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Influence Replacement

Posted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:32 pm
by Hercanic
I must admit, the current Influence model doesn't favor Humans in team games. I am attempting to think up a different idea that makes use of oil in a unique, race-specific way. Before I submit some of those ideas, I'd like to open the floor to hear any ideas you have. Or, if not complete ideas, just rough concepts you'd like oil to emphasize, based on the Human's gameplay.

Re: Influence Replacement

Posted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:53 pm
by aiurz
I was at work today thinking about this.

When I first played STF (version 242) I had a lot of fun with it.  I had a lot more fun with 242 than I did with the new version that's out now.  This could be for a number of reasons, like I was worse at bw and you could play vs. the computer which smashed me a bunch of times, or because there was a lot more people who played the mod or the forums were more active or something, but I think that the biggest reason is that the new game isn't as fun as 242 was. 

I started to think about why this new one wasn't as fun as the old one.  I don't really think that it's the units, because for the most part the units have stayed intact.  Some of them got cool fixes, like the hwguy who doesn't get abused the shit out of by scouts, and some of them got not so cool fixes like the scout who had his balls chopped off and can't kill hwguys anymore.  The new (revised) units are pretty cool, I guess.  I don't really think that's my problem with the mod, or what makes it not as fun.

When I started playing 242, I got crushed pretty regularly by the computer.  I started thinking of ways to survive the first attacks or whatever and it alluded me for a really long time, before I was able to get my shit together.  This was a big contribution to the fun of it at first, because I wasn't just shadowboxing so it gave me something to play around with while still having something on the other side at least trying to provide a challenge.  But I don't think that this is really the case, because after I figured out how to survive that attack, I started doing a lot of different kinds of builds to fight vs. the computer and didn't really ever lose to it after that.  I started to basically do what I do in STF now with the shadow builds and playing against myself in my head.  Before I even logged into bnet to play online with the people on the old forum, I had come up with a number of builds that countered the builds that I thought everybody would be using (the ones from Phreaks RWAs etc.) and I had come up with builds that would counter my own builds.  It wasn't the computer because even after the computer didn't pose a threat there was a pretty big window of time that I spent just playing vs. myself and playing shadow games or little micro maps where I was having fun.

It wasn't the other players that made it fun either (although it did help out a lot).  When I played my first game I beat the other guy pretty handily (he went for a delayed gas assault build that I had thought about using on smaller maps and I killed him with my first couple scouts) and after a couple games of me dismantling everyone using scouts it was pretty apparent to me that none of the players that were online or playing regularly had too much of a chance vs. me so I started soft-playing sort of like how I did vs. the computer.  Winning all the time isn't really all that much more fun vs. humans than it is computers, and soft-playing (at least for me) gets really boring really fast.  I never really got to play that much with Phreak or any of the other players that were really good (I think I went 1-2 vs. Phreak when we did play, although playing him pretty much confirmed what I assumed: that he was better at unit composition and control but my builds were [in my opinion] stronger) so there was really never much competition for me to have fun with. 

What really made 242 more fun than this new version is the economy.  There's no way to get around it.  I guess the idea is kind of cool, there might be some merit to it, but in its current implementation it basically sucks all of the fun out of playing the game.  I mean, it's a cool idea and I think it's a good showcase of new things that are possible in modding, but jesus I'm being serious when I say that it sucks the fun out of the game. 

I started to look at it and try and break it down, and I think what it starts to come down to is that with this system, you are, in effect, creating so many different resources that it gets overwhelming and tedious to play.  First you have cash, which you get from building sweatshops and loading them with workers.  Then you have influence which you get from building oil refineries and loading them with workers.  Then you have supply that gets eaten up super duper quickly because fac units take 5 supply and a territory claim gives you 5 supply.  Then you have building space, which gets eaten up really quickly because A. all the buildings have to be far away from each other and B. you have to play invisible tetris with your base because the buildings are so small and you can't visually see the space they actually take up.  Then you start to throw in even more complex resources, because in a sort of way your fac units because a sort of resource because their cost begins to scale up.  Building time becomes a resource because you will stay on your first CC so long and you build every unit from it.  Unit space inside of buildings becomes a resource, because once they are full an additional worker means nothing, and you have to spend a ton of minerals to build a new one (imagine having to spend 200 minerals on every 4th SCV, etc).  Engineers become a resource because you have to divert production time from your army to build them.  Attention becomes a resource because you have to constantly build buildings. 

