Author Topic: Feeback from first victory last night - diplomatic dispatch approach  (Read 1082 times)

Offline jonasan

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hey all,

i think this is a VERY cool game, and am thoroughly enjoying my time with it.

barring a few little tweaks i have already logged on mantis i think the whole thing is extremely polished and great fun. Combat has a really unique feel aswell and works brilliantly with the turn-based bullet hell/terrain twist. I am extremely pleased with the game and am very hopeful that it will be a grand success for you Arcen folks. Further still, the linux version is completely stable and performs very well on my ageing laptop... even with hugely populated systems :)

i want to give some feeback to a game i played last night though....

just for testing purposes, i ran a game where i basically avoided combat missions of all kinds (bar 2 quests early on - 1 space-faring, one terraforming) and then used only dispatch missions and political requests for the rest of the game.

After the first quest i focused on just doing the improve relations dispatches as much as possible for all races, bringing them up to +50 relation with all other races ASAP (the delay in the later races becoming space-faring allowed me to get each race nice and happy with the others one at a time as they got into space and i could start to work with them).

despite having a +70 relation with the burlust, the thoraxians invaded there homeworld and wiped them out early on - which as far as i could tell was motivated by the burlust homeworld being ideal for thoraxians to thrive (planet/race comparability for new thoraxian planet somewhere near 9 i think). Now that was very cool - 'we like them well enough, but screw them we NEED that planet to thrive' - i love that the thoraxians were able to think like that!

I carried on getting all the other races on friendly terms in this way, which lead to a kind of snow-ball effect where they all kept improving their relations with each other, and i just busied myself with the odd RCI advice action and dispatches such as 'medical assistance/improve environment' where necessary in the system.

Despite the Thoraxians early show of viloence not a single war broke out throughout the rest of my game (i think a couple of outposts were destroyed but thats all).

so, i spent almost the entire game at super-fast forward speed, just working through dispatch missions and watched as the love-in progressed, slowly accumulating the necessary credits to broker the coming federation deals.

in the end (after around 40 years of game time) i completed the federation with all remaining 7 races and almost everyone's relation with everyone else well over 200+ (some much more).

this was my first 'victory', and it obviously wasn't how i would normally choose to play the game (combat being so fun and all, and so many interesting things happening in the system which i basically ignored and carried on my dispatch duties)..... but improving the relations early on seemed to set the game into a positive feedback loop which was not upset at any point by things happening in the system..... a unifying federation of all races felt rather inevitable rather quickly.

now this is obviously a very cheesy approach which i would not use normally, but the fact that it worked so very well was a little unsettling for me.

most of the problems in the system seemed to take care of themselves without requiring any real intervention on my part, and as a hydral diplomat/missionary flying around the galaxy for 40 years in a completely underpowered vessel (no further science upgrades to ship since the beginning) i was never forced into what would have been (most likely) a deadly combat situation.....

i think its possible that the love-in approach through improve relations dispatches is too powerful (at least on normal difficulty)

...and that perhaps space is too safe.

if i had been ambushed by some kind of AFA or pirate fleet at any point later in the game i would have been toast, but no-one stepped up to argue aggressively against the fedration by trying to kill its multi-headed architect..... if that had happened i would have been really quite pleased to see the game recognise that i had taken this approach, and that some anti-federation group had noticed that the could take out the severely underpowered-diplomat fairly easily as he skipped between worlds in his pathetic flagship - thereby inhibiting the rise of the federation.

i'm really hoping that the step up to hard dimplomatic difficulty will include responses like this from the game, more anti federation sentiment, and potentially other events that occur in the history of the system which require player involvement in terms of dangerous missions and don't simply take care of themselves (eventually) and allow this kind of 'dispatch only' approach to succeed. Will try to test this tonight, and post here tomorrow.

i think this game has fulfilled a lot of the dreams i had for Drox as it was developed, i tried to argue for a larger grand strategy layer plenty of times during the beta for that.... and what we have in TLF is fulfilling  all of my dreams for that sort of thing in so many more ways than i imagined - which is wonderful..... however, there was, regardless of your approach to the interplanetary 4x, always personal danger in drox, always the chance of being caught off guard by some collection of pirate/alien ships and so you were always motivated to make sure you upgraded your vessel and make sure you could survive the current combat meta....... from what i can tell that seems to be missing in TLF and i'm a little concerned about that.

Flying from one planet to another across the system, again and again, just felt far too safe and without incident last night.... and i'm wondering if pirate fleets ambushing the player (perhaps this could happen early on - but in a very easy form - to get you used to the idea this could occur) or assassination attempts (even if you don't knock off the hive queen, perhaps a more aggressive and opportunistic AFA) couldn't be made part of the game to help with this.

