Age of Wonders: Planetfall – Dev Diary #11: Faction Customization

Age of Wonders: Planetfall – Dev Diary #11: Faction Customization

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Hi there, welcome to this week’s Planetfall Journal where we’ll be taking a look at Commander Creation. The Commander is your in-game avatar, the embodiment of your empire in the making. Commanders come from variety of backgrounds, but all are sent out to claim a former Star Union world for their respective faction. The type of Commander you are has a great impact on how you achieve victory.

In this journal we’ll be taking a look at the game mechanic part of the customization process. As we go through the Customization Process, you’ll get a good idea of how gameplay mechanics and content is distributed in Planetfall. You can start a game either by choosing a pre-made commander or creating your own.


Character Selection.jpg
Select a pre-made Commander or create your own

Race


There are 6 Races in the Planetfall. Based on the feedback from Age of Wonders 3, we have greatly expanded the unique content, flavor and mechanics for the races, meaning that each race has a unique technology tree and unit lineup. Currently each race has on average:
  • 8 Units per race + 2 Racial ships and a Colonizer
  • 8 Racial Unit Mods
  • Operations, Buildings and Society Doctrines.

Weapon Groups

Next to unique units and mods, races are also associated with weapons technologies which contain additional Weapon Mods (average 7) and a couple of operations. Weapon Groups determine the primary damage channels factions will be using. They are divided as follows:

  • Vanguard – Laser and Kinetic
  • Kirko - Biochemical and Psionic
  • Assemly – Arc and Kinetic
  • Dvar – Explosive and Kinetic
  • Amazon – Biochemical and Laser
  • Syndicate – Arc and Psionic

Secret Technology

At the start of the Game the player selects one of the Secret Technologies of the Star Union. These are fields of experimental or forbidden research that were hidden from the general population. By mastering these technologies, the Commanders hope to achieve victory and / or transcend their people to a new era. Secret Techs contain additional Units, Mods and especially Operations.

Each Secret Technology has its own doomsday weapon, which reflects the ultimate goal of that technology. Doomsday Weapons are powerful, planetary scale weapons which the player can use to gain a huge advantage and eventually win outright. Secret techs therefore make up the Tech Victory of the Game.

Character Creation.jpg

The first screen of the customization process

Perks:


These personal perks allow you to further tailor your leader, telling his or her background story along with bonusses or penalties that affect your style of play. You get three points you can spend in these categories:

· Background: Describes your Commander’s former profession. For example, you could be a Star Union Scholar, who researches Secrets Technologies faster, and get a bonus on rewards from pickups and treasure sites.

· Colony Supplement: You can allocate room in your Voidship to kickstart your colony in a particular area. For example, Extra Cryopods start off your colonies with extra population.

· Personal Loadout: The starting gear and combat skills for your commander. You can choose to be a sniper, who provides ranged support from afar, an assault specialist who gets in close, or a pilot who rides a vehicle into battle.

· Vice: Are 3 Points not enough? You can always choose a vice of varying intensity to get more points, but you’ll have to live with the consequences during the game. For example, the Kleptomaniac steals your empires energy for themselves, damaging your economy (though as a minor consolation he also starts off with a free piece of randomly chosen equipment that he stole from his home planet before departing).

TechTeePreview2.jpg
A cut out section of the WIP tech tree interface showing a number of tech paths for a Vanguard Promethean player.

Composited Tech Tree

Most games have a tech tree or multiple tech tree that are shared between all factions. Planetfall however has a ton of unique content that comes from different sources, such as the player’s race, secret tech and weapon types. We call these Tech Paths and here is a preview cut-out of how these Tech Paths are organized in the game.

In a future diaries we'll be looking closer at both the research tree as well as visual commander customization.
 

Fenraellis

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Aha, a look at the research screen! Tech dependencies, but enough paths that you don't feel truly constrained.

Also, I see that you pared back the twelve units into eight, presumably because of the Secret Tech selections, if nothing else. Tier groupings of 4/2/1/1, or 3/3/1/1, perhaps, plus ships (tier 2/3?, or even variable by race) and the colonizer.

I was initially surprised at there only being eight racial mods, but with mods from Weapon Tech, Secret Tech, I can see how it all wraps up to a solid amount. Not to mention mods from NPC-Factions, and even some mod selections from secondary races.

I'm pleased my Weapon Tech lineup prediction was entirely accurate. :)

I think it's pretty neat that Star Union Scholar is a specialized research boost, rather than a broad one like Scholar was, especially since it comes with the boost to exploration rewards.

It's also an interesting twist that the Vices also come with a minor positive effect(or at least the mentioned one does), even if it's relatively minor compared to what might be a global percentage energy income penalty.

