1.3.4 First thoughts

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Stalker0
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1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by Stalker0 » Sat May 17, 2014 5:30 pm

I can't yet play this version of the beta due to the crash issue I mentioned, so I thought I would give me quick and dirty thoughts on the proposed changes:


* Each point of morale now affects growth by 5%.
This will be the biggest one to test out in game. We all agree that growth should be more dynamic, the question will be is this the right way to do it.

* Capturing a city now incurs a heavy growth penalty in the city and half of the natural growth emigrates back to the original owner's cities.
Is the growth penalty permanent? I don't think a permanent growth penalty would be a good idea, that said losing half of the original population is a good start. We definately need to tone down the benefits of capturing cities. Frankly, destroying all of the buildings upon capture might be a good idea...just having the population is a solid bonus.

* Changed city morale from takeover duration from 10 to 20 turns.
Maybe too much, but again conquest needs to be toned down, seems like a solid start.

* Watercraft can now capture cities.
* Increased Aircraft upkeep from 3 to 4.
* Aircraft no longer count towards flanking.

Solid changes in the water vs air argument, I like the general idea here.


* Moved Pandoran Construction to a subtier later in the technology tree.
* Changed Purifier upkeep cost from 2 to 3.
* Changed Suburb from +1 to +2 habitat and upkeep cost from 2 to 3.

On the purifier, I definitely thinks it needs to be more expensive, but frankly I don't know if it should stay in the game. Forests already serve to the reduction of pollution, and purifiers just seem to completely negate pollution problems except for truly massive industrial cities. Also since morale is stronger now (due to growth) purifiers are now even stronger.

On suburbs, I don't think they need a change imo. They serve their purpose, I build them as is...once again I don't want to eliminate habitat as a control mechanism and that is what this feels like.

* Changed Academy buildings from +1/+2/+3 ranks and 1 upkeep to +2/+4/+8 ranks and 2 upkeep.
* Buffed Field Training from +1 rank to +2 rank.
* Changed Field Training from 40% health damage to 10% health damage for every rank the unit has.

Pretty strong buffs to training, was it really necessary? I always wanted to train my soldiers, I never felt that the training centers were bad buildings. Also since field training now does a lot less health damage for beginner units, I think the +2 ranks is overkill. It went from a nice to have to a must have in my mind.

* Changed Fungus movement cost from 3 to 2, allowing ATVs to pass through it in one turn.
Seems fine.

* Decreased Enhanced eXperience Processor device production cost from +25% to +0%.
* Decreased Resource Usage Normalizer device from +25% production cost to +0% production cost.

Good change, will see if its enough. Generally the processor needs to get me an extra 2 ranks to be worth it compared to the assault or defense addons. While the bonus would still be weaker than the +25% of the other addons, it now applies to offense and defense so its more versatile. I generally pick my abilities based on power and not cost, so I'm not sure if this will change my mind on the processor, but I will certainty give it a shot.


* Increased amount of ruins.
Thank you!

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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by Stalker0 » Sat May 17, 2014 10:56 pm

I played a few games, here is some more feedback.

1) Watercraft is much stronger now. The ability to take cities is a big advantage, and I found myself using watercraft en mass for the first time in a game.

In fact, I would say one of the issues now is that coastal cities are too weak. 1.3 already weakened them a lot because land tiles are so much nicer now, as they do a lot more powerful things with improvements. Now the coastal cities are vulnerable to ship capture, so I would never want to put a city next to a coastline unless I had to.

A couple of suggestions to make coastal better would be: add a tech or improvement that increased the food production of coastal tiles. You could also reduce pollution with coastal tiles (oceans tend to suck up pollution a lot better than land).

2) The aircraft flanking bonus is still active. I saw two aircraft flank with each other.

3) When killing the leviathan I now get a tech that provides +25% strength to all heavy units. Maybe its my imagination but I thought it was only water units before. Frankly I don't think tanks need any more buffing.

4) Housing is simply a non issue with the new suburbs. I think they are too powerful.

5) I go up in ranks very quickly now. The new field training feels a bit too strong to me. One of the tricks I would use is capture a queen on a bug hunt, and then group all of my soldiers together and do a few field trainings. Its possible to get troops to Rank 11 very quickly now with field training alone.

6) The capture penalties were noticeable but didn't stop me from going mass conquer. I definitely don't get the massive jump I once did, but the increase is still very strong.

mara
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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by mara » Sun May 18, 2014 12:16 am

I have to agree with you on #1. Costal cities have been lackluster for a while now. Another problem I'm having is with the Advancements now having to be built, early game it just slows things down, especially (at least from my experience) when you only have one city, causes early game to drag its feet a little.

