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Loosing the upgrade achievements

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Hi!
I am hitting an unexpected problem in my game. It is built in unusual way where the player is not exploring upgrade tree but upgrading each unit/building separately. The problem is that as the timeline advanced the enemy is advancing too and the player needs more and more resources. But if the mines/farms are destroyed he can not get back to that level and the loss is inevitable. I have some ideas how to compensate that but they have weak points too. What is usually happening is that after about 20 minutes in hard mode the enemy destroyed most of my cities and is close to the capital and I am out of resources so I am using cheats and that way can kick the AI back (not an easy task :)) If use the classic solution - build a farm and it will produce 800% food because of the upgrades that will make some of the structures useless (lets say the Academy - the player can upgrade the farm through it to 3th level step by step). May be the upgrade could be done at once for less price - but if the Academy is lost as it usually happens that is also impossible. And even if I build another one it will level 0 also and allowing only standard upgrades. Also the players resources consumption is going more and more higher.

Both solutions I would like are complicated and player may miss the possibility to use them very easy. There is one structure, the main building, that is existing from the start to the end and I tried the idea to upgrade it so each farm close to it will work more efficient but that again is a parasite idea, not comparable to the main idea. Trying to keep the upgrade system is hard.

If you have some unusual ideas I would be glad to read them.

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I assume you can't change much of your upgrade system?

If you can, you could try to change it to a global upgrade system where you can research independent from your academies.

Then switch the purpose of your academies to something else e.g. making upgrades cost less, make research time faster, make building starting upgrades (e.g. have 3 academies and every building starts on upgrade 3 but costs more).

You need to keep in mind what the purpose of the system is. If you have the system for the player to be better over time, you can't take this advantage away without simultaneously giving a huge penalty to the player.

 If you plan to have flexibility in this system (e.g. getting more over time and losing some or a lot in battle), you need to plan ahead with all boni and mali that may occur.

Is a player with no or few upgrades supposed to have a chance against a player/AI with all or a lot of upgrades?

If he should have a chance, you can't make these upgrades be too powerful (e.g. give 5% bonus instead of 25% for food production buildings).

Otherwise you can end the game if the player falls behind too much. Think of this like a victory in science where the higher technological civilization wins with enough difference in upgrades.

If you want the player to have a chance despite being at a huge disadvantage, you can try to add rubberband boni like "your people rally to your aide as militia units" or "other countries have pity on you and send regular shipments of food and materials".

Just keep in mind that upgrades are a big contributor to power imbalance especially in late game.

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sorry in advance for all the rambling, but upgrades is a sore topic in games ^^

You can also change the cost for upgrades depending on the upgrades the enemy has.

Reducing the price if the enemy has a lot of upgrades could be explained through espionage.

You can also make upgrades global for all players, meaning that if one player invents something, every player receives the benefit.

This makes upgrades less desirable for players who have little material for investments but they still benefit from players with a lot of materials spending these on upgrades.

You can also make these upgrades cost a lot less (like 25% of the original cost) if another player already has this upgrade.

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Posted (edited)

What I am sure now is that it is missing the flexibility that I want, the enemy may hit hard and its main attacks are in waves so even the player survived until the next wave may not has the chance to survive it. It is much better when I put more resources via cheat.
It is not necessary to upgrade everything (and it is impossible) the player can win with different style of gameplay but the problem is that after strong enemy attack the time to rebuild and heal, reproduce is too short for non-upgraded units. For now I put a "reserve"  which is growing up until its maximum and the player can use it to "Credit" himself but the bigger is the reserve the faster it reproduces itself, so if it is 0 probably until the next wave it will give nothing useful.
rubberband boni - can not be applied to that game... no allies anywhere. But the idea is good. 

Enemy upgrades are much different and are not related to players upgrades. Still trying to avoid global achievements but put some small compromise and will try to reduce the enemy power a bit, I think that problem become too serious. Making the game so different bring a lot of "alien" problems that doesn't exist in other games and the solutions are very hard to find.

Edited by Pleistorm

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It seems like there's not enough rock paper scissors in your game.

