Author Topic: Developers requesting feedback: differentiating Greek and Norse human units more  (Read 1408 times)

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,225
So far all these new bandits.... pretty mean.  They're not so simple to take out now.  Things are quite a bit more exciting here.  The differentiation between the different types just makes it that much more interesting.

Now if only we could get the human units on the Norse and Greek sides to be a bit more differentiated as well.... that'd be a great improvement.

Sweet!  And in terms of the units on the Greek and Norse side being more differentiated, I'm always open to suggestions. :)

Hmm, why not do another "developer feedback" topic, focused on that?   Those topics seem to generate good results and are easily noticeable on the forums.

On the note of that though, hmm.... I'll have to ponder it for awhile and see if I cant come up with some ideas myself.

I can say, there's a couple of units that probably DONT need to change as they rather are pretty different:   Trojan Horse (obviously), Arsonists (because of their many, many hits and melee-range-only traits), and Prodromos (huge AP count, so often a huge move range).   Possibly Oxybele as well because that thing is crazy strong.... I doubt that one needs additional anything.

Thread speaks for itself! ;)
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline madcow

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,151
Hmm.  One idea to differentiate is to go the way that Starcraft races are balanced (this is a huge simplification). The basic Starcraft units - zergling, marine, and zealot are (again grossly simplified) designed so that 1 zealot = 2 marines = 4 zerglings.

Basically in skyward collapse terms, I envision the Norse as a horde of untrained fighters, and the Greek as trained regimented soldiers. To that end you could half the Norse unit training cooldowns, health, and damage - possibly increase base movement a little.  This is rather a shotgun blast rebalancing, but would fairly drastically change things up ;)

Offline Mick

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
I think the differentiation is more fun when it's an obvious difference, so I think it's important that differentiation doesn't focus too much on what it gets a bonus against. I think most players can't be bothered to hover around and check what "type" each unit is and compare the different bonuses.

If a differentiting factor of a unit is a bonus against a type though, I think it should be very obvious - like a flavor description of that unit should point it out - "these units are fantastic for taking down siege units" for example.

To give more flexibility, you could balance out huge advantages with huge weaknesses. For example, beserker units could have a property that makes them take 2-3x as much damage from a counter attack, and a huge penalty to their own counter attack, but they could get a huge attack value to make them effective shock troops.

EDIT: Another idea is to give some units some kinda auto-cast "cooldown" abilities. As an example, Longbowmen could have some type of "rain of fire" that blankets a 4x4 area with attacks for the turn, but they can only use it every 5 turns.

« Last Edit: June 20, 2013, 09:42:13 AM by Mick »

Offline melkathi

  • Newbie Mark III
  • *
  • Posts: 26
I agree with Mick.
As a new player I am way too overwhelmed to do much more than notice that one unit is heavy infantry while another is light infantry. I can predict that if this unit fights that unit, that unit will die. But that is the extent of what I can do with the information.

Some more colourfull abilities would make the differentiation far clearer and possibly fun. They could also add new strategic depth.

A marauder for example could have a "pillage" passive ability that allows him to generate a tiny amound of resources when attacking or destroying a building. For example per attack on a building the marauder gains one sheep (or other random resource). If greek infantry is stronger than norse infantry (with perhaps some ability based on the spartans at Thermopylae - increased stats when adjacent to more than one enemy?), then the norse may find a viable strategy in concentrating more on unit production, sacrificing their units in raids on the greeks to gain resources, while the greeks will need more resource production to support their stronger units.

Offline Misery

  • Global Moderator
  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,099
I think the differentiation is more fun when it's an obvious difference, so I think it's important that differentiation doesn't focus too much on what it gets a bonus against. I think most players can't be bothered to hover around and check what "type" each unit is and compare the different bonuses.

If a differentiting factor of a unit is a bonus against a type though, I think it should be very obvious - like a flavor description of that unit should point it out - "these units are fantastic for taking down siege units" for example.

To give more flexibility, you could balance out huge advantages with huge weaknesses. For example, beserker units could have a property that makes them take 2-3x as much damage from a counter attack, and a huge penalty to their own counter attack, but they could get a huge attack value to make them effective shock troops.

EDIT: Another idea is to give some units some kinda auto-cast "cooldown" abilities. As an example, Longbowmen could have some type of "rain of fire" that blankets a 4x4 area with attacks for the turn, but they can only use it every 5 turns.


