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coodav

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I just got through maybe my 100th Empire Mode game, and man, this thing could be really cool. There are some HUGE glaring flaws, but it is so easy to see the potential of this thing. If they are going to take this further, there are a few super-easy changes that could make this a permanent part of the game's future.

NUMBER ONE: No way this works without being harder

I said it before, they really should let you break the knob on this one:


Without that, this really doesn't matter. A few super-easy concessions:

1. Give the computer a 5+ turn head start.
2. Give the computer a TON of starting resources / units
3. Give the computer 1+ random buffs or you debuffs
4. Instead of 3 allies against you, make it up to the cap
... and so forth

And it would be cool if you could have a UI which allows you to pick it. Either way, whatever it takes, do it. Bottom line, you currently roll onto the computer and just crush them. They have literally no chance, which is not what this should be about. Allow this to scale into infinity.

Number Two: Let those lords carry over exactly as they were

So I just finished my twelfth world with this one hero:

1622395636784.png


She has been in 369 battles, and is now level 13. She still starts now with her little support vehicle, and nothing else. This is stupid.

When I rolled into Invasions 2, I had heroes that came across like this, turn 1:

MAGA 20.png


That was fun. And the world was tuned just right on hardmode. We need these dials again. And if you have an item in your arsenal, it should go with you. Don't gimp your heroes, buff the opponent. Hell, make them use the most popular standard builds default. It would be cool to see maxed out opponents for the first time in my life.

Number Three: Allow Scenarios

You currently have a bunch of maps with specific game-winning objectives:

Screenshot (164).png


This one has Swift Action (20 turns to kill an opponent), Deny the Unnatural (defeat an alliance), and Promethean Secrets (Get 3 Promethean Forges). Any one will win will trigger victory.

Now take that, make it crazy-hard, and then only winnable with certain builds. For instance:

1. You are dropped on a world that is already fully built-out, with no city. You have a full stack of whatever you want, so you can win battles, but you have no money to support it, and you have to convert cities fully to get any replenishing resources.
2. You have infinite resources, but no units. You have 30 turns to take out your opponent. You have to multiply fast through the world encounters with permanent units.
3. You are facing a race with rock-paper-scissors immunity. Imagine 'hardened' Autonom that are almost completely resistant to psychic. You must use type weaknesses to win.
4. You start on a world completely covered with NPC factions. You have to rely on diplomacy to gain space, and put units on the map. You have to carefully choose which units you can win with, based on your starting location.
... and so forth

Any of these would make the universe a much more interesting place. And really show the potential strength of a faction.

Finally Number Four: Build it Into Some Sort of Story, and let it go forever

Make it feel like you are going somewhere. Make harder difficulties represent some sort of penetration. It's as if you are deep in "Syndicate Space." As you do, you keep getting modest benefits. They have a few which are built-in:

Screenshot (243).png


Screenshot (244).png


But this represents only a tiny few things. Once you complete this, you hit a wall. Your empires will never improve again. Feels bad. But it doesn't have to itself affect balance. You can have a reward system without a single overall balance-affecting change. I don't mind that, and think they should allow you to get significant buffs. That said, here are some innocuous ones:

1. Heroes to start at higher levels. At race level 31, heroes recruit at level 2. At 36, they recruit at level 3.
2. For secret tech, the unit starts promoted, or advanced. At level 26-39, your secret tech unit advances to Prime rank, starting. At level 30, it becomes the next tier of secret tech unit. When you get to some ridiculous level, you start with the ultimate unit of your type.
3. Starting units can start with mods, which progress, much like the secret tech. This needs to be balanced by opponent power, but a simple fix.
4. Starting units start Well Built. Allow those starting units normal buffs. This will allow them to actually be used late-game, as most units time-out pretty hard. So maybe at Race level 30, your units get Well Built level 1. Then level 2 at 35. Then by 40, they get Energy Efficient Assembly Line. And so on. Higher level buffs may be an issue, so maybe limits?
... and so forth

None of this would break the game, if you are walking into a world 10X as difficult as it is today.

Mandatory Rant: FIX THE GAME

And just in case, Flagship:


ALL of this is still in the game. Fix it before you move on. These are big issues, and have not been solved since the game launched.
 
