Future of PA Brainstorming: Not Major Engine Changes; But Gameplay, Roles, and Strategic Complexity

Discussion in 'PA: TITANS: General Discussion' started by ledarsi, August 24, 2018.

  1. ledarsi

    ledarsi Post Master General

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    PA players seem to have a very different definition of what "aggressive" means than other RTS communities. Sending a few bots representing a small portion of your total assets is not real aggression. That's light harassment, and yes you will kill some mexes and some constructors, and yes it's a good move and you should always do it, but to everyone who is saying that is "aggression" you are just plain wrong. That's just tepid combat scouting with a tiny commitment of resources and risk. The level of aggression is virtually nonexistent, to such a great extent that such lukewarm attacks are considered "aggressive."

    A 6pool in Starcraft is aggression where your investment in the offense is so large you absolutely must do severe damage or else you will be far, far behind. Real aggression in SupCom is a large portion of your resources, not just a few bots while you go T2-T3 and make as much economy as your resources allow.

    Standard play in PA is an extremely strong economic focus; and that point is basically not arguable. If you aren't rapidly expanding and getting T2 in a few minutes you will be in trouble against someone who does.

    If you do make this type of economic focus, you will very rapidly have a bigger army than if you had made troops instead. The payoff from this investment is so quick and so large that you would be insane not to do it in every game, which is why everyone does it in every game and doesn't really think twice about it.

    If this payoff takes longer then it gives you more time to actually fight with units. Resources spent on combat units don't appreciate; resources spent on economy and tech do. Troops need to go kill things to pay for themselves, and they don't have a lot of time to do so before the economic play has more troops anyway. That "risk window" where you are weak because of an economic or tech focus is small-to-nonexistent, although it is present if you were go to T2 way too quickly.
  2. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    I would very much like to see a much larger window of time where t1 is the focus of play. The game moves to t2 so quickly in the current balance, even in small map 1 v 1 games.
  3. nimzodragonlord

    nimzodragonlord Member

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    I would say that t1 is very important for 1v1s since it gives you greater map control. Nik, Broom, Ptasior, and other strong ubers have all adopted builds which delay t2 until the 6th or 7th factory in their queue.
  4. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Yes .. But in PA 6th to 7th factory is still well under the 10 minute mark...
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  5. sardaukar666

    sardaukar666 Well-Known Member

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    I agree that 7th factory is rediculously quick, I miss the days of commander positioning being a thing during the tier 1 phase and the ability to punish a player for teching if they have not locked down enough.
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  6. emarkus

    emarkus Active Member

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    I would like to have double or quad factories as alternative for doing factory spam.
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  7. manlebtnureinmal

    manlebtnureinmal Active Member

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    The 10 minute mark is pretty well through the midgame considering that PA games often end before 20.

    6-pooling in Starcraft is also non-standard play. All-ins and rushes in both Starcraft games are considered to be risky and often "cheesy". Standard play at high levels for Zerg in both Starcraft games are often about achieving economic booms behind aggressive "light harassment".

    In comparison, Planetary Annihilation also has all-ins and rushes. Qzipco, one of the best players in the game, is well known for winning games with commander pushes. Bot 1 also has an "unbeatable strategy" for Forge which is also a compush, albeit supposedly weaker than the type of compush that Qzipco does.

    Comparing the level of aggression of a 6-pool to dox harass is a silly argument. 6-pools are not standard play, and are the second most all-in form to play (worker rushes are the only more all-in strategies). If you want to compare the 6-pool to anything, compare it to the compush.

    Both are considered risky, both are considered rare, but not completely unviable, both leave little room for recovery when one fails.

    ____

    All of your suggestions would result in a much slower pacing. There are indeed people who'd prefer a slower paced game, but many of the people who continue to currently play PA play it for its pacing.

    I'd recommend you try to keep large scale changes that shift the length and pace of the game to a mod; it seems unlikely that a game as old as PA will undergo significant pace changes this late into its existence.
    Last edited: August 27, 2018
  8. ledarsi

    ledarsi Post Master General

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    Offense is inherently risky. But greed should always be risky too, for different reasons. Overly greedy expansion leaves you relatively defenseless to raiding.

