General Category > Stars Beyond Reach Beta Phase 1-2 Discussion

The vision from Chris on the late game and on the military aspects.

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Hey guys,

So full-out war is something that is a bit too simplistic right now, mainly because there isn't a grace period where you dance around and place buildings before all the attacking actually happens.  Instead there's that first mover advantage where you're in a major fight right from the start.  That was never my intent with the military, and the way I was testing it I wasn't running into that.

I've been thinking about the issue, and it all comes down to getting back to my original goal: you have to build a little base near an enemy town, or them near you, and then the fun really begins with combined arms doing their thing.  This little plinking away at one another with a building or two is not really a thing for full-scale engagement.  The occasional visitors and "barbarians" around your gates, sure, but that's different and supposed to basically make sure you don't leave yourself overly exposed just because nobody is ever bothering you.

I've figured out a couple of possible solutions to that "have to have time to build a camp, and have to build a camp" issue, and after the GUI stuff and the disease stuff, I'm going to take a crack at this.  For most feedback and discussion on the military, I'd suggest putting a pin in it until that point.  Well, I mean, discuss all you want without me -- thanks for the "chris don't read" in the title of that one thread, that was great by the way.  But I think a lot of that discussion will become moot with this shift.

Late Game
As I noted before, this is the least-tested part of the game, so it's probably borked all to heck right now.  It was either spend another while trying to test this on my own and push beta back and back, or let you in while this was borked.  Things you might be running into:

1. The AIs may not pose enough of a threat late in the game.  That's something where I was conservative with so far, and so it may make the endgame seem super lame and non-intense because you're not really having to engage militarily, etc.

2. Some of the AIs are really meant to grow to the point of being militarily impenetrable, and so those other forms of domination become a big deal.  But once you dominate a race non-militarily, they turn on you militarily, so there's a sense of escalation as you get nearer and nearer to the end.  Your risk rises and rises as you pursue dominations on a variety of fronts.

3. Independent Rogues (barbarians) seem to be borked and not really showing up at all.  I knew that from well before the beta, but haven't looked into it because it was a secondary issue at the time (and still is now).  When those guys show up, both in the early game and later game, you're going to have to deal with that more.

4. Related to 3, right now "planet rage" on your cities doesn't really matter to you, I bet.  But as you get into the later game, the world starts to turn on you and a bunch of monsters you've yet to see will start coming for you.  These have some interesting mechanics and will start screwing with your cities in ways that crime doesn't.  So basically, really large cities are designed to have problems that small cities don't.  That also goes for crime, which I've scaled way back on small cities, but should scale up on larger ones.  But the balance on those things is likely horrible right now.

5. The non-domination victories (transcendence, etc) are meant to be practically-a-deathwish type victories, but right now it's possible they are incredibly cheesily easy.  The idea with those is that you don't have to do the normal thing of getting towns of quite the same infrastructure always, and you may be able to get to some of them in a shorter number of turns, but the intensity gets nuts once you really go for them.  Right now the balance there is untested and likely nonexistent, though the mechanics of winning work.  So that whole flow of "oh my gosh, this is fast and I'm either going to win in a rush or die spectacularly and it's going to be close at best" isn't there.  So that will likely make for kind of an "is that it?" sort of vibe with those victory types.

6. Oh, and with the domination victories, those also probably either devolve into taking too long, or go too fast (again, untested balance but tested mechanics).  So those probably either feel trivial or tedious right now.  Given that the AI growth isn't doing what it should in the late game (it seems), that also means that you can pursue the same sort of domination over and over again, for the most part.  The too-simple military, which is a factor of a couple of things right now.  Taking cities militarily here is supposed to be HARD, as in taking all the cities on the map is next to impossible.  But for testing purposes, I never really ramped up the AI that way.  Remember, you're supposed to be the new guy, not remotely an equal of these guys.  Their starting cities are too small, they grow too slowly, and once you start winning they don't really take the fight to you.

7. And as to possible repetitiveness with the domination victories, part of the cool thing about having those hybrid victories is that you're going to have to figure out the best approach for each race, and it's not going to be the same with each race in a game.  So you're going to be having several irons in the fire at once, trying to dominate various races various ways as the end of the game approaches, while probably also engaged in fighting to keep your infrastructure from dying.

That's the vision, anyway.  Mechanically, I think that pretty much everything is there.  There are some new mechanics required in order to make the desired balance possible, of course, but overall nothing drastic or grand.  And I have in mind generally what I want to add there, it's just a matter of time and testing.  And lastly, of course, the balance on that part of the game is abysmal I'm sure.  My apologies on that, particularly if I wasn't clear on how raw that part of the game is.

Anyway, I know a number of you have some concerns about these aspects of the game, and if I were you I would as well.  But I figured I'd give you my roadmap here, so to speak, so you'd know what is planned and why things are the way they are now.  Thanks for your patience, and for helping out so much with the early and midgame, because without those being super solid there's really no point in testing the late game anyway, which is why I haven't done that more yet, to be frank.


Captain Jack:
Before reading: More GUI, less blogging Chris.  :P

After reading: Same as above, but with extra questions. When the player race completes the social progress categories, are they considered "on par" with other races? Not in the sense of actually matching their strengths, but in terms of not being horribly backwards.

When you dominate a race non-militarily, do you have to fend them off militarily for the rest of the game? I can see them looking to get out from under you if you show weakness, but I imagine economically dominating the Burlurst right off the bat would be problematic.

Yeah, sorry.  :P

This gui stuff is making my head reel, so I needed to take a break anyway.  I should be able to finish it by COB today, though.

If you have a minute Chris.

* What are your ideas about the average pollution amount for the average race?
* Does the game read the xls files or is that just for your own notes?
* If so, can you tell me where the hazmut scrubbing amount defined per race is at?
* Is the Civic Center supposed to work yet?
* Is the player limited to one city, or can more be established?

1. The average pollution amount for the average race?  Not sure quite what you mean.  Anyway, those are defined on a by-building basis in AlienBuildings for the non-player buildings.  The column is _polStr and _polRng.  The range is the spread, and the strength is the total amount of pollution that is divided amongst that range, more intense near the source and then fading as it goes out.

2. Yes, all those xls files -- every last one -- is direct data input.

3. There are not currently columns for defining the cleaner strength, but if you want to play around with it you can add new columns named PollutionCleanerStrengthPerTile and PollutionCleanerRange and set that for the relevant buildings.  Hazmat station is right now 90 and 3.  With cleaners, bear in mind that there is no tapering of effect as you get further from the center -- instead it is equally strong the whole way through.  So those numbers are per-tile, and must be smaller, while the others are "divided amongst all the tiles in the range" and must be larger.

4. Last I saw, Civic Center was working.  We may well have done something to break it in the last few weeks, though.  You have to place it a certain distance from your current city, and that establishes a new city.

5. You can have lots.  I forget what I set the limit at.  12?  Something ridiculous like that.  The cities screen that Keith is working on will be a big help managing those.  Right now those little arrows up by the city name will let you cycle through cities.  In the new HUD those are going away and you have to use the home/end keys or the cities screen.


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