Not only that, since you can't really boost your economy while building an army things tend to stagnate and the games momentum sort of stutters.  The resources are, generally, very restrictive in the same sort of way that gas tends to be the restricting thing in bw.  The big difference in power between a 1 base protoss and a 2 base protoss in bw is the fact that the protoss gets the extra gas.  The power scales according to a single resource, while the other resource (minerals) tends to be more abundant. 

What if we take out some of the restrictiveness of the resources?  For example, I toyed with in my head the prospect of (while adjusting all the costs etc.) re-introducing mining for humans in that they will mine minerals (call it whatever you want).  For gas (the limiting resource) you can give them the same sort of mechanic that they have now, where they need to build oil refineries.  IIRC you wanted to make it so everything morphs from a territory claim, which would still work in this mining version because you would be building a bunch of territory claims since you will have a lot of minerals and morphing them into oil refineries to get more "power" for your army but you wouldn't have a shortage of workers or get pressed by every single resource at the same time.  At the same time, you force the humans to expand in another way (to get minerals and extra productivity via a hub).  Another idea that I thought about was perhaps re-introducing the way fac units were produced in 242 (via the fac) or making a separate building from which you can train engineers/guards (maybe have a separate building for each?).  you will give guards added placement into the game because you won't need to cut into fac unit time to build guards, and you will give players the ability to grow economically while still building up an army.

I think the main thing though isn't that influence isn't fun.  I think it's just that the current implementation isn't intuitive, and it forces the player into a really really complex economic system that is very difficult to manage which takes away from the more fun, more intuitive aspects of the game (tactics etc.).  I've realized that I don't want to spend game after game shadowing myself and reviewing replays to find out the optimal economic strategies to get units out at a certain time when I have to balance 5 million different economic factors.  Make the economy easier, more wieldy, more intuitive, and the game will be smoother and more fun.  And then from there, you can start making steps to make it even better.

PS. Is 242 still up somewhere, and does anyone want to play a couple of games on it?

Re: Influence Replacement

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:31 am
by Hercanic
STF 242
STF 244

Thank you for the thorough reply, I enjoyed reading it. I agree with many of your points, and I think a number of your concerns are answered by what I have planned. Supply and cash will be merged into one function. Allow me to explain:

This system is comprised of four values: Cash, stash, budget, and income rate. The terminology is not final. Your budget is the maximum cash possible, be it on-hand or invested in assets. Cash is what you have to spend, while your stash is the remainder of your budget. Over time, your income rate converts your stash into usable cash. The income rate is a percentage of your stash, so as your stash shrinks, so too does the income rate. When an asset is lost, its cash cost is refunded to your stash.

To illustrate, if the income rate is 50% of your stash per tick, and you have a stash of $100, the first tick would give you $50, leaving $50 in your stash. The second tick would give you $25, leaving $25 in your stash. The third tick would only be half of $25, and so on and so forth. What this means is that acquiring your entire budget as cash takes a while, but if you lose a sizable chunk of your army, your stash skyrockets back up, thereby increasing your income rate. The end result is you will always have something to fight with, but to reach max size you must play perfectly and not lose assets.

In Starcraft, when you lose a unit, its supply cost is immediately refunded. The Human's financial system essentially works like delayed supply. Because total cash is capped, anything that costs cash is thus capped. When you lose a unit, you will eventually get that cash back, and the rate is variable depending on how much of your maximum is unusable.