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Number Two: Let those lords carry over exactly as they were
thats not a good idea. Maxed Heroes are insane and game breaking if you have the right combinations. Say, I had an Oathbound Hero, who got the Balackguard Tyrant vehicle and some specific mods (like the Syndicate one that heals on any action), which basically made that hero invincible.
There are a couple other combinations, and starting with one of them would be as imbalanced as you say that the current system is.
I do agree that there are a lot of possible improvements however. But while I do think maxed heroes would be fun, they too would be too broken... Maybe as a special map where you can start with a custom hero, as you proposed, would work since the map can be built around it. Otherwise, it will end up like my last oathbound mission, but worse: Using a singlestack hero to lay waste to literal everything. That only worked because I was playing on easy, though, because I was not max level, didn't have the right mods and used a paladin vehicle instead of a Tyrant.
 

Sandman25DCSSS

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1. Give the computer a 5+ turn head start.
2. Give the computer a TON of starting resources / units
3. Give the computer 1+ random buffs or you debuffs
4. Instead of 3 allies against you, make it up to the cap
... and so forth
Well, I kind of have it in standard game. Every AI has more colonies, more units, more cosmite, better units (I don't use tier 3-4 units), I am forced to put all my energy/cosmite into queue or it vanishes every turn. I even tried a game vs allied AIs, but they make my colony starve despite colonists using no food and it is not fun to spend 10 MPs to move once per road inside my borders. So my question is what's the point of empire mode for you?
If you want to make your armies stronger with every planet AND still have challenging game, that should be crazy bonuses for AI. Eventually you will need AI starting with several stacks of tier 3-4 units 3-4 sectors away from you.
 

coodav

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thats not a good idea. Maxed Heroes are insane and game breaking if you have the right combinations. Say, I had an Oathbound Hero, who got the Balackguard Tyrant vehicle and some specific mods (like the Syndicate one that heals on any action), which basically made that hero invincible.
There are a couple other combinations, and starting with one of them would be as imbalanced as you say that the current system is.
I do agree that there are a lot of possible improvements however. But while I do think maxed heroes would be fun, they too would be too broken... Maybe as a special map where you can start with a custom hero, as you proposed, would work since the map can be built around it. Otherwise, it will end up like my last oathbound mission, but worse: Using a singlestack hero to lay waste to literal everything. That only worked because I was playing on easy, though, because I was not max level, didn't have the right mods and used a paladin vehicle instead of a Tyrant.
A base level 20 hero is already busted. I admit that having heroes decked out like yours or my Invasions 2 is more broken, but it doesn't currently matter. I yesterday started attacking gold landmarks about as quickly as I could reach them, with no losses. The point of a gold landmark is that you aren't supposed to use them until lategame. That Dark Tower bonus is also gamebreaking if you get it on turn 8. If you want anything like normal gameplay, the difficulty has to be tuned WAY up. If they did that, they could account for both. Even our completely busted heroes above.

But this is academic. The issue is that there is nothing we can currently do. If they don't change that, then Empire Mode can't really happen. Do you agree that with those dials, your hero would not just be balanced, but could be absolutely mandatory?
 

coodav

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Well, I kind of have it in standard game. Every AI has more colonies, more units, more cosmite, better units (I don't use tier 3-4 units), I am forced to put all my energy/cosmite into queue or it vanishes every turn. I even tried a game vs allied AIs, but they make my colony starve despite colonists using no food and it is not fun to spend 10 MPs to move once per road inside my borders. So my question is what's the point of empire mode for you?
If you want to make your armies stronger with every planet AND still have challenging game, that should be crazy bonuses for AI. Eventually you will need AI starting with several stacks of tier 3-4 units 3-4 sectors away from you.
Your question is a bit different. You are playing apparently against massive droning waves 12 v 1 because that is the only way to make it difficult now. Other than them improving the AI, which seems impossible, you need other options for getting it into balance. Invasions 2 on impossible was pretty damn well tuned. I actually lost that once or twice before I figured it out. We need dials to make that repeatable.

