Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Dev Diary #6: Combat Units 1

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Tombles

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Hello all! This DevDiary is the second in a series looking at tactical combat. Today we’re going to have a look at some of the in game units, looking at what abilities they have and what possibilities they bring to the battlefield!

KirkoVSAssaultBike.png


Each unit presented here fits into the same place onto their races’ roster, they’re all the first T2 combat unit the race has available. As you will see, we’ve been working hard to make sure that each race has their own distinct tactical feel on the battlefield.


The Vanguard Assault Bike

The Assault Bike is a high speed vehicle designed to engage enemy units at medium to close range, it mounts powerful, high impact laser weaponry but sacrifices armor along its flanks to make up for it.

AssaultBike.png


The Assault Bike’s main attack is its Focused Laser Array, a medium range (5 hex) single target attack which does a moderate amount of thermal damage. The attack also counts as a High Impact attack, meaning it will stagger many units, knocking them out of Defense Mode and draining their action points. The blast hits so hard, in fact, that Light Units will be knocked into an adjacent hex, allowing the Bike to knock units out of cover or into dangerous terrain hexes.


As a secondary attack, the Assault Bike can reconfigure its weapons to spray laser fire over the 7 hexes directly in front of it. This attack lacks the punch needed to actually displace its targets into another hex, yet it can still stagger enemy unit it hits. The short range makes this a risky maneuver, but it can be devastating if used correctly.


To quickly run over the rest of the unit card:


  • The unit has 45hp and 4 armor, making it highly durable; however the Exposed Flanks property means it loses two points of armor when attacked from the back or sides.
  • 40 movement points indicates this unit moves very quickly (Standard move speeds are 40, 32 and 24)
  • The unit takes less damage from Psionic Attacks, but more from Arc attacks. This is standard for all Mechanical units.
  • The unit is Stagger Resistant, meaning it cannot be staggered by High Impact attacks, though it can still be staggered by Massive Impact attacks, such as those from artillery.
  • All Vanguard Units gain a morale bonus while fighting in Arcadian terrain.
  • This unit is also currently in friendly territory, meaning it recovers an extra 6hp per turn on the world map.
  • Heavy Unit is a standard property given to most vehicles and larger units. It is the source of the unit’s stagger resistance, and also means the unit will not turn to face its attacker when shot at.
  • Skirmisher Unit means that this is an advanced, combat focused unit.

The Kir’ko Hidden

The Hidden are one of the descendents of the Kir’ko queens, who were wiped out by the Star Union. Bred as guerilla fighters, the Hidden championed the cause of Kir’ko rebellion from the shadows. As with all Kir’ko females, the Hidden have powerful psionic abilities, which they use to both attack and elude their foes.

Hidden.png


The Hidden attack with psionic sniper rifles, having both a high powered shot which uses up all their action points, and a short range snap shot which they can use after moving. The damage output of the rifle is slightly lower than that of other sniper rifles, but this is balanced out by the fact that psionic attacks completely bypass a unit’s armor (though they are still blocked by shields)


The Hidden also have the ability to teleport short distances across the battlefield using Shrouded Step. Shrouded Step also creates a 7 hex smoke screen at the location the unit is teleporting to, providing a safe place to hide for the Hidden and its allies.


As its name suggests the Hidden is also a capable stealth unit, with Universal Camoflage granting it concealment in all types of terrain. It also has a special Defense Mode called Evasion, where the standard defense mode makes a unit 25% harder to hit, Evasion makes a unit 50% harder hit.


Looking at the rest of the unit card:


  • 45hp and 1 armor mean this unit is fairly fragile. It relies on not getting hit to stay alive.
  • 32 move points is the standard move speed for most units
  • All Kir’ko units get a morale bonus when fighting in Fungal terrain.
  • Like most snipers, the Hidden can use Overwatch. Improved Overwatch means that she gets an accuracy bonus for overwatch shots.
  • Rapid Regeneration is a standard Kir’ko ability, meaning the unit heals an extra 6hp per turn on the world map.
  • The Kir’ko are all latently psionic, and when they form groups this psionic power manifests itself as a protective shield. Swarm Shields grants a Kir’ko 2 shields when it is adjacent to another Kir’ko.

And that’s it for this week! Next week we’ll continue this series looking at the Amazon and Dvar units that fill in this role!
 

Tombles

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So what are the Physics behind these pushing back lasers?

Erm... Photon momentum transfer?

The Universal Camouflage raises an eyebrow though. Either gone are the days when you can leave some home cities defenseless to focus on the border war or every species has a reasonable way of neutralizing this ability (Radar towers as sector upgrades? Defensive units with motion detectors?). I don't think there were completely invisible units in the previous games, any Concealment could be countered by having variable terrain.

We're trying to make concealment work a bit more effectively in this game, but yes all races will have mechanisms for detecting concealed units. We're also looking into various solutions that would mean leaving your cities undefended wouldn't be as harshly punished as in AoW3, where your cowardly citizens would literally surrender the moment an angry crow turned up and told them to. What it is is something for a later dev journal though!
 