-----

I hope there are that many pre-made Leaders built in for a single race, although one can always add to it with custom leaders, I suppose. Aside from that, the Kir'Ko is looking pretty great, and the icon art is excellent. I especially appreciate the overall customization setup screen. A kind of mesh of AoW 3 and even AoW 2.

I did have a few questions on it, though. First off, are the parts with blue text hyperlinks to an [Archive] of Wonders? Second, the +3 Happiness bonus the Vanguard get... Is that a per-colonist stacking bonus, or a +3 bonus to the Colony itself? Also, has Happiness been radically changed in scaling as the number itself would imply, especially in the latter case?
 
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Orinsul

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Will there be racial/weapon group filters like 3 has to help finding commanders?

Also if its not set, could races be species? It sounds more sci fi.
fantasy races, alien species. This is an aliens game not a fantasy one right?
 

Dr_K

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Kir'Ko leader looks great!

Are we supposed to get a fourth image or just an accidental broken link? :D

Edit: Apparently no image :(
 
Last edited:

Jolly Joker

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I'll keep discussion of the tech tree for the journal that will handle it - I'm just praying that not only the look will change, but also that it's not a linear tree in the sense that every time you run a certain configuration things will develop the same. AoW 3 didn't do it, so I don't see any reason now to start with it.

The customization looks pretty straightforward AoW 3 with Class and Race exchanged and 3 "Background" points instead of spec points and the added plus of being able to take in negatives for added plusses - so I'm quite positive about it.
 

LennartGS

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I did have a few questions on it, though. First off, are the parts with blue text hyperlinks to an [Archive] of Wonders? Second, the +3 Happiness bonus the Vanguard get... Is that a per-colonist stacking bonus, or a +3 bonus to the Colony itself? Also, has Happiness been radically changed in scaling as the number itself would imply, especially in the latter case?
The blue text = hyperlinks to the "Imperial Archives".
The happiness system has been changed from AoW3. More about this in a future journal about Colonies.

Will there be racial/weapon group filters like 3 has to help finding commanders?

Also if its not set, could races be species? It sounds more sci fi.
fantasy races, alien species. This is an aliens game not a fantasy one right?
The Tech filter has gone missing, will likely come back.

I think they are called Species in The game's resource packs. We have to do a glossary pass still. Factions originate from within the Star Union and most are - or have evolved from - humans.
 

BloodyBattleBrain

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Racial units hidden behind research. Interesting choice. Expected that to happen.

Will there be building pre-requisites as well?

Wondering how the gameplay will be affected by this.

And thanks for confirming how the tech victory works.

I'm looking forward to seeing if/how that can be rushed. ☺
 

PersonalLiberation

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Looks good. Will there be an option for a random Secret Technology? Doesn't seem "secret" when we are picking it in the beginning. I'm assuming there will be exploration of ruins and such that will give insight to the secret technology and I wouldn't want to miss an opportunity for immersion if I can. Thanks!
 

Fenraellis

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Racial units hidden behind research. Interesting choice. Expected that to happen.

Will there be building pre-requisites as well?

Wondering how the gameplay will be affected by this.

And thanks for confirming how the tech victory works.

I'm looking forward to seeing if/how that can be rushed. ☺
A racial unit was being researched in the first picture of Dev Diary #8, three weeks ago ;). Now we know it's a Tier 3 research, though.

I think they suggested a few research-locked buildings related to race at some point, but I can't seem to find the dev post about it at the moment. They would be under society research, for the most part, I imagine, so it's unsurprising there are none in the first three tiers of research shown in the image here.

On a side note, it's worth noting that even the military techs have Forces/Tactical/Strategic/Laser/Kinetic identifiers on the techs, for easy identification. I wonder if one might have a Strategic/Laser orbital laser unlock, for example.
 

LennartGS

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Will there be building pre-requisites as well?
Yes. There are buildings associated with a category of unit.

I'm looking forward to seeing if/how that can be rushed. ☺
We'll place additional barriers when needed. It's possible to Rush towards high tier units now, going all out on research, but you'll be stuck with stone-age economy and mods.
 

LennartGS

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Looks good. Will there be an option for a random Secret Technology? Doesn't seem "secret" when we are picking it in the beginning. I'm assuming there will be exploration of ruins and such that will give insight to the secret technology and I wouldn't want to miss an opportunity for immersion if I can. Thanks!
The intent is keeping Tech choice secret during earlier phases of game play, but the use of lower tier secret units (min=Tier II) will give it away. Randomizing Secret Techs for AI Commanders is considered, this is the reason Secret Tech is left out the Commander list.
 

Quark02

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Is the background leader-specific? ie do you get a resource pickup boost if and only if the leader himself picks it up?

