Author Topic: Defense Tools for the new Power System  (Read 1946 times)

Offline Pumpkin

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Defense Tools for the new Power System
« on: September 18, 2016, 07:35:57 AM »
In AI War II, the energy will be replaced by Power, which is per-planet and only used by immobile defenses. Fine.

* There is ideas for different Power production per planet. I'll keep that in mind as I develop my point.
* We can imagine the per-planet cap for turrets will stay. I won't discuss MkV turrets here, though.
* Let's also keep in mind that fortresses and some other kind of galaxy-cap defenses will stay (mines, tractors and gravity turrets, HBC, etc).
* With local-brownout, the goal of each planet is to protect its own Power generator. That would slightly change the AIW1's dynamic where losing the OCStation doesn't bring the turrets down (only in case of galactic brownout or absence of adjacent supply).

So. Let's imagine what will be the balance of Defense in AIW2. While this might interest only the post-KS development, it will certainly be interesting to look at it before v1.0. Beside, the idea crossed my mind, and I see no reason to not bring it out now.

Provided enough metal investment, every planet will have at least some defenses. But each planet lost (OCStation / Power Generator) will be hard-lost, because of the local brownout. That might be very interesting considering the AI will reconquer planets. However, how to fortify a planet? As AI War as a strong and engaging "galactic tower defense" aspect, allowing players to choose which planet to defend more will be crucial. The core of my concern is there: what will be the tools for the players to play that galactic tower defense game?

If all planets have the same amount of Power, only the galaxy-cap turrets will make a small difference. If Power consumption is equivalent to "strength" for per-planet and galactic-cap units, then they will make no difference at all.

Proposition:

1) Galactic-cap defenses are very Power-cheap.
2) Not all planets have the same available Power: depends on planet type, and players have rare (metal-upkeep or galaxy-cap) per-planet "bonus" Power generators.
3) Return to galaxy-cap turrets.

(I personally don't support (3), but it may be interesting to consider this option.)

Any number of these ideas would make players able to invest something into some planets to enhance their defensive power and make strongholds / wipingboys / chokepoints / etc, and provide them tools to play in the "tower defense" aspect of the game.

However, toping per-planet defense might bring a new meta that is worth looking at. If this model is kept (limited per-planet-defense but everywhere-defense), rename Dire Guardians as Dire Something-Else to imply something more aggressive, make regular waves behave like Exogalactic Strikeforces (one Starship or Dire Something leading the pack and targeting something in particular) and force the players to use in-depth defense with passing/taxing planets, sacrifiable buffer planets, stop-wall planets, etc. The interest of the game would then be to differently use a fixed per-planet amount of Power. The only idea I see to support this is:

1) Every defensive structure has a per-planet cap but an energy cost proportional to its "strength".
Fortresses, FFields, tractor and gravity turrets would have per-planet caps but a higher Power cost and would eat a significant portion of the local "defense slots". Unlocking higher mark turrets would be less interesting than unlocking new turrets. We would see the emergence of "planet load-out" on the forum (things like "full missile + full gravity + 1/2 tractors" or "1 fortress + 2 FFields + full lightning", etc.)

I personally prefer that second approach because it rests upon a difference in kind instead of a difference in scale and supports the new orientation of the design that seems to allow less weight to individual planets.

I would love to hear what the community prefers, and what is Chris' stance on that point (if you have one yet).
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Offline Yavaun

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Re: Defense Tools for the new Power System
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2016, 02:17:52 PM »
Quote
what will be the tools for the players to play that galactic tower defense game?

I wonder that too.

1) The good part of AI war classic's system is that you can "overcharge" key planets with defenses but have to skip on turrets for other planets in return to balance out your power. Indentifying and conquering / actively expanding towards such key planets is a skill and a fun strategy, such is redistributing your resources within your planet network. Some planets become fortresses - others become the eco stations to support them. Is this change aimed at removing all this?

2) If we can only have a default set of defenses on each planet, will we still be able to defenses powerful enough to stop waves on their own?

