Ascension: Developing your factions

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Dugi
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Ascension: Developing your factions

Post by Dugi » July 24th, 2018, 7:37 am

Hello,

After a long time of not producing anything visible, I have actually made something visible. And playable. Based on an old, unrealisable idea of mine to create an era where players would customise their factions using the factions' global experience from previous battles. It's a standalone strategy game where players develop their factions while conquering lands occupied by bots and other players. You can play it here.
How did I get to create it:
The game doesn't have a story, it's a free-for-all competition where AI only serves to provide additional opponents. Every player makes his faction (or more factions) from scratch. He starts with some generic units (swordsmen, bowmen...) and a few lesser customisation options, like size (much stronger, more expensive). Killing enemy units adds experience to the faction, eventually allowing it to advance a level. With each level, the faction becomes somewhat better, possibly unlocking additional units (horsemen, magicians, ...). At level 5 and every 3 levels after, the player can choose a special trait for his faction, which uniquely modifies his faction (new units, extra abilities...).

The game is set in a tolkienesque fantasy setting, but the freedom to create whatever faction one likes restricts the amount of lore that can be put into the game. I have some vague ideas where could some more lore be added. The names of worlds and settlements are automatically generated and meant to roughly fit the theme, I apologise in advance if it produces something dirty (I am, after all, the guy who accidentally created Ssex the Saurian and Yerrmum the Elf).

A big difference from Wesnoth is that it's real time and combat is only text-based, the player sends armies from his villages at enemy villages and sees how well they fared. I wasn't reinventing a wheel. It allows much of the game to pass in absence of the player, who only needs to occasionally connect and give orders.

Players don't play all in the same game, there are several playgrounds named worlds, each may have different rules. The player can have at most one faction in a world, but can have any number of factions as long as they are in different worlds. If a player is eliminated (all villages occupied), armies are gone, but the faction's experience persists and another world can be joined with that faction (or the one (s)he was eliminated from).

There should be no obvious bugs, but it's unlikely that I have found them all. A known bug is that sometimes a new window is opened behind an existing one, but fixing it isn't in my hands. There's a lot of features planned but not implemented yet because I didn't find them essential. Some of the user interface may be impractical because I either didn't use it enough to notice or didn't come to a better idea. All art was created by me, so it's obviously far from perfect. If the game gets some playerbase, I might hire somebody using donations or something. The game contains some simple forums, but I don't know how practical they are for frequent usage.

The game isn't balanced well, I didn't have time to implement an environment for competition between bots whose strategies change using some genetic algorithm. But I have done a little math and testing to make a rough estimate of what is suitable.

It can be played here.

Image
Last edited by Dugi on August 3rd, 2018, 9:25 pm, edited 6 times in total.

profyverya
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Re: Ascension: Developing your factions

Post by profyverya » July 25th, 2018, 11:56 am

I think that it is quite interesting.
profyverya

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Re: Ascension: Developing your factions

Post by Dixie » August 2nd, 2018, 12:35 am

Sounds interesting, I'll definitely give it a go!
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Re: Ascension: Developing your factions

Post by Dugi » August 3rd, 2018, 9:17 pm

profyverya wrote:
July 25th, 2018, 11:56 am
I think that it is quite interesting.
Dixie wrote:
August 2nd, 2018, 12:35 am
Sounds interesting, I'll definitely give it a go!
Maybe I didn't write it clearly, but it can be played at http://ascension.website , it is not just a draft.

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Re: Ascension: Developing your factions

Post by Dixie » August 4th, 2018, 2:56 pm

Yeah I had gotten that, thanks :) I created an account and tried it out. I have some early feedback if you are interested:

What do the stats actually do? They’re not all very obvious…

How much do special traits cost and what do they do?

Instead of one parchment for everything, maybe have two side by side, one for status and the other showing the units (or just a larger, two section one for easy of use later on during gameplay)? Scrolling to see the mechanical effect of each stat change is a pain…

The map is big and hard to browse, I have no idea where my pillar of light is and how to interact with the map. Maybe start centered on my pillar? Let me choose its location? Have a minimap? Have a “Center on territory”button?

Just found out you can go to your settlements via your faction’s status screen. The pillar of light is a bit subtle when you don’t know what to look for imho. Maybe have the tutorial point to it with a big coloured arrow just for that first time so new players know?

I know this information is on my faction scroll, but it could be good having a reminder of cost and upkeep of units on settlements scrolls.

