Nanoblobs

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Project conceptual notes, by Argh

Here's a unit breakdown, based on current balance. This is all likely to change- NanoBlobs is in a bit of a transition period.

Economy

Lords are your commanders. They have a powerful weapon that kills things on the ground, are pretty tough, and can build things quickly, but they are very vulnerable to some units (Knights and Demons, especially). Lords can hover on the surface of water.

Sheep are your economy and your principal way to multiply your build-power. Sheep are very likely to either disappear entirely... or change in role, soon, but for now they are still in the same role they've always been- weak, defenseless, and totally necessary. Sheep can hover on the surface of water.

Autofacs build armies automatically (with "repeat on" and queues, of course). Nothing special about them... right now. This is also likely to change, but I'm not getting into that until I have the new things done.

Defense

Holders are stationary, not-so-powerful towers. They can kill Wolves and other light units easily, but fall to Knights. Massed, they can stop small rushes, and backed up with SpireRooks and MegaSheep, they can stand anything but a Demon, but not by themselves. Like everything in NanoBlobs, they have strengths and weaknesses.

SpireRooks are slow, powerful units that shoot infrequently, but their weapons can kill Knights in a hit or two, and they are more than cost-effective against SquareRooks and Demons. Their main weakness is that they are very slow and large targets, but they also are specifically weak against Striders. SpireRooks are completely amphibious, and can go underwater.

MegaSheep are defensive plasma artillery. While they can be used on offensive operations, they are slow, and they produce resources, so they are often better kept behind a line of Holders, where they do a great job of killing Striders, Knights, and TriRooks.

Offense

Wolves are cheap, disposable scouts. They can kill weak units or slow-firing things if they are left undefended, but are not powerful combat units. However, they are very cheap, build fast, and provide your enemies with one more target. Always have an Autofac or two building Wolves... their value as scouts and as "chaff" is very important, even if they have low combat power. Wolves can fly.

Archers kill Wolves, and move quickly enough to keep up with hordes. They are completely useless against all other units at this time. Mix them up in the queue at the Autofac with other units, like TriRooks and MegaSheep.

Knights are your hard-core rapid strike force. Armed with short-range flamethrowers and unbelievable healing powers, they are quite capable of taking apart a base in seconds if they aren't killed on the way in. While Knights are quite killable in this version, they are still very, very dangerous if used correctly.

Striders are both weak and powerful. They have been optimised for the current build of Spring's aiming code, but due to the low size of their weapon arc, they still require some micromanagement to really use effectively. Striders have rapid-fire burst chainguns that are quite capable of killing any unit in the game except for Wolves. They are fairly slow, but have a lot of hitpoints for a small unit, and take less damage from certain types of weapon. They are unbelievably deadly on flat terrain, but much less useful on rocky or broken places. Used correctly, Striders can smash open a defense very quickly. Used incorrectly, they are a waste of resoureces and unit-count.

TriRooks are the newest unit in NanoBlobs. They are very powerful attack units, but lack the armor to be all-out assault tanks. However, their weapon has good range, a rapid rate of fire... and due to its hovering nature, it can go over terrain that normal units can't see over... very, very handy. TriRooks require finesse to really use well, however, because they are a big economic drain. TriRooks are swimming units, and are effectively both ships and tanks.

SquareRooks are a general-purpose artillery unit. Lacking close-in defense, and vulnerable to Knights and Wolves, they are still worth using, because they have weapons that can kill Striders and other light unit types all day long. However, they fare poorly against Holders and SpireRooks.

Demons are the ultimate can-openers. They have a long-range popup missile that does decent damage to anything, but fires slowly. More importantly, however, they have an amazing DemonGun that can tear up massed units or defenses in a real hurry, and also has an effect over time, instead of being nearly instantaneous. Unlike other weapons it can keep killing units further back as they move through the deadly zone. Demons require protection from Knights, and aren't terribly fast, but they can also swim like TriRooks.

Gameplay

NanoBlobs is, basically, a new kind of game design. I started it out as a way to talk to the AI developers about making better AIs for Spring, but it's a lot more complicated than that at this point.

Basically, on anything but a small map, NanoBlobs is a completely strategic RTS. You're not going to want to micromanage your units, or worry about losing a few (thousand). Instead, you're going to block, scout, feint... and then attack, after finding the weak spots in your opponent's current streams of units.

NanoBlobs expects players to already know how to queue up multiple build orders, do things like the good ol' "bomber/guard" trick from OTA, and other Gnug skills. NanoBlobs is not terrifically noob-friendly, and requires that you actually pay attention to the massive battles... and plan well in advance. You can't win through just spamming one unit, and you can't win by playing defensively, and building up to Tech X, or slowly choking your enemy out of metal spots, or any of that boring crap. No. In NanoBlobs.. you win by killing the enemy... period. No tactic is "lame". Everything has a fairly obvious counter... plus a lot of subtleties. It's not "realistic", it's not an attempt to be anything but a pure battle experience.

Typical new players get stuck on three things:

1. They are like, "uh, where are the mines and tech levels". Uh... there aren't any. GET MOVING

2. They try to build defenses and hold until they have Demons. This is dumb, because then their opponant can steadily hopscotch new Autofacs nearer and nearer to them, and crush them with sheer firepower.

3. They think that .cheat .nocost is on, and spam in an unintelligent way. There ARE COSTS to most major units, and the gradual drain on your economy is a major part of gameplay, which future versions are going to emphasise more

The best thing to do, playing this game, is to decide where your first base will be... get it built before the enemy's first Wolves arrive, and then begin spamming out streams to scout and to hold as much of the map as possible. NanoBlobs is very much about map control- not so that you can get metal, but because that prevents the enemy from getting around your flanks.

After that, then what? Well, here are some classic options:

1. Rapid-build 50 Knights, then throw them at the weakest part of the enemy's lines. One Knight can destroy a base pretty easily. Really. Just give 'em a path, tell 'em to Roam, and then get on with something else... like sending all available Wolves ahead to distract their defenses

2. Spam out Wolves, MegaSheep, Knights and Archers in a mix, to keep the enemy engaged and pinned, then build up a force of SquareRooks and a couple of Demons. Use the Squares to punch a hole in the enemy streams, then use the Demons to kill their defenses. Just make sure to guard them against Knights.

3. Use your Lord to roam around, spiderwebbing Autofacs all over the map, anywhere the enemy doesn't contest you, and gradually spam them to death.

4. Use your Lord or a bunch of Sheep to build Holders to support your forces in a combat area, or to create a fall-back line that you can retreat to. Just because you can send thousands of robots to their death doesn't mean that the occasional retreat isn't a good idea.

5. Use the units that can swim to go around enemy land forces and crush them

... and lots and lots and lots of variants. NanoBlobs looks simple, but is not simple. Each unit has a lot of subtleties, from economic balance to what terrain it can handle to how fast it is. I've really tried to make sure that you never go, "hey, that's redundant", or "wow, that's useless" with the mod.

All of that said... this version's balance is still very rough, so please don't flame me when you find an obvious flaw (point it out though, I will keep it in mind). And I am contemplating some major changes for the future, to further reduce lag for low-end players... and when the new version of Spring is out, I will be making very heavy use of the new UnitIcons feature, so that you can direct your battles "from orbit".


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