? Say, if 1 ships is in range, they hit for maximum damage and paralysis. If 10 ships in range, they hit for their maximum damage and paralysis duration to all 10. If 50 ships in range, they hit 20% of their maximum damage and 20% paralysis duration? If more than 50 ships in range, hit the first 50 for the 20% values? Or perhaps have the minimum damage at 40%, so they are scaling up in terms of total damage dealt as we go from 10->50, even though per ships is going down?  My concern with slowly adjusting values like that is that there would inevitably be breakpoints in effectiveness as things scale.
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