After a lot of FAQ reading and digging through QA I am wondering whether i will regret buying the founders pack..
though i probably should have done so after reading through the forums in the first place lol, but I'll just hope and assume i wont regret the purchase...
!WARNING! massive wall of text approaching
here are some features I'm very happy and excited about and concerns that might fuck up those features :
large scale warfare + intelligent grouping:
I'm a huge fan of supcom forged alliance, this wen't so far that i spend 2000€ on hardware recently just to support the workload of large unit caps in that game.
needless to say that I'm excited how large of a scale AotS will actually bring to the table. One of the greatest problems with such unit caps have always been pathfinding when controlling a huge amount of units. Meta units and multicore processing will probably deal with that problem, which i'd say is great ! Units behaving differently depending on other units within the same meta unit is a great concept too. I would love it even more if we were able to to write our own AI scripts with that - I believe that this is one of the features that will make AotS stand out and should definitely be refined.
But with a lot of units a lot of micromanagement will be involved. A lot of it will probably be reduced by the meta units. but what about production chains? Controlling units is just one part. Setting up a base and production chains can take up a lot of time too on such large scales.
What i would really regret to see is unit building like in SC II. I cannot stress how much i hated SC II. Not just that the amount of micro necessary to even enjoy the game and play it remotely adequate is very stressful, the game itself rewards people who optimize their build orders learn them by heart and then encourages shit like 2 med vacs + a dozen marines and marauders (nothing else). every single freaking game looks the same with some minor tweaks that have little influence to the metagame. -please do not make the same mistake, learning build orders is no fun. It creates a static meta and the game will lose creativity and dynamics.
"Game enders" long range warfare and immersion ! :
There are a lot of controversial viewpoints regarding this feature and they all have valid points. For example an artillery that shoots over the whole map and destroys the enemy base within minutes leading to a sure victory is no fun. Simply because there is very low risk involved in the highest reward. On the other hand making such structures extremely recourse inefficient will lead to higher risks but most of them time they will end up being obsolete also this will usually lead to situations where only the player who was winning anyway will build the game ender - so there is no real strategical value there.
This leaves us with the question whether long range artillery can be a fun feature and should even be in a strategy game. my Opinion is a clear yes, if not for strategical value then clearly for the immersion. It just doesn't make any sense at all to exclude artillery from a futuristic strategy warfare game. People have already used this mechanic for thousands of years, because it is such a brilliant strategical device. laying siege to an enemy castle would be almost impossible or very hard if it was not for the invention of the trebuchet. Although one could of course argue that there may not be any "castles" in the game to be besieged - but we sure do hope that will not be the case - cause that would be terrible terrible terrible and i will be explaining why later on.
So if artillery should be implemented - how? I believe artillery especially long range artillery needs to have a meaning full impact , thus dealing a lot of damage in a great radius. The downsides with this are somewhat obvious from the physics department: the higher the distance the lower the accuracy ( and although in such an advanced realm accuracy can be greatly improved it should be a research option) and on the other hand energy costs and those should be considerable - with considerable i talk about exponential growth in energy cost vs range as ballistics simply dictate. If you want to throw something very far you just have to put so much more energy into it, just because of exponentially growing friction. then there would be trouble with heat due to that kind of friction etc... shooting something far is simply a very complicated process and thus should mean a considerable effort. With that comes another problem for the artillery. It cannot be moved while firing and even if we were to create a moving artillery it would have to first fortify itself on the ground before shooting, which should take time. Because of this the artillery needs a lot of manual player control as you cannot afford to waste energy on shooting low priority targets are place it in vulnerable areas.
