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  1. - Top - End - #481
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    I'm not referring to the visuals because they look good, but because the visual design is shorthand for a very effective system of how it feels to have those pieces on the board. Does that make sense? Like, it's referring to about how disposable things should feel.
    Ohhh, okay. I getcha.
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Anarion and I just got through a super productive playtest of the most recent prototype. For reference: This was the full map, with Technology, with Labs, no Bonuses, no Environmental Effects. I'm going to be typing up the feedback/conclusions for this thread, should post them in the next day or so. I think we got some extremely useful data.
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    Anarion and I just got through a super productive playtest of the most recent prototype. For reference: This was the full map, with Technology, with Labs, no Bonuses, no Environmental Effects. I'm going to be typing up the feedback/conclusions for this thread, should post them in the next day or so. I think we got some extremely useful data.
    Yep. As a few notes from my end.

    1. We discovered lots of nice little technical improvements (like needing a button that lets you cancel a move command if you click in the wrong spot. )

    2. The total gameplay time to a clear end state was about 3 hours. I got some pretty luck dice rolls as far as how long my agents took to sabotage a couple key spots though, so I think it could have gone quite differently and perhaps lasted longer.

    3. From my end, the biggest quality of life improvement is a button or interface design showing me idle units. I stressed a lot over making sure I had assigned commands to everything as we were playing, and I think that being able to know I hadn't missed something would have a) allowed me to focus more on the strategy part and b) let me play a lot faster, maybe twice as fast even, double checking took a lot of time and I doubt I'm unique in my obsessiveness for that sort of thing.

    4. There was some inconclusive discussion about whether the randomness was helping or not. The game might work better if actions have a set time that can be sped up by assigning multiple units to the same task (e.g. base 3-4 turns to forge a link, two executives do it in two turns, three do it on one turn).

    5. Neither Amish nor I played in an optimized way, which slowed some things down. The game lasted 26 turns, and I had a clear win state holding, I think it was six countries iirc. Just six and their outputs was enough to have clear statistical map dominance. I think though that if one optimized the early turns perfectly, it might be possible to get territory much faster (the fastest is probably immediate army movement to second army producing country in starting area, executive forges a link to closest army production location with the most direct route possible via international port, get three army producing countries as fast as possible, use those to take agent production to protect them).

    6. The game is good! Like, not perfect yet, but the three types of units represented meaningful strategic choices as we fumbled our way around and those choices actually did play out more or less as intended. That is, randomness favored me, but I was rolling dice in the first place because of the choices I made about where to move and deploy, and the dice I did roll had the possibility of making an important difference.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    6. The game is good! Like, not perfect yet, but the three types of units represented meaningful strategic choices as we fumbled our way around and those choices actually did play out more or less as intended. That is, randomness favored me, but I was rolling dice in the first place because of the choices I made about where to move and deploy, and the dice I did roll had the possibility of making an important difference.
    Fantastic, definitely by far the most important thing is a functional core mechanic and gameplay loop. Thank you very much for taking the time to help with this, man.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Yep. As a few notes from my end.

    1. We discovered lots of nice little technical improvements (like needing a button that lets you cancel a move command if you click in the wrong spot. )

    3. From my end, the biggest quality of life improvement is a button or interface design showing me idle units. I stressed a lot over making sure I had assigned commands to everything as we were playing, and I think that being able to know I hadn't missed something would have a) allowed me to focus more on the strategy part and b) let me play a lot faster, maybe twice as fast even, double checking took a lot of time and I doubt I'm unique in my obsessiveness for that sort of thing.
    I have strongly held opinions about UI so when it comes to hashing out this stuff out I will have a lot to say.

    4. There was some inconclusive discussion about whether the randomness was helping or not. The game might work better if actions have a set time that can be sped up by assigning multiple units to the same task (e.g. base 3-4 turns to forge a link, two executives do it in two turns, three do it on one turn).
    This is an ongoing thought of mine. I'm currently influenced by the EU4/paradox school of thought that uses Mean Time To Happen, because without precise numbers it's much easier to conceal information - but I'm not certain if that is worth the gamefeel sacrifice of not being able to calculate precision plans. But also not having sharp numbers can be liberating, letting you think of the big picture. It's a ball I'm tossing back and forth in my hands.

    5. Neither Amish nor I played in an optimized way, which slowed some things down. The game lasted 26 turns, and I had a clear win state holding, I think it was six countries iirc. Just six and their outputs was enough to have clear statistical map dominance. I think though that if one optimized the early turns perfectly, it might be possible to get territory much faster (the fastest is probably immediate army movement to second army producing country in starting area, executive forges a link to closest army production location with the most direct route possible via international port, get three army producing countries as fast as possible, use those to take agent production to protect them).
    My other ongoing concern is with outputs of agents, executives and armies. Given that there are some countries that produce them and some that don't, is the right option in every case going to be to grab as many Output countries as possible and then just lean on those advantages? I feel like that's perhaps not the game I want.

    Luckily there's a tonne of options given the game's single player nature. Mr. Johnson should be bound by coherent and observable rules but they don't need to be the same as the ones the player is using - see also XCOM, evil genius etc.
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  5. - Top - End - #485
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    I've poured over my notes, and gotten a handle on some over-arching observations. First up, here is what worked:

    1) There were strategic decisions that affected the flow of the game. I deliberately went with an Army + Lab strategy, Anarion went with a tactic of locking up all the International Ports in an attempt to keep me out of Europe. As a result, we wound up carving some distinctly different zones of control, even if we didn’t Deploy many Army units there. What’s more, both Anarion and I were able to pull some good unit maneuvers to great strategic affect. I’m convinced that AIs with different priorities will make different decisions with meaningful affect on game flow/territory control/general strategy.

    2) I was pleasantly surprised by the game length. From my own playtesting, I’ve gotten into the habit of burning through turns pretty quickly, and have had no context for how long it might take somebody else to play this game. Turn length wasn’t bad at all, and I got the impression that there was ample room to think and plan and strategize.

    3) Most of the improvements we’ve noted are quality of life changes, rather than out-and-out bugs. For a prototype, it’s a stable one, and that’s good for making modifications.

    And now we come to the fun part; what didn't work?

    1) Actions were incredibly swing-y. Anarion noticed and noted every time an action took longer than expected. He reached a dominant board position due to two Insurrections highrolling and knocking a Country back to neutral after only one turn. In the full game, that would’ve kneecapped the pacing. Further complicating matters, some actions are luck-based, while other actions are duration-based, and there’s no way to tell which is which.

    2) Unit production did not facilitate the early land grab we were looking for. And in fairness, the balance/pacing of this prototype is drastically affected by not having Bonuses/Development Aid as a thing. But after 20 turns, each player had fiveish Countries. Less so for me, because I lost one or two to Insurrections.

    What’s more, at the current levels of productions, each unit had a different feel. Every single Army unit was precious, so much so that it was rare to see a Country get more than one Deployed Army. (Though this was, in part, due to Anarion not realizing that was even possible) Agents were useful, but had absolutely nothing to do before there was contact between players. Executives varied between necessary (when forging links) and completely extraneous (when there aren’t any links to forge/break).

