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Games => AI War II - Gameplay Ideas => AI War II => AI War II - Resolved Ideas => Topic started by: x4000 on September 12, 2016, 05:09:25 PM

Title: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: x4000 on September 12, 2016, 05:09:25 PM
Inspired by the discussion about refleeting and how annoying that is (http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,19089.0.html).

This is perhaps a lot less insane than it sounds on the surface, the more I think about it.

First a statement of the problem:
1. Rebuilding your fleet is boring.

2. In any reasonable war, when someone's fleet is dead, their opponent finishes them off.

3. Even when you're not going through a complete re-fleet operation, the time-based aspect of waiting for new units to be built is DULL.

SIDEBAR: Why do AI War games have to be so long?  I set the pace of various things so that you wouldn't get overwhelmed with the speed during the busy times, but during the downtimes (which I did not anticipate so many of) it can really stretch out game time for no real reason.

4. There's no real cost to a "sacrifice of material," in a Chess sense, in this game.  Sacrificing even a pawn is cause for concern in Chess.  I remember that Warcraft II and I think maybe even Empire Earth 1 (can't recall there for sure) had finite supplies in each Gold Mine, which help set the expectation that you couldn't just engage in infinite attrition.

5. Overall in AI War Classic, it's possible to use a strategy of "I will trade my personal time (while watching Netflix or otherwise) and wage a war of careful attrition and win over the course of 60 hours."  I've always thought the super-long campaigns are amazing, and I don't want to completely eliminate the possibility of that -- but I'd rather that those were epic and interesting the entire time, rather than a lot of sitting in trenches and waiting for things to happen.

Now, the general solution:
1. One way or another, there needs to not be a bunch of waiting around in order to get back to fighting. 

SIDEBAR: Unless I WANT to wait around, as a player (aka I'm stopping to think, and either intentionally pause the game or don't bother).

2. Overall there needs to be a long-lasting cost to throwing away ships. 

SIDEBAR: I don't at all believe that you deserve a short-term penalty for running completely out of ships, or that you should get hit by reprisal ways for losing too many ships on an enemy planet.  However, throwing way the lives of your pilots -- hey, there are pilots? -- should matter long-term.

My specific suggestion is half-baked:
I think that there are a variety of ways to approach the above two requirements, and those things can indeed be tuned to taste via lobby options, so we don't all need to agree on how this would work.  If (in a Warcraft II model of a finite gold mine, we could have an option to run out fast, slow, very fast, very slow, not at all, etc).

Ultimately in the past, AI Progress was the big "okay, this is the thing that gets worse and worse and I can only reduce it so much" mechanic.  I'm proposing a second mechanic now, which is a replacement resource for... something.  Maybe metal.  Honestly in this model I think metal is unimportant, because it is inherently an infinite self-renewing resource, and the concept of pilots is basically that, but made Warcraft-II-finite.

First, let's start with the ickier side of things (from a variety of points of view, and I'll be super interested to hear Cinth's view on this in particular):

No metal:
I never would have thought of removing this, but then again I never would have thought of removing crystal, either.  And having something metal-LIKE is still very much needed, but we'll get to that in a minute.  My original reaction to the removal of metal was also very negative, because power and fuel are not limiting enough to me, and having construction times be slow is an issue.

1. So, first off, we take away metal.  Bing!  Ships are all free.

2. Now we take away ship construction queues, and timed ship construction in general.  Bing!  We have awesome technology that gives us instant ships on command, placed where we want (on any planet we control).

3. I suppose a short timer would be good, but nothing real drastic.  And the ships are helpless while in that period.  Call it 10 seconds, let's say.  Even for complex ships.  Same deal with turrets and all that sort of thing.  No waiting!  Why am I waiting?

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Pilots/crew
1. This would be a new resource, and absolutely finite.  There's not time to breed.

STORY: Unlike the unmanned more-primitive ships of AI War 1, we'd now need to have actual crews on these ships so that the AI can't jam them or whatever the story will be.  Kinda a Release Raptor idea of why we need some meat in there instead of just silicon from a distance, anyway.

2. There would be no more metal harvesters, and no more junk piles in orbit.  Instead the crew would come from one of two places: inhabited planets, or inhabited space enclosures (including derelicts, possibly having some people in cryofreeze).

3. Each ship and structure needs 1+ person to staff it, or you can't build it.  If you delete a ship or structure that is undamaged (or on a planet you control, or both, or something like that), then it the people on board will go back int your "inventory."

4. There would be no cap on the number of people you could have in your inventory (so to speak), but they would have to either live on ships, in space stations you control, or on habitable planets you control.

5. Each planet would only have so many people living on it that would make viable pilots (needed for the smaller craft), and so many people living on it that would make viable other-crew (needed to have a functional starship or whatever other structure).

