Author Topic: Defense Mode  (Read 1652 times)

Offline Burnstreet

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Defense Mode
« on: November 10, 2012, 09:18:27 PM »
I just played a game of defender mode - 7/7 experimentalist/tag teamer, 8HW, snake map (40 planets), 60 min.

It's balance seems to be in urgent need of tuning.
I won, but only by using a bug I noticed half-through: killing a carrier on a planet with many AI ships (I think 1000+) removes its contents from the game, 0 ships are deployed. (see first attached screenshot)
My setup was below the recommended number of HWs and could have reduced wave strength compared to the recommended setup of 10 planets.
In terms of strength it cost me 6000K and some m+c, though that had never been a problem.

First wave came after 3 minutes and consisted of 1-2k MK2 ships, which I was able to kill quite fast thanks to t1-t4 autombombs and doomshrooms.
I concentrated all my defenses on the entry world.
Waves continued every 3 minutes.
Around the 40min mark I got 10k+ MK3 ships (sometimes including 1k MK3 Z Elec Bombers) per wave.
In order to be able to win this you have to kill every wave up to 5-10 min before the end with enough time to rebuild and regroup.
I don't think it is possible to kill 11k MK3 ships without superweapons with fleet/def worth about 60000 K in below 3 minutes. If it is, please tell me, how :)

After 30 minutes I was done building, I had spent all my K and built everything I could. Everything after that was just microing my forts to kill the carriers and rebuilding my engies/rebuilders manually because automatic rebuild did not happen often/fast enough. m+c i had plenty.

With these big waves, at the end I got 10-20 carriers per wave, which were a problem by themselves because I hadn't activated "auto-target carriers" and they were all flying on top of each other, so I had to target the topmost, wait for it to die, target the next one...

I also noticed some strange things:
- autobombs and doomshrooms seem to need some time after being produced before being able to reach their full speed. Is this intended? This leads to a funny queue of units coming out of the factory (see second screenshot)
- in the third screenshot my bombers seem to shoot from super-range after moving them out of the battle. I guess they still had locked their targets and didn't reevaluate the range. The game was running a bit slow at that time.

Offline Lancefighter

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Re: Defense Mode
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2012, 09:38:46 PM »
I'm kinda wondering if this bug also contributes to the desync issue I've been noticing recently. Odd..

Sorry, pointless comment. Carry on.
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Offline Aeson

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Re: Defense Mode
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2012, 01:10:30 AM »
- autobombs and doomshrooms seem to need some time after being produced before being able to reach their full speed. Is this intended? This leads to a funny queue of units coming out of the factory (see second screenshot)

It might be hard to notice, but all ship types require some amount of time after leaving the spacedock to accelerate to full speed.

It's balance seems to be in urgent need of tuning.

I'm not sure if you know this already, but the win condition in defender mode is to still have at least one remaining planet when the clock runs out, not necessarily to have all homeworlds remaining. Therefore, delaying tactics to trap enemies or slow them on worlds that you don't (or can't) control could be quite helpful. At least, assuming you can keep anything on those worlds.

As long as any world remains under your control when the countdown finishes, you've won.

Also, there is a 'Defender Mode Strategy' subforum, though it doesn't seem to be too popular.

Offline zoutzakje

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Re: Defense Mode
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2012, 07:59:33 AM »
I remember Keith saying a while ago that he's still thinking of a way to make defender mode more interesting/balanced, but I could be wrong.
http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,10328.msg100587.html#msg100587

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Offline Burnstreet

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Re: Defense Mode
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2012, 09:56:14 AM »
- autobombs and doomshrooms seem to need some time after being produced before being able to reach their full speed. Is this intended? This leads to a funny queue of units coming out of the factory (see second screenshot)

It might be hard to notice, but all ship types require some amount of time after leaving the spacedock to accelerate to full speed.

Maybe it was more noticable because of the high speed of this units but other ones did not seem to show this behaviour.

Quote
It's balance seems to be in urgent need of tuning.

I'm not sure if you know this already, but the win condition in defender mode is to still have at least one remaining planet when the clock runs out, not necessarily to have all homeworlds remaining. Therefore, delaying tactics to trap enemies or slow them on worlds that you don't (or can't) control could be quite helpful. At least, assuming you can keep anything on those worlds.

As long as any world remains under your control when the countdown finishes, you've won.

Also, there is a 'Defender Mode Strategy' subforum, though it doesn't seem to be too popular.
My post wasn't about defense mode strategy - I just wanted to present my experience with it.
I don't think currently there is a non-bug using strategy to win this mode in 7/7/60 because you would need about three times the firepower I had available while not incurring big losses to be able to win it in it's current balance. Feel free to prove me wrong :)
Defense in depth does not help much here, I needed 5-6 waves to build everything I could and if concentrating all firepower in one  place was not enough, spreading it over multiple systems wouldn't have helped.

Ignoring the balance issue, I also found it to lack variety. Waves most of the time consisted of the triangle ships, mostly a mix of them because of 4 warp lanes, later adding N Commandos and Z Elec Bombers. Only the teleporting leeches in the second last wave made it more interesting.

After about 30 minutes I had built all I could, all I could do now was rebuilding, some micro and hoping for the best. Activating the Z Trader would have prolonged this a bit, if it does work in this mode, but I don't think it shoudl be required.
Maybe it would be a good idea to give the player some goodies after each successfully defended wave:
- some K, maybe spawn a spire archive on one of the bordering worlds or increase it directly like its done with the AIP
- a golem
- some asteroids
- some levels / unlocks for the shadow ship
- something else

For more variety, one could
- add some spice to the waves:
-- starship-only waves
-- boss waves containing Golems, Spireship or HKs
-- smaller counter-style waves

Offline LaughingThesaurus

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Re: Defense Mode
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2012, 12:01:37 PM »
Several units in the game, mostly very fast ones, do seem to accelerate all the time for me. The biggest example I'm thinking of are scouts. Try ordering em around in circles, and compare that speed to when you first started moving em.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Defense Mode
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2012, 12:07:13 PM »
Honestly I think Defender Mode is simply unfinished, it just never got very much attention after it was implemented.  But the lack of attention has come from both us and the players, so it kinda balanced out ;)  And I don't think I've seen a single person say that LotS wasn't worth the $10 (5, nowadays) so I didn't worry about it.

