Design Question

Hi,

I’ve read what I can and I see that supply is a finite quantity that acts as a defacto game timer. The obvious question here is why wouldn’t I max out building units as quickly as possibly to rush my opponents given that it appears that I’ll end up with the same number of unit equivalents whether I build them fast or slow?

There appears to be a progression tree of buildings that, once in place, allows the construction of better units but unless they are way overpowered compared to the early units, to obtain them I’m going to have to chew through my finite supply to build the required infrastructure needed which may not be a winning plan vs a cheap early build rush strategy.

I’m sure this has been well thought out and that there’s an interesting decision space to be had here, it’s just not easy to see from the outside looking in.

Also, once I’ve built units can I spray them around the map in all directions or are there any limitations imposed by virtue of supply lines or command and control, for example?

Cheers,
Plugger

1 Like

Hey @plugger! Thanks for the question! I totally hear you on the idea of being on the outside looking in and am definitely happy to share what we’re thinking. It’s worth saying up front that this sort of thing is an ongoing design question - we definitely know this sort of supply/infrastructure system is the way the game will operate, but identifying where it falls apart and how to fix it will definitely be a lot of the “work” of making the actual game. In fact I would go as far to say that what you brought up is THE question.

Later units are definitely stronger than earlier units, so units built later will likely be able to more easily take down early units. However, another thing to keep in mind is that building units themselves require AP, so not only are you draining your supply with a rush strategy, but you’re also draining your pool of actions you can take in a given turn. This is less important in the late game, but in the early game, when your CO doesn’t have a ton of AP, building a lot of units will give you a lot of units but you won’t have the ability to simply attack with all of them every turn due to AP constraints. Until your CO levels up, you may only be able to attack with four units, even if you built 20.

On the other end, we also want players to have some of their own tools to fight off not only rushes, but other attempts to attack core infrastructure. We’re really interested in things like stationary buildings/units that connect to the supply network but have the ability to attack. If you’re really concerned about a rush, it’s possible you could build defensive structures.

But again, right now we’re not super sure how this will shake out! We’re still setting everything up and so far it seems to be working well, but know that when more players get their hands on the game we may have to adjust.

To your last question about what happens to a built unit, I’m not totally sure what you’re asking, but if you’re asking if a unit can move anywhere on the map once built, yes! We’re thinking about fuel systems but nothing is implemented yet, so theoretically once you build a unit it’s on the map until it gets destroyed!

Hi Kye,

Thanks for the detailed reply. I get the point you’re making.

I also read that you’re enforcing minimum distances between buildings (good idea) which would result in a reasonably spread out infrastructure.

Without knowing any details of the mechanics, in general, I’d see that as an opportunity to rush a small group of fast, light units in to enemy territory, find the infrastructure, split up and target it.

Avoid enemy units where possible and focus on hit and run on the buildings. If nothing else I’m going to force my opponent to spend a lot of AP attempting to defend their infrastructure which is geographically spread out. Given the apparent networked nature of the infrastructure I have the ability to take out key buildings that would provide an outsized benefit in slowing down my opponent.

If I started with 4 AP then I’d use, once in contact, 3 of them for harrassment and 1 for my own development. Provided I was mobile and spread out, I’d may well force my opponent into spending most of their AP into reacting and defending. I could even pull my units back a way’s for a few turns and go all out development while my opponent is chasing shadows.

This may well be null and void given specific game mechanics but a general, early rush, guerilla approach to attacking a spread out, vulnerable, infrastructure would be a fairly obvious approach.

Balancing the ability of a player to use something along those lines vs giving their opponent tools to counter it may be a challenge. If you constrained one strategy at the expense of another you’d end up with player’s herding towards the dominant strategy.

You’ve got three factions in the game, perhaps some asymmetry here that allows a faction to favour certain strategies at the expense of others? Probably going to have to do this anyway otherwise you’d end up with straight rock, paper, scissors and generic factions.