It is the only way. It is like More Stronger AI mod, but the specifics are given to you. And maybe an option to cut off some of those hacks. I was always a proponent of having to have a unit in their territory (or an allies territory) before a hack can work.
 

Sandman25DCSSS

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Your question is a bit different. You are playing apparently against massive droning waves 12 v 1 because that is the only way to make it difficult now. Other than them improving the AI, which seems impossible, you need other options for getting it into balance. Invasions 2 on impossible was pretty damn well tuned. I actually lost that once or twice before I figured it out. We need dials to make that repeatable.

It is the only way. It is like More Stronger AI mod, but the specifics are given to you. And maybe an option to cut off some of those hacks. I was always a proponent of having to have a unit in their territory (or an allies territory) before a hack can work.
I haven't played the campaign. What was the idea behind that invasion 2 scenario? Can it be applied to empire mode too?
 

coodav

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I hope so. Invasions 1 was really solid also. If you are looking for a decently tough PVE game, do the invasions campaign. The Sharkarn is a good race too.

As for if it can be duplicated in the same way for Empire Mode, I really don't know. I don't see why not. They can clearly start the AI cities with high populations, as they did it there. They could also give the AI adjoining sectors, I can't see why that wouldn't work again. But I don't know how exactly that would work with the miniscule resources currently assigned to maintenance of this game. Maybe they just program it so that the computer can simply annex those sectors without capturing them. Just remove the combat mechanic for the AI. Seems weird, but that may just have to be something you would live with if you were a player looking for a challenge.

I mean, take a look at the starting cities:

Final campaign 2.png


And there were four of them against your one pathetic little 3-pop goat-city, and a completely worthless ally.

And they started with a BUNCH of units too. Like 100. And some good ones:

Final campaign 4.png


And of course, they all went to war with you quick. So yeah, seems doable, if they ironed a few things out.

I wish we could see this again, but organically.
 

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Sandman25DCSSS

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I see, it can work indeed. It could be a new setting in advanced options like "AI starts with N colonies of size M and army is K times stronger"
 

coodav

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Just finished my current map. Did max difficulty against 4 allied ELOP commanders:

Screenshot (252).png


Got like a... bazillion XP for that, which gave me exactly nothing. Full completion of the map too, which also gave me nothing. No "five star," no code to repeat the map, or anything any other system would normally give. Sigh....

I got some levels on my characters, which was OK. One level. The second hero, the Voidtech one, was at like level 18 when it ended. Reverted to 3 of course, and lost all his gear, which feels awesome.

Did it all by turn 51 too, taking out 6 of the 8 total commanders (2 other non-allied commanders went to war with me too):

Screenshot (255).png


It's hard to get it much faster. Killing all four by 45 is tough, but is my general goal (commander 5 hits on turn 45). It would be easy if they didn't always invade you right as you leave to take out another player. I had to backtrack a few times, as killing another player exposes your flanks.

The build is really coming along though:

Screenshot (240).png


A single fully maxed hero stack could take out an entire city cluster. One of them actually took on an entire commander and his cities solo, thanks to some clutch stupidity from the enemy. They just don't respect the Ascended Teachers.

I just would like it if there were something more...

That is it though. The cap is just the cap. Tough wall to hit.
 

Draxynnic

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I think there's always going to be an issue with a game mode like this that ultimately they can only go so far. Granted, there's always the potential to go just that little bit further, to add a few more rewards and bump up the difficulty a bit further to allow for the new rewards, but it becomes a bit of a 'how long is a length of chain' question: you can keep adding new links, but the chain is always going to have an end eventually. So there's going to be a point at which the developer has to stop and say "this is enough for most people". If you've made it to a hundred worlds, you're probably an outlier. Realistically, before you get to that point, aging should start to be becoming a problem for the heroes you started with if you don't have some form of antiagathic, and there should also be some noticeable changes in technology available (setting aside that if you were going to be strictly realistic about it, research should also technically carry over from scenario to scenario, as opposed to the "start with X starting technologies" situation we have).