Tombles

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Are shields omni-directional? Would they still fully work on a flanked bike (if it had shields?) Also can armor go into negatives? If the Bike were debuffed to 1 armor and then flanked would it take extra dmg from "-1"?

And most importantly is Wild Field supposed to be Wide Field? :p

Shield are usually omni-directional, yes! And no, armor and shields cannot go into the negatives.

I'll fix the Wild Field thing now xD

Coming back to the pushy-pushy laser-light, how does the high impact work in combat? If you target a 'light' unit that is in front of someone, does it not get moved by the impact or does it push the entire row (if the row of units has only light units)? If you target the units behind other units, can the front units accidentally get hit (giver that they are 'in the line of fire')? What about flying units, do they get pushed back or do they risk additional damage (losing stability from the impact, potentially crashing or getting moved to some other adjacent hex)?

High Impact is actually about staggering, not displacement. But for displacement, if there's a unit in the way, then the unit might get pushed to another adjacent hex (as long as it still moves away from the shooter) otherwise it doesn't move at all. I'm afraid there's no system for pushing units into other units.

I haven't checked in a while, but I believe Flying units just get displaced like normal.
 

Tombles

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And the 'I shall stand in front of you so that if they try to hit you through me, there is a good chance of me blocking the shot without any chance that I myself may be in any way inconvenienced' mechanic that came in AoW3? Is it still a thing?

Sort of, imagine A wants to shoot B, so to keep B safe you put C between them. The presence of C reduces the chance for A to hit B, either a little if C is small unit (e.g. infantry), or a lot if its a large one (e.g. a tank). If A hits B or get s a graze of B, that's all fine. However, if A misses B entirely, there is a very high chance of the attack hitting C as if A had aimed at them.

Do all units have the same base accuracy, or some more likely to hit than others?

The base accuracy of an attack is a part of the attack itself, so a sniper rifle is more accurate over a longer distance than a shotgun is. A unit can level up, or get various mods and abilities that give it an accuracy bonus to all its attacks.
 

Tombles

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How does the evasion 50% impact the damage formula?

Lowers damage received at the end or reduces chance to hit?

1 defence means 1*0.9 so an attack of 16 will hit for 15 damage?

So vanguard infantry will destroy this in a straight fight, right?

I am intrigued by the concealment changes as well.

Interesting assymetry having one unit get a fast scout and the other a sniper.

And a psionic sniper too, meaning that 16 damage bypasses all armour (even on machines? Or are those immune to psionics ?) to hit the unit's mind.

So against most targets it'll hit with 16 damage more or less. Minimum defence is one but not sure if this psionics reduces defence to one or actually ignores it entirely.

May one enquire as to how many tier 2 units there are per race?

Evasion means the shot is 50% less likely to hit. So, an assault rifle has a base accuracy of 90% (like most things) so if the target is not in cover and not at long range, that's your hit chance. If the target was in a normal defense mode, the hit chance would be 65% (-25%), evasion mode would make it 40%. Of course, accuracy bonuses on the shooter could push that back up.

Psionic bypasses the machines armor, but mechanical units have an inherent 4 resistance to psionics (which is functionally equivalent to 4 armor).

A vanguard marine does 3x7 damage per round to the hidden (8 damage, -1 for the hidden's armor), assuming it doesn't move, so it would need 3 turns to kill the Hidden. The sniper does 16 damage per round (or 10 if it doesn't have 3AP, like it moved or was staggered), so it needs 3 rounds as well (the marine has 35hp, and 1 armor). So, it kind of comes down to who shoots first, who is in cover, and who has to move around more. The marine certainly has a good chance to win though.

The sniper rifle currently has a range of 9 (the marines rifle is 7) but this (as well as the damage values) are obviously still open to balance changes!
 

Tombles

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Just like to point out that I know almost nothing about physics. I just it googled it and posted something which sounded good because I thought people would get upset if I said “magic”:oops:
 

Tombles

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Cool stuff once more!

Is the Swarm Shield cumulative, i.e. do you get +2 shields for every adjactent unit? If so it's a nice counterbalance for AOE attacks :)

Not right now, it’s just a flat 2 regardless of how many adjacent units there are. It’s definitely something that could change when we look more into balance during the beta though!
 

Tombles

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Couple more questions:

Why do these units, and the walker from last DD, have three upgrade slots instead of two? Is a tier thing, or have you guys decided to add an extra slot?

Is the Laser array on the bike is a single trigger attack in both modes?

Does Shrouded Step require AP, or does it work like AOW3 shadow step?

Are there any concerns about deliberately shooting through enemy units to increase chances of at least one target or getting superior odds on a high defence target ie: if a hidden is Evading in front of another unit, the enemy could shoot that unit to improve their hit odds.

We're still trying to figure out the exact balance of mods, and we recently increased the number of slots to three to give players more freedom to experiment with different combinations.