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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by Apheirox » Tue May 20, 2014 9:29 am

I haven't played the latest betas yet but I see one glaring problem (above many other potential problems) with this latest version, and that is the 5% morale growth system. Togra University, which is possibly already the weakest faction due to precisely their morale penalty, is now even worse off. On the contrary, Divine Ascension - quite likely already the most powerful faction - just received a large boost. Indirectly, the faction that gets weakened the most might actually be Solar Dynasty as their pollution will now devour a good deal of the growth bonus they were supposed to get. At any rate, it's important to realize just how much this 5% system shakes up the balance.

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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by mara » Tue May 20, 2014 4:05 pm

I just played a game with Divine Ascension as my ally (I was my favourite hippies) and we noticed this, DA was unstoppable. they got a military victory with both me and an AI still up. It was a total landslide. The AI had a blackhole generator in every city, and still couldn't even dent DA.

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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by Stalker0 » Wed May 21, 2014 2:43 am

Apheirox wrote:I haven't played the latest betas yet but I see one glaring problem (above many other potential problems) with this latest version, and that is the 5% morale growth system. Togra University, which is possibly already the weakest faction due to precisely their morale penalty, is now even worse off. On the contrary, Divine Ascension - quite likely already the most powerful faction - just received a large boost. Indirectly, the faction that gets weakened the most might actually be Solar Dynasty as their pollution will now devour a good deal of the growth bonus they were supposed to get. At any rate, it's important to realize just how much this 5% system shakes up the balance.
To this is a temporary problem. The faction balance can always be adjusted. The question is: Does the 5% morale bonus to growth add to the game, does it fix certain problems?

If it does..great, than you can modify the factions to account for the new balance.

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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by mara » Wed May 21, 2014 4:21 pm

The problem is, in my opinion a couple of different but major changes were made to morale at the same time (affecting growth, extending the unrest from takeover).

While I agree that taking over cities was a huge boon and overly effective as a strategy, i think extending it to 20 turns is a bit punitive. unless it's late game and you can build the moral buildings to counter it or you're Divine Ascension, those cities are basically drains on your society for 20 turns, which is a long time in the scheme of things. With the new morale to growth relationship, this hurts even more, especially when capping AI cities

As for the growth to moral bonus, being Terra Salvum, it can be an issue early to mid game, with all my plucky, happy-go-lucky hippie citizens beaming about their pollution free cities until they're pack so tight they want to turn me into a hamburger.

For Togra University however, as it is, they're unplayable. They now have slower growth, as well as production. The research increase isn't nearly enough to make up for the detriment. On the other side of the same coin we have the Divine Ascension, who are now wickedly over-powered and awesome for exactly the same reason, the morale boost.

I do think there's something to be done about making capturing cities more viable than creating your own, I just don't think the game is "there" yet when it comes to this huge tweak.

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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by azpops » Wed May 21, 2014 9:57 pm

Apheirox wrote:I haven't played the latest betas yet but I see one glaring problem (above many other potential problems) with this latest version, and that is the 5% morale growth system. Togra University, which is possibly already the weakest faction due to precisely their morale penalty, is now even worse off. On the contrary, Divine Ascension - quite likely already the most powerful faction - just received a large boost. Indirectly, the faction that gets weakened the most might actually be Solar Dynasty as their pollution will now devour a good deal of the growth bonus they were supposed to get. At any rate, it's important to realize just how much this 5% system shakes up the balance.
I have now completed two games with the latest update. In both games, the Divine Ascension have run rampant over all other factions. In both games the Divine won a military victory. The were powerful before, now they seem to be unstoppable.

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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by SephiRok » Thu May 22, 2014 8:03 am

For 1.4.0 we plan to remove morale affecting growth. Mainly because morale becomes too strong, resulting in optimal play having the lowest taxes and consequentially decrease the amount of credits you can use, making purchase and refitting mechanics almost obsolete. This is in line with what we expected; it was more of an experiment to better gauge the potential. We think the growth produceable and growth buildings / advancements / improvements are the way to go.
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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by mara » Thu May 22, 2014 3:11 pm

SephiRok wrote:For 1.4.0 we plan to remove morale affecting growth. Mainly because morale becomes too strong, resulting in optimal play having the lowest taxes and consequentially decrease the amount of credits you can use, making purchase and refitting mechanics almost obsolete. This is in line with what we expected; it was more of an experiment to better gauge the potential. We think the growth produceable and growth buildings / advancements / improvements are the way to go.
Now that you mention it, I can't think of a time I've ever used the refit feature. It's usually cheaper just to purchase a new unit.

