Author Topic: Ideas for cleaner multiplayer  (Read 1454 times)

Offline Pumpkin

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,195
  • Neinzul Gardener Enclave
Ideas for cleaner multiplayer
« on: September 10, 2016, 05:17:51 AM »
In AI War classic, several resources were shared and several weren't. That was very confusing. The AI power scaling with the number of players and/or Human Homeworlds wasn't very consistent neither. I'd like us to lay the bases for a better, clearer multiplayer experience.

My simplest idea was "absolute sharing": players are all basically helpers for a single "player".
* This has the huge advantage of simply removing all problems of shared/not shared resources and the AI's power scaling with the number of players.
* However that completely removes the differences in specializations that the players may pursue. (And the upgrades were aiming at better distinguishing players.) Sad.

Duplicated production; differences in usage.
Similar to AIW1 multi-homeworld start, just cleaner. All the resources are completely and automatically duplicated: if one gathers knowledge, everybody gains all of it (actually multiplied by the number of players and evenly distributed); gathered metal is for everyone; etc. In exchange, all AI resources are multiplied by the number of players.
* Storage is separated: each player spends its own knowledge and metal; one can stack it for later and another can spend it as it comes. Same thing for fuel, I guess.
* Each player can shape its army for different tasks with its own knowledge, and the fleetwipe of one doesn't eat the metal of another.
* Planetary control (and AIP) is entirely shared: no matter who controls which planet and which harvester.
(I remember a coop game where each player wanted to increase its own territory, leading to a very high AIP and summed power.)
* However several resources can't be easily split, which may cause some incoherency: AIP and HaP are common; per-planet energy would be available for everyone but if someone built its turrets (improved with its own knowledge), less energy is available for others..
* That doesn't solve the "problem" of the AI scaling in power. If it's carefully done, all good, but it will still conduct to bigger games (more ship caps, more resources for both teams, etc).

Middle-ground: one faction, multiple "sub-commanders".
Similar to "one player, multiple helpers" but more mechanically supported.
* One homeworld.
* One pool per resource (metal, knowledge, etc).
* Upgrades drain from the common pool: if one wants to upgrade its ships, others must agree (but the game doesn't prevent people from being jerks and taking without asking).
* Fleetwipes drain the common metal pool.
* As many unit types and caps as for one player, but...
* ... units are controlled by players per type (example: "you play offensive and get the bombers, the fighters and the flagships; you play defensive and get the frigates, the riot starships and all the turrets; you play raids (micromanagement) and control raid starships and raptors; etc").
* Players dropping in and out is easy to manage: control of unit types can be changed in a dedicated UI window.
* The AI's power never scale: it is facing the power of a single "player". (Solves the multiple-homeworld balance problem.)
* No more player's roles (everybody is a "helper"); if champions get re-implemented, they can be enabled at start (like a MF) and given to a single helper/player.

(I have a personal preference for the first proposal: clean and easy)
« Last Edit: September 10, 2016, 09:20:06 AM by Pumpkin »
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline Tridus

  • Master Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,305
  • I'm going to do what I do best: lecture her!
Re: Ideas for cleaner multiplayer
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2016, 06:31:15 AM »
Starcraft 1 had an under appreciated mode where two players controlled one effective player. That is, game wise there was only one player, but two real players used it. Both could do anything. It only worked with coordination as to who was doing what, but it was a blast to play.

AI War seems well suited to that, because there is so much going on. Having a single pool of stuff but two different sets of stuff in it just seems confusing to me. I can't build ships because you did, and that used my metal, and I can't control them?

That doesn't sound great. I prefer the first two because both are cleaner and easier to work with.

Offline Cinth

  • Core Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,527
  • Resident Zombie
Re: Ideas for cleaner multiplayer
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2016, 07:48:41 AM »
Solves the multiple-homeworld balance problem.

You should expand on this because I don't see it.
Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline Pumpkin

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,195
  • Neinzul Gardener Enclave
Re: Ideas for cleaner multiplayer
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2016, 09:28:56 AM »
Having a single pool of stuff but two different sets of stuff in it just seems confusing to me. I can't build ships because you did, and that used my metal, and I can't control them?

That doesn't sound great. I prefer the first two because both are cleaner and easier to work with.
Indeed. I changed my mind. Now I prefer the first proposal.
(Also, I guess it's feasible in AIW1 with one player and one helper, right?)

Solves the multiple-homeworld balance problem.

You should expand on this because I don't see it.
The multiple homeworlds start and the high-cap/low-cap modes were rather odd. Not all ships change their caps; several mechanisms impacted the balance (drones, swallow, instakill, etc); etc. Also, two players with one home and one player with two homes wasn't exactly similar: just considering 2 homeworlds, you have cap x2 for the triangle ships in both cases but:
* for 1 player / 2 homeworlds, you have two bonus ships with both cap x2.
* for 2 players / 2 homeworlds, you have two bonus ships with cap x1 (because each player has a different ship type and cap x1).
Messing with ship caps is very dangerous for the game's balance. And I won't talk about how the AI scales with the number of Human homeworlds.

IMO, one human homeworld, no matter how many human players are in the game, is by far the most stable solution.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline Cinth

  • Core Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,527
  • Resident Zombie
Re: Ideas for cleaner multiplayer
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2016, 12:16:24 PM »
The multiple homeworlds start and the high-cap/low-cap modes were rather odd.
Ummm.... You get cap x # of HWs up to a top limit of 1500.  The cap style works just fine there.