File:Rock-paper-scissors.svg

If the AI comes with lots of units that are overwhelming the player, then there should be a strategy to counter that. For example, you could use rock paper scissors for the different units themselves. If the AI comes with huge armies of archers, then you must have a proper counter unit (like cavalry) which the player will be able to counter the AI with until the AI picks up and reacts to this counter strategy, and then the player reacts to the AI's counter strategy with another counter strategy, etc.

Or you could make large armies slower than small armies which would allow the player to quickly infiltrate the enemies territory with guerrilla troops and damage his income facilities. If armies cost money to upkeep, then doing so will disband some AI's armies because you would have weakened his income. Or you could damage his upgrade facilities and make it that the upgrades are removed at the same time, allowing you to overcome his armies with lesser stronger troops. The concept of guerrilla troops could also be implemented with spies a la Total War.

(image from http://meeplesyrupshow.com/?page_id=651)

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On 5/9/2018 at 2:41 PM, Pleistorm said:

...It is much better when I put more resources via cheat...

rubberband boni - can not be applied to that game... no allies anywhere. But the idea is good. 

Enemy upgrades are much different and are not related to players upgrades. Still trying to avoid global achievements...

Ok that sounds like you can solve your problems in a few ways which will have a big impact in your game but should not be too hard to implement.

1.) If the game feels ok with a cheat before every wave, try to implement the cheat as a game element. Give the player the same resources (or a bit less) that you gave yourself via cheat but make it into an event. "Your citizens are trying to help with funding your next defense and gathered a lot of materials, they want you to have them to better protect them." or "In a nearby cave you found several vaults that seem to be sealed tight. With time we are able to crack these vaults open and gather what is inside." The latter would be more story based and could be a way to have the cheat-funding run dry if it used too much.

2.) Rubberband boni can always be applied, the only problem is measuring if the rubberband is necessary or not. You could for example have positive or negative events after every wave. "Your last defense was hard fought and your army celebrates with a big feast. They gained a higher morale and will be more effective in the upcoming battles (gain X% more dmg, accuracy, hp, etc.)." or "Your enemies are devastated to be unable to break you. Their forces are demotivated and will perform worse in upcoming battles (enemy units have X% less dmg, acc, hp, etc.)." or if it is a one-time thing "Some of your enemies deserted and came to your aide. They caused some damage to the enemy forces before leaving."

3.) I would not necessarily say you have to change your upgrades, you might just have to implement a counter weight. This means for example if the player has a lot of upgrades, the enemy gets a passive bonus to his units. Or if the player has a lot less units than the enemy, he can receive a passive bonus to perform better. "Your gathering units are aware of your situation and try to perform better to ensure their survival of the upcoming enemy attack."

Of course implementing additional factors like morale or events can cause the game to be harder to balance, but if your balance now is good when you cheat, why not keep the cheats as gameplay elements?

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Posted (edited)

LOL, these are interesting ideas! But even with cheats it is hard. Actually the game has 7 levels and I am playing at 6 (very hard) and after 18 minutes the enemy is very close to my capital. I am trying not to cheat too much but... That means something is wrong. It become clear to me that I reached my goal to mix RTS, TD and surviving but still developing the game as RTS and that is causing the problem I think. The enemy is upgrading before each wave and I am not so much, especially when I loose a lot of units and buildings it is a lost war. Maybe I should put some autoupgrades before the next wave.

""In a nearby cave you found several vaults that seem to be sealed tight" - very interesting idea, I will try to put it in use. 2) in Tower defence usually the player is receiving money as a reward I dont have such system but have scrappers that are taking resources by the destroyed own and enemy units but seems that is not enough, maybe not fast enough. 3) When enemy units are more they are less efective so when the player is pressing hard the enemy it will become stronger. But something is wrong. I reduced prices, speed up units building but yet it is hard. 

Rock paper scissors is a bit reduced in my game to some reasons. Non adequate "meetings" as in Company of Heroes when sniper meets Armored car or AT meets infantry in my game usually leads to heavy losses for the player or totally inadequate units of AI (or very effective counters). But that is not the problem. I think the enemy developing curve is too high and I must leave the idea of loosing all upgrades and achievements.

 

Edited by Pleistorm

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