    The "safe" approach of making lots of defenses and slower expansion may allow you to protect all your assets, but an enemy that is less risk-averse than you who expands everywhere is going to eat you later.

    In a strategy game there are no completely safe options. Managing risk is why these games are hard; a smart mixture of raiding, expansion, defense, and tech, involving adapting that balance based on what you observe the opponent doing, and where.

    PA does not really play that way right now; you pretty much always play economic macro because aggression is really terrible. And by that I mean real aggression, where you are wagering enough resources on that offense that you must do damage, and not just a casual scout/opportunistic mex raid. Making the game play more aggressively does not decrease the pace of the game, however it will decrease the rate at which your economy doubles in size.
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  9. grandhomie

    grandhomie Active Member

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    Most of the good players play super aggressive in team games / 1v1s. Aggression is the best way to win. Are you talking about FFAs? That's the only gameplay where not being aggressive pays off.

    In a good 1v1 (good map / single planet) you're constantly attacking / harassing enemy fabbers / units / expansions. From the 1st minute you need to defend against bombers and boombots snipes of fabbers. You also need to do the same, ideally better than your opponent to put them on the defensive or at least make them react to your actions.
    Killing early fabbers (aggression) pays off. Destroying enemy expansions pays off.

    From what you're saying it really seems like you're talking about a different game.
  10. ledarsi

    ledarsi Post Master General

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    A Dox costs 45 metal, and T2 bot factory costs 3600 metal. If you are making a T2 factory in 6 minutes, T2 fabbers, and maybe even a 2000 metal orbital launcher, plus who knows how much spent on energy plants on an ongoing basis, then you are just not playing that aggressively.

    Yes you will be sending out units to go shoot things. The fact that "technically shooting is happening!" does not mean you are actually being that aggressive. Nearly all of your resources are being spent on economy and tech, and not on offense.

    People saying "oh but there are totally units being made which shoot at each other" are completely missing the point. Sending 20 Dox to go attack mexes and fabbers costs you virtually nothing and it does not really matter if they are completely destroyed and fail to accomplish anything. Your risk is negligible because your primary focus is on rapidly getting economy and tech and building a HUGE army later.

    And the reason this strategy is optimal is because your risk window of going for these big constructions is very brief; very soon you will have a force advantage because you made that choice. And, because the economy ramps up in scale so quickly, if you were to be seriously aggressive your enemy would likely beat your army even if they went for a greedy macro strategy. Aggression should destroy greedy strategies, but if the greed is so safe and so speedy that you don't even have time to kill them then you just can't do it.
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  11. lulamae

    lulamae Well-Known Member

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    So how would you forsee getting a huge army sooner?

    Again, this can by addressed by map design. Design maps that encourage the type of game play that appeals to you. Host games on those maps and publish them as Map Packs in the Community Mod Manager.
    The game can't help but be improved with a broader selection of quality maps.
  12. maxpowerz

    maxpowerz Post Master General

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    I still think adding some form of unit cap to the game would add a lot of variety to the gameplay.
    Not a preset unit cap like 5000 units of any class, instead a form of variable unit cap that is a resource that is consumed at unit creation and returned to the resource stockpile after a unit is destroyed.
    Since the commander controls all units and is the central AI for all your army and base and when it dies all units self destruct it's fair to assume the commander acts like a cpu and shares it's processor or processors with any created units.
    The unit cap im suggesting could be based off the idea that a commander has limited processing power or cpu cores it can share with units.
    An example is a commander might have 5000 cores it can share with units created,
    Each unit uses a set amount of cores based off it's battlefield efficiency when it's created (cost balancing based of unit functionality and power).
    And when this unit is destroyed the amount of cores it's consuming to function are free'd up so that they can be reused.
    So if a commander has 5000 cores and T1 units all cost 1 core each to function you can build an army of 5000 t1 units then your capped.
    And if T2 units cost 5 cores each then you can build 1000 t2 units or a mix of t1 and t2 that equals upto 5000 cores.
    and same with the titans they could use 50 cores each limiting titan spamming and if you build 100 titan's then you are capped so army balancing might be a more effective gameplay style in this situation as opposed to the usual zerg rush tactic.
    If there is a form of unit cap i'm sure late game server performance would also improve as there would be a limit to the amount of units at any given time putting less load on the ram and the navigation thread or threads.