If pirate fleets did ambush the payer on route from time to time (or on arrival at a new planet) then that would be a further motivation for taking out pirate bases withe the other races and it would certainly make the 'pirate exodus' event much more interesting/dangerous for the player (can't remember the exact name for that but its the event where most of a planets population goes pirate). If this was implemented, stamping on every pirate base would have more meaning and thereby eliminate the threat of pirate ambushes... and i guess if you got the races to destroy the p[irate bases on their own (through political bargaining) then the player could still avoid combat and therefore upgrading his/her ship.... but there would still always be the risk of a new base forming and catching you off guard with their first pirate action being an attempt to take you out.

and if the AFA were to mobilise more aggressively against a political/missionary player then this would also increase the danger factor for the player.... if, once the federation had begun to form the rebels/AFA would try (potentially) to take out the hydral diplomat as he moved from planet to planet brokering the federation, then the sort of cheesy approach i won with last night would be much more dangerous/maybe would no longer work, and the player would be required to take a broader approach to the game in order to succeed.

anyway, i have to get on, and i think you probably have some idea what i'm rambling on about by now :)

i'll have a test of the same approach on hard difficulty tonight and see how that goes... for all i know, all of these suggestions will probably be there already and I'll be crushed by the more aggressive pirates/AFA! all being well ;)

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Feeback from first victory last night - diplomatic dispatch approach
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2014, 11:18:11 AM »
Congratulations on winning :)  I don't have a lot of time for reading feedback right now but I noticed:

despite having a +70 relation with the burlust, the thoraxians invaded there homeworld
Was this in 0.905, or earlier?
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Offline topper

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Re: Feeback from first victory last night - diplomatic dispatch approach
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2014, 11:30:51 AM »
I actually started a game last night to try almost this exact approach that I was calling operation "Everybody Loves Everybody". The main difference is that I was also stealing the occasional tech as soon as it was researched, and then gifting it to one race, then having that race gift it to everyone else.

It seems like it is working so far, and this approach probably should work to some extent on Normal difficulty. But I think that it should almost be a requirement that an anti-federation alliance forms almost immediately when the federation is formed, but this could be hard to balance with the fact that everyone is happy together.

I would be happy to see more granular difficulty options similar to AI war in updates after release, where the "bag of nasty tricks" the races have available goes up at higher difficulty.

Offline jonasan

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Re: Feeback from first victory last night - diplomatic dispatch approach
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2014, 11:56:56 AM »
the game was up to date on steam and i believe the version was .905... not certain though to be honest... was playing last night 10pm till 1 am (uk time) so whatever the current version was on steam at 10 pm yesterday my time... sorry i can't be certain :)

seemed reasonable though in relation to the thoraxians suitability to the burlust planet.... did i just make that logic up? or is it possible the thoroaxians could have thought about that?

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Feeback from first victory last night - diplomatic dispatch approach
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2014, 12:08:27 PM »
the game was up to date on steam and i believe the version was .905... not certain though to be honest... was playing last night 10pm till 1 am (uk time) so whatever the current version was on steam at 10 pm yesterday my time... sorry i can't be certain :)
It could have been an opportunistic attack, no matter how much the Thoraxians loved the Burlusts, if the Burlusts hated the Thoraxians (-75 or lower).  Or possibly some other rule was in play; it's hard to say :)
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Offline Azurian

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Re: Feeback from first victory last night - diplomatic dispatch approach
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2014, 12:26:47 PM »
I was wondering if there is a backstabbing between races mechanic that is in the background that causes two races a random chance to lower influence between each other?
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Feeback from first victory last night - diplomatic dispatch approach
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2014, 12:33:03 PM »
I was wondering if there is a backstabbing between races mechanic that is in the background that causes two races a random chance to lower influence between each other?
There are a lot of attitude factors that can mess up a friendship.  Mainly if one race doesn't approve of something the other is doing.  Having really low public order, or (from the perspective of Burlusts or whatever) being a weakling, being in different alliances, etc.

I don't think there's any that's just a random "let's have these two dislike each other a bit more".
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Offline jonasan

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Re: Feeback from first victory last night - diplomatic dispatch approach
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2014, 12:48:40 PM »
cheers keith, good to know... well, i'm off to try the method in the original post but on hard difficulty... let's see how it goes ;)

Offline jonasan

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Re: Feeback from first victory last night - diplomatic dispatch approach
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2014, 08:25:13 PM »
Well, i just got through with another game using the same 'diplomatic dispatch missions only' play style (again, for testing purposes only, i'm looking forward to trying my hand at combat again tomorrow night)....

game set to hard diplomatic difficulty, with upper normal combat....

