After much anticipation, I’ve finally got a new development progress report for you to check out! Click below to watch:
Clocking in at nearly an hour long, it’s a REAL doozy. But it’s worth it, I promise. It’s the deepest sustained look at the game, and a big deep dive into a lot of what makes Cantata Cantata. I spend time walking through all the new UI changes and their ramifications on gameplay, talk about features like Build Queues and Repeaters, and so, so, SO MUCH MORE.
Really interested to hear what you think about the game, so please let me know below, or on the Twitter/Discord, what you like!
Good video. A fun and enjoyable intro with the musical buildup. The cleaner UI is looking good.
Here’s some feedback.
Your global supply indicator, eg. 600 (-2) is kind of hard to get a feel for in terms of what impact it has and where you are. A suggestion might be to turn it into a bar so that you can see that you’re, for example, half way through your allocation and a mouseover would give you a breakdown of the numbers?
The terrain weight info appears in a fair number of UI elements. Does the game allow for multiple units/bases in the same tile? If not, maybe it could be simplified a bit - only show it when you are in Build mode, for example?
The improved tooltips are really good. Another small suggestion would be to have a small info/help icon in key UI places that gives the player a ‘How-to-do-this?’ type of tooltip which is different to your current suite of tooltips that mostly focused on providing information on what’s actually happening as opposed to how do I make this happen?
How to do stuff is covered by your tutorial but it’d probably enhance your accessibility to have some similar information scattered around in key UI places.
The ‘ALT’ current status display is great. Clean and effective.
You’ve added a bunch of map-centric UI stuff to assist with placing new buildings and moving units. These are good, but, as you’ve already highlighted, there is so much happening at once that the map is starting to look like disco central. Sounds like you are aware of it. Maybe greyscale everything on the map that isn’t relevant to the current action as you mouse around?
I think the solve here is to, sort of like what I did with supply at the unit level, to surface the “turns until depleted” number at the top level of supply, because you’re right that right now the number doesn’t really “matter”, what matters is when you’ll run out. That said, the number is broken down in the tooltip, see this part in the video (at 10:41):
Multiple things can’t occupy the same tile, but the current capacity of a given tile is important as it dictates if a something is able to move through that tile. This means that you can setup heavier units to block off movement in chokepoints on maps, or slip through a large enemy unit with a really “light” scouting patrol.
Do you mean stuff like what some of the tooltips have where it says “Click to do X?” or something else? I also edited it out, but I want to do nested tooltips and the game is setup to do it. Ideally the “top level” tooltip is pretty simple, but you can mouse over stuff to get more information about “key vocabulary” like Infrastructure, AP, etc.
Thank you! I need to work on making them not really overlap, but that’s probably the lowest priority right now haha.
Grayscale is actually a really interesting idea. Yeah right now a given item is really information rich, but when all those rich displays pop up at the same time it’s a total mess. I need to mess around with dimming an such as well as trying to combine views and maybe make parts of the display optional, but I’m not sure. I’m hoping that with a bit of time I’ll see what actually matters and be able to just remove elements from that view.
The supply tooltip is excellent. The ‘Turns until depleted’ might work.
I didn’t realise that ‘weight’ also worked to block units. That’s a neat mechanic.
The tooltips I was thinking about were along the lines of 'how to a build something / how to I link factories, etc. All the stuff that was covered in the tutorial. Not everybody would do the tutorial and not everybody who did would remember it.
You explained how repeaters worked in the video and how you might want them to push your production closer to the front line. The repeaters are a nice touch but, as things stand at present, I’d have every incentive to keep my production turtled up in a tight ball protected by a ring of defensive bases.
The gain in movement from pushing my production forward would be seriously offset by how much more vulnerable my factories would be spacially spread out and unable to benefit from a tight, interlinked, defensive perimeter.
If I can pick off your exposed factories while maintaining my full production base in a defensive huddle then I’d imagine that I’m going to win most games.
If you want to encourage players to spread out, which you probably do (everybody turtling isn’t going to be much fun), you may need to give them a reason other than what’s there at present.
I also think this would be one of those things that’s configurable in a menu? Like you can basically change if you can see it or not. Idk!
I actually had this in the video but cut it out for length (lol) — I want to add in nested tooltips like At the Gates or Old World where you can basically hold a modifer key and mouse over a highlighted word in the tooltip, and get information about what that thing is. I’d also like to have what Total War Three Kingdoms has where it fades in more tooltip info if you hover on something longer.
Basically right now all tooltip info exists at the top level — what I’d like is for there to be 2-3 other “levels” to show info at, which I think would solve for your case? How does this sound?
So a few things here I think would address this strategy as not the only strategy, though still a good one!
Infrastructure Placement Limitations - you can see this a bit in the video, but basically any placeable interactable (aka Infrastructure) has a range around it in which it cannot be overlapping with another infrastructure. This means you’ll essentially always run out of space in a starting area to place stuff, and necessarily have to expand beyond the range of your starting base node.