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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by Stalker0 » Thu May 22, 2014 5:58 pm

After finishing a few games to the late game, I will also say that the new growth model makes late game cities grow VERY FAST. I couldn't keep up with food even with all 3 food buildings because my cities would grow so quickly. I got to size 60 cities and the like.

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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by Apheirox » Sun May 25, 2014 9:32 pm

mara wrote:
SephiRok wrote:For 1.4.0 we plan to remove morale affecting growth. Mainly because morale becomes too strong, resulting in optimal play having the lowest taxes and consequentially decrease the amount of credits you can use, making purchase and refitting mechanics almost obsolete. This is in line with what we expected; it was more of an experiment to better gauge the potential. We think the growth produceable and growth buildings / advancements / improvements are the way to go.
Now that you mention it, I can't think of a time I've ever used the refit feature. It's usually cheaper just to purchase a new unit.
This. I was going to post something lengthier about the current problems of the game, specifically quoting the same thing from SephiRok (because his quote displays a lack of understanding of the state of the game), but I'll briefly list a bit here:

- Like you say Mara, refitting is problematic. It costs more - sometimes even much more - to refit a unit than simply buyout a new one from scratch. Especially with the upgrading of the academy buildings (a change I think is very, very good - academy buildings are much more meaningful and balanced now) letting newly purchased units start off at a high level immediately, refitting costs need to be drastically lowered. This would also help Togra University, who isn't exactly looking too hot balance-wise currently.

Then SephiRok also touches on the other two big mechanical problems of the game, namely morale and credits:

- Morale is too powerful, while credits are too weak. It isn't correct what SephiRok says that going back to where morale doesn't boost growth means credits and buyouts come back into play because even with the old model, it is highly advisable to run as low taxes as possible, meaning tax income and credits already play a very minor role. The culprit for this is morale. Lowering taxes by 10% still pays back 5% of those thanks to morale boosting credit income, meaning the optimal strategy is to run taxes as low as possible as there is very little downside to doing so but some extremely major upsides. Even as Noxium Corporation optimal strategy is to run minimal taxes! Hence, that faction is essentially broken, as well.

I really, really hope you devs reading this will take a second look at core game mechanics like these problems because the current situation isn't really tolerable. It's great that you're launching the game to Steam but it's not so great that you didn't slap an 'early access' or the like label on it because quite frankly, that is the state the game is in. You've got core mechanics that aren't working properly, superficial diplomacy and an AI that leaves something to be desired. I really like Pandora (or I wouldn't be posting here) because despite the numerous areas where it falls short it has key systems that are extremely well done, but you really need to take a look at some of the core problems... (I realize all this is harsh but I'm trying to help - Pandora isn't exactly going to receive unanimous praise in the current condition from the rather aggressive Steam community, and a bad first initial impression and rep significantly hurts long-term sales there!)

Before the [imminent] Steam release, here are my short-term suggestions that will score you a better reception:

- Change the refit cost formula.
- Have morale no longer affect tax income.
- Lower the spawn rate of aliens. It used to be too low and a cakewalk, now the aliens are a hellish nightmare even to experienced players and the new Steam players are going to get absolutely stomped.

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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by SephiRok » Sun May 25, 2014 11:18 pm

Thanks for taking the time to write up your thoughts. We're constantly iterating, reevaluating mechanics and making improvements where we can.

Can you give an example of refitting costing more than purchasing a unit? That should not be the case and if so, is a bug.

You are more or less correct about taxes. Without morale affecting growth, and for positive morale values, it's imbalanced by 1% (or by morale affecting credits as you mentioned). A colonist on average brings in 2 credits and 2 resources (which are valued as 4 credits each), totaling in 10 credits after conversion. One 10% tax step gives 0.4 credits per colonist vs 1 morale (5% for all resources). Considering the colonist value from earlier, we can say 1 morale brings in 0.4 credits in resources and 0.1 credits, for a total of 0.5 credits vs the 0.4 credits lost from taxes. If we make morale have a 4% effect instead of 5% it should exactly equal.

With +25% credits from Noxium Corporation it should be 0.5125 credits from morale vs 0.5 credits from taxes. And with +50%: 0.55 credits from morale vs 0.6 credits from taxes.

That all goes for positive morale values. When you have negative, lower taxes become better due to the fact that +5% and -5% isn't symmetrical. Perhaps that is the main cause of the discrepancy you see, but it would still be there even if morale didn't affect credits. If that is undesirable, we would need a way to compensate that, for example by using *1.05 and *(1/1.05) instead of *1.05 and *0.95 (you could say that 1 positive morale increases resource gain by 5%, but not that 1 negative morale decreases resource gain by 5%).

