Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

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Aldarisvet
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Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by Aldarisvet » April 9th, 2016, 10:21 pm

Recently I published in the Ideas forum some of my doubts in current's campaign's mechanics system. To not type it again, I just will use self-quotation for the beginning.
Aldarisvet wrote:I am thinking a lot how to diversify tactical challenges in Wesnoth.
What I understood is that a recall system largely disbalances the game, I mean in campaigns. With the ability to recall high-level units on fixed cheap price (20 gp) there is no reason to recruit high-level units for their high base price. And also low level units are mostly useless at later scenarios too, except cases with using leadership. A player creates some group of high-level units and often uses them mostly at later scenarios, neglecting recruiting low-level units because they are almost useless at later scenarios. Or, to say correct, even level1 units are too expensive to recruit at later scenarios because at that stage a player relies on his recall list. Often this system creates a situation that a campaign length is limited with the time needed to get units in recall list to advance to highest level. Or, to lenghten it, the author creates some massacre scenarios, where most of high-level units supposed to be killed.

In the current situation it is obvious that a player should use high-level units with a maximum amount of HP at the front line. So AI would not able to kill front units at one turn, then you rotate your wounded units and heal them at back. Almost all mainline campaigns is about this frontline_rotate_heal system and from some point it becomes quite boring, actually I am fed up of this, it is hard to found tactically intresting campaign because of this. AI just cannot stand against this tactic, that is the main problem. And this because AI itself cannot use this tactic.
That was the reason why I stopped a work over my own campaign. I did not know the way to make it tactically intresting even for me. Now I think that I found the solution. I just publish it to see what others think about it.
So the main problem is AI weakness. At later stages of a campaign you often plays with recalled level3 units vs masses of AI level3 units. Often what you do is just defending/holding line while AI killing his forces on stupid attacks against your frontline and you wait until AI's initial stock of gold to be exhausted, then you just go and kill the enemy leader. If there are more enemy leaders, you can split your army on 2 (maximum 3) groups to do the same, to kill a enemy leaders faster. But if you failed and lose too much high-level units, you are doomed because for sure level1 units you can recruit simply too weak vs level3 units that recruits AI. Side effect is that creates a desire from the player to use save&loads to save high-level units.

My conception is radically different. I think that a player should be allowed to recruit only level0 units that would be able to advance to level1 maximum. So there would be no high-level units to recall. And to recall level1 veteran you have to think twice, because 20 gp is an expensive price for most level1 units. Well, but level1 units have zones of control and with ALMA upgrade still they can be quite useful even for 20 gp in some circumstances. But the main idea is that most of your army during all campaign would be of cheap level0 units that would be affected under various types of heroes leadership. And a leadership is more effective with lower level of units, for example, with level1 leader a unit do not have bonus and with level0 you have a free (non-payed) attack bonus. At the same time with player having mostly level0 units for AI it would be much easier to play. AI will have level1 units (or higher in rare cases) and would not have such huge problems with zones of control. Would be much harder to create frontline_rotate_heal system vs AI. In this situation a gameplay accent would be changed more to the economy, a player would be forced to care more about controlling villages and space overally (as in a multiplayer), a player would have to lose and recruit a lot of units during a scenario. The game would be more like first scenarios of campaigns, when you have recruit with a leader, go and fight with recruited units on best defence positions, lose most of units defending, then return to the camp back with a leader, and recruit more. That is much more dynamical.

I do not see a reason for letting a 'common' units to go to high levels. Well, if you get some level2 units, often to that moment an author of the campaign gives to AI level2 units. For what is this, really? Then people demand, 'we want more level4, level5 units in the game', ha! This is the road to nothingness, this is a thing in fact that limiting a campaign length. Your stack of units for recall cannot advance more and you cannot give more powerful units to AI, all limited at level3, and recruiting level1 units is senseless. This is really a trap, an author cant do more than starting giving more and more level3 units for AI, that just creates idiotic large-scale massacre scenarios. From the other side, I think that limiting units with level0 is not good, let successive ones to get level1 during the one scenario. Now, another aspect. For now, intresting abilities in many cases reserved for a high-level units. I want to make a democracy in this apect. Let level0 units have backstab, posion, skirmishing and so on (may be this should be granted only under the leadership of the corresponding hero), no need to wait for high levels because they are not supposed.