Regarding your idea to make planets "randomly generate a varying amount of power capacity" (if I got that right) I would prefer a system which lets choose these stats yourself. I can already see myself conquer the perfect and only real choke point on the map just to discover it's energy capacity is absolutely unsuitable for defending it as border world. Man that would piss me off :D

I'd say, one idea they could look into is to have planet upgrades like they have them in SINS, but only the mutually exclusive ones. So for example, you can either specialize your planets in resource production, ship production, or defenses but not all 3 at once. Then again I'm not sure how ship production will turn out.

Galaxy cap turrets might be a solution too but it really depends on how powerful individual turrets are compared to what the AI throws at you.





Offline kasnavada

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Re: Defense Tools for the new Power System
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2016, 04:45:22 PM »
Overall good points.

I'd rather have the command station determine the defense quantities though, rather than something else. I'm fine with planet boosting / reducing its effectiveness though.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Defense Tools for the new Power System
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2016, 12:45:29 AM »
Regarding your idea to make planets "randomly generate a varying amount of power capacity" (if I got that right) I would prefer a system which lets choose these stats yourself. I can already see myself conquer the perfect and only real choke point on the map just to discover it's energy capacity is absolutely unsuitable for defending it as border world. Man that would piss me off :D
Hey, it's not my idea. ;)
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Offline Tridus

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Re: Defense Tools for the new Power System
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2016, 08:11:41 AM »
Overall good points.

I'd rather have the command station determine the defense quantities though, rather than something else. I'm fine with planet boosting / reducing its effectiveness though.

It does seem like a military command station or it's equivalent should be able to support more defenses than an economic one.

I also wonder if power should be solar system wide rather than planet specific, as that gives a smaller scale version of losing a system causing brownouts, without it cascading across the entire galaxy. It also lets you have uneven defense distribution inside the system without that spreading outside the system, so it's somewhat more constrained.

Offline Yavaun

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Re: Defense Tools for the new Power System
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2016, 08:17:58 AM »
Overall good points.

I'd rather have the command station determine the defense quantities though, rather than something else. I'm fine with planet boosting / reducing its effectiveness though.

It does seem like a military command station or it's equivalent should be able to support more defenses than an economic one.

I also wonder if power should be solar system wide rather than planet specific, as that gives a smaller scale version of losing a system causing brownouts, without it cascading across the entire galaxy. It also lets you have uneven defense distribution inside the system without that spreading outside the system, so it's somewhat more constrained.

Well actually it does that already. Not only do you get double damage out of your turrets which depending on your point of view effectively doubles your turret cap but military command stations are essentially a strong translocator + huge tachyon beam turret themselves with a galactic cap of 5 ;)

Offline Tridus

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Re: Defense Tools for the new Power System
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2016, 08:24:20 AM »
Right now they are, yeah. Military command stations in AIWC are awesome. :D

Not sure that continues in its current form or not.

Offline Toranth

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Re: Defense Tools for the new Power System
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2016, 11:26:35 AM »
Right now they are, yeah. Military command stations in AIWC are awesome. :D
Honestly, right now, I never use anything else except during Fallen Spire games.  But although the +100% damage at Mk III and knockback shots are nice, they aren't the reason why.

The reason is the planetary anti-cloaking coverage.  There are so few player usable anti-cloak units, and most of them are terrible or very limited (or both).  Just the ability to guarantee detection of an inbound cloaked AI attacker it worth the 9000K unlock price by itself.  If there was a different turret you could unlock that did the same thing, I'd switch to Econ or Logistic stations pretty quickly.

As an older forum poster used to say:  Military stations are a defensive tool.  Economic stations are your offensive tool.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Defense Tools for the new Power System
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2016, 02:06:08 AM »
I also wonder if power should be solar system wide rather than planet specific, as that gives a smaller scale version of losing a system causing brownouts, without it cascading across the entire galaxy. It also lets you have uneven defense distribution inside the system without that spreading outside the system, so it's somewhat more constrained.
That's an interesting idea. I don't know if Chris would be okay with that set-back in the galactic-energy-mechanism divorce (and I'm not even sure if I am myself), but at least this is very interesting. Let's seriously consider that idea.

