Cheers guys. So, some notes in response:
1. Regarding the hex grid, I was referring to the orientation of the hexes more than anything else. Having them face-on looks much better when it's just for icon purposes, whereas having them in an isometric view like the regular game (which we already have all the math for in place) looks very bad for a GUI-level thing (but is great for showing buildings with a sense of perspective).
2. In terms of the diplomacy being static in terms of relationships of other races with one another, I think that's a good example of me not being clear and part of the reason sometimes I prefer to keep things close to the vest. The races do have a huge historical momentum behind themselves when entering this game (which will vary from game to game), but despite that things can be done. In other words, you have some situations kind of like India and Pakistan. For the most part, those guys are at each other's throats, and for some very specific and longstanding reasons. That said, they are capable of working together for various purposes that benefit their region as a whole, or standing against a common enemy.
TLF is a great game, but it doesn't have the sort of historical momentum that you have to overcome. That can make it harder to really understand the consequences of your actions, in terms of why someone hates you helping X. Basically in this game India would always get annoyed at you helping Pakistan, but that doesn't mean that they won't join with Pakistan in attacking Bolivia (picked a random country) if there is enough reason. It doesn't even mean that a vibrant trade relationship can't exist between India and Pakistan. But in the short term at least (our lifetime in the real world, and the length of a campaign in this game), there's always going to be that history in the back of the minds of those involved.
3. In terms of personality, that's not something I really addressed, which I had meant to. But yeah, this gives you a ton of ways to interact with the races, and expresses their personality in a variety of ways. My intent is for this to be stronger than in TLF, but we shall see. This new system gives a lot of ways to do things in-character and have personality-filled commentary from the races, which I'm very excited about. It also gives plenty of opportunity for race-specific options and issues without being a big long list of text.
4. When it comes to my comparisons to TLF and referring to this being easier to get people in to, I mean that with a finished product here I think that it's an easier sell. People understand hexes, there is a big love for 4x, and there's not a non-genre-style combat model that they have to consider. Obviously you can only make comparisons based on what you see in the moment right now, and that's totally reasonable. But in terms of my own goals and thinking, I very much have to project forward using the various plans that are in my head or on some private papers of my own and not really anywhere else. Making comparisons to the finished product of our other games based solely on what is currently in this game (as opposed to including what is intended) is definitely an apples and oranges. Aka, my comparisons were about the state of things I hope to reach, not the state of things today. If I thought that things were perfect today, I'd just go ahead and release now rather than pushing back another month, you know?
5. In terms of complaints about the combat, I suppose there is still more baggage there than had really been clear to me. I will put that in the back of my mind to marinate, although right now my mind is pretty full with the diplomacy stuff. But I'm willing to revisit that some more, and it may be worth you guys discussing this in a thread without me for now. I don't want to be involved yet, but it's on your mind and so discussing that amongst yourselves and then us coming together when I have more time for that specific is something worth doing, I think. Some thoughts of mine to get you started (please don't really respond in this thread, it's a conversation for elsewhere):
a. It may be that the concept of interception needs to go away, or needs to only apply to defending non-military targets, depending.
b. Or it may be that interception needs to be something that all military units can do in terms of intercepting attacks of their same kind on other buildings of not-their-same-kind.
c. Interception probably needs to have more of a cost to the intercepting building, basically kind of like what happens to defenders in Risk.
d. Heck, there needs to be more of a cost to the attacker buildings, too. Right now the biggest problem with battles is probably that attacking and defense is "free" in the sense of cost to the attacker or the interceptor's health. With most games, there is a clash and we are hugely likely to mutually take at least some damage.
e. There are some existing bugs that I am aware of that make your ground troops unable to attack certain tiles, and apparently also affect sea attackers at some times, just FYI. Those are probably contributing to the feeling of wonkiness.
f. Seaports are intended to be able to attack a bit further away (sail into the adjacent water territories from a water territory they are in), making them more of an interesting force to deal with.
g. Seaports are also intended to be able to be stacked in a chain by the AI the way that you can, but the AI doesn't really use them correctly yet.
h. With Risk, the interesting thing there is that with the Armies you have to move them into the territory that you are attacking, if you attack with them. And you can't attack with more than your total armies minus one. Because you can't hold a territory with no armies. Potentially switching to a system where the player is using more mobile stuff would be a good thing.
i. Part of the deal with the new diplomacy stuff in general is that I intend for there to be a bit of a "build-up" period where you declare battle and then have to give the other person time to get ready. Both the AI would be required to do that (like the holographic fading in), and you would as well. You could break this and do a blitz if you want, but it would probably cost you some effectiveness on your military due to them being rushed, and it would cost you goodwill with the planet and the international community, too. So whether you blitz or whether you attack in a more orderly fashion where the AI has time to respond becomes a major decision.
j. Right now the AI does not give you any extra costs when you do an attack on them, which is just a piece of AI that I haven't had time to code yet. Basically if you're sneaking up on them and ambushing them in a territory even using the current system, then that's fine, but the AI should be dropping saucers on you somewhere else as well as in that territory. Meaning that turtling is not really a thing, because you're always going to wind up in at least a two-front war, one of which is focused around your own backside. Helping to increase the cost of war on your part.
k. It has crossed my mind that removing the ability to do specific kinds of attacks in the main might be a good thing, and instead you should be "painting" targets and having the AI of your side then immediately launch as many attacks as needed at once to take that out. Making it so there's kind of a "strike here" button. The exception would be the cobalt bomber, of course.
l. When we talk about things like war weariness, the ability to launch infinite attacks in one turn if you had infinite buildings is definitely something that might play into that. That's again something that gets wrapped up in the "diplomacy" stuff.
m. One of the big things right now is that the AI doesn't really bother you offensively as much as I want it to, and so you have a sense that you can turtle more than you really can in the final game. Why is that? Because you don't have proper ways to talk the AI down at present. With diplomacy in, the AI's going to be like "hey give me X" and you can say yes or no, and saying no might lead to a fight. Or they declare a fight straight out, and you can say "whoa, dude, take this and go away, ok?" That piece is really critical for me in terms of the military being able to be involved more, because otherwise it's all about who has more might.
n. To drive this home a slight bit more, as well, these sorts of interactions are all yet more chances for personality development and relationship building for good or for ill. You kowtowing to others instead of fighting is going to reduce your esteem in the eyes of the Burlusts, but make the Andors like you more, as one thing among many. But who is more of a bully and why, and who is willing to come to your aid and in what ways are big deals. Right now you can join incidents and ask others to join, and that's it. But asking someone to attack someone who is attacking you, versus help defend against someone who is attacking you are two different prospects and I think very relevant.
o. The concept from Risk of "reinforcing moves" is something I've thought might be interesting here, and would also solve some of the ganging-up problems. But that could be fiddly, so I want to avoid it if possible.
p. TLDR: I suppose this is really the perfect example of why I try not to say too much sometimes, because then I wind up having to go into exhaustive detail or people are going "that's it?"
But for the military side in particular, hopefully this provides a good catalyst for an interesting/fruitful discussion in another thread for you guys, and then a further fruitful one when we talk about it together in 2-3 weeks.
6. All the credit definitely doesn't go to Blue for the art -- she and Cath have both been on this fulltime, and I agree it's been amazing work that they've done together. I'm really jazzed about that.