Galactic Empires (MP Sci-fi Scenario)

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TheChosenOne
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Re: Galactic Empires (MP Sci-fi Scenario)

Post by TheChosenOne »

Bob_The_Mighty wrote:
April 12th, 2020, 7:19 pm
TheChosenOne wrote:
April 12th, 2020, 2:28 am
So I played the tutorial. All was well except when I was trying to invade the enemy homeworld, I was supposed to have 3 soldiers but after beaming the soldiers, only 2 landed. Is it possibly because I beamed down two soldiers one after another (and maybe the fact that the transporter is in the same position might have caused the 2 soldiers to stack on top each other)?
I can't watch the replay you posted as it says it's not supported in multiplayer mode. However, I replicated the problem in the tutorial and I think it might be related to Trampod's bug report above - when beaming up, were you right-clicking on units rather quickly? Or waiting for the animation to play? The code planet/beaming code is a complicated mess which needs to be rewritten, but for now I might just disable the animations.
I don't remember, but it's possible I might have beamed both of them down in rapid succession.
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Argothair
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Re: Galactic Empires (MP Sci-fi Scenario)

Post by Argothair »

I realize I'm late to the party here, but I wanted to submit a review of this gorgeous era.

Graphics: 5 stars. The individual planet views look like science-fiction planets, the galactic map is eerie and vast, the ships have that slightly cartoonish style you think of for Wesnoth but still look like sci-fi ships and can be easily distinguished, and the futuristic soldiers fire convincing laser beams.

Interface: 4 stars -- The menu bars are easy to use and make perfect sense, the scroll-to-planet / scroll-to-surface features save a ton of time, and in general all the controls are where you expect them to be and make the game feel intuitive. My only (minor) complaints here are that having a second row of planets underneath the galaxy map sometimes means that I have to scroll up and then scroll back down when I can't remember which half of the map the planet is located on, the tech tree uses so many abbreviations that it's not easy to read at first, and in the endgame the micromanagement of planetary economies can get a bit tedious -- I care where my worker gets placed on turn 3, but by turn 20 I really just want them to stop standing in economically useless dirt and find any old tile to farm or mine as long as it does *something*. An automatic command that gets me "good enough" worker distribution that I can click once per planet (or, better yet, a planetary governor that I can leave running and not have to think about) would really help speed the game along.

AI: 1 star -- The AI runs without bugs, but that's about all I can say for it -- it spammed the lowest-level ships and sent them peacefully toward me without ever attacking anything unless I attacked it first. It didn't colonize any planets and didn't interfere with my goals in any way. Even when I invaded the home world, its soldiers didn't bother attacking my wounded Marines.

Economy: 2 stars -- In theory, there's a very interesting trade-off to make where you have to decide among five options on how to allocate your initial gold and workers: (a) add buildings and planetary upgrades to your first few colonies, (b) build a fleet of offensive ships to attack your opponents, (c) invest in scientists and technology, (d) send a well-defended, fully loaded transport to the best available planet and rapidly develop a large new colony there, or (e) send a horde of transports with one worker each to every planet you can possibly reach, starting with the closest planets, and then immediately beam up the worker that 'founded' each new colony and keep them moving across the map to settle even more worlds. Unfortunately, I feel like (e) is the only viable strategy. Because you get a free HQ every time you drop any unit on an uninhabited planet, and because colonizing a planet consumes neither the transport nor the worker, and because the HQ provides you with a basic food income (and allows you to purchase even more income, e.g. Food Processor, Automatic Mining, etc.), and because it takes at least 2 soldiers to kill an enemy HQ in any reasonable amount of time, you really are just spending the entire opening racing to beat your opponents to uninhabited planets. It's OK to lose 1 or even 2 planets to enemy attacks as long as you just keep settling more planets as fast as you can -- in the time it would take your opponent to conquer 1 of your worlds, you can settle 3+ empty ones, so you still come out ahead. Meanwhile, your opponent doesn't know where you've settled until they get there -- if they send a transport with 2 soldiers to a planet that you're not on, then the time that the second soldier spent in transit is 'wasted' relative to if they just sent 1 unit; the second soldier doesn't add any value at all there. I also have some quibbles over the costs of some of the planetary upgrades -- comms, shields, and hospitals seem overpriced (they offer very niche value -- if you can afford to invest in planetary defenses, you can usually afford to just build more ships instead. Meanwhile, Food Processors and Food Plants seem like must-buys on every single planet because they give you exponential growth, and Academy is a huge advantage anywhere that you're training Soldiers. Finally, the tech tree feels somewhat underpriced -- you can pretty easily discover maximum tech in every field with just a couple of research-focused planets operating for 4-6 turns each. I'd like to see the higher tech levels be even more expensive.

Combat: 5 stars -- There's a land-based and space-based combat system here that really works and that feels meaningfully different from all the other eras out there...no easy feat, after all these years of development. I like the option to destroy planets with ships, to take over a planet by killing the HQ, or to just harass and delay a planet by landing a couple of soldiers to disrupt enemy economic activity -- that's a really interesting choice that is fun to wrestle with.