Regarding heroes in particular, the problem here is really that we're adding the empire layer onto a game where heroes are supposed to go from being suitable to lead a rag-tag force of tier 1s and a couple of tier 2s to being effectively a tier 4 (or stronger) in their own right. So if heroes carried everything over, you could start your second scenario with what is effectively a tier 4+, and by the time you'd completed a handful of scenarios with a particular hero, they'd probably be maxxed out. That'd blow out the scale pretty quickly - the FIRST scenario you play might feel reasonably close to "normal", and then the second needs to account for the possibility that you're starting with a hero that's maxxed out (but also to account for the possibility that the player hasn't done that), and by the time you're four or five scenarios in, they might all be maxxed out.

And there's really only two possible solutions to that. The first is the approach taken within the narrative campaigns of putting caps on how many levels a hero can achieve in a single scenario - but when the longest campaign that's been done in Age of Wonders where heroes can be carried through was AoW1 with about twelve scenarios along a single path, while Empire Mode has the potential to be several times that, the cap per scenario would have to be pretty low. Or they could do it the way they've done it where progress is (mostly) reset. The current approach is probably better, IMO, since it allows a greater opportunity for empire planets to still feel reasonably closer to 'normal' scenarios.

Again, they could potentially have had a few levels of additional benefits after reaching the 'unlock everything' stage and additional, more challenging levels of competition... but there's always going to have to be an endpoint somewhere. At some point, the appropriate way to experience higher challenge might well be to start a new empire, set a few self-imposed rules, and do more with less.
 

coodav

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the problem here is really that we're adding the empire layer onto a game where heroes are supposed to go from being suitable to lead a rag-tag force of tier 1s and a couple of tier 2s to being effectively a tier 4 (or stronger) in their own right.
This doesn't happen in Empire past the point your hero starts at level 6 or 8. Once your heroes get their skill synergy, or mod synergy, whichever, you can take gold landmarks the second you get your first mod. There is no world threat after that in any game. That can happen around turn 3 or 4, and you are free to take any landmark you want.

So if heroes carried everything over, you could start your second scenario with what is effectively a tier 4+, and by the time you'd completed a handful of scenarios with a particular hero, they'd probably be maxxed out. That'd blow out the scale pretty quickly - the FIRST scenario you play might feel reasonably close to "normal", and then the second needs to account for the possibility that you're starting with a hero that's maxxed out (but also to account for the possibility that the player hasn't done that), and by the time you're four or five scenarios in, they might all be maxxed out.
Yeah, that is true. It took about 5-6 games for Empire mode to be blown out. This would blow it out after 1 or 2. But that is exactly it. You are right in that they tried to create a system with the EXISTING balance. But what they got was a very different game. If Empire Mode is about the long term, the game CANNOT be about normal, start-at-turn-1 balance. It has to be about re-play balance.

Take the game I knocked out last night:

Screenshot (256).png


56 turn full clear. Few teleporters, or it would have been way faster. I did this in like 3 or 4 hours real-world. Just annihilated them.

They MUST stop this. The idea of tweaking for balance goes right out the door with the crazy synergies they are unleashing. Otherwise, why have Empire Mode at all? Just so you can re-roll an empire once you hit 6? Why not just start a 12 v 1 normal map every time? Why Empire Mode at all? No, where I am should be where the game STARTS, and then goes on. They conceptualized it wrong. It is obvious.

And there's really only two possible solutions to that. The first is the approach taken within the narrative campaigns of putting caps on how many levels a hero can achieve in a single scenario - but when the longest campaign that's been done in Age of Wonders where heroes can be carried through was AoW1 with about twelve scenarios along a single path, while Empire Mode has the potential to be several times that, the cap per scenario would have to be pretty low. Or they could do it the way they've done it where progress is (mostly) reset. The current approach is probably better, IMO, since it allows a greater opportunity for empire planets to still feel reasonably closer to 'normal' scenarios.
Again, you are still thinking statically. Normal game mechanics are already hopelessly broken. 56 turn 8 goal full-clear? 51 turn 6 goal full-clear? Man, that is just the amount of turns it takes me to get to their capitals. It's like punching through paper.

No, they have to think different. And remember Invasions 1, on impossible:

MAGA 18.png


Those starting cities craaaaannnkkk it out. Whatever those landmarks do, cities attached to them blow out the production 6 units a turn +/-. This could be another type of balance, just amping effects way up. Whatever the case, the typical balance is OVER.

