Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Dev Diary #9: World Map Structures I: Exploration Phase

Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Dev Diary #9: World Map Structures I: Exploration Phase

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LennartGS

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Hello there! In an earlier diary we took a look at the structure of the World Map with its sector System. Today we're going to explore the world map a bit more, and take a look at some of its new systems and locations, especially the ones relevant in the early game. You’ll see there is plenty of danger lurking in the worlds of the Star Union.

Exploring.jpg

Note the Yellow Scanner Markers in the Fog

Scan Range
We have added a new means to explore and surveil the world map. Next to Vision Range, your empire's units and structures project a Scan Range which allows players to detect units in the fog without disclosing all of their details. This system helps you set scout targets, as structure guards are detected by this system (which show up as yellow), but most importantly it detects enemy and NPC marauder stacks (which show up as red). This acts as an early warning system. AoW games always had long movement ranges compared to vision ranges; so you often got attacked out of the blue, scan range make this more balanced. Scan Range can be increased and can be made to disclose more information like which player or faction owns the detected stack through research.

OwlScout.jpg

Vanguard OWL scout kitted out with mods.

Pickups with Bonus Events

Your scouts will be on the lookout for pickups, which may be both defended and undefended. As you would expect, there are pickups associated with all resources. In Planetfall we added something new, sometimes a Pickup will spawn a bonus event in addition to its standard reward. These bonuses include items, map locations, units, and there are events affecting relations with NPC factions. Of course, all these events and bonuses are themed around the main resource.

PickupEvent.jpg


NPC Faction Bases

Soon enough you’ll meet sectors occupied by one of the NPC (Non-Primary Combatant) Factions like the Autonom, Growth or Paragon. These NPCs claim sectors using bases, like players do. For you to claim a sector you’ll have to remove of the base through friendly of unfriendly means. Be careful not to make too many enemies though, as Bases will Spawn raiding stacks of that faction if relations turn hostile. These spawns are associated with Events, so players will at least receive a warning before angry groups of monsters start attacking them! NPC Faction Bases look like mini-dwellings, feature unique combat maps and are removed from the map when conquered. We’ll discuss Dwellings and NPC interaction in a later dev diary.


Base.jpg

Intelligent Plants block our expansion. How do we deal with them?


Marauder Bases

Of course, Planetfall also includes monsters that cannot be negotiated with. It is of vital importance your scouts map out Spawners locations before they start eating your colonists. A typical marauder is The Hopperhound. A giant locust that can jump great distances and rip through armor.

Hazards
The destruction of the Empire left many marks on the planets you will explore, with some sectors filled with hazards that make settling unattractive and exploration dangerous. Hazards come in multiple types (Nuclear Craters, Void Rifts, Bio War Residues, ets), and drastically debuff both economic output of sectors and units positioned in them. Hazards originate from crater locations and can be removed after researching Hazard Removal Technology.

Screenshot.png

This particular Hazard is extra nasty as it spawns units

So you might have to hold off claiming hazard-struck sectors until you have the necessary technologies. Late game, after you have rebuilt a society from the ashes of the Star Union, you will be able to unleash powerful world map operations that can spawn new cataclysmic hazards of your own. War ... war never changes.




 

Oorlog

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Age of wonders indeed! Love the interlocking systems and the graphics are just amazing.
 

Quark02

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So empire tasks are back, that's one thing.

Does the Bonus Event also enable us to choose whether we want to take something or risk activating and fighting someone to get something more? (ie can an option lead to a fight)

In the Intelligent Plants image, there is no Town name/production thingy up, so is that in the middle a town? Or is the sector occupied by other means? Or does the sign auto-hide?

Can I just say the "guard" symbol (if it is that, above the "tick" on the party screen, which I'm guessing means "done, skip from unit queue") is a bit weird? My first thought was packing the units up in some way (collapsing), then I wondered if it was a retreat button of some sort (pull back)... I wondered and wondered until I thought Guard was an option.
 

Jean-Luc

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Pickup events bring back memories of Heroes of Might & Magic. I know it's utterly meaningless from a functional viewpoint but if you could come up with some 2D art to accompany those events it would add a lot of flavor and attractiveness to the game.


Looking at the green ring around Nebbington I have to ask, are farms going to make a comeback? Not necessarily actual farms but some kind of exploitation of hexes around cities. Maybe it's farms or solar panels, bug creep, psychic aura...
 
Last edited:

BloodyBattleBrain

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@Quark02 now we know how you claim sectors.

And psynumbra are so clearly shadow demons.


Having some sectors demand terraforming is another great way to put a dent into ics
 

Quark02

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"Non-Psynumbra units suffer a -3 reduction to Vision and Sensor range"
Suggest reformulating the line as "Non-Psynumbra units suffer -3 to Vision and Sensor range".

