EMPIRE Sept 09 version

Discussion in 'EMPIRE (by Crazy Monkey Studios)' started by keithburgun, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Hey guys. So we need feedback on the new version of Empire. This is potentially the last gameplay/balance tweak version, so... what do you think? Is the game worth playing at this stage of development? Is it fun, or boring? Are the monsters getting hard enough? What scores are you getting? Are any of the cards/units super imbalanced?

    Also how is the tutorial?

    Just some of the balance changes:

    - new Tutorial.
    - Deck card scroll is now cyclical so you can scroll forever in the same direction. This makes it easier to purge Strife cards.
    - Tactics card has changed in functionality.
    - Better feedback on the quantity of a resource that was gathered.
    - Fixed a couple of bugs where cards were marked as unplayable while they were playable.
    - Battles where neither the player nor the monsters have any units left are now won by the player instead of the monsters.
    - Shaman's hut now also give 4 redraws in defensive battles.
    - Fixed crash when changing the quality of the game.
    - Fixed tile glitch when destroying a monster nest.
    - No longer need to press "Next turn" when a card killed the last unit.
    - Spell cards cost 2 actions in combat (now called Command) to use
    - tons of other changes
  2. donderper

    donderper Well-Known Member

    Don't have a lot of time but this was my reaction to the tutorial. Most of it was very clear and a good intro to the game, I made some notes of the issues I found;

    The "found a city" part comes too soon, is kind of confusing and there's not really a lot of spaces to place your city except beside the desolation.

    The initial battle feels to passive and is over way too quick. You only play one card and it's like when someone solves a really obvious brain teaser for you but it doesn't help you solve other similar puzzles

    You might say something slightly different than "the wizards assured us this could never happen". Monsters are such an integral part of the game it would be nice to get a bit more back story or explanation about the raft of monsters you're going to have to deal with throughout the existence of your empire.
  3. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    Tutorial is good... but I already knew the game, so I can't really comment.

    Move Cavalry is worth less now because it doesn't change parity. 1 damage Cavalry is bad now because it loses so hard to Warriors and doesn't have broken mobility to compensate. I'm currently running a Warrior-Archer army.
    Grit can't reduce damage below 1 now? That screwed me over several times. In particular, it means it's worthless to Archers.
    Archers can't attack anything in adjacent rows? They should at least get 1 damage sideways or something.
    Actions being stored is a good change, makes the game less luck reliant.
    The field seems to have shrunk, changing the starting parity between the front-lines to favor the player. Not sure what to think about it, but it changes turn-1 Halt All from a huge advantage to a gamble.
    Ruins giving 0 resources is a huge late-game change. Between ruins and random corruption outbreaks, prime city spots disappear fast.
    Getting good cards for winning fights looks like it breaks the "defeating monsters costs resources" balance invariant.
    Mines don't feel worthwhile. I invest 80 resources to get 120 resources back. Break-even point is about 20 turns and mine-out happens at about 26 turns. If mines take so long to break even, they should at least last longer.
    Similarly, if I start adjacent to multiple mountains, the start-of-game materials crush is so bad that I cannot afford to buy non-Warrior units, or more than one unit, until I have scouted and settled a second city.

    The game froze when an enemy archer came within attack range of my base.
    Improvisation doesn't do what the text says it does.
    Naming cities does not work.
    EnDevero and keithburgun like this.
  4. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    Also, the tutorial should cover redraws somehow.
  5. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Thanks Bucky. Keep it coming.

    Yep, this was intentional. Maybe later we can allow the player to "clear ruins" to create grassland similar to how Mines are created now (btw I'll make mountains last longer), for a cost.

    Perhaps I'll make the diagonals move 1 space to fix this.

    Isn't the starting city the same every game? It should be...
  6. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    That explains my run of horrible luck with slow starts.
  7. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Maybe you should start with no mountains near you? My concern is that if you start with resources and next to a mine (and mountains last longer), it's a no brainer to mine it on turn 1.
  8. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    I think the opposite is true right now; it's better to rush explores and found a second city ASAP. Mining should wait until you can actually spare 80 resources.
  9. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    Similar thing when one of my archers was in attack range of the monster base. Seems like a reproducable (and pretty severe) crash. Couldn't really test much due to this bug until now.

    The tutorial seems fine, although it's hard to comment on if you know the game. I'll try to get my fiancée to play it soon!
  10. EnDevero

    EnDevero Well-Known Member

    Wish I could play :( My iPhone pooped out...
  11. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    So I thought about that parity issue for cavalry, and actually, I think that might be a good thing. Cavalry have been too good for too long.

    Here's what I want for the cavalry attack and movement (via cavalry move) patterns.


    Keep in mind, you can still use Move Any to change parity.
  12. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    At the moment I have to deliberately kill off my starting archer to stop him from attacking a monster nest, so the game doesn't crash. This makes proper testing pretty much impossible.

