NanoBlobs: Making the Game Design Work

NanoBlobs: Making the Game Design Work

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Argh
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NanoBlobs: Making the Game Design Work

Post by Argh » 01 Dec 2006, 16:50

Basically, it's like this, folks:

I just got done playing through a 30+ minute game on NanoArena, 4 FFA, which ended up in total stalemate between me and Day.

I want to say that this had something to do with my skill and knowledge of my mod vs. Day's no-doubt superlative micomanagement and tactical skill, however, this is not the case.

Instead, it played to a draw largely on the current balance of the mod, which in the end allowed the unit-spam on both sides to more-or-less cancel each other out. Day would've eventually won, I think, but it just didn't have any climactic moments, and frankly, we all got bored.

This is not why I've worked on the mod for 10 months :P

So, frankly, I need to tear up the game design and make it work- it's a really cool technical experience with awesome FX, but it's a boring game that too-easily leads to nowhere fun. It's obvious to me that it's not just a matter of minor buffs here and there.

I'm open for suggestions, folks. Here are a few options I've thought up:

1. Make static defenses that are powerful enough to eventually spiderweb and take territory with. I'm working on that angle right now, actually- I knew that the game design needed something like that, and I've been looking at it for some time. Holders in the current version are a pretty good defense, backed with just minimal spam, so I figure that what is needed is offensive turrets- the equivalent of a Bert or Tim. Having these available (albeit at a high cost in time) would allow people to eventually take territory.

2. The Demon, or something even heavier than that, might be needed to force assaults. If anybody has specific ideas, I'm open to them.

3. Get rid of chain-death for most units, so that offensives don't stall nearly so often. I've gone back and forth on this, and while people say they like it, I never see anybody playing the mod, so I strongly suspect those same people aren't playing the mod ;)

4. Bombers, for finally bringing back an offensive air capability to aircraft. Wolves have been neutered for quite awhile, because players don't like getting owned in the first few minutes. So, therefore, if I put bombers in, they need to take quite awhile to build- then be worth it.

5. Mobile mortar units, with enough range to crack through static defenses.

6. Some sort of nuke-like weapon for decisively clearing out mindless spam herds, allowing for genuine manuever.

7. Somehow using metal spots and/or geos to force players to play a slippery-slope game of map control. Personally, I'm dubious about this- I'd rather introduce MRPCs and LRPCs, frankly. But I'm open to arguments about this.

8. De-nerf... whatever. A lot of units have been nerfed and de-nerfed over time- are any of these things really decisive? Right now, I think the SpireRook may be fine as an offensive unit, but it's too expensive... the SquareRook is very powerful, but isn't quite doing it for crowd-control... and the Demon feels much weaker than its cost should make it, even though it is still far and away the most powerful unit in the game. And Knights are currently being hurt by chain-explosions very badly, blunting their effectiveness, and may need a boost in some other way, so that they can be decisive again.


In short... I think I balanced the mod too well for spam vs. spam encounters. I didn't leave enough room for tactics or strategy. I'm not happy with the results. Any opinions about how this could be addressed would be useful- I'd like the mod to get played, and I can see that's not going to happen until players have a more clear way to achieve a win than simply grinding their opponent's spam down, an inch at a time. Many things about the mod work pretty well at this point, but it just doesn't have enough decisive stuff that players can pull out've their hats and win with.
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tombom
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Post by tombom » 01 Dec 2006, 18:14

I think this is pretty much the main problem with Nanoblobs. It becomes a war of attrition where your spam is annihilating their spam closer and closer to their base. There's no real incentive to keep pushing for land, as moving out of your starting positions is really risky as your spam will slow and there is little or no advantage. It gives you more space to make more fields of sheep but this means even more micro and more places to defend.

The only two things unit balance wise I can think of is stopping the Demon's constant movement towards the enemy (I think because of it's secondary weapon) and boosting the Square Rook a little.

Part of the problem is that it's hard to assualt the hills in NanoArena effectively.

I'd also like to say you're pretty cool and have made a pretty nice mod.
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PicassoCT
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Post by PicassoCT » 01 Dec 2006, 19:28

I made some Sug in that VieTam thing i posted long time ago...
How about Cheap Fake Units, to Take the Attention.

Or a Weaponless Monster Unit, that just takes the Enemy-Fire on its shoulders..

Another Thing would be something that is very excellent in Breaking through lines and slaughtering through the Sheeps. Best would be some kind of Knight with continuing Acceleration, so if he has enough place to get going, he will brake through the Lines without beeing hit. He should not fire during the "Homerun"!

How about Artillery, whose projectiles become little walking Microbombs, when they hit the ground. That way you could fire Units behind the Enemy Lines... and the Artillery still would work.

