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  1. - Top - End - #511
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    Hey Thanqol? It's been a while since your last post here. Is everything alright?
    Oh yes, there have just been a few points I was thinking over but weekends are always total voids as far as posting goes. I'll get a more detailed response up presently.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

  2. - Top - End - #512
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    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, ďDo 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?Ē 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. )
    There are also certain versions of civ where the optimal play is four cities and no more, so there are problems in the opposite direction as well.

    Here's the approach that I like. If you can acquire, secure, and develop a province it should always be a positive contribution to your empire - the limiter being the opportunity cost of the investment required to get it up and running. A wide empire of fragile, undeveloped countries is a viable alternative to a dedicated core of highly developed provinces, but as the game goes on and the wide empire begins to develop those provinces then their edge starts to come out - they've got more places to spend their money than the tall empire.

    Here are two possible interactions I can see based on the existence of a currency system:
    - Invest currency in buildings that produce additional currency. I actually kind of hate this design. It'll turn the entire game into Interest Rate Simulator like EU4 kind of is.
    - Invest Agent time (executives) in increasing development, which increases currency. This is interesting because it creates a strong midgame role for executives after they've finished building your influence web. However this can lead to a situation where you bring everything up to max and wind up with a flock of unemployed executives hanging around. Depending on the pacing and other exec actions this might not come up until either the lategame or even after the game ends, i.e. not be a problem at all. I favour this approach right now.

    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 ďtake the Army Output first, every other option is strictly inferior.Ē 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.
    Correct. But that isn't necessarily a problem. Here are a few things I can perceive happening:

    - One executive works full time on forging links. If time spent to create a new army is greater than the time spent to forge a link you only need to send one exec out to 'scout' a path across the map with the armies backfilling behind him.
    RESPONSE: Borrowing an idea from other 4X games, scouting/surveying units sometimes find random bonuses in ruin-analogues. This can encourage players to invest another exec or two in gathering this stuff, leading to a more aggressive early game and an opened-up map. I do not know if this is necessary however.

    - Early game land grab where armies (civ settlers) are mass produced and sent out as aggressively as possible
    RESPONSE: Specifically the design I want to have happen. The early game should feel like a big landgrab before settling into an attritional conflict. It is a design feature for the entire map to get filled in before the nations start to push each other. Empty territory is low hanging fruit.

    - Early game bottlenecks potentially lock Johnson out of expansion.
    RESPONSE: An influence link between China and Pakistan prevents this by giving the AI multiple vectors to expand and contest most of Asia and Europe. There will be bottlenecks (turkey, Egypt) but that's fine and desirable.

    - Early game agents have no role. This has always been an 'issue', as they are the offensive units and don't have a place until the opponent is encountered. Also a risk is an early game 'agent rush' that cripples the enemy before the battlelines are formed.
    RESPONSE: Dunno. I think that this is way too emergent/tactical for me to predict at this level. All I can say is 'keep an eye on it'; their role will undoubtedly evolve based on the needs of the game. They can also serve as early game bottleneck busters - a bottlenecking rush is probably a fragile and overextended thing at first.

    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 itís safe to say that at least a few of these arenít going to be converted into spawn points, which means theyíll need alternate bonuses. Maybe some of them will be flat currency boosts? That might be a bit boring.
    I'll think about this. My initial design involved a 'natural backyard' for north America/China for them to easily expand to. I still want to keep the design point of their initial expansion being into three particularly stable and valuable countries because that provides a valuable equalization factor - if both sides start at 100, and each newly founded country is worth 5, then a ten-fifteen country split is 150-175 instead of 50-75 - a 15% edge rather than a 30% one.

    Again the design here is for the player to win, but slowly.

    4) Should Africa/Resource Curse Countries provide Development Aid boosts as before, or should they be currency now? (Incredibly minor point, weíre nowhere close to testing out Bonuses, but it's an idea worth mentioning)
    Oh they should be currency 100%.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    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.
    Yes, this is contiguous with my thoughts r.e. the natural backyard countries and high 'fixed income' from your home territory. I don't like scaling unit prices conceptually - it's such a blatant rubber band - and just making your home territory, well, a superpower should hopefully be enough to address this. If that's not enough making the 'natural backyard' particularly developed/lucrative also helps with this.
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2018-09-16 at 05:56 PM.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

  3. - Top - End - #513
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    There are also certain versions of civ where the optimal play is four cities and no more, so there are problems in the opposite direction as well.

    Here's the approach that I like. If you can acquire, secure, and develop a province it should always be a positive contribution to your empire - the limiter being the opportunity cost of the investment required to get it up and running. A wide empire of fragile, undeveloped countries is a viable alternative to a dedicated core of highly developed provinces, but as the game goes on and the wide empire begins to develop those provinces then their edge starts to come out - they've got more places to spend their money than the tall empire.
    Though, a fun thought; a wide empire is almost always going to be less secure than a tall one. Youíll have more resources, which should let you buy more units, but theyíll be spread out over a larger area. Not to mention itís harder to control your borders/Influence Links when your border spans half the map.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Here are two possible interactions I can see based on the existence of a currency system:
    - Invest currency in buildings that produce additional currency. I actually kind of hate this design. It'll turn the entire game into Interest Rate Simulator like EU4 kind of is.
    - Invest Agent time (executives) in increasing development, which increases currency. This is interesting because it creates a strong midgame role for executives after they've finished building your influence web. However this can lead to a situation where you bring everything up to max and wind up with a flock of unemployed executives hanging around. Depending on the pacing and other exec actions this might not come up until either the lategame or even after the game ends, i.e. not be a problem at all. I favour this approach right now.
    Aye, I agree. Bonuses add this nice other layer to prioritizing which Country to develop first. Every Country is going to get you more money, but which terrible Tier 1 Bonuses can you endure, and which ones do you need to get rid of ASAP?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Correct. But that isn't necessarily a problem. Here are a few things I can perceive happening:

    - One executive works full time on forging links. If time spent to create a new army is greater than the time spent to forge a link you only need to send one exec out to 'scout' a path across the map with the armies backfilling behind him.
    RESPONSE: Borrowing an idea from other 4X games, scouting/surveying units sometimes find random bonuses in ruin-analogues. This can encourage players to invest another exec or two in gathering this stuff, leading to a more aggressive early game and an opened-up map. I do not know if this is necessary however.

    - Early game land grab where armies (civ settlers) are mass produced and sent out as aggressively as possible
    RESPONSE: Specifically the design I want to have happen. The early game should feel like a big landgrab before settling into an attritional conflict. It is a design feature for the entire map to get filled in before the nations start to push each other. Empty territory is low hanging fruit.

    - Early game bottlenecks potentially lock Johnson out of expansion.
    RESPONSE: An influence link between China and Pakistan prevents this by giving the AI multiple vectors to expand and contest most of Asia and Europe. There will be bottlenecks (turkey, Egypt) but that's fine and desirable.

    - Early game agents have no role. This has always been an 'issue', as they are the offensive units and don't have a place until the opponent is encountered. Also a risk is an early game 'agent rush' that cripples the enemy before the battlelines are formed.
    RESPONSE: Dunno. I think that this is way too emergent/tactical for me to predict at this level. All I can say is 'keep an eye on it'; their role will undoubtedly evolve based on the needs of the game. They can also serve as early game bottleneck busters - a bottlenecking rush is probably a fragile and overextended thing at first.
    All good points, I think we're on the same page here. It's less of "this is a problem we need to fix" and more "this is an aspect of the game that we need to be aware of, or else we might wind up with a dominant strategy in the future."

