Beta 1.0 Reactions

Discussion in 'EMPIRE (by Crazy Monkey Studios)' started by Senator, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    Just played a few minutes of the new version of the beta, and want to comment on the switch that makes Explore an upgrade and purchasing units a free move:

    This is probably a good move, but a new mechanic is needed to give interest to the core world-level gameplay. As opposed to the old low-quality choice of where to explore, I'm now mostly deciding whether to do something (found/abandon a city or buy a unit), or to do nothing. Most of the time, that means doing nothing :(

    I've been thinking that tasking military units to do other things might be part of the solution, and I see from the blog that Keith has been thinking along similar lines. I kind of like his idea of requiring scouts to find monster nests. I've also been thinking that it might be cool if mining were solely accomplished via unit-tasking: So you can't exploit mountains at all unless you task a unit (or more) to that, with the unit unavailable from combat for as long as he's engaged in mining (travel time could make distant exploitation costlier as well).

    Anyone else have ideas for tasking units or otherwise making the overworld more interesting?
    keithburgun likes this.
  2. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Maybe you spend a soldier to explore, and maybe you spend a cavalry or archer to work a mountain. Actually, this latter rule is REALLY good in that it solves a number of problems, namely that you tend to have way too many minerals early game.

    Forcing the player to have to use a T2 or T3 unit to do this would also be a cool tech-tree type of thing.

    PS. Wait what's that you say? You love our versioning patterns? Next version will be version 0.32d!
    Senator likes this.
  3. donderper

    donderper Well-Known Member

    It's not immediately obvious but you can still explore manually in this version.
  4. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    So, you get spell cards by winning battles now? I like that, but what about Valor/Grit?
  5. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Yeah. Right now there's no way to get Valor/Grit, we're still not sure how you'll get those.

    Yeah it's a bit silly in this version. In the next version, exploration via city upgrade will be free (no materials), so that it's actually a choice.

    We're also considering making mines work in the following way:

    - Mountains start un-workable
    - Mountains have monsters in them, maybe always 6 monsters, that you have to clear out
    - Once they're cleared out, your city will work them.

    Something like that. We're looking for a way that the player can take a step BACKWARD militarily to take a step forward economically.
    Nachtfischer likes this.
  6. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    Mountains had better pay out more materials then.

    The military backwards, economy forwards mechanism is filling the army for policing.
  7. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    How is having a full army backwards on military?
  8. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    There's a severe bug in this new version (at least in the game on my iPod): City upgrades are removed whenever a new upgrade arrives. So I can never get above tier 1.
  9. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    Because saving the extra units from death is a major tempo drain, more significant now that it takes two Move Anys for a diagonal move.
  10. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    The bug Nachtfischer mentions affects all cities after your first, I think, and it pretty much makes it impossible to play a real game. (Actually, the upgrades seem to be removed after the next combat as well as the next upgrade.)

    Bumping warriors to 4 health has had a really profound effect on combat. It no longer makes sense to build all-cavalry armies (because cavalry can't kill warriors with a single shot anymore, except with lots of valor), and it's a lot easier to lose, at least when the monster army is bigger than your own. So that was a great change.

    It might still make sense to give enemies a buff to health based on the amount of desolation in the world or something, so that combat will get harder and harder as the game progresses.

    Some kind of smart fast-forward mechanism is needed for situations where you have no way to produce new materials. In that situation, you can't explore, build units, or do anything else--so your only valid action is to press the Next Day button over and over again until you can figure out some way to get materials. (The Magical Bounty card and taking the 40 materials in lieu of an upgrade are your only options, I think.)

    Maybe you ought to be able to destroy city upgrades in order to get materials. That way the chance of getting the game into such a long arc of nonresponsiveness is less likely to occur.

    If you have a settler in your pocket when your last city is destroyed, the game continues on, but losing all your cities really ought to end the game. If you lose all your cities and have no materials but do have a settler, the game will never end at all. (Because you can't get the materials you need to build a city.)