And make the Deamon Explosion even larger, so that bringing this Unit to death, really opens a "GreatGap" in the EnemyLine.. It would also be cool if there was a fast Unit, that could go through that Fire untouched...

Make a slow longrange BuildASheepTag, to creat a Building Unit behind enemy Lines...

How about giving a Unit the Ability to kill a Enemy Unit- that actually (as Fake exists on - walking, shooting, just no longer damaging anything) - and before you knew they were already gone, the Enemy was through..

Brainstorm.. sorry if it did damage to the Roof..
http://taspring.clan-sy.com/phpbb/viewt ... hlight=uza
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imbaczek
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Post by imbaczek » 01 Dec 2006, 19:41

I agree that sheep are the problem, they make the mod speedmetalish, just without the porcing. Adding LRPCs won't solve the problem, see speedmetal (or, in the real world, WW I.) What you need are several ways to micro your way through the waves of enemy spam - and I believe that you can borrow some ideas from *gasp* Starcraft:

1) templar and psionic storm: on demand area denial.
2) arbiter: cloaking field, freezing hordes of spam, teleport behind enemy lines.
3) nydus canal: teleports between your base and your other base to prepare a surprise attack.
4) nukes: no comment needed ^^
5) science vessel: shields can work wonders, so can irradiate.
6) transports: unload hordes of spam when you need them and where you need them.

etc etc etc...

IOW you need options :)
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KDR_11k
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Post by KDR_11k » 01 Dec 2006, 19:52

imb: Many of those things can't be done with Spring.
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imbaczek
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Post by imbaczek » 01 Dec 2006, 20:01

I'm quite aware of that, was trying to think out of the box. Besides, maybe someone will code such features :)
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PicassoCT
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Post by PicassoCT » 01 Dec 2006, 20:05

THe Problem is that the Starcraft Spam and the TA Spam have also differ in the way they work. In Starcraft a Player making Rush is busy. In spring a Player setting the Map underUnits has a lazzy day after 5 Minutes. So in Starcraft with those handactivated Specialthings you really pull something off. In Spring he will loose what - - nothing - it is just a short traffic jam, thats all. Special Actions that are not fully automatic (repair for example) is not used in Spring. And the Dr.StrangeloveBoat (so i called it for myself:) really uses something like the PSI-Storm for Attack, with great Sucess... but it still doesen`t disturb the Traffic..

PS: KDR is right... spring can`t handle classic Teleporters or such stuff. So you would need some kind of Invisible TransportVehicle...
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knorke
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Post by knorke » 01 Dec 2006, 20:06

Nanoblobs ist fun on small maps like 4x4 where you can have nice 1 to 5 minutes games.
There it is perfect. Any larger is just a spamfest and not worth to balance imo.
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imbaczek
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Post by imbaczek » 01 Dec 2006, 20:08

I know Starcraft is a completely different beast, what I'm saying is that some of it's ideas a) fit nanoblobz and b) could work.
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Erom
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Post by Erom » 01 Dec 2006, 20:50

My proposal:

The biggest limiting factor in nanoblobs is micro. I think this is pretty well established. The problem is, you hit cognitive saturation, and thus the effective maximum growth rate of your economy, while you are still on a relatively small chunk of real estate. Therefore, expansion is a huge risk in Nanoblobs with little payoff, so you end up with, in the endgame, two very large economy strongholds sending about equal amounts of unit spam out into the map, to die against the oponents matching spam.

The battles are all over in a good amount of time, but the war moves so slowly back and forth that the losing player has time to adapt his tactics well before he loses the match.

To break this deadlock it seems to me that one or more of these things should be done:

A) Reduce the micromanagement needed to reach a given economy size, thus allowing players to reach larger economies, for which they would need enough real estate that controlling the map actually starts to matter. This would make one side "out-spamming" the other possible, because they control more map and thus more resources. Also, to compliment this, make economic expansion take more real estate, or otherwise tie in with map better.

B) Reduce the maximum growth rate of the economy, making players choices more economically meaningful.

C) Introduce "Keypoints" that force land control to matter more. Be this metalmap, geo, or something else (see below for a "something else" suggestion)

How I would do it:
1) Increase the footprint of the sheep to 4x it's current area (2x linear dimensions) Increase it's model to 200% to match. Increase the resources produced by a sheep by 2x. 1/4 the units but 2x the land area to get the same economy.

2) Increase costs of economic units by a *small* amount. Make the economies grow a little slower.

