Author Topic: [Resolved, essentially] Upgrades again  (Read 2117 times)

Offline Pumpkin

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[Resolved, essentially] Upgrades again
« on: September 13, 2016, 02:17:48 PM »
Lots of changes to the techs stuff, to make them player-side only.  With certain things built in on the AI side now that are always there.  These being the notes from the graveyard section about the AI getting tech unlocks:

AI Ship Tech Upgrades On Planet Capture
- Basically, Misery and Pumpkin had a good reminder that one of the tenets of the first game was to avoid invisible upgrades so that players can look at things and know what they are.

- That is an extremely good point, and flies in the face of the new tech upgrades system in general.

- THAT said, the difficulty in remembering things is when a player is looking at the AI side, because you don’t know when they’ve upgraded things, so would feel the need to constantly check.

-- Aka, the AI ships need to be consistent between games, and during a game, in terms of “what it means to be a fighter mark II” or what have you.

- Speaking for the player’s own side, which is where the focus of the new tech upgrades were always, anyway, players tend to easily remember what they upgraded on ships, and can quickly check if they don’t.

-- Most importantly, things never change in an unfavorable way, or without them knowing, so there’s not a need to go back and see “is this different? Is this bad?” like there would be if the AI were using invisible tech upgrades as well.

- In the end, this just makes for one more type of asymmetry in the game, which is great.

So, no upgrades for the AI? Great.
But then, how will it have cloaked raptors and eye bots etc? I'm afraid the AI would become less "rich", but as long as it has guardians and dire guardians and hunter/killer-like... Okay.

They'll just have them. For example, every raptor it makes might have the tractor ability, every bomber be armored. Tie it in to the mark system (IE higher mark ships always have more abilities. Candy can't rot processors after all!)

Eh, but I thought the upgrades were common to all marks of a ship type?

However, I think I'm okay with the AI having a chance to grant a mechanic upgrade to every new ship type it unlocks (only upgrades like cloaking, tractor, FField-immune, etc, and not speed x2, armor++, life-up, etc).

For the player. The AI doesn't need to play by the same rules.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 03:05:51 PM by x4000 »
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Offline zharmad

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2016, 03:08:51 PM »
So, to summarise how the AI can upgrade differently to the player:
  • They can use the same ship-types as players do (saves work), but have upgrades already baked in for any "unlock". These may include thematic AI-only upgrades, and others that are normally heavily restricted for the player.
  • They can opt to send alternate units, say guardian-heavy attacks/fleets lead by a hunter-killer.
  • They can gain access to unique tactical options similar to AI-plots and lobby options in the game. Things like beginning construction of beachheads, wormhole generators, suicide guardians, mobile orbital mass drivers / mini wrath-lance, AI-controlled mining golem, etc.

Perhaps the upgrade system could reflect how the AI is technologically far ahead, and has already deployed all the upgrades it wishes on  individual ship designs. Rather, to respond to player aggression, the AI uses its superior technology/resources to deploy strategies that are impossible for the player to duplicate.

Offline Misery

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2016, 01:06:37 AM »
I'm still going with what I said before, and saying "it'll just be more confusing".   And I do realize that only the player gets these things... I knew that before I made my original comment.  I'd STILL be confused, and end up spending WAY more time staring at tooltips and such because of it.   I'm autistic with some executive dysfunction; I'm capable of forgetting my own age, or what year it is. Or all sorts of other things.  AKA, I'm easily confused and very spacey.  AI War works for me partly because everything is represented visually by very simple icons, and the effects of those icons never change.  I look at, say, a Raid Starship, and I think, okay, that's the fast thing, good for raids, fires shots that go through shields.  Every time I see one, it does those same things... no difference, except with increases at different mark levels, which also are represented very simply. Don't get me wrong, I still have to check the tooltip for something like that every now and then.  Even with somewhat common ships I wont always remember what they do.   But with StarCraft-esque techs (which is pretty much what these are, spend research to give upgrades to a unit type/class), I'd get totally lost on what does what way more often, with things changing as they would... even if I'm the one that initiated the change (I already cant remember where I placed entire freaking fleets, and spend a really inordinate amount of time on the galaxy map trying to find stuff).  I'd do things like attack a specific installation, thinking "Okay, this'll work, these ships of mine have immunity to such-and-such.  I checked them when I first built some in this campaign".  One big violent pile of explosions later, and I'd realize that no, they don't always have that, and there goes 500 ships with little damage done to the AI, since I hadn't unlocked the relevant tech in that particular game.   This would happen over and over again.