Unless I got the numbers wrong or failed to consider something.
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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by mara » Mon May 26, 2014 3:19 pm

Apheirox wrote:<snip>

- Change the refit cost formula.
- Have morale no longer affect tax income.
- Lower the spawn rate of aliens. It used to be too low and a cakewalk, now the aliens are a hellish nightmare even to experienced players and the new Steam players are going to get absolutely stomped.
I'll look into examples for the refit today (edit:see below for example and notes edit 3: In my second post below I've shown an example where it's cheaper to buy than upgrade, making the rest of this paragraph irrelevant). The huge cost for upgrading a unit isn't just sticker shock, it looks to be about 40% cost to upgrade a unit. The fact that waiting 2 turns versus spending 200 or so credits is 'cheaper', especially with how the game currently functions with low taxes being optimal. The second issue that Aphelrox brought up is the rank boost for making a new unit. Perhaps upgrading the refitted unit to the rank as provided by the buildings might help? As it is currently, refitting is sub-optimal.


Morale needs to be looked at. I feel that it's effecting too many things. Right now the -2 and +2 drawback/bonus on the University and Ascension are just too detrimental.

I agree with the aliens. I play Terra Salvum, so I can withstand this somewhat, but having to face 10-16 power hives to plant your second city is too much. From what I can gather from playing, The landing point is treated as a 'hive' as far as distance calculation is concerned, from that hive it's roughly 5 hexes to the next (plus or minus a few for randomness). This makes it very challenging early game to grow. This is made worse if you're stuck on the coast to start.

Edit:

Early game example, upgrading nothing but a T1 Tanks weapon to the Pulse laser is 83 credits, to buy it new is 192. so for an upgrade of 2 power, on one unit (without benefiting from any of the training buildings) It's costing over 40% of the unit cost, just to upgrade the weapon. Building new lets me retain the old unit, and benefit from the new ranks as well. so for 60% more, i'm getting 133% power added to the city, plus however many ranks of training I have. Seems like a bum deal. Considering the laser adds 50% to the building cost, a 10% discount really sucks.


Edit 2: Upgrading T1 to T2 results in a 4! credit savings. that's terrible.
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Refit Versus New
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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by mara » Mon May 26, 2014 10:12 pm

Couldn't upload a second photo, here's an actual example of it being cheaper to buy new instead of Refit. For clarity I'm upgrading a T1 Tank, with Pulse Laser -> T2 Tank with Gauss Gatling Gun.

For me to buy the T1 Tank with the Pulse laser it's 192 credits, with a 444 refit cost, i've sunk 636+ maintenance into this unit to upgrade. My capital cities production makes it cheaper, and my new town (with next to no production) only being 4 more credits than the refit cost, something is /very/ wrong with the way refit versus buyout is done currently. I can't think of a situation where I'm not better off by keeping the old units and buying new ones. This isn't even accounting for all the ranks you get from training the new unit.
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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by Koriko » Mon May 26, 2014 10:40 pm

Refits are COMPLETELY broken... Even if I had a rank 20 unit I still wouldn't spend the cash to refit when I can spend 30 credits more and get another unit which is FAR more effective in every way (even at rank 0) than upgrading an older unit. Refit needs to give more benefit than the extra attack, extra movement, extra defense against it, and extra raw power to even be worth considering using. Stacking TONS of crappy low end units already can stall an assault against everything but arty all the way up until endgame where you can fit units with the movement->attack amount device.

Just look at the cost of refitting a low end tank on a GOOD production city. I could spend 36 credits more and get the same tank OR spend 68 more and get the better equipped tank in ADDITION to the one I already have.... that's 99 credits for FOUR production difference. Yes FOUR. Yet to BUY the thing it is only a 30 credit difference?? How does that make any sense at all?

Refits =NEED= to take into account city production to be reduced in cost drastically (or both) to even be worth considering at the moment. More units with relatively comparative strength is always better than a single unit with slightly higher power. More actions = more usable power = more things dying = more effective. Having a 400 power tank against a 2 power unit is just as effective turn wise as a 4 power tank. So until refits are as effective or more effective cost and power wise, there is no purpose in having it or using it at all. (And no, upkeep cost shouldn't even be a consideration since 1 city even at tier 1 could single-handedly host an army of units with a 50% tax rate)
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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by Apheirox » Mon May 26, 2014 11:00 pm

Awesome posts, Mara. Hopefully, this will help highlight the refit issue.
SephiRok wrote:Unless I got the numbers wrong or failed to consider something.
SephiRok wrote:Considering the colonist value from earlier, we can say 1 morale brings in 0.4 credits in resources and 0.1 credits
I believe your basic premise that a colonist brings in 2 resources (equalling 8 credits, as you say) is wrong. The average colonist brings in more than that thanks to the introduction of the Pandoran Construction terrain improvements. Resources get much better multipliers than credits as each colonist now brings in 3 resources even before other multipliers. (The Energy Park's 2 credits is unaffected by the Gold Vein resource btw, is that intentional or a bug? Energy Park with its measly +2c and no multipliers is really weak currently!)