Geysers will be used by all three races. For Humans, they must build a refinery on it to extract oil. A refinery costs cash to build, but it also increases your budget, so the deficit is short-term.

Gathering oil will be done in one of two ways, pending which method I decide to run with. The first is the most simple, where you load Engineers inside like Sweatshops/Oil Pumps. The resources of the geyser will tick down until depleted, at which point the refinery will output significantly less oil.

The second way is traditional Starcraft gas-harvesting. The Airfield would become your starting building and would be a resource depot. It would also be responsible for Engineer production. The Hub, meanwhile, would need to be built later, like a Barracks. Facilities would be built on the Airfield.

With the second method, expansions would have three stages of an investment-to-usefulness ratio. The first stage is Refinery-only, which increases your budget (aka, supply/minerals). The second is adding an Airfield so oil can be harvested. The third is a facility to expand your tech.

None. The financial system replaces this, leaving Humans with only two resources to keep track of.

Re: Influence Replacement

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:59 pm
This new system seems interesting.

The Territory Claim is going away, then?  Will sweatshop packing be changed?  What about Sentryguns?

What would the Airfield make besides Engineers? I can see Guards, and a facility allowing Ospreys and Harriers.  Or are guards being kept on the hub and vehicles moved?

Another idea occurs to me: Add a Supply limit to the Humans, where certain buildings, and only buildings cost supply (unless you need to give all three kinds of supply to the Observers), and others generate supply.  Use this to limit Hubs by the number of Airfields you build (since you can only fly troops in so fast).

Since you're not attaching anything to the Hub, perhaps it would be best renamed "Armory"?  With it being an outbuilding on your central Airfield, and not attaching things to it, it's not much of a Hub.

Re: Influence Replacement

Posted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 3:21 am
by Hercanic
Sweatshop packing? You mean loading Engineers?

The Territory Claim, Oil Pump, and Sweatshop would be removed, due to the territory system being scrapped.

Sentryguns will remain. I considered using supply to limit Sentryguns, such that a Refinery might give 3-4 supply, with each SG needing 1 supply.

The Airfield would train Engineers, and the Hanger add-on would unlock Ospreys and Harriers. As for Guards, I am debating where they'd be best located.

What would be the purpose of limiting the number of Hubs by Airfields?

To change the name of the Hub, a building that has long been central to STF, gives me pause for a heavy sigh. I wonder if it might be better to keep the Hub and simply move all the military units to their own 'barracks' building. Graphically, the Hub would have an air strip/landing pad to convey its shipping/delivery role.

If I wanted to regress more into standard Starcraft mechanics, I could have a barracks/factory/starport system wherein the three units from a facility are spread across those production buildings. The "Barracks" would have the Guard, Gunner, Ranger, and Asher. The "Factory" would have the APC, Spy, and Grenadier. The "Starport" would have the Osprey, Harrier, Lancer, Flaktrak, and Sniper. (Heh, even the unit counts match up) I find the idea interesting because it splays the facility choice with additional shadow costs. Though I wonder if it'd be appropriate, given the intended small-army size for Humans. Hum hum.

Re: Influence Replacement

Posted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 7:56 am
By "packing" I meant the way you have to arrange them to fit into your base.  Removing the Sweatshop entirely raises a new question, though: is the income rate fixed, or how do you increase it?

Under the first way of doing gas that you mentioned, the Hub can stay a central building and everything.  But if you go with traditional gas-harvesting to the Airfield, then the hub isn't much of a hub.

With the Hangar addon unlocking aircraft, and facilities being Airfield addons, the Hangar seems like it should work like a facility, rather than like the usual "must be attached" way regular SC does.

I brought up limiting hubs with airfields to make outlying bases still important for troop production, which is something you may be getting away from.  Back when engies had to carry metal, Hub count = bases, and I was trying to shoehorn that back in.  However, losing your outlying airfields won't actually slow your troop production under this system (more than the resources lost), so it's not a big deal.  Making supply into a Sentrygun thing would be a better use of it.