Quote
Not all ships change their caps; several mechanisms impacted the balance (drones, swallow, instakill, etc); etc.
Not once have I seen a ship not change caps according to cap x # of HWs.  The only thing that might possibly be impacted are things like Ion Cannons, but those are trivial.  All the other stuff works as intended.

Quote
Also, two players with one home and one player with two homes wasn't exactly similar: just considering 2 homeworlds, you have cap x2 for the triangle ships in both cases but:
* for 1 player / 2 homeworlds, you have two bonus ships with both cap x2.
* for 2 players / 2 homeworlds, you have two bonus ships with cap x1 (because each player has a different ship type and cap x1).
The single player with 2 homeworlds gets caps x2 but doesn't have twice the human controlling them. 

Quote
Messing with ship caps is very dangerous for the game's balance. And I won't talk about how the AI scales with the number of Human homeworlds.
IMO, one human homeworld, no matter how many human players are in the game, is by far the most stable solution.
The AI scales just fine and is quite terrifying at the top end.  And multiplayer the way you imagine it would be terrible to play all the time.  I do not always want to share control nor would I always share goals with those I might be playing with.  You would basically force that on everyone.

Also killing a completely viable way to play the game shouldn't be a goal.  It was never considered balanced and a do at your own peril kind of deal.  I enjoy it and I know there are others who do too.
Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline Pumpkin

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,195
  • Neinzul Gardener Enclave
Re: Ideas for cleaner multiplayer
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2016, 07:35:28 AM »
Also killing a completely viable way to play the game shouldn't be a goal.  It was never considered balanced and a do at your own peril kind of deal.  I enjoy it and I know there are others who do too.
Okay.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline Pumpkin

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,195
  • Neinzul Gardener Enclave
Re: Ideas for cleaner multiplayer
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2016, 05:40:25 PM »
With the new idea of having mobile home-things, I'd like to revisit this.

I won't return to the stuff around cap and difficulty. (I still believe the best, clearer approach is to have a constant level of power for AI and Human teams no matter how many players are in them, but...)

I would like to see one home-thing (mobile or not) in multiplayer games. I would like to have players to all care about one objective (destroying the AI) and one "king" piece (their home-thing). I always found that particularly strange to have one player's home being destroyed but not lose. I'm not criticizing the "nobody lose before everybody lose" principle; I absolutely love it. I'm criticizing the half-solution that multiple homeworlds were. "This is your home thing; you allies also have one each. You don't loose if it's destroyed but if you and all your allies loose them all." That's much more confusing, IMO, than "This is your common home thing. You have one for the team. You loose (all) if it's destroyed."

But with that new mobile home-thing idea, that raises the question of who moves it. Ah.

All in all, I would like to see cooperation more supported by the game. In the philosophy, it's "win together, lose together"; then, please, embrace it in the game: make one "king piece" for the entire team.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline Pumpkin

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,195
  • Neinzul Gardener Enclave
Re: Ideas for cleaner multiplayer
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2016, 02:31:06 AM »
If you wanted to, couldn't you simply have one normal player, and the others all be helpers? That would give you one "king piece" for the entire team.  Then the main player can gift control of the first worlds they capture to the other players, allowing them to play like normal players all over again *without the bonus ships though*

My simplest idea was "absolute sharing": players are all basically helpers for a single "player".
* This has the huge advantage of simply removing all problems of shared/not shared resources and the AI's power scaling with the number of players.
* However that completely removes the differences in specializations that the players may pursue. (And the upgrades were aiming at better distinguishing players.) Sad.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline chemical_art

  • Core Member Mark IV
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,946
  • Fabulous
Re: Ideas for cleaner multiplayer
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2016, 04:04:00 PM »
To approach this in a completely different direction...

Home command stations are mobile right? So they are like a modern champion but it has morphed into an administrative role?

What if a player wanted to jump in, rather then going through all this complicated stuff about power sharing, they instead get a ship with a similar hull but instead of administrative stuff is pumped up for military roles? And it recovers like a champion? [In short these are champions but with less xp grinding and more pew pew now].

The power sharing could be done if an extended game is purposed, but I think the auxillary players should at least get their own "personal" HW that can act as a combat flagship.
Life is short. Have fun.

Offline Mckloshiv

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
  • Just another paradox of the mind~
Re: Ideas for cleaner multiplayer
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2016, 07:38:40 PM »
Sorry, i have NO idea how I missed that part 0.0 guess i was too tired when reading lol
Wherever the galactic winds blow, I'll be there.

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,086
Re: Ideas for cleaner multiplayer
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2016, 10:58:39 AM »
I've been thinking about things along these lines, too, and its reassuring to see some other folks also being warm to these concepts.  I'm going to do a new design document section about multiplayer in general, because I hate a lot of things about the current model.  The biggest thing that I hate... is player colors.  That thing right there accounts for so very much of the ugliness of the game and it drives me bonkers.

edit: changed my mind. ;)
« Last Edit: September 27, 2016, 11:03:04 AM by x4000 »
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Pumpkin

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,195
  • Neinzul Gardener Enclave
Re: Ideas for cleaner multiplayer
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2016, 01:34:40 AM »
I've been thinking about things along these lines, too, and its reassuring to see some other folks also being warm to these concepts.  I'm going to do a new design document section about multiplayer in general, because I hate a lot of things about the current model.  The biggest thing that I hate... is player colors.  That thing right there accounts for so very much of the ugliness of the game and it drives me bonkers.
;)

edit: changed my mind. ;)
:(
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!