6. That cap would be pretty high -- enough that in the early game you might get cocky thinking you're not going to run out of people.  But the more times you throw ships away needlessly in battle, the more you deplete your ability to keep doing that.

7. The way to increase that cap is to take more planets... but not just any planets.  Only habitable ones.  And different habitable ones would have different numbers of people on them.  If we want to get mean about it, the AI might even take to nuking or planet-cracking some of your planets.

8. If you're below some critical mass of available pilots and crew to the point where defeat is going to be inevitable anyway, then the AI will save you the suspense and rapidly ramp up and kill you off.  Drama!

Pilot Rescue
1. Probably a mechanism for escape pods is needed, so that whenever a ship dies it spits out a capsule with its crew in it, and nearby ships (anything on the same planet, since those are smaller now) automatically picks it up.  Maybe the crew would live, say, a quarter of the time (not random, just in a rolling order of things), and science techs could let you upgrade that to 50% or something.

2. But each ship only has so many spots for survivors, so if that's filled up then those people just die in space instead.  This way there's no micromanagement fiddling around with your ships in order to try to keep them from exploding: that would be no fun.

3. Instead once your local fleet ball starts getting to about 90% capacity on survivors-in-pods, it starts giving you a warning that your rescue capacity is getting really low, and you're going to be losing 100% of your pilots (plus those in pods) if you keep pressing the attack.  In other words: FLY, YOU FOOLS!

4. Retreating and letting the people off back at your area and getting new ships to make another go at it is not a big deal.  You spend more time in combat,


The inevitability of death
1. The above idea has a lot of flaws, because it still could encourage micro based on ships that are partially damaged.  The ability to repair combat ships has always led to fiddly situations.

2. Instead, making it so that non-structural ships can't be repaired is probably better.  Or something to that effect.  Maybe once a ship of yours is below a certain percentage of health it no longer counts toward your ship cap, so that you don't have a bunch of half-dead ships clogging up your ability to fight.

3. Anyway, as with Chess there's then the incentive to be SMART with where you spend your finite resources.  Encouraging retreating and micro = bad in my book.  Capturing more territory to get access to new resources of a limited nature is great to me.  A feeling of impending doom unless you kill off the AI first is also good to me.  Aka you can throw soldiers against the machine guns all day long if you want, but at the end of it you have a pile of dead bodies and not many soldiers left, and you may have lost the war.

4. Overall I think that something along these lines, albeit with a lot of refinement, would be a much more realistic AND efficient war machine model.  It gives the player the tempo very very much more, and ramps up the penalties for just faffing around even more.



The above is probably too extreme, but some sort of middle-ground would be an interesting idea indeed, I think...
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Tridus on September 12, 2016, 05:17:37 PM
My kneejerk reaction is "that's not AI war." It's suddenly a very risky thing to attack Somethung well defended, because if it goes badly it's not a short term setback. It's a long term permanent resource loss.
I'll have to think about what my non kneejerk reaction is.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Captain Jack on September 12, 2016, 05:39:18 PM
Oh hell no.

Hm, well, let me think about it some more.

...

Hell no.

At least you recognize this is extreme. Let me help you kill this idea dead. Off the top of my head:

Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Pumpkin on September 12, 2016, 05:56:13 PM
Yeah, a lot of "yuck" reaction on my part too, but I try to overcome it.
I think it come from the same feeling around warheads' +AIP: I think we are all shy about spending finite resources. For a similar reason, I often play without auto-AIP just for removing the psychological effect it has on me, because at +1/30 minutes, it's the worth of a single planet after 10 hours (an average game for me): ridiculous. But the psychological impact on me is huge.

Back to this idea.
Please don't remove the metal. Even with that new resource, I believe it still has its role. I would like to see the pilots as a finite but fully available resource, while the metal would be infinite and be a "spam" cap.

Imagine you ditch that idea of capturing planets for new pilots. Imagine. All your pilots are available from start and are immediately available. And then you have metal, which is infinite but not immediately available. Then you can't fast-throw hundreds of fleets in no time (because for the AI the time is still a resource: waves, CPA, reinforcement, etc). But also make the metal more plentiful. Imagine if you double AIW1's metal income but warn the player about the finitude of pilots for the endgame. Players would have less refleet times but a pressure on their combat efficiency.

Also, there is a dirt-cheap solution: minimum auto-AIP (let's say +1 per 30 minutes). Maybe both? I dunno.

Interesting, anyway.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Lord Of Nothing on September 12, 2016, 06:07:50 PM
I would say lobby option, but this seems too fundamental a mechanic for that. So...
Personally, this would single-handedly kill any desire to play the game, for me. It's an interesting idea that merits consideration, but I think the on balance response for me is run like a bat out of hell.
All of the previous points raised apply, but I think the biggest one has to be the principle of conservatism. This is such a massive departure from the style of the original game that it just wouldn't be AI war anymore.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Wingflier on September 12, 2016, 06:37:23 PM
Personally I like it, but then I like all of your radical ideas.

