Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

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DranKof
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Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by DranKof » June 1st, 2013, 3:36 pm

Hi, everyone!

Whenever I play multiplayer maps locally or with my friend, two of our biggest pet peeves have always been:
- AI Leaders don't attack, and
- losing the leader seems a little too easy and anticlimactic (we're total noobs, I know).

So, ever since I noticed the recent updates to Wesnoth made it possible to create MP mods, I have been busy thinking of ways to remedy these issues. The mod I made "Soul Crystals: Leader Revival" is my answer to the above dilemmas.
soul-crystal-profile-3.png
soul-crystal-profile-3.png (132.93 KiB) Viewed 2605 times
What the MP Modification does:

When you start a game, the mod replaces your leader with a unit-recruiting "Soul Crystal".
Your former leader becomes a loyal "hero". (Optional: He gets demoted down a level, too.)
When your hero dies, if your soul crystal has at least 61 HP (customizable), your hero will be revived, otherwise, your crystal will die and you will lose.

What this means, gamplay-wise:

AI players will use their leaders in fights now, balancing the field a lot better.
Your leader can fight a LOT more, too, and is much more likely to level up (he keeps his xp).
Other units killing leaders are more likely to level up.
Games won't be lost as suddenly or easily (but don't forget to protect your crystal).
:D Perma-noobs like me will have more fun.
Custom Unit Details:
Recent Updates:
Miscellaneous:
Special thanks to Dugi and Elvish_Hunter for help on LUA for the leader demotion script.

Let me know if you think any changes (balance, options, graphics, functionality, bug-fixes) need to be made!
Last edited by DranKof on June 18th, 2013, 3:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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shadowm
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Re: Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by shadowm » June 1st, 2013, 10:43 pm

Moving to Multiplayer Development.
Author of the unofficial UtBS sequels Invasion from the Unknown and After the Storm.

Insinuator
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Re: Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by Insinuator » June 1st, 2013, 11:24 pm

Just one question: Did you get this idea from the Exile/Avernum series by Spiderweb Software?

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DranKof
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Re: Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by DranKof » June 2nd, 2013, 12:53 pm

shadowmaster wrote:Moving to Multiplayer Development.
Thank you and sorry if it was in the wrong place. I can't/couldn't post in the Add-On Feedback before and I wasn't sure if the "multiplayer development" qualified as any development or if that was more directed at programming.
Insinuator wrote:Just one question: Did you get this idea from the Exile/Avernum series by Spiderweb Software?
I have never heard of it before. I just looked it up on Wikipedia, it looks like a dungeony XCOM: UFO RPG, is it fun?

The conception basically happened like this:

During the initial version, the functionality was in a multiplayer campaign I was working on; you're elves fighting on the side of a "Great Deku Tree"-like spirit tree thing (it was unable to move; "data/core/images/terrain/forest/great-tree.png") and should you die, you'd warp back to it. Later I realized it made it too easy for the player to beat the CPU like that, so I gave the orcs "soul diamonds". (At the time, I didn't have a graphic for it so I just used the "images/scenery/monolith2.png" graphic.) Finally I showed the level to my friend, he said I should make it into an era-mod, I said, it could work with almost any era, why not make an MP Mod out of it?

Next, since I thought a tree would be too elfy, I decided to go with the diamond/crystal idea. I spent a couple hours every day after work turning it into a mod (I'm still kinda horrible at using the script language, it took me two days just to find out a variable name was too long and that's why something kept failing (I think)), then finally after testing it at a small LAN party and weeding out a couple more bugs, I decided it'd be worth sharing. It took another two days research before I found out how to publish. (I'm not a very efficient researcher, either.)

Another spinoff mod from my campaign that I'm testing but am not very happy with is called "Brave Leaders", before I gave the orcs the soul diamonds, I made a script that basically encourages AI to attack with its leaders when it doesn't have enough gold to recruit at least two units, but they still don't move very human-player-like (or efficiently) cause of the way they group, yet if you turn off grouping they're too easy to pick off. Also vanilla maps generally give a lot of gold (nearly a unit a turn), so it's usually NOT advantageous to move your leader away on vanilla maps regardless, so I figured it's not a very worthwhile mod right now.

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Temuchin Khan
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Re: Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by Temuchin Khan » June 3rd, 2013, 3:33 pm

This is an interesting idea, but it would have disadvantages as well as advantages. With a slow-moving crystal doing the recruiting, it will be much more difficult to play on large maps with multiple keeps, where the ability to switch from recruiting on one keep to recruiting on another is part of gameplay.

roidanton
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Re: Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by roidanton » June 4th, 2013, 2:36 am

Really don't like the idea at all. Leader revival could make sense in some cases like for instance SXC where that's the only unit you're playing with, though.

