- May 9, 2016
"Secondary objectives" and the option to still achieve something after you had to surrender sounds very interesting to me!A broader discussion about end game flow is very interesting. There is a growing belief among strategy game designers that end game and victory conditions aren't that important, because few people finish large maps after a point of no return has been reached. Come back potential is a fantasy trumped by cold mathematical reality. (luckily gamers are more sensible than Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan). A promising way forward for strategy games is treating them as sand boxes with people setting their own objectives. PDS Grand Strategy games have been very successful at this.
We don't want to give up on end game though. Whilst one player is achieving victory, I think it should be possible for other players to have fun by achieving secondary objectives. ( not talking about head 2 head PvP here) In Planetfall you can become a vassal for one of the dominant powers. We want it to be a fun ride and an achievement to survive till the end-game screen. Even with cool new game victory conditions, we still need to avoid attrition and slog coming from growing empire. Anti-snowballing mechanics like War Wariness might actually fix one thing, but increase slog. To get around this, how far would you like to go? We've discussed finite resources, but how do you feel about endgame operations and weapons that cause large scale irreparable economic damage - permanent changes in the lay of the land that reduce repetition but increase strategic focus. The ability to waste sectors, with floods and hazards, remove nodes, quickened razing (or conversion) of cities - doomsday stuff!
Looking forward to your thoughts.
In AoW3 the AI sometimes will surrender on their own. I like that. It helps to avoid a very slow going war to annihilation, makes sense from a roleplaying perspective and it feels right to then have their leader as your new hero fight for your cause. Of course you could decline and conquer them through force.
I think it would be a good thing to have for the next AoW too, maybe even expand on that idea.
Instead of giving you a "Congratulations! You've met obscure victory condition #362!" you could overpower one foe and then have a few options of what to do with him. He might become a vassal of yours, not under full control, but no threat to your rule. He might surrender his lands but be granted a position as a new hero, and this option might cost lots of gold/energy, depending on how strong you are. Essentially you buy his loyalty. Also this might give you trouble, since your newly aquired lands are likely not too fond of you, so you might manage your population happiness (or equivalent) to get full advantage of your new lands. And a third option might be, if you nearly erradicated your enemy, ignoring his begging for mercy, your enemy might decide to escape from this world, burning all his remaining lands so you cant profit from it. This would also put and end to a sluggish crawl to victory, but is A a funny moment, and B it hinders you from gaining too much strength from winnning over one opponent.
In most 4X, and AoW is no exception, in a match with more then 2 opponents, the one who assimilates another opponent first essentially has won the game, since he gains all the ressources and cities of the defeated opponent and is basically at double strength now.
With partial victories over single opponents that all have some kind of flaw or drawback, so you won't get everything they had (but you may strategize to get the best parts!), the game is not over at that moment, but has become bigger, as you now struggle to maintain your expanded lands, while enemies try to use your moment of inner turmoil, displaced armies in burned lands, or whatever, to strike out against you.
A mechanic like this, so i think, could delay the point of no return, and also, when it has come, the session might find a natural end soon, as overpowered enemies beg for vassalage or escape the planet, etc..
This could be especialy interesting, if you had to invest in your lands (i.e. cities and sites), to reap full benefits of them. And maybe upgrades from a different faction are not at full efficiency to you, until you found a way to harmonize your empire with those alien technologies, or you replaced them by your own.
@LennartGS hinted at different racial technologies.
Related to tall vs wide discussion - The racial tech trees mean there's the option to acquire other races' techs while playing. We're still playing with how much access players get to these auxiliary trees, and at what cost.