The reason why I'm wondering is the option of having heroes of various backgrounds. They might not have the global effects (the whole empire doesn't get a research boost because a lackey shows up), but the local perks could come from the background...
 

Fenraellis

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We'll place additional barriers when needed. It's possible to Rush towards high tier units now, going all out on research, but you'll be stuck with stone-age economy and mods.
Does this mean that Knowledge output is divided, presumably equally, between Military and Society research when both are being researched simultaneously? Referring to your comment about stone-age economy implying that one could intentionally choose NOT to research society technology, so they could move through the Military tree faster.

That being said, for a faction with a drone-based Tier 4 unit, it would make some sense if they needed to research some of their more theoretical(lower line with the mods and such) faction military technology before they could properly research and employ the unit itself, no?
 

BleedTheFreak

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Are the weapon groups hard coded to the species/factions? Or can you set up to have Vanguard with Arc and Kinetic weapons?
 

mr_stibbons

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Are the background, perk, and vice options going to change based on race?( obviously the load out will change).
 

Fenraellis

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Are the weapon groups hard coded to the species/factions? Or can you set up to have Vanguard with Arc and Kinetic weapons?
Hard-coded was confirmed, but presumably(?) able to be changed with Modding of the game, if one were so inclined.

That being said, Weapon Tech is for mods and operations, primarily, it seems. Factions might have units that deal damage of different types than their weapon techs. For example, we have seen a Vanguard unit that deals Arc damage, the Brutalis Walker, with a Gatling Gun attack. Presuming it still does that, of course, considering the screen shot which showed the unit is almost three months old now.

[Note: the information is dated, as mentioned, and the unit may have had a mod, from a variety of potential sources, that gave it arc damage.]
 
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mr_stibbons

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That being said, Weapon Tech is for mods and operations, primarily, it seems. Factions might have units that deal damage of different types than their weapon techs. For example, we have seen a Vanguard unit that deals Arc damage, the Brutalis Walker, with a Gatling Gun attack. Presuming it still does that, of course, considering the screen shot which showed the unit is almost three months old now
There was mention of the ability to change damage types with mods in a unit dev diary, with shock rounds for kinetics cited as an example. That doesn't presumably make arc weapon tech mods compatible with that unit.
 

The Mentat

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Also if its not set, could races be species? It sounds more sci fi.
Personally, I prefer species too.

It looks like research is now chosen (and not only organized) in a tree, that’s actually a huge change. For me it’s less of a concern as it would have been in AoW3 because there are more variations (36 different tech trees assuming 6 secret technologies) so it shouldn’t get repetitive too fast – and of course a tech tree has also some benefits. Still, I would prefer at least some randomness.

From an organization point of view I like the different tech paths. You could even include some unique techs that are only available within the current combination. For example the Dvar could provide a unique armor upgrade to purifier forces.

Graphically icons and interface look already great!
 

Jean-Luc

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So much exciting information here.

I like the "gambling" and mixed blessing (combo of good and bad effects) aspect of the klepto perk. It's one of those things that aren't exactly optimal but are still fun. Some similar suggestions if I may.

- Bi-polar: Commander's happiness is not affected by outside factors and shifts randomly from turn to turn (anywhere from extremely negative to extremely positive). Could be an interesting choice on maps with lots of bad terrain or just for fun. For additional functionality the leader could transfer (a part) of their morale onto adjacent units on the tactical map so you'd need to keep the leader separate on a bad day but have them "hug" your units on a good one. Could create interesting situations.

- Paranoid: Bonus dmg and/or defense when in overwatch. Big happiness penalty outside overwatch. Does happiness even have an effect on the tactical map?

- Latent psychic: Leader gains a ranged psi attack that has a chance to stun the target. However, if the target gets stunned so does the leader. Could create interesting situations and risks. Should be limited to races that aren't normally psychic.

- Body modder: Leader has hardened their body with cybernetic implants. Not for races like Kir'Ko or Amazons? Leader has +1 armor and receives no bonus dmg from flanking attacks but incurs additional energy upkeep and has X% arc weakness. More upkeep could be nasty in the very early game but good for a melee hero unless the arc weakness bites them in the ass.

- Trick shooter: Occasionally leader's ranged attacks to 50% (?) more damage. When they do leader gets bonus happiness (temporary). However leader loses happiness whenever they graze or miss with a ranged attack. A softer version would be bonus chance to hit with happiness loss on miss or graze.

- Haunted: An unknown cosmic presence haunts this person eating away at their dreams but also filling the gaps with secrets. What could it be? :eek: Psi weakness and exp gain penalty but leader provides a random amount of military science points per turn (within a given range). Doomsday tech is slightly cheaper to build or research. Something wants to see the world burn.
 
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