3) THE BIG ONE: Introduce "key points" in the map by making AutoFac's MUCH more important.
-Increase buildpower, cost, size of the autofac's. Make them much tougher as well, with lots of hitpoints and armor. Perhaps make them autorepair.
-Remove the ability to assist the autofacs.
-Make the autofacs the ONLY source for mobile military units (Exceptions - maybe let the lord still be able to build Wolfs (Plus sheep, holder, autofacs of course)?)
-Allow the sheep to build more sheep only. And repair/reclaim of course.
-You'll need a con unit. Something to build more autofacs and holders that isn't your lord. I'd nominate the SuperSheep. Have it produce the same resources as a regular sheep, but cost a lot more, be a lot tougher, and be able to build Holders and Autofacs.

The way I'm invisioning it (and I'm probably on crack...) is that sheep fields will remain self replicating, but will really start to take up a lot of space. Plus you need space to build factories, which are the only way to turn cash into boom. So you'll expand a lot more, have more front to defend, and tactics like raids and flanking will become more viable. Also, blasting enemy factories will actually hurt them, and slow down there spam, allowing you to actually take areas of the map. Losing a factory will be a big loss, and will probably lose you an area unless you have reinforcements on scene already.

Finally, do put in a heavy defense turret as planned. You'll need them to protect your factories. But don't make it's range too large- you'll need to have at least a few units out-range it, so it can be artilleried to death.

I dunno, seems like a workable concept to me, but of course it needs fleshing out.
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LordMatt
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Post by LordMatt » 01 Dec 2006, 20:52

What I like about nanoblobs is the fact you can win a game if you use smart tactical manuvers, even if you are behind on spam. But I have the following suggestions:
LRPC Unit
Bombers

and the big one--Resources that you must gather from terrain around the map.

The thing that makes TA really great is that you have to gather resources in order to win. Just porcing a position will automatically lose you the game. In nanoblobs, however, territory is less important, because if you lose it, you don't lose resources. Thus, I think sheep should be converted to energy producing only, and you should add a metal producing resource unit. It could be mobile (the cow :P) or stationary, but adding that would solve this problem, I think.
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Peet
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Post by Peet » 01 Dec 2006, 21:13

KDR_11k wrote:imb: Many of those things can't be done with Spring.
Actually, they all can.
1) could just be a secondary weapon with ammunition or something
2) cloaking field could probably be scripted, give units cloaking ability only if they are within x distance of arbiter. freezing is possible. teleportation is possible (see the unit Stargate, it was designed for TA but still works in spring)
3) ^^
4) kabooom
5) shields are possible, irradiate could be a weapon
6) yup
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AF
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Post by AF » 01 Dec 2006, 21:22

Area bombardment and mobility.

I suggets you introduce 2 new units ro retrofit 1 unti and add a second:

A: Multivolley clumsy long range attack unit, fires many rounds at once, and damages and area. The archer sort of did this when first introduced to nanoblobz, and its what the XTA raven does now. The idea being to damage the enemy and force them to move.

B: Zwzsg experimented with these, and produced mobile factories using them, including flying factories. I think introducing compeltely immobiles structures to the nanos was a mistake, and they need to be mobile. I suggest that a sort fo mobile hub unit be there which loads up what it builds and transports it around would be useful, or at least a unit that can do that very slowly. Maybe then you can have very powerful units that are very slow to move, thus encouraging them as expensive powerful defences

Another issue is its not obvious what units produce radar other than the lord. I found this very annoying, I built units just to figure out which on had radar and to no gain....

As a side askance, I point you to the necron engaged monolith in DoW:DarkCrusade
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Day
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Post by Day » 01 Dec 2006, 21:44

well i guess adding something absolutly game ending should do the trick, like a nuke that requires massive ammounts of time to build, so like after a while players start building it and try to cancel the other persons nuke, the nuke itself doesnt even have to be big, as long as you know where the other persons factories and sheep are ;). bombers would do the trick to, but theyd have to be quite expensive so they dont end games TO quick.
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Kixxe
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Post by Kixxe » 01 Dec 2006, 21:55

Artillery. A good, solid and exspensive artillery unit that just decimater static defences.

that is if the real problem is the static/semi static units...
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Lippy
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Post by Lippy » 01 Dec 2006, 22:11

I think some sort of incentive for map control needs to be implemented. I don't think this is possible, but how about using the metal spots as unit limit boosters? If the game starts with a low unit limit (say 200), to increase both the size of your economy (sheep) and your army you need to gain land. I think this would work very well (if possible) and would not need much modification (again; if possible).