This will make artillery not a frequently used easywin mechanic because shooting very far (aka at the enemy base at the far end of the map) will be very cost inefficient, but instead make it a powerful situation based choice. Every single shot or movement blocking barrage should be manually placed at the cost of resources and long recharge times but should lead to immediate rewards taking out unprotected high priority targets or blocking certain strategical areas creating moments of opportunity or laying siege to a well fortified base will then be its main function - but not "winning the game". Placement and picking the right targets for the artillery will be a crucial aspect of utilizing the weapon right - but doing so should be rewarding and devastating. Of course there other long range weapons like satellite lasers or nuklear rocket launchers ( especially for the nukes... they simply are a must because they bring immersion and it feels great nuking an enemy base =D) but they all should have these kinds of consideration to them as well as counter mechanics.
Base building, resources, map control and turtling:
This is probably one of the most crucial parts of any Strategy game. How much turtling is healthy to a strategy game ? A lot of people and especially gamedevs tend to argue "None" - but that is a terrible mistake cause they will lose a very big customer base but I will go into detail about that in the attracting the masses section. Base building is and should be a great deal in a strategy game. A player should make meaningful choices when it comes to how to place his buildings and what to build in the first place. A lot of people enjoy these features and a good base structure may decide whether you lose your base / expansion to a raid or barely keep it alive. It adds another pool of meaningful decisions a player can make other than moving his troops to impact the game towards his favor and thus should actually be a very big aspect of the game - sadly most games disregard that feature and prefer very simple basic structures that leave no room for creativity or don't encourage players to distribute their buildings smartly. A great example are walls, thing of stronghold crusaders, it is absolutely reasonable to create obstacles and higher ground in order to defend a point of interest. If you tell me that people in the future will have forgotten about such a basic but meaningful strategy it's like a slap in the face to my intelligence and that of anyone else. the facepalms couldn't be harder. In fact any smart person would employ even more sophisticated means to apply to such structures - think about it! there could even be a race that doesnt depend on mobile units but spreads through buildings creating a huge network across the map, who vulnerability would lie in disrupting network connections etc ( just some little fantasy). This could also lead to new multiplayer interaction - I will tend to that later.
This leads us to turtling and its counterpart map control. Turtling is very often frowned upon and seen as very boring and toxic playstyle. In almost every case I have to blame the poor design of the game for that. Turtling is a very popular strategy employed by people who either can't or don't want to multitask and I find this a very valid and justified trait of a strategist. Not every good strategist needs or should multitask nor should he be rushed into action - the board game Go and the mentality that comes with it is a very good example of that, some games between kings or lords lasted for years and they actually did play over actual land, the result of that were astonishing moves and extremely refined playthroughs you would not see in a usual 30 mins to 1 hour game. Of course we do not want our games to last years =D that would just be silly but what is certainly possible is to allow a person to reduce his multitasking efforts to come up with more refined ideas - Thus turtling should be a valid strategy. What we don't want tho is of course that a player turtles for half an hour and then whoops out that "game ender". This is how most turtling strategies are employed and the only turtling strategy most games allow, which is why in later versions of the games that turtling has been increasingly discouraged to the point where it wasn't viable anymore.
Usually by the means of forcing players to fight over map control and resources. While this does indeed create an eventful atmosphere it has a very very very large drawback no one in the modern game industry seems to care much about tho. Something i just cannot understand because it makes a lot of people quit. I'm sure some of you already know what I'm talking about, but for those of you who have no clue - it's the snowball mechanic. The snowball mechanic to me is one of the most toxic problems a game can have and I literately don't get why this is not a top priority to most game devs. I have seen thousands of players quit cause of it's frustrating nature - myself included. Where is the point in continuing a game after the 5 minute mark when you already know that logically there is no point in continuing cause your enemy is already twice is strong and the only way to make a comeback is if your enemy just makes a huge mistake - which usually does not happen in higher tier play and if it happens it wasn't due to your own brilliance but their fuck up - but you keep on playing till the 60 minute mark only to watch that self fulfilling prophecy come true - doing so either because of "leaver busters" or "leaving statistics" and " reports" and the likes.