    3) A minor, but relevant point; Countermeasures proved to be a difficult action to undertake. Agents had difficulty chasing down Executives, and it wasn’t entirely obvious how multiple Agents taking the same Countermeasures action affected the overall odds of success.

    4) Anarion did not engage with the Technology system. I did, and saw zero benefit from it. There’s a couple of reasons for this:

    a) It takes a long time for labs to finish actions. I felt the long action times were necessary, due to the very real risk of a player discovering all there was to know about every Technology. But in turn-to-turn gameplay, this made the system tough to break into.

    b) It isn’t obvious that units have the Technology of their home Country.

    c) Long-term planning and strategic decision-making were absent. Choices on Advanced Research were somewhat random and capricious. Anarion flat-out said at one point, “So should I pretend that rearching a trait has any value?” It felt hard to tell where to push a Technology to get the effect you wanted, if you even knew what effect you were trying to bring about. Which leads me to the most critical point…

    d) The Technology system felt too obscure. Anarion tried to make decisions to help his cause, but it was difficult for him to see if it was actually helping, or having any effect at all. I made what I felt were strategic, sabotage-y Technology decisions, and those efforts felt entirely wasted. (This may have been down to short game length, but I feel the point stands.)

    I’ve come to some conclusions about what we ought to do next with this information. I’ve put it in a spoiler box on the off chance that you want a little more time to digest this information and come to your own conclusions.

    Spoiler: What do?
    Show
    The purpose of this test was twofold: First, it was meant to expand upon the testing of the previous prototype, and examine how the units played. Second, and perhaps most important, this was meant as a first test of the Technology system. Given the lack of engagement with Technology, I can safely say that we got some relevant data on that front.

    After a few days to mull it over, I think there are critical problems with Technology and the much more nebulous arena of Unit Actions. The problems are such that our best bet is to refactor/fix both of them at once, since much of the problem arises in the interaction between these systems.

    The effects of Technology are obscure, causing difficulty in long-term planning and observation of short-term effects. Long Lab action times may be a necessity if we want to ensure that some information remain hidden to the player, but it makes the system difficult to break into. What’s more, a great majority of Technology effects are effects on the success chance/duration of Unit Actions. Given that Unit Actions are already feeling too random, it’s difficult to see how adding or removing percentage would benefit your cause.

    (I feel the numbers I set for Technology growth could stand to be faster, but I don’t think they would’ve fixed these core problems.)

    Unit Actions itself covers some wide mechanical territory, so I’ll try and explain myself. For one, our current implementation of percentage-based actions leads to either pace-breaking swinginess or frustration-inducing slowness. I understand the benefit of the uncertainty, especially given the intended effects of Technology, but if we’re taking Technology back to the drawing board then we can consider other ways to get that uncertainty. The lack of distinction between duration-based actions and luck-based actions doesn’t help matters either.

    Additionally, right now, units perform actions as individuals. We are treating them like solid, distinct units, ala Civilization. As such, their Actions are purely independent from each other, and this doesn't feel right. From playing Evil Genius, I see that they treat henchmen much less as individuals, and more as resources. Commit more resources to X Country, and you improve the effectiveness of the Stealing/Plotting actions. Commit enough resources, you get the chance to pull this heist. I feel like for this game, we want something somewhere in the middle. Units should still be solid enough to move around the board and throw their weight around, but multiple units performing the same action should be more like the henchmen crowd of Evil Genius, and less like multiple individuals taking their own stabs. Changes here should also affect Output and spawning, which relates to other issues. (Too many Executives twiddling their thumbs, very few Countries claimed and reinforced, etc.)

    Lastly, Agents have a critical problem in that they have absolutely nothing to do before the point when both sides meet. I think this will become apparent if we successfully get that early land grab we're after.

    In conclusion: I see issues with Technology, and the way we currently handle Unit Actions. Since Technology primarily affects Unit Actions, and two key Unit Actions relate to the spreading of Technology, we’re better off refactoring both systems in tandem. I don’t have any solutions at the moment, but I do feel these are solvable problems.
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  6. - Top - End - #486
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    a) It takes a long time for labs to finish actions. I felt the long action times were necessary, due to the very real risk of a player discovering all there was to know about every Technology. But in turn-to-turn gameplay, this made the system tough to break into.
    So, part of the reason why there are like 14 tech categories and 5 things per tech is so that researches can come somewhat quickly while the tech tree itself remains fairly deep. I think the correct pacing is to explore 3 full techs in early game, 6 by midgame, and 9 by endgame, leaving 5 fully mysterious and best-guess-y. But within each era there are 15 increments which should be hitting every couple of turns.

    b) It isn’t obvious that units have the Technology of their home Country.
    This is possibly fixable with well designed UI.

    c) Long-term planning and strategic decision-making were absent. Choices on Advanced Research were somewhat random and capricious. Anarion flat-out said at one point, “So should I pretend that rearching a trait has any value?” It felt hard to tell where to push a Technology to get the effect you wanted, if you even knew what effect you were trying to bring about. Which leads me to the most critical point…

    d) The Technology system felt too obscure. Anarion tried to make decisions to help his cause, but it was difficult for him to see if it was actually helping, or having any effect at all. I made what I felt were strategic, sabotage-y Technology decisions, and those efforts felt entirely wasted. (This may have been down to short game length, but I feel the point stands.)
    In EU4 there are a billion different bonii, malii, and modifii that give +5% taxation here, +10% infantry combat ability there, and none of them obviously directly change the way you play but they all add up to form the picture of your nation - but every so often there are decisive levels like Miltech 4 that produce limited windows with dramatic gameplay effects. That's the model I (subconsciously) borrowed from here.

    But that is a model that only really sees its benefit in long, slow games with prolonged periods of stalemate and planning. A question I'm increasingly asking myself is that the best model for this design. Let me pull this back a bit and present two currently competing visions for the game:

    - Grog - a big sprawling game filled with fiddly little systems, a la EU4 or a Paradox title. It has a slow movement speed and many barriers to resist decisive play.
    - Schnapps - a svelte, focused game with a very precisely delineated set of theatres and a more crafted experience, with options to escalate complexity and difficulty later. This is more the Twilight Struggle board game-y design. Finds its depth in repeat playthroughs.

    There's a direct Grog vs Schnapps dilemma with the technology system.

    Grog: If technology is useful but not decisive then investing in it during a period of stalemate should help provide a limited edge that will later allow you to apply greater pressure in a future shove.
    Schnapps: If technology is decisive then investing in it changes your options in the game, opening up entirely new pathways or capabilities that permanently alter how you approach the game. In this paradigm a technology might do something like reveal a permanent link path between South America and Australia.

    Basically the problem you're reporting with technology is a pacing problem, and it's solved by either slowing the game down so that the plethora of modifiers has a chance to kick in, or speeding technology up so that investing in it proves decisive enough to matter in a 3 hour game.

    That's my big thought right now. I like where you're going with your other ideas but I don't have anything useful on them right now. If you want to re-raise those points ask me again in a day or two more specifically because otherwise my brain won't zero in on those particular issues.
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2018-09-03 at 08:29 PM.
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    After thinking a bit longer I realized that Schnapps is almost a roguelike design.