    Sometimes monster nests spawn with 0 monsters, and launching an attack on them automatically destroys them. That's boring.

    The Cavalry Move card is maybe too powerful? Being able to move two different cavalry units, or one cavalry unit twice, is pretty darn good. It might be better to go back to the old Cavalry Move card, with only one move, and have a separate and rarer Cavarly Reposition card that acts like the double-move Cavalry card.

    I still think that Resurrection is too powerful when it prevents you from taking on Strife cards. Strife cards should be awarded the moment a unit dies. EDIT: I see that the change log indicates that this was supposed to have been implemented. Possibly there is simply no UI feedback to indicate that Strife was taken on?

    I'd like to see a Shift All card, that would allow you to move all of your units up or down.
    keithburgun likes this.
  11. EnDevero

    EnDevero Well-Known Member

    Does anyone else think this game has a scoring problem? I mean, we're all talking about balance and strategies and such, but we're missing what, for me, is what makes a game go from good to great. Victory Points, as they are implemented right now, do a swell job of measuring the player's skill, but scoring systems can do more than that. They can create a sort of risk/reward meta-game of gauging your own skill and putting yourself in appropriate situations. It's that dynamic difficulty Dasick often talks about.

    Right now, score just sort of measures how good of a job you're doing of surviving. "You've survived this many deadly encounters," the score tells you. These encounters are always sort of thrust upon you though. It's always either you or them. You either kill and reap the rewards, or you lose. There's not much wiggle room. There's no wisely backing out from a dangerous situation and forfeiting the rewards. There's no deciding to rush in head first because you really want to get the maximum amount of points. The game just feels really reactive. It's all about preparing for imminent strikes and surviving. You're only real decision when it comes to managing attacks (assuming you're prepared) is, "Do I attack sooner or later?" The right answer is usually, "As soon as possible." The only reason you might wait is so that you get a larger group of monsters to attack because more monsters = more points, but why do that when you have an endless supply of monsters attacking you anyway? You're better off just offing them in smaller groups, there's no real punishment.

    Edit: Granted, this might just be me speaking out of personal preference.
    keithburgun likes this.
  12. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    Well, score also tracks how long you've been able to maintain old cities, both via the Academy bonus and the Feast upgrade. Since the exploration upgrade will soon be free, though, feasts should probably cost materials or it will just be a no-brainer to throw one every time you get the chance (i.e., when you don't need a settler).

    Actually, you can cancel an attack before you enter combat, and you can surrender at any time once you're in combat. However, surrendering is too expensive currently--I think you lose 3 units or something like that. The tradeoff should probably be less terrible, like you lose no units but take on 1 Strife card for every unit you brought into combat.

    A few things might help with this. Making it worse for the player when he is attacked is one. If monsters attack a city and you beat them off, you should get no VP for that fight. Defeating monsters who attacked your city should also not destroy their nest, as it does currently. Instead, you should have to carry the fight to them in order to wipe them out. This would make for a much larger difference between being on offense and being on defense.

    Also, as the game proceeds, I think nests should spawn at higher tiers. Combat itself should also get harder as the game proceeds, maybe by pumping monster HP the farther along you go (e.g., based on the amount of desolation in the world). So at some point you'd have no real choice but to face larger groups of enemies.

    Or a bigger change: Having two different factions of monsters who are at least potentially hostile to each other would give the player some options regarding when and who to attack; effectively, it would allow the player to choose to face fewer attacks, but also forego VP in the process.
    keithburgun likes this.
  13. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    This would be really obnoxious since you can't attack a nest while it's attacking you.

    I think this already happens.

    Deck management gets harder, and that causes combat to get harder. Pumping monster HP to ludicrous levels is an unfair and boring way to increase difficulty.
    keithburgun likes this.
  14. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Awesome feedback guys, thanks. Sorry about the huge city bug.