    In other news: My fiancée played the tutorial! Here are some bullet points:
    • Exploration was unclear. What is an "edge tile"? It took some semi-random taps to find out that it's a tile half inside the fog. Plus, it assumes you already know how to move the camera (although that was actually intuitive and not a problem, but mind that my fiancée is an experienced gamer).
    • City building was unclear. Where can I build and why? There were just a few suitable tiles in the tutorial and it again took random tapping around to find a spot. Also, it tells you to find a "good" place. What is good? Where do materials and food come from actually? New players will have no idea with the current tutorial.
    • Battle was unclear. Where do these cards come from all of a sudden? Do I lose them if I play them or do they come back? What are these numbers (i.e. the "command points")? How do the units behave? Why does the archer attack in such and such a pattern etc.?
    • Upgrading was unclear. How do I access the expansion menu myself? Can I? It just pops up out of nowhere a few times and big arrows point at everything you should build. My fiancée told me, if she were left alone with the game she wouldn't have any idea what to do and how to do something.
    All in all pretty much everything was to some extent unclear. I assume the tutorial isn't meant to totally replace reading the manual, but maybe everything should be explained at least a bit longer. Perhaps give a tour of the UI in the beginning (and when the battle starts) and also explain the basic concepts (i.e. a few words on what the goal is, what deck building is and how it's integrated etc.).
    keithburgun likes this.
  13. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    So, with the exception of a few minor things(and no bugs), the version you guys are playing now is going to be the first version on the App Store. Soon after, we'll address a lot of balance / improvement issues. Have a deadline to make, unfortunately.

    New blog post: http://empire-game.net/?p=74
  14. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    I think cavalry are more or less useless in this (9/9) version.
  15. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    I agree with Bucky that cavalry are now pretty useless, and archers are much more difficult to protect. There doesn't seem to be much of a rationale for either costing more than a warrior.

    Guaranteed inability to cast spells in the first round of combat (due to command point limitations) sucks.
  16. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Well, one thing that IS fixed for the launch version is that cavalry can go in 8 directions at least, for now. But I don't agree that cavalry are useless even as it is. I mean you can charge in and kill a whole group of cavalry/archers with them.

    I think saying they're useless is a bit of an overstatement. But I do think you don't want an army composed entirely of them which is good. Anyway I know balance has a way to go, but unfortunately it will have to wait.
  17. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    Cavalry are a liability because they cannot deal with Warriors at all. If they start head-to-head with a Warrior, they require at least two actions to save, except for Cavalry Move which often puts them back in trouble and with less time to react. And even when it works out, the result is that the Warrior is left unengaged.
  18. promethean_beta

    promethean_beta New Member

    Have to ask, now that a release date has been announced- what are the thought/plans for an android version?
  19. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    The problem is that a whole bunch of new changes have come together to make the Warrior both the strongest and the most agile unit, as well as the cheapest. So there is really no reason for me to pay a premium for the other units. (Archer is still OK, but there is no way to protect him; also, did the Archers Shift card go away? Archers Halt is a significant nerf by comparison.) The truth is that it was only in the first version that taking all cavalry made sense. I was far more likely to seek a balanced crew in the last combat revision than in this one. (I've only played a couple of games and I could change my mind, but that's certainly how I feel so far.)

    On to comments that could make a difference for the first release, though!

    Nachfischer's points about the tutorial are critical, but they have not been effectively addressed in today's version. This is a new sort of game that few if any players will know how to play intuitively, and it will need a lot of introduction to make it understandable. Somebody said something about players needing to read the manual but no one will read the manual (is there even a manual?), no matter how easy you make it to access it. So the tutorial needs to do the sorts of hand-holdy things that Nachtfischer suggested, and much more.

    The UI is totally unclear to a new player. I'm talking about both the main overmap and the battle UI. The tutorial should guide me to understand what every part of the UI is for and also explain why it is there at all. It took me a long time to realize that the stuff on the lower left of the overmap is empire-wide resources, and the stuff on the right is local, for example. Why on earth is there a per-tile preview taking up the lower right-hand corner? Personally, I never use this and think it could probably be dispensed with, but at least in the tutorial you could show players how they can use it to help them find a good location to build a city, while also explaining (as Nacht suggested) what makes for a good city location and why.

    Another UI issue--the banners at the top should drop the eye icon. That is now only used for previewing the area to be explored, and it would be much clearer what's up there if the eye were replaced with an image of the city (showing upgrades), or at least an icon of a city. In any case, the tutorial should explain what these banners are, describe what that bare number up there is (turns to upgrade), etc.

    I commented on the last version that the UI in the battle screen also isn't clear, and Nacht's fiancee confirms that it hasn't improved for this version.

    Probably what you should have is a way to see an overlay over the UIs in each mode to explain what everything there does. Maybe you could shake to bring it up and dismiss it?

    The combat tutorial should explain how to use more than one card, and it should show how to move every unit, and it should also talk a bit about the overall strategy of combat.

    The tutorial also needs to emphasize that the player is going to "lose" no matter what. Players are trained to expect to "win" or "beat" many games, and it would be wise to get in front of that idea at every opportunity. Also, the tutorial should give some sense of what the arc of the game will look at, and should give a concrete idea of what they need to be doing to consider themselves to be doing well. I don't think the tutorial currently says much at all about the fact that you deplete the lands you're camped on--that's a huge part of the game that needs to be addressed.

    Pressing "next week" is a really big part of the game. It's also pretty boring. It would probably make sense to try to address that somehow in the tutorial--i.e., make it clear to players that choosing to do nothing is actually a decision, and help them understand why they would choose to do it.

    I think that you should probably lock the game until players do the tutorial. Again, this game is not something that fits into neat genre conventions like 95% of what's on the app store and you don't want people who spent $ on a premium game to think that it can be easily picked up and understood w/o a tutorial. Players who pay money for a game on the app store and are frustrated by it (in the bad way) will complain vociferously.
  20. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Awesome idea. I will take all of these concerns to the higher ups and see if we can't delay things a bit for the sake of teaching the game well.

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