Forcing players into orbital during the early game

Discussion in 'PA: TITANS: General Discussion' started by PeggleFrank, December 12, 2016.

  1. PeggleFrank

    PeggleFrank Active Member

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    Recently, I made a map that was set up to do a couple things. The overall purpose was to see what the game would be like if the players started in the orbital layer and worked their way down towards end-game.

    It put the players on a small asymmetric earth biome with a high temperature. Unlike desert biomes, high-temperature earth biomes have an absolute ton of CSG objects littered everywhere, which greatly reduce the mobility of units, the effectiveness of raiding forces, and provide players limited room to expand. There's no room for lots of factories or big armies; you might be able to fit a couple structures in your immediate vicinity if you're lucky. By doing this, I limited the players options such that they had no choice but to go orbital.

    Next, I put an absolutely massive sandbox planet (this is now the moon from Majora's Mask, but I'll keep referring to it by "the sandbox planet") right next to the small starting planet. 9 minutes in, the starting planet will collide with the sandbox planet, destroying them both. The sandbox planet doesn't have any metal, and is a completely featureless sphere to reduce framerate lag. Because the planets collide only 9 minutes in, the players don't have time to build more than an astraeus for their commander and their fabbers and an orbital fabricator to get the ball rolling on the gas giant. By doing this, I forced the players to escape the starting planet, and the only way to do that is via orbital.

    Third, I added a gas giant. It had a radius of 2000, meaning there was plenty of room for everyone. It's the only planet you can escape to, because once the sandbox planet crashes into the starting planet, there's nothing else to escape to besides the gas giant. By doing this, I gave the players a planet where the only layer is the orbital layer.

    And finally, I added an asteroid belt. It only spawns one metal-void asteroid (I didn't mean for that to rhyme) with a radius of 250 (which is now ~600), but it spawns the moment the sandbox planet and the starting planet collide. By doing this, I gave the players back their land and air layers.

    And that's about it. The first game was a bit of a flop, because the players didn't realize the planets were going to collide until it was too late (although I kept bringing it up and gave a countdown). We did a rematch with the same players, and the results were pretty interesting. I went to the gas planet almost immediately, while everyone else stayed behind to build a more secure economy. Some players were sending out boom bots on planet-wide patrol, which crippled my economy once my commander left the planet, as I hadn't built any defenses. I made exclusively orbital fabricators and astraeus, which I used to load not only my commander but also all of my fabricators. The other players seemed to focus more on avengers, preferring to make a bunch of avengers, one fabricator, and one astraeus for their commander, leaving the rest behind.

    Things went differently from what I expected when we got to the orbital layer. Some players had enough avengers to outright kill the enemy's orbital fabricators and commander, but backed off (possibly due to just good sportsmanship?). Whoever arrived at the gas giant first would have a massive advantage depending on how much earlier they arrived, as they'd be able to take their avengers and snipe the enemy's orbital fabricators. It's not impossible to recover once you lose your orbital fabricators, but it's an extremely slow process that relies on you re-building your orbital fleet from your commander's metal and nothing else. Orbital factories were key, and so were jigs; getting one orbital factory out to produce avengers + a jig to power it meant you could start establishing map control. Your first orbital factory is also a bit of a safety net, as it can create more orbital fabricators if you lose the ones you brought with you. Commander snipes may be easy in the early orbital game, but I put in a solution: the asteroid.

    The asteroid is a barren planet with no features whatsoever. However, having a hard surface is a feature in itself, and makes the asteroid an extremely powerful place to spend your economy. The better you made your economy in the early game, which you constructed while you were on the gas giant (and before the planets collided/the asteroid appeared), the more you could do once you got onto the asteroid. Additionally, preparation is rewarded greatly. The astraeus I built in the early game for my fabbers allowed me to instantly tech into T2 vehicles once I landed on the planet, which was helpful as many T2 structures and units are essential to seizing control of the asteroid. The asteroid might not be the safest thing in the world, but it's at least safer than the gas giant, so everyone brought their commanders there. The result is a pseudo-early game with a greatly boosted economy, an economy which must be built in the early game on the gas giant. If you spent that economy on things like omega battleships, you can assert some real dominance, threatening commanders, orbital fabricators, and avengers alike. If you've spent it on orbital fabricators, you can rush titans and control the ground layer with anchors and SXX. If you've simply saved it up, you can expand rapidly and infinitely outward on the ground with hordes of T2 fabbers and units.

