Author Topic: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?  (Read 1151 times)

A human

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Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« on: April 14, 2018, 08:19:47 pm »
I'd say the average level has three phases.

Phase one: set up your base, make a defense against the creeper, and prepare to take some terrain/defend against mid-game threats

Phase two: the main part of the level. Clear most of the area of creeper while fending off spores and things

Phase three: the slog phase. most danger is removed, and you've built enough to defend against the little that remains. A win is practically guaranteed, but it still takes awhile.

Any ideas on making the last phase more interesting? (I had an idea about a stationary entity that becomes activated after being "charged up" with creeper then exposed to dry land, then spawns creeper/entities and destroys itself, but let's ignore that since it's in another post)

Sorrontis

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Re: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2018, 11:46:22 pm »
That's a good point.
What could be done, much like in PF, is  the map maker can set victory settings. Maybe one is:
- Cap all or x/n emitters
- Cap all or x/n emitters and destroy X% creeper
- Liberate all resources
- etc / etc
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A human

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Re: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2018, 04:13:41 pm »
I already read on discord that Virgilw was planning for variable win conditions.

Sorrontis

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Re: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2018, 05:56:31 pm »
Problem solved  ;)
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A human

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Re: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2018, 09:47:58 pm »
That doesn't fix the problem, it just reduces it. It'd still be a problem in many of the levels.

Karsten75

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Re: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2018, 12:38:29 pm »
It is a complicated issue. some players like the cleanup phase. Others don't. Mapmakers get to design their maps. With inhibitors, if you get the inhibitor, you win, no slog.

If the win condition is to reach a resource, etc. or activate all totems, then there is not necessary a slog, unless the map maker has designed the map to be a slog.

So unless you have specific ideas on how to reduce what you perceive as the "slog", you may want to address map makers and ask them to design maps differently. :)

All of this, of course rests on the assumption that we even agree on the definition of a slog. :)
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The_Mell

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Re: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2018, 08:23:21 am »
Maybe it is even the wrong question.
Instead of making slog more interesting, it should be more towards minimizing slog phase. ;)

Keeping up the tension is a problem which touches both game and map design.
Limiting number of units is a possibility seen on some CW maps or with ships in PF, but it can feel quite artificial.
Continuing escalation is another one, but it can create difficulty levels undesirable.
Quid pro quo is an alternative escalation form which only increases with advancement of player, but again this can be very artificial.

As i play other games like They Are Billions with its increasing zombie waves or Infested Planet with alien mutation in exchange for destroyed nests and build points, i must say i'm not sure if i even would like to see an always 'agressive' CW game.
It's not only that i like slog phase to a certain degree because i earned this superioty, but it allows to calm down after the stress of mission start and extended mid game threats.


PF approach of having a max count on particles could be used for it.
Placing weak slow emitters at front with nasty ones out of reach at first can create a proper pace through a mission.
But why should particles or creeper have a maximum..?

An other idea would be emitter output, or better said combined emitter output.
Once you kill an emitter, its output is added to the remaining ones.
Lore wise it could be creeper is pushing from other dimension through holes and by closing one hole you don't stop it, but just reroute its flow while 'pressure' stays the same.
Could create some real nasty last emitter.  :o
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Karsten75

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Re: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2018, 08:40:13 am »

Could create some real nasty last emitter.  :o

And isn't that the problem? it puts the burden right back on the map maker to ensure that the cumulative output of all emitters on the map is not such that the last emitter can't be beaten. In addition, let's make a simple math calculation.

You have a map with 4 emitters of 20 each. so now you have to go over the map, beat a 20 emitter, beat a 40 emitter, beat a 60 emitter and finally beat the 80 emitter. Now you have beaten down a cumulative 200 strength of emitters - a far cry from the original 80. 

You'd still have to have traversed and secured an entire map surface, and I don't see how that's different from just beating the 4 separate emitters.

Let me reiterate to be clear. You can't have escalating complexity/difficulty  indefinitely, since ultimately that would imply the player has to lose. At some point the player will be stronger than the creeper - that is the definition of a victory.   In my opinion here the issue is solely with map makers that design maps that are over-large and does not present any alternatives than a simple progression over terrain until a victory is achieved. That's not on virgil or on game design - only on map makers.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2018, 08:46:08 am by Karsten75 »
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GoodMorning

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Re: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2018, 09:43:03 am »
K75 has more or less summed it up.

One more note: The "beat this-then-that" tends to require that the "that" isn't a threat from the start. Which leads to something like the PF maps where the player starts by destroying the "hard" section before it activates.
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The_Mell

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Re: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2018, 04:17:06 pm »
You have a map with 4 emitters of 20 each. so now you have to go over the map, beat a 20 emitter, beat a 40 emitter, beat a 60 emitter and finally beat the 80 emitter. Now you have beaten down a cumulative 200 strength of emitters - a far cry from the original 80.
Strange kind of math to me.
I was more along the lines of 20-27-40-80 and a constant pressure of 80.

Of course, last word in creating an interesting game experience is on map makers - and i made some mediocre PF maps, so i know what i'm talking about.  ;D
That doesn't mean that virgil cannot influence this with game design decision. Like car design and crash safety without blaming just drivers.
If he would implement an (optional) redistribution of emitting power, he could also include a (hardcoded) maximum to make sure emitters are beatable and add options like a percentage slider from 0-100 to tweak its effect.
I guess such things could be coded by map makers, but i see (or would like to see) this more on (and in) hand of the developer.


