Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Dev Diary #3: The World Map Sector System

Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Dev Diary #3: The World Map Sector System

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LennartGS

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Hi there! The gameplay of Planetfall is split over the world map and the tactical combat map layers, as in the vintage Age of Wonders. In this post we’ll be looking at one of the biggest structural changes to the world map: the Sector System.

Planets: But let’s first start with the overall world map. It now wraps horizontally, so maps feel like Planets. Of course, this has strategic consequences too as you are no longer able to camp in corners. Planets are built from a combination of distinct landscapes, such as frozen wastes, lush jungles, and deserts, with their own alien flora and fauna. There are five main land biomes + oceans, which have varied resource yields to be exploited through research.

At the start of a session, you can choose a planet template, or shape your own. All procedural generated planets get a name and are plotted on the Star Union’s galaxy map. You can create desert worlds resembling Tatooine, the feral jungles of Avatar, or the infernos of Hell. There’s loads of settings, like you can control the amount of Star Union Ruins on that particular world.

Sector System: A patchwork of bordered areas call Sectors make up the surface of planets. This sector system has a big impact on the world map gameflow. They come in a number of types:
  • Wilderness Sectors follow natural boundaries and reflect their terrain. A Sector contains one biome and a number of natural terrain features - these define the sector's base resource yield. Players can expand their colonies into Wildernesses and coastal waters and develop them.
  • Landmark Sectors contain high value, large Imperial ruins providing unique benefits. Landmarks “occupy” the sector. This means they can be annexed by your colonies, but you can’t found a new colony on them.
  • Dwelling Sectors: Contain the bases and cities of NPC Natives. Smaller spawner-like camps you can clear through diplomacy or force. Larger habitats work like landmarks in the sense they they occupy a sector..
  • Additional Structures and Effects: Next to sector occupying Landmark and bases, there is a collection of secondary structures to be found. They include resource nodes, pickups and visit sites. Then there are defenses and hazards that work as status effects for the entire sector.
SectorInfo.jpg

The Sector interface brings it all together. This sector contains a Landmark: the Xenolife Institute, and a crystal node + a Targeting Array as sector defense.


The Sector System offers new gameplay possibilities:
  • World Building: All Sectors are named (including wildernesses) hinting at their contents. Landmarks such as the Xenolife Institute in the screenshot above have bits of lore added. Sectors have their own mix of inhabitants, resources, dangers or mysteries, this way each Sector tells its own little or big story.

  • New City Expansion mechanics: Colonies are expanded by adding sectors to them, these sectors can subsequently be specialized in one of the main resource types and further upgraded. Landmark Sectors provide unique benefits to the colonies. Higher level landmarks unlock new city upgrades, or unlock new Doctrines. We’ll be delving into cities and doctrines later.

  • Sectors as strategic Goals: In AoW3, cities were the only real strategic targets on the map, whilst in the older AoW games you could flag individual resource nodes which lead to grieving tactics. Sectors can be conquered individually (also taken from enemy cities), thus forming secondary strategic goals.

  • Diplomatic Interaction: Sectors come into play during border disputes. Players may lay claim to lands by building Forward Bases in sectors. Sectors make good diplomatic trading items in order to settle disputes. Trading one of your precious cities was often a bridge too far, but redrawing the borders by trading sectors is less painful.
DiplomacySector.jpg

In this screenshot a cheeky Kirko is asking for our Pleasure District Sector.


Next week Arno will talk about the improvements of the new engine - This is my last journal for a couple of weeks. Next to a major milestone delivery next week I also have a “delivery” in the family planned.
 

Leyrann

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Looking good again!

Also, considering the mention of diplomacy I wanted to ask, will there be an option where you can threaten someone, eg, "give me X and Y or I declare war on you"? This is something that I feel is missing, even if a demand system is there, because the AI will not understand that you declaring war is the consequence of an ignored demand.

And regarding the trading, I really really really want to have an option to see which sector or city is on the table (edit: the position it has on the map I mean). In Civilization I always find myself remembering city names and then going into peace deals after winning a war to make sure I get the cities I want, and if the AI offers me a peace deal instead I can't even do that because I can't exit the screen.

Edit: Also, will it get pinned this time?
 
Last edited:

Leon Feargus

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No! Don´t do it! Not the pleasure district! Anything but the pleasure district!
 

Jean-Luc

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Next to a major milestone delivery next week I also have a “delivery” in the family planned.
Congratulations Lennart, someone's gotta work on Age of Wonders 7. ;-)

Really love the flavor, as well as strategic consideration, being given to sectors. Really upping the game from past titles.