Does terrain have any sort of impact on troops/settlements or is it just cosmetic?

How much does upgrading buildings cost and how long does it take? Btw I like the note that tells you what advantages you get from it. There should be more of these everywhere!

How often is upkeep paid? Maybe have a progress bar for it?

While were at it, progress bars for everything would be good: building upgrades, troops/machines production, material production on settlements (if you ever decide to have them generate more less often, because a 1s progress bar is not excessively relevant), army movements/actions, population growth, etc.

Also while were at it, maybe have an “army” tab at the top to keep track of all the different “army” groups active, their current location/mission, progress bars, etc. Maybe you can even name them? Or they take an automated name based on their home settlement, for exemple “12th Dimohead Unit/Regiment/Cell (for spies)”, something like that… Actually I find it very hard to keep track of troops, especially those in movement.

I sent a spy to another settlement, I got an update, it failed to learn anything and I can't seem to see it anymore. Is it dead? Is it walking back home? Is it possible to station spies in enemy settlements?

Also it's really too bad that I lose spy reports after reading them once...

I'll probably have more as I experience it all! Great job putting all of this together, by the way. I wouldn't want to sound ungrateful or anything :)
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Re: Ascension: Developing your factions

Post by Dugi » August 5th, 2018, 10:33 am

Thanks for trying it out.

You have probably not noticed that there are tooltips that inform about most of the stuff you found missing. Hovering above text fields shows the effects of attributes, costs and construction times of units, building construction costs and times, effects of buildings on their current levels, effects of special traits etc.

Regarding other questions:
Dixie wrote:
August 4th, 2018, 2:56 pm
How much do special traits cost and what do they do?
There is a tutorial scroll on this and it says that they are available after level 5 so that you would not choose wrongly before you understand the game. Their effects are on tooltips.
Dixie wrote:
August 4th, 2018, 2:56 pm
Instead of one parchment for everything, maybe have two side by side, one for status and the other showing the units (or just a larger, two section one for easy of use later on during gameplay)? Scrolling to see the mechanical effect of each stat change is a pain…
I guess this could be a good idea. I originally shaped it like that in order to make it fit on a mobile phone screen, but I can detect now if it's open in a mobile or a PC.
Dixie wrote:
August 4th, 2018, 2:56 pm
Maybe start centered on my pillar? Let me choose its location? Have a minimap? Have a “Center on territory”button?
The map should be centered on your settlement. If it is not, please tell me what browser you have, because it works fine on mine. It could be delayed by network lag.

I am thinking about implementing a minimap at some point.

There is a dropdown menu next to the world's name that allows you center on settlements you own.
Dixie wrote:
August 4th, 2018, 2:56 pm
The pillar of light is a bit subtle when you don’t know what to look for imho.
It should be in the centre of your screen and the tutorial scroll mentions it.
Dixie wrote:
August 4th, 2018, 2:56 pm
Does terrain have any sort of impact on troops/settlements or is it just cosmetic?
It affects movement speed, production efficiency, maximal population and defendability. If you are attacked in some settlement in hills, the enemy has a disadvantage.
Dixie wrote:
August 4th, 2018, 2:56 pm
How often is upkeep paid? Maybe have a progress bar for it?
It's being paid continually. Earnings also come continually. The information on the scrolls is updated periodically.
Dixie wrote:
August 4th, 2018, 2:56 pm
While were at it, progress bars for everything would be good: building upgrades, troops/machines production, material production on settlements (if you ever decide to have them generate more less often, because a 1s progress bar is not excessively relevant), army movements/actions, population growth, etc.
That could be useful, especially for buildings. But I am not quite sure where to fit them. I could add percentages to tooltips, but tooltips are generally not working on mobiles.
Dixie wrote:
August 4th, 2018, 2:56 pm
Also while were at it, maybe have an “army” tab at the top to keep track of all the different “army” groups active, their current location/mission, progress bars, etc.
I think this is a good idea. I think that if they were described well enough, they would not need to be named.
Dixie wrote:
August 4th, 2018, 2:56 pm
I sent a spy to another settlement, I got an update, it failed to learn anything and I can't seem to see it anymore. Is it dead? Is it walking back home? Is it possible to station spies in enemy settlements?
It's because spies in a settlement do counterintelligence. You have sent that single spy into a settlement where I had 200 spies who immediately found him. The spy would remain stationed there and update you periodically if he was not found. Note that I am playing faction Goldchuggers and players with silly user names and generic faction names are bots (who usually do not attack).
Dixie wrote:
August 4th, 2018, 2:56 pm
Also it's really too bad that I lose spy reports after reading them once....
I hated manually deleting every notification, especially on my phone. I am aware of this issue, I am planning to implement showing the learned information on the enemy settlement's window.