People complain about the length of the games, and how difficult it makes multiplayer events and selling the title as a whole (Hey, you wanna play 16 hour RTS campaigns where you could instantly lose at any given moment because the AI can theoretically crush you at any time? Great!). But reject ideas about realistic ways that we could make the pace of the game shorter while keeping the spirit and the strategy of what makes AI War, AI War.

For me at least, what makes AI War great are the difficult choices it presents. AIP is such a wonderful mechanic because you can't just go into autopilot and take over every system in the galaxy (though some players will try :D), and expect that to end well for you. Every decision has to be reasoned and worked out in a rational manner if you want to ensure lategame success. The only problem is that 12+ hours of this kind of mental grind can get very tiring, and so I would assume this is why most AI War games never make it to the end.

To me this kind of proposal adds more of what makes AI War great (fantastic presentation of diverse and difficult situations) while also fundamentally changing the game in such a way that it doesn't last forever.

Lorewise, this also makes complete sense. Humanity's pilots are limited right?

I mean isn't the whole lesson of AI War that you shouldn't rely on artificial intelligence to fight your battles for you? (No literally, that's pretty much the opening paragraph)

So it makes more sense that humans are now relying exclusively on human pilots to defeat the AI. It would be much more interesting and desperate lore-wise if it had a much more "distinctly human" feel, and I feel that theme fits the narrative of the game a hell of a lot better.

Just my thoughts.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: x4000 on September 12, 2016, 07:19:25 PM
Well, folks have brought up a lot of really valid points, and it definitely would change things up too much.  I think it would be fun to play with from a design perspective, but it would be a "that's not AI War" scenario, you're right.

Later on before I read any responses, I realized a couple of things myself, too:

1. The deal with pilots is really a lot more thematic, and something that I like for those reasons more than anything else.

2. The limitations with metal don't have to be related to pilots at all.  A much simpler revision to the game would be simply:
a. Increase the ship construction speed.
b. Make each metal pile have a finite amount in it like you see in Warcraft II.
c. In the event that the player has next to no metal and no way to get more from their current planets, the AI goes Kill Bill on the player.

That's a lot less drastic and would be easier to play around with either as a game variant (lobby option) or whatever, without destroying the core of the game.  It still wouldn't fix the core issues, and it doesn't mess with the thematic stuff I wanted to explore, but it is something I kinda like in some ways in the same way that I like the Scorched Earth option in AI War Classic.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Tridus on September 12, 2016, 07:32:55 PM
Alright, now for the non-kneejerk reaction...

This is perhaps a lot less insane than it sounds on the surface, the more I think about it.

Go read your principle of conservatism again, and then get back to me on this. ;)

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2. In any reasonable war, when someone's fleet is dead, their opponent finishes them off.

So... why don't we fix this? If the AI gains the intelligence to react to your fleet being wiped out, refleeting doesn't have to take 45 minutes. Let the AI release some ships into the threatfleet and counterattack *immediately* when the player suffers a disastrous loss. You can inflict serious losses in even a 10 minute refleet operation, and it won't be boring because the player should be frantically pulling whatever they can to try and hold off the AI assault.

The key problem is that right now you can lose your entire fleet and likely survive whatever happens until you get it back, because the AI won't be super aggressive. Reprisal was meant to be a response to that, but defenses in classic can get so good that it isn't enough.

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3. Even when you're not going through a complete re-fleet operation, the time-based aspect of waiting for new units to be built is DULL.

Yes. I like to boost the hell out of them, but then I run out of metal, a bunch of which I lost earlier because I hit the metal cap and my production just went into the abyss because... reasons? I don't know.

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4. There's no real cost to a "sacrifice of material," in a Chess sense, in this game.  Sacrificing even a pawn is cause for concern in Chess.  I remember that Warcraft II and I think maybe even Empire Earth 1 (can't recall there for sure) had finite supplies in each Gold Mine, which help set the expectation that you couldn't just engage in infinite attrition.

This is true. However, and this is one of the key things that created my kneejerk reaction: AI War Is Not Chess.

If you want it to be chess, a lot of things have to change. It's a different design entirely. Combat has to be slower. Fleetships have to be MUCH sturdier (there's really no way to save fleetships individually right now if they get damaged, because they simply melt under assault without things like Protector Starships there to slow incoming DPS).