    Regarding Agents, it may well be that they need another Action to perform to give them something worthwhile to do in the early game. We should keep an eye out for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Oh they should be currency 100%.
    Man. The more I think about it, the more I love this design. Resource Curse Countries literally lose you potential income if they get bumped up to Tier 3, which invites all sorts of terrible strategies to keep them down.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Yes, this is contiguous with my thoughts r.e. the natural backyard countries and high 'fixed income' from your home territory. I don't like scaling unit prices conceptually - it's such a blatant rubber band - and just making your home territory, well, a superpower should hopefully be enough to address this. If that's not enough making the 'natural backyard' particularly developed/lucrative also helps with this.
    Agreed. Rubberbanded costs are a weird lever that should only be pulled in an emergency.
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

  4. - Top - End - #514
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    I think that we have Currency locked down and ready to go. We know how Units are spawned, and we're aware of the design implications of that. I think, next, we should dive into how Units act, with a mind to how Technology might affect those Actions.

    Hereís what (I think) we know so far

    -Actions are no longer based on a random roll, a race to a binary success state.

    -Instead, Units add Action Points to an Action, and once the Action reaches a certain threshold, the Action enters a new Stage.

    -Some effects are constant across multiple/all Stages, such as the ability to kill units in Insurrection/Countermeasures. Other effects only take place when an Action reaches a certain Stage.

    -Units should be able to stack up in some fashion, to work together on the same Action ala Evil Genius. Any Technology adopted by one Unit in the stack gives its effects to the entire stack.

    -Technology can alter the effects of an Action at a particular Stage.

    EDIT: -A Unit varies +/- some number of Action Points they contribute per turn. The overall effect of this variance is that the total time it takes to advance an Action Stage can vary by +/- a few turns, without straying too far from its expected target duration.

    Things we donít fully know

    -The particulars of Unit stacking. It feels like they ought to stack automatically when they perform the same Action, but part of me says that we should be a bit more intentional about this. Maybe be deliberate, and make Units take a turn to join/leave an Action. Or something. Thereís a user experience here to think about that could have some impact on gameplay.

    -Related, but what happens when an Action is ended? The obvious answer is ďAction loses all Stages and thatís thatĒ, but it doesnít hurt to confirm that. (UI-wise, we can give a warning when a player is about to lose an Action by moving/re-assigning the last Unit that was performing that Action)

    -Break Link and Forge Link are the two odd men out in this new system. Hereís a list of all Unit Actions to date:

    Spoiler: All the Actions
    Show
    Army
    -Deploy
    -Confiscate Technology
    -Conventional Warfare

    Executive
    -Break Link
    -Forge Link
    -Push Tech
    -Send Aid

    Agent
    -Countermeasures
    -Insurrection
    -Superweapon


    Itís encouraging that only two Actions donít obviously fit this new pattern, but the fact remains that two Actions donít obviously fit this new pattern. It seems a fixable problem, though. Just gotta think of a way to make it fit. (And maybe aid the potential idle Executive problem detailed above? Worth thinking about.)

    -We donít know exactly what Stages every Action will have. Even if we donít have solid numbers down, I think itíd be worthwhile to put down a basic framework. What happens on the super-late Deploy Stages? How badly can Conventional Warfare screw up a Country? What wonders can maxed-out Development Aid bring?


    Things that I couldnít think of a proper category for but thought they were worth mentioning

    -Now that Actions have stages, and Units primarily add Action Points to those Actions, we can actually have significant Technology boosts without it being game-breaking. It used to be a problem where you couldn't get to the binary "you did the Action" state too quickly, because there's no counterplay there. What are you supposed to do against an Agent that can OTK any Army you Deploy? Now, we've created room to do something about it. Actions are slower to get off the ground, but much nastier when sustained.

    -What stops a big stack of Tech'd-up Units from going Country to Country, wreaking havoc? That's certainly powerful, but it's also rigid. If something goes wrong on the other side of the map, it'll take you a long time to maneuver over there. Not to mention it's really susceptible to Executives cutting your route off by breaking vital Links. (Although, thereís something to be said for the turtle strategy of a smaller, well-connected empire with careful application of Technology. There might be some Endgames where thatís a viable strategy.)

    -We already have the Ban keyword. This seems like a good place we could re-use it, to describe effects at lower Stages that go away when an Action reaches a higher stage

    -I think there ought to be a "this Country can no longer sustain this number of Links, please choose one to forfeit" mechanic. Right now, if your Link capacity drops below the number of active Links, it doesn't force you to discard down. You just can't make any more. If reducing the number of Links is going to be a major part of Countermeasures and/or Insurrection, then I think we should have a proper system to handle this. Gives it a bit more bite.

    -Gosh we need to overhaul the Country Info panel. Itís been a rough prototype thus far, but there's no way it can communicate all this information in a helpful manner. Something with tabs could be really useful; one for Tech, one for current Actions, etc.
    Last edited by TheAmishPirate; 2018-09-18 at 05:42 PM.
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

  5. - Top - End - #515
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    Man. The more I think about it, the more I love this design. Resource Curse Countries literally lose you potential income if they get bumped up to Tier 3, which invites all sorts of terrible strategies to keep them down.
    Or cynically sending humanitarian aid to countries controlled by your opponent.

    That kind of ice cold economic realpolitik is the exact vibe I want from this game.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    -Actions are no longer based on a random roll, a race to a binary success state.

    -Instead, Units add Action Points to an Action, and once the Action reaches a certain threshold, the Action enters a new Stage.

    -Some effects are constant across multiple/all Stages, such as the ability to kill units in Insurrection/Countermeasures. Other effects only take place when an Action reaches a certain Stage.

    -Units should be able to stack up in some fashion, to work together on the same Action ala Evil Genius. Any Technology adopted by one Unit in the stack gives its effects to the entire stack.

    -Technology can alter the effects of an Action at a particular Stage.
    Note there is some variation in Action time. Think 3 turns, +/- 1 turn based on a dice roll modified by hidden factors, rather than 3 30% dice rolls. I think this carries the spirit of my original idea without it being so swingy.

    Things we donít fully know

    -The particulars of Unit stacking. It feels like they ought to stack automatically when they perform the same Action, but part of me says that we should be a bit more intentional about this. Maybe be deliberate, and make Units take a turn to join/leave an Action. Or something. Thereís a user experience here to think about that could have some impact on gameplay.
    I think that this is a raw gamefeel thing that I can't design for at this stage. We need to think, specifically, about the moment midgame when a country unexpectedly begins an insurgency and the player quickly moves a few units over to shore it up. That is the core mechanic and it needs to be satisfying and intuitive because the player will be doing it literally thousands of times.

    A negative example of this: Endless Space 2. While the game is ~beautiful~ visually, its core mechanic of the system view and building structures is boring and minorly irritating and over time that feeling builds up to erase any positive feelings I have about the game. I think we just flag this right here as the playtesting axis that the entire rest of the game's design must bend around.

    Army
    -Deploy
    -Confiscate Technology
    -Conventional Warfare
    Honestly pretty satisfied with these. It's one note but that note is the core mechanic. That said, confiscate tech might be best moved to Agent.

    Executive
    -Break Link
    -Forge Link
    -Push Tech
    -Send Aid
    Send aid should be renamed 'develop' just to assist our thinking on the process. I think with the new development/currency that this is a good spread of abilities.

    Agent
    -Countermeasures
    -Insurrection
    -Superweapon
    As mentioned, confiscate tech being here puts these guys in a distinct category of being the people who turn off game mechanics, in contrast to the exec who turns them on. And I think if that basic philosophy holds then the two actually work pretty well - the agent is the counter to everything the exec does, and the armies are just the dumb bricks that shuffle along.