So i believe spreading basic resources around the map is a terrible concept and turtling vs map control should have more of an impact regarding the pros and cons of turtling and map control. the pros of turtling are in general a very cost efficient set up of one or multiple well fortified base structures and expansions. this leads towards a long term resource advantage and is usually less heavy on the multitasking, allowing for the player to come up with awesome game twists(assuming the game allows for those ). the cons of turtling are an innate vulnerability to area based weaponry, such as nuklear weapons or artillery fire. Also not spreading throughout the map will usually leave your bases vulnerable to multiple sides, forcing you to fortify them towards multiple directions, leading to wasting resources. As you only employ few of those bases and they are well fortified they are very precious targets and losing one would be devastating - one could say turtling encourages "assassination" strategies(there simply need to be ways to employ them). The turtler will usually have less intel as well due to the lack of map control.
The pros of controlling the map without any additional reward is the number of forward bases and the fact that there may be no actual valuable "base" to attack, you would have to win against that type by the means of supremacy instead of the "assassination". You will generally have more intel on your enemies and you will be able to come up with very flexible strategies and attack your opponent from multiple sides, forcing them to invest into many fortifications in case of a turtle. Most of the time you will be in control of the action while your enemy will need to counter your every move and should your onslaught fail you will usually have a lot of time to recover before the enemy may counter attack. On the other hand this will require a lot more multi tasking, and forward bases are more vulnerable to raids, due to the lack of fortification, although losing one fo your many bases would not be as devastating. Balancing around those advantages is actually a lot better idea than discouraging one strategy. A good game simply encourages every strategy a player can come up with and tries to make them fair and if it can't be fair there simply needs to be a counter mechanism, leading to the rock , paper, scissors circle for that strategy which is actually a very healthy mechanic.
Attracting the masses:
It can only be in everyone's interest that a lot of people play a certain game apart from some elitist douche-bags who need to feel special through the means of their game choice or are annoyed by that fact that "kids" play the same game - well that's what kids do, so get over it and you should just be ignorant to their inexperience since you are so "grown up" and wise. Because a lot of people playing a game means more money that can be used to develop the game further and support the creators of said game (we will just not assume that there are shitty concerns out there who are only trying to suck the money out of every little thing and their low quality P2W concept) . also the more people are there the more variation in game play and style will occur. the game will simply become more interesting as there are more different players. But to attract a broad spectrum of people the game needs to feature fun aspects for a lot of people.
controversially a lot of devs think this is achieved by making the game less complicated and with that accessible for the "casual" player and that there is this black and white contrast. Like a mathematical theorem saying that the intensity of complexity is counter proportional to the amount of people playing the game - Absolute BS! Games like Ragnarok that has been a cult game for over 10 years now have proven that it is a variation of activities that brings a lot of people together especially a lot fo different people. People get kicks out of different things. We all have our own preferences and even those are not fixed. Very often we get bored of one playstyle and want to switch things around, usually that means tho that we have to switch games cause most modern games are designed so every class/race/ faction plays almost the same. Of course this makes balancing easier, but it also makes the game become very boring after a while. The development history of LoL is a great example for me on how to not do it. The game is stunningly successful, DotA has already been and i could predict that success many years ago. because of various strategical and action packed feats it has to offer. But LoL was soooooo much better back in the beta stages than it is now - simply because you made a meaningful decision on choosing your character cause they all had very unique strength and play-styles. It took you weeks or months to master them. At the current state every character deals approx the same dmg and does approx the same things and the dev team has driven the game towards that trend consciously - the reason being that it's easier to "balance". The only reason why LoL remains on the Moba throne is because every other Moba is trying to be like LoL but is just not as good at it - therefore LoL is just the best of it's kind, but it could have been a lot more fun for strategists. And we are strategists so we don't want slightly different clones with little variations of choices. we want impactful and meaningful decissions. We want to employ a play style we like but have the ability to change said play style. And there are a lot of strategists out there who want to employ different styles even the "casual" players. A good strategy game dev should consider this. Limiting the choices a player has is almost always a bad thing for a strategy game.