Firstly, the variable number of planets would make a variable total quantity of power in a system. Why not: many-planets systems would grant a better total energy (if fully captured). The diversity would be more on the systems than the planets? Why not.

In the case where the whole system is captured, the "hard crust" strategy would be very effective: planets with extra-system wormholes (leading to other systems) would benefit from the excess of power from internal, lightly-defended  planets. That would be the legacy of the wiping-boy / chokepoint strategy. (And I'm okay with that.)

The case where a good part of the system is captured would require a "defense in depth" strategy, I think. Internal wormholes would be too plentiful (depending on the system-map-style, of course) and the total power too low for a hard-crust strategy, but with a clever planet-picking to make less hostile wormholes and more internal planets, the defense-in-depth should be effective enough. (As it would resemble my second proposal with per-planet defense style and composition, I'm obviously okay with that too.)

The case where only a few planets in a system are captured, on the other hand, causes my concern. Power would be very scarce because absolutely no "internal" planet could provide excess power and the number of hostile wormholes would require to spread the turrets thin (or make Kahuna-style defenses but with few energy, leading to a fragile, short-range composition). The extra-low-AIP playstyle (which I'm personally fond of) would be much less viable, I'm afraid.

I think the easier hard-crust strategy and the harder low-AIP-archipelago strategy that this idea might create would be prejudicial to the playstyle richness of the game. If this idea want to survive, I think it might address that one way or another.

TL;DR:
Interesting.
Needs polish.
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Offline TheDeadlyShoe

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Re: Defense Tools for the new Power System
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2016, 07:46:38 PM »
i was thinking about per-system power myself, i think the approach has a lot to recommend it.    Per-planet has the flaw that players will probably always max out their planet power on turrets because the only reason not to is metal spending, but since turrets are usually metal efficient and when you need em you need em you're just going to see every planet maxed out on power.  With per-system, players face hard choices on where to spend their power.  Placing turrets to guard against raiders comes at the cost of reduced 'hard crust' defenses, and a defensive collapse that ravages backline command stations could easily cause a chokepoint to suffer blackouts. 

A hybrid method of effecting such a mechanic would be a 'Power Relay" structure that sacrifices a planet's power to provide system-level power or additional power to nearby planets.

****

Was also thinking about the 'single point of vulnerability' nature of command stations, and blackouts/brownouts in general. It is often pretty irritating that this fragile flower is the only thing that actually matters on a planet.   One way of ameliorating such frustrations might be a 'backup power capacitor' structure that could provide the planet with power (or partial power?)  for a set period of time before discharging, enabling defenses to keep firing for a short time unless the capacitor is also destroyed.

Maybe it could even be a Golem or Starship that can power structures in the absence of a command station. In fact, such a critter would be necessary if 'siege bases' are intended to still be a thing in the per-planet power paradigm.  Although per-system power would solve that problem neatly.

Offline Captain Jack

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Re: Defense Tools for the new Power System
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2016, 08:54:30 PM »
Was also thinking about the 'single point of vulnerability' nature of command stations, and blackouts/brownouts in general. It is often pretty irritating that this fragile flower is the only thing that actually matters on a planet.   One way of ameliorating such frustrations might be a 'backup power capacitor' structure that could provide the planet with power (or partial power?)  for a set period of time before discharging, enabling defenses to keep firing for a short time unless the capacitor is also destroyed.

Maybe it could even be a Golem or Starship that can power structures in the absence of a command station. In fact, such a critter would be necessary if 'siege bases' are intended to still be a thing in the per-planet power paradigm.  Although per-system power would solve that problem neatly.
Hold that thought, it's quite interesting.

Offline kasnavada

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Re: Defense Tools for the new Power System
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2016, 01:31:44 AM »
The back-up idea is a bit flawed... Putting an "alternate" power station that would keep defenses firing for a minute or so has the exact same issues than forcing the player to put multiple power generation buildings in order to power all defenses. This subject was already discussed at length in tome other thread I can't find again.

