Author Topic: [AIW2] [EXP] Lurking Corruption  (Read 1040 times)

Offline Pumpkin

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[AIW2] [EXP] Lurking Corruption
« on: May 25, 2016, 07:25:04 AM »
Summary

This is a proposal for an expansion-like collection of new mechanisms, ship types, minor factions and plots. They are built around the theme of a disease affecting the Neinzuls and its various effects.

This exp-like originally had more content (mechanisms, plots, MF, etc) but was split in two because of lore disparity. The second one ("Space Gardens") is in progress. Currently, only one mechanism, two plots, and some new ships is rather poor. I may add at least one new MF in this corruption theme, eventually.

Lore

There is a disease, a sort of virus or parasite, that affects Neinzuls and their special hive-mind. Many Neinzuls consider this disease as a bad things, but some "corrupted" enclaves consider it a symbiote and accept it. This parasite/symbiote, while altering the "mind" of an enclave, also gives it some powers, like the affinity with the cloaking ability.

Some Neinzul communities just ignore this disease (like the roaming enclaves of the base game), some accept it (like the Shadow Lodge), some strongly reject it (like the Zealots), some are totally corrupted by it (like the corrupted templars).

New Mechanisms

Clear Sight

This is the same ability as the counterspy eyes: the unit having this perk is able to "see" cloaked units. It can move toward them in FRD mode and fire at them while they are cloaked.

New Units

These are regular, new fleet ships that players and AIs may unlock.

Neinzul Youngling Crow

The name is a twist on the Neinzul custom to have animal's names (goat, tiger, vulture, shrike, etc). This youngling have cloaking and cloaking super-booster x1 (the ability to cloak uncloaker ships), alongside some unremarkable (near useless) weaponry. For a balance purpose, they may also have the "blind" perk.
The idea came after reading on the wiki that the cloaker starship is the only ship to have cloaking super-booster.

Neinzul Youngling Assassin

This youngling has cloaking and fusion cutters, and is immune to force fields. And maybe have cloaking booster x1 and "blind".
Except the suicidal nanoswarm, there were no close-combat youngling.

Tachyon Hunter

In response to the Neinzul Shadows Lodge exaction, the AI has been developing this oversized version of the tachyon microfighter. Ship cap 24 (or maybe 5 and the starship status), powerful ship mounting multi-firing short-range missiles and emitting large tachyon field. Immune to instakill, have tachyon beam emission (range scale with Mark), and the new "clear sight" ability.

Minor Faction: Neinzul Shadows Lodge

Overview

Some Neinzul enclaves have been corrupted by the disease but have managed to turn it into a symbiote. They gained the affinity with the cloaking ability without loosing their hive-mind. But there is a Neinzul faction that considers this disease dangerous and doesn't believe it can be safely turned into a symbiote. This MF is based on this Neinzul internal struggle.

Mechanisms

A Neinzul Shadow Enclave (NSE) has personal cloaking and spawns only cloaked younglings (shrike, crow and assassin).

Choice

A hidden, random timer (which average delay shrinks as MF intensity increases) occasionally spawns a neutral, uncloaked NSE at a random, human-controlled planet. In a journal entry, a xeno scientist explains this is a submissive gesture and demand for protection in the Neinzul shadow community. A timer displays "Shadows Enclave protection on [planet_name] provoke Zealot Enclave attack in [timer]". The journal entry explains that the Zealots are a Neinzul community hostile to the shadow lodge. The player may attack and destroy the NSE before the end of the timer or wait for the Zealots and defend the NSE.

Alliance with the Shadows

At the end of the timer, if the NSE is at full life, it becomes allied to humans, reactivates its cloak and spawns a swarm of cloaked younglings. Some Neinzul Zealot Enclaves (NZE) spawns at the edge of the planet's gravity well, hostile to humans. They spawn Zealot Younglings that have the special "clear sight" ability and target the NSE.

If the NSE is destroyed, Zealots will continue to attack humans until destroyed. If all the NZE are destroyed, the Shadow Enclaves joins the pool of friendly enclaves.

A friendly NSE will follow allies' orders like a regular roaming enclave, but when allowed to attack on its own, will roam the galaxy and target only tachyon sentinels and other tachyon emitting units.

