Author Topic: Achron Suggestions / Criticism  (Read 6653 times)

Offline Kron

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Re: Achron Suggestions / Criticism
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2010, 01:58:57 PM »
Hi there, x4000! I'm honored that you took the time to post in my thread! <3

Heh, I was planning on making a long and detailed explanation of why most of your points were wrong, but that's completely besides the point isn't it?

Thanks for the infodump. It's been very educational.
  • Firstly, it's clear to me that I should poke the devs into making some attempt to make the game look friendlier to Supcom-lineage players.
  • Secondly, we really need to elaborate further on how chronoenergy works. I mean, the information is there, but it's easy to gloss over apparently.
We're kinda fighting an uphill battle against a lot of earlier games and how they trailblazed temporal mechanics. Sometimes it's Prince of Persia, sometimes it's Braid.

Furthermore, I find it somewhat scary how far the game's repetitive quality has been exaggerated in your mind. For example, your reference to defeating the enemy a dozen times... I don't think I've ever had a battle move onto iteration 3, and I don't think anyone has seen a battle move onto iteration 4.

It's not only you either. Lots of complete strangers to the game have given me that same piece of feedback: "The game will never end!"

2. I'm a huge fan of time travel stuff.  Back to the Future (the whole trilogy), the Doomsday Book (and the rest of that series), and Chrono Trigger are amongst my favorite things.  However, Achron doesn't really grab me in the same way as them, and I think the reason is that it's not very exciting time travel to go back in time thirty minutes, or an hour.  That's more like the Omega 13 device that lets you correct a mistake, rather than true time travel.

I must admit, I had an ulterior motive for bringing this discussion to this community in particular.

Normal RTSs last around 30 minutes. The average AI War game lasts 8 hours.
This is a community of players that are used to epic campaigns; they're really in it for the long slog. Start a game in January, end it by March; that sort of thing.

I wanted to throw Achron at you guys and specifically point out that the time-window length is basically freely customizable and then see what you guys did with it! Sure, we have 10 minute timelines, but what would a 10 hour timeline be like? Imagine sending back troops through a wormhole to the state of the game a month ago (by your playtest schedule) to set right what once went wrong?


I'll admit I have trouble imagining. But maybe you guys can help me. <3
« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 02:36:45 PM by Kron »
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Offline RCIX

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Re: Achron Suggestions / Criticism
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2010, 09:15:50 PM »
Normal RTSs last around 30 minutes. The average AI War game lasts 8 hours.
This is a community of players that are used to epic campaigns; they're really in it for the long slog. Start a game in January, end it by March; that sort of thing.

I wanted to throw Achron at you guys and specifically point out that the time-window length is basically freely customizable and then see what you guys did with it! Sure, we have 10 minute timelines, but what would a 10 hour timeline be like? Imagine sending back troops through a wormhole to the state of the game a month ago (by your playtest schedule) to set right what once went wrong?

Gonna be kinda hard when Achron can only barely handle ~10-15 minute timelines ;)
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Offline Kron

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Re: Achron Suggestions / Criticism
« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2010, 05:10:28 AM »
... I'm appalled. I thought all Achron members knew that the engine isn't computationally restricted by timeline-length, we just restrict it for gameplay reasons.

Heck, I pointed this out (in bold) in the opening post of this thread!
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Offline RCIX

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Re: Achron Suggestions / Criticism
« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2010, 09:39:09 PM »
... I'm appalled. I thought all Achron members knew that the engine isn't computationally restricted by timeline-length, we just restrict it for gameplay reasons.

Heck, I pointed this out (in bold) in the opening post of this thread!
I'm guessing that was sarcasm? In case you don't remember my original versions of Still Valley...
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Offline x4000

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Re: Achron Suggestions / Criticism
« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2010, 09:42:19 PM »
One thing I've learned with AI War is that the more information that we try to give folks all at a go, the less of it is absorbed.  That's why I've taken to doing "executive summary" notes for the release notes, and our marketing materials have shrunk and shrunk and shrunk.