But no matter what, something like this has to happen. The only reason I am playing is to see which unit combo gets the turn count to 45. That is a weird balance point. No real difficulty, just see what mod/unit combo can get me through them the fastest? Yeah.... not great.
 

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This doesn't happen in Empire past the point your hero starts at level 6 or 8. Once your heroes get their skill synergy, or mod synergy, whichever, you can take gold landmarks the second you get your first mod. There is no world threat after that in any game. That can happen around turn 3 or 4, and you are free to take any landmark you want.
That can take quite a few games if you're not power-leveling heroes by running the same set every game, and even then, I think there's a big difference between being able to start with a level 6-8 hero who still has relatively basic gear after having played 5-7 games, and being able to start with a level 15 hero who already has the best gear after just one game. The system also means that players aren't incentivised to clear the entire map looking for the best possible gear on the very first game... only for collecting gear to upgrade their heroes to become almost a complete non-issue a couple of games in.
Yeah, that is true. It took about 5-6 games for Empire mode to be blown out. This would blow it out after 1 or 2. But that is exactly it. You are right in that they tried to create a system with the EXISTING balance. But what they got was a very different game. If Empire Mode is about the long term, the game CANNOT be about normal, start-at-turn-1 balance. It has to be about re-play balance.
Tell me: Do you think you're representative of a typical player?

I know you're fairly active in "optimising to squeeze out every benefit out of the available options" scene, but most players probably don't engage in that degree of optimisation. I certainly don't think the typical player has managed to get through a hundred Empire games in the eight months or so since Star Kings released (okay, you might have been in one of the pre-release test groups, but the typical player wouldn't have been, and a hundred is still a LOT of games).

As things currently stand, it takes a while for the balance to be completely blown out. How far it goes probably depends on the player - someone who always goes for the maximum possible complexity, with all the difficulty settings set up to max, will probably get there faster than someone who plays at a more relaxed pace. However, your viewpoint is essentially one of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and turning it into practically an entirely separate game. If you can start every game after the first with maxed-out heroes and you're expecting balance to be tuned for that assumption, then why not just skip that first game altogether? Just let players transfer their high-level heroes with all their gear from campaign and balance everything around starting with maxed out heroes!

Except... that really would pretty much be a completely different game. As things stand, things at least start off fairly close to pretty typical scenarios for at least a half-dozen or so scenarios (a common criticism early on, in fact, was that complexity scaled up faster than the benefits you gained from leveling did, which is why we now have the system of being offered worlds of a range of complexities), and the reset of hero equipment means that you still have that sense of collecting better equipment through the game, even if your hero is starting at a higher level. Furthermore, if equipment always carried through, certain commander options would become redundant pretty quickly. What's the point of giving a commander one of the equipment picks when that's only going to matter for the first scenario you play them with? What's the point of the Veteran pick if after the very first game it could just be the difference between Basically A Demigod and Basically A God?

Ultimately, you're coming across as demanding that the mode be made for you, when you're probably an outlier among the player base. I can definitely see the value in future iterations having a longer endgame with more rewards and more difficult challenges, but I really don't think jumping straight to the level of someone who's played a hundred games and knows all the optimisations is the way to go. If Triumph's next project is a similar game with the potential for an Empire Mode, then maybe once it gets announced we can start a discussion of what the player base actually wants - but I suspect that wherever the cap is set, you'd still reach it in a matter of months (if that) and experience dissatisfaction when you do.
 

Sandman25DCSSS

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I don't get it either. If you want some challenge, at least pick something different than the same 3 doctrines and tier 2 psi-fish in every game. Nobody is going to balance game assuming you start with op heroes, basically it is impossible anyway.
 

coodav

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Tell me: Do you think you're representative of a typical player?
For the dudes on this forum, yeah. For the guys that are still playing this game, yeah. Also, I bet a lot more people would still be playing if they had given things like this a little thought, and finished their game.

Seriously, the combat mechanics and systems really work. One or two more iterations, and this would have been game of the year in its area. So damn close. But the shine was never put on it. Nnngraahhh.