    -We donít know exactly what Stages every Action will have. Even if we donít have solid numbers down, I think itíd be worthwhile to put down a basic framework. What happens on the super-late Deploy Stages? How badly can Conventional Warfare screw up a Country? What wonders can maxed-out Development Aid bring?
    Just a FYI I'm super bad with numbers. I can think in terms of how long something should take or how significant something should feel but I can't express that usefully in digits.

    Things that I couldnít think of a proper category for but thought they were worth mentioning

    -Now that Actions have stages, and Units primarily add Action Points to those Actions, we can actually have significant Technology boosts without it being game-breaking. It used to be a problem where you couldn't get to the binary "you did the Action" state too quickly, because there's no counterplay there. What are you supposed to do against an Agent that can OTK any Army you Deploy? Now, we've created room to do something about it. Actions are slower to get off the ground, but much nastier when sustained.
    *Nod nod* There should always be room to invest resources in a problem. One thing EU4 does really well is giving you the option to mortgage your nation's future to win a war now, so rephrasing actions in terms of 'this crisis is going to boil over unless you go out of your way to stop it now' is both mechanically fun and perfectly in theme.

    -What stops a big stack of Tech'd-up Units from going Country to Country, wreaking havoc? That's certainly powerful, but it's also rigid. If something goes wrong on the other side of the map, it'll take you a long time to maneuver over there. Not to mention it's really susceptible to Executives cutting your route off by breaking vital Links. (Although, thereís something to be said for the turtle strategy of a smaller, well-connected empire with careful application of Technology. There might be some Endgames where thatís a viable strategy.)
    Exactly so.

    -I think there ought to be a "this Country can no longer sustain this number of Links, please choose one to forfeit" mechanic. Right now, if your Link capacity drops below the number of active Links, it doesn't force you to discard down. You just can't make any more. If reducing the number of Links is going to be a major part of Countermeasures and/or Insurrection, then I think we should have a proper system to handle this. Gives it a bit more bite.
    I can see it.

    -Gosh we need to overhaul the Country Info panel. Itís been a rough prototype thus far, but there's no way it can communicate all this information in a helpful manner. Something with tabs could be really useful; one for Tech, one for current Actions, etc.
    UI is going to be the focal point of a tonne of design. My strong preference is zero-click UI and Map Modes. Map Modes are Paradox-style map overlays that communicate data visually. Think a heat map for technology where you can see the spread of different technologies, and if you mouse over a country it shows what the factors are in increasing that tech and what the factors are in decreasing it.


    A few other quick notes on technology:

    If technology spread is a sliding scale rather than a binary it also presents some new options in the same way as we've got for Action Stages. If a technology is in Stage 3 (total saturation) it might have an additional effect that it doesn't at Stage 1 (bleeding edge). This also helps obfuscate technology effects a bit.

    I'm also considering playtesting starting with the first effect of all technologies visible. This lets people engage with the system right out of the gate.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

  6. - Top - End - #516
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Note there is some variation in Action time. Think 3 turns, +/- 1 turn based on a dice roll modified by hidden factors, rather than 3 30% dice rolls. I think this carries the spirit of my original idea without it being so swingy.
    Right! Good catch, I forgot about that one. The current idea I had for that was to make a Unit's Action Point contribution have a little variance. Over time, it averages out to a few turns difference in either direction.

    I'll edit it into that post, just so I don't forget it again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    I think that this is a raw gamefeel thing that I can't design for at this stage. We need to think, specifically, about the moment midgame when a country unexpectedly begins an insurgency and the player quickly moves a few units over to shore it up. That is the core mechanic and it needs to be satisfying and intuitive because the player will be doing it literally thousands of times.

    A negative example of this: Endless Space 2. While the game is ~beautiful~ visually, its core mechanic of the system view and building structures is boring and minorly irritating and over time that feeling builds up to erase any positive feelings I have about the game. I think we just flag this right here as the playtesting axis that the entire rest of the game's design must bend around.
    If this were a Mario game, this would be our mostly blank level we'd use to test the core movement mechanics.

    Fortunately, those are pretty easy to throw together to test. Once we have something more concrete, I can get a quick sandbox tossed together.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Honestly pretty satisfied with these. It's one note but that note is the core mechanic. That said, confiscate tech might be best moved to Agent.

    As mentioned, confiscate tech being here puts these guys in a distinct category of being the people who turn off game mechanics, in contrast to the exec who turns them on. And I think if that basic philosophy holds then the two actually work pretty well - the agent is the counter to everything the exec does, and the armies are just the dumb bricks that shuffle along.
    I will point out that Confiscate Tech is generally a defensive ability, which is why it's fit so well with the Army Unit. But I'm willing to give this a shot, see how it plays. It might help us out in throwing some ambiguity as to an Agent's intentions. Gives them another thing that they could be doing as they approach a Country. (Though in general, I don't feel like Units are the big secretive part of this game, so having somewhat transparent intentions isn't the worst thing ever.)

    Plus, I have been going back and forth on what happens to an Army when it's Deployed, but then goes over to Confiscate Technology. It's not immediately intuitive, and dodging that entire problem certainly would be convenient.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Just a FYI I'm super bad with numbers. I can think in terms of how long something should take or how significant something should feel but I can't express that usefully in digits.
    Sure sure. One thing I've been learning through this development process is that you really just gotta get some general ideas for the numbers, then throw things at the wall until something sticks. Maybe there's more precise ways to go about this, but I sure haven't found them.

    More to the point, I'm not actually looking for numbers yet. What we need to figure out is more the behavior of the various Stages, rather than hard numbers. So speaking in terms of significance is actually perfect here. Here's an example of what I'm talking about, using Insurrection from a page or so ago:

    Insurrection

    All Stages: % chance each turn of destroying a Deployed Enemy Army unit (Possibly increases with higher Stages?), minor decrease to Development Level/turn
    Stops when: No more Deployed Enemy Army units
    Stage 2: Severe decrease to Development Level/turn
    Stage 3: Country loses Influence Link capacity

    What makes Break Link and Forge Link so tricky is that they're the least complicated of the moves we had before. The ultimate goal of the Action is to create or destroy an Influence link, and that's a pretty binary state. Not to mention it's such a basic move that you're probably not going to want it to take terribly long. Though that then raises the prospect of a stack of Executives that can Forge and Break Links in about a turn due to the low overall Action time, and that doesn't seem particularly right either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    *Nod nod* There should always be room to invest resources in a problem. One thing EU4 does really well is giving you the option to mortgage your nation's future to win a war now, so rephrasing actions in terms of 'this crisis is going to boil over unless you go out of your way to stop it now' is both mechanically fun and perfectly in theme.
    Ooooh, I really like this way of phrasing it.

    Though, again, it highlights the problem facing us with Break Link/Forge Link. "Better act quick, or else I'm going to make a path from Point A to Point B!" *lightning crashes*

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    UI is going to be the focal point of a tonne of design. My strong preference is zero-click UI and Map Modes. Map Modes are Paradox-style map overlays that communicate data visually. Think a heat map for technology where you can see the spread of different technologies, and if you mouse over a country it shows what the factors are in increasing that tech and what the factors are in decreasing it.
    Agreed. At this stage, it's a weird balancing act between "everything's a prototype and subject to change so don't invest too much time" vs. "it's gotta be at least baseline functional or else it's no good."

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    If technology spread is a sliding scale rather than a binary it also presents some new options in the same way as we've got for Action Stages. If a technology is in Stage 3 (total saturation) it might have an additional effect that it doesn't at Stage 1 (bleeding edge). This also helps obfuscate technology effects a bit.
    I hadn't thought of Technology also having Stages beyond Adopted/Not Adopted. There's certainly enough numbers under the hood to make it happen, and there might be some interesting things we can pull off with this. Did you have any more thoughts/ideas in this direction?

