Author Topic: Fallen Spire  (Read 1094 times)

Offline Tridus

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Fallen Spire
« on: September 08, 2016, 09:25:20 AM »
Fallen Spire comes up often enough that I figured it deserved its own thread. As a quick recap, lets look at how it worked in Classic. (Some of this also applies to the Exodian Blade, but I have more experience with FS so I'm going to stick to that.)

  • If enabled in the lobby, you get a message in game about a subspace anomaly, and a ship you can build to investigate.
  • If you do that, a series of events starts. Each event gives you a journal entry and an objective. If you do the objective and survive the AI response, you tend to get the ability to do something.
  • As you follow it through, you get the ability to build small Spire ships, then bigger (modular) Spire ships, along with heavily defended (modular) Spire Cities. Cities require you to clear the area around them to grow to their full size, and can't be placed near other cities, so by necessity you take a lot more territory than usual. You need it, given how expensive these things are to build and how much K is required to power them up to their full potential, not to mention all the other stuff you need to fight a full scale war with the AI.
  • This enrages the AI. If you keep going, it gets progressively more and more upset with you. (AI Motherships have a description that specifically mentions this as the reason they'd bother sending one to the Milky Way galaxy.)
  • Following it to its final step lets you build gigantic superweapon ships (Spire Dreadnoughts). Actually completing the final step spawns a pretty awesome alternate victory condition.
  • At any step, you can decide you've gotten enough and simply stop pursuing it further, which puts a cap on just now nuts the AI gets.
  • You get lots and lots of lore.

Now, here's why I think it's great:

Tons of Lore

This is pretty self explanatory. Compared to what came before it, FS is absolutely *packed* with Lore. IIRC, Exodian Blade was added later specifically to be another lore heavy alternate win condition because this was pretty popular (and Exodian Blade did deliver that).

Objective Based Gameplay (aka: Hand Holding)

One of the issues newer players have with AI War is that past the early game, you're kinda left with a zillion things to do... if you know about them. The game has a difficult time with making the best objectives clear, and it's easy to get lost in a sea of "I can do so many things that I have no idea what I *should* do." The objectives screen doesn't help much, because it tends to be a gigantic list.

FS doesn't have that problem. It adds clear, explicit objectives, for people that benefit from that. You can stop doing them whenever you want with no penalty, but if you're not sure what you should be doing next? The FS campaign makes a really straightforward suggestion.

Different War Style

If you follow FS through, you gain progressively stronger ships and defenses, to the point that you can stop trying to avoid making the AI angry and fight a conventional war with it (I like to try and reconquer the galaxy). Some of the journal entries specifically call this out by mentioning that "we survive by avoiding drawing the AI's attention, but the Spire haven't learned that lesson." Some people hate this, because it changes the focus of the game somewhat. And that's totally fair.

Other people love it, because it provides an alternate focus to the game. Bored of playing the conventional way? Turn this on and now you can be a lot more aggressive.

A side effect of this is that the tactical end of ship battles tends to be less important (micro managing your fleet ships to specific posts doesn't matter as much when you have a Spire Fleet that can crack it instead), but because you are bigger and can field more stuff at once, there tends to be more strategic level fleet/empire management. You don't want to just blindly throw everything in, because if it loses, you're in real trouble when the AI retaliates, given how big its response is going to be.

Spire City placement and defensive design is also very important, because they need to protect your empire, given that any attack strong enough to break past a Spire City is probably going to crush whatever is behind it without massive fleet support.

In some ways it's kind of like getting two games in one, given that it's still AI War, but the scale and emphasis aren't quite the same.


So... looking at all that, it adds quite a lot to the game. There's certainly room in AIW2 to do more with the Spire storyline, and with some of the other improvements being made, I think we could see an even better version of it. Performance wise, FS has a tendency to really bog down later on, but the new performance changes would help that a lot.

Hopefully this type of objective based story heavy mode makes an appearance in the sequel. :)
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 09:28:34 AM by Tridus »

Offline chemical_art

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Re: Fallen Spire
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2016, 09:58:45 AM »
FS is by far my favorite part of AI War. However I do think, for now, that it should be part of an expansion rather then in the base game.

The problem is not that it is unpopular, or that the framework needs a major revision.

The problem is that precisely because it is such a major departure from the base game that for it be properly implemented it needs a base game fully created first. The QA time that would take if the base game is already not finished is crazy.
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Offline Tridus

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Re: Fallen Spire
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2016, 06:19:34 AM »
Stretch goal, perhaps? You could do that, aimed at a post 1.0, but pre-2.0 release.

That's also a stretch goal a lotmof people would be excited for.

Offline Captain Jack

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Re: Fallen Spire
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2016, 06:55:50 AM »
Stretch goal, perhaps? You could do that, aimed at a post 1.0, but pre-2.0 release.

That's also a stretch goal a lot of people would be excited for.
A "radically new victory condition" stretch goal would be cool! I don't think Fallen Spire specifically would come back since that story is nicely finished, but we said the same thing about the AI...

Offline Tridus

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Re: Fallen Spire
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2016, 07:01:33 AM »
Stretch goal, perhaps? You could do that, aimed at a post 1.0, but pre-2.0 release.

That's also a stretch goal a lot of people would be excited for.
A "radically new victory condition" stretch goal would be cool! I don't think Fallen Spire specifically would come back since that story is nicely finished, but we said the same thing about the AI...

Fallen Spire II: Because you didn't call on us last time and look what *THAT* got you. ;)

(But yes, I'm really referring to the mechanics of FS rather than the exact story. I don't expect the same story to get duplicated verbatim. It's really about what it offers as a game mode and chance to tell a new story.)
« Last Edit: September 10, 2016, 07:07:23 AM by Tridus »

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Fallen Spire
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2016, 09:48:47 AM »
With the Fallen Spire not being in the canonical story, its possibility is. I mean, the Humans didn't find and save the Spire refugees and didn't start the alliance. But it was a possibility: Entelemaren the Seventh actually crashed in the Murdoch Quadrant, the AI was really fighting the Spire Empire in NGC 224, etc.

...
Right?
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Offline NickAragua

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Re: Fallen Spire
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2016, 07:06:58 PM »
The only game of AI  War I ever actually won was one featuring the Fallen Spire. After spending a bunch of time banging my head against the first AI homeworld, I figured I could do a better job holding off incoming AI swarms while I built up the spire cities. It worked out fine. No spire no sale! Just kidding. But make it an expansion/stretch goal or something.

BTW, the "objective" system needs to make it in, too.