Just please don't forget to have a coastal sector named Port Romance. ;-)
 

Thrake

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How are sectors assigned to colonies? Is there a limit to how many sectors a colonny encompass? Looking good overwise, the prospect to trade less important goals than cities to settle peace looks good even if often times a limitation to how diplomatically wars can be settled in many games is ampered first and foremost by the willingness of the AI to offer reasonable offers (a good exemple is an AI with numerically superior army (often because of AI bonus) that is asking for concessions from a player that is winning, so eventually the player is forced to fight the AI to the death and conquer it because it usually looks at army numbers rather than who is wining battles/occupying land, and once you've done the first and hardest half of the job to force the AI into the peace table you might as well finish off the easy half rather than settle for a triffle).
 

Destrada

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Something I'd like to point out: These dev diaries should be on the first page when you visit the forums, like the dev diaries for other games.
 

Quark02

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Colonist slots? I'm not too eager to see colonist slots, I'm getting some serious Civ/Colonization flashbacks.

Forward bases sound like influence star bases from Calactic Civilizations, pushing the boundary so far that mines/colonies can actually rebel and switch sides. I assume diplomacy will also include "Get that forward base outta here or be prepared to defend it with all your might, punk!" options. And "Sure, we will knock it down... at some point, wink wink" responses.

UI is still WIP I see, quite cluttered and messy, difficult to focus on what is supposed to be important. I will enjoy keeping up with how it evolves.
 

Rhaeg

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I really, really like the art style of the icons in the interface. Very colourful and they really make everything nicer to look at. AOW games have always made great use of bright colours on the map and it's nice to see some of that in the icons too now! Improving on an already great game or game series is often done by small changes like these, not by making huge changes to gameplay.

Oh, btw Lennart: I notice that apart from the 1st one, these dev journals are not appearing on the forum home page: https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php Maybe that is intended, but it seems that other PDX games' dev diaries and updates appear there, so perhaps you forget to tick a box or whatever when posting these.

And congratulations ofc on the upcoming "expansion" :)

Edit: other peeps already noted the thingy about the journals missing on the home page while I was admiring the screenshots and typing this.
 

LennartGS

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Hi, to answer some of the questions:
  • There are some similarities with Stellaris and Age of Wonders 3 Forts in the sense you get a foothold without the full dedication of a colony. But the actual gameplay implications are different from AoW3. Forward basis cost you, rather than yield resources.
  • It is possible to add threats which cost Influence to requests. Declining can give the opponent casus belli. More on this in a future Diplomacy Journal.
  • The number of sectors a colony can annex is dependent on population level, as well as research allowing you to settle certain types.
  • Colonist assignment is fairly straightforward and can be fully automated. Colonists act as wiggle room in your economy (on top of flat income sources). TThere is no per tile or per sector switching. You assign Colonists on a resource channel. Slots gained from individual sectors are pooled together.
Thanks for the congrats
 

TheDarkMaster

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If colonists can be freely reassigned, then it's more like the Endless Legend style population management. There each population can generate one of the game's resources and various improvements and conditions will modify how effective a given city is at producing those resources with population. There isn't a limit on how many people can be assigned to what in that game though, so that's one difference for sure.
 

Gloweye

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Looks good guys!

I'd be nice to have two decline modes - one respectfully, and one threathening.

"We cannot afford that, how about this peace offer instead ?"

vs

"Hah ! Then bring your little armies. I just bought a new swatter I wanted to test, punk! "

Which could have different effects, the first costing you some influence and not giving casus belli unless the demander does a better offer (and possibly gaining him influence), the second option draining some influence from your enemy and giving him instant casus belli.

What's a targetting array do ?
 

Alex646

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Colonist assignment is fairly straightforward and can be fully automated. Colonists act as wiggle room in your economy (on top of flat income sources). TThere is no per tile or per sector switching. You assign Colonists on a resource channel. Slots gained from individual sectors are pooled together.
I hope resource channel assigning is simple process, because everyone remembers Stellaris fail of AI sector management.
 

AwesomeLion

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This is looking great - can't wait for next dev journal.

Oh and congratulations Lennart - best wishes from Norway
 

Damkac

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Congratulations Lennart!

This sector system is really intriguing. Hope it works as good as it sounds!

Will maps have climate zones or will different climates be all mixed up randomly?

Just noticed the unit guarding the crystal. Looks quite creepy. I guess it's one of the Paragon?
 

HousePet

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A bit concerned about colonist assignment. I have never enjoyed the micromanagement of them.
Maybe if there were some good global controls for designating what sort of split to aim for in all cities it might be non painful.