However, in a normal MP scenario, you'd lose all the strategic elements such as leadership and instead have one "super unit". Your proposal also doesn't contain any "penalty" for losing your leader (in SXC, enemies will get stronger) - so there will be one single correct choice for each faction: the unit with the most firepower, basically. You don't have to care about abilities such as leadership, ambush, heals, etc. - or terrain defense - strongest firepower and then use it to blindly attack without worrying about any strategy.

This could also create some imbalance between factions - for instance, just look at Default: Fire Drake as 7x5 ranged fire (35 total damage) - that'd make it strictly superior to most units, only Lancer and Elder Wose is stronger. The unkillable super unit basically decides the game.

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Re: Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by DranKof » June 4th, 2013, 4:35 pm

Temuchin Khan wrote:This is an interesting idea, but it would have disadvantages as well as advantages. With a slow-moving crystal doing the recruiting, it will be much more difficult to play on large maps with multiple keeps, where the ability to switch from recruiting on one keep to recruiting on another is part of gameplay.
This is absolutely true. This mod is designed to make computers able to play more like players and the AI has hard time with multiple keep maps, anyway. The mod is mostly aimed at making the AI perform better on vanilla maps, which generally don't have multiple keeps. I'm attempting to make a "Brave Leaders" mod to make the AI move their leaders when not recruiting, more like players, but yeah, it's still not good enough, yet.

Do you think the crystals should be able to move more quickly? In retrospect, I don't see any gameplay reason why not let it move at least 4 grids, as all units can keep up with that and it has no attacks at the moment. I just originally pictured it in my head as a really slow floating thing but that doesn't have to be if people think it'd be better if it could move faster.

[/color][/b]
roidanton wrote:Really don't like the idea at all. Leader revival could make sense in some cases like for instance SXC where that's the only unit you're playing with, though.

However, in a normal MP scenario, you'd lose all the strategic elements such as leadership and instead have one "super unit". Your proposal also doesn't contain any "penalty" for losing your leader (in SXC, enemies will get stronger) - so there will be one single correct choice for each faction: the unit with the most firepower, basically. You don't have to care about abilities such as leadership, ambush, heals, etc. - or terrain defense - strongest firepower and then use it to blindly attack without worrying about any strategy.

This could also create some imbalance between factions - for instance, just look at Default: Fire Drake as 7x5 ranged fire (35 total damage) - that'd make it strictly superior to most units, only Lancer and Elder Wose is stronger. The unkillable super unit basically decides the game.

I understand your concern, but I think you missed a very important detail. The penalty for losing your leader (/hero) is: you lose. Every time your hero dies, the crystal is deducted 60 out of 80 HP, if the crystal doesn't have enough HP, it is killed and the player loses. At present, almost always, killing the hero two or three times is easier than sneaking around the back and taking out the crystal. During playtesting on medium sized maps, each hero only usually has 2-3 lives (counting the original spawn life; but on large maps it becomes a different situation). (Also, in general, any level 1 unit that takes out a level 2 unit (in vanilla-like game settings and maps) frequently is able to level up, so losing your hero also frequently means the enemy gets a level 2 unit.)

Regardless, I totally agree with you. Thus, a feature to cut back hero overpowering that I'm working on is an option to spawn all heros as their level-1 equivalents. Unfortunately this cannot be done with WML so I am researching how to do it with LUA in the forums, at the moment.

In the first testing release, to stop hero overpowering, originally we had the hero respawn at 1 HP, but after a few days of playtesting it ended up being more fun (and more AI-compatible) to spawn the hero at full health just due to the circumstances of what usually causes "fair leader/hero loss" vs. "bad roll leader/hero loss". We playtesters realized if your hero is lost because your line is breached and soon you'll be overwhelmed, it doesn't matter whether he's at full health or not. If your leader/hero died just because of a 1.4% chance series of rolls, then odds are you can (and we think you should) have a chance to recover (quickly) and full health is necessary to do that.

I don't quite follow how abilities are not as useful as attack power just because the hero respawns? I'd much rather have a constant leadership bonus than a powerhouse who kills two or three units but dies and has to run back and will probably miss the entire remaining battle if that's the case...what's more is if he died again you'd lose, whereas the leadership bonus hero never runs that risk? If the powerhouse doesn't die to begin with then that means you used him very well and it wouldn't have mattered whether the mod was loaded or not?