    edit.
    A unit cap resource like this could be pre-settable in the lobby, it's a resource that is preset and doesn't change throughout the gameplay it's just consumed and restored as units are created and destroyed, it could also be disabled to allow for original uncapped gameplay.
    Last edited: August 28, 2018
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  13. acesoyster

    acesoyster Active Member

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    I’ve said this before, but if you think you have the solution to the issue, mod it and prove it. It’s practically effortless to change these values, and “this works, here is my proof” is far more convincing than what you have presented so far. I can’t personally imagine a set of values that would ever encourage the aggressive play you discuss, but I’d be interested if shown otherwise.
  14. maxpowerz

    maxpowerz Post Master General

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    I've already dicussed this before with other modder's,
    It's not that easy to implement as it would require some server end stuff to monitor unit creation and destruction, server side mods aren't so easy to implement if they require engine functionality that doesn't exist or isn't exposed
    Last edited: August 28, 2018
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  15. ledarsi

    ledarsi Post Master General

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    You have this backwards- it should take longer to get a huge army. Macro should be a longer delay with greater investment of metal and time before it pays off.

    I would definitely be prepared to work on a mod to prove this. This wouldn't be the first mod to lower mex yield (about 1.5-2.5 metal is probably good, not 7), but it would pretty clearly require that you need to control more land to get the same income, which takes more time, involves more risk, and makes it more difficult to defend. That much should not require any additional testing than has already been done.

    The two major roadblocks for a mod I would want to make are air/space don't play nice if you wanted plane units to be able to fly up and shoot at orbital units and vice versa. Modding planes to be space units and drop bombs from space is 'functional' but a very ugly kludge, especially when a plane is first manufactured. I would want them to just fly up into space or fly down to the planet, which as far as I know the engine does not like and nothing can be done about this. And second, I am not sure how one might go about implementing an economic mechanic such as mex overdrive in PA.

    If we are discussing a dev feature wish list air units returning to base to re-arm limited munitions inside a hangar or other structure or unit would be ideal. This solution has been well tested in Zero K as permanently solving the air deathblob problem. The closest you can currently do is a unit-specific mechanic like the aircraft carrier's drones, which is good enough for most purposes but you can't rebase planes or construct them at a factory if you were to rely on that mechanic for implementing airplanes, even if you used their current models.
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  16. manlebtnureinmal

    manlebtnureinmal Active Member

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    People don't even really use orbital in singleplanet matches.

    Make your mod first and prove that your eco numbers are playable; ignore the orbital/air interaction part.

    One can just allow air and orbital to attack each other to achieve a similar effect mechanically, albeit without the cosmetic part of it. Gunships don't swoop down to the ground level when attacking ground units though. That doesn't mean that the layers can't interact. The only mechanical issue with this is the differences between how orbital and air vision are handled.

    ______

    Other note: the part about increasing map size or decreasing unit speed is counterproductive towards encouraging "true" aggression. One can get the same effect, without slowing down the pace of production so drastically, by actually increasing unit speed or decreasing map size. If you touch neither unit speed now map size, your economy modifications need not be so drastic in order to achieve the effect you want. If you really want to maintain that epic feeling though, shrink all the unit models a bit; it will result in the same effect.

    I suppose you see a greatly slowed pacing as a plus though, so feel free to ignore this.
  17. ledarsi

    ledarsi Post Master General

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    If you are referring strictly to economic growth then yes slower would be better. If you are referring to combat, then no, pacing of combat should be more aggressive not slower.

    Although shrinking the map (equivalent to faster units on equivalent size map) would make the game more aggressive due to closer proximity, it also reduces the scale and size of the conflict, with less spatial separation of locations. Small scale aggression is more tactical and depends more on small unit confrontations to win a single very important fight. Tactical micro is not really what we are going for here.