    I can't speak for the rest of that game, because I accidentally killed everyone's commanders with one hummingbird. They all left their commanders on the surface in astraeus with no flak. Still, it was a pretty cool game.

    With a map like this, the whole game goes backwards, and I love it. It's probably not that solid of a game mode (commander snipes are far too easy, both on the gas giant and on the asteroid), and it is extremely newbie un-friendly (not having the right composition of orbital fabbers, astraeus, and avengers could cost you the game right off the bat), but it has a distinct charm to it. Orbital is a lot more interesting when there's no ground or air game to worry about.
    • Very early game (0-9 minutes): Players harass each other to damage each others economies, which can potentially prevent them from reaching orbital as quickly. However, being aggressive like this also weakens your orbital presence on the gas giant, and every effort you make that doesn't involve creating orbital units is made futile at the 9 minute mark.

    • Early game (6-9 minutes): Players build up their economies on the gas giant. Their presence here is dependent on how much harassing they did in the very early game and how many resources they invested into orbital units. Additionally, the ratio of astraeus to avengers to orbital fabricators is extremely important here. Astraeus only cost 200 metal, but avengers cost four times that much, and orbital fabbers cost eight times that much. Even two orbital fabbers is a relatively huge investment compared to just one, but having two allows you to get up a jig and an orbital factory at the same time. The meta here is going to be tough to figure out without lots of trial and error.

    • Mid game (9-15 minutes) This is similar to the early game, but players will generally have avengers, artemis, anchors, and sometimes omegas defining their "base." Unlike regular PA, aggressive tactics are not rewarded, because the enemy commanders are very mobile and there's no reason to "expand" beyond just making more room for jigs and orbital factories. Players will generally be fighting over the asteroid during this time, sending in orbital units to fight units on the ground, mass-producing land units to fight other land units, making land units to fight orbital units, etc. The asteroid has no metal, so the players economies are completely invested on the gas giant at all times. Jigs also provide much more energy than they do metal, so building T2 energy on the asteroid is unnecessary.

    • Late game (15+ minutes) Similar to the mid game, except by this point, someone has usually managed to take total control of the asteroid. There are umbrellas all over the place, and avengers are scouring the skies. You may not be able to nuke gas giants, but you can still produce orbital units from orbital launchers, and you have a whole area of free orbital space to yourself for even more factories. The real benefit to having the asteroid is that you can send units wherever you want on the gas giant, allowing you to take out the juicy jig-filled insides of any base you so choose, one by one.
    To be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I'm writing this. But if you have some people to play with, it might be an interesting game mode to try. I don't see why it wouldn't work with any number of players. I attached the map I made if you want to give it a shot, although you could probably make something a little more refined yourself.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: December 14, 2016
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  2. probodobodyne

    probodobodyne Active Member

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    It's an interesting concept. If you see me (Darky) in game then toss me an invite and I'd tag along.

    You could make the asteroid really large to make it harder to camp. Like make its radius 500 or something. It would stay a bland rock and not be as campable.

    Also the sandbox biome is out of place. You can have the same effect if you just set it to moon biome and then manually remove the craters.
  3. PeggleFrank

    PeggleFrank Active Member

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    Yeah, I went into directedit after that game and boosted its radius to 500, as well as reduced the height range (catapults were OP because turrets couldn't fire over the hills). I might mess around later to see if I can get a biome with water, but that would make things too complicated I think.

    Good idea. Now that you bring it up, I should add a face or something to really drive home the fact that it's coming closer and closer. Hell, maybe I could add some text.

    EDIT: I'm not sure if it was worth it, but... it might help?


    Updated version attached.

    EDIT: Updated version attached again. Cut off about 60 CSG objects for better load times and performance. Looks slightly worse as a result, but scaling up that rock skin for the moon just causes it to invert on itself and cause parts of the terrain to stop rendering. I switched over to a lava planet for the time being, because ~15 minute loading times are too much.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: December 15, 2016
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  4. tripper

    tripper Active Member

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    I love this!
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  5. lulamae

    lulamae Planetary Moderator

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    I played a similar game a while back where we only had 3-4 minutes to get to the gas giant and the battle was fought there. Only drawback was that it became a big turtle fest, but was an interesting match none the less.

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