total play time to victory just under 30 real time minutes (almost all in super fast forward while doing dispatch missions)

i ended up with a 5 race federation and three annihilated races.... the poor, poor peletians were the last into space, and they didn't last more than a year before the federation turned on them and wiped them out... was quite a sight, the united federations fleets all descending on the planet at once :D

while there seemed to be more diplomatic/solar events early on to shake things up, and there was definitely more ill will between the races... it didn't stop them from maintaining the federation and generally getting happier with each other. Taking as many dispatch missions as possible to improve relations with all other space faring races set things going, and it all rolled on nicely from there.... bar one attempted spanner from the evuks :)

they tried to fight the new federation when they got into space, first off wiping out one of the other non-federation races and then turning on two of the federation races... however, due to my positive relations with those federation races i was able to convince them both to stop their war with the evuks (which stopped the evuks' wars with them!). I then popped over to the evuks and invited them to join the federation, which was a little strange as i ended up with the skylax allied at -500 or more relation with the evuks, and the andor somewhere around -300 with them aswell.... but they still accepted the evuks into the federation!

as the years went by, peaceful co-existence in the federation began to erode the memory of war with these races and so the associated ill will. This happened slowly though, and when the final destruction of the pelitans came about they were both still very upset with the evuks (-250, -100 respectively).....

not sure about this really, all seemed a little odd.... wouldn't the federation object to the idea of the evuks joining the federation, or at least demanding that their entry be delayed until they demonstrated better behavior? and wouldn't i also have to convince the warmongering evuks that peace was in their best interest - which would surely be much more difficult??

i enjoyed watching the simulation play out but was a bit disappointed to find that the same tactics worked pretty much the same way on hard difficulty.

perhaps this kind of approach is overpowered/broken a little? winning this way felt almost inevitable - assuming i didn't do anything stupid like get in a fight.  :D

In the very early game i completed a handful of combat missions to garner influence with the early races and thereby let me play 'everyones favorite diplomat', but after that i never once entered a combat scenario in the subsequent 40 solar years it took to unite the solar system. I did not pay any attention to the idea of upgrading my vessel with science and hydral tech, and flew happily about a pirate infested galaxy (the number of piratical exodus events in this game was staggering) without so much as an incident or even a meeting with said pirates, let alone the AFA, or the initially anti-federation evuks.

just to test i tried a delivering space faring tech mission for the final race in the very end game.... and unsurprisingly found that my ship was so outclassed that trying to get through the advanced defenses around the target zone was completely impossible.... my ship popped like a balloon on the first contact with enemy fire!

yet with this ship, and this play style, in this solar system, i was able to unite the races and win  :-\

i felt a fairly strong feeling of disconnection to be honest...

the solar system was developing over the years, and there was no need for me to develop with it, just prod it from time to time here and there after pushing it in the right direction early on. the solar map and travel around it almost started to feel like a computer interface of intergalactic communication... that my character wasn't really navigating that solar system but simply talking to different races at different times from a nice safe distance. While there were plenty of interesting events over the years which affected the different races in major ways, i found that all in all they didn't really affect my character that much.

i really wish the game had killed me. strange thing to say... but it didn't feel like a valid play style.

i think the game should really push the player to get involved with all that is on offer in TLF, and to do that i think the game needs to bring combat to the player from time to time (or at least threaten the possibility of that). As it stands right now the player has total control as to whether or not he gets involved in combat at all. After a few hours learning the basic diplomatic mechanics, and with the luxury of safe passage anywhere at any time, victory for the player (not necessarily the citizens of the races in the system) seems fairly assured. I appreciate that maybe you're trying to offer the no combat play style to people... to give them the choice to never engage and go for a purely diplomatic path.... but i reckon that would be made all the sweeter if it was a bloody dangerous choice leaving you potentially open to the perils of the galaxy as you jet around solving problems and whispering in ears.

For example, if the pirate ambushes were implemented you could offer the possibility of dealing with scenario in a diplomatic way... hailing the ship and offering a bounty of some kind if they would let you go... perhaps you would become afraid to travel across the system without accumulating enough credits or new technology to (hopefully) buy your way through a potential pirate ambush... or perhaps you would just focus on gaining the tech necessary to turn your ship into the 'fastest in the galaxy' so that you could try and run like hell when ambushed. Or perhaps if there were no pirate bases established in the system (because your allies had taken them all out) then you could be guaranteed safe passage at that time to another planet.

anyway, i won't babble on more.... i know testing this play style is kind of playing devil's advocate in the sense that most people will want to get involved in combat... but i'm a little worried that if/as players discover this they will start to look at the rest of the game as combat exercises which are, to all intents and purposes, extraneous to 'winning' the game (though i guess achievements will help with this to an extent).

All in all, I really think that space is too safe right now for the player, and that it can lead to a feeling of disconnection with a lot of the game.... I would really love it if the game made me feel that what I'm trying to do is difficult in the sense of being fraught with danger for me personally not just the billions of lives that i play around with - and I think the game trying to kill the player (from time to time) would do this quite nicely ;)

Offline topper

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Re: Feeback from first victory last night - diplomatic dispatch approach
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2014, 10:03:08 PM »
I think the easy balance option for the short term is to remove the credit payment for the relations mission and instead add a cost in credits per month. This will mean you need to do other kinds of missions at least.

 

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