I got into GTA with the first one, liked the second one even better, hated 3, and skipped the rest until GTA5, which I love. And indeed, my favorite thing as a teen and now was basically to deal with the insane police and see how long I could live.
Fun side story about that was that apparently they were making some sort of other game and had a bug where the police just went nuts. That turned out to be so much fun that they scrapped the other game and turned it into the first GTA.
Okay, now that we've established I like that sort of thing, let me answer your actual question.
The core idea behind dropships is that -- in the early and middle game in particular -- these are really massive and scary and you probably can't deal with them at all. Aka you don't even have weapons that can reach them.
Well, that's actually hard to say with full concreteness: I have a couple of gradations of dropship in mind, and that would be the biggest kind, anyway. I have also considered smaller dropships that cruise around the landscape and are lower (and therefore harder to see), and thus also probably inherently in range of some of your weapons at least.
The core thing about a dropship, though, is that it's not primarily an attack vessel. There will be more fighter-like craft, and I've been considering some things that can even shell the heck out of your area in a mortar-like sense. But the primary purpose of a dropship is to deploy mobile squads of bad guys. Depending on a few factors (more on that in a sec), it might be massive robot threats, or human traitors, or alien ground troops, or whatever. Likely not monsters, as you'd just run into those through exploring.Attracting Notice
Okay, so we know I like the GTA star system. If you think about it, AI Progress in AI War is also kind of a similar system. I intend to have something along those lines in this game as well. However, unlike those other games, it would have that level of attention/notoriety attached to your BASE, rather than to you personally.
You'll either be taking over bases, building them, or living a more nomadic lifestyle. If you choose to have a larger base as a place to live (which is a good idea for a variety of reasons, but the nomadic style also could be fun just as a divergent way to do things), then the first thing is that you have to accept that it WILL be destroyed at some point.
The first patrols and whatnot won't be that bad, and you can beat off the waves of guys in the night without too much trouble if you know what you're doing at all. But after some number of days, probably about 40ish by default (and yes this would be able to be turned off), the waves will be so freaking bad (in terms of the kinds of enemies you're facing, mainly, versus just being spammed with tons of them) that keeping your base intact is extremely unlikely. You're wiser to evacuate most of your goods and other stored gear a bit before they start absolutely storming the base to death.
At that point you can start with a new base and things reset a bit in terms of how much attention the authorities are paying to that base. This is the somewhat circular nature of the endgame that I was talking about in another thread. Well, it's the defensive side of things, anyway. There is no way to build up to the point that you are "completely invulnerable," like happens in all other games of this type. That has no meaning here. Unless you disable the option, eventually you will lose all that you've built at a given base.About Bases
Bases, clearly, are not something to get too attached to. I think that there's a nice middle-ground where in these sorts of games you can build a really strong base and have fun defending it. But if it never gets TRULY tested by the enemy, then there's no real sense of accomplishment past a certain point. These are bases you're building for purposes of defense, not aesthetics; so defense in depth and so forth, versus building a replica of middle earth or whatever.
There are plenty of other games that focus on the building for the sake of creativity alone.
Here there's plenty of creativity, but it's also about creativity in terms of how to deal with the stronger waves. But I also want to be clear that we're talking about very long timeframes here. If 40 days is the number you're playing at where after that the waves just get untenable, and if 50 minutes is the length of realtime per game day, that's freaking 33 hours of gametime before a base becomes near impossible for most people to defend. And for someone who can stretch those defenses even longer, there's a lot of pride that I can imagine would go with that.
For people who want to play a more aggressive, brutal version of the game, I could see them making it so that the day scale is something like 15 or 20 instead of 40, and then it's just incredibly tense in general.
There's also nothing that says you have to have one base at any given time. Each base would have its own AIP (in the AI War sense) or wanted level (in the GTA sense). And if you leave the bases untended, they'll go unmolested... but you'll also have to brave the nights out alone. That also is plenty of fun. The exact mechanics on when things get more heated on your base versus when you can ignore it is hard for me to exactly say, because I don't want there to be easy ways to just game the system. Suffice it to say, monsters as well as dropships will be after you in the wilderness if you're out there instead of holed up in your base. There are pros and cons.All Of This Was Just About Defense!
I still haven't really addressed your core question, which was about destroying stuff increasing your wanted level, per se. That is... not something I'm sure about just yet. I don't want to penalize destruction, because it's both fun and necessary. I think that the wanted system in Red Faction: Guerrilla did a pretty good job with that. There were certain key things that if you destroyed them, the enemy would get pissed off, and many many other things that you could destroy as much as you wanted. Probably something like that will happen here.
If you're playing a more nomadic style of game, either temporarily or long-term, then yes there would be some amount of "heat" on you, personally, rather than on your base. There's an offense side to this game, and taking down or capturing enemy fortresses or towns is a big thing. When you do those things, or try to do those things, the enemy is... not happy.
So that elicits a different kind of response.
Exactly how the offensive part of the game will work out is something I'm less sure about. From the defensive side, I know how my wife and I played 7 Days to Die, and what was so frustrating about the lack of escalation there, etc. So it's super duper easy to know exactly what I want. With the offensive side, the Assault mode in UT2003 or the way you capture towns in Just Cause 3, or the way that you can attack certain fortresses in Red Faction: Guerrilla are all influences to be sure. All of those rely heavily on respawning enemies and a lack of permanence, however, and I don't want to do that.
Yes there should be enemy reinforcements (GTA does a great job of making this feel realistic-ish), but in general things should feel more dynamic and natural. And things I do that cause damage should be remembered (no biggie, there). If I leave for a long time, then sure they should rebuild and maybe even reinforce. But if I die and then come right back, things should still be in a pretty warzone way. The game keeping track of how many times you died between trying to start taking an enemy stronghold and actually taking it is another one of those "scoreboard" type of things.
Also, I guess that probably the wanted level STILL wouldn't be on you even in those cases. Rather it would be more of an alert level on the enemy stronghold in general. If you and I play co-op together, we shouldn't be able to have me go in and lay down one round of wreckage and then they're super mad at me, but you come in and I leave and they're just like "oh hai chemical_art! things are great here!"It's Not Personal
From their perspective there's not a lot of difference between us -- we're all "filthy human remnants." They're interested in defending things that we're attacking, or in attacking things of ours that they discover. The more force we bring to bear on one of their things, the more alert they become there, and the more cavalry they call in.
When they find a base that belongs to us filthy mongrels, then they're going to want to stamp it out as if you find ants in your house. Of course... they have a bad habit of sending in the minimum required force to take care of such things. So when troop #27 goes missing, they send in troop #28 the next day to try again, but a bit bigger and badder that time.Late Game
In terms of the late game, there would be some sort of cap where things just never settle down below a certain point on offense or defense. By that point in the game you have better weapons and so on anyway, so it would be ludicrously and boringly easy to have new things starting so easily.
I've actually be considering two things as possibilities, either as alternate modes or just as the way the game plays in general. Possibly that, on the one hand, things keep escalating so much that eventually you WILL lose, no matter what, because things are just so very darn hard. But, by the same token, possibly things becoming that hard also opens up some sort of weakness in the enemy and a chance to actually win the game.
Normally survival games aren't won or lost, but I like the idea of a given map not being played forever and ever. It's nice to mix things up.