Yeah, that sorta thing is pretty much what I was thinking.   The bonuses can lead to additional damage, buuuuuut, this is assuming that the unit gets to attack that exact type of target.   And there's so very many types of units and they're often all over the place in a chaotic battle with the AI on each doing who knows what that that one aspect doesnt mean much most of the time.   Each unit should stand out somehow, giving the player reason to use buildings to choose among them and try to produce specific ones based on what's going on, but them standing out shouldnt be based just on damage bonuses.  However, things like a unit being extra damaging or extra defensive VS ranged units as a whole or something is not a bad idea either.

The difficult part is coming up with things that will keep the overall balance the way it is now;  with the Greeks being a bit stronger in an overall sense than the Norse as far as human units go, and bandits still being inherantly stronger than both (as they currently seem to be due to higher stats).

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,225
Hmm.  One idea to differentiate is to go the way that Starcraft races are balanced (this is a huge simplification). The basic Starcraft units - zergling, marine, and zealot are (again grossly simplified) designed so that 1 zealot = 2 marines = 4 zerglings.

We already kind of do this with the Norse being way weaker than the the Greek units, but bear in mind that Starcraft ONLY has three races, so they can do that more easily.  We are planning to add lots more civilizations, and having them all be unique just by stats alone really wouldn't work.  I think the differences need to be in behavior or special abilities.  There's a finite number of things we can do there as well, but if you look at (say) AI War, I think it's a pretty cool model in terms of a lot of the crazy things that become possible.

I think the differentiation is more fun when it's an obvious difference, so I think it's important that differentiation doesn't focus too much on what it gets a bonus against. I think most players can't be bothered to hover around and check what "type" each unit is and compare the different bonuses.

I think you are right, but I think that also the differences of those bonuses is also a good thing.  It's just a staple of strategy games, and some people really do like it.

To give more flexibility, you could balance out huge advantages with huge weaknesses. For example, beserker units could have a property that makes them take 2-3x as much damage from a counter attack, and a huge penalty to their own counter attack, but they could get a huge attack value to make them effective shock troops.

Yeah, that's a very good point.

EDIT: Another idea is to give some units some kinda auto-cast "cooldown" abilities. As an example, Longbowmen could have some type of "rain of fire" that blankets a 4x4 area with attacks for the turn, but they can only use it every 5 turns.

Ooh!  This is a pretty cool idea.  That would be a great thing for expansion.  There is one problem with that, though: if the AI isn't absolutely perfect at what you think it should do, that will be hair-tearingly frustrating.  Taking that example:

1. Does the longbowman fire at a weaker target in the middle of a bunch of other targets?  If so, the targeting logic gets very specific to him, and very challenging.
2. Does the longbowman hold his fire in terms of that ability if there are not suitable targets all in one place?  If so, then that's really challenging to know when to use it, because the situation changes all the time.  And since he's intentionally not closing distance to enemies past his minimum firing range, that's going to mean he's rarely in a good firing position.

In short, with abilities with cooldowns these are the sorts of things that really make more sense when they are directly human-triggered.  If the AI is trying to control them, the complexity goes through the roof for us coders, and the frustration is likely to remain high with players anyhow.

A different sort of thing is contextual abilities with cooldowns.  Aka, "he will always fire this when he is able to, if the cooldown is at zero."  So in other words, there is no intelligence there on the part of the AI, and you know that.  And better yet it's predictable, so your job is to make sure he is in range of something appropriate when his cooldown hits zero.  But there again, you don't have enough direct control to really ensure that, so it's kind of frustrating.

Another sort of thing is periodic abilities with cooldowns.  So this is a non-targeted ability to some extent, or at least only somewhat targeted, and it happens every X turns no matter what.  Demonaica in Valley 2 is a good example of this.  But it's easier with him, because even if he casts status effects on a tile your survivors are not on, he's still blocking you and causing problems.  And frankly the point is for your survivors to be out of his range in the first place, as the effects are major and hugely negative.  Versus in Skyward you'd want the enemy to BE in the range, so that again gets frustrating because there's no guarantee they would be.