    That's an interesting thought. Not sure if it's the right one, but it's really interesting for the design cues it implies.
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    So, part of the reason why there are like 14 tech categories and 5 things per tech is so that researches can come somewhat quickly while the tech tree itself remains fairly deep. I think the correct pacing is to explore 3 full techs in early game, 6 by midgame, and 9 by endgame, leaving 5 fully mysterious and best-guess-y. But within each era there are 15 increments which should be hitting every couple of turns.
    It's too late at night to reply to anything else right now, but what do you mean by 5 things per tech? How many things are supposed to start on any given Tech? How many things can be added?

    Right now, it's been "all Tech starts with one mystery trait, and there's room for 2 Advanced Research traits."

    EDIT: Also, I did a bit of math. Right now, Insurrection has a 20% chance of success, meaning that it should take (on average) 5 turns to succeed. However, this also means that 1 in 5 Insurrections are going to succeed on the first try. That does not feel right at all.
    Last edited by TheAmishPirate; 2018-09-03 at 09:39 PM.
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    It's too late at night to reply to anything else right now, but what do you mean by 5 things per tech? How many things are supposed to start on any given Tech? How many things can be added?

    Right now, it's been "all Tech starts with one mystery trait, and there's room for 2 Advanced Research traits."

    EDIT: Also, I did a bit of math. Right now, Insurrection has a 20% chance of success, meaning that it should take (on average) 5 turns to succeed. However, this also means that 1 in 5 Insurrections are going to succeed on the first try. That does not feel right at all.
    Oh, my original thought was 3 mystery traits and 2 AR traits.

    I also agree with you about the feel-yies of insurrections. Those definitely should have more of the feel of the pouring-in-resources Evil Genius commitment, possibly a multi-stage process of building tension in the country.
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    I would suggest we consider something like the XCOM approach to randomness if it remains in the game. Wherein if you miss a lot, the game starts lying to you about your odds, eventually guaranteeing you a hit. This could go vice versa as well, where good luck can’t be too streaky.

    Very few people playing a video game want true randomness because winning with a streak of successful 10% chances and losing with a streak of failed 90% chances both feel meaningless. Hence, the game should use some tricks under the hood to close in on the “expected” result more closely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    This struck me earlier today: Thanqol, when was the last time you had a chance to sit down with the current build of the game?

    I've been wading through the nitty gritty of mechanics and their implementation, usually 4-6 days a week. And I haven't been keeping up much conversation in this thread. There's a real risk there of us falling out of sync.

    Here is the build that Anarion and I tested on Saturday. It's set up such that you can control both the player and Mr. Johnson. I'd recommend taking 15-30 minutes to fiddle around with it, see where things are at and how they're implemented. Especially look at Technology, Actions, and Units in general.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Oh, my original thought was 3 mystery traits and 2 AR traits.
    This makes sense, and I like this approach. I can see the risk in discovering one or two positive traits on a Technology, and wondering if it's really worth it to go ahead and spread it in your own territory.

    Mind, this won't solve our Technology woes, but in a better Technology system this is a good idea.

    (Sidebar: Any new approach to the Technology system has to take into account the possibility of multiple Technologies stacking on the same action/effect. It's not reasonable to balance around "what if all 15 Techs affect the same thing and are on the same Country", but somewhere in the 5-6 range is a lot more plausible. We get into this weird balancing act where we can't make the individual effects too big, or else they get out of control when stacked, but if we make the individual effects too small, they won't have any meaningful impact on their own.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    I would suggest we consider something like the XCOM approach to randomness if it remains in the game. Wherein if you miss a lot, the game starts lying to you about your odds, eventually guaranteeing you a hit. This could go vice versa as well, where good luck can’t be too streaky.

    Very few people playing a video game want true randomness because winning with a streak of successful 10% chances and losing with a streak of failed 90% chances both feel meaningless. Hence, the game should use some tricks under the hood to close in on the “expected” result more closely.
    Aye, there's almost certainly going to be some trickery involved here, but I don't think that's our solution to this dilemma. This is a systemic issue, one that I don't think we can patch with finagled RNG.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    I also agree with you about the feel-yies of insurrections. Those definitely should have more of the feel of the pouring-in-resources Evil Genius commitment, possibly a multi-stage process of building tension in the country.
    Case in point: This isn't just Insurrections, this is every single action that comes down to random chance. All link-based actions will succeed on the first turn 1/3rd of the time, despite having a projected turn length of 3. Countermeasures will succeed on the first turn 1/5th of the time, same as Insurrections.

    My thinking is leaning heavily towards ditching random rolls as the primary decider of whether these actions succeed or fail. There's other ways to add uncertainty without making it purely about a dice roll. For example: You could have a system where an action requires X number of effort points (a hidden value) to succeed, and every unit performing this action will add a baseline of X effort points per turn, with a few points +/- variance. With a high enough variance, you can have a much smaller range of possible action times, while still leaving the door open for "hey, am I unlucky, or is there a Technology messing with me?"

    I also really like that idea of actions having stages. I remember thinking that a lot of our actions are binary pass/fail, with not a lot of room in-between, and that may be contributing to our issues in how Technology affects Unit actions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Basically the problem you're reporting with technology is a pacing problem, and it's solved by either slowing the game down so that the plethora of modifiers has a chance to kick in, or speeding technology up so that investing in it proves decisive enough to matter in a 3 hour game.
    Pacing may be the way to think about a solution, but I want to stress that this isn't purely a pacing problem. A majority of Technology's effects are for Unit actions, and there's some core problems both with how those systems interact, and how Unit actions are resolved in general. And those implementation issues spill over into Technology. (See the above issue with stacking Technology effects)

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    But that is a model that only really sees its benefit in long, slow games with prolonged periods of stalemate and planning. A question I'm increasingly asking myself is that the best model for this design. Let me pull this back a bit and present two currently competing visions for the game:

    - Grog - a big sprawling game filled with fiddly little systems, a la EU4 or a Paradox title. It has a slow movement speed and many barriers to resist decisive play.
    - Schnapps - a svelte, focused game with a very precisely delineated set of theatres and a more crafted experience, with options to escalate complexity and difficulty later. This is more the Twilight Struggle board game-y design. Finds its depth in repeat playthroughs.

    There's a direct Grog vs Schnapps dilemma with the technology system.

    Grog: If technology is useful but not decisive then investing in it during a period of stalemate should help provide a limited edge that will later allow you to apply greater pressure in a future shove.
    Schnapps: If technology is decisive then investing in it changes your options in the game, opening up entirely new pathways or capabilities that permanently alter how you approach the game. In this paradigm a technology might do something like reveal a permanent link path between South America and Australia.
    If we're looking at this from a high-level perspective, I'ma bring up some of our core design goals with this project. Help set some boundaries on our thinking. The general goals I can remember are:

    1) Exploring the relationship between you and a mystery Mr. Johnson
    2) A game where espionage and hidden information is actually valuable and critical
    3) A game where you don’t have to dither about for two hours after you’ve “won” the game.
    4) Gradually taking over the board by your own strategic mastery, and mounting a desperate defense in the endgame.
    5) Most actions taken against your opponent carry an element of risk/self-destruction. Two madmen fighting with dynamite in an unfinished building.