Sounds like you’ve already given all this a lot of thought but you’ve got a few interesting ingredients in the mix that other strategy games don’t that make it intriguing.

The finite pool of supply being the main one but also the reliance on a geographically diverse vulnerable infrastructure and the commander limited AP turn pool. Being able to stir that pot of curly ingredients and cook up a reasonable sized strategy/decision space for players to operate within sounds like fun.

Cheers,
Plugger

I definitely feel this point and honestly think it’s something even games like Starcraft 2 struggle with. It’s very easy to cheese a rush strategy but generally very hard to respond to it. From a mechanics point of view, this is definitely an area where I think adding a notion of Fuel/Ammo to units could be useful, constraining them to only do so much damage or travel so far until needing to resupply back at their supply network.

Conceptually and thematically I like that idea but am not sure if it’s something that people would want in the game? I’m definitely wary of just tacking systems on into the game until I feel like I need to, but this one is definitely on the short list of “stuff that may get implemented if strategy dictates it”.

I think, with or without this, ideally we can give players tools to respond to some sort of rush strategy, such that the game just isn’t over if an enemy starts attacking you as soon as possible. This is also where some environmental factors may come in, but I don’t want to count on randomness to take out a rushing player.

This is definitely already planned to be the case, with some factions being better suited to rushes than others. Aliens for example are much lighter and attack a bit harder, but are very weak. Robots, on the opposite end, are heavier (can’t go through as much terrain) and slower. Rushing with either of these would definitely dictate different tactics, that then both may have their own counter.

That’s definitely the hope! Glad you’re into it :slight_smile:

Hi Kyle,

Thanks for the reply. I don’t want to spam you with questions but here’s a couple more for when you get a chance. No rush.

Victory is defined by capturing the enemy HQ which is the base building of your networked infrastructure?

Commander AP restricts your ability to only being able to move an equivalent number of units (or construct buildings). You mentioned it starts at 4 AP and gradually ramps up. I read elsewhere that you’ll end up with around 100+ units on the map which would indicate a fair increase in AP. What mechanic increases your AP?

Am I correct in assuming that there is no other sources of supply other than the stockpile you’re given at the start?

Cheers,
Plugger

1 Like

I’ve spent more than a few years working on this game mostly alone so I’m always happy to answer questions because it means other people besides me are interested :slight_smile:

Victory happens in two ways right now: the first is that your enemy blows up your base node, which is where all your supply come from. This may definitely change due to other happenings and learnings of the game, but right now it makes for an easy-to-convey objective. The second is a region capture, which is very similar to a conquest mode in a game like battlefield. Basically there are regions on the map worth some score, and the longer you hold them you get more VP added to your total. Once you cross a threshold you’ll win that way.

Commander AP increases as they level up over the course of a match. This happens through taking actions on the map like attack/building, as well as other more narrative-y stuff scattered around on a map. The exact number of starting AP is very TBD, and not every match needs to enforce the same starting amount. Especially in the course of the main campaign, I could see the first chapter/campaign having a CO start with 10 AP, and then in the last campaign, a CO starting with 50 AP. So it’s the sort of thing that will hopefully scale both with narrative but also how “comfortable” a player is hopefully with systems later on. AP is also not 1-to-1 for actions - some units may require more AP to move than others, others more to attack, etc.

The question of additional supply is actually a really popular one! Right now, yes you only have what you start with. But over time I’ve definitely been leaning towards having things to discover on the map (both in the main campaign and skirmishes) that can increase your supply resources. This would also incentivize players to explore who may not be trying for a region victory.

Fair enough! I’ll keep going then.

If territory is a win condition would you, eg. the Player, have any means of holding territory such as defensive infrastructure? If so would that be standalone or would I have to expand my infrastructure network in order to do so?

If there was new sources of supply to be found on the map would they simply add to your supply pool (a bit cheesey perhaps) or would you have gained another ‘root’ node that you then have to build up infrastructure around (out in no man’s land) in order to exploit?