One of the bigger reasons why people play strategy games is due to it's multiplayer capabilities and challenges to themselves. The interaction with other players is what makes strategy games really fun and dynamic. people often behave less predictable than AI therefore random and fun scenarios occur. Also reaching your limits and becoming better at the game is huge deal with strategy games. if not the biggest. I believe it is the most addictive feature a strategy game employs. the need to become better. For that a huge degree of complexity and the room to grow just needs to be in place for a good strategy game - from my experience the games i played the longest and enjoyed the most were those i took the longest to master.
Some truly awesome features I would love to see in a game:
It is hard to come up with new ideas, often even tho they seem new they are just a recombination of features anyway. But that doesn't really matter. What is important is whether the features of a game are fun in combination.
One of those features is player Interaction. most strategy games are strong in 1 vs 1 scenarios. I believe it is the most preferred game mode cause everything that is bigger than 2 vs 2 tends to become chaotic and frustrating for at least one player in any given match. What is the point of every player starting with the same base and then doing the same thing in a 4 vs 4 setup? a great example from Forged Alliance is the map Setons clutch. I'm sure everyone of you knows this map. It's the most "overplayed" map there is and the reason is very simple. every player has a certain task to fulfill. The players are divided into specific roles that they can employ and specialize in which simply leads to fun and team oriented mechanics. But setons is just a very minor example and only good for explaining the basic idea I have for multiplayer interaction. Another game i would like to mention in that regard is savage 2. Savage is actually ingenious a true diamond and the lack of success I can only explain by their terrible marketing, funding and the jerky last century graphics / fighting mechanics. But the concept is just brilliant.
For a strategy game this means implementing player interaction through giving each player a different set of impacts he can make to the game. One player may take up the role of a base commander. Being in charge of placing buildings and generating the bases layouts. Another will be in charge of producing and managing units while another may focus on building up and distributing resources and the last could support the team through Air control ...I'm sure there are other ways to split those jobs. maybe two players may even share the same job depending on what the team wants to focus on. This will lead to very unique multiplayer interactions, while 1 v1 would be unaffected 4 vs 4 could become very sophisticated and interesting, it could even lead to 10 vs 10 or 50 vs 50 player matches where most player just control a large platoon/squad on a very big battlefield ( assuming future tech will allow such fun stuff)
Supreme commanders experimental units. I have to say these units are just fun. they are fun to watch when you have them ravage through someones base but it is also satisfying to survive and destroy them. they are a great way to force the game to progress, of course they are not perfect in FA - usually experimentals are the only thing you need to build once the eco was strong enough. A healthier way of implementing those experimentals would be to create them independently from your eco, e.g ordering them through a backup call or researching them like a perk which will then make the experimental arrive on the battlefield in certain intervals. But in general just copy that shit- it is that good and fun.
Support for custom AI scripts. I'm not talking about watching a bot build your base or anything. but it would be great to add certain behaviors to some units that would reduce micro and allow for very unique play styles.
Another feature is earth 2050. Custom built units. omfg how nice!? you take a body, a means of transportation, you add a couple of weapons of your choice, maybe a personal shield or not, a radar might be nice too. And of you go ! everything of course has different prices and build times so there shouldn't be any "best" setups but how awesome is that? From tiny Scouts to HUGE freaking monster tanks, every scale/ Tier possible. I've only seen it once done and earth 2050 actually had very little choice to choose from and I don't get why other games have not done this. cause it was really a lot of fun. Distant world Universe actually made a great feat of this too. Boy that is a fun game, it just sucks so much that there is no multiplayer to it. That game actually shows how many players could work together in the same team emplyoing different roles all uniquely contributing towards winning the game. That game is actually so sophisticated that in order to play effectively you have to make the AI control most of the games other features in order to concentrate on whatever you wanted to do right now cause i normal human being could not handle the load of seting up star bases gathering resources building mining ships conveying in politics doing research building ships and designing them. then you had to divide your ships into fleets etc etc.... leads me to suggesting another job/role for a player. - dedicating to outfitting and customizing tanks to counter the enemies technology.
Alright I'm getting tired.. this wall of text ends here for now =D