So I limiting common units, some may think that this is unintresting. But most interest must be not in common units, but in heroes. They are who will develop, who will have some different special abilities with an RPG-choice system. People like choices, people like things which were presented in the Under the Burning Suns for 2 main heroes. But I think that there must be much more heroes, at least 4, and each should have ability to recruit. For example, a thief hero have an ability to recruit level0 thieves (only one type of unit), an orcish hero have an ability to recruit level0 orcs and so on (within one race it can be that druid hero recruits shaman initiates, elvish fighter hero recruits level0 archers and so on). So on the battle they can rotate, one can fight, another goes back to the camp for recruiting. So it would be that during the campaign who really would advance with XP are heroes. And only player would decide, which hero would get more XP, which hero would have intresting high-level abilities, so this would create a high replayability of the campaign.

Btw, the things I suggest Is close to the multiplayer reality, you play level1 units there mostly but rarely get level up there same time lot of units often are killed. So in my approach every new scenario of the campaign is just like a new multiplayer game.
Last edited by Aldarisvet on April 10th, 2016, 12:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by Ravana » April 9th, 2016, 11:10 pm

Consider that you can override recall costs for unit, unit type, scenario, however you want. No need to limit yourself to 20 gold.

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Re: Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by tekelili » April 9th, 2016, 11:12 pm

No, no, no (sorry for be so asertive). Every campaign needs different recall mechanics adapted to secenario number and other factors like average XP stacked every map. Push for a different "global mechanic" won´t solve mainline campaigns (or UMC) gameplay problems. The very problem is claim some particular mechanic is superior to other ones.
Be aware English is not my first language and I could have explained bad myself using wrong or just invented words.
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Re: Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by Aldarisvet » April 9th, 2016, 11:46 pm

Ravana wrote:Consider that you can override recall costs for unit, unit type, scenario, however you want. No need to limit yourself to 20 gold.
Yes, I know, but going far from mainline is not good thing for me, because a player may not expect this. Different recall costs for different units is out of question for me, defferent recall price for different scenarios would be even outrageous.
However it may be a sense to make a recall price not 20 but 25, for example, to make sure that a player will not try to play veteran-stack, as in mainline now, it is a question of balance, need some testing. At least I have some hope for Wesnoth now for myself.
tekelili wrote:No, no, no (sorry for be so asertive). Every campaign needs different recall mechanics adapted to secenario number and other factors like average XP stacked every map. Push for a different "global mechanic" won´t solve mainline campaigns (or UMC) gameplay problems. The very problem is claim some particular mechanic is superior to other ones.
You may be right, may be the new mechanics that I just invented would seem boring for me too later, but still I see much more potential under it.
Imagine, I recently tried Age of Wonders I (which I was not playing for more than a decade), looked at it's freedom and choice for the player and understood, how I hate current Wesnoth's mechanics.
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Re: Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by tekelili » April 10th, 2016, 4:37 am

Aldarisvet wrote:going far from mainline is not good thing for me, because a player may not expect this. Different recall costs for different units is out of question for me
I think that is a wrong point of view if you want give a campaign right recall mechanic. In my campaign units have different recall costs and players have no problem to manage it. It is just a matter you warn players about you changed mechanic. I ended using a simple rule "Units cheaper than 17 gold are recalled for [cost+3]", but I considered lot of weird mechanics (like units coming to recall list one scenario later and chances of exhausted units being removed for 1 scenario to rest), and I think you should also considere any mechanic for your campaign until you find one you are really happy with.
Be aware English is not my first language and I could have explained bad myself using wrong or just invented words.
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Re: Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by Delicius169 » April 10th, 2016, 8:41 am

I Like Aldarisvet ´s idea, I d love to play such a campaing. I am big fan of rpg AMLA on leaders.