Both the attacks on the assault bike are single AP, so you can use them after moving your full distance.

Shrouded step is set up like shadow step right now, so it always leaves the unit with 1 ap after use, regardless of how many the unit had before. There's a cooldown to prevent multiple uses per turn.

As for the exploit you mention, I'm not too concerned right now, we'll see in Beta if it becomes an issue!

Just to give some rando dudes feedback on this, while i had was a bit sceptical at the setting i do not doubt that the game will be great, this will be a day 1 for me, as you guys know clearly what you are doing.

One thing i wanted to mention is that AoW 3 was a real inspiration for me regarding game design with its class system and combat mechanics that did not rely on traditional strengths.

Im a bit sad to see hit chances return but that does not really lessen my enthusiasm for the upcoming game.

Glad you like it! The decision to bring back hit chances was controversial, but really playing ranged combat without them really didn't work very well. For all its strength, AoW3 combat is pretty weak in the ranged department.
 

Tombles

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There is a discussion right now about this. I personally think that shooting through your own units is an awful idea, so it's right for the game to punish you for it by having a chance for the shot to hit them. Others have argued that players will find it frustrating and will want it taken out. XCOM (the new one) for example, allows missed shots to hit cover but not to strike other units.
 

Tombles

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The existing system does ignore friendly units if they're adjacent to the shooter. There are also some weapons that ignore units that are in the way, such as grenades and artillery.
 

Tombles

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By default, flanking gives a 20% damage bonus (I think...) which stacks on top of exposed flanks. It's not possible for a unit get negative armor or shields, since that doesn't really make any sense. Blocking negative armor/shields lets us limit the usefulness of things like armor melting weaponry so that they only work well against high powered units.
 

Tombles

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The kir'ko females are all psychic because they all descend from the queens, and there are no male, psychic kir'ko units. As for the heroes, we're still looking into that, no-one can tell me right now if Kir'ko heroes are male or female!
 

Tombles

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Yes! Each race has access to two weapon techs, which means their units always have access to two damage channels. Also, many weapon techs (Psionic, Biochemical, Explosive and Kinetic) have mods that flip the damage channels of an attack. So a marine could use an electrified ammunition mod so their gun does arc damage instead of kinetic damage.

Kir'ko use Biochemical and Psionic weapons, so roughly half their units do biochemical damage instead of psionic damage.

In case anyone is wondering, the other weapon techs are Laser and Arc, and no-race uses those 2 in a combination.
 

Tombles

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Just chance, it could happen. The lack of flexibility the race would face might be problematic, but we could compensate in other ways. Also, players always get to choose their secret tech which gives them access to more damage channels too.
 

Tombles

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Kinetic = Projectile Weapons, similiar to modern firearms. It's used by the Assembly, Dvar and Vanguard.
 

Tombles

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Explosives is a weapon tech that only Dvar has, which means they have a dedicated line of unit mods and tactical operations (like orbital strikes) based on explosives which they can use. It also means half their units use explosive weaponry. Vanguard have a few explosive weapons (the marine, and a couple of units that shoot missiles) but they aren't specialized in it like the Dvar are, all their explosive using units are also using kinetic weapons.

It's a long story, but in short, we built half the vanguard line up before we figured out how the weapon techs would work, and initially explosives wasn't a weapon tech. Then we needed a 6th weapon tech for the Dvar, and we added explosives, but by then Vanguard was already locked to Kinetic/Laser.
 

Tombles

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Cryo damage was kicked out early due to it not really fitting with the Sci-fi setting. It might still come back I guess..

The damage channels are: Kinetic (used by Kinetic/Explosive techs), Psionic, Thermal (lasers), Biochemical (same tech) and Arc (same tech)

Secret Techs have special weapons/attacks that use those channels, but they are there own techs, they don't use the weapon techs.
 

Tombles

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I'm afraid not! That's all hardcoded and it would be a massive change to make it moddable. Sorry!
 

Tombles

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Generally speaking, it's much easier to hard code something than to make something mod friendly, especially if it's something which you don't really expect to change or need to reconfigure that much. The damage channels were added very early in development of AoW3, when we weren't thinking just getting off the ground and it never occurred to me that they would need ot be mod friendly.

And, it's not so much that Cryo damage isn't sci fi, it's more that, in a sci-fi setting, cryo damage is a gimmick. You might have a freeze ray or something, but having whole races or technologies didn't seem necessary. So we decided at the time, that it wasn't worth dedicating a whole damage channel to it.
 

Tombles

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Planetfall is heavily based on AoW3 code, and the damage channel stuff is still mostly the same system as it was before. I didn't rewrite it because, to be frank, I'd forgotten that people wanted them to be moddable.

Changing that system now would be a huge amount of work, first all the damage calculation code would need to be rewritten, then all of the resources that make use of them would all need to be modified as well. I can't say that we'll never do it, but right now everyone is working very hard to finish the game, and diverting a ton of people's time to rewrite a system that in many respects already works perfectly well is not an easy thing to get scheduled in.