    I'm looking at these goals, and I'm looking at Schnapps, and it feels like it's too fast to get what we're after. Grog, on the other hand, seems too slow. And yet, I can pick out bits of either design that feel like they fit with the game we're making. Schnapps loves the idea of Superweapons, and of using Technology to pull swift, deft maneuvers. Grog loves the way Influence Links slowly carve up the board, and slowly optimizing a Technology.

    Anarion and I both noticed a similar idea with Units. Grog likes big, beefy, individualistic Units that tromp around the board, performing actions and throwing their weight around. Schnapps likes Units more as a resource, something to enhance actions or enable more powerful ones. And we both were in agreement that the right place for Units was somewhere in the middle; not so individualistic that they couldn't stack up on an action, not so resource-like that their presence couldn't be felt.

    Do you think there's a middle ground between these two designs? That might be where this game belongs.
    Last edited by TheAmishPirate; 2018-09-04 at 07:34 PM.
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Do you think there's a middle ground between these two designs? That might be where this game belongs.
    This is the operative question, and the answer is of course yes. I'm foreseeing the meat and potatoes of the game being long slow Groggy attritional pushes, but with enough Schnapps stuff sprinkled around to make for the occasional decisive linebreaking play. I think that the key element of this in the design so far is Superweapons. There don't need to be many and they don't need to be balanced - this kind of thing will likely take a fair bit of setup and thought to apply effectively, and in my mind there will be enough strategic 'depth' in your opponent to let it absorb a handful of decisive plays.



    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    This struck me earlier today: Thanqol, when was the last time you had a chance to sit down with the current build of the game?
    A billion years ago.

    I've been wading through the nitty gritty of mechanics and their implementation, usually 4-6 days a week. And I haven't been keeping up much conversation in this thread. There's a real risk there of us falling out of sync.

    Here is the build that Anarion and I tested on Saturday. It's set up such that you can control both the player and Mr. Johnson. I'd recommend taking 15-30 minutes to fiddle around with it, see where things are at and how they're implemented. Especially look at Technology, Actions, and Units in general.
    Good thought, I'll do that soon.

    This makes sense, and I like this approach. I can see the risk in discovering one or two positive traits on a Technology, and wondering if it's really worth it to go ahead and spread it in your own territory.

    Mind, this won't solve our Technology woes, but in a better Technology system this is a good idea.
    Exactly the kind of risk I'm thinking about, especially given the Grog vs Schnapps thing that I'm now structuring a lot of my game design thought around - what if there's a tech with a good, small, reliable Groggy bonus that has a risk of a huge Schnappsy downside that opens you to a decisive play? Or the reverse.

    (Sidebar: Any new approach to the Technology system has to take into account the possibility of multiple Technologies stacking on the same action/effect. It's not reasonable to balance around "what if all 15 Techs affect the same thing and are on the same Country", but somewhere in the 5-6 range is a lot more plausible. We get into this weird balancing act where we can't make the individual effects too big, or else they get out of control when stacked, but if we make the individual effects too small, they won't have any meaningful impact on their own.)
    Correct. I'm actually starting to see the utility of a currency system because that would just give us a whole other thing to latch onto with a variety of additive and multiplicative effects that'd make balancing this a breeze. It'd also address my current theoretical concern which is to do with the player locking out every Army-producing province and creating an immense earlygame snowball.

    My thinking is leaning heavily towards ditching random rolls as the primary decider of whether these actions succeed or fail. There's other ways to add uncertainty without making it purely about a dice roll. For example: You could have a system where an action requires X number of effort points (a hidden value) to succeed, and every unit performing this action will add a baseline of X effort points per turn, with a few points +/- variance. With a high enough variance, you can have a much smaller range of possible action times, while still leaving the door open for "hey, am I unlucky, or is there a Technology messing with me?"

    I also really like that idea of actions having stages. I remember thinking that a lot of our actions are binary pass/fail, with not a lot of room in-between, and that may be contributing to our issues in how Technology affects Unit actions.
    Big thumbs up, this seems like the best of both systems.

    Pacing may be the way to think about a solution, but I want to stress that this isn't purely a pacing problem. A majority of Technology's effects are for Unit actions, and there's some core problems both with how those systems interact, and how Unit actions are resolved in general. And those implementation issues spill over into Technology. (See the above issue with stacking Technology effects)


    If we're looking at this from a high-level perspective, I'ma bring up some of our core design goals with this project. Help set some boundaries on our thinking. The general goals I can remember are:

    1) Exploring the relationship between you and a mystery Mr. Johnson
    2) A game where espionage and hidden information is actually valuable and critical
    3) A game where you don’t have to dither about for two hours after you’ve “won” the game.
    4) Gradually taking over the board by your own strategic mastery, and mounting a desperate defense in the endgame.
    5) Most actions taken against your opponent carry an element of risk/self-destruction. Two madmen fighting with dynamite in an unfinished building.
    Always worth repeating.
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    On an unrelated note, I'm a bit late but I finished season seven of Voltron, which I am enjoying immensely.
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    The entire first half was Cosmo the Blink dog as the only competent man and it was so good. Before they learned how to power the lions, I believe he had the highest kill count, and was saving the entire team from being killed at least once an episode it seemed like. That was such a random sequence that even led to him being a character, and then he was just so awesome in the spotlight. Single-handedly fixing who was traveling in which lion was particularly heroic.

    Second half was the goddamn Hunk show and he was spectacular. Heart and soul of the team, for real.

    Also, I have to say that I'm impressed with them finding a way to remind us that the regular Galra are pretty damn scary. They had become a bit laughable with Voltron constantly one-shotting capital ships during the last few seasons, and setting them up on earth to where they had time to prepare, the ruthlessness to make it impossible to just go in guns blazing, and the information operation to anticipate and counter the paladins for a huge chunk of the action on earth was really well done. And then Voltron got to one-shot a bunch of capital ships with the help of the new and improved castle of lions giant mecha lion!

    I do hope they don't go full Gurren Lagann though, I like the show's current scale and one step up capital ship robot should be it, I think.
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    On an unrelated note, I'm a bit late but I finished season seven of Voltron, which I am enjoying immensely.
    You are now fully primed to appreciate this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    You are now fully primed to appreciate this.
    That...makes a certain voice in a certain episode twelve times more hilarious. My gosh.

    Spoiler: Season 7 Voltron
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    What got me was that they told you exactly what was going to happen this season. "We're going to Earth, to replace the Castle of Lions." And with the way this is set up, there's no universe in which Earth isn't under attack by the Galra when they get there. By the end of the first episode or two, it's all laid out, plain as day.

    They then proceeded to execute on that far beyond my wildest hopes and dreams.

    They told me exactly what they were going to do and it was still a surprise.