    I will warn that right now we're struggling with a Technology system that's too obfuscated, so maybe we should test a little more before trying to obfuscate it further.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    I'm also considering playtesting starting with the first effect of all technologies visible. This lets people engage with the system right out of the gate.
    Ooooooh, not a bad idea. I was thinking that we really could use something to kick off the Technology system, rather than starting both Players off with no information and no way to make informed early decisions.

    Another idea, though it might be a bit too random: At the start of the game, neutral Countries with Labs start with 1 randomly Adopted Technology, which will then begin to spread via the Tech spread rules.
    Last edited by TheAmishPirate; 2018-09-18 at 05:40 PM.
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    That's all really interesting stuff Amish, these are all extremely technical, precise questions and observations that I'm going to need to think over a bit before giving a good reply to. I'm generally in agreement with most of your thoughts though.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    That's all really interesting stuff Amish, these are all extremely technical, precise questions and observations that I'm going to need to think over a bit before giving a good reply to. I'm generally in agreement with most of your thoughts though.
    No worries. In the meantime, I will do what work I can based on our conversation thus far, see about getting that sandbox ready.
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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    For a while I've been holding to the idea of having a painting queue - get stuff done in the order in which you buy it, avoid stuff piling up too much around your desk. From time to time I've roiled with moments of inspiration but pushed them back in order to embrace the discipline of the queue.

    Yesterday I just threw my hands up and impulse-purchased a couple of things I was extremely inspired for, assembled them, primed them and started painting them all in the same day. I worked for ten hours then slept and dreamed world-shattering dreams.

    And all of today I have been floating upon a cloud of creative bliss.

    I feel so totally, profoundly at peace it's impossible to describe. The stormcloud of my mind and imagining discharged all at once, a vast column of lightning made free and then made manifest - and all the empty space left by its absence is filled with simple joy. I have found my place and time in the world and all about is made beautiful and bright by that knowledge. I always knew I wanted to do this but today I feel like it's less of a hobby and more of destiny.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

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    *Dabs into the room*

    I won a tournament! FIRST PLACE! YEA! GIT DUNKED ON SCRUBS!

    *Dabs out of the room*
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

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    Do you think you'll have some Complex thoughts to share before the con this weekend? I'm trying to get a sense of what my game work schedule this week is looking like, whether it's going to be design talk or sandbox creation and such.

    On that note, a simple idea that might fix our Influence Link problem: Make better use of the "busy" state. Forging a Link takes a turn or two to reserve the link, make it busy, then some more turns after that to actually Forge the link. Break Link has it happen in reverse, where first the Link is removed, but there's this period of time where if you can disrupt the Action it'll come back, the busy link is still there.

    Alternatively, we could go ham on the complexity and add tiers to Influence Links too. It's worked out well for everything else thus far.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    For a while I've been holding to the idea of having a painting queue - get stuff done in the order in which you buy it, avoid stuff piling up too much around your desk. From time to time I've roiled with moments of inspiration but pushed them back in order to embrace the discipline of the queue.

    Yesterday I just threw my hands up and impulse-purchased a couple of things I was extremely inspired for, assembled them, primed them and started painting them all in the same day. I worked for ten hours then slept and dreamed world-shattering dreams.

    And all of today I have been floating upon a cloud of creative bliss.

    I feel so totally, profoundly at peace it's impossible to describe. The stormcloud of my mind and imagining discharged all at once, a vast column of lightning made free and then made manifest - and all the empty space left by its absence is filled with simple joy. I have found my place and time in the world and all about is made beautiful and bright by that knowledge. I always knew I wanted to do this but today I feel like it's less of a hobby and more of destiny.
    This is somewhat like the feeling I had after DM-ing my first Masks session after 7ish years away from the DM's seat. I had every right to be tired, but my brain was exploding with ideas and energy and superheroes.

    It's like the creative equivalent of the Good Tired you feel after a solid workout.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    *Dabs into the room*

    I won a tournament! FIRST PLACE! YEA! GIT DUNKED ON SCRUBS!

    *Dabs out of the room*
    GIVE 'EM THE DAB 'N DUNK
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    Do you think you'll have some Complex thoughts to share before the con this weekend?
    Sorry, no. I tried but this week is the most hectic.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Sorry, no. I tried but this week is the most hectic.
    I getcha, no worries. I'll be taking the time to draw up some technical designs for the stuff we've decided on, with an eye to the things still up in the air. Later I'm going to try and get that sandbox together so we can (eventually) test out the gamefeel of responding to a sudden attack on a Country.

    Have a good con!
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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    I've gotten Currency done, along with Unit purchasing. Also started some under the hood work on the UI. Make it a little easier to work with.

    Next up is Unit stacking. After that, I'll do what what I can with the Action rework.

    How are things on your end?
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    I've gotten Currency done, along with Unit purchasing. Also started some under the hood work on the UI. Make it a little easier to work with.

    Next up is Unit stacking. After that, I'll do what what I can with the Action rework.

    How are things on your end?
    Perking up a lot. Focus is regained, mind is a'kindle. Ready to get back to work!

    What's the current state of things? I haven't looked at the playtest build in a while so I think that'd be good if you think it's ready.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Perking up a lot. Focus is regained, mind is a'kindle. Ready to get back to work!

    What's the current state of things? I haven't looked at the playtest build in a while so I think that'd be good if you think it's ready.
    Noice!

    The current state of things is pretty much unchanged from when the con started up. All that I've done is taken the Currency design that we outlined in this thread, and actually implemented it into the game. We'd figured out the basics of Unit stacking and revised Actions, and were in the middle of ironing out particulars before we had to take a break. This was the last big 'ol design post that I made. There's a few back-and-forths after that, then we had to break for contimes. I'd re-read what we had, and get back into the discussion from there.

    As I see it, we are currently looking to establish a framework (no concrete numbers) on what each of our new Actions ought to do. How many stages, what happens at each stage, etc. Of special importance is Break Link/Forge Link, as they are the only Actions right now that aren't easily fitting into this new Action design (for reasons that were brought up in this post).

    While we're working on this design talk, I'm going to be working to implement Unit stacking. Once that's done, I should be able to put together a sandbox which should allow us to rapidly iterate on the gamefeel of "defend a Country from a sudden Insurgency."
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    Noice!

    The current state of things is pretty much unchanged from when the con started up. All that I've done is taken the Currency design that we outlined in this thread, and actually implemented it into the game. We'd figured out the basics of Unit stacking and revised Actions, and were in the middle of ironing out particulars before we had to take a break. This was the last big 'ol design post that I made. There's a few back-and-forths after that, then we had to break for contimes. I'd re-read what we had, and get back into the discussion from there.

    As I see it, we are currently looking to establish a framework (no concrete numbers) on what each of our new Actions ought to do. How many stages, what happens at each stage, etc. Of special importance is Break Link/Forge Link, as they are the only Actions right now that aren't easily fitting into this new Action design (for reasons that were brought up in this post).

    While we're working on this design talk, I'm going to be working to implement Unit stacking. Once that's done, I should be able to put together a sandbox which should allow us to rapidly iterate on the gamefeel of "defend a Country from a sudden Insurgency."
    For all that this week got very little done on account of two new games spinning up at once - and game setup is probably the most mentally taxing part of playing a PBP.

    I've started chewing the problem over and will get something serious done next week.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

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    I wanted to talk someone through some art basics so I arted some basics.

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    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

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    So let's get back into this with some rested, worthy thoughts.

    Let's start off with a deep discussion of armies. Get this topic totally nailed down.

    Armies are big, square, blocky pegs that hold down territory. Think of a flathead general - he's big, he's tough, he's uncreative and he wants to get in a fight. They deploy to hold territory, then sit there and get IED' by insurgencies until they're reinforced. Occasionally if the chips land just right two armies will get to deploy all their shiny toys against each other and we get a split-second glimpse of what an actual conflict would look like - think Russia and the US's regular militaries occasionally clashing in Syria - but it never escalates.

