Author Topic: [Resolved, essentially] Upgrades again  (Read 2322 times)

Offline x4000

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2016, 11:40:26 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.

Right, absolutely.  I'm not referring to taking anything away that was in the classic game at all here.  No worries on that!
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Offline Mánagarmr

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2016, 11:58:07 AM »
Right, absolutely.  I'm not referring to taking anything away that was in the classic game at all here.  No worries on that!
Good. Was getting a bit worried there.
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Offline Steelpoint

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2016, 11:58:54 AM »
My only concern with a upgrade system is more of how its portrayed to the play via the UI, as well as keeping track of upgrades for ships on the field.

I do personally think a upgrade system can help cut down on the massive excess of ships in the game.

Offline x4000

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2016, 01:16:12 PM »
My only concern with a upgrade system is more of how its portrayed to the play via the UI, as well as keeping track of upgrades for ships on the field.

That's fair.  We're going to be putting in a lot of GUI work in general for usability and clarity, and I have what I think is a pretty good concept for this one.
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Offline zharmad

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2016, 01:47:23 PM »
While I understand the potential problems with tracking upgrades, I also see the 80+ bonus ship types in classic as the greater evil in comparison. The need for players to memorise new things will always exist - because they *are* new to them. The way the game divides it's design space can only affect how these new things are presented.

Which of these is easier to remember: etherjet tractors, or fast, cloaked fighter with tractor beams? The answer depends who you ask and how it is presented in the game. In classic, it's not easy to find out which ships the two AIs have upgraded when you cross particular AIP  thresholds. If we keep giving the sequel AI new ships types instead of  upgrading their existing ships, we'll still be tracking N new developments. Is this any different?

Autism or no, most players will only realise that an AI had unlocked, say, Eyebots, when said ships are attacking them or vice versa. This would be the same in the upgrade system if the equivalent upgrade visually changes the way the base unit looks. If people want, the game can have the UI showing the upgrade tree for both humans and AI (filled in as they encounter AI units or hack the info).  Question is how it is addressed in the design doc.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2016, 01:50:50 PM by zharmad »

Offline Misery

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2016, 10:14:22 PM »
Quote
The need for players to memorise new things will always exist - because they *are* new to them. The way the game divides it's design space can only affect how these new things are presented.

This is true, but the thing about the way things are in the first game is that each ship is only genuinely new ONCE.  When you've seen what a particular ship does, well, you've seen everything that it does and it will ALWAYS do those things, and JUST those things.  You don't have to worry about the fact that the next time you use it you might have it with an immunity it doesn't always have, or with extra armor, and then further worry about it NOT having those things the time after that.   That's part of what causes the issue, and I'm guessing that's part of why this was such a big no-no in the first game.  I hated this in every other RTS to the point of usually refusing to use it after enough time with the game (and facing off against just the CPU, it's not like that ever mattered), if it was possible to play the game in question without doing those stupid techs (some of them kinda force you to use it).  And that's with each game/match in those being like, one hour long, yet it still caused that level of frustration. Here we're talking something that could take place over 10 separate sessions... talk about confusing!    In the first one, you just looked at a ship, and it was always the same as it ever was, which made it a lot easier to deal with overall.  Yeah, you might still check the tooltips at times, but there's going to be less of a fog of confusion hanging around when the ship is incapable of being anything other than what it starts as.

Hell, the fact that this means that human VS AI units could actually thus also have DIFFERENCES in a particular game will just make this even more brain-melting.  I only just thought of that.  Suddenly you might have normal Armor Ships (on the AI side, if it's not using upgrades) VS special "Armor Ships" that aren't really the original ship anymore on the human side.  Which is also confusing.  I'd end up losing track of what one of them does because I hovered over the other.

Just.... ugh.  It's definitely one of those "I'm probably never going to touch this even once" mechanics, for me.  Pushes things of this nature a bit too far, in a game that's already tough to keep track of.  I don't suppose this is something that might be able to be turned on and off?  Or at least something that doesn't HAVE to be used in order to win.   