All good on your other comments, Kron -- I'm quite happy to be wrong.  My comments were based on early videos, and other player commentaries around here (impressions that others had of the game -- so can be a bit like playing "telephone").  My hope is that my comments might shed some light on at least the impressions that myself and I believe a pocket of other people had (and perhaps this is representative of other people as well), so that if that is really a problem in terms of communications then later videos or marketing materials might be updated if you guys see fit.  But, I'm not really making any suggestions, just giving what my perception was and letting you guys decide.  Hope it's useful, but I understand it might not be. ;)
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Offline Kron

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Re: Achron Suggestions / Criticism
« Reply #20 on: October 31, 2010, 04:49:44 AM »
I'm guessing that was sarcasm? In case you don't remember my original versions of Still Valley...

That was a bug, remember? Stakhanov got separated into a completely different universe for some strange reason.

If it were a computational overload, the game would've simply collapsed, not fractured like that.

One thing I've learned with AI War is that the more information that we try to give folks all at a go, the less of it is absorbed.  That's why I've taken to doing "executive summary" notes for the release notes, and our marketing materials have shrunk and shrunk and shrunk.

That's... fascinating. And that makes a lot of sense. I'd love it if you could elaborate on this further!

All good on your other comments, Kron -- I'm quite happy to be wrong.  My comments were based on early videos, and other player commentaries around here (impressions that others had of the game -- so can be a bit like playing "telephone").  My hope is that my comments might shed some light on at least the impressions that myself and I believe a pocket of other people had (and perhaps this is representative of other people as well), so that if that is really a problem in terms of communications then later videos or marketing materials might be updated if you guys see fit.  But, I'm not really making any suggestions, just giving what my perception was and letting you guys decide.  Hope it's useful, but I understand it might not be. ;)

You've been a great help for exactly that reason! It's nice to know what other people see when they take a cursory glance at the devs' videos / interviews. :3
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Offline RCIX

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Re: Achron Suggestions / Criticism
« Reply #21 on: October 31, 2010, 04:11:05 PM »
I'm guessing that was sarcasm? In case you don't remember my original versions of Still Valley...

That was a bug, remember? Stakhanov got separated into a completely different universe for some strange reason.

If it were a computational overload, the game would've simply collapsed, not fractured like that.
The main overload comes from the number and/or speed of timewaves you need to reasonably play a map that big :P
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Offline Buttons840

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Re: Achron Suggestions / Criticism
« Reply #22 on: October 31, 2010, 09:34:54 PM »
I'm very interested by the time travel mechanic of the game.  One thing that bothers me though (and I don't have a proposed solution) is that time travel is tied very closely to the games interface.  For example, I can't send units back in time and then micro-manage them, but I have to send them back, and then issue a single one-click command.

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Re: Achron Suggestions / Criticism
« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2010, 02:32:31 PM »
I'm very interested by the time travel mechanic of the game.  One thing that bothers me though (and I don't have a proposed solution) is that time travel is tied very closely to the games interface.  For example, I can't send units back in time and then micro-manage them, but I have to send them back, and then issue a single one-click command.
Not quite clear on what you're saying here, but if you mean how command issuing is limited the further back you go via chronoenergy, then that was intended for reasons i forget :P
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Offline Kron

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Re: Achron Suggestions / Criticism
« Reply #24 on: November 03, 2010, 01:42:19 AM »
RCIX, if you play an 8-hour long timeline with a timewave every hour, Resequence should be able to handle that easily.

Furthermore, that might actually be useful in a game that stretches on as long as AI War.

I'm very interested by the time travel mechanic of the game.  One thing that bothers me though (and I don't have a proposed solution) is that time travel is tied very closely to the games interface.  For example, I can't send units back in time and then micro-manage them, but I have to send them back, and then issue a single one-click command.

Actually, you can shift-queue orders through a chronport. Tell your units to go back in time and do stuff in the present; chronoenergy costs are only associated with transmitting orders directly to the past.