And it wouldn't be just me.... plenty of people have memory issues, or just get outright overwhelmed by games like this.  I mean, one way or another, AI War 2 is still going to end up being a very complicated game (particularly as that's a huge part of it's appeal).  Something like this will just add to the "overwhelming" aspect, yet I don't see much genuine benefit over the way the current game does it.  It also just makes ships seem more generic, to be honest.  It's a mechanic that's overused by the genre, also.  Very overused.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2016, 01:10:14 AM by Misery »

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2016, 02:56:25 AM »
I second Mysery.

I try to accept this mechanism and work with it, but at it's core, I'm against the idea of upgrades. Originally, it was coined by Chris to elegantly integrate the small variations between mostly similar units (IIRC). However I don't see what's wrong with that. I'm okay with AoE-frigates (grenade launchers & ZBeam frigates) and armored bombers (tanks) or higher-impact bombers (ZElec Bombers), etc.

I was against the small upgrades and I was the one to ask for separation between the "small" upgrades (health x2, speed x2, range x2, armor++, etc) and the "twisting" upgrades (cloaking, tractor, etc). I think the "small" should be flag "unconstitutional and against core design philosophy" (even if player-reserved) and the "twisting" upgrades should be folded back into specific (alternative) ship designs.

Also, if races will have a higher impact, I think we'll really need these twisting differences. I can imagine transversal "chassis" with per-race "twist". Here is an example:
The Human fighter is as we know it (maybe a bit faster); the Zenith fighter is armored (the heir of the bulletproof fighter, more brawler than raider); the Spire fighter has the armor damage perk (heir of the Spire Armor Rotter). They could be implemented as upgrades (which could lead to a silly Fast Armored Fighter of Acid) or as different race-themed units. And I say "chassis" but that can be the other way around: each race has a same perk on different "chassis": the Spire Tractor Platform, the Human EtherJet Tractor and the Zenith Widow Something, for example.

I think that upgrade idea was interesting to inquiry, but it has several flaws for nothing truly new.
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Offline kasnavada

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2016, 03:08:26 AM »
Also, if races will have a higher impact, I think we'll really need these twisting differences. I can imagine transversal "chassis" with per-race "twist". Here is an example:
The Human fighter is as we know it (maybe a bit faster); the Zenith fighter is armored (the heir of the bulletproof fighter, more brawler than raider); the Spire fighter has the armor damage perk (heir of the Spire Armor Rotter). They could be implemented as upgrades (which could lead to a silly Fast Armored Fighter of Acid) or as different race-themed units. And I say "chassis" but that can be the other way around: each race has a same perk on different "chassis": the Spire Tractor Platform, the Human EtherJet Tractor and the Zenith Widow Something, for example.

How about templates, like in AD&D ?

More or less, the exact ship remain for all races, but have a default template. Human does nothing, of course.
Spire could:
- /5 total cap
- *10 hp
- *5 dps.

Neinzul could:
- attrition (all)
- metal cost / 10

(and so on).

Names would evolve to "human fighter", "AI fighter", "Spire fighter" and next you could add more affix / suffixes if needed. Of not if the idea of upgrade is scrapped.

(Balance and numbers to be tuned during beta...)


Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2016, 03:32:20 AM »
I prefer the visible mechanical twist (cloaking, teleportation, reclamation, etc) rather than numerical balance (hp+42.9%, speed-11.4 mph, etc). But it's an idea.
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Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline Mánagarmr

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2016, 04:08:48 AM »
*long ramble on autism*

Well, while this may be worse to you than others, I have to just point out that even for non-autistic persons this would be freaking frustrating to keep track of.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2016, 06:07:22 AM by Mánagarmr »
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Offline Misery

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2016, 04:20:34 AM »
I rather figured as much, yeah.