    Given how strategy game tactics work, a likely occurrence is that a number of countries will be lightly garrisoned by armies and the player will maintain a roaming 'response force' to apply to crisis spots. This is cool and desirable. Long term deployment leads to entrenchment bonuses but sending in a troop surge or airdropping in the marines is perfectly in theme of emulating modern conflicts.

    As a result here are the sort of things you'll want an army to do:
    - Move quickly to respond to crises
    - Hold territory forever, entrenching deeper and deeper
    - Occasionally fight other regular armies
    - Apply brute-force policekeeping policy, like technology bans

    As a result, it should be possible to specialize an army (somehow) for any of those roles.

    Having just come off playing Star Frontiers, I'm actually curiously perked by the concept that lethality might not need to be that high for armies. This is something that's actually really interesting to me because up until this point I was imagining armies being killable, which turns the game into a big, slow attritional Innovation push. But it's not really the case that the United States fourth army group gets ambushed and wiped out to a man by some guys with AK47s and technicals. In that context, 'defeated' armies might retreat to the homeland due to political considerations making their position in a country untenable.

    This is a pretty interesting concept because it means that if an army is a persistent asset that recovers from injury, rather than a disposable asset, then we create the following things:
    - Ability to train and customize armies for certain roles. Maybe even a simple RPG element where you can outfit armies with specialized gear/training to optimize them for one of the four roles.
    - A strong rubber banding element which allows someone to disastrously lose a region due to a brilliant Schnapps play and then have their recovering armies rush to the new front line before they get pushed all the way back to Cuba.
    - Armies can be correspondingly more expensive, less common, and invested with more personality. Some might be backwater garrison commands but your rapid response force might develop a name and reputation in the player's mind, especially if it organically evolves into the role.
    - Only one army needs/(maybe even can be?) to be deployed in a region, solving a really unintuitive question of how much to invest to 'lock down' an area.

    I think this solves a lot of questions we were tossing around before - how countries of origin and tech interface with armies, scaling cost of increasing army spam, etc. Is there anything you want to add?
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2018-10-23 at 05:59 PM.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    So let's get back into this with some rested, worthy thoughts.

    Let's start off with a deep discussion of armies. Get this topic totally nailed down.

    Armies are big, square, blocky pegs that hold down territory. Think of a flathead general - he's big, he's tough, he's uncreative and he wants to get in a fight. They deploy to hold territory, then sit there and get IED' by insurgencies until they're reinforced. Occasionally if the chips land just right two armies will get to deploy all their shiny toys against each other and we get a split-second glimpse of what an actual conflict would look like - think Russia and the US's regular militaries occasionally clashing in Syria - but it never escalates.

    Given how strategy game tactics work, a likely occurrence is that a number of countries will be lightly garrisoned by armies and the player will maintain a roaming 'response force' to apply to crisis spots. This is cool and desirable. Long term deployment leads to entrenchment bonuses but sending in a troop surge or airdropping in the marines is perfectly in theme of emulating modern conflicts.

    As a result here are the sort of things you'll want an army to do:
    - Move quickly to respond to crises
    - Hold territory forever, entrenching deeper and deeper
    - Occasionally fight other regular armies
    - Apply brute-force policekeeping policy, like technology bans

    As a result, it should be possible to specialize an army (somehow) for any of those roles.
    All of this lines up with our current thinking. Though I'll note that the concept of a roving response force feels like a strategy rather than the strategy. I can see somebody pulling a more evenly garrisoned front line, and shifting units between a few key countries in response to aggression. Not to mention that it's a rare Unit that doesn't want to move faster. I get what you're saying, in that Army Units are critical to holding territory, and for them it's of utmost importance to get to the front lines yesterday, but this may have more to do with general troop movement + giving Armies a few opportunities to move a little quicker.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Having just come off playing Star Frontiers, I'm actually curiously perked by the concept that lethality might not need to be that high for armies. This is something that's actually really interesting to me because up until this point I was imagining armies being killable, which turns the game into a big, slow attritional Innovation push. But it's not really the case that the United States fourth army group gets ambushed and wiped out to a man by some guys with AK47s and technicals. In that context, 'defeated' armies might retreat to the homeland due to political considerations making their position in a country untenable.
    Iiiiiiinteresting. It sounds like you're diving into the results of Unit conflict, and seeing what other end states might be possible. With this idea, I can see two angles we could play:

    1) Insurgencies still boot Armies out of Countries, but rather than killing them they send them back home.

    2) Insurgencies never actually boot out an Army, but rather, they make it so undesirable for them to remain that their player orders them to withdraw home.

    The second idea sounded cool in my head, but the more I think about it the less I actually like it. Not having the ability to physically remove your opponent from a Country feels real real bad. Besides; the first idea gives the defender some interesting choices with their troops. They can stick it out, and hope to hold on until reinforcements arrive, but if things go south then they could have a long hike back to the front lines. Or they can throw in the towel, pack up camp, and set up shop a little ways back. They'd give up ground, but it might net them a better defensive position in the long run.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    This is a pretty interesting concept because it means that if an army is a persistent asset that recovers from injury, rather than a disposable asset, then we create the following things:
    - Ability to train and customize armies for certain roles. Maybe even a simple RPG element where you can outfit armies with specialized gear/training to optimize them for one of the four roles.
    - A strong rubber banding element which allows someone to disastrously lose a region due to a brilliant Schnapps play and then have their recovering armies rush to the new front line before they get pushed all the way back to Cuba.
    - Armies can be correspondingly more expensive, less common, and invested with more personality. Some might be backwater garrison commands but your rapid response force might develop a name and reputation in the player's mind, especially if it organically evolves into the role.
    - Only one army needs/(maybe even can be?) to be deployed in a region, solving a really unintuitive question of how much to invest to 'lock down' an area.

    I think this solves a lot of questions we were tossing around before - how countries of origin and tech interface with armies, scaling cost of increasing army spam, etc. Is there anything you want to add?
    I think you may have gone a little too far here. The Armies you're describing here are a lot more like Civilization units, and not much like Evil Genius henchmen. Making them too individual runs counter to the Unit Stacking designs we were moving towards, both in giving them specialized customization and in dictating that only one Army could/should be Deployed on a Country. (Not to mention the thought of adding in RPG-type equipment for Units makes me instantly nervous. It sounds like it's stepping on the toes of the Technology system.) And while we could pivot to bigger, more impactful and individual Units, I'm not sure what we'd be solving by doing that.

    We already knew how countries of origin and Technology interfaced with Armies; all units have their home Country as the Country they were spawned, and share the Technology that was adopted there. While we hadn't yet ironed out the specifics of Deploy, we had figured that the more Action Points you invested into it, the more entrenched your Armies became, and the harder they were to kill/eject. Deploying more Armies would - presumably - mean that it would take an opponent longer to get rid of them all. Just about the only issue that I don't think we had tackled was that of potential Army spam, and in fairness we don't have much data on that yet. So all things considered, I'm not seeing the need to overhaul what an Army is.

    Could you explain a little more about what questions you were seeking to answer with this design? I think that might help us get back on the same page.
    Last edited by TheAmishPirate; 2018-10-24 at 07:46 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    I think you may have gone a little too far here. The Armies you're describing here are a lot more like Civilization units, and not much like Evil Genius henchmen. Making them too individual runs counter to the Unit Stacking designs we were moving towards, both in giving them specialized customization and in dictating that only one Army could/should be Deployed on a Country. (Not to mention the thought of adding in RPG-type equipment for Units makes me instantly nervous. It sounds like it's stepping on the toes of the Technology system.) And while we could pivot to bigger, more impactful and individual Units, I'm not sure what we'd be solving by doing that.