I can definitely see the value in future iterations having a longer endgame with more rewards and more difficult challenges, but I really don't think jumping straight to the level of someone who's played a hundred games and knows all the optimisations is the way to go. If Triumph's next project is a similar game with the potential for an Empire Mode, then maybe once it gets announced we can start a discussion of what the player base actually wants - but I suspect that wherever the cap is set, you'd still reach it in a matter of months (if that) and experience dissatisfaction when you do.
You guys are right and wrong on this one. You are right in that the mechanics of any system eventually become stale, and the optimizations will bubble to the top like they do in all games. Patterns will develop. And yeah, the "god" thing has to be dealt with, but they did it in every campaign already. There is an answer. Perhaps limit Empire heroes to 2 per game? A per game level cap? I could belt out a hundred ways.

But what you are missing is kind-of the key to what I am saying. This really needs to be the 'infinite dungeon' of 4X. Man, can't you see how close it was? They almost changed the 4X ''game" by putting a perpetual, scaling, campaign system on top. They MUST be thinking this way. Look at how they assembled it. The difficulty scale, the built-up synergies, the carry-forward heroes, everything. But it just got slapped together. I just don't think they know what they have here.

But the parts they are missing are deal-killers. They left it unfinished in a few ways that really hurts it. I am just playing because it is the best currently out there, and I can belt out a game in a couple of hours. But this isn't going to last. I might finish up the KirKo, but past that? Do I try to level 5 more heroes in Psynumbra? Or Xenoplague? It's the only option, really, I can't go any further than I already have with my build.

You gotta tell me though. Do you see what I see? Am I snowing myself on this? It is hard to see how else they planned it, and how damn close they got... They just have to... One more push...
 

atord/Nordos

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See, its not that you are disappointed by the Empire mode, you are disappointed by what the Empire mode could have been. Thats the big difference here.
While I do agree that the current Empire mode has flaws, fixing them would not change the mode as much as you would wish it would do. In fact you are barking up the wrong tree kinda.
What you would want to achieve is to have the system you envision in the future iterations of AoW, since it will never happen in Planetfall (especially now with the development being discontinued).

I mean, I kinda get it, but at the same time I don't. I would also love to keep the progressed heroes to do some stupid and broken things, but I don't think that it is needed. They are too powerful and would be hard to balance around them. At most I could see special missions where you could adapt the hero before starting the game itself, where you have a lack of a base and need to do specific objectives with your tiny group, etc.
Basically, what my maiin complaoint would be is the sameness. When I reroll planets, I see certain traits all the times (including one that trivializes a lot too, marked for reassambly). I can still influence the planet, but only partly - I can increase the number of players ((making it easier to ally with certain ones), or decrease the size to reach enemies fast fpr rush tactics. These are more in the 'optimiziation' part, though. The same goes for the loadout. It was a pretty interesting concept, but I barely pick anything different, because, why would I? My choices are cleary superior after all!
This is the main flaw in my opinion. People tend to do what worked for them, so they will prefer the same thing, which means they do the same, which they get bored of. It is just not eenough differences between panet selections, they are just normal games with some rules slapped on it (even if a few of them are pretty interesting).

TL;DR: Current Empire mode is not changable enough to turn it into what you envision, you should instead try to influence a new AoW game for that. I do hope that they keep his style of Empire Mode, because I enjoyed it quite a lot despite its flaws and so did many others I bet.
 

Sandman25DCSSS

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I think it is expected that late planets are quite easy. Just look at XCOM2, it is extremely hard early game (speaking about ironman legendary here), but after killing a few Chosens you basically stop caring about what is thrown at you because they die in one turn anyway. It is a known pattern (and quite enjoyable by most players I believe) of "hard early game, easy late game". Some of us are just in minority who want to stay it challenging all game.
 

Draxynnic

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I think what they have is an experiment that will be iterated on in a future project.