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5. Overall in AI War Classic, it's possible to use a strategy of "I will trade my personal time (while watching Netflix or otherwise) and wage a war of careful attrition and win over the course of 60 hours."  I've always thought the super-long campaigns are amazing, and I don't want to completely eliminate the possibility of that -- but I'd rather that those were epic and interesting the entire time, rather than a lot of sitting in trenches and waiting for things to happen.

This is also true. But with a finite resource, I'll likely decide far earlier than 60 hours that I've lost too many ships and just abandon the game.

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SIDEBAR: Unless I WANT to wait around, as a player (aka I'm stopping to think, and either intentionally pause the game or don't bother).

Agreed.

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2. Overall there needs to be a long-lasting cost to throwing away ships. 

SIDEBAR: I don't at all believe that you deserve a short-term penalty for running completely out of ships, or that you should get hit by reprisal ways for losing too many ships on an enemy planet.  However, throwing way the lives of your pilots -- hey, there are pilots? -- should matter long-term.

Disagreed. This is a radical change, and not one I like. Some of the situations AI War creates are crazy, and require a lot of figuring out to solve. With pilots as a finite resource, the "figuring out" part only leads to either giving up if I can't find the solution in an attempt or two, or rampant savescumming to try stuff until I find what works, then keeping that save.

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I think that there are a variety of ways to approach the above two requirements, and those things can indeed be tuned to taste via lobby options, so we don't all need to agree on how this would work.  If (in a Warcraft II model of a finite gold mine, we could have an option to run out fast, slow, very fast, very slow, not at all, etc).

I don't think this will actually work. A game set up around the idea of finite pilots and effectively instant ships is fundamentally different if you have a lobby option to have infinite pilots and effectively instant ships. The thing that prevents what is effectively a graveyard zerg rush isn't there (that's where as people die, they respawn and just charge right back into the fight). With infinite pilots and instant ships, there is absolutely no risk to losing a fleet in any way whatsoever, and I can simply wear down virtually any opposition unless the AI builds as fast as I can (which would be impossible to counter with the default pilots).

It'd be like if you added a lobby option to Classic to disable AI Progress. The game would make no sense.

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Ultimately in the past, AI Progress was the big "okay, this is the thing that gets worse and worse and I can only reduce it so much" mechanic.  I'm proposing a second mechanic now, which is a replacement resource for... something.  Maybe metal.  Honestly in this model I think metal is unimportant, because it is inherently an infinite self-renewing resource, and the concept of pilots is basically that, but made Warcraft-II-finite.

Metal's problem is that you can't stockpile it enough, and that the AI doesn't respond aggressively enough while you're using it to rebuild a shattered army. These seem like fixable things, especially if space docks themselves are expensive and difficult to bring online, so you can't just spam them on the front line (aka: when rebuilding, it takes time for ships to reinforce an outer world that the AI is counterattacking). (Maybe the flagship should increase ship production significantly, so the fast way to produce ships is if your flagship's crew is there to help out. That means to build ships on the front line, you're putting your leader and thus the entire game in far more danger than if you have a ship building operation behind the lines in safety.)

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I never would have thought of removing this, but then again I never would have thought of removing crystal, either.  And having something metal-LIKE is still very much needed, but we'll get to that in a minute.  My original reaction to the removal of metal was also very negative, because power and fuel are not limiting enough to me, and having construction times be slow is an issue.

The difference is that Metal and Crystal were functionally doing the same thing, before. Unless you got a really weirdly imbalanced set of bonus ships that favored one over the other in cost, there was simply no reason to care about one over the other. This is not that.

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1. So, first off, we take away metal.  Bing!  Ships are all free.

2. Now we take away ship construction queues, and timed ship construction in general.  Bing!  We have awesome technology that gives us instant ships on command, placed where we want (on any planet we control).

So... why don't we just build a million EMP warheads instead of more fighters? We can build high power starships instantly and infinitely, which means we should be able to do it with autonomous missiles.


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Pilots/crew
1. This would be a new resource, and absolutely finite.  There's not time to breed.

And when I lose a huge fleet and lose a ton of my finite resource, the "grab the last autosave" button is only a few clicks away. Admit it, that's exactly what people will feel the game design is encouraging them to do, unless games are intended to be a LOT shorter. (Like, an order of magnitude shorter.)

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STORY: Unlike the unmanned more-primitive ships of AI War 1, we'd now need to have actual crews on these ships so that the AI can't jam them or whatever the story will be.  Kinda a Release Raptor idea of why we need some meat in there instead of just silicon from a distance, anyway.

My more primitive ships, like the one that could defend AI incoming fire and keep my pilots from dying? ;)  (Sorry, couldn't resist. :D )

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2. There would be no more metal harvesters, and no more junk piles in orbit.  Instead the crew would come from one of two places: inhabited planets, or inhabited space enclosures (including derelicts, possibly having some people in cryofreeze).