    We already knew how countries of origin and Technology interfaced with Armies; all units have their home Country as the Country they were spawned, and share the Technology that was adopted there. While we hadn't yet ironed out the specifics of Deploy, we had figured that the more Action Points you invested into it, the more entrenched your Armies became, and the harder they were to kill/eject. Deploying more Armies would - presumably - mean that it would take an opponent longer to get rid of them all. Just about the only issue that I don't think we had tackled was that of potential Army spam, and in fairness we don't have much data on that yet. So all things considered, I'm not seeing the need to overhaul what an Army is.

    Could you explain a little more about what questions you were seeking to answer with this design? I think that might help us get back on the same page.
    The stacking system is what I'm looking to solve. I've never liked it. In Civ4, the core example of this kind of military movement, it's ugly and clunky. Further it makes it really difficult for an inexperienced player to judge what an effective investment in a country is. Do you want to invest 2 armies to secure a country? Three? How can you figure that out without a deep understanding of the game systems?

    It also cuts down hugely on the micro-burden. I don't know if this is a factor in your mind but every single word I say in this design involves me constantly thinking about micro-burden because that makes or breaks a game like this. Many of the most popular and most requested changes to Paradox games aren't ones that redesign features, they're the ones that cut down on the micro burden.

    Say you need three armies to secure a front-line country. That's three clicks to create three armies, three clicks to select them, three clicks to order them to move, three clicks to order them to deploy. Stacking and then moving them is also micro intensive - select a group, click to a province, wait and suffer 'dead time' while they group up, click to send them to a front line, click to deploy. Then you get an advantage and need to shuffle up one country? That might be dozens of clicks. This is the core gameplay. This is what the player will be doing thousands and thousands of times. It doesn't matter if we have a deep and complex strategic level, the core gameplay has to feel smooth and responsive. We want the player to be thinking about making meaningful plays, not going through a hundred small manoeuvres to execute their vision.

    The alternative is fewer, better, more durable armies. Armies that can recover after defeats and have currency invested in them to make them better at their jobs. Upgrading an army directly is two clicks (select army, select upgrade) that last the entire game as opposed to the elaborate manoeuvre of pulling three armies out of one big army group (click, three ctrl-clicks, click, click).

    These revisions are all about micro-burden. Moving stuff around should feel effortless and meaningful and the gameplay has to follow that functionality.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    The stacking system is what I'm looking to solve. I've never liked it. In Civ4, the core example of this kind of military movement, it's ugly and clunky. Further it makes it really difficult for an inexperienced player to judge what an effective investment in a country is. Do you want to invest 2 armies to secure a country? Three? How can you figure that out without a deep understanding of the game systems?
    That was the step in your thinking I was missing from the last post, got it. I see where you're coming from now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    It also cuts down hugely on the micro-burden. I don't know if this is a factor in your mind but every single word I say in this design involves me constantly thinking about micro-burden because that makes or breaks a game like this. Many of the most popular and most requested changes to Paradox games aren't ones that redesign features, they're the ones that cut down on the micro burden.
    It's a factor, but probably not as big as it is in your mind simply because you've got a lot more experience with strategy games than I do, so you're more in tune with this sort of issue. Which is to say that it's something I'm thinking about, but you're likely in a better spot to catch these issues early.


    Okay. So. Now that I know where your'e coming from, here's a few more thoughts:

    0) Now's a good time for me to stop work on implementing Unit Stacking.

    1) Even though other units have the ability to die, I feel like this design is ultimately going to change Executives and Agents in a similar fashion; i.e. they're going to become bigger, more impactful, more individual. They are all three Units, and making them too mechanically distinct introduces a whole new set of problems. While we're not to Executives and Agents just yet, I think we should be keeping them in the back of our minds as we talk about Armies.

    Plus, they share similar micro-burdens, so we're going to want to port over these sorts of changes anyway.

    2) I'm much more in favor of paying for upgrades rather than RPG-style equipment. I'm super in favor of upgrades that are more interesting than "you have +X defense chance." Like, all the upgrades on a particular tier are mutually exclusive, and whichever one you pick gives the Unit some new capabilities. I'm thinking impactful upgrades that push the Unit towards a particular role, both by making them better at one thing and potentially worse at another. We should think about this one carefully, and see if we can't provide some more interesting options that the Technology system can't otherwise provide. Make it so that these systems live in harmony, rather than getting in each other's way.

    3) I still really love the defense decision I laid out in my last post. Sticking around could mean that you heroically hold the line and lose nothing. But if you heck it up, your Armies are gonna have to sprint their way back to the front line to scramble up a defense. Or, you can take the short-term loss, make an ordered retreat, and set up shop at a more defensible location. You lose a little territory, but you prevent what could have been a much more catastrophic loss.

    4) Superweapons can kill Armies. 'Nuff said.

    5) Outputs are not only spawn points, but they are forward positions. Spawning an Army there means that they're always going to be closer to the front line, but you run the risk of outright losing them if the Country gets overrun. Whereas Superpower-spawned Armies are money in the bank, but sometimes you're gonna have take a lonnnnnnnnnng hike to get back in the action. This gives Outputs some of their previous importance - and provides some much-needed texture to the board - without making them absolute necessities like they were in our first pass.

    6) This overall design still feels compatible with our ideas regarding Actions. Rather than Units all stacking up to donate Action Points to a given cause, they can just coexist on the same Country, donating their Action Points to the cause. But since there's going to be less Units overall, it's not that big of an issue anymore. You won't have to manually move this doom squad of twenty Executives around the board just to enact your vision for Influence Links.
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    It's a factor, but probably not as big as it is in your mind simply because you've got a lot more experience with strategy games than I do, so you're more in tune with this sort of issue. Which is to say that it's something I'm thinking about, but you're likely in a better spot to catch these issues early.
    I have IDGAF'd out of more games due to lategame micro tedium than for any other reason. Endless Space is a great example - beautiful game, brilliant design, subtle interplay of innovative and cunning mechanics, but all I remember about actually playing it is stacking ten billion new buildings in a queue with all the emotion of running an excel spreadsheet.

    1) Even though other units have the ability to die, I feel like this design is ultimately going to change Executives and Agents in a similar fashion; i.e. they're going to become bigger, more impactful, more individual. They are all three Units, and making them too mechanically distinct introduces a whole new set of problems. While we're not to Executives and Agents just yet, I think we should be keeping them in the back of our minds as we talk about Armies.
    Yeah, for sure. I think the flow-on effect of this benefits both of those classes immensely because there was a very weird problem of 'I've got like 60 executives and am out of executive-related tasks' problem developing. With the different unit scale you might only want a small handful of Execs the whole game.

    2) I'm much more in favor of paying for upgrades rather than RPG-style equipment. I'm super in favor of upgrades that are more interesting than "you have +X defense chance." Like, all the upgrades on a particular tier are mutually exclusive, and whichever one you pick gives the Unit some new capabilities. I'm thinking impactful upgrades that push the Unit towards a particular role, both by making them better at one thing and potentially worse at another. We should think about this one carefully, and see if we can't provide some more interesting options that the Technology system can't otherwise provide. Make it so that these systems live in harmony, rather than getting in each other's way.
    Yes. I've got a tonne of really strong opinions about what makes a good advancement system but this is absolutely at the bottom of the priority list. Any changes here are fiddly little game balance changes, not core mechanics.