    Can you explain what you mean by this?

    Yep I know, I've always felt this way, and I told the guys and for some reason it just didn't go in yet. Will be in the next version for sure.

    Maybe Surrender should give you a bunch of strife but let you keep your units? EDIT: Oh, someone else suggested that too, yeah. I agree.

    Anyway, I appreciate what you're saying, Endevero, and I think I totally agree. The way I would phrase it is that the strategic approaches aren't distinct enough. It doesn't feel enough like you can "tech" or "rush" or "play defensively". All of these strategic prongs need improvement so that each game doesn't feel the same.

    This is happening currently but not fast enough. Also you should know there's a new rule: whenever one of your cities upgrades, all monster cities in the world upgrade!

    Also do you guys think you should be able to attack more than one monster lair at a time?
  15. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    I mean we can make sure there are decently sized windows for attacking them, and/or we can just get rid of that rule and you can attack them even while they're attacking you, and whoever gets their first, the other guy's attack is canceled.
  16. EnDevero

    EnDevero Well-Known Member

    Mhm, that's it. Particularly, I think the game should incentivize aggressive play a bit more. Usually, after you do that, the other playstyles sort of just appear within the game as contrast to that aggressive play. But, by aggressive play, I don't necessarily mean attacking first, you're already pressured into doing that; I mean aggressive as in something that puts you in more danger. Maybe aggressive isn't really the word, now that I think about it, but hopefully you get what I mean.
  17. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    I think you mean what's classically referred to as a "rushdown" strategy. Going for heavy military and just kicking ass with big numbers early game, not worrying as much about tech. Maybe grabbing more terrain.

    Actually maybe an idea is, the world starts with at least 3 monster lairs down, and you can't settle within 5 or whatever tiles of a monster lair either. That way in order TO expand you have to clear them out, supporting a rushdown strategy.
  18. EnDevero

    EnDevero Well-Known Member

    Not exactly; rushdown is a bit specific. It doesn't inherently imply danger. A rushdown tactic could easily be a safe tactic in some games. I'm talking about raising stakes. Higher risk for higher reward. The classic Tetris style thing (although, handled better than in Tetris, preferably).

    No, rushing monster layers is already kind of supported by the simple fact that the sooner you fight them, the easier they are to deal with. Actually, this very game a good example of what I meant by a rushdown tactic being safe. What I'm asking for is an incentive to not play safe.
  19. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Really? That doesn't line up with my understanding of rushdown at all. To me rushdown means like a "suicide blitz" - foregoing long-term considerations, at your own peril, to try to get huge gains up front (often trying to end the game quickly).

    I think if you have a game where rushing down is "safe".... that's either not rushing down, or the game is broken balance wise, cuz you should just always do that.

    And so yeah right now actually in EMPIRE, rushing IS safe, and that's a problem. That's why we have no strategic choices really.

    So, maybe monster lairs don't grow, ever. Instead, they suck resources out of the nearby land (as they do now) and they spawn in higher tiers as the game goes on. And you can't settle near them.

    That way the major choices are:

    - Tech up here without expanding much? (Econ)
    - Build military and take out a few monster lairs and expand (Rush)
  20. EnDevero

    EnDevero Well-Known Member

    Oh, yeah, I totally agree with this. I mean, rushdown technically just means to put lots of pressure on the enemy, but, yeah, it's supposed to be "suicide blitz", and, when it's not, that usually means there's an issue. The safe option in a game shouldn't be to mow everything down as quickly as possible.

    Sounds like a promising possibility to me. I assume monster lairs would still launch attacks on your cities after a certain amount of turns, right? One issue I see with the idea is that late game lairs will be inherently worth more points, hurting the early game dynamics. There's also the concern of the game already getting harder because of the deck bloat to account for. All difficulty added to the later game needs to be compared to the difficulty already created by the deck to see if it's fair/worthwhile.

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