Expanding on Base Templates to conserve Player attention

Discussion in 'Planetary Annihilation General Discussion' started by cervantes1536, February 8, 2014.

  1. cervantes1536

    cervantes1536 New Member

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    Hi all, this is my first thread. Please be nice :). I've used both Google and the forum search function to determine whether the following ideas have been previously discussed and it doesn't seem like they have. If I'm wrong, I apologize.

    Success in PA, requires mass, energy, and player attention. Due to the existence of multi-planet maps, I think its imperative that the UI provides plenty of tools to conserve this third resource. One of these tools has been confirmed to be "base templates".

    From what I remember from Supreme Commander, base templates allow a player to predefine the layout of a base via the inclusion and position of multiple buildings. However, I believe that templates could be so much more. Here are some ideas that I considered:

    1. Allow unit-squad templates to predefine squad composition and formation
    While one could argue that we already have infinite production, I think it would be great if we could simply click on a player-defined "squad template" that specifies which and how many units to build as well as the placement of each unit. For example, if I constantly used squads of 30 Dox, 12 Stingers, 5 combat fabricators, and 2 skitters, then I should be able to build five groups of them simply by clicking on this "squad template" button 5 times. Some complexity may arise from squad templates that include units from different factories, but I think these details can be ironed out with some discussion.

    2. Combined base templates and squad templates
    In cases where a base template includes factories, allow the player to command these planned factories to generate units or squads as well. Players could specify where the units to spawn to and perhaps even give the planned units predefined patrol commands, guard commands, bombard-ground commands. This way, when one wants to build an outpost with some units nearby to guard it, the player can simply plop down a combined base-squad template once and focus his attention elsewhere. Later on, when the player returns his attention to the outpost, in ideal conditions, the outpost should be up and running, with predefined squads/units patrolling, defending, maintaining the outpost.

    3. Modifying placed templates on the fly
    In cases where a player has placed a base template on the ground to be built, the player may wish to modify this particular base template instance that is **already placed** (to remove/add/reposition defenses for example). The UI could provide the player a simple way to modify the placed template to best suit the situation at hand. How this would be done, I haven't fully though it out, but it involve things like dragging "ghost buildings" around for example.

    4. Base templates that persist and auto-rebuild
    This idea is a little more iffy since we're venturing into the realm of AI-controlled bases, but I think its worth discussing at least. One thing I hate about rebuilding a base after a damaging attack is spending time deciding where to replace structures. It might be helpful to have bases, which were constructed from a base template, "remember" the placement of buildings after they've been destroyed. For example, if an enemy's attack destroyed several power generators, a basic vehicle factory, and multiple patrol units, the base would attempt to rebuild the power generators, factories and replenish the patrol units by using fabricators that were assigned to maintaining the base in the initial template.
    If all assigned fabricators were destroyed, then a surviving factory would replenish them. If all fabricators AND factories were destroyed, the player could be allowed to select an unassigned fabricator, hold down a shift button (for example) to display the outline of the base template super-imposed over the half-destroyed base, and assign the fabricator to rebuild the base

    Problems with #4:
    a. economic disruption: if a player is focusing his resources on some other endeavor (building an army on another planet for example), the last thing he'd want would be for a self-regenerating base sucking all his resources away, thus it might be a good idea to only allow base-self-regeneration when there are surplus resources. In cases where base-regeneration is a high priority, a player could have a way to command the base's self-regeneration *even* when resources are in the red.
    b. which structures/units are rebuilt first: this is a can of worms that would merit a separate discussion

    5. Template-specific Notifications
    Players may benefit if the UI provides notifications about template-related issues, such as when a base template has been finished, a base template cannot be completed because all assigned construction units have been destroyed. Since the purpose of template is to allow a player to focus his attention elsewhere, if a particular template is not fulfilling this purpose, the player should be notified.

    6. Expanding further on squad templates
    Admittedly, this point may be somewhat offtopic but I figured I'd introduce anyway since its somewhat related. It might be helpful if a squad of units could act like a "fleet" aka Sins of a Solar Empire. In forming a squad of units, this squad would take on characteristics of a single cohesive unit. Squads could range from small groups of bots, to a large diverse company of tanks, to a battery of nuck launchers.