You can even play in the "unplayable past" this way.
Time travel in the classic sense has no place in rational theory, but temporal distortion does exist on the quantum level, and more importantly it can be controlled.
- Academician Prokhor Zakharov, "For I Have Tasted the Fruit"

Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: Achron Suggestions / Criticism
« Reply #25 on: November 03, 2010, 09:22:40 PM »
What is the moddability? Can we change how time is used and gained? Because first change I'd do (or want).

1) Add 2 resources that need to be harvested with harvesters and that are only spread a certain range "back" with a linear dilution value applied that means, resources that are generated EXTRA for the past. (A research thingy could be to 1) Enable this, 2) extend range and 3) reduce dilution - This obviously means that sending an building too far back will net you with a nice looking building that can't build anything. Also means that all resources used in the present are not usable in the past, this is imo the most important part because it adds an incentive to go back for more than just tricking the enemy but not go too far back with buildings, making your economy always attackable.

2) Add Time Resource gathering building that requires one of both resources (flow based) and stores "Time" globally (Across all of time) time range accessible is only starting once this building has been build, and LOSING it removes your access to all the time. Meaning units in the past can potentially be stranded there. (Important for strategy) Obviously should be a "can be built more than once" kind of deal ;) but each extra building has a "decaying" efficiency

3) Time energy use is not dependent on just unit counts but on "AOE field size" so more time energy, more units can be time transported at once. (More energy = Larger Radius can be affected) Buildings can only be transported "single file" and have a "massive" fade-in/fade-out delay.

4) Units moving from present to past have a fade-out and fade-in time of about 30 seconds, during which enemy can (with units in the past or present) intercept and insta kill them COMPLETELY wiping them from time. Research decreases this by 50% each level

6) Orders would not cost time energy anymore of course, that just makes you dependent on the unit AI and that is a bad thing.

7) Location where you can send units from is "everywhere within the field of view" and exit location would be identical to where units started to fade-in.

8) certain locations on the maps are time-unstable, trying to affect or move units in those zones can have random catastrophic results but not always (particularly this one spirals out to all kinds of fun time anomalies.

x9) The time propagation would have to become instant or 1minute or so would be ok too. We'll see what the engine can cope with ;)

10) Changing view to time requires time energy. ;D

Since this is about suggestions, the suggestion is obviously that this all should be possible to do (and more) ;P

Some of these changes might seem very weird, but what i want to do is move the game away from starcraft gameplay and make it more a strategy time travel game than a micro management rts ;)

If what i wrote above is possible to do then Achron would have a release day buy from me ;) If not i shall continue waiting for that certain game that can do this.

For reference, i am talking 100% pure mod here, not base game. The base game has its vision on how time travel should be in a game and i have mine ;)
« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 09:27:42 PM by eRe4s3r »
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Offline Kron

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Re: Achron Suggestions / Criticism
« Reply #26 on: November 06, 2010, 05:37:49 AM »
Akh! Sorry for taking so long to reply, eRe4s3r! I've finally managed to get back to Bangalore just a few hours ago...

Anyway, response time!

What is the moddability? Can we change how time is used and gained? Because first change I'd do (or want).

Yeah, it's fairly moddable. Still, the engine has various restrictions based on computational constraints... so you'd be surprised by the occasional things you can't mod.

1) Add 2 resources that need to be harvested with harvesters and that are only spread a certain range "back" with a linear dilution value applied that means, resources that are generated EXTRA for the past. (A research thingy could be to 1) Enable this, 2) extend range and 3) reduce dilution - This obviously means that sending an building too far back will net you with a nice looking building that can't build anything. Also means that all resources used in the present are not usable in the past, this is imo the most important part because it adds an incentive to go back for more than just tricking the enemy but not go too far back with buildings, making your economy always attackable.

I'm not sure what you mean by this. Can you explain it further? How can a resource be usable in the present and not in the past; the peresent becomes the past doesn't it? The timeline would be unstable if mechanics at any moment were fundamentally connected to where the moment is in comparison to metatime.