Renaming the Airfield to "Hub" just to keep the consistency works.  I think the old planed Hub graphic had a helicopter pad, but not a strip for planes, which  a long-range delivery site would need.

I don't think teching through your unit types is a good idea.  Maybe if they can be built out of order, but having to tech through them will limit people's starting armies to three interesting units (plus guards as fodder).

Re: Influence Replacement

Posted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:49 pm
by aiurz
STF 242
STF 244

Thank you for the thorough reply, I enjoyed reading it. I agree with many of your points, and I think a number of your concerns are answered by what I have planned. Supply and cash will be merged into one function. Allow me to explain:
i dont remember 244, whats the difference between it and 242?

Re: Influence Replacement

Posted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:56 am
by Hercanic
244 is compatible with SC 1.14. I think there might be a few other minor changes, but I don't recall.

Removing the Sweatshop entirely raises a new question, though: is the income rate fixed, or how do you increase it?
The income rate is a fixed percentage of your stash, so whatever increases your stash will cause an influx of cash.

With the Hangar addon unlocking aircraft, and facilities being Airfield addons, the Hangar seems like it should work like a facility, rather than like the usual "must be attached" way regular SC does.
Yes, it would be function like a Facility, so you only need one.

I don't think teching through your unit types is a good idea.  Maybe if they can be built out of order, but having to tech through them will limit people's starting armies to three interesting units (plus guards as fodder).
Out of order is a possibility. Or, it could be like the Protoss split, where after the Gateway you can choose between the Robotics Facility or Stargate.

Re: Influence Replacement

Posted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:28 am
by aiurz
Out of order is a possibility. Or, it could be like the Protoss split, where after the Gateway you can choose between the Robotics Facility or Stargate.
if this is in reference to splitting up the units so they build from different buildings i think i said something about this when somebody suggested needing extra facilities, like with 1 fac u get the first unit, a 2nd fac gives u a 2nd and the 3rd the 3rd in that what its going to do is make the game really boring early on since you'll only be able to build a couple units.

limiting the amount of choices you can make in the early game makes the early game less exciting and varying without really giving any benefit.

Re: Influence Replacement

Posted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:31 pm
The idea of using conventional harvesting is a good one.  I also can agree with having a fixed income percentage rate; that makes sense.

Three units is too few for allowable openings, in a game like STF.  Each facility should have at least two viable first units.

I can suggest two tech trees, though.  In the first, you tech through two buildings beyond the hub, with the first giving you all off the existing units, and the new units being on the second (maybe switch Sniper and Spy, but maybe don't.  Spy rushes have the potential to go very, very badly for some people, depending on how cloaking works, so I'm going to lean toward "don't").  I'll be calling these buildings the Armory and Garage.  In the second possibility, you have three buildings that you can build in any order, and each has one unit from each facility.  I'll call these the Armory, Garrison, and Garage.

So the first would look like this:
Hub: Produces Engineers, and maybe Ospreys and Harriers.  Addons are Facilities and Hangars.

Armory: Produces Guards and existing mercenaries.

Garage (Requires Armory): Produces APCs, Flaktraks, and Spies.  Maybe also produces Ospreys and Harriers, if the Hub doesn't.

The Hangar may have a Garage as its prerequisite.

And the second would look like this:
Hub: Produces Engineers, Ospreys, Harriers, and maybe Guards.  Addons are Facilities and Hangars.

Armory: Produces Gunners, Ashers, Snipers, and maybe Guards.

Garrison: Produces Lancers, Grenadiers, Rangers, and maybe Guards.

Garage: Produces APCs, Flaktraks, Spies, and maybe Guards.

(if Guards aren't produced by the Hub, they should be produced by all three barracks types)

The first gives you two opening choices, but allows you a limited ability to switch on your second unit, the second gives you three.  But, if building an additional barracks is a large investment, once you declare your opening on the second, you're stuck.  This could be bad, depending on how unit counters work out.