    Some advantages:
    1. Easier selection and control: from what I understand, we can only form 10 control groups. I'm not sure this is enough for multiple planets. In forming a squad of units, a "squad marker" would appear over this group of units, allowing the player to select the entire squad by clicking on the marker. This would simply management of hundreds of units, allow players to coordinate squads to perform complicated maneuvers, and make it easier for the player to understand where all his units are (he can see the squad markers, and immediately understand that these squads have so-and-so units)
    2. Patrolling: when assign a group of units to patrol an entire planet, often times the units run off as single units, which are vulnerable. By allowing a player to build tens of squads via predefined squad-templates and ordering the squads to "patrol the planet", each squad will move separately from other squads to patrol the planet, but at least the units will move in squads.
    3. Self-regeneration: just like persisting base templates, a squad can also persist an self regenerate its units when some of them are destroyed.

    These ideas are far from complete and I'm hoping people will take the time to poke holes in this design, and then provide ideas to improve it. Please let me know what you all think. I'm sure some at least some of you have thought of similar things.
  2. hohopo

    hohopo Member

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    While templates are an intresting idea I have a few problems with them:

    1. Pre-set squads limit your options in game.
    Yes you can still build individual units, but people are lazy, and you can bet that pre sets will become the norm ( vs today where I had a army of most anti air with a few others mixed in, Hey t2 air hurts...)

    2. Self regenerating squads on patrol
    My hope for the area command patrol is that units will auto jump into the nearest formation patrolling the area, this means that (a) you can just take units from a large pool and send them off (b) given more options, adding more factories to the area, changing build ques.

    Overall most of what you said I'd love to see implemented in general area patrol or repeat build options, and if they get that then I'm sure squads could be modded in.
    drz1 likes this.
  3. thetrophysystem

    thetrophysystem Post Master General

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    I always felt the white ghost structures should be clickable, possibly even have their own build bar. You could select to cancel a structure reguardless of its order, or reprioritize it up to the front or farther behind. I queue far ahead and from realm players I hear most players don't.

    other players I hear also want fabbers to show a list above blueprint bar, showing their list of orders. Same with a factory showing its build queue listed above its blueprint bar at bottom. Because if it did, you would have a timeline like a flash movie maker, and could edit any one of the list around with dragging or clicking to remove or add between. Complex, but so is the game, so it simplifies command list by adding more detailed and precise controls.

    this also affects templates, because it is faster to use a big template and adjust with the queue list, than it is to do long strings one order at a time.

    might I also add "area builds" in queues, as they most often flexibly adapt to space or lack thereof, and are probably necesary for mex placement in templates if you think about it.

    a lot of stuff can be done here. Hopefully between the devs and the modding community, this will all be in the game really close to release, though if reckon probably after.
    drz1 and l3tuce like this.
  4. l3tuce

    l3tuce Active Member

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    Not being able to re-prioritize building ques is frustrating. And in general I'm in favor of more (Tweakable) automation.

    I can click and drag and tell my engineers to automatically build MEX over the entire planet, but everything else you have to tell them exactly where everything goes. Line build orders are a step in the right direction, but there is no way to tell them "Keep building power generators forever" or "build radar so this entire area has continuous coverage" or "Build turrets evenly spaced around this perimeter"

    Lines of power generators might be okay, but there is no need to build fences of radar or turrets, instead they should be area commands to evenly space them along player selected intervals.
  5. l3tuce

    l3tuce Active Member

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    OH, also there should be a setting to have engineers maintain what they just built until you give them other orders. Once the build order is completed, the engineers will assist what they built, replacing the structures if they are destroyed by enemy raiding, unless you give them other orders.

    The player should be able to direct the construction of a base with a few clicks and then devote all his attention to micro-ing offensive actions. Having to go back and repair damage yourself is boring.
  6. LeadfootSlim

    LeadfootSlim Well-Known Member

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    I'm on the fence here. On the one hand, a better, more streamlined UI is good, and we do have more and more of that coming. Clickable and re-arrangable ghost structures wouldn't hurt in the least.

    On the other hand, there does need to be some metric of player "skill" in terms of base building/timing. I'd be terribly worried if the already-worrisome trend of mimicked "build orders" was accelerated by making it as easy as copying a .txt or whatever format for a popular base template.
  7. thetrophysystem

    thetrophysystem Post Master General

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    I would just give the fabber a "assist area" or "patrol area" command at the end of his build, where he patrols the area of the last structures he built.

    When functional, that is supposed to also allow him to assist factories and repair structures when attacked, hopefully with some sense of active prioritization on which he should do.

    Lastly, as a quality of life thing, I noticed fabbers one update were changed where their default click on enemy went from "repair" (derp) to "reclaim" (duh). Would be nice if the default shift-click on a half-built structure was "assist"...

    because I spend like 15 seconds figuring out which clicker side I am supposed to use to order a manual assist off the commands bar on the right hand side. I always click assist, then shift, then click the structure, then find out I cancel-clicked, so I click assist again, click shift, and click the other clicker to finally order it to assist after finished.

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