Alliance with the Zealots

If the NSE is attacked before the end of the timer, it will turn hostile toward humans, reactivate its cloak and spawns a swarm of cloaked younglings. Some Zealot Enclaves will spawn at the edge of the planet's gravity well, allied to humans, targeting the NSE.

If the players help the Zealots enough, the NSE will die first. The remaining Zealots will then pick and adjacent AI planet, clean it, move out of the gravity well and disappear in deep space.

If the players don't help the Zealots, they'll be killed by the NSE which will remains cloaked on the same planet and continue to release cloaked younglings hostile to humans until destroyed. Without the clear sight ability of the Zealots, killing the NSE might be an interesting challenge.

Future Spawns

When a NSE asks for protection while other NSE are already befriended, they will ignore allies' orders and gather in the targeted planet around the newcomer. Quantity of incoming Zealot Enclaves depends on the number of already befriended enclaves, but Shadow Enclaves are underwhelmed if they are few and overwhelming if they are many.

For example (must be tested and adjusted to MF intensity), the number of NZE might be X/2+3 where X is the number of already befriended NSE. The first NSE will be attacked by 3 NSE; 6 NSE will be matched by 6 NZE and more NSE may defeat Zealots without human support.

However, if the newcoming NSE is attacked, all previously friendly NSE will turn hostile.

Alternative Idea

The number of NZE is N times the number of already friendly NSE, where N may be between 1.5 and 3 (scaling with intensity?). This way, protecting NSE is easy at start be becomes harder and harder with time. The players might have better firepower in late game and be able to continue defending newcoming Shadow Enclaves, or they may chose to change their mind, help the too powerful Zealots killing the Shadow Enclaves and trade their continuous support of NSE for a big, one time help of the Zealots.

Another idea is to remove the behavior of the NSE to help each other each time a new NSE ask for protection. Previously befriended NSE won't turn hostile because one new NSE is killed. The Zealots don't grow in power and each NSE asking for protection is its own, local choice. Less lore-coherent and maybe less strategically interesting.

Integration

Lore Integration

Resemble the roaming enclaves. Supports the disease theme. Offer moral choices.

Strategic Integration

Not different enough from the roaming enclaves? The increasing response of the Zealots might pose an interesting challenge in late game.

Programming Integration

Reuses the roaming logic and allies control of the Roaming Enclaves.

Play Tests

Test MF intensity influence and the balance of the increasing response of the Zealots.

Minor Faction: Neinzul Temples

Overview

Motivation

The goal of this MF is to provide a loreful, gameplay-twisting and engaging task for the player to fulfill, smoothly blending with the gameplay-landscape of AI War. Many MF already do that (and they do that very well: Fallen Spire, Showdown Devices, Exodian Blade, Nebulae...), however they nearly all tend to push the game to a higher power level. AI War, in its "vanilla" experience (if there is such experience in AI War), is a game about dealing with a powerful foe with sneaky and sharp strategy. I want to give it a MF as loreful and engaging as the previous ones, but at a low power-level that would blend even smoother with the average experience.

Lore Overview

Some Neinzul have a religion. There are space temples and pilgrimages. Unfortunately, the temples in this sector of the galaxy have been corrupted with the disease that is at the heart of this expansion-lite. Corrupted templars attack a Neinzul Peregrine Enclave, and humans/players can help it face the corrupted Neinzul and cleans the temples. Saved templars will in exchange help the players against the AI.

Mechanisms

Seeding

Neinzul Shrines are structures seeded across the galaxy (with a tendency to spawn away from human and AI home worlds). The quantity seeded might depends on the MF's intensity. I/2 (2 shrines at intensity 4) sounds a good starting point for testing. The Neinzul Peregrine Enclave (NPE) is unique in the galaxy but if destroyed a new one spawns somewhere after half an hour or so.

Default Behavior

The NPE peacefully roams the galaxy from shrine to shrine (in a way similar to astro trains with stations and special forces with special guard posts). Neither AI or Human can attack it.

Each time the NPE reaches a shrine, the NPE halts and waits for complete regeneration if not already at full heal, and then starts praying. If humans have a scout at this planet or control it, they are warned with a message like "Peregrine's prayer is waking up Corrupted Templars at [planet_name]". The first time players see that, a journal entry is sent to them (sent by a xeno-scientist), explaining several things. First, this enclave has younglings inside but they never go out. The enclave is currently "singing", which is the Neinzul's mean of communication, and this "song" matches a sort of prayer already identified from previous Neinzul encounters. There are also a lot of cloaking units detected in this planet, following an aggressive course toward the NPE.