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Bob_The_Mighty
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Re: Galactic Empires (MP Sci-fi Scenario)

Post by Bob_The_Mighty »

Argothair wrote:
June 26th, 2020, 8:33 pm
I realize I'm late to the party here, but I wanted to submit a review of this gorgeous era.
Thanks Argothair, this kind of feedback is like gold dust... I've not really done any work on this add-on for a long time, but I suspect I will eventually get round to updating it and taking the edge off some of the problems. I point out that I had little to do with the artwork, which was originally made for other projects. And if you're facing AI opponents you're doing something wrong, as it was only intended to be player vs player.

Your analysis of the best tactics is interesting and is probably the area I would address first. Ideally, each of those methods should be viable. Do you think option e) could be offset by simply making colonisation consume a unit? (e.g. you beam a worker/fighter/scientist down from a transport to an uncolonised planet - you gain a HQ, but lose the unit). Any other ideas for balance are welcome.
Last edited by Bob_The_Mighty on July 11th, 2020, 4:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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MP pirate campaign: The Altaz Mariners
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Argothair
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Joined: May 10th, 2014, 12:01 am

Re: Galactic Empires (MP Sci-fi Scenario)

Post by Argothair »

Hi Bob_the_Mighty! Great to hear from you; I'm really glad you're still around and interested. :)

I think making colonisation consume a unit would be a good start and a big step in the right direction. Another useful tweak would be to make Transports slower and Scout ships faster. Finally, you might require new colonies to build a planetary structure called a "Mass Driver" or "Space Elevator" or something like that, using only native industry, before they are allowed to use Gold to purchase buildings. The idea is that you can have all the mineral wealth in the galaxy, but if you don't have a way to *get* it to the frontier worlds, then the frontier worlds can't spend it. The collective effect of these changes would be to incentivize players to wait a bit to send out their transports until they have two or even three units on the same transport -- that way you can drop off a worker on a colonized world to help you build the Mass Driver there, or you can drop off a second worker on a second planet without having to (slowly) sail back and forth across the galaxy. Conquering enemy colonies would also become somewhat more realistic if they can't always just burn through their gold reserves to drop whatever buildings the colony needs to defend itself. Attacking enemy shipping early on would also be more attractive with these changes, because if a ship is carrying 2+ units and sending a replacement ship will be slow and time-consuming, then knocking out even one loaded enemy transport could justify your investment in early offensive units.

One of the reasons why a 'tech rush' strategy doesn't necessarily seem attractive to me is that higher-tech ships aren't much better *per gold piece* than lower-tech ships. Like, in the rare scenario where you've got a bottleneck in how many hexes you can occupy, then, sure, you want the biggest ships you can get to occupy the space. For the most part, though, outer space is open and easy to move through and around. You can probably surround an enemy planet on 4+ hex sides if you can afford to be attacking it at all. If your opponent has a fleet and you meet in the middle then maybe you can only get 3 hex sides of coverage, but that's a temporary situation -- if I can afford to build 3 Battleships vs. your 3 Cruisers, I could also instead have afforded to build 5 Cruisers vs. your 3 Cruisers, and my numerical advantage will soon allow me to destroy some of your ships and surround your remaining ships on 4+ sides. I think the higher-tech ships are slightly more efficient per-gold-piece, but probably not enough to justify more than a casual investment in tech. Sure, crank out a scientist or two when you have nothing better to do, but tech-for-ships doesn't feel like a viable strategy.

Meanwhile, tech-for-buildings seems grossly overpowered for a couple of key colony-enablers, like the Food Processors and Food Plants, which lead to exponential growth. Anything that reduces the cost of a Worker helps you get more Workers more quickly, which in turn helps you get more of everything else more quickly. That's fun, and it's OK to include in the era, but basically I can stop researching tech as soon as I get access to those key buildings. One way to fix this would be to make sure the lower-level techs only give you access to bonuses like "+1 food/turn" or "+2 food/turn", and getting access to the exponential bonuses like "new workers cost -6 food each" requires maxing out all the way to Genetics Tech Level 4 or whatever. You might even be better off with 5+ tech levels in each field just to have more room to need to get down that road.

Another way of thinking about the tech tree is: what is the big "payoff" advance that you can only discover by going most or all of the way down a tech tree? For Genetics it can be the building that reduces the food cost of new workers. For Transwarp, I guess right now it's "Teleport"? Which is good, but maybe not quite good enough. I might also want to gain access to a warship that's notably faster (like, 9 or 10 mp) than all other warships. For Nanobots, maybe the payoff at the end of the line is really good healing? Like not just +4 HP per turn, but +12 HP/turn? Something that can dramatically shift the balance of power if/when you get there.

Anyway, good luck, and thanks for chatting. If you can't tell, I really like your era; I'm nitpicking it because I love it.

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