    Also, I think they deliberately put "The Last Stand" two-parter halfway through the season to bamboozle punks like me who just keep mashing the Next Episode button without ever looking at the episode list. I saw a two-parter, I saw we were at around episode 6-7, I figured we were headed for finale territory. Nope! It's a full season this time, we have not yet begun to hype, I have been shown who is the boss.
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    You are now fully primed to appreciate this.
    Truly, the height of great television.
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

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    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Truly, the height of great television.
    I think 80s Lotor reaches unbearable heights of hysterics when used in contrast with his modern incarnation.
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    O.K. Season 7 Voltron. I actually hadn't watched it and somehow thought I had. It wasn't until I read Anarion's spoiler box and was like, wait... I don't remember exactly that thing with the blink dog happening that I went back and checked and proceeded to spend the next howevermany hours marathoning it.

    Hoo.

    I agree with Amish's comment that it's a season with zero surprises and infinite suspense. I honestly think it's the best thing of it's kind in existence. I can, and have spoken at length about my opinions about what makes Voltron work so incredibly well but each new season just makes me double down on them and I think the world would just be a darker place without it. Perfect really is the word that just keeps coming to mind.

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    Also Liefsdottir is best pony and I was half wondering if they were going to kill off the main cast and use her as New Pidge. I don't think I would have minded because I'm way more invested in these B Team scrubs than I thought I'd be.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    This is the operative question, and the answer is of course yes. I'm foreseeing the meat and potatoes of the game being long slow Groggy attritional pushes, but with enough Schnapps stuff sprinkled around to make for the occasional decisive linebreaking play. I think that the key element of this in the design so far is Superweapons. There don't need to be many and they don't need to be balanced - this kind of thing will likely take a fair bit of setup and thought to apply effectively, and in my mind there will be enough strategic 'depth' in your opponent to let it absorb a handful of decisive plays.
    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Exactly the kind of risk I'm thinking about, especially given the Grog vs Schnapps thing that I'm now structuring a lot of my game design thought around - what if there's a tech with a good, small, reliable Groggy bonus that has a risk of a huge Schnappsy downside that opens you to a decisive play? Or the reverse.
    Remember kids! Always mix your Grog with Schnapps. It only leads to good things.

    So let me rephrase certain Technology issues in light of these new design terms: We want Technology to have good, reliable Groggy bonuses (when on your Country) and downsides (when on your opponent's Country). This taps into design goal #4, where you and your opponent are trying to gradually push each other out of the game, and you slowly pressure the AI until you're in a dominant state. In our current build, Technology does not do this. There are some easy to fix reasons for this - lower the number of turns it takes to research traits, make every Technology start with 3 traits - but also some deeper, systemic reasons as well. The effects of Technology are too obscure, which makes it all but impossible to figure out where a Technology ought to be strategically spread, which tanks engagement in the Technology system. I think that we should revise the effects of Technology alongside revising Actions, since the two are so closely linked.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    A billion years ago.
    Which is all the more impressive when we've barely been working on this game for a year.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Correct. I'm actually starting to see the utility of a currency system because that would just give us a whole other thing to latch onto with a variety of additive and multiplicative effects that'd make balancing this a breeze. It'd also address my current theoretical concern which is to do with the player locking out every Army-producing province and creating an immense earlygame snowball.
    Could you tell me more about where your head is at with this? I'm not sure I see the same benefit of a currency system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Big thumbs up, this seems like the best of both systems.
    I'll go one further here; this provides an easy blueprint for how multiple units can contribute to the same action. It's no longer multiple units each making a roll, it's multiple units contributing action points to a mutual goal. We might want to add a % penalty to action points per turn for each additional unit if unit stacking becomes too effective. (And besides; in what world do two people working on the same task provide exactly double the productivity for their time?)

    Now, while this helps fix random-chance actions, it now leaves duration-based actions in a bit of a lurch. How do two Army units Deploy on the same Country? What if one Army unit deploys, and then you want to Deploy a second unit later? But I think this is something we'll fix as a part of the general design pass on units and actions. It feels more like a question on "how do units stack" rather than "how should this action work".

    ********************************************

    It sounds like we have a good, general design goal in mind for this design pass in our Grog vs. Schnapps metaphor/conversation/what have you. I'm going to take a step back from all these individual responses, and talk about some major points that I think we need to hash out with this refactoring:

    1) How should units stack?

    Currently in my head, I see units in the same Country performing the same Action automatically stacking up. Any Technology adopted by a single unit is shared with the stack, and every Technology is only counted once. (What does it matter if one, three, or fifty divisions have adopted Fusion Power? At the end of the day, it means the group has access to Fusion Power.) This will help prevent some Tech Effect stacking issues. Where this design gets awkward is in how units stack and unstack. What is the workflow for taking a unit out of the stack? For transferring a unit to another stack? Is this all automatic, or do you have some manual control over this? I fear that automatically doing things to units could lead to player confusion. Not to mention it doesn't provide a neat explanation for the current Deploy action, which leads me to...

    2) What Actions can Units perform? What are Action Stages, and how do they work? What Action Stages do these Actions have?

    I think once we have a better idea of how we want Units to behave on the map, we'll have a better idea of how to revise the current suite of Actions. I don't have many solid thoughts on Action Stages yet, but I do have a couple of disjointed thoughts. For one, it might be possible to hide some information in the early Action Stages. You know that a bunch of Agents are up to something in France, but you won't know what until they reach Stage 2. Although given the fact that there are less than a dozen Actions a Unit can perform, process of elimination will probably give the game away there. More promising, I wonder if there can be different effects tied to different Stages. Actions no longer have to be a binary success/fail. Maybe that success/failure is a part of a later Stage.

    For instance: Say that Insurrection is a multi-stage Action. Deployed Armies can be killed when you reach Stage 1. At Stage 2, the Development Level of the Country starts dropping dramatically. At Stage 3, the unrest is so great that the Country loses one Influence Link Capacity, and the whole thing is a mess.

    Or, hey, idea: Deploy refers to how deeply entrenched your Armies are. Given how long Armies are meant to stay Deployed, this could be an Action with a ton of stages, and real incentive for you to stack up Armies on critical Countries. Which then allows for counterplay as the opponent can send in a fruitless Insurgency that'll still have nasty effects on the Country. (Also makes me wonder about how Deploy vs. Confiscate Tech should work. It might make Confiscation too difficult if the Armies performing the Action count as undeployed.)

    3) How does Technology affect these Actions? (See Groggy issues at the top of this post)

    This one I am still unsure of, in part because the right answer might be "do absolutely nothing, the changes to Units and Actions are enough, just make it so that Technology affects the number of action points a Unit can contribute." I do think that the idea of Stages opens the door to some interesting Schnapps-type effects. What if a Technology didn't affect how fast an Action fired off, but instead added some nastiness (or benefit!) to a given Stage? All of a sudden, you have this huge incentive to get your Insurrections to Stage 3, because if you can do that then the Country gains the "all adjacent Countries suffer a Stage-1 insurgency" Bonus. Which then gives your opponent a massive incentive to find out what Technology is causing that effect because dear gosh that's a pain to deal with and it'd be nice to have access to that capability.

    Which is an accidental lead-in to...

    4) What Schnapps-type effects are we thinking of?