As for 80+ bonus ships in the first game, greater evil it may be, but that one's easily solved:  Just don't have redundant ships this time around.  Make absolutely sure that each individual one has a real purpose and role, and has enough difference between it and other ships before going into the game.  If it doesn't match those conditions, out it goes.   There's certainly no reason for that redundancy, after all, and nobody really likes finding the more boring ships at an advanced research station or whatever anyway, of course. 

Offline Cinth

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2016, 10:20:49 PM »
I do plan on making a AIWC line up of ships that still have supported mechanics as a mod.  So there is that to look forward to.
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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 Misery

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2016, 10:24:16 PM »
This game is moddable via XML like recent games, I assume?   I cant imagine I"d be doing much mod-making myself (don't feel like I know enough about AI War specifically) but I will say I'm quite interested to see what sorts of things people come up with for this.

Someone I know would absolutely kill for a major Star Trek mod for a game like this, as thematic stuff goes.   

Offline Cinth

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2016, 10:29:29 PM »
This game is moddable via XML like recent games, I assume?   I cant imagine I"d be doing much mod-making myself (don't feel like I know enough about AI War specifically) but I will say I'm quite interested to see what sorts of things people come up with for this.

Someone I know would absolutely kill for a major Star Trek mod for a game like this, as thematic stuff goes.

I don't plan on going that far with it.  Just something that I know would enjoy having.
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 kasnavada

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #24 on: September 15, 2016, 01:31:19 AM »
Someone I know would absolutely kill for a major Star Trek mod for a game like this, as thematic stuff goes.   

I wouldn't worry too much about that, "space game" + "mod" always attracts some hard-core fan that does that kind of stuff.

Offline zharmad

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #25 on: September 15, 2016, 02:49:50 AM »
This is true, but the thing about the way things are in the first game is that each ship is only genuinely new ONCE...
Yep, agreed - and in my mind, each upgrade mechanic in the sequel is also new only once. How about this - suppose if, whenever you complete an upgrade for e.g. Fighters,  all of your Fighters magically transform into Armored Fighters with new graphics and new names, and the non-upgraded ship-type disappear from the game. You would only ever need to keep track of one version of fighter at a time - would this be okay or confusing across different sessions?
 Basically, you will always have a fighter archetype that occupies the leftmost slot in the ship-build menu (and it kind of doesn't matter what flavour it comes in as long as it looks like a fighter), a bomber-archetype in the second slot, etc. The visual graphics and names change with any major upgrade, which semi-bypasses the problem in most-RTSes where, say, your Goliathes absolutely need that range-upgrade, but you couldn't tell it at a glance when you load a game from a month ago. It's functionally similar to the way SC2-Zerg campaign handled it. Zerglings can at one point become jumping, gliding Raptorlings (visually a recognisable descendant,) and you simply stop being able to build the old ones.

 In the same vein, if the AI at the start of the game has upgraded their Missile Frigates/Corvettes into Spire Railclusters, you'd never see the stock Corvettes from them - you'd just see the upgraded variant with the old one completely mothballed.

Star Trek mod
Needs enough audience first ;) - also, I'd probably prefer the non-canonical Starfleet Battles timeline with more differentiated factions. One of the main balance drivers in Star Trek is directionality (Klingons ships being the most forward-focussed designs with guns and shields mostly pointed in that direction), which will be a bit difficult to recreate at present.

Offline Misery

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #26 on: September 15, 2016, 03:51:22 AM »
This is true, but the thing about the way things are in the first game is that each ship is only genuinely new ONCE...
Yep, agreed - and in my mind, each upgrade mechanic in the sequel is also new only once. How about this - suppose if, whenever you complete an upgrade for e.g. Fighters,  all of your Fighters magically transform into Armored Fighters with new graphics and new names, and the non-upgraded ship-type disappear from the game. You would only ever need to keep track of one version of fighter at a time - would this be okay or confusing across different sessions?
 Basically, you will always have a fighter archetype that occupies the leftmost slot in the ship-build menu (and it kind of doesn't matter what flavour it comes in as long as it looks like a fighter), a bomber-archetype in the second slot, etc. The visual graphics and names change with any major upgrade, which semi-bypasses the problem in most-RTSes where, say, your Goliathes absolutely need that range-upgrade, but you couldn't tell it at a glance when you load a game from a month ago. It's functionally similar to the way SC2-Zerg campaign handled it. Zerglings can at one point become jumping, gliding Raptorlings (visually a recognisable descendant,) and you simply stop being able to build the old ones.