Neinzul Corrupted Templars (NCT) spawn and attack the NPE. Neinzul Templars are mature Neinzul organisms that reached biological immortality by a constant renewal of their cells. They have a short-range, multishot, high rate-of-fire shell weapon which is fairly efficient against swarming ships such as younglings. Corrupted Neinzul Templars have the cloaking ability at the expense of a slightly lower speed.

When the NPE has less than half its max health, it retreats to a nearby planet. The NCT then change their order for an attack-move toward the temple: they will finish their fight and, if they survived it, will join the temple and despawn.

Helping the Peregrin Enclave

If all the NCT are destroyed before the NPE's health drops below half, the "prayer" completes and the Shrine activates: a shrine spawns (it is supposed to uncloak) on a random adjacent planet and the players receive a journal entry. This journal explains the shrines and templars have been corrupted by a Neinzul-specific disease; the NPE is able, provided enough time and protection, to cleanse this disease and activate the shrine, which is a stepstone leading to a secret Neinzul Temple. The players are free to further help the NPE until it reaches and cleanses the temple.

The NPE will continue to roam the galaxy from shrine to shrine, beginning with the new, adjacent one, giving the opportunity to players to immediately follow this "quest". After a number of chained shrines that depends on the MF's intensity (I/2, tweaked accordingly to tests), a successful prayer reveals a Neinzul Corrupted Temple (NCT) on a random adjacent planet instead of another shrine.

Cleansed shrines are completely inactive. Gameplay-wise, they could be destroyed upon cleansing, it would be the same. Capturing their planet or not is neither a good thing nor a disadvantage.

Temple Cleansing

The NPE will treat a temple like a shrine, but the event triggered by its prayer is different. Instead of a one-time spawning, there are a countdown and a periodic spawn of a batch of NCT. The frequency of this spawn and the number of NCT spawned depend on the MF's intensity. The NCT have a move-and-attack order toward the NPE: they will stop to attack players' ships in between, but won't chase distant targets.

The NPE won't retreat during a temple's special prayer. If the NPE is destroyed, the prayer is interrupted, the corrupted templars are loose and a new NPE will spawn after a random timer. These NCT will attack all human and AI ships on the same planet and retreat (despawn) only once all targets has been destroyed. They won't go for other planets, though.

Reward

If the countdown reaches zero, the prayer ends and the Temple is cleaned. All NCT turn into friendly Neinzul Templars (they lose their cloaking ability and gain a slight speed boost) and the players receive a journal entry: the xeno-scientific team just received and translated a message from the cured templars. They deplore the lose of their friends and express their gratitude; they offer to help humans in their onslaught against the AI by personally defending their territory and allowing them to recruit templars.

The more corrupted templars were spared, the more the players get friendly templars. They have the same behavior as the dyson gatlings or the resistance fighters and patrol accessible players' territory. Moreover, each player receive a Neinzul Templar Garrison, which spawn next to the temple. These garrisons allow players to build some Neinzul Templars under their control. Each garrison increases the cap of this ship, in a similar way the Fallen Spire's shipyards do. The garrisons themselves are permacloaked: the planet doesn't need protection but the newly built templars would spawn there, potentially in enemy territory (and they are not affected by human warpgates).

Integration

Lore Integration

Neinzul are known to "sing" as a mean of communication. We know some other mature Neinzul organisms: Railpods and Scapegoats.

Strategic Integration

Programming Integration

Shrines, Corrupted Temples and Cleaned Temples are displayed by the "Immobile Minor Faction" galaxy filter. The Neinzul Peregrine Enclave needs to be displayed by a filter.

Helping a NPE to follow a shrine path and cleanse a temple is listed in the galaxy's objective list once said structures are scouted.

Play Tests

The respawn duration of the NPE needs to be evaluated.
The quantity of initial shrine and the length of chained shrines are linked to the MF's intensity; these quantities must be evaluated, and maybe linked to the number of planets in the galaxy.
The quantity and power of corrupted templars need to be evaluated.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.