    Superweapons have long been a *shrug* aspect of this design. We have some base things that Superweapons do - namely, wreck everything - but we've long hinted that there ought to be some more unique effects attached to them. And are Superweapons the only Schnapps effect, or is there room for more? (see Stage ramblings in previous point)

    I will give this as a warning: By a landslide, Grog effects will be generally less costly to develop. Grog likes to play around with numbers in pre-existing systems. The number of action points per round goes up, the Link capacity goes down, etc. These are uniform, easy-to-manage effects. By comparison, I wager that every Schnapps effect will have to be programmed manually, and will probably not be reusable for other effects. Remember how last year, when I had two full work days a week to develop things, it took me months and months to finish all the individual Bonuses? Well, every Schnapps effect is basically a Bonus, unique in its effect and functionality, with less uniformity surrounding them.

    Keep that in mind, so that we don't go too overboard in our design. Or better yet, any way that we can find to add some consistency to Schnapps is ideal.
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    O.K. Season 7 Voltron. I actually hadn't watched it and somehow thought I had. It wasn't until I read Anarion's spoiler box and was like, wait... I don't remember exactly that thing with the blink dog happening that I went back and checked and proceeded to spend the next howevermany hours marathoning it.
    I am eternally grateful for that little anxious thought of, "Wait, has Thanqol seen Season 7? I feel like he would've geeked out about it by now." That kept me from barfing forth spoilers in my reaction post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Hoo.

    I agree with Amish's comment that it's a season with zero surprises and infinite suspense. I honestly think it's the best thing of it's kind in existence. I can, and have spoken at length about my opinions about what makes Voltron work so incredibly well but each new season just makes me double down on them and I think the world would just be a darker place without it. Perfect really is the word that just keeps coming to mind.

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    Also Liefsdottir is best pony and I was half wondering if they were going to kill off the main cast and use her as New Pidge. I don't think I would have minded because I'm way more invested in these B Team scrubs than I thought I'd be.
    Spoiler: Right???
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    Like, they told us we were going to Earth to get a new Castle of Lions. They didn't tell us that the new Castle of Lions would be almost complete by the time they got there, it would represent humanity's last, best hope of fighting back against the Galra, it'd be staffed by a cadre of supporting characters new and old, Shiro gets to be the Captain, and in a pinch it is also a mech capable of dunking you from space.

    Also I loved how they initially were hinting, "Wuh oh! The folks on Earth are having some friction with the Paladins! Drama incoming!" and then did none of that, everybody's cool, let's sneak out of command to help you find your parents, gosh it's helpful having space magic technology and teleporting dogs.

    Also also thank you muchly because now I finally know how to spell Liefsdottir.
    Last edited by TheAmishPirate; 2018-09-08 at 11:47 AM.
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    Day X: Infinity

    I'm officially No Longer Keeping Track of the day number it is. It's annoyingly math-y to calculate out. Productivity is insanely high right now.

    I finished something huge but my cell phone camera is not equipped to take non-horrifyingly blurry photographs of it so that's going on the 'revisit when proper camera is purchased circa december' list. Trust me tho, it's gonna be awesome when you see it. For now, here's what I've been keeping myself busy with on the side:
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    Last edited by Thanqol; 2018-09-08 at 11:25 PM.
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    Day Xa: The Realm

    Oh what the hell, I think the terrible lighting actually adds something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    Remember kids! Always mix your Grog with Schnapps. It only leads to good things.

    So let me rephrase certain Technology issues in light of these new design terms: We want Technology to have good, reliable Groggy bonuses (when on your Country) and downsides (when on your opponent's Country). This taps into design goal #4, where you and your opponent are trying to gradually push each other out of the game, and you slowly pressure the AI until you're in a dominant state. In our current build, Technology does not do this. There are some easy to fix reasons for this - lower the number of turns it takes to research traits, make every Technology start with 3 traits - but also some deeper, systemic reasons as well. The effects of Technology are too obscure, which makes it all but impossible to figure out where a Technology ought to be strategically spread, which tanks engagement in the Technology system. I think that we should revise the effects of Technology alongside revising Actions, since the two are so closely linked.
    Agreed and approved.

    Could you tell me more about where your head is at with this? I'm not sure I see the same benefit of a currency system.
    I'm currently quite concerned with strategic bottlenecks. Think of it this way:

    One army-producing country produces enough armies to sustain control over 5 countries.
    Therefore securing the limited number of army-producing countries early becomes the point of the game, because control over countries emanates from those army-producers.

    This makes Output provinces strategic bottlenecks, you can choke off the entire game at those points.

    A currency system creates the advantage of flexibility. Giving a free-floating resource that can be allocated discretionally you can break that bottleneck - if you've got a tonne of execs but no armies you can invest your 'free space' currency into producing armies. It also gives space for individualized styles of play which are more restricted if you have to play the board for each decision. It gives an extra 'thing' for mechanics to hang off and countries to produce. Finally, currency can also act almost like hit points - many games with currency mechanics have the option to suddenly invest stored cash to help you leverage your way out of a crisis. Mercenaries in EU4 can prop you up when you're losing a war, and the Endless/Civ buyout mechanic can suddenly create a key garrison unit on a vulnerable city.

    I think the last point is both interesting and contentious. It lets a player spend their way out of a blunder which has a significant impact on the game feel.

    What are your thoughts?

    For instance: Say that Insurrection is a multi-stage Action. Deployed Armies can be killed when you reach Stage 1. At Stage 2, the Development Level of the Country starts dropping dramatically. At Stage 3, the unrest is so great that the Country loses one Influence Link Capacity, and the whole thing is a mess.

    Or, hey, idea: Deploy refers to how deeply entrenched your Armies are. Given how long Armies are meant to stay Deployed, this could be an Action with a ton of stages, and real incentive for you to stack up Armies on critical Countries. Which then allows for counterplay as the opponent can send in a fruitless Insurgency that'll still have nasty effects on the Country. (Also makes me wonder about how Deploy vs. Confiscate Tech should work. It might make Confiscation too difficult if the Armies performing the Action count as undeployed.)
    Love this. This is now canon.

    3) How does Technology affect these Actions? (See Groggy issues at the top of this post)

    This one I am still unsure of, in part because the right answer might be "do absolutely nothing, the changes to Units and Actions are enough, just make it so that Technology affects the number of action points a Unit can contribute." I do think that the idea of Stages opens the door to some interesting Schnapps-type effects. What if a Technology didn't affect how fast an Action fired off, but instead added some nastiness (or benefit!) to a given Stage? All of a sudden, you have this huge incentive to get your Insurrections to Stage 3, because if you can do that then the Country gains the "all adjacent Countries suffer a Stage-1 insurgency" Bonus. Which then gives your opponent a massive incentive to find out what Technology is causing that effect because dear gosh that's a pain to deal with and it'd be nice to have access to that capability.
    I also really like this, this is a really good idea. Creating stages and tying in various technology trigger effects to the stages really neatly answers the question of how to make tech feel impactful, and blends in great with the hidden information layer of tech. Say we make Development a stage thing in the same way as insurrection - a tech might have a hidden penalty that only kicks in at Stage 3 development which'd make it a sleeper poison pill.