A -3 reduction always makes me wonder if that means 3 increase as a negative reduction is an increase (-(-3))... just please make it shorter, easier to read, less of a headache for weird people like me. :)

Also in the Intelligent Plants image, what is with the tiny piece of road up North? 2-3 hexes of road connecting nothing to nothing else?
Also also curious that Tholian's Gift Highrise has a stony terrain, but does not appear on the map in any special way.

@BloodyBattleBrain I think you mean "annex" in a totally friendly non-threatening way, wink-wink.
 

Rhaeg

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@Quark02
And psynumbra are so clearly shadow demons.
First thing I said on the discord channel, I knew this screenshot would spark Shadow Demon theories... *sigh* :p

Looking at the green ring around Nebbington I have to ask, are farms going to make a comeback? Not necessarily actual farms but some kind of exploitation of hexes around cities. Maybe it's farms or solar panels, bug creep, psychic aura...
I don't know, but if you look at some older screenshots, you will definitely notice that the hexes around Vanguard cities seem to have different forms/stages of development... one screenshot on the main website for instances has roads and small building hugging the city that are completely absent in some other screenshots (while the cities themselves look to be the same size).
 

BloodyBattleBrain

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I believe roads are automatically generated.

In which case maybe the rings of greenery etc act as a visual indicator of sector development.

If you have to build a forward Base to claim/annex a sector, what is used to build it?

Methinks one could have fun with making this core mechanic assymetric.


Edit : nebbigton can annex it's sector...


Hmmm...


Does this mean only cities can claim sectors?
 
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Buladelu

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I'd very much recommend making those scan colors more distinct. To me they all look the same. I am colorblind, but my case is not that harsh, so many people would have problems. Different icons would be even better!
 

Gloweye

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I believe roads are automatically generated.

In which case maybe the rings of greenery etc act as a visual indicator of sector development.

If you have to build a forward Base to claim/annex a sector, what is used to build it?

Methinks one could have fun with making this core mechanic assymetric.
IIRC, yes. Which means that Lennart made peace with those glorious Kir'Ko.
 

LennartGS

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The events linked to basic pickups are always positive. This so scouts aren't ambushed, etc.

Some of the bigger events have 2D art. But there is tons minor events and we don't want the art cost creation to be a factor in adding more or to variety constraints (one image for each unit that may spawn?) . We are looking into sharing images for pickups; like just a cool image showing the approach/scanning of the pickup.
 

Thrake

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Research can be used to increase scan range and quality.



That's brilliant .
Frankly I hope it can also decrease ennemy scan range and quality. What I don't like with several games "end game" is that several game mechanics are more or less removed or simplified. Or better yet could be to let players either increase own scan range/quality or decrease ennemy scan (increase furtivity). Kind of like how Master of Orion handled technology: you have several options unlocked by a technology but can only choose one. So even when everyone researched the whole tech tree, no empire is the same.

@Quark02 Game is still in development. Some times we need to disable UI. Like in the first image the events list accidentally gave away existanse of Empire Tasks :oops:
Looks perfectly fine to me, I would have liked a version of 3rd screeny with the UI too :p
 

Jean-Luc

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But there is tons minor events and we don't want the art cost creation to be a factor in adding more or to variety constraints (one image for each unit that may spawn?) . We are looking into sharing images for pickups; like just a cool image showing the approach/scanning of the pickup.
Sure I assumed there'd be too many for each to have custom art but consider doing what you can. It's one of those things that catch people's eye and makes them say "that's special". Like you said there's tricks you can use. I'd be nice if the event with the depowered golem had custom art showing it lying among junk and other parts but you could also have an image of a scrap heap and broken down machinery that could be used for a variety of salvage or pick up related events.

If you have a generic event where any type of unit might join you, you could use vague silhouettes of different creatures or something like this,

but have one arm be humanoid, one a tentacle and another robotic for example. Stuff like that.
 

Quark02

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I'd very much recommend making those scan colors more distinct. To me they all look the same. I am colorblind, but my case is not that harsh, so many people would have problems. Different icons would be even better!
While (please correct me if I am wrong!) the first screenshot only shows the yellow markers, no red ones, I'd like to show my support for this.

When designing things that show stuff by colour (even presentations), always edit something more than only hue. Saturation, symbol, something. It does not only help people with colour perceiving difficulties, it helps everyone differentiate between what you are showing more quickly and easily. It is one of the things that should be taught in every presentation or UI making class, yet it is often forgotten (I'll admit to being guilty in this every once in a while).
 

Quark02

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@Quark02 Game is still in development. Some times we need to disable UI. Like in the first image the events list accidentally gave away existanse of Empire Tasks :oops:
Oh don't you worry, we are glad for every tiny piece of extra information you let slip. We won't call them mistakes, only happy accidents. I did start to wonder if disabling parts (like autohiding something until you mouseover to get more details) of the UI will be an option for the end customers.