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Re: Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by Dugi » April 10th, 2016, 9:10 am

I have tried an alternative approach to avoid the problem you're mentioning. I have made recalling impossible, but the player was given quite a large number of loyals that were recalled automatically and for free. The campaigns are The Beautiful Child and Affably Evil. I cannot say that the approach to recalling was a success.

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Re: Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by Aldarisvet » April 10th, 2016, 9:46 am

Some more thoughts about making different recall prices. The problem is that if you make recall prices for high-level units equal to their real prices, it would demand really much gold. Normally you can recruit like 10-15 level3 units at later stages of campaign. With 20 recall price it is 200-300 gold. But real price of level3 unit is around 50 gold so it would be 500-750 gold to recall the same. Also the main problem, as I mentioned before, is that if you lose level3 units, you cannot have substitution for it. Theoretically you can have an ability to recruit units, but even recruiting level2 units in situation when you have level3 mostly would be too costly. The problem actually appears because a player and AI units costs grows but villages provides still 2 gold per turn. But an author of the campaign often solving AI money problem just by giving enormous free gold per turn at later stages for AI, like 50 per turn, and a player gets nothing. You can give free gold to a player too for compensating high recruit costs, but what for villages are then? So the role of villages is devastated at later stages of campaign.

That all means that many high level units recalled for their real price is just impossible. They cannot be mass army because it disbalances the economy. But 1-2 loyal high level units recalled for high price may be possible I think.
Last edited by Aldarisvet on April 10th, 2016, 10:12 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by Heindal » April 10th, 2016, 9:54 am

I personally believe that, with a clever mix of level 1, level 2 and level 3 units you can be more effective than with level 3 only. Your level 1 units still have the chance to advance easily, when getting the final blow on a level 3. They also get automatically healed, which is an enourmous advantage and can turn the tides in a battle.

One could think about higher recall costs - maybe 30 for level 3. That would at least make the player think about mixes.
However than there is still the ai problem and the high difficulty, which demands(!) level 3 units to even beat the game.

Talking about hero archetypes: I've defined several hero prototypes for five fates with unique recruit pathes and spells.
So Aldarisvet if you want to pull off something like that, the "technology" to give units the ability to recruit just a couple of units exists.
Feel free to use it.
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Re: Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by Aldarisvet » April 10th, 2016, 10:41 am

2 Heindal

The only point in which level1 units are better than level3 in current system is their cheap support price. But look, you have 300 gold, you can recall 15 level3 units or recruit some level1. What you will better do? I would say you. You recall all your best units and go kill enemy leaders asap for getting early finish bonus. You do not care that during the fight you will go deep into minus gold, you do not even care about villages much, all will be compensated by early finish bonus. And level1 units, well, some mobile like bats can be useful for capturing distant villages, running out of AI's units. But in most cases level1 units already too weak compared to level3 of AI, but too expensive, even under leadership. You cannot even be sure that your level1 would successfully kill wounded enemy level3 unit, with unluck he can easely be killed by level3. No, recall best units, win asap and get early finish bonus to acquire gold for recalls at next scenario, that how it works now at later stages of campaign and this really bad.
Last edited by Aldarisvet on April 10th, 2016, 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by taptap » April 10th, 2016, 10:46 am

I believe the problem with recall are not the high levels, you get more than 20 gold worth of power, but the main cost of L2 and L3 in campaigns (where you are considered not to go negative each scenario) is the upkeep not the recall price and the campaign is hopefully balanced for using a certain amount of levelled units anyway. (And in most campaigns playing with only or mainly L3 is not a viable strategy, but a recipe for disaster - try playing a genuinely hard campaign like Panther Lord or Founding of Borstep without balanced recruit/recalls and report how you fare.) The problem with the recall is low levels, I currently play a campaign where you have access to certain unit tree only via L0 units and some only stored L0 units (unit trees where L1 cost 13/14 gold). When are they worth recalling at high xp L0, L1, high xp L1, L2? The opposite end are horsemen - there is no reason to recruit them when you have some on the recall list, you save money by recalling and can choose the traits.