    4) What Schnapps-type effects are we thinking of?

    Superweapons have long been a *shrug* aspect of this design. We have some base things that Superweapons do - namely, wreck everything - but we've long hinted that there ought to be some more unique effects attached to them. And are Superweapons the only Schnapps effect, or is there room for more? (see Stage ramblings in previous point)

    I will give this as a warning: By a landslide, Grog effects will be generally less costly to develop. Grog likes to play around with numbers in pre-existing systems. The number of action points per round goes up, the Link capacity goes down, etc. These are uniform, easy-to-manage effects. By comparison, I wager that every Schnapps effect will have to be programmed manually, and will probably not be reusable for other effects. Remember how last year, when I had two full work days a week to develop things, it took me months and months to finish all the individual Bonuses? Well, every Schnapps effect is basically a Bonus, unique in its effect and functionality, with less uniformity surrounding them.

    Keep that in mind, so that we don't go too overboard in our design. Or better yet, any way that we can find to add some consistency to Schnapps is ideal.
    Will do, I'll start thinking about common themes for this kind of stuff.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Day Xa: The Realm

    Oh what the hell, I think the terrible lighting actually adds something.

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    *snip*
    Sweet merciful snapplejacks.

    If I had miniatures to paint, I would be asking if you took commissions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    I'm currently quite concerned with strategic bottlenecks. Think of it this way:

    One army-producing country produces enough armies to sustain control over 5 countries.
    Therefore securing the limited number of army-producing countries early becomes the point of the game, because control over countries emanates from those army-producers.

    This makes Output provinces strategic bottlenecks, you can choke off the entire game at those points.

    A currency system creates the advantage of flexibility. Giving a free-floating resource that can be allocated discretionally you can break that bottleneck - if you've got a tonne of execs but no armies you can invest your 'free space' currency into producing armies. It also gives space for individualized styles of play which are more restricted if you have to play the board for each decision. It gives an extra 'thing' for mechanics to hang off and countries to produce. Finally, currency can also act almost like hit points - many games with currency mechanics have the option to suddenly invest stored cash to help you leverage your way out of a crisis. Mercenaries in EU4 can prop you up when you're losing a war, and the Endless/Civ buyout mechanic can suddenly create a key garrison unit on a vulnerable city.

    I think the last point is both interesting and contentious. It lets a player spend their way out of a blunder which has a significant impact on the game feel.

    What are your thoughts?
    At first glance, my instinct was to tell you that this was too early to have this concern. But on reflection, I'd be lying if I said the prototype game didn't revolve around Army Units and their associated Outputs. Losing an Army was a big setback; losing an Army Output was devastating, and ultimately what led us to declare the game over. Countries with Army Outputs were where most, if not all of the action happened. I think you're right in that they have too much focus right now.

    What's more, a currency system stands to fix a number of issues we've already identified, to include the unnecessary focus on certain Output Countries. Giving the player control over which Units to spawn would help alleviate some of the all-consuming importance of every single Army Unit, while also allowing them to forgo units they don't actually need more of. We've already discussed how Unit spawns need to be refactored to prevent tedious marches around the map. Well, this system would give a nice way to choose what spawns and where. Anarion mentioned several times that it would be really convenient to see when the next Unit spawns, and this clearly expresses to the player when they'll be able to spawn their next Unit. You're right on the money (badum-tish) about money acting as a sort of health/resource bar, and strategic decisions that can be made surrounding it.

    (I also think that the question of how Units spawn is closely tied with our more general question of "how Units work", and that this should be the top problem we're looking to solve right now.)

    Right now, my focus is on what we stand to lose by shifting to a currency system, so that we can figure out how to account for/alleviate those losses:

    1) Comeback mechanics. Admittedly, these are super broken at the moment, but the initial idea was that the first few Units from an Output would spawn fast, and then spawns would slow down from there. Retaking a Country would let you quickly get back the Units you lost. Plus, knocking down a key Output would give you an opportunity to act while your opponent was struggling to rebuild, though our current design inflicts way too much damage on the opponent.

    A currency system may not have the same comeback potential. If you're losing the money game, and getting outnumbered by your opponent, then how do you get back into the game? I'm not sure, this feels a bit like a win-more system once you're ahead.

    2) An easy link between Unit and Home Country. If a Unit is spawned at an Output, it is clear that the Unit is from that Country. If that Country is lost, the Unit disbands, and this makes some sense in the game's fiction. Why should you keep controlling folks from a Country you no longer hold sway over?

    In this system, it would make sense that a Unit's Home Country is the Country where it is spawned/built. However, given that these resources were gathered from all over your territory, and simply assembled in a certain Country, the link isn't quite so solid. Furthermore, what happens when that Country is lost? Do those Units disband? After you've already paid for them? This gets tangled and weird in my head.

    3) Focal points on the map. Yes, having too much importance on certain Countries is bad. But I think it's important that there are Countries both players will want, and will then subsequently fight over. I worry that if we remove the Outputs, the map may become too flat. Too boring. Not enough obvious terrain to fight over. Sure, you'll eventually have your borders run up against each other, but the terrain will still be uninteresting. The question that comes immediately to mind is "What do we put in place of Output Bonuses?" Is it income? Is it spawn points, AKA "you can only build Units on these given Countries"? What else on the map will be worth both players fighting over?

    (Side note: I'm not sure how I feel about the ability to buy your way out of a mistake. I don't know how much value there is in stockpiling money instead of investing it right away, except for giving you some flexibility when you don't yet know where the units will be needed. If you have the freedom to hold onto your cash, then you're probably in a good position already, and the opponent will have to do even more work to pull even. Plus, it feels cheap to take over a single, isolated Country, and then airdrop-spawn a dozen Army Units behind enemy lines.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Love this. This is now canon.



    I also really like this, this is a really good idea. Creating stages and tying in various technology trigger effects to the stages really neatly answers the question of how to make tech feel impactful, and blends in great with the hidden information layer of tech. Say we make Development a stage thing in the same way as insurrection - a tech might have a hidden penalty that only kicks in at Stage 3 development which'd make it a sleeper poison pill.
    I have some more thoughts regarding Unit Actions, Action stages, etc, but I'm going to hold off on them while we hash out Unit Spawns/Currency. Too many ideas kicking around at the same time could make these posts into monolithic walls of text.
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    Sweet merciful snapplejacks.

    If I had miniatures to paint, I would be asking if you took commissions.
    Thank you very much!

    1) Comeback mechanics. Admittedly, these are super broken at the moment, but the initial idea was that the first few Units from an Output would spawn fast, and then spawns would slow down from there. Retaking a Country would let you quickly get back the Units you lost. Plus, knocking down a key Output would give you an opportunity to act while your opponent was struggling to rebuild, though our current design inflicts way too much damage on the opponent.

    A currency system may not have the same comeback potential. If you're losing the money game, and getting outnumbered by your opponent, then how do you get back into the game? I'm not sure, this feels a bit like a win-more system once you're ahead.
    A big problem in two player games, but very solvable in a one player game. The player is meant to get ahead and start winning more, with the various Endgames mean that winning more is a race rather than a slog. But there's a billion throttling mechanics that can be put in place for what is ultimately a pacing thing, so I think this is a low priority.