3. Each ship and structure needs 1+ person to staff it, or you can't build it.  If you delete a ship or structure that is undamaged (or on a planet you control, or both, or something like that), then it the people on board will go back int your "inventory."

4. There would be no cap on the number of people you could have in your inventory (so to speak), but they would have to either live on ships, in space stations you control, or on habitable planets you control.

5. Each planet would only have so many people living on it that would make viable pilots (needed for the smaller craft), and so many people living on it that would make viable other-crew (needed to have a functional starship or whatever other structure).

6. That cap would be pretty high -- enough that in the early game you might get cocky thinking you're not going to run out of people.  But the more times you throw ships away needlessly in battle, the more you deplete your ability to keep doing that.

7. The way to increase that cap is to take more planets... but not just any planets.  Only habitable ones.  And different habitable ones would have different numbers of people on them.  If we want to get mean about it, the AI might even take to nuking or planet-cracking some of your planets.

This all is about finite resources, and at some point I'm going to either have enough to be able to press on, or realize I lost too many and abandon the game well before defeat because victory looks impossible due to simple attrition. Not something I'm a fan of.

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8. If you're below some critical mass of available pilots and crew to the point where defeat is going to be inevitable anyway, then the AI will save you the suspense and rapidly ramp up and kill you off.  Drama!

... so why doesn't the AI just do that when my fleet gets wiped and I have no ships to stop it? Why are pilots necessary for this?

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The inevitability of death
1. The above idea has a lot of flaws, because it still could encourage micro based on ships that are partially damaged.  The ability to repair combat ships has always led to fiddly situations.

s/could/will

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2. Instead, making it so that non-structural ships can't be repaired is probably better.  Or something to that effect.  Maybe once a ship of yours is below a certain percentage of health it no longer counts toward your ship cap, so that you don't have a bunch of half-dead ships clogging up your ability to fight.

Wouldn't you want to repair those ships? If I can build them for free, instantly, surely I can fix them?

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3. Anyway, as with Chess there's then the incentive to be SMART with where you spend your finite resources.  Encouraging retreating and micro = bad in my book.  Capturing more territory to get access to new resources of a limited nature is great to me.  A feeling of impending doom unless you kill off the AI first is also good to me.  Aka you can throw soldiers against the machine guns all day long if you want, but at the end of it you have a pile of dead bodies and not many soldiers left, and you may have lost the war.

The thing is that we had finite resources already: Science, Hacking Points, amount of Ai Progress we can take on before the AI becomes too big of a problem. I'm not sure we need another one. Also, once again: do you want AI War to be chess?

The last thing? I don't like the idea of being a commander sending tons of my people to their deaths. That might sound weird, but it's just uncomfortable and not fun for me. I'm trying to save humanity, not wipe out a generation of it because I absolutely had to hold this objective no matter the cost. I expect that won't be a typical reaction, and that's fine. For me? This is deeply unappealing on a lot of levels, hence the kneejerk reaction. Background on that: in tabletop RPGs, I favor playing the healer or some support/protective role. My favorite ship in AI War is the one that makes other ships not die (and those are just drones!). In Space Pirates And Zombies, I always try to rescue all the guys who pop out of ships when you blow them up.

On top of all the gameplay objections, I've got a visceral dislike of potentially losing a game because I got every pilot humanity has killed. (As I said, I don't expect that to be a common objection.)
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Tridus on September 12, 2016, 07:41:43 PM
I also realize that probably came off pretty strong. Sorry. But I don't think a "-1 not a fan" would suffice for just how many problems I see with this idea.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Draco18s on September 12, 2016, 08:38:55 PM
I think all the good "no" arguments have been posted, I'm in that camp, but do not have an additional objection.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Vinco on September 12, 2016, 09:26:40 PM
I'm also heavily in the "no" camp.  Part of AI war is learning by doing.  Anything that would lock players into an overly conservative playstyle is ungood.  If I want to play slowly and steadily, sending in strikeforces to take individual objectives, let me.  If I want to build up massive fleets to throw face first at the AI, let me.  The refleeting encourages me to take more worlds to get more metal to rebuild my fleet faster.  I'd agree with more AI retaliation, but don't limit the player's resources.  Keep the AI escalating the response, but let the PLAYER remain in control of the pace of the game rather than being forced into a particular playstyle by depleting resources.  I LIKE the streaming economy aspect.  Total Annihilation didn't have depleting resources, and relied on the balance between your resourcing and your opponent's.

Beef up the AI.  Make it toothier.  But let the player keep the ability to recover from anything if they can just come up with the strategy.

Or, you know, make it an option for the masochists.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Orelius on September 12, 2016, 09:46:38 PM
Yeah, I also really dislike this idea of only having a limited number of human pilots.  Fundamentally, in this system, you have limited resources against an opponent that can poop ships out of hyperspace.  It just makes it feel more unfair than it already is.  It just seems too likely for games to start out strong, then peter out completely as you run out of pilots and quickly become extremely impotent.  I don't think that'd be very fun.