2 gold (+1 upkeep) per village as in multiplayer would be a good idea for some campaigns. It makes map control much more crucial and the usual defend a line then push after enemy is broken much less viable.
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Re: Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by Aldarisvet » April 10th, 2016, 11:22 am

Taptap, I agree that if you play fairly in current system, you always need to recruit some level1 units and recall some level2 for rare cases that you can have level3 units killed with unluck. Also there can be situations when certain type of level3 units can be less effective that newly acquired level1 units, especially if level1 are under leadership (I faced it in The Hammer of T. campaign, where mages under inspire were better and cheaper to support than level3 dwarves, that was vs level2 units of AI however, not vs level3). The problem is that I fed up with current game play mechanics. I like mechanics I founded in my Zombies vs Bandits scenario where level0 units plus hero fights vs level1 AI units. What is need is more heroes and interesting ALMAs.
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Re: Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by Eagle_11 » April 10th, 2016, 1:16 pm

You are forgetting that it's all result of action-(no )reaction. The simple script we have inplace of an proper AI is very limited and you can do whatever you like but aslong it remains as is, then nothing is going to make any difference at the end.
This time you would swamp the Ai with superior(in the context you have given)lvl1's and end up performing the same old tactics again, as no matter what you change, aslong as what the AI cannot do remains fixed its all for null and void.

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Re: Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by Velensk » April 10th, 2016, 1:44 pm

I actually have a rather opposing view.

I think that if you do a good job of testing and controlling the scope/scale of your game that just reusing the high level units almost become too expensive. They may cost 20 gold and provide incredible power to it but over a long scenario they just drain your gold down to nothing. I think a lot of campaigns have a problem where they give the player far too much gold and the players never realize it because they don't manage their army very well.

I've always preferred a style of campaign where things are supposed to be kept interesting by the requirement of dealing with tight time limits. I also like maps to in general be somewhat largescale (so that the high hp pool of higher levels is less relevant) and uses enemy types/terrain set-ups where you're forced not just to draw up a line and manage it but more importantly to figure out how to attack/counterattack and eliminate high threat enemy units before they cost you too much. To this end I think it's good if you put in lots of enemy units that have the firepower to chew through defensive lines and teach them to play a game where preservation of high level units isn't the highest priority.

Not that the occasional large "line management" battle can't be fun or interesting but if you base your campaign on them, wesnoth starts feeling pretty samey.

Although in general I don't follow through on this, a basic principle that I've observed in other campaigns that may help you conceptualize this issue, is if you make a campaign where the player has no access to healers, thus limiting the amount an army can recover per turn significantly to villages whose locations you can carefully control. Once you have this limitation try to observe what you can do to make it difficult to draw up a perfect defensive line. Once you have these limitations see if you can balance it so that a player both aggressive and careful can split up and hew down the enemy before they lose too many forces. Set the time limit at 2-3 turns longer than it takes a good player to do this. It becomes much an aspect of the map design and force balancing.

Then again, I mostly like the traditional style of campaign and just like to have mostly traditional campaigns with distinct challenges but I consider the requirement to adapt my tactics to terrain/enemy to amount to a unique challenge. The problem being, that if I'm given too many resources I don't have to adapt because I can simply power through the enemy.
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Re: Alternative campaign's mechanics approach

Post by Heindal » April 10th, 2016, 4:06 pm

2 Aldarisvet

In argumentation you're saying the a couple of level 1 unit could not defeat a level 3. This argumentation is wrong as I said you should mix levels. When I use this tactic, I indeed use level 1 units as cannon fodder and as distraction (saving my higher level units), while using level 2 units or some level 1 units to get the final hit and level 3 to do the real damage. In your case you will have to reload and save a lot, if one of your precious level 3 dies. Which will for sure happen, if you only use them.

You underesitmate annother ressource: experience. You can not level up a top-level character, except for some hitpoints, in exchange for hundred of experience, enough to raise a new army of level 2 warrios. In the end you are way more flexible using all level units. Thats my personal experience.
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