Of course cursing free will is a part of this game, but when it comes to your own units (red and blue I mean), I think that it's a fine line.  Having the Japanese wandering gods do something like this (they are intentionally rebellious) would be fine.  Having bandit villains do something like this would be fine.  Even having hero units do this specifically when targeting the villain only would be fine.  There's enough context there in all cases, and those all make sense.

But for regular units?  That seems like too much potential for frustration.  And honestly I think there's a big risk of making them "too special" for just regular human units.  The human units are only supposed to be so special, if you know what I mean, until they get stacked with bonuses from tokens and so on.  So I mean, unique is good, but having special powers beyond what the mytho creatures do is taking it way too far.

A marauder for example could have a "pillage" passive ability that allows him to generate a tiny amound of resources when attacking or destroying a building. For example per attack on a building the marauder gains one sheep (or other random resource). If greek infantry is stronger than norse infantry (with perhaps some ability based on the spartans at Thermopylae - increased stats when adjacent to more than one enemy?), then the norse may find a viable strategy in concentrating more on unit production, sacrificing their units in raids on the greeks to gain resources, while the greeks will need more resource production to support their stronger units.

This is much more along the lines of what I have in mind.  This is something that is consistent and non-targeted and so forth.  You know that every time a marauder hits a building, there's going to be some theft.  So that's predictable and universal and interesting.  In fact, this could practically be a bonus for all Norse barracks units, and that would be pretty interesting.  But some could have greater theft rates than others.

The difficult part is coming up with things that will keep the overall balance the way it is now;  with the Greeks being a bit stronger in an overall sense than the Norse as far as human units go, and bandits still being inherantly stronger than both (as they currently seem to be due to higher stats).

I think that coming up with ideas that affect more than just combat (like the pillaging idea) is to some extent interesting.  But there's only so much we can really do with that, certainly.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Mick

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 911

A marauder for example could have a "pillage" passive ability that allows him to generate a tiny amound of resources when attacking or destroying a building.

Ooo, I like that. Very fitting I think.

Offline Mick

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
I don't think units should be super-smart about them. In the longbow example, I think "will I hit more than one target?" would be perfectly acceptable.

I of course can't speak for everyone, but I'd personally feel OK if units were not making "optimal" use of their cool down abilities. I think the key would be to make the cooldowns fairly short and the effects moderate. If a unit's cooldown is pretty much the selling point and it only fires every 10 turns, yeah that's going to be frustrating when he effectively "fizzles" it in a useless way. So a good rule of thumb might be to limit cooldown length to say 3 turns, and just make sure the unit isn't useless if it's on-cooldown.

Offline nas1m

  • Master Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,254
I don't think units should be super-smart about them. In the longbow example, I think "will I hit more than one target?" would be perfectly acceptable.

I of course can't speak for everyone, but I'd personally feel OK if units were not making "optimal" use of their cool down abilities. I think the key would be to make the cooldowns fairly short and the effects moderate. If a unit's cooldown is pretty much the selling point and it only fires every 10 turns, yeah that's going to be frustrating when he effectively "fizzles" it in a useless way. So a good rule of thumb might be to limit cooldown length to say 3 turns, and just make sure the unit isn't useless if it's on-cooldown.
This :).
Craving some more color and variety in your next Bionic run? Grab a boost and a couple of custom floors!

Offline madcow

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,151
Passive abilities are cool. I like the pillage idea.

Offline Teal_Blue

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 935
I don't know how workable this is, but regarding the soldier units, say the cool-down also acts as a strength timer, so say, that archers fire and have a strength of 2, then go into a cool-down of 30 seconds before they can fire again. In the strength timer, say an opposing unit comes into range as the archer comes up on 15 seconds into cool-down, so the archer fires because the other unit is in range, but at only half the strength the archer normally has.

Or if a melee unit comes up on an opponent and fires off his 1 damage hit, and another unit moves into range as the melee unit goes into cool-down, but is only 5 seconds into the 30 second cool-down, but because the opponent is in range, the melee unit fires again, but at only one sixth his 1 damage strength.

Just an idea, and maybe too much to deal with, but there may be other ways to make it so that units have different damage and armor strengths at different times and are not always consistently just one value.  :)

-Teal


Offline Misery

  • Global Moderator
  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,099
The cooldown ability idea is interesting, but there's one big reason why I think it wouldnt work:  Because it adds a bit too much for the player to keep track of.