Maybe it could work if, for instance, we can have the normal AI-based fleet (expensive but unlimited because making an AI just smart enough to pilot your ship is expensive), but we could hire limited amounts of mercenary ships (with human pilots) for cheap with a low buildtime.  They have no cap, but your merc ships are limited by your stockpile of pilots that can be increased based on conquering planets or liberating colonies or cryogenic pods.  They don't regenerate over time unless you spend expensive technology upgrades for a clone army or something (in which case you can get a steady stream of merc pilots constantly, but that will cost a decent amount of resources).  You really don't want to throw away your people's lives because they're a limited resource, but you can use them as away to cheaply reinforce your defenses in desperate situations or for last-ditch efforts.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: NickAragua on September 12, 2016, 10:18:58 PM
Am I the only one who's ok with the time it takes to rebuild your fleet? That can't be right.

Anyway, it might be useful to take a lesson from the "modern" FPS (I say "modern", but the mechanic has been around since Halo... back in 2001). You have a shield meter. In a fight, while you're getting shot up, it does not recharge. When the fight is over, it recharges pretty quickly. This was introduced somewhat to AI War with the concept of salvage.

For me, the main annoying part about rebuilding a fleet is if I have multiple construction facilities across the galaxy, I have to micromanage getting the ships to their reinforcement point. What I would suggest is to allow individual squads to automatically reinforce (think Rome II Total War). Reinforcement speed could be based on "distance from nearest factory" (or forget that as it leads to micromanagement) as long as you're in a friendly or neutral system with no enemies present. Presence of bad guys would stop the rebuilding cold, as does a lack of direct route to a friendly factory. Of course, you can bring along a ponderous, expensive mobile construction yard that can't quite keep up with full attrition rate and gets blown up quickly.

This way, if you get your fleet shot up but not destroyed, you can rebuild it quickly with a minimum number of clicks. If you want it done even more quickly, make sure you've got a mobile factory or bring it back to base. The AI should be aware of the existence of these mobile factories so don't leave them sitting unattended in hostile territory. This does give the player a bit of a strategic advantage, but maybe it can be compensated by letting the AI rebuild its squads to full strength pretty quickly too.


Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Nuc_Temeron on September 13, 2016, 12:50:48 AM
I think that thematically your pilot idea is great. I mean, with humanity on the brink of extinction, pilots would be hard to come by. And, I do agree that the game is too long, and it's hard to actually finish a game.

But these mechanics you've described are not AI War. They're too drastic.

Also, isn't SALVAGE the reason that you don't throw your ships at the enemy haphazardly?
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Mánagarmr on September 13, 2016, 01:50:36 AM
The amount of micro this will encourage will is unbelievable. When every ship is an irreplaceable resource you're going to baby every mk 1 fighter in every engagement. Refleet time goes down. Strategy time is replaced by tactics time.
This is the very reason I'm against this. It'd be optimal to supermicro every battle in order to not lose any ships. Just no.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 01:55:35 AM
The amount of micro this will encourage will is unbelievable. When every ship is an irreplaceable resource you're going to baby every mk 1 fighter in every engagement. Refleet time goes down. Strategy time is replaced by tactics time.
This is the very reason I'm against this. It'd be optimal to supermicro every battle in order to not lose any ships. Just no.

This would also favor greatly low cap ships rather than high cap ships. Not in favor. I like huge fleets.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: PokerChen on September 13, 2016, 02:08:00 AM
One of the only ways, I see, to make the pilots and crew idea work in AI War is to edge it closer to cap-ship warfare: require only starships but not fleetships to be crewed, then make them better protected so as to give players a decent chance at preserving all the crew even in a losing battle. By better protected, I mean multiple layers such as shields and sacrificial units and the such.

This at least gives players methods to not commit limiting/vulnerable resources to some engagements.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Pumpkin on September 13, 2016, 03:15:05 AM
Just a slightly-related (not even slightly-unrelated).

I always pretended, in my games, that ships were remotely controlled by humans pilots in my home command station. The ship cap was (pretendedly) because of the limited number of remote-pilots. That personal fantasy had problems with explaining cap for Younglings or the magically newly available pilots when downloading a new design or unlocking a high mark ship, but, eh... personal fantasy.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: PokerChen on September 13, 2016, 04:02:36 AM
Just a slightly-related (not even slightly-unrelated).