    2) An easy link between Unit and Home Country. If a Unit is spawned at an Output, it is clear that the Unit is from that Country. If that Country is lost, the Unit disbands, and this makes some sense in the game's fiction. Why should you keep controlling folks from a Country you no longer hold sway over?

    In this system, it would make sense that a Unit's Home Country is the Country where it is spawned/built. However, given that these resources were gathered from all over your territory, and simply assembled in a certain Country, the link isn't quite so solid. Furthermore, what happens when that Country is lost? Do those Units disband? After you've already paid for them? This gets tangled and weird in my head.

    3) Focal points on the map. Yes, having too much importance on certain Countries is bad. But I think it's important that there are Countries both players will want, and will then subsequently fight over. I worry that if we remove the Outputs, the map may become too flat. Too boring. Not enough obvious terrain to fight over. Sure, you'll eventually have your borders run up against each other, but the terrain will still be uninteresting. The question that comes immediately to mind is "What do we put in place of Output Bonuses?" Is it income? Is it spawn points, AKA "you can only build Units on these given Countries"? What else on the map will be worth both players fighting over?
    These are things to experiment and playtest, but I actually see a really interesting possibility in making output-countries spawn points rather than production countries. On the smallest scale that creates tactical reinforcement points and, if we retain the link between countries and units, creates the dilemma of 'do I construct a first-world superpower army at my capital, or deal with these second-rate dudes I recruit directly from a colonial holding?' I think this is the design I currently want to playtest because I think it has a lot to it.

    (Side note: I'm not sure how I feel about the ability to buy your way out of a mistake. I don't know how much value there is in stockpiling money instead of investing it right away, except for giving you some flexibility when you don't yet know where the units will be needed. If you have the freedom to hold onto your cash, then you're probably in a good position already, and the opponent will have to do even more work to pull even. Plus, it feels cheap to take over a single, isolated Country, and then airdrop-spawn a dozen Army Units behind enemy lines.)
    Noted. Something to be conscious of and playtest.

    I have some more thoughts regarding Unit Actions, Action stages, etc, but I'm going to hold off on them while we hash out Unit Spawns/Currency. Too many ideas kicking around at the same time could make these posts into monolithic walls of text.
    Good thought.
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    These are things to experiment and playtest, but I actually see a really interesting possibility in making output-countries spawn points rather than production countries. On the smallest scale that creates tactical reinforcement points and, if we retain the link between countries and units, creates the dilemma of 'do I construct a first-world superpower army at my capital, or deal with these second-rate dudes I recruit directly from a colonial holding?' I think this is the design I currently want to playtest because I think it has a lot to it.
    This is how I've been thinking of it in my head as well. What are your thoughts on the whole "Country turns neutral, every Unit from that Country dies/disbands" mechanic? Are we keeping that?

    EDIT: And an idea to have on the table for the future: Outputs are now spawn points, but only if there's an unbroken chain of Links between that Country and your home Superpower.
    Last edited by TheAmishPirate; 2018-09-10 at 09:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    This is how I've been thinking of it in my head as well. What are your thoughts on the whole "Country turns neutral, every Unit from that Country dies/disbands" mechanic? Are we keeping that?
    At the moment I like the lynchpin aspect because it means that extremely clever plays can abruptly open the entire board, like a WW1 trench breaking and the entire front lines having to shuffle to adjust to the new situation. Keep it as is but also flag it for future balance passes - if the effect is too decisive then players will just spawn from their nuclear-defended capital always even if it costs them extra travel time. Ideal feel is that they're important and worth defending, but there'll always be the temptation to send defensive resources to more active hotspots.

    EDIT: And an idea to have on the table for the future: Outputs are now spawn points, but only if there's an unbroken chain of Links between that Country and your home Superpower.
    Hmm~. There's reasons for and against that. We'll revisit.
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    At the moment I like the lynchpin aspect because it means that extremely clever plays can abruptly open the entire board, like a WW1 trench breaking and the entire front lines having to shuffle to adjust to the new situation. Keep it as is but also flag it for future balance passes - if the effect is too decisive then players will just spawn from their nuclear-defended capital always even if it costs them extra travel time. Ideal feel is that they're important and worth defending, but there'll always be the temptation to send defensive resources to more active hotspots.



    Hmm~. There's reasons for and against that. We'll revisit.
    Sounds good to me, on both counts.

    Here's what we have so far on the currency system: It's a system by which players receive some manner of currency over time, which is then spent to spawn Units. Units can be spawned at what were previously Outputs, provided they have reached the appropriate Development Level. The spawned Country is a Unit's home Country, and the Unit has the effects of any Technology adopted in that Country. If control over a Unit's home Country is lost, the Unit is immediately disbanded. There will exist Technology effects that will increase, reduce, or otherwise play with the amount of income a player receives.

    If I haven't missed anything there, then here are some remaining unknowns/things to consider:

    1) How does one get currency? Does every Country provide currency? I kinda like the idea of every Country giving currency, scaling with Development Aid. Gives you the classic choice of wide vs. tall, “Do I take a bunch of crappy Countries and eat the terrible Tier 1 Bonuses, or do I take the time to invest in more solid, stable Tier 3's?” If we go this route, we should pay attention to the game feel of "Am I taking Countries simply because they're there and I need the money?" I feel like that may end up being a trap, as taking so many Countries will mean that your resources are spread thin trying to hold them all. If you go wide, it should feel like a deliberate choice, and not the default choice. (I'm looking at you, certain versions of Civ. )

    2) The early game is going to need to be carefully balanced and designed. Otherwise, every early game is going to boil down to our current design of “take the Army Output first, every other option is strictly inferior.” We ought to intentionally provide the player with a small number of good, valid openings with respect to currency and when they can purchase their first units.

    3) Here is a screenshot of the current map. Every Country marked with an O is an Output.

    Spoiler: Step on the map
    Show


    I think it’s safe to say that at least a few of these aren’t going to be converted into spawn points, which means they’ll need alternate bonuses. Maybe some of them will be flat currency boosts? That might be a bit boring.

    4) Should Africa/Resource Curse Countries provide Development Aid boosts as before, or should they be currency now? (Incredibly minor point, we’re nowhere close to testing out Bonuses, but it's an idea worth mentioning)
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Another currency concern to balance around: The rate at which units can be built might be funky, especially if every Country gives you income. If Unit prices are balanced around endgame assumptions, then it'll take forever to get your first units in the early game. If prices are balanced around the early game, then late game will have way too many units. This is almost certainly something we'll have to playtest thoroughly until we get it right, though my instincts tell me that units ought to generally come slowly in the early game-

    Oh! A thought! If Country income scales up with Development Level, and you start out with your Superpower at Tier 3, then that will give you a nice chunk of early game change to get those early Units built. If this number needs even more scaling, then we can attach an income bonus to Superpower Countries.
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Hey Thanqol? It's been a while since your last post here. Is everything alright?
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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