Like I've said, extending the process is definitely something I could see being worthwhile. More rewards at the top end. More challenges at the top end. Currently we have a system by which the XP required for levelling up is always a flat 1000, which means that you can tend to have slow progress early on and then when you start taking on the bigger challenges you can end up gaining something like ten levels in one game - a scaling system by which you can get some of the more basic stuff reasonably quickly while the higher-end stuff requires pushing a bit further would probably have helped. Things like additional rewards, adding complications that give AI players additional advantages beyond just "some of them start in an alliance together" (especially since, in my experience, they're often happy to break those alliances once it starts looking bad for them, which makes dividing and conquering all too easy), and generally letting things progress further before the cap is reached is definitely worthwhile

But hey, you're talking about a hundred games, at 3-4 hours per game (and you're calling that a short game: an analysis I don't disagree with, but it's worth acknowledging that most games are going to be longer than that). That means that, to get to the point where you're at, someone would have had to spend at least 300 hours playing Empire Mode alone. So, if someone's to get there without a head start of some form, that's an average of 1.5 hours per day over a course of seven months, not just in Planetfall, but in Empire Mode specifically, and probably more. That might be 'typical' among a community of hardcore fanatics, but those sorts of numbers are what you expect from people who play the game as part of their lifestyle, not the typical player from anything outside of MMOs and the like. I don't think Triumph made the mode on the assumption that people would get to a hundred worlds and still be looking for further challenges. Heck, there isn't even an achievement for getting your empire to maximum level. At some point, you're always going to reach a point the developers didn't plan for. At best, they could come up with some infinitely scalable complications, such as giving the AI a bigger and bigger head start.

Regarding heroes, I don't think your suggestions to keep them under control to be particularly satisfactory. Per game level caps would probably be frustrating early on where your heroes are being arbitrarily limited to remaining as babies that can't do much, and still doesn't prevent loading them up with the best gear you can find. Limiting empire heroes to 2 per game still means you can start the game with one overpowered hero, and that certain perks just become completely obsolete after the first game with a particular hero, but in the meantime you're going back to having random heroes for the remaining slots. I do think the current approach is a good compromise to maintain some continuity without fundamentally overhauling the balance of the game. One can perhaps presume that while in transit from one world to the next, the character experiences some deterioration in skills, or needs to adjust to the new world's conditions and leading a new set of forces, and some of the equipment they've collected has been diverted into ensuring the security of the newly conquered world. I could see a system similar to the AoW1 campaign where some items can be carried over, but I don't think it'd be good for the mode to carry everything over.

Possibly that's the answer, in fact: have some mechanism for spending resources before landing to bring some stuff with you from the Empire's stores. Which could be items, but could also have the potential to be units: once you get to a point where you want to be landing strong, it could be interesting to have to decide between strong heroes or a strong army. Still, though, I think it would be appropriate to be a gradual process: there should be a gradual increase in initial power between scenarios, rather than going from a normal start on the first game to bringing what is effectively a tier 4+ with you on the second.
 

atord/Nordos

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agreed. Though I can see following: You can save, at the end of a map, your hero in its 'prime' (only one 'prime is active all times), which has its current loadout, including skills and equipment.
Then, you can pay recources to transform your hero into its prime form, or there are missions where you start with a handicap, but in return your heroes start in their prime form (for example, you have no colony and all taken ones get razed, or something along the lines).
But making it a general rule sounds like a terrible idea. The limitations that need to be imposed make the keeping of the hero itself moot. It doesn't make sense to do that while also including some further restrictions instead. It merely punishes those that do not stick to a particular hero, something that is already punished enough IMO.
 

coodav

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I would also love to keep the progressed heroes to do some stupid and broken things, but I don't think that it is needed. They are too powerful and would be hard to balance around them. At most I could see special missions where you could adapt the hero before starting the game itself, where you have a lack of a base and need to do specific objectives with your tiny group, etc.
Basically, what my maiin complaoint would be is the sameness. [,,,]
You see, this is exactly it. EXACTLY. When you are scaling the game, the player gets ahold of the knobs. You can amp it up to whatever level you want. Still too easy? Well, turn up the 'hatred' (scaling difficulty setting in Hades) to 11. Still a bit stale? Go 'no cities.' See what I mean? Map just too much? Well, level up a few other heroes, and try a different technology. Found a hella-good map that is just right on balance? Share it with people. I mean, take a look at that OP again, I wasn't coming from that angle. Somehow we both kind-of got off the tracks.

Man, they were close here. But what I am thinking does this.