Thanks for the feedback.

EDIT: Sorry for the recent server crash. It's hard to investigate.

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Re: Ascension: Developing your factions

Post by Dixie » August 10th, 2018, 12:38 pm

So I haven't played your game in a few days mostly because I don't really like those real-time passive incremental PvP kinda games that make you want to log on every half hour to micro manage stuff. A few thoughts:

The UI is very bare bones and unintuitive. It's hard to have relevant information and easily find stuff.

I feel like materials production goes through the really quickly. It doesn't feel balanced to be honest.

I got the same feeling with experience requirements. 1k for lv 2 is about 4-5 battles, maybe it's a tad much but it's agreeable. But 7k more for lv 3? It feels leagues beyond. I don't know.

While evolving your faction sounds cool when you describe it, it's really just assigning stats points and deciding in your head "this ought to be some kind of goblin or whatever". I don't know if it influences what units are available to you later on, I suppose it does, but I felt like I was going into this blindly. Honestly it sounded like you wanted it to be a core mechanic but it doesn't feel like it. Maybe if there were pre-defined distributions, possibly available publicly, that when you fit you get a prompt like "do you want to become elves?" or whatever, and then it gives you a unique unit and/or building. Or maybe having an image of one of your people that evolves as you assign points. Or maybe not making this about you buying points but points being auto-assigned depending on how you behave. The more you fight, especially good-aligned people, the more your alignement drops. If you use more soldiers, your strenght might go up, vs dex if using more archers, whatever. The kind of terrain you occupy could have an impact too, especially on size.

Anyway, just giving you some feedback, it's still a great showcase of the stuff you can do as a dev, I for one could never pull it off, good job! And just deciding on such a project and seeing it through to a playable state is an accomplishment in itself, so congrats!
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Re: Ascension: Developing your factions

Post by Dugi » August 11th, 2018, 2:54 pm

Dixie wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 12:38 pm
So I haven't played your game in a few days mostly because I don't really like those real-time passive incremental PvP kinda games that make you want to log on every half hour to micro manage stuff. A few thoughts:
The game's speed can be altered, but I don't think that a far higher speed would be nice if there aren't many players, because anyone could conquer the world while others are sleeping or busy.

I have actually left some enum values to enable players to automate the micromanagement. But currently it's impossible to configure or turn on.
Dixie wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 12:38 pm
The UI is very bare bones and unintuitive. It's hard to have relevant information and easily find stuff.
I am not exactly a good UI designer. If you have some specific ideas, I will be glad to hear them.
Dixie wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 12:38 pm
I feel like materials production goes through the really quickly. It doesn't feel balanced to be honest.
It's also spent quite fast. Maybe all values of the material variable could be significantly reduced.
Dixie wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 12:38 pm
I got the same feeling with experience requirements. 1k for lv 2 is about 4-5 battles, maybe it's a tad much but it's agreeable. But 7k more for lv 3? It feels leagues beyond. I don't know.
You will gain more experience once you get more soldiers and cause more havoc to the enemy, Also, if you have more settlements, you will fight more battles. So as you develop, the experience gain will increase quite significantly.
Dixie wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 12:38 pm
While evolving your faction sounds cool when you describe it, it's really just assigning stats points and deciding in your head "this ought to be some kind of goblin or whatever". I don't know if it influences what units are available to you later on, I suppose it does, but I felt like I was going into this blindly. Honestly it sounded like you wanted it to be a core mechanic but it doesn't feel like it. Maybe if there were pre-defined distributions, possibly available publicly, that when you fit you get a prompt like "do you want to become elves?" or whatever, and then it gives you a unique unit and/or building. Or maybe having an image of one of your people that evolves as you assign points. Or maybe not making this about you buying points but points being auto-assigned depending on how you behave. The more you fight, especially good-aligned people, the more your alignement drops. If you use more soldiers, your strenght might go up, vs dex if using more archers, whatever. The kind of terrain you occupy could have an impact too, especially on size.
I don't like when your actions affect how you develop. It would make it very hard to obtain some combination of abilities whose prerequisites would be impractical to use alone. The good/evil axis has some influence on your behaviour, because the more evil your faction is, the more significant is the problem with murder when nothing was recently attacked. So if you have an evil faction, you need to make frequent attacks or your units die.