    3) I still really love the defense decision I laid out in my last post. Sticking around could mean that you heroically hold the line and lose nothing. But if you heck it up, your Armies are gonna have to sprint their way back to the front line to scramble up a defense. Or, you can take the short-term loss, make an ordered retreat, and set up shop at a more defensible location. You lose a little territory, but you prevent what could have been a much more catastrophic loss.
    Yes with caveats. Specifically we could create an optimal micro loop where someone wants to pull an army out of a country, retreat it one square, move another army in, deploy, and wait for army #1 to recover its HP before switching them again. This is an example of a tedious zero-decision interaction tax and our design should make sure that's not the case.

    4) Superweapons can kill Armies. 'Nuff said.
    Yeah. And if armies are big expensive perpetual things, that makes one going off a xyber hueg deal.

    5) Outputs are not only spawn points, but they are forward positions. Spawning an Army there means that they're always going to be closer to the front line, but you run the risk of outright losing them if the Country gets overrun. Whereas Superpower-spawned Armies are money in the bank, but sometimes you're gonna have take a lonnnnnnnnnng hike to get back in the action. This gives Outputs some of their previous importance - and provides some much-needed texture to the board - without making them absolute necessities like they were in our first pass.
    Seems good for this stage. Maybe revisit later but it's definitely functional for now.

    6) This overall design still feels compatible with our ideas regarding Actions. Rather than Units all stacking up to donate Action Points to a given cause, they can just coexist on the same Country, donating their Action Points to the cause. But since there's going to be less Units overall, it's not that big of an issue anymore. You won't have to manually move this doom squad of twenty Executives around the board just to enact your vision for Influence Links.
    Exactly. That's what I want to accomplish with this change above all else.

    If we're in congruence here I'll do a similar big vision for another unit type next week.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Yes with caveats. Specifically we could create an optimal micro loop where someone wants to pull an army out of a country, retreat it one square, move another army in, deploy, and wait for army #1 to recover its HP before switching them again. This is an example of a tedious zero-decision interaction tax and our design should make sure that's not the case.
    That's true. Right now, we have no notion of HP anywhere in this game, and I'm inclined to keep it that way for as long as possible.

    Or, rather, it's not the Army who has HP. If there's HP at all, it's more like your Army's position has HP. You've spent all this time, dug yourself in nice and good, and the enemy is seeking to get you out of this entrenched position, not destroy you. This particular Army might be better at holding territory, but that's more to do with how it interfaces with the Deploy action, rather than it having +1,000 HP.

    EDIT: All that is to say, our current designs should prevent this problem outright. If you retreat, you're giving up that entrenched position, and you can't just move back and make the position instantly super-defensible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    If we're in congruence here I'll do a similar big vision for another unit type next week.
    Aye, I'm interested in moving ahead, seeing how this looks for all three Unit types, and then plotting our next steps from there.
    Last edited by TheAmishPirate; 2018-10-25 at 09:22 PM.
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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    Unit Focus: Executives

    An army represents a combination of military and diplomatic power manifest through a formal political alliance. An Executive represents the combined lobbying power of a vast foreign multinational. Perhaps it's just as accurate to think of them as megacorporations proper. They're jetsetting, networking, commercial, and blind to the consequences of their efforts. They're creative forces and map-editing tools but they absolutely can't do any sort of backsies. They fill the world with their piled-up crap at a more rapid rate than other people can clean it up.

    Executives do the following things:

    - Negotiate links
    - Spread technology

    And I think that's actually kind of it.

    Previously we've discussed boosting development being an Exec job but that's way cooler as a factor of technology. I think that breaking a link isn't a thing, I think that you've just got to add new ones, and when a country is capped out then the oldest link breaks. It's only two buttons but spread technology is a cluster of 16 different actions that each have both known and unknown ramifications when dropped on a country. I don't think there needs to be more for the exec than that, especially with scaling effects for different amounts of technology saturation.

    I think that the specialization elements for Execs, if any, are just their corporations getting better at spreading certain kinds of technology (maybe variables for spreading it better in foreign territory etc). PharmaCorp is a vast conglomerate with its hand in everything but it's really good at buffing medical science. As time goes on your megacorps will specialize and differentiate, forming a natural oligarchy where they cease to compete with each other. This is cool and good, this is also totally within the worldview of The Economist - that paper's ideology states that corporations tend towards monopolistic forms and need to be broken up by regulators because otherwise they stagnate their markets. If we're going to buy into any sort of creative destruction churn then it'd be through any RPG elements we include for corps down the line but I don't think we need to think of it now.

    This turned out simpler than I expected but I think that's fine. The complexity for these guys is in the technology system, they're just the vectors by which you engage with that.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

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    Scrambling like heck to get things done before surgery this Friday, so my thoughts are going to be a bit on the shorter side.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Previously we've discussed boosting development being an Exec job but that's way cooler as a factor of technology.
    How do you envision this working? Especially with the randomly distributed nature of Technology?

    I had thought that it might be something where spreading a Technology also raises the Development Level as a side effect, but I'm worried that won't play nice with Africa.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    I think that breaking a link isn't a thing, I think that you've just got to add new ones, and when a country is capped out then the oldest link breaks.
    This is going to have at least two major effects:

    1) The map is significantly more porous. It is impossible to block territory, or indeed reliably keep your own routes open. International Ports are extremely unreliable in this respect. The old strategy of carefully crafting your links and managing your border is gone, replaced with something else. Won't know exactly what unless we play with it, but it strikes me as a much more slapdash "whatever Links are best for me right now" game, with no real blocking potential.

    2) I am afraid that Players are going to routinely remove the oldest Influence Link by accident, and throw all their logistics into chaos because they didn't know which Link was going to break/that the Country's Influence Link limit had dropped since last they checked/they blindly mashed "Accept" and didn't read the warning prompt carefully. I'm afraid this is going to be a question of how often this happens, rather than if it ever happens.

    What's more, we still have the problem of Forge Link being a binary action in a world full of Actions with Stages. It's still the odd man out there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    I think that the specialization elements for Execs, if any, are just their corporations getting better at spreading certain kinds of technology (maybe variables for spreading it better in foreign territory etc). PharmaCorp is a vast conglomerate with its hand in everything but it's really good at buffing medical science. As time goes on your megacorps will specialize and differentiate, forming a natural oligarchy where they cease to compete with each other. This is cool and good, this is also totally within the worldview of The Economist - that paper's ideology states that corporations tend towards monopolistic forms and need to be broken up by regulators because otherwise they stagnate their markets. If we're going to buy into any sort of creative destruction churn then it'd be through any RPG elements we include for corps down the line but I don't think we need to think of it now.
    I do think that if one Unit has specialization/Upgrades, then all Units ought to have them if we can swing it. Though keeping in mind that all non-Army Units are much more expendable/killable.

    I see a potential issue in tying upgrades to specific Technologies, due to their randomly generated nature. With an Army, you can immediately make some tactical decisions about what you want this Army to be better at. Depending on where you are in the game, it could be difficult to tell which Technology you actually want to focus in on. Or you can hit a situation where - through no fault of your own, just a bad gamble - all your upgrades are worthless because this Technology turned out to be/was sabotaged into being a stinker, and now you can't really do much useful with these Units. There's some risks you take in this game, but that feels like a bad one.
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    This is going to have at least two major effects:

    1) The map is significantly more porous. It is impossible to block territory, or indeed reliably keep your own routes open. International Ports are extremely unreliable in this respect. The old strategy of carefully crafting your links and managing your border is gone, replaced with something else. Won't know exactly what unless we play with it, but it strikes me as a much more slapdash "whatever Links are best for me right now" game, with no real blocking potential.

    2) I am afraid that Players are going to routinely remove the oldest Influence Link by accident, and throw all their logistics into chaos because they didn't know which Link was going to break/that the Country's Influence Link limit had dropped since last they checked/they blindly mashed "Accept" and didn't read the warning prompt carefully. I'm afraid this is going to be a question of how often this happens, rather than if it ever happens.
    Oh, yeah, you've got a crazy good point here. I think that mandates a break link action. I didn't think that through nearly well enough.