I always pretended, in my games, that ships were remotely controlled by humans pilots in my home command station. The ship cap was (pretendedly) because of the limited number of remote-pilots. That personal fantasy had problems with explaining cap for Younglings or the magically newly available pilots when downloading a new design or unlocking a high mark ship, but, eh... personal fantasy.
It's all based on a limited number of control chips and associated infrastructure, which you can no longer produce and need to recover from conquered AI planets and research stations. :P So the bottleneck isn't on the number of remote pilots but the number of ships they can safely control at once.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Pumpkin on September 13, 2016, 04:05:33 AM
Just a slightly-related (not even slightly-unrelated).

I always pretended, in my games, that ships were remotely controlled by humans pilots in my home command station. The ship cap was (pretendedly) because of the limited number of remote-pilots. That personal fantasy had problems with explaining cap for Younglings or the magically newly available pilots when downloading a new design or unlocking a high mark ship, but, eh... personal fantasy.
It's all based on a limited number of control chips and associated infrastructure, which you can no longer produce and need to recover from conquered AI planets and research stations. :P So the bottleneck isn't on the number of remote pilots but the number of ships they can safely control at once.
Nice! Where do you took that from? I don't remember it's a cannon thing. Is it your "personal fantasy"? Or is my knowledge of the game's lore that abysmal?
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: PokerChen on September 13, 2016, 04:27:01 AM
I invented it for my half an AAR years ago. I imagined it as a part of the overall safeguards against further AI takeover (e.g. humans used to have guard posts, but their design was fundamentally vulnerable to hacking like Java and Flash are today. Turrets are their safe replacement).
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Coppermantis on September 13, 2016, 05:02:30 AM

The last thing? I don't like the idea of being a commander sending tons of my people to their deaths. That might sound weird, but it's just uncomfortable and not fun for me. I'm trying to save humanity, not wipe out a generation of it because I absolutely had to hold this objective no matter the cost. I expect that won't be a typical reaction, and that's fine. For me? This is deeply unappealing on a lot of levels, hence the kneejerk reaction. Background on that: in tabletop RPGs, I favor playing the healer or some support/protective role. My favorite ship in AI War is the one that makes other ships not die (and those are just drones!). In Space Pirates And Zombies, I always try to rescue all the guys who pop out of ships when you blow them up.

On top of all the gameplay objections, I've got a visceral dislike of potentially losing a game because I got every pilot humanity has killed. (As I said, I don't expect that to be a common objection.)

This is actually a concern of mine as well. On one hand, I play Imperial Guard in 40k, so grimdark "drown them in bodies" is not entirely repulsive to me, but AI War never seemed like that kind of grimdark. One of the things that I feel is core to its design is huge fleets smashing into each other, and, while that makes sense for 40k humanity to have these fleets be manned, it seems unrealistic to have in a game like AI War where humanity's state is closer to the Eldar than to the Imperium. If I were the commander, I'd want to keep every human life as safe as possible.

To some extent, making every lost ship valuable seems thematically appropriate. Careful use of resources and all that. But the pilots solution seems incompatible with the aforementioned massive battles, both from a gameplay standpoint - the bigger the battle, the more casualties you'll take and your permanent losses will be worse - and from a fluff standpoint, since it makes no sense to throw thousands of members of an endangered species into combat. I mean, imagine if every trash Mk. I fighter you lost was another human life gone. It would make any engagement feel extremely irresponsible and kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

It could be done if you just use elite, low-cap ships that you'd ordinarily play more conservatively with, or if you just ran away whenever you saw an enemy force you might not beat, but that's not AI War to me.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Pumpkin on September 13, 2016, 08:22:49 AM
I just thought that it would also make starship-only strategy immensely viable. Even with a ratio similar to the metal ratio (if there is 1 pilot in a 1,000 metal ship, there are 100 pilots in a 100,000 metal starship), abusing starships will be a huge advantage because of the retreat & repair strategy. They must have a special rule or something, and that already seems a patch over a patch.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: skrutsch on September 13, 2016, 08:29:11 AM
Trying to help grab a principle from this discussion...

Are "we" realizing the need for some game element(s) that are finite (to apply pressure to drive toward the end of the game), yet not prone to micromanagement?

Pilots are too precious not to micro, and their loss too morbid.

Ships are finite in the sense of cap limits, but they may or may not be infinitely rebuildable.

Metal seems workable... plentiful, necessary, but finite.  (However, I feel this "Warcraft model" lacks a certain elegance I expect from an Arcen game.)

Turret/defense on a planet should be finite, I know they can be insanely so in AIW Classic.  Is micro relatively low, more of a "reload last saved game" thing?

This thread has also mentioned AIP, hacking points, science points as resources that are already finite in AIW Classic.  There are several other resources and several "time" resources that could also be examined, if it helps anyone in their thinking.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Cinth on September 13, 2016, 08:35:25 AM
I'm going to point out here that the original idea as presented, is effectively dead.  Reasons being a bit numerous and mostly covered. 