Re: Influence Replacement

Posted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 10:45 pm
by Hercanic
Oh yeah, I remember why I don't have multiple production buildings. I hated needing to select each one individually to queue up everything I wanted in the heat of battle. Starcraft purists would argue it's a skill in dexterity, as they bellyached against multiple-building-selection in SC2 way back when, but I fail to see the fun or glory in the mundane task.

In the original STF of 242, I had units built at the facilities. Hubs were also resource depots, so the end result was a very spread-out production environment. I noticed players would often times forgo resource efficiency to build a few Hubs close together, so as to centralize their production, like Zerg Hatcheries.

I banished that system in the new STF, centralizing production by default. As a consequence, Hubs are now essentially expensive Barracks. With gas mining possibly being re-introduced, one solution to avoid the old STF's sprawling, isolated producers is to remove military production from the Hub and create a Barracks-like building to fulfill the role. It could be cheaper, and would be more like Starcraft. ...Wait, what am I saying? This is a mod! I can do better than that!

In realizing my dislike of managing multiple production buildings in Starcraft's limited engine, I have begun thinking on how I could further centralize unit production to just one location. Why? With such a small army size for Humans, they really don't need a ton of unit producers anyway, and I can adjust build time to compensate for only having one unit producer. The financial system, as a delayed supply mechanic, also acts as a slowing mechanism. Furthermore, with plugins, I can make a one-touch button that will keep your unit production at your fingertips without needing half your control groups.

Here are some of my ideas on how it could work:
  • Plan 1a - The Floating Fortress
    You can build one Floating Fortress, a movable building that while landed can produce any military unit. If destroyed, you are able to build a replacement. (Plugin would gray out the button if you already own one.) Its mobility allows for some proxy dynamics, but losing it will delay unit production, so it's a risk.
  • Plan 1b - The Floating Fortress (King)
    Same as above, but more like the Observer's Mothership. You start with one, and if you lose the Floating Fortress it's game-over; like the King in chess or a hero in Starcraft's campaign.
  • Plan 2 - Landing Zone
    An Engineer may build a small marker building, like the Territory Claim. If you try building another, the previous one is removed. Unit production is not handled by a building, but is rather an aspect of the interface. When a unit is made, it appears wherever the Landing Zone marker is. A possible queue system could be put in place allowing you to train troops without a marker, who won't be dropped off until one is positioned.
  • Plan 3 - Central Hub
    You can designate any Hub as your Central Hub. Your starting Hub is, by default, your first Central Hub. A Central Hub can produce military units, while normal Hubs can only train Engineers. Whenever you change your Central Hub, the previous one reverts to a normal Hub and cancels anything queued.

Re: Influence Replacement

Posted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:14 pm
by aiurz
1b is the worst.
1a is the floating fortress the same one from the old stf?  either way, i dont really like it.
2&3 seem like almost the same sort of thing, except that landing dudes or whatever would be able to mobilize production more since they arent limited by hubs (unless hubs are going to be more numerous or something). 

i really really dislike the sort of thing that 1b is where yo lose a building or whatever and then you lose because it limits the options that a player has because they have to center their strategy around that single building.  like once the game gets to the stage where you have dropships then you are going to have to keep your thing super defended otherwise someone could drop like 2 dropships on it and it will die in 2 seconds before you can really react. 

Re: Influence Replacement

Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 7:30 pm
Don't do the Floating Fortress.

I like the Central Hub idea.  Perhaps, to combine it with an earlier idea, call them "Hub" and "Airfield" instead of "Central Hub" and "Hub?"

There's even an interesting possibility where having an Airfield (not a Hub, an Airfield) unlocks the ability to make aircraft at your Hub.  So you can't make aircraft until you build your first expansion.  This puts them on a delay (so you can't do drop rushes), but also gets rid of the need to spend a facility on a Hangar just to get Ospreys.