 In the same vein, if the AI at the start of the game has upgraded their Missile Frigates/Corvettes into Spire Railclusters, you'd never see the stock Corvettes from them - you'd just see the upgraded variant with the old one completely mothballed.


That's not a bad proposal, though it does bring up another thing:  The whole system, doing that (or even without that), ends up feeling like a less effective version of ship unlocks in the previous game.  Simply because in that, you just outright get a new ship type to manufacture, no replacements.  The fleet size thus increases as well.  But with this, it'd simply stay the same, since one ship type would entirely vanish to be replaced with a new version, which sounds both less effective and less exciting (since AI War is very big on ship counts and such).  This could of course be done in such a way where the ship cap simply increases upon upgrading, but that kinda sounds a bit arbitrary.

Regardless though, that's a pretty good idea.   Though one question is, what happens if more than one upgrade is chosen for a ship?  Or is that not possible, and it's just one upgrade at a time for a ship type?

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #27 on: September 15, 2016, 05:14:03 AM »
I support this issue. I would formulate as "Player's upgrades are confusing too (not as much as AI upgrades, but still)." I don't fully agree with your vision, Chris, when you say "AI upgrades go; Player's upgrades stay" because of different confusion level (even if I agree, there is a difference).

I also support this solution: transform ship types as they are upgraded. Like: the Missile Frigate and the Grenade Launcher are two kind of ships the AI can have; the Human players cannot have the Grenade Launcher directly but can K-buy an upgrade to transform (both technically and visually) their missile frigates into grenade launchers.

I already brought the "Heart of the Swarm" method of simply and clearly making twisting unit upgrades. (Even if SC2 also do small +1 upgrades.) And it perfectly joins my visions of things to answer that fine question of our fine fellow:
Though one question is, what happens if more than one upgrade is chosen for a ship?  Or is that not possible, and it's just one upgrade at a time for a ship type?
I wish (and I proposed that since the beginning of that "upgrade" idea) to see only few, twisting and mutually-exclusive upgrades. No commonly shared hp x2, small regen, jacketering, etc, and one ship can have only one of some upgrades (the zerglings gaining wings for a big visual and technical change is a perfect example).

Iterating on that, I can imagine a short "tree" for that: a basic unit can be transformed into another (which has identical stats but gains a twisting perk) which can then be transformed into yet another. That would form a short tree. Here is an example: the standard fighter can be transformed into a bulletproof fighter with a decent armor for a more "tanky brawler" twist or into a raider with the repulsion perk (and some speed boost). Let imagine I prefer the raider for some strategical reasons; I would be unable to get the bulletproof fighter for this game. But then I can upgrade my new raider further: I can give it cloaking and turn it into a raptor (the base stats of a fighter plus speed, repulsion and cloaking).

That kind of things would be displayed in the new technology UI as a very small tree of icons and branches (from the fighter, two branches go upward, one has a length of 1 and the other has a length of 2). I don't envision anything larger than three choices per ship and branches longer than 3. But maybe we could slightly develop things a bit (while avoiding overly complicated stuff). I can imagine branches of different trees ending on the same leaves. For example, the raider could become a teleport raider by gaining the teleport perk, and the teleport battlestation could become a teleport raider by gaining the repulsion perk. We can also imagine some sort of "diamond trees": something can become either a teleport battlestation or a parasite (reclamation), and both can become a teleporting leech by gaining the other perk. (Just one more example because I can: a basic tractor unit can gain cloaking by becoming an EtherJet or being retrofit as a bulkier unit and become a Spire Tractor Platform, or a Widow Something by gaining paralyzing tractors.)