    Large scale, strategic aggressive play means positioning many groups of units around the map. Some of these will undoubtedly be fighting at any given time, but not all of them. Most of them will be traveling most of the time and not in combat yet. It needs to take time to get places. Creating spatial separation between different locations is important, so you have to split your forces into many small groups rather than just quickly run over to wherever your units are needed. If you didn't send enough units to a specific location, and the enemy sent more, then those guys are going to die; they are too far away to help, and there's nothing you can do about it now except plan for the future to win the next fight. But if you blob all your forces together in one place, your army may be huge but it will take way too long for you to traveling-salesman your way to every enemy location, meanwhile the enemy much more efficiently attacks many defenseless outposts of yours with very small, separate groups. They don't have to beat you in a straight up fight to win the war in a strategic sense.

    Putting two players very close to one another will definitely make them more aggressive but will do so for the wrong reasons; "I need to make units or I die right now if they attack me." The one-huge-blob-go-kill-him approach actually works really well in those circumstances, primarily restricted by the amount of time it takes to build such a force in an aggressive game. Rather than contesting territory across a huge map, where the difference is "I need to make units and send them out, or enemy units will beat me everywhere around the map and I will have no money" which of course does ultimately lead to being directly attacked and killed later.

    Either case is much more aggressive in that you are going to spend a lot more resources on combat units. But we don't just want more combat units, we also want the decision to send these forces to that location to have weight and consequence, where on a tiny map there are really only two locations of interest; your base, and theirs, and you want to have as many troops as possible at one of them, and you win by securing one major victory in battle at their base.
    Last edited: August 29, 2018
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  18. nimzodragonlord

    nimzodragonlord Member

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    Ledarsi can I pls 1v1 u?
  19. stuart98

    stuart98 Post Master General

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    Your understanding of Zero-K is... poor. "Tank" is not a class in Zero-K, though I assume you mean assaults. The RPS actually goes:
    Raiders beat Skirmishers (usually) + Assaults (usually), Skirmishers beat Riots (always) + Assaults (usually) + Defense (sometimes), Riots beat Raiders (always), Assaults beat Riots (always) + Defense (always), Defense beats Raiders (always) + Riots (sometimes), and then there are plenty of units which blur the lines (eg Scallops are Riot/Skirm, Panthers are Raider/Assault, Fencers are Skirm/Defense, Buoys are Skirm/Assault, Mace is Riot/Assault, etc), there are other units that fall outside of the lines altogether (EG Artillery), and generally the counter system is only a soft-counter system.

    In PA, you get... basically the same thing, except the only pure Riot units in the game are Sparks, Slammers, and Bumblebees; the only half decent Skirmish units are Grenadiers and Shellers, and while there are pure assaults (infernos and vanguards), Ants and Levelers function as combination riot/assaults due to their instant hit weapons, and a lack of long ranged pure assaults means that they essentially go uncounterable in normal fights - you only beat levelers in PA with Air or by going around them (or by having more levelers), a situation not present in Zero-K. PA has the same counter system as Zero-K, except with far fewer options.

    The real problem with bringing Zero-K's gameplay into PA is that much of Zero-K is dependent on its small scale - factories as soft factions, micro making a difference, etc. Bringing that into PA requires lowering the scale, and that goes contrary to much of PA's appeal.
  20. ledarsi

    ledarsi Post Master General

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    Rock paper scissors is absolutely not correct about Zero K; certain units are effective against others not because they are defined to be or arbitrarily do more damage or take more damage, but by their characteristics like movement speed, aiming, damage, rate of fire, accuracy, projectile speed, splash, etc. These also depend on many other factors like terrain and nearby other units.

    You don't import the specifics from Zero K, you take the basic principle of units devised that way, and come up with different roles and mechanics.

    Zero K went with raider / riot / skirmisher / assault concepts. In part those are based on permanent consequences of how those units work; a slow unit will in general lose to a longer-range, faster unit which can kite it forever. But it takes a long time and you have to kite against a charging unit which may not be appropriate such as if you have to defend a base; you need open space and time, not just "I have counter X against Y" Or a unit with high HP and damage but slow speed and short range will be very effective against defensive structures that can't move. But you don't necessarily need to apply those rules in the same way.

    In general you beat an enemy force by having greater quantity, which is proper but shouldn't be the only factor. In addition to a decisive pitched battle, limited engagements like skirmishers engaging assaults from distance slows down an engagement with lots of missed shooting and maneuvering. Hard committing a group of units against another isn't the only way a fight can play out.
    Last edited: August 30, 2018
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