2) Add Time Resource gathering building that requires one of both resources (flow based) and stores "Time" globally (Across all of time) time range accessible is only starting once this building has been build, and LOSING it removes your access to all the time. Meaning units in the past can potentially be stranded there. (Important for strategy) Obviously should be a "can be built more than once" kind of deal ;) but each extra building has a "decaying" efficiency

This isn't possible. Quick teminology note: "global across time" is "achronal", while "local to a moment in time" is "chronal" in Achron terminology. Achronal structures will immediately destabilize the timeline, where anything you do at any timewave affects the rest of the instances of the structure across time... it'll be utter chaos.

If you want me to explain further, I'll do so.

3) Time energy use is not dependent on just unit counts but on "AOE field size" so more time energy, more units can be time transported at once. (More energy = Larger Radius can be affected) Buildings can only be transported "single file" and have a "massive" fade-in/fade-out delay.

Chronoenergy isn't used in chronoportation; it's only used for giving orders. This is fully moddable though.

4) Units moving from present to past have a fade-out and fade-in time of about 30 seconds, during which enemy can (with units in the past or present) intercept and insta kill them COMPLETELY wiping them from time. Research decreases this by 50% each level

Research? Huh. I thought AI War players would be united with SupCom players in their general distaste of research.

How will wiping them from the timeline work? Also, won't this instantly lead to a lot of bizarre paradoxes? If a unit is wiped from the timeline, they were never created in the first place, meaning they couldn't have gone back in time and been wiped from the timeline.

(Actually, from a less game-mechanical note, this makes little sense from a general "internal consistency" level. This is... Dr. Who logic. How exactly an instance of a unit at one location is supposed to be intimately connected to all other instances of the unit across time escapes me. But what the heck.)

Another terminology note: We call the fade timer "rechronoport delay" since it destroys units who try time travelling again before the effect from the previous temporal jaunt wears off. Also, the ability to modify rechronoport delay length is within the engine and a research can be modded in pretty easily.

6) Orders would not cost time energy anymore of course, that just makes you dependent on the unit AI and that is a bad thing.

This turns the game into a race for the past. The sort of thing that various other posters on these boards have brought up already as a possible flaw in the game design ("Won't everyone just rush to the past as far as they can?").

Right now, chronoenergy costs help balance out the past from the present and the future. You can mod this in though (and neutralizing chronoenergy costs for sandbox maps where we try ideas out is fairly common).

7) Location where you can send units from is "everywhere within the field of view" and exit location would be identical to where units started to fade-in.

I'll do you one better: the Grekim can chronoport from anywhere. They don't need any chronoporters at all.

8) certain locations on the maps are time-unstable, trying to affect or move units in those zones can have random catastrophic results but not always (particularly this one spirals out to all kinds of fun time anomalies.

Oh man, I've had this idea myself! Maps with a central timestorm or something!

Fully moddable through level scripting, but we have to be careful not to make the timeline to chaotic. I myself prefer hypothesizing maps with capturable structures that provide time-travel based services. (Imagine Starcraft II maps where all the Xel'Naga watchtowers were replaced by time machines or something...)

x9) The time propagation would have to become instant or 1minute or so would be ok too. We'll see what the engine can cope with ;)

Akh. Sorry, no can do. The engine won't be able to handle it; see my equation in the opening post. Timewave speed is a big factor here.

If you keep the number of timewaves down, and the number of units down (to like under 10), then yes we can make it near instant. But we can't throw around several hundred units with unique abilities and unit AIs and ask the engine to process the game at x100 speed.

10) Changing view to time requires time energy. ;D

Heh, I think this may have actually been in the game at one point, before the devs removed it. I'm not sure what it'll do to balance exactly...

Since this is about suggestions, the suggestion is obviously that this all should be possible to do (and more) ;P

Heh, meta-suggestion noted.

Of your 9 suggestions (there's no #5), 8 are moddable. The only impossibility here is instant propagation, due to computational limits. If you have a fast enough PC, then that's practically possible too.

