Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Dev Diary #40: The new Adaptive Multiplayer System

Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Dev Diary #40: The new Adaptive Multiplayer System

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Hi there and welcome to this week’s Planetfall development journal. We’ll be taking a look at the Adaptive Multiplayer system which combines Age of Wonders’ live simultaneous, classic turn and Play by Email system in one flexible whole. Its a comprehensive system with Triumph co-founder and tech director Arno van Wingerden the lead, along with members of the tech team, Lascha, Michel and Jack. As far as we know its a first in the genre and we’re quite excited about it.

LoggingIn.jpg

Adaptive Multiplayer


Planetfall introduces a new type of cloud-based online play where players are freely able to switch between classic turns and simultaneous play pending their availability.

Switching Between Turn Modes

Is it hard to get your friends together at the same time? You take their turn whenever you have a spare moment after getting the notification email, or stay online until the other player’s finish their turn.

But when all participants are available at the same time (like in the weekend) the game can switch to simultaneous turns at the click of a button. In this mode everybody takes their turn at the same time for a faster game experience.

Chat.jpg

Always Access your Game

Multiplayer is cloud based. Even though it is not your turn, you can log in to your online games at anytime. You can view the lay of the land and plan your next move. You can observe the moves of others within your field of vision and chat to other players who are online at the same time.

Tactical Combat available in all modes

All online game states, including the “Play by Email” classic turns where players don’t have to be online at the same time support manual tactical combat. Players get combat turn notification just like when its a world map turn. Of course battles are resolved faster when the players involved in combat are online at the same time, which is now possible using the login anytime Adaptive Multiplayer.

ActiveSessions.jpg
Manual Tactical Combat

Manual Combat can make sessions last long and or involve waiting for players, especially in games with more than two human players. The following options help reduce the amount of battles in game:
  • Manual combat only between Human Players.
  • Manual combat only vs AI (Used primarily in Classic Turns)
  • Always Use Auto Combat (in a live multiplayer game with more than 2 players, this was basically the only way to play)
In Planetfall we have added a new system for you that that gamifies the number of manual battles, the Combat Cards System.


Combat Cards


Combat Cards determine the number of times players can use manual combat in a multiplayer game. Each manual battle that delays the game for others costs a card. This makes multiplayer games go faster as they require you to think carefully about which battles you play manually. For an observing player, it makes watching battles more exciting as the stakes are high in the battles that do take place.

All players are given a number of combat cards at the start of the game, cards regenerate after a number turns have elapsed. Both the starting amount and the number of turns before a card regenerates can be configured by the host in the Turns Tab of the Scenario Setup. Cards do not regenerate over their starting maximum.

Note that Player VS AI battles in the PBEM style Classic Turns do not cost a card as they do not require the other players to be online.

Cards.jpg

Multiplayer Settings

Here are some call outs from the game setup scree:

Maximum Number of Players: The game supports up to 8 online human players, out of a total of 12 factions on a planet. (so 8 persons + 4 AI players is the max).

Hot Seat: Single computer “Hot Seat” multiplayer is accessible from the regular Advanced Scenario Setup: Select “Scenario” from the main menu, choose a planet, press Advanced and assigning multiple “Human” Players in the Commander Slots.

Teams: This locks players into fixed teams of opponents, disabling diplomatic state changes between -and within the Teams for a head to head experience. Of course you can mix human and AI players within Teams.

Coop: Want to play coop? Put yourself and a friend a in fixed team and pit yourself against a group of AIs. The number of AI factions of course has an effect on difficulty.


Setup.jpg

Gameplay Settings:
Controls Victory Modes, RMG, as in stand alone advanced settings.

Turns Settings: Turn and Tactical Combat Settings, including Turn Timers.

  • Combat Turn timer, scales with the number of units in a battle
  • World Turn Timer scales with the size of your empire (number of colonies and units)
World Settings: Advanced RMG Settings as in single player setup.

We’re looking forward to challenging you in game. The team at Triumph already has done many practice rounds at the office. ;)
 

NINJEW

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i'm really glad that multiplayer is getting some much needed attention this time around. both the adaptive mode and the combat card mechanic are great solutions to a lot of the problems i tend to face with playing multiplayer.

a note on combat cards, i hope both the attacker and the defender get the option to use a card to make the combat manual. if the decision was only in the hands of the attacker, such as it was in age of wonders 3, the system would be pretty easily abuseable (if your army is better suited to autobattling than the other player's, but not a better army in manual combat, you could determine a game-deciding fight in a single button click without the other player being able to do anything about it)

with these multiplayer hurdles addressed, i hope to see split stacking get addressed as well in the future.
 