On the other hand, I might have the window give the player some hints about developing the faction in a way humans would develop, in a way elves would develop, in a way dwarves would develop, or orcs, giants et cetera. So if the player doesn't want to experiment, he can simply select some stereotypical progress.
Dixie wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 12:38 pm
Anyway, just giving you some feedback, it's still a great showcase of the stuff you can do as a dev, I for one could never pull it off, good job! And just deciding on such a project and seeing it through to a playable state is an accomplishment in itself, so congrats!
Thanks.

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Re: Ascension: Developing your factions

Post by GunChleoc » August 11th, 2018, 8:42 pm

Regarding the lack of tooltips on mobile devices, maybe there could be a query button somewhere? Hit the button and then hit the coordinates on the map -> tooltip text.

And the best of luck to you with the job hunting once you finish your PhD :)

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Re: Ascension: Developing your factions

Post by Dugi » August 14th, 2018, 8:19 am

I have made an update mostly based on Dixie's suggestions:

Code: Select all

Version 0.1.1

Added a window to see detailed information about a legion
Added a window that lists all legions of your faction, it's a part of the factions menu
The faction window is now responsive
Changed font to an easier to read one
GunChleoc wrote:
August 11th, 2018, 8:42 pm
Regarding the lack of tooltips on mobile devices, maybe there could be a query button somewhere? Hit the button and then hit the coordinates on the map -> tooltip text.
I think that would be impractical to use. Those tooltips would be used a lot because they also show results of calculations. However, I have found that sometimes, it's done so that a single tap opens the hover text, a double tap clicks the button. I still wonder what is the best option in this case.
GunChleoc wrote:
August 11th, 2018, 8:42 pm
And the best of luck to you with the job hunting once you finish your PhD :)
Thanks.

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Re: Ascension: Developing your factions

Post by Dugi » August 23rd, 2018, 8:20 am

I have made a new version with a sidebar that contains information about legions and settlements. All information can be collapsed so that you can browse only what you find relevant. I have also improved the login screen.

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Re: Ascension: Developing your factions

Post by shevegen » August 27th, 2018, 10:44 pm

> So I haven't played your game in a few days mostly because I don't really like those real-time passive
> incremental PvP kinda games that make you want to log on every half hour to micro manage stuff. A few thoughts:

Reminds me of oldschool browser games.

"We" even had a variant of Magic the Gathering called Magewar, originally developed by a korean company; lateron by a community.

I used to play it up until they added bots. Bots were just wasting my time - I don't want to "interact" with bots when I
could interact with humans.

Sorry for digressing; to the game itself I have not tried it out yet but I may do so in the future. I am currently taking a
break from wesnoth and gaming in general; not so much because I am displeased, nope, wesnoth improved a lot.

But reallife issues and a tiny bit of fatigue on top of that, contribute to this. Motivation always comes back.

By the way Dugi, if you don't know that other game yet, you can have a look here:

http://www.the-reincarnation.com/

If you don't know it, try it out once or twice - you may get some ideas about how to improve your game
too. Some parts of the game are still fine, if we ignore the bots. They also don't really have a background
story by the way, but I recommend just coming up with something somewhat generic, like reasons why
epic struggles exist. Even zombies have some goal, they aim for the brainsssss....

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Re: Ascension: Developing your factions

Post by Dugi » August 28th, 2018, 11:27 am

shevegen wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 10:44 pm
Reminds me of oldschool browser games.[...]
It is a browser game, but it looks more like a typical desktop game. I have taken some inspiration from what I've heard about such games, but I deliberately relied only on verbal descriptions in order to reinvent the wheel to avoid making some sort of clone.

This game has bots, but they serve mostly to compensate for low number of players (which is a problem at the moment, but I don't want to make it too known before fixing all problems), the possibility to disable them has been implemented before the bots were implemented.

I will check out that Reincarnation, from its description, it appears not to be particularly different from what I am making.

Thanks for the input.

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Re: Ascension: Developing your factions

Post by Dugi » Today, 2:19 pm

I have rewritten the tutorial, now it looks much better and should be much more informative.

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