Is there any mechanic to counter me building up a solid offensive force of units and moving them more or less as a contiguous blob, a-la-the-stack-of-doom, into enemy territory and steamrolling through any defences?

If you’re not already aware of it there is an older game called “Armageddon Empires” that is roughly in the same design space as you appear to be. Different mechanics but the issues it dealt with were, by what I can see of Cantata, similar (turn based, asymmetrical factions, alien planet, FOW and recon a big deal, heavy focus on limited supply and resources, need to build-up vulnerable infrastructure, finite pool of units, etc.)

Armaggedon Empires

Cheers,
Plugger

hey @plugger! sorry for the delay :slight_smile: but I’m back to answer some of your questions! first off, armageddon empires looks really interesting, I’m definitely going to check it out because I’ve legitimately never heard of it.

Any means of holding territory such as defensive infrastructure? If so would that be standalone or would I have to expand my infrastructure network in order to do so?

This exists but yes it would be (mostly) part of the supply network. We want some interactables to have supply projects that allow you to attack with big attacks. However, we’ve also thought that it would be cool if single “defensive” buildings can essentially build turrets around themselves by having the ability to build immobile interactables. So you would be able to build the single inital building and then over time build more defense around the building.

If there was new sources of supply to be found on the map would they simply add to your supply pool (a bit cheesey perhaps) or would you have gained another ‘root’ node that you then have to build up infrastructure around (out in no man’s land) in order to exploit?

This is a great question and I feel like you really understand the game :slight_smile: Right now, when considering getting additional supply, the answer is that it all goes to the main pool (and gives you one more base that you can fall back on if your main base is destroyed). The game was actually initially built such that supply pulled from the base node itself, but when I thought about maps with more than one base node it became way too complicated from the player’s perspective on how to judge which base was actually giving something supply a building was connected to both nodes. In the case where you get a new node though in no man’s land, yes it becomes a spot where you can essentially build up from, using the supply you still have left. It’s also worth saying this is all points of conjecture instead of fact right now! Would love to hear if you have other ideas.

Is there any mechanic to counter me building up a solid offensive force of units and moving them more or less as a contiguous blob, a-la-the-stack-of-doom, into enemy territory and steamrolling through any defences?

Nothing would stop you from trying to do that (and if done well it feels like it should be successful), but I defer back to talking about AP as a mitigating factor to kind of slow you down. Yes you could march a whole force across the map, but by the time you get there your opponent may likely have built up a stronger base than your initial force is able to take out.

Hi Kyle,

I’m happy to toss a few ideas around but don’t want to overload you. Feel free to answer whenever the mood takes you.

This is interesting. Taking a big picture view, if strategy revolves around both sides building up and gradually expanding you may end up with a fairly predicatible game arc.

If the primary focus of the game was Multiplayer then perhaps that is a good thing as it’d place a premium on the individual player’s skill vs anothers.

On the other hand if you were positioning the game as a SP experience you run a risk of having a predictable, grindy, repetitive game experience.

Armageddon Empires tackled this by providing 3 or 4 ways where a game could end early. One example is that the map generator could, on occasion, place a wrecked Submarine (in the dried up, apocalyptic desert) somewhere. It was possible for an enemy faction to stumble over this, retrieve a Polaris missle (nastiest weapon in the game), find your base and nuke you out of existence before you really got started (if you weren’t prepared for it).

It only happened rarely, but it made a big difference to the replayability of the game. It’s something that you remembered and it shook up the standard set of strategies that you tended develop, and stick with, for the game. The unpredictability of the early nuke and a few other, out there events/strategies, even though they weren’t regular occurences, had you thinking about all kinds of alternative approaches, kept the game fresh and and gave it a real edge.

The guy who made the game used horribly out-of-date tech, even for back then, but it sold in big numbers 'cause of the gameplay.

So I’m not sure where your prime focus is, either MP or SP, but what’s going to be good for one probably isn’t going to be ideal for the other.

Cheers,
Plugger