I'll be back with some coherent small trees (I'll call that a hedge ;P) based on AIW1 fleetships.
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Offline kasnavada

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #28 on: September 15, 2016, 05:37:29 AM »
I'm closer to Chris here.

About transforms:
1) If upgrades are to be kept I'd rather have a ship that has limited upgrades but does not transform, because... if the goal is to help anyone learning the game, isn't learning all upgrade paths going to be even worse ? It would be worse for me.

2) From what Chris seems to have in mind, the goal doesn't seem to make a monstruously upgraded ship that has little in common with the base one, rather to enable "base" designs to tweak, and evolve somewhat if necessary against whatever new tool the AI unlocked. I like this vision, a lot. It would not revolutionize the role. You'd have "fighter A" and "fighter B", but both would recognizable as fighters, following the idea that mk1 and mk2 are fighters despite having wildly different stats.

3) Transforming wouldn't feel like AI War to me. This is completely arbitrary. Dunno why this is more important than some other stuff I have no qualms about changing.


Back on the "upgrade" idea... I think there could be a simplifications in the upgrade path now that there are "only" 4 - 5 ship categories, to keep the categories upgrade more consistant (Ie: bombers can have "upgrade one", but blitzer can't). I think it could alleviate a lot of concerns that are proposed here. Possibly it's impossible though.
Also, if the "affix / suffix" name are to be kept, I think that the number of different affix / suffix can be kept low enough to be remembered.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2016, 05:48:52 AM by kasnavada »

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Upgrades again
« Reply #29 on: September 15, 2016, 06:05:05 AM »
I hear this point. I still have grieves against common, non-twisting upgrades (hardening, regeneration, shielding, etc.

Below that, transformation, prefixes, etc would be only incidental.

For the learning concern, I would see an UI  similar the the current mark upgrades, less deep and with a bit of branching. I don't think that would be complicated to mouseover the icon above the missile frigate and read "grenade launcher (gains AoE)".

I also saw an issue with the player's race. My idea there would be to make some branches (or some complete unit families) only accessible to a specific alien specie. Age of Empire (1 & 2 at least, IIRC) did something like that.

Here is a list of AIW1's ships I was able to quickly gather in a technology "hedge":
Spoiler for Hidden:
EDIT: I should precise how it reads.
Same level arrows are mutually-exclusive upgrades. For instance:
A
   \-> B
   \-> C
      \-> D
... means A can transform into B or C, and C can further transform into D.

Bomber
   \-> Tank (armor)
   \-> Chameleon (sortof-cloaking?)
   \-> Bombard (range++) [ZENITH]
   \-> Siege Engine (power++ & deployment time) [ZENITH]

Fighter
   \-> Bulletproof Fighter (armor)
   \-> Raider (repulsion)
      \-> Raptor (cloaking)
      \-> Teleport Raider (teleport)
   \-> Tachyon microfighter (tachyon)

Missile Frigate (I still dislike "corvette")
   \-> Grenade Launcher (projected AoE)
   \-> Beam Frigate (beam AoE) [ZENITH]
   \-> Spider Bot (Engine Damage)
   \-> Sentinel Frigate (Tachyon)

Tractor (new)
   \-> EtherJet Tractor (cloaking)
   \-> Tractor Platform (refactoring) [SPIRE]
   \-> Widow Tractor (paralyzing tractors)
   
Vorticular Cutlas (not self-damaging)
   \-> Ram (self-damaging and power++) [SPIRE]
   \-> Auto Bomb (self-destruct and AoE) [ZENITH]
   \-> Viral Shredder (self-replicate) [ZENITH]
   \-> Vampire Shadow (cloaking)
      \-> Vampire Lord (+vampirism)
   \-> Vampire Claw (vampirism)
      \-> Vampire Lord (+cloaking)
« Last Edit: September 15, 2016, 06:11:49 AM by Pumpkin »
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
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