Furthermore, resource multiplier Building are available earlier in the tech tree than are Credit multipliers (Stock Exchange). That provides further incentive to dropping taxes immediately as the game opens to maximize ressource income with their better multipliers.

You could lower morale value from 5 to 4%, but perhaps it would be better to disconnect taxation from morale?
Last edited by Apheirox on Mon May 26, 2014 11:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by SephiRok » Mon May 26, 2014 11:12 pm

mara wrote:Couldn't upload a second photo, here's an actual example of it being cheaper to buy new instead of Refit. For clarity I'm upgrading a T1 Tank, with Pulse Laser -> T2 Tank with Gauss Gatling Gun.

For me to buy the T1 Tank with the Pulse laser it's 192 credits, with a 444 refit cost, i've sunk 636+ maintenance into this unit to upgrade. My capital cities production makes it cheaper, and my new town (with next to no production) only being 4 more credits than the refit cost, something is /very/ wrong with the way refit versus buyout is done currently. I can't think of a situation where I'm not better off by keeping the old units and buying new ones. This isn't even accounting for all the ranks you get from training the new unit.
That looks like there's a bug in the implementation. The refit should cost 400 and not 444.

Basically how it should work is that everything that changes is sold at 25% of its purchase cost:
Production to credits factor = 8.0
Refit sell factor = 0.25

Tank0+Laser0 = 32 * 1.5 production = 384 credits
Tank1+Autoamtic1 = 64 * 1.75 production = 896 credits

We're refitting the whole unit without keeping anything so we sell everything at the refit sell factor: 384 * 0.25 credits = 96 credits

Refit cost = 896 - 96 = 800 credits
*0.5 for quick pace = 400 credits

Would you be happy with that? You should also consider how refitting works when swapping only parts of the unit. Say swap automatic for missile to counter an immediate mech threat. That should not be too cheap. Otherwise it just comes down to the sell factor.

You shouldn't take into account accumulated production though. If you rush a unit when it's 75% complete it's always going to be cheaper than refitting.
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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by Apheirox » Mon May 26, 2014 11:35 pm

SephiRok wrote:
mara wrote:Would you be happy with that? You should also consider how refitting works when swapping only parts of the unit. Say swap automatic for missile to counter an immediate mech threat. That should not be too cheap. Otherwise it just comes down to the sell factor.
That seems to be the problem - you can either have refit costs that allow you to fully upgrade the unit, or you can have refit costs that are balanced against the ability to suit the combat situation on-the-fly. My thinking was that Togra was given the refit discount in order to make up for their morale-reduced production (so that they could heavily refit units to keep up with their high tech rate) but since the game is balanced with the on-the-fly aspect in mind that strategy doesn't seem to work very well. I don't know what a good solution could be other than perhaps having two types of refits in which one is considerably cheaper but locks up the unit for more than one turn.

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Re: 1.3.4 First thoughts

Post by SephiRok » Mon May 26, 2014 11:38 pm

Apheirox wrote:
SephiRok wrote:Considering the colonist value from earlier, we can say 1 morale brings in 0.4 credits in resources and 0.1 credits
It's 0.2 credits from credits, not 0.1. The base credit value is 4 credits/citizen at 100% tax so the 5% credit boost from morale equals 0.2 credits.
I was going from base 50% taxes. In your case you would get 0.3 credits in resources because your colonist makes 1.5 resource instead of 2, and would still equal to 0.5 credits in total.
Apheirox wrote:Also, I believe your basic premise that a colonist brings in 2 resources (equalling 8 credits, as you say) is wrong. The average colonist brings in more than that thanks to the introduction of the Pandoran Construction terrain improvements. Resources get much better multipliers than credits as each colonist now brings in 3 resources even before other multipliers. (The Energy Park's 2 credits is unaffected by the Gold Vein resource btw, is that intentional or a bug? Energy Park with its measly +2c and no multipliers is really weak currently!)
That's a valid point. It all stems from energy parks working without having people assigned to them and hence not receiving morale and multiplier bonuses from other terrain.
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