This is the main flaw in my opinion. People tend to do what worked for them, so they will prefer the same thing, which means they do the same, which they get bored of. It is just not eenough differences between panet selections, they are just normal games with some rules slapped on it (even if a few of them are pretty interesting).
Yeah, that is 100% what happened. We have some rules, which function a lot like mods, slapped onto a world. Worse actually. We have up to 4 rules slapped onto a world, many of which don't do anything, or just don't work very well. At war with the psi-fish? Well, 150 energy and 15 influence, and 'poof,' you are best-ies.

But here is the gig. One more push, and this could be really cool. I don't think that is just me talking completely out of my butt...

I think what they have is an experiment that will be iterated on in a future project.
Yeah, I bet this is it. I just REALLY wish they had done a few obvious things before they set it adrift. And I think Flagship kind-of owes us one on this. The game is pretty incomplete.

That might be 'typical' among a community of hardcore fanatics, but those sorts of numbers are what you expect from people who play the game as part of their lifestyle, not the typical player from anything outside of MMOs and the like. I don't think Triumph made the mode on the assumption that people would get to a hundred worlds and still be looking for further challenges.
First, remember that a bunch of those games (30?) were 20-turn challenges. Several of those I knocked out in maybe 15 turns? They were really quick.

But even still, point holds. It is a type of lifestyle game, as I kinda settled into hitting it to relax.

Simultaneously, my point holds. EVEN IF they just made it to where it scales grossly into oblivion (i.e. Invasions 2), that is still better. That map was hard. It took a while to figure out. And those mental struggle is the absolute point. It would be awesome if we could have it all; smarter AI, diverse mechanics, variety maps, but we don't have to. Just give the computer a bunch more, and let it roll. I mean, it isn't perfect, but then we could compete on who's Empire got the highest 'hatred' rating.

At best, they could come up with some infinitely scalable complications, such as giving the AI a bigger and bigger head start.
Which is why this doesn't make sense. EVEN THAT would be better. Which makes me think they missed the entire point of this thing.

Possibly that's the answer, in fact: have some mechanism for spending resources before landing to bring some stuff with you from the Empire's stores. Which could be items, but could also have the potential to be units: once you get to a point where you want to be landing strong, it could be interesting to have to decide between strong heroes or a strong army. Still, though, I think it would be appropriate to be a gradual process: there should be a gradual increase in initial power between scenarios, rather than going from a normal start on the first game to bringing what is effectively a tier 4+ with you on the second.
Man, I feel like you are just barely missing it. The point of an Empire Mode is to feel the consistent progression of players and your empire. Having these 1000 stagger-starts is terrible. Plus, you still get all the down-side to starting with a level 20 hero anyway. They need to ditch that balance, and not look back. I mean, take a look at some of the armies I got into combat BY TURN 45:

Screenshot (239).png


screenshot-238-png.727500


Balance is toast homie. 100 : 0 auto-combats barely losing a few hit points. Seriously, the last thing the computer has to worry about here is my heroes, though they too are completely broken.
Though I can see following: You can save, at the end of a map, your hero in its 'prime' (only one 'prime is active all times), which has its current loadout, including skills and equipment.
You got pulled into the same mindset too. But you have to see the problem isn't that. You are fidgeting with small dials. I mean look at those pictures. This is Empire Mode when you get to this point. Something big has to happen.

Look, let me just get it out. This is DEFINITELY the future, whether Flagship makes it work, or someone else does. Because of the way AOW works, it just seems like their game is the natural fit. They have heroes, and strategy combat. This system fits more fluidly with that, IMO. But they, and maybe a few of you, are conceptualizing it wrong. The system cannot be about any one balance. The balance MUST move waaaayyyyy off, or this concept is stillborn. They really should have done this to start, guys. They conceptualized it badly, and now we get whatever you are seeing above.

And man, if you are saying it is because of the psi-fish, the I don't know. They are the worst offender, but when I do the KirKo without them, it will be just as bad.
 

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Fluksen

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and how damn close they got... They just have to... One more push...
My guess is that this could be modded and that is probably your best bet. At the same time learning how to mod that might give you a challenge (and you seem in dire need of one :p)