    What's more, we still have the problem of Forge Link being a binary action in a world full of Actions with Stages. It's still the odd man out there.
    Ooo, I got this. In the modern world there are allies like the United Kingdom and then there are allies like Pakistan. There's scope for links being multi-stage.

    The first level represents a security treaty/WTO trading accords. This just allows movement and nothing else, what we've got so far.

    The second level is a dedicated trade agreement that allows both ends to start accumulating Development over time. We're referring to globalisation ideology for this game's design foundations, and it's a given that countries do not gain wealth by isolating themselves. Countries only gain wealth through international trade. So the best way to reflect that is rather than development being something units do one country at a time through some sort of, fuggin, willpowering themselves to economic prosperity North Korea style.

    The third level should be a thing because we've done a bunch of 3-level stuff. I think maybe just a bigger development number and also a tech spread effect.

    Boom. Great. This is a really interesting piece of design we've been missing. Breaking links is like organizing financial sanctions or embargoes, which is a weapon that impoverishes a country. It's easy to visually represent by the lines getting progressively thicc'er as the web meshes tighter. It means that a crisis in Greece can emergently crash the economy in Germany which shockwaves throughout your elaborate tightly integrated financial markets. It's all here.

    (Notably Development naturally degrades over time, which is outweighed by the positive flows from strong links)

    I do think that if one Unit has specialization/Upgrades, then all Units ought to have them if we can swing it. Though keeping in mind that all non-Army Units are much more expendable/killable.

    I see a potential issue in tying upgrades to specific Technologies, due to their randomly generated nature. With an Army, you can immediately make some tactical decisions about what you want this Army to be better at. Depending on where you are in the game, it could be difficult to tell which Technology you actually want to focus in on. Or you can hit a situation where - through no fault of your own, just a bad gamble - all your upgrades are worthless because this Technology turned out to be/was sabotaged into being a stinker, and now you can't really do much useful with these Units. There's some risks you take in this game, but that feels like a bad one.
    Hmm, yeah. But upgrades are always a totally vestigial polish thing, not core gameplay. They're a way for a player to tweak numbers on the fly to build a strategy. As a result we should come back to it when we've got the mechanic down solid and ask 'what do I do a lot of that I'd like to be marginally better at?'
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2018-10-30 at 09:35 PM.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Ooo, I got this. In the modern world there are allies like the United Kingdom and then there are allies like Pakistan. There's scope for links being multi-stage.

    The first level represents a security treaty/WTO trading accords. This just allows movement and nothing else, what we've got so far.

    The second level is a dedicated trade agreement that allows both ends to start accumulating Development over time. We're referring to globalisation ideology for this game's design foundations, and it's a given that countries do not gain wealth by isolating themselves. Countries only gain wealth through international trade. So the best way to reflect that is rather than development being something units do one country at a time through some sort of, fuggin, willpowering themselves to economic prosperity North Korea style.

    The third level should be a thing because we've done a bunch of 3-level stuff. I think maybe just a bigger development number and also a tech spread effect.

    Boom. Great. This is a really interesting piece of design we've been missing. Breaking links is like organizing financial sanctions or embargoes, which is a weapon that impoverishes a country. It's easy to visually represent by the lines getting progressively thicc'er as the web meshes tighter. It means that a crisis in Greece can emergently crash the economy in Germany which shockwaves throughout your elaborate tightly integrated financial markets. It's all here.
    Boom! Stages make everything better!

    Now we just need to phrase this in terms of the way that Units perform Actions. Since, in this case, presumably the Influence Link persists even after your Executive stops the Forge Link Action, unlike an Insurrection which will stop when all of your Agents bail. Maybe this is a slightly more edge case, where Executives are either adding or removing Action Points from the Influence Link itself, and the Link has to reach a certain threshold before it solidifies as a Tier 1 Influence Link. And then it has to get brought back down to 0 before it breaks. Or something.

    What do you think? We need some way to make this Influence Link design mesh with the current Action design. And I'm on my way to bed as we speak, so I'm not in the best place to crack this particular code.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    (Notably Development naturally degrades over time, which is outweighed by the positive flows from strong links)
    And warfare/Insurrection can drag down the Development level even further.

    ...which, hey, that'd be a nasty idea for high-Stage Insurrection. Degradation of Influence Links as the rest of your allies get increasingly antsy about this whole military situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Hmm, yeah. But upgrades are always a totally vestigial polish thing, not core gameplay. They're a way for a player to tweak numbers on the fly to build a strategy. As a result we should come back to it when we've got the mechanic down solid and ask 'what do I do a lot of that I'd like to be marginally better at?'
    That's a really good point. Armies were nice and simple and it's easy to see how they might be tweaked before we've seen them in action. Executives are a little more tricky, and are going to need some experimentation first.
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    Boom! Stages make everything better!

    Now we just need to phrase this in terms of the way that Units perform Actions. Since, in this case, presumably the Influence Link persists even after your Executive stops the Forge Link Action, unlike an Insurrection which will stop when all of your Agents bail. Maybe this is a slightly more edge case, where Executives are either adding or removing Action Points from the Influence Link itself, and the Link has to reach a certain threshold before it solidifies as a Tier 1 Influence Link. And then it has to get brought back down to 0 before it breaks. Or something.

    What do you think? We need some way to make this Influence Link design mesh with the current Action design. And I'm on my way to bed as we speak, so I'm not in the best place to crack this particular code.
    Concept: Natural resting point

    All actions - links, deployments, insurgencies - naturally trend towards a certain resting point or NRP. In the absence of any other factors they will slowly drift in that direction - trade treaties run their course, insurgencies peter out, armies deploy as well as they can possibly deploy, etc.

    There are a bunch of actions and technologies that push against the NRP. If insurgency is a scale from 0 (peace) 1 (unrest) 2 (insurgency) and 3 (civil war), then a trait like the Graveyard of Empires permanent insurgency could just put the NRP for a country at 1 rather than 0. When the agent stops flooding money and guns into a civil war situation then the thing will eventually peter off, especially if an army deploys and starts peacekeeping operations to push down on the conflict that remains, but it doesn't just stop overnight. How quickly the number moves towards its NRP is primarily a factor of technology, so the overlay will provide the player a (known information) assessment of a country's NRP - this insurgency NRPs towards zero, for example - but only a vague timeframe as to how long it'll take to get there ('we can't pull out, we've invested so much in stabilizing the country that surely victory is around the corner any day now').

    The NRP of any technology is the highest level that technology ever reached in the country. If a technology gets to rank 2 and then is suppressed down to 0 then it's NRP is 2, so when the suppressing stops it'll drift back up towards to the 2 on the grounds that you can't un-invent things, only police them.

    And warfare/Insurrection can drag down the Development level even further.

    ...which, hey, that'd be a nasty idea for high-Stage Insurrection. Degradation of Influence Links as the rest of your allies get increasingly antsy about this whole military situation.
    Fo sho.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

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    TWO TIME ACT INFINITY TOURNAMENT FIRST PLACE CHAMPION

    UNDEFEATED* AND UNDEFEATABLE**

    Glory to PanOceania.

    * one game today was the bloodiest slugfest imaginable which ended with two whimpering foot soldiers cowering behind corners on my side, two cowering and exhausted troops and a baggage robot on his side, and the all the objectives lying unclaimed in the open atop a heap of corpses. 0-0 draw. Technically undefeated!

    ** Also accepted are 'invincible' and 'unsinkable'.
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2018-11-03 at 03:42 AM.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

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