But over the past few months one of the things I've really been wanting to do is completely redo defender mode into something a lot of our players will actually want to play.  On the other hand, I have limited time and people seem much more interested in other areas of improvement.
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Offline chemical_art

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Re: Defense Mode
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2012, 12:56:59 PM »
I think part of what would make defender mode more interesting would be scaling waves and timing:

-The first waves hit sooner and more rapidly, but are weaker
-As the game progresses from around 20% to 80% of the game time the trend is the waves come less often, but is more then made up for they gain strength and more powerful units (guardians, golems, etc.)
-During the last 80% the wave strength further improves, but waves start coming faster over time in addition to being stronger
-The last 5% is the AI lobbing waves almost as fast as the start of the game.
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Offline orzelek

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Re: Defense Mode
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2012, 04:38:03 PM »
The "only way" to redo the defender mode is to change it into a tower defense through galaxy or something like that. Make player resources limited and fight for each planet separately in some way. But thats only a dreamy and vague idea :D

Offline Lancefighter

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Re: Defense Mode
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2012, 05:39:40 PM »
Silly thought - What about something along the lines of 'after waves start, you cant touch anything'? For instance, I set up this defense for x time, and then have to purely wait and let it finish...

I dunno if its actually going to make anything more interesting, but the idea is more that if I continually build my defenses in this way on this map, it will consistently 'beat' the ai... Yeah. I'm not really sure where I am going with this.
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Offline LaughingThesaurus

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Re: Defense Mode
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2012, 05:43:30 PM »
It seems that it'd be a deeper, more interesting experience when you're allowed to rebuild very slightly between waves and remaneuver. It adds a sense of complete chaos and frantic preparation, that way. I've always hated completely hands-free defense games, and always will, because there's simply nothing to manage or think about after everything's ready... apart from I guess clicking each upgrade button in order of strategic importance.

Offline Lancefighter

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Re: Defense Mode
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2012, 05:59:39 PM »
Think about it more on the sale of gratuitous space battles - You set up everything, give orders, and you press start, and see if it works.

I can understand the other side too, but I am not really sure what else there is to *do* after the waves start?

I could probably see the other way too - As long as each wave is separated, such that I should have time to fully rebuild (excepting colonyships, I dont think you can actually build in this mode), with each wave getting successively stronger and stuff.

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Offline LaughingThesaurus

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Re: Defense Mode
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2012, 06:19:13 PM »
I'm thinking in terms of like, Orcs Must Die 2. I think that game's really fun, but I typically hate the defense kinds of games. But, why it's very fun is partly because you can play in such a way that it's mostly you doing the defending, or mostly automated with traps, or a bit of both... and no matter what, you're always frantically running around setting stuff up and holding stragglers back and finishing them off and trying to not die. Obviously, AI War's an RTS, but it'd be a similar principle. The waves come no matter what you do, after set times. You're frantically setting up defense and moving around as you need to in order to not die all the way. If you lose some defenses, you'd best hope that you can rebuild in the bit of time you get between waves.... or give your engineers enough cover and divert the enemies as you can to cover for rebuilding turrets. That kind of gameplay is more interesting to me.

I dunno, Gratuitous Space Battles mode would be its own unique experience as well, particularly if the systems were in such that you could set priority lists and retreat orders and kiting orders and stuff. It's almost like we're comparing apples and oranges here. You're defending, either way, but the style of the gameplay of both ideas are completely opposite.

Offline Marmu23

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Re: Defense Mode
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2012, 07:04:09 PM »
I don't think currently there is a non-bug using strategy to win this mode in 7/7/60 because you would need about three times the firepower I had available while not incurring big losses to be able to win it in it's current balance. Feel free to prove me wrong :)

Steps for defender mode win:
- Start with gravity 3 + all the heavy beams + decloak, + counter missiles, put them on wormhole into your planets that is covered by a shield 3
- Build all the other turrets
- Build all the other shields
- It is now between 20 and 30 minutes, game might be over if short game, if not:
- Build trader tools: first armor remover, then radar mk2, then armor booster
- Build fortresses
- Build ships

 This wins against almost all opponents save some combinations that include spire ships, shield bearers, electric shuttles, and bombards.

edit: here's a save that's pretty much guaranteed to win since the AI didn't get any of the problematic ships. You'll note the large number of trader items on my choke point, but with no trader enabled i would be building instead more fortresses for a similar result.

edit2: looks like to make up for having the trader enabled i forgot to disable hard golems and hard spire. I attached a second save just before the big confrontation when the 2 exos escorted by 90k ships collide with my trader enhanced choke point. If you wanna try it out, fortresses must be told to focus hunter killers and golems or it will be a quick loss.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2012, 07:58:50 AM by Marmu23 »

Offline Pluto

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Re: Defense Mode
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2012, 11:36:07 PM »
When I think of this game mode, I'm thinking more along the lines of tower defense...  you get a set amount of start resources, you get resources for each ship you kill (a proportional amount to their value), at the end of each wave, you get a bonus (say, knowledge, for example, or a large influx of resources).

Just in the variation of units, AI's, etc, that simple setup could be interesting.