Another thing, that is strange or odd to me, is your awareness of the potential problem of uncontrollable difficulty increase with emitter power redistribution but not the downfall of difficulty with beaten emitters.

When i think of strength of player and enemy, i imagine a chart.
Player's main values would be power production, maybe AC and number of weapons while enemy's would be number of emitters, emitting power and creeper amount on map or so.
Player starts with both at zero like creeper amount on map, therefore player has time to build up something while being save. -> Phase 1
Depending on situation player might gain superiority and/or starts to strike back - and that's a hard turn. While player's values rise&rise enemy's take only hits - it's inversely proportional.

And here could maybe emitter power redistribution make a change in pace (or actually prevent it compared to CW3) because it prolongs Phase 2 the fight, where players struggle (at least a bit) to get things defended&done, and delay&shorten Phase 3 the slog, where it is only cleanup duty because player superiority is just overwhelming.

I mean if victory is just being stronger than the creeper, why engage emitters at all and not just call it a win once you are safe..?
Makes me remember this 'win situation': https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=546875260



I don't say this is the holy grail, but something to maybe take into consideration for creating a new chapter of CW games and interesting game balance for CW4 without that harsh drop of difficulty during a map.
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Karsten75

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Re: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2018, 08:06:38 pm »
You're right that my math was way off... For the rest, let me cogitate and ruminate before I respond.
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fanstar1

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Re: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2018, 08:59:58 pm »
I mean if victory is just being stronger than the creeper, why engage emitters at all and not just call it a win once you are safe..?
Makes me remember this 'win situation': https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=546875260
well he can win from that position, but yeah there is still a lot to do to push back the creeper.

ShadowDragon7015

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Re: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2018, 09:55:15 pm »
those difficult fights where you struggle to get that footing are the most fun in my opinion. you really get the sense of overwhelming creeper and fighting through.
Hiding the golden creeper for years to come.

The_Mell

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Re: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2018, 05:05:23 am »
You're right that my math was way off... For the rest, let me cogitate and ruminate before I respond.
No prob. For me this is somewhat brainstorming and not a 'hard' discussion - even though i'm not sure this is/was recognized over internet and by my maybe 'German way' of saying things.
And you made me just learn 2 new words.  ;D

Another thing i came up is the idea of redistributing not (only) emitting power in sense of amount of creeper but (also) creeper height.
Imagine a level 4 map with four emitters in holes emitting just at height 3 - no threat.
One down, rest at 4 and starting to flood dryland.
Terp lover builds a wall of 5, kills another one and it raises to 6.
Terp lover builds a max wall of 10, but then last emitter is strenghtened to 12.

These things could make players to go for a new tactic:
Paralell strike.
Don't want to fight hard emitters? Destroy all those weak ones at once.  :D
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Grabz

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Re: Any ideas for making the "slog phase" more interesting?
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2018, 11:02:09 am »
Maybe it is even the wrong question.
Instead of making slog more interesting, it should be more towards minimizing slog phase. ;)

There is a big problem with that.

You see, a map is a struggle if you're running low on energy. CW1 is the perfect example of this, due to its much slower pace compared to CW3. The beginning of each map is a careful balance of building Collectors and just enough weapons to hold off. CW3 has drastically reduced the time it takes as well as packet cost of everything, meaning that the balance has shifted 180 degrees towards instead spamming as many Collectors as you can first, then building weapons with your surplus energy.

Why am I talking about this? Well... once you have energy, you've won.

You can't minimize the slog phase without taking away energy. You can't take away energy and expect players to beat the beginning phase where creeper covers most of the land. See where I'm going with this?

It's impossible to create a gameplay flow where both of these apply:
1. The beginning is a tough struggle to survive against the Creeper
2. After surviving the beginning struggle, do something to minimize the cleanup phase.

You could create an energy model that's really unforgiving and expects you to grab half the map first, but that's unfun for two reasons: you can't have holdout strategies, and it's more fun to see everything covered in creeper slowly taken back by the player.

Now, you can throw wrenches in the cogs... increase emitter strength over time, and the like. Unfortunately, a lot of these ideas are not very plausible:
- Increasing emitter strength over time means that you're racing against time and I feel like that's not what the CW games are all about.
- Making other emitters stronger if you nullify an emitter means you don't have to ever nullify an emitter
- Having emitters further back in the level be stronger than the ones closer... doesn't actually change anything, because the total emission power level on the map doesn't change. Creeper in CW4 flows much quicker so this actually matters more than in CW3, because everything will be coming at you.

Lastly, think about this - you have a perfectly defensible position. What can you do to make the rest of the level more hectic? Well, not much really - after all, the player has fortified. You would have to use tactics that breach the player's defenses - which is frustrating, because you don't have any real restrictions as to how many blasters etc. you can build at any given time, so when you're breached, it's not because you've been outsmarted, it's because you should have built more blasters. Next time you'll build more blasters. Eventually, you're just going to be placing safety blasters on every inch of the map for defense, because you can, since they are infinite - and no problem is solved.

This is something I'm fearing with CW4's "throw stuff at your base" model, because nothing stops me from putting blasters everywhere. But at the same I'm not that worried because nobody says that's not going to be fun - having your base tested against attacks is cool - I just hope letting things land and taking out the aftermath with blasters won't be the most cost effective way, so that other weapons are useful too (not that this was ever a problem with CW3 spores, but CW3 Beams are really powerful and CW4 Snipers barely manage to take out all the Air Sac bubbles).
« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 11:07:58 am by Grabz »