Conquest Victory - It’s not in the game yet, but many campaign maps (and multiplayer maps) in Cantata will have, in addition to some victory objectives, a “conquest” victory condition similar to Company of Heroes or Battlefield. This means that, if you only turtle and don’t expand, your opponent(s) will be capturing territory that is giving them points towards victory, and unless you expand to achieve a different victory condition you’ll likely lose.
Supply Availability - This sort of dovetails with Conquest, but we’re currently playing with the idea that the amount of actual supply you start out with is much lower than what the AlphaDemo or Tutorial map would lead you to believe. When you find new Regions (what you capture for Conquest), there will be some way that that discovery, or something inside of it, is able to give you more global supply. This means that unless you expand, you’ll literally run out of supply to do stuff with before the end of the game, putting you at a huge disadvantage.
Infra reinforcement - Something that will definitely be in is that some buildings, like repeaters, will have (for some factions) the ability to build their own reinforcements as supply projects. So if you build a repeater out in the wilderness or whatever, you can have that repeater, using its incoming supply, build something like a stationary turret around itself. Think of it like building a mini-base. Those repeaters then could use those turrets to attack. They won’t be overly strong and are no replacement for a proper attacking unit, but they can fend off some things.
Nested tooltips would be great. It’s a pity Jon Schafer didn’t finish At the Gates as it had a lot of good ideas.
With regards to the strategy I’m only going on the short intro scenario that I played 3 times. I figured that if I turtled my production in the corner and closed off the way in with a tight line of those MG turrets then I’d be miles ahead of somebody who went with a dispersed, repeater-centric, production approach.
It wouldn’t matter if he could protect his spread out facilities with the odd turret or two as I’d overwhelm them easily whereas he’d be forced to deal with, say, half a dozen turrets with overlapping fire zones in addition to my reinforcements which would be deployed right where I need them. There’s a basic Offensive / Defensive force mismatch there that would work in my favour.
With regards your suggestions…
Infrastructure placement limits - I don’t know that this would solve anything provided I can find a secure corner on the map that I could close off with a defensive perimeter. Maybe you could really crank up the minimum distances but that would run into issues of playability as you’d need to scroll around a lot to see what was going on.
Conquest Victory - I’ve haven’t explained myself properly here. The turtling I’m talking about would be for my production only which would give me a secure foundation from which to push outwards with units. If I’m going to be able to attrit the enemies production, while maintaining mine at full throttle, as I push outwards then I may well have the advantage. I may even rapidly push units forward early on but, either way, I’d turtle my production to ensure it was safe and would continue pumping out units.
Suppy Availability - that could work. If I was forced to expand to gain more supply AND if I could only use that supply if I had some kind of facility there connected back to the main production operation then I’m going to have to follow a dispersed facility strategy. If everybody was doing that it would make the game a lot more dynamic and give you reasons to take and hold territory other than just for VP’s.
Infra reinforcements - Don’t know about this one. I sit still for a bit and crank out half a dozen Walkers, or even decent Drones, then move them forward as a group. That repeater is going to be toast and I’ve now got an ongoing production edge.
Anyway, a few thoughts that may spark ideas, or not. I’m sure you’ll figure out something that’ll work for your vision of the game.
It’s released! And still getting updated as of June! It ended up not clicking with me as much as I would have hoped, but the road to making indie strategy games is long so I respect the hustle anyone puts towards it.
Oh yeah for that included map 100% it’s a better strategy, assuming there was another playing in there going against you but also facing the same ringer of turrets.
I think there will definitely be a point in every game where players basically do exactly this - they stop trying to push for expansion and instead start reinforcing what territory they’ve taken so far. When this actually happens I think is up for grabs - some people that like to turtle may do it earlier, and people who are more expansion centric will do it later, obviously at the risk of making themselves more vulnerable to flanking.
Ah I see what you mean here. I think this will definitely come to faction/unit balance because what you’re talking about could go either way. If the person you’re fighting against has indeed spread out a lot, but has done so tactically where factories and such are in choke points, your attacks might always have to play in unfair tactical scenarios from your perspective. Also if you do lose a unit, you potentially suffer a greater penalty for a battle because you now have to talk all the way back across the map to reinforce, and they may literally have a factory nearby to reinforce any losses they have.
Another thing here though is that I’m considering that regions are only captured if you’ve built on them with infrastructure vs. just walking into them. Or maybe infrastructure gives far more points? Not sure yet honestly.
I’m glad this idea sounds appealing to you as well. I don’t want to try to undercut any turtle strategy, but like you said I don’t want it to be the only strategy. I’m trying to figure out how the supply here would “come back” to the player. Maybe it’s little gathering resource nodes? Maybe you have to build on something? Not sure.
Oh yeah for sure. They wouldn’t be enough to be their own army, but more as a way to handle light harassment from an enemy or the environment. Kind of like that little beam or something I think the Terran get in Starcraft 2 at their base? Or like how in Age of Mythology you can momentarily turn all your workers into weak fighters.