There's just already so many things to deal with in the game.... people have enough of the "WTF is even going on here, what's all this stuff, I don't even..." as it is with this game.  Adding this bit that was not only unnecessary in the first place but specifically avoided for good reasons in the first game seems kinda silly.  It'd just hurt things.

As for ships with small differences, honestly, my own solution would be to just take those and replace them with more interesting ships.  There's a zillion different possible ideas that could work in this game, for ship designs, after all.  They could get pretty creative.  That seems like it'd be a lot better than a confusing mechanic like this.

Offline Mánagarmr

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2016, 06:07:51 AM »
I rather figured as much, yeah.

There's just already so many things to deal with in the game.... people have enough of the "WTF is even going on here, what's all this stuff, I don't even..." as it is with this game.  Adding this bit that was not only unnecessary in the first place but specifically avoided for good reasons in the first game seems kinda silly.  It'd just hurt things.

As for ships with small differences, honestly, my own solution would be to just take those and replace them with more interesting ships.  There's a zillion different possible ideas that could work in this game, for ship designs, after all.  They could get pretty creative.  That seems like it'd be a lot better than a confusing mechanic like this.
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Offline Tridus

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2016, 08:18:00 AM »
I like the tech idea and would be happy to play with it, but not if it's going to make the game overly confusing and difficult for other people. I don't see a good way to solve it as-is, though, given how many units the game tends to have.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2016, 08:28:35 AM by Tridus »

Offline kasnavada

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2016, 08:35:43 AM »
I like the tech idea and would be happy to play with it, but not if it's going to make the game overly confusing and difficult for other people. I don't see a good way to solve it as-is, though, given how many units the game tends to have.

Errr. Possibly I'm dumb, but I don't understand the proposal here. Just so it's clear.

Player upgrade stay ? Yes ? No ? Changed ?
AI upgrade stay ? Yes ? No ? Changed ?

Offline Tridus

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2016, 08:46:41 AM »
Errr. Possibly I'm dumb, but I don't understand the proposal here. Just so it's clear.

Player upgrade stay ? Yes ? No ? Changed ?
AI upgrade stay ? Yes ? No ? Changed ?

Looks like in the current version, player "candy" upgrades stayed. AI ones are gone.

Offline x4000

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2016, 10:56:40 AM »
My position on this, which I don't see any compelling reason to change:

1. AI ships are "as is."  Aka, no invisible upgrades on them, because that's freaking confusing as Misery and others point out.

2. Player ships can have invisible upgrades.  This is fun, it adds options that are less confusing in many ways, it's extremely common to the genre, and overall I've not seen a compelling argument against it.  You don't even HAVE to use these, frankly.

3. Anywhere where we need the AI to be different, it will either have techs baked in or ships split or whatever else.  The flexibility here is absolute.  Overall I'll try to avoid having fleet ships that are AI-only variants of player ships, but having some AI-only fleet ships will be an interesting twist in general.

4. The number of possible upgrades per player ship are being kept pretty low, and no you can't give repeat upgrades to a given ship type.  I think it was Pumpkin that pointed out that too many of them makes each one trend towards more generic and less interesting.


This is my current position, and I feel fairly confident in it.  I'm open to discussion of specific flaws with it, but overall I've not seen any points from anyone that haven't been addressed by the above.

1. If the player-side techs are confusing, you can ignore them until you get more used to the game in general.  But they go back to the 90s in terms of this genre, so the concept itself should not be foreign.

2. The AI-side stuff was legitimately going to confuse us all, and is thus gone.

3. Ships becoming a generic mashup of too many possibilities was a definite thing, and is gone.


Honestly I think you guys have already helped hone this to something that we can all be happy with, but it's entirely possible I'm missing something.
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Offline Mánagarmr

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2016, 11:01:41 AM »
The AI is still going to update its arsenal and add more shiptypes as the game progresses though, right? Or is that gone too?
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Offline Cinth

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2016, 11:36:39 AM »
The AI is still going to update its arsenal and add more shiptypes as the game progresses though, right? Or is that gone too?

I don't see a reason as to why this wouldn't happen.  We don't want to remove stuff from the AI's toolbox.
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