If I need to protect them both, by putting a forcefield on each for example, the better defensive solution is to put 2 forcefields on the command station.
If the power comes from another planet in the same system, then it would be dumb not to build one everywhere. Supplies took care of that issue with little to no micro-management issues. It's also kind of the point of a "command" station - and it's kind of core to the "what makes AI War what it is" experience to me. If it's not there, the planet falls, whether it's AI or player. I don't think we had a discussion on how supply could work with power per planet though, but it's worth a topic I think.

Maybe it could even be a Golem or Starship that can power structures in the absence of a command station.

This, however, is a very cool idea.

Quote
In fact, such a critter would be necessary if 'siege bases' are intended to still be a thing in the per-planet power paradigm.  Although per-system power would solve that problem neatly.
The per-system idea does not solve this issue, just makes some systems stronger because of map generation (those with higher number of planets / conveniently placed wormholes)... which is a concept I don't like, because it encourages map rerolling. Also, siege bases not usable on other systems ? The only thing it would do is force the player to colonise one planet instead of using the "siege" head structure for the first planet of every system. Kinds of defeats the point.

Offline chemical_art

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Re: Defense Tools for the new Power System
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2016, 02:33:24 AM »
[idea of a golem being a command station de facto]

A not so uncommon bug was that an armor golem would throw waves so out of whack that they would pursue it instead of the actual command station. Never reported it. Too useful ;)
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Offline kasnavada

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Re: Defense Tools for the new Power System
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2016, 03:49:31 AM »
They followed the cursed golem too.
Once I "defended" a planet by setting waypoints to the cursed golem so it turned around the battlefield, round & round & round. All AI ships followed it until death ensued. That was a bug ?

:P

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Defense Tools for the new Power System
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2016, 04:56:33 AM »
i was thinking about per-system power myself, i think the approach has a lot to recommend it.    Per-planet has the flaw that players will probably always max out their planet power on turrets because the only reason not to is metal spending, but since turrets are usually metal efficient and when you need em you need em you're just going to see every planet maxed out on power.  With per-system, players face hard choices on where to spend their power.  Placing turrets to guard against raiders comes at the cost of reduced 'hard crust' defenses, and a defensive collapse that ravages backline command stations could easily cause a chokepoint to suffer blackouts. 

A hybrid method of effecting such a mechanic would be a 'Power Relay" structure that sacrifices a planet's power to provide system-level power or additional power to nearby planets.
Very interesting. I'm not a fan of the hybrid method; I would prefer a true per-system Power. I'm sure that can bring some very neat strategic configuration. AI War has a big towerdef component, after all, and that power mechanisms is central for that matter.

Was also thinking about the 'single point of vulnerability' nature of command stations, and blackouts/brownouts in general. It is often pretty irritating that this fragile flower is the only thing that actually matters on a planet.   One way of ameliorating such frustrations might be a 'backup power capacitor' structure that could provide the planet with power (or partial power?)  for a set period of time before discharging, enabling defenses to keep firing for a short time unless the capacitor is also destroyed.

Maybe it could even be a Golem or Starship that can power structures in the absence of a command station. In fact, such a critter would be necessary if 'siege bases' are intended to still be a thing in the per-planet power paradigm.  Although per-system power would solve that problem neatly.
I'm not convinced by that approach of the problem. If the command station itself feels too fragile, buff it. I think the true problem is that the AI has too few interesting targets to attack when invading a planet. I think that should be discussed in another thread, but right now I'll just point that, with a lower importance on individual planets, I think that's okay to have only one central target per planet. The interesting strategy plays at the higher level, where one planet is indeed one thing in the galaxy. A system will have multiple interesting targets (both for the AI and the players), one per planet. That's why I'm a partisan of a centralized OCStation (controls planet, generates power, fuel, metal, gather knowledge, automatically repair/heal units, etc).
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