This is a complicated game, and there's already alot to keep track of.... which is how it should be, yes, but some things might take that a bit too far;  having to keep track of how many turns various units have until their special abilities flare could get frustrating for the player.


Wheras with passive abilities, you simply need to remember what unit does what.... you dont have to worry about how OFTEN and exactly WHEN they'll do it, which makes sense in this type of game.

That doesnt mean that the passives have to be super simplistic or anything.


For example, you could take one of the Archer type units and give them a passive where their attack puts a debuff on it's target, causing them to move only one tile per turn at max, but leaving the rest of the AP for attack if that unit is in a position to do so.   "Arrow to the knee", perhaps, hah.    Something like that would have alot of potential use;  spawn them in important resource towns, for instance, using them to slow down approaching siege or myth units until the other troops can get there.  As a downside, their actual attack value could be very low, so they'd have a hard time getting kills on their own, making them more of a support unit.  Could have it where the debuff wont happen if it's at point-blank range or from a counterattack.   And debuffs (or buffs) arent any more complicated than ideas that are already there, like ruin or token boosts.

That sort of ability is what I was thinking of.  You get a specialized unit that nonetheless has alot of potential use, encouraging the player to specifically unlock them in certain towns, yet the ability isnt something you need to constantly watch to see when it's going to go off for every individual unit;  it's just a passive, it's always there, and then the rest of the stats... like the low attack power... support the unit's concept.

Offline Mick

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
I don't agree that it adds things the player needs to keep track of, because I don't think the game really encourages the player to keep track of these kind of details anyway. You simply don't have enough control over particular units for it to matter anyway.

Offline Misery

  • Global Moderator
  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,099
I don't agree that it adds things the player needs to keep track of, because I don't think the game really encourages the player to keep track of these kind of details anyway. You simply don't have enough control over particular units for it to matter anyway.


I dunno.... I think it could lead to frustrating situations.

Let's say, you've got something or other happening where you need to drop in a myth unit to deal with it, right?  Could be anything.  But it's critical that you get a strong unit on it, and there's some human units in the area as well.  Maybe bashing a particular bandit camp, or just blocking a path, could be anything.   Well, you drop your big heavy stompy guy in, spending alot of resources.... only to find out that a bunch of nearby ranged units (that otherwise wouldnt be THAT bad) have their Nuclear Arrow of Ultimate Laser Death activate at the same time, deleting your important guy in a single monstrous blow, because timing; when if you had noticed and simply waited a turn, he'd have had enough time to do his job.  Instead, he's wasted resources at a critical time.

Some of it is going to be dependant on the player, but I know if that sort of thing happened not because of the AI being it's usual wacky self, and not because of a bad strategic decision, but instead because I didn't NOTICE that such and such very specific units were about to have their timed ability go off (in a game where everything ELSE is very easy to notice), well.... that'd be stupidly irritating.   With my own particular playstyle (lots of heavy micromanagement, smaller numbers of units, and me being rather spacey), that sort of thing would likely be frequent.

To quote something Chris said earlier:

Quote
Of course cursing free will is a part of this game, but when it comes to your own units (red and blue I mean), I think that it's a fine line.  Having the Japanese wandering gods do something like this (they are intentionally rebellious) would be fine.  Having bandit villains do something like this would be fine.  Even having hero units do this specifically when targeting the villain only would be fine.  There's enough context there in all cases, and those all make sense.

But for regular units?  That seems like too much potential for frustration.  And honestly I think there's a big risk of making them "too special" for just regular human units.  The human units are only supposed to be so special, if you know what I mean, until they get stacked with bonuses from tokens and so on.  So I mean, unique is good, but having special powers beyond what the mytho creatures do is taking it way too far.

Particularly that "too special for human units" bit.  I think that bit is important here.  Looking at the few "specialized" units that we already have.... like the Trojan Horse.... they are definitely specialized and have good situational use, but at no point do they become too powerful, or too "special".  The Trojan Horse's ability is very powerful, able to take out any building at all in one hit no matter what.... but it has no range and utterly annihilates itself when it does so, and doesnt damage units standing on that tile.    The Trojan is my favorite example right now of the way that I personally think specialization should work for the human units.   Or even like the Prodromos and their massive move range via a high starting AP (yet not very strong/damaging). 


That's my thoughts on it, anyway.

That's not to say that the timed ability idea doesnt have it's merits, mind you.