If you try the mod and think that 6-7 turns alive is too quick a time limit to revive the hero again, let me know. We thought it was a fair number of turns. Balancing out how quickly the crystal is able to revive the leader again is also a huge balance issue that I'm always tinkering with. Do you think it'd be more fair, just as is, if the leader respawned with half health, or something like that? Do you think the turns required to respawn the leader should be an adjustable option instead? (Maybe I'll start on that tomorrow!?)
Last edited by 8680 on June 4th, 2013, 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Merged double post [Posting Guidelines §1f].

Insinuator
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Re: Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by Insinuator » June 4th, 2013, 5:18 pm

Hey, DranKof, you should avoid double-posting on this forum. You can edit your posts with the "Edit" button in the lower right hand corner of a post if you want to add or change something. Just thought you'd like to know.

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DranKof
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Re: Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by DranKof » June 5th, 2013, 6:09 am

Insinuator wrote:Hey, DranKof, you should avoid double-posting on this forum. You can edit your posts with the "Edit" button in the lower right hand corner of a post if you want to add or change something. Just thought you'd like to know.
Completely understood. Missed that when reading the posting guidelines, guideline 1-F. Thanks for the heads-up.

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Re: Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by Temuchin Khan » June 5th, 2013, 6:53 pm

DranKof wrote:
Temuchin Khan wrote:This is an interesting idea, but it would have disadvantages as well as advantages. With a slow-moving crystal doing the recruiting, it will be much more difficult to play on large maps with multiple keeps, where the ability to switch from recruiting on one keep to recruiting on another is part of gameplay.
This is absolutely true. This mod is designed to make computers able to play more like players and the AI has hard time with multiple keep maps, anyway. The mod is mostly aimed at making the AI perform better on vanilla maps, which generally don't have multiple keeps. I'm attempting to make a "Brave Leaders" mod to make the AI move their leaders when not recruiting, more like players, but yeah, it's still not good enough, yet.
Another solution would be to leave the Soul Crystals with only two movement points, but give them teleports.

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Re: Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by DranKof » June 7th, 2013, 3:53 pm

Temuchin Khan wrote:Another solution would be to leave the Soul Crystals with only two movement points, but give them teleports.
That's a great idea, right now I'm testing all of the changes people suggested here so far before publishing it. The scripting is completely done, just checking some last minute changes for errors.
the_cuttle_is_a_feature.jpg
the_cuttle_is_a_feature.jpg (61.62 KiB) Viewed 2688 times
The demotion script should also work just fine with non-standard ages, but I'm not sure how to deal with leaders that can't be demoted because there's no lower level version of a leader. This should almost never happen so I'm not going to worry about it, too much, but yeah, here are a list of the recent updates:

0.6.0 Features:
Customizable crystal HP (slider in options menu)
Customizable revive cost
Option to spawn leaders at reduced level
Crystals can teleport between friendly towns
[Also: Debug mode for exciting messages]

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bumbadadabum
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Re: Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by bumbadadabum » June 11th, 2013, 12:15 pm

This looks very cool, I might test it out later today.

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Re: Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by DranKof » June 18th, 2013, 3:25 pm

bumbadadabum wrote:This looks very cool, I might test it out later today.
Didja try it? Didja try it?

So, ever since I passed the [acronym=(OOOH, now mine's like 4th from the lowest download!)]100 download mark[/acronym], I decided to celebrate by actually updating the graphics as promised!
The_Power_is_Yours.jpg
I think it's hot!

0.7.0 UPDATE:
[NEW] Greatly improved portrait and unit artwork for the crystals!
[CHG] Soul crystals now take more damage, watch your rear!
[CHG] Hero-leaders now loyal!
[FIX] Custom eras that have multiple units that can level up to the same unit now compatible.
[FIX] Transparent portrait now displays for dialogues properly.

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Re: Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by bumbadadabum » June 18th, 2013, 4:04 pm

DranKof wrote: Didja try it? Didja try it?
I did, and I must say it's indeed a pretty cool mod. I like that it works with all eras as well. Very well done, sir!

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Re: Soul Crystals: Leader Revival

Post by Mars » June 18th, 2013, 6:44 pm

I don't get it. You can still attack the soul crystal itself? And if it dies, it's still insta-lose? So now you've got a hero you can afford to lose once every X turns plus a weak leader that can't defend itself? Why not just give your faction an extra 2nd level unit at start, or play Champions? Not trying to diss you (and I like the new graphics) but where's the advantage?

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