Some of these changes might seem very weird, but what i want to do is move the game away from starcraft gameplay and make it more a strategy time travel game than a micro management rts ;)

Actually, the game isn't very micro-based at all. When you play a game where anyone can skip back a few seconds and change a few things, the game becomes very micro-unfriendly.

Only overarching strategies will survive the general fluidity of time; micromanagement is simply so context-sensitive that if the enemy simply shifts her formation two steps to the right by the next timewave, your entire army will fall flat on its face.

Still, I approve of your intent. I myself prefer strategic play over APM-based clickfests.

If what i wrote above is possible to do then Achron would have a release day buy from me ;) If not i shall continue waiting for that certain game that can do this.

What you wrote probably isn't going to end up in Achron, but it's all moddable (even the initial ones with the achronal structures that will devolve the timeline into chaos). The engine is extremely flexible.

For reference, i am talking 100% pure mod here, not base game. The base game has its vision on how time travel should be in a game and i have mine ;)

Oh! Uh... then yes. It's all doable. #9 is very sketchy unless you're running some sort of mainframe, but otherwise you're good to go.


Thanks for your interesting suggestions, eRe4s3r! ^_^
Time travel in the classic sense has no place in rational theory, but temporal distortion does exist on the quantum level, and more importantly it can be controlled.
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Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: Achron Suggestions / Criticism
« Reply #27 on: November 06, 2010, 02:54:11 PM »
Thanks for your indepth reply ;)

Quote
How can a resource be usable in the present and not in the past

Well, by cheating the time system of course. Used resources can not be "used" in the past except those extra ones that each mine produces and "sends back" in a non-lossless way through an entire "area" of time.


--

I see about #2... thats true, though it *is* the intent of the mod (to be able to destabilize timelines and all ,p) actually, it'd be interesting to see if the game could actually cope with a complete disappearance of the "source" of the timeline. Before building said "time access" there'd be no time line display

to 3# Cool ;P

--

As for Research, if its global research AI War players already have it ;) Of course in a game like this having unit improving research or abilities becomes way too confusing...

--

to 6# Yeah, truthfully that is why #2 is there ;) With the decaying resources the further back in time you go, going back to the zero hour, the less usable "extra resources" you have. If its a flow based income system then i see no issue there to explain it in AI War terms, 1 extractor has (making this stuff up) 3.0/s metal, for the present, once it is build those resources are an always there stream. When it is used for something that stream becomes 0.

Now you travel back (before it is build) but due to "support" from your present every metal extractor now projects an extra 0.5/s back to the past. This creates 2 usable resource streams.

Of course, not sure whether that is playable or even fun, but it sounds like a cool thing to try ;P
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Offline Kron

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Re: Achron Suggestions / Criticism
« Reply #28 on: November 08, 2010, 01:14:13 AM »
Thanks for your indepth reply ;)

You're welcome! <3

Quote
How can a resource be usable in the present and not in the past

Well, by cheating the time system of course. Used resources can not be "used" in the past except those extra ones that each mine produces and "sends back" in a non-lossless way through an entire "area" of time.

I'm not sure if this makes much sense. Think of it this way: Say you mine 20 crystal at the 3:00 mark.
  • 3:00 could be in the future! Maybe you built the mining station at 2:30 and the engine extrapolated it forward.
  • 3:00 could be in the present! For a single moment, the present timewave will cross it.
  • 3:00 could be in the past! Once your present timewave crosses it, all natural timewaves will treat it as being 'in the past' for any mechanics you build that differentiate past from the present.
Do you see the problem here?

Anything you do will be automatically unraveled because the moment will move to the past, the action will be invalidated (since resources are apparently diluted in the past), and then a timewave will propagate your lack of actions into the present.

The timeline will be inherently unstable, with anything you do automatically invalidating itself after some metatime.
Time travel in the classic sense has no place in rational theory, but temporal distortion does exist on the quantum level, and more importantly it can be controlled.
- Academician Prokhor Zakharov, "For I Have Tasted the Fruit"