LennartGS

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a note on combat cards, i hope both the attacker and the defender get the option to use a card to make the combat manual. if the decision was only in the hands of the attacker, such as it was in age of wonders 3, the system would be pretty easily abuseable (if your army is better suited to autobattling than the other player's, but not a better army in manual combat, you could determine a game-deciding fight in a single button click without the other player being able to do anything about it)
Still playing with that; for sim turns this could work, but classic turns it would cause a lot of interruptions in the normal turn flow, (sending request to a player likely not currently in game, awaiting for their reaction)
 

NINJEW

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i hope you find a solution, because it sounds like a really cool system and i'd hate to be effectively unable to use it when playing with strangers (strangers in video games are jerks and will definitely abuse that if given the chance)

one thing you could maybe do is have a game option to set a minimum fight size, so the game isn't ground to a halt every time 2 scouts run into each other. i'd see it as something like "autobattle doesn't require both parties to agree if there is less than 3 combatants on either side" but with the number being set in the lobby

or make asking required if the fight is over a certain size, so that small sniping is fine and dandy but no one gets their massive army cheesed out by an exploiting player. something like "any fight with more than 6 combatants on both sides requires consent from both players to autobattle" (again, with the number able to be set in lobby)
 

Pyoro

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Shouldn't instead auto-battling be balanced against manual-battling, so the outcomes tend to be comparable in multiplayer? If a type of army is so identifiable better at auto-battle than manual battle in MP, then surely auto-combat needs adjustment ...
 

Skoell

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sounds ingenious.now that i read about the Adaptive Multiplayer I'm already missing it in all other turn based strat-games. :)
 

HousePet

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Should? Yes.
But the game also 'Should' be complete by a set release date...
I'm sure they are doing their best, but its not realistic to expect an AI to perform as well as a Player, and that is before you take into account that the Player may have desires beyond just winning the battle.
 

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  • Combat Turn timer, scales with the number of units in a battle
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I love it!

The combat turn-timer was the only worthwhile addition to the last HOMM title and I'm sooo happy you've included it in AOW.

No more 3rd party timer to keep track of, and you're even adding scaling :)

Is the scaling logic configurable or moddable?
 

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This sounds really awesome, but I echo NINJEW's thoughts, both the first one (defender should be able to play a card as well), as well as the second one (customizable settings dealing with minimum strength necessary to play a card).
 

NINJEW

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Shouldn't instead auto-battling be balanced against manual-battling, so the outcomes tend to be comparable in multiplayer? If a type of army is so identifiable better at auto-battle than manual battle in MP, then surely auto-combat needs adjustment ...
the aow3 AI is very good at a particular type of battle, which is the type of battle you're going to see most often: one where victory is mostly assured for the player. if you approach a battle from the perspective that every unit is probably going to die, the ai is relatively smart about making the most of what it's got and dealing the most damage to the player it can before being steamrolled

flip the script, or make it an even battle, and the problems the AI has are more obvious. it'll throw away units that didn't need to be thrown away, for the sake of getting a kill NOW that it could've gotten later anyway, and generally isn't very good at preserving its units.

some units play to what the AI is better at than others (units with high Raw Stats, especially defensive stats, the AI does pretty well with. squishy units that require particularly intelligent use of, i.e. the ones most interesting for a player to use, the AI does very poorly with)

the thing is pretty much any AI is going to have some kind of bias towards being smarter/more effective with some units than others, there's not really any getting around that unless you quadrupled the amount of time spent working on the AI. even then i'd doubt you'd get an AI that works equally well with all unit combinations.
 
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MrSoulbinder

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In simultanous turn mode: If player A fights against player B in manual tactical combat, without player C being involved. What viewing options does player C have? Does player C have the option to scroll the map and perform empire actions, like e.g. changing the build order?
 

Pyoro

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Does auto-combat actually simulate the combat using the AI? I know in some games it's just an entirely different system. So it really has nothing to do with what the AI can or can't do, and more with how close System A (AI in actual combat) mirrors System B (pseudo-combat in "auto-combat").
 

NINJEW

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Does auto-combat actually simulate the combat using the AI? I know in some games it's just an entirely different system. So it really has nothing to do with what the AI can or can't do, and more with how close System A (AI in actual combat) mirrors System B (pseudo-combat in "auto-combat").
in aow3, and i'm assuming in planetfall as well, the game runs an entire battle with an ai controlling both sides, there's no different system used for autocombat

as JJ mentioned above, if you're playing single player there's actually a button on the results screen that lets you play back the autobattle to see what happened (useful when your leader dies in a simple goldmine fight and you're so incredulous as to how that happened that you need to find out how)
 

faraner

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Will it be possible for another player to control neutral armies during the manual tactical combat?
That would make 1vs1 MP games so more fun! I really hoped for this kind of feature to be introduced, but didn't find any mentions of it.
 

AnafemA

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I would very much like to learn the answer for that as well. I'd love to be able to replace AI during the tactical battles with neutrals. That sound like a great improvement
 

Von Luchestein

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hey when my friend is fightint a manual combat, can i play my combats too or i have to wait for him to end the fight? beacose we both like to manual most of our battles, also i can manage my cities while he is commanding his troops, so the game beacomes faster, is common for us in late game to both have large fights on the same turn against IAs, so i really want this feature for my game wont get so slow in simultaneous turns
 

Rafoca

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Nice!

But are co-op battles still a thing? I loved that on Age of Wonders series, when playing with friends, we could enter the same battle together against enemies.

This was such a unique feature, especially when compared to Heroes of might and magic series
 

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  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Deluxe edition
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Premium edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Revelations
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis IV
Speaking of Multiplayer: is there going to be a Battle-Mode where you only fight a single fight against your oponent? like in Totalwar where you have points to build your own army or in HoMM with predesigned armys?