Plus bombers and long range artillery would rule :!:
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hrmph
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Post by hrmph » 01 Dec 2006, 22:26

Maybe there could be some sort of defensive weapon that derives power from metal spots.. *Thinks about some crazy HLT type-thing with a built in nanoturret for building mines*
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Nemo
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Post by Nemo » 01 Dec 2006, 23:54

Kixxe and company: the issue is not porcability (ie, the issue isn't that 'bases' are becoming too strong, like LRPCs are meant to counter in TA and its variants), its the fact that force-force neutralization becomes too easy later in the game, since both sides end up producing similar amounts of units, resulting in a stalemate as each force blows each other up in turns. Which is boring.

Any way to deliver a devastating blow to sheep farms would work, but I think that the force/force neutralization problem is something that should be addressed directly, rather than worked around via a sheep-elimination deal. Sheep killing methods are all well and good, but they're side-stepping the bigger issue that unit-unit engagements become really...well, boring/stalemated late in the game.

Some ideas:

1) Increase unit HP all round/lower weapon damage. This lengthens fights, and will give players more time to maneuver their units for optimal fighting ability/bring multiple forces into the game, rather than send off groups and watching them run into the enemy and win/lose before any proper micro can be applied.

2) Increase unit speed/lower weapon accuracy and reliability while moving: make NB more of a war of maneuver, such that direct force on force conflict while driving at each other results in units essentially streaming past each other with minimal casualties. Make use of the AccuracyWhileMoving tag, so that units lying in wait in a good position are more effective than equivalent units ordered to drive directly at them.

The corollary to this is that now the base busting units *really* need to be effective, so that someone who just sets up squads of units as guards will eventually get beaten down by artillery/demons/whatever. In addition, I'd say lower unit LoS all round by a good deal so that flanking and sneak attacks are more viable.

One thing that would go nicely with these changes is slowing down the game a touch, in terms of unit counts - let players really focus on a somewhat managable number of units, rather than absolutely overloading them and making it near impossible to pay proper attention to their guys. Then again, I suppose that's what you were aiming for, so ignore that :P

If I have time I'll play around with NB a bit and post a mock up version with some suggested changes.

Edit: oh, and I like some of Eroms ideas, specifically making economies more demanding in terms of space (bigger sheep!) and making factories vulnerable/valuble points.

A really radical idea would be to only allow factories built on geos, which has a few pros (good flanks can really cut a player to their knees, territory control becomes meaningful, making the stage of the game when the Demons/artillery show up a frantic one, as well as ensuring that the game ends soon after said weapons start arriving) and cons (limits the kind of maps that NB can be played to its fullest on - although, this isn't a big deal, it just means that nanoblobs plays differently on different maps ;), geos become auto targets for..well..everything).
Last edited by Nemo on 02 Dec 2006, 01:15, edited 1 time in total.
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PauloMorfeo
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Re: NanoBlobs: Making the Game Design Work

Post by PauloMorfeo » 02 Dec 2006, 01:00

Behold the Tie-Breaker! One of my favourite things in oTA. The game would never end up in a stalemate.
Image
Argh wrote:... total stalemate ...
This is not why I've worked on the mod for 10 months :P
...
1. Make static defenses that are powerful enough to eventually spiderweb and take territory with. ...

2. The Demon, or something even heavier than that, might be needed to force assaults. ...

3. Get rid of chain-death for most units, so that offensives don't stall nearly so often. ...

4. Bombers, for finally bringing back an offensive air capability to aircraft. ...

5. Mobile mortar units, with enough range to crack through static defenses.

6. Some sort of nuke-like weapon for decisively clearing out mindless spam herds, allowing for genuine manuever.

7. Somehow using metal spots and/or geos to force players to play a slippery-slope game of map control. Personally, I'm dubious about this- I'd rather introduce MRPCs and LRPCs, frankly. ...

8. ...
The key to nanoBlobs is micromanagement, of course, but mostly the sheeps. Kill them and the oponent will break, his spam or defense won't be able to handle your own spam.

I think that the idea of a super weapon that will end the game in one shot sucks. I say, add long range weaponry (either BB style or Bombers) that allow you to bypass too much defenses/swarms and go criple the sheep masses in the back. The sheep should also not chain react otherwise it would become too strong of a strategy.
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Erom
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Post by Erom » 02 Dec 2006, 02:15

Nemo wrote:A really radical idea would be to only allow factories built on geos, which has a few pros (good flanks can really cut a player to their knees, territory control becomes meaningful, making the stage of the game when the Demons/artillery show up a frantic one, as well as ensuring that the game ends soon after said weapons start arriving) and cons (limits the kind of maps that NB can be played to its fullest on - although, this isn't a big deal, it just means that nanoblobs plays differently on different maps ;), geos become auto targets for..well..everything).
A moderated version might be a SuperFac with double the build speed or something, that can only be built on geos. Would at least make the geos worth fighting over.
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