Well, folks have brought up a lot of really valid points, and it definitely would change things up too much.  I think it would be fun to play with from a design perspective, but it would be a "that's not AI War" scenario, you're right.

Later on before I read any responses, I realized a couple of things myself, too:

1. The deal with pilots is really a lot more thematic, and something that I like for those reasons more than anything else.

2. The limitations with metal don't have to be related to pilots at all.  A much simpler revision to the game would be simply:
a. Increase the ship construction speed.
b. Make each metal pile have a finite amount in it like you see in Warcraft II.
c. In the event that the player has next to no metal and no way to get more from their current planets, the AI goes Kill Bill on the player.

That's a lot less drastic and would be easier to play around with either as a game variant (lobby option) or whatever, without destroying the core of the game.  It still wouldn't fix the core issues, and it doesn't mess with the thematic stuff I wanted to explore, but it is something I kinda like in some ways in the same way that I like the Scorched Earth option in AI War Classic.

Let's use #2 as a new starting point.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: NickAragua on September 13, 2016, 09:41:57 AM
I'm going to point out here that the original idea as presented, is effectively dead.  Reasons being a bit numerous and mostly covered. 

Well, folks have brought up a lot of really valid points, and it definitely would change things up too much.  I think it would be fun to play with from a design perspective, but it would be a "that's not AI War" scenario, you're right.

Later on before I read any responses, I realized a couple of things myself, too:

1. The deal with pilots is really a lot more thematic, and something that I like for those reasons more than anything else.

2. The limitations with metal don't have to be related to pilots at all.  A much simpler revision to the game would be simply:
a. Increase the ship construction speed.
b. Make each metal pile have a finite amount in it like you see in Warcraft II.
c. In the event that the player has next to no metal and no way to get more from their current planets, the AI goes Kill Bill on the player.

That's a lot less drastic and would be easier to play around with either as a game variant (lobby option) or whatever, without destroying the core of the game.  It still wouldn't fix the core issues, and it doesn't mess with the thematic stuff I wanted to explore, but it is something I kinda like in some ways in the same way that I like the Scorched Earth option in AI War Classic.

Let's use #2 as a new starting point.

Well, except there's the problem that the AI has an infinite number of ships. I don't like the idea of the human players having finite resources but the AI having unlimited resources.

Of course, if you give the AI limited resources, it'll squander them (because it always does) on building the crappiest possible units and sending them at your base one at a time.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 10:15:47 AM
Quote
2. The limitations with metal don't have to be related to pilots at all.  A much simpler revision to the game would be simply:
a. Increase the ship construction speed.
b. Make each metal pile have a finite amount in it like you see in Warcraft II.
c. In the event that the player has next to no metal and no way to get more from their current planets, the AI goes Kill Bill on the player.

I don't see the difference between the pilot idea and this, except that now you're also limiting the number of turrets & building.
Me -> possibly missing something here.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Draco18s on September 13, 2016, 10:54:33 AM
Quote
2. The limitations with metal don't have to be related to pilots at all.  A much simpler revision to the game would be simply:
a. Increase the ship construction speed.
b. Make each metal pile have a finite amount in it like you see in Warcraft II.
c. In the event that the player has next to no metal and no way to get more from their current planets, the AI goes Kill Bill on the player.

I don't see the difference between the pilot idea and this, except that now you're also limiting the number of turrets & building.
Me -> possibly missing something here.

Kind of my reaction. I'd almost suggested Chris's thing of "limited metal" but it brought me to roughly the same conclusion:
Highly defensive play, restrictions on being able to build/maintain turrets, plus "running out" isn't actually an end-game scenario.

That is, if your metal deposits run out just as your fleet finishes reconstruction, you're in a fairly superior position, but the AI goes apeshit on you, chewing through your last mobile possibility of claiming another planet.

And if there's any kind of orbiting scrap mechanic (dead units on your planet being harvestable for metal) then it just encourages turtling to build up your supply again.
Title: Re: Insane idea: QUASI-finite number of player ships. Pilots!
Post by: Yavaun on September 14, 2016, 09:49:15 PM
Too radical!

Seriously, it's a neat idea for the theme but large scale all out wars and macromanagement of your economy / production is a core of the game for me. With limited number of ships, why not take a step further and turn it from an RTS into a RTT?

The two resources which end the game are time and AIP. Throwing away your ships is already discouraged, exactly because it takes time to rebuild them - time you spend in a weakened and vulnerable position. A finite goldmine in Warcraft only works because it's the same finite number for every player on the map. A finite computer center in Wargames (the RTS) works because combat happens on a much smaller scale and you can micro your units with such finesse that you will never lose a single one.
These are completely different concepts to what AI War is and they don't mix well imho.