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Interesting dilemma

Posted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:01 pm
by Theodotus
I've now played the first 40 or so turns of my saved game over and over several times, trying out different approaches to city development. Normally in games like this I'm a builder-type of player, but in Pandora when I follow that approach I end up with too few military units to save myself from the wildlife once it starts getting aggressive. So I've gone back and expirimented with pursuing a military build-up, which hopefully will work better.

I like this because it definitely makes the game feel like I'm located on a hostile planet. On the other hand, it seems to lock me into always having to follow roughly the same initial development approach just to survive, which seems like it might get a bit boring in the course of repeated playthroughs.

It might be good if there were more ways to deal with the alien wildlife than just a military build up straight off the bat -- perhaps some sort of technological approach to peaceful coexistence. (Maybe this is already in the game and I just haven't noticed it. I haven't expirimented much with changing the initial settings during game creation, so I don't know how those might affect this issue. And I've only played the Togra University faction so far, so I don't know if some other faction might have less trouble with the wildlife.)

In any case, the choices related to how to proceed have led me to much contemplation, which in my opinion is a sign of good game design.

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:04 pm
by Earthmichael
I have noticed the same thing, that the early game emphasis is to survive the native onslaught.

As a minimum, you need flamethrowers and armor. If you can get to tanks, so much better. Once you get sniper rifles, things get pretty easy.

I think you have no choice but to research a minimum of flamethrowers and armor, then you can take a different research path if you want. I also think you have no choice but to make a lot of military units at the beginning, before you even think about expansion. I think a former is a necessary first build. I can usually take the time to build some buildings that improve food, minerals, production, and science when I get them researched. But expansion has to wait until you have a secure perimeter. I have tried many times to expand earlier, and it never works out.

It is disturbing that the hardest part of the game is right near the beginning, at the Xeno stage. After you have survived the initial onslaught, the game is cakewalk to the conclusion. This true even on the Very Hard setting. I think something needs to change about that. The main challenge of the game should not be surviving the initial native life onslaught.

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:26 pm
by Theodotus
Lack of challenge later is probably an indication that the AI needs improvement.

It would be nice if there were other choices for dealing with the wildlife besides just killing it all.

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:35 pm
by SephiRok
I would be very interested in hearing any suggestions you may have.

The ecologic faction should allow you to maximize the amount of time before the natives attack.

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 12:13 am
by Giskler
Would be cool if there was a research chain that allowed you to "tame" the wildlife and build bug units or even a special unit that doesn't destroy a hive, but takes control of it and it can produce special units for you (bug rider - trooper on a bug with laser mounts :P).

Or maybe you could get an operation that lets you drop a beacon on a city that attracts aliens to it (make it spawn lots of bugs outside the city). Or maybe a fungus bomb, drop it on a city and it spreads fungus in a big area around it. Fungus should also keep growing to curb early expansion.

The aliens currently feel a bit underutilized. Would be great if they were part of the later game as well. I really wish you would alter the way aircraft work so sea units become necessary for expansion to other land masses, that way those giant monsters in the sea can actually make your life miserable.

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:48 am
by Soheil
Ok i have to say troopers riding bugs shooting lasers would jut bump the games awesomeness to a whole new level and well take it into consideration! But we have talked about "taming" the wildlife in different ways and well probably have it in the game in some form.

The aircraft's will be tweaked to balance them a bit better and find them their own niche to fill in the game.

I love reading you guys ideas, keep brainstorming about cool new stuff we can add! :)

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 12:33 pm
by Theodotus
I like all of Giskler's ideas.

In regard to the early game and the aggression of the wildlife, I take it from the fact the wildlife attacks the environmentalists last that it is reacting to environmental disruption and/or degradation. In accord with that, perhaps there could be a system that keeps track of how much change to the landscape a player is causing. Each time a former develops a hex by building a mine or farm or a road or anything else, points are added to a score that goes against the player who has a city nearest to the hex that has just been developed, and when that score crosses a certain threshold the wildlife goes on the attack against that player. This would mean that a player could delay being attacked by the wildlife by minimizing development of the landscape -- by "living in harmony with nature" so to speak. A player who followed that path would have the industrial and agricultural development of their cities be suboptimal, in that they would on average reap fewer minerals and less food per hex than a player who used formers to maximize hex yield, but the player who used formers less would not have to deal with the wildlife as early (or perhaps ever, if they didn't use them much at all). Such a player could follow a playstyle in which they chose city sites specifically with an eye to locating in areas with hexes that had a high natural resource yield.

Accompanying that, there could be techs as a player moved up the tech tree that increase the yield of food and minerals hexes without the need for developing them. This would allow the "in harmony with nature" player to eventually increase the yield of their cities by (in effect) learning how to better live in harmony with the alien landscape of Pandora. Such techs should be available only in the second era of the tech tree or later, to reflect that long experience with Pandora is required to discover such knowledge, and also to keep the early game being a story of the choice between development while fending off the wildlife or harmony at a cost of decreased efficiency.

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:16 pm
by sidedeal
The mechanic for this is already in place. Pollution should lead to increasing attacks by native life. Alpha Centauri was the same. Interestingly, one Green strategy in AC was to pollute like mad because, with the right social engineering upgrades, you could tame a slew of mind worms, and basically get a free military. I did this once, and had nothing but bore holes around my capital city. The worms came in droves.

It would be fair for hives to erupt around your cities (destroying your improvements), depending on the amount of pollution you produced, with increasingly greater numbers/more powerful xenomorphs as the game progressed.

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:17 pm
by Earthmichael
What about simply having a tech that lets a single working harvest everything in a Forest or Fungus hex? This would allow one to plant Forests to get balanced resources, which should lower the ecodamage count. Since you can't harvest but one resource with a worker from a Forest right now, Forests are relatively useless.

I don't think building a road should count much against ecodamage, maybe 0.1 compared to a mine or farm, so that 10 roads equals one mine.

As for pollution, someone who understands should write an article about the cause of pollution, and what effects pollution has.

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:34 pm
by SephiRok
I agree aliens can be used for so much more.

Currently only attacking aliens increases their aggressiveness towards you. There should be more control over it. Founding cities, mechanizing terrain, polluting, removing fungus are all things which could increase it further. On the opposite side, growing fungus or forests could decrease aggressiveness.

I remember we have talked about adding a way to convert aliens to your side. The question is what is the best way. A device? An operation? A unit-consumed operation? How do you target a specific unit in a tile? Does he magically move to your tile after he's converted?

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:53 am
by Martok
I suppose you could always make it possible to "tame" the alien wildlife via researching a certain technology (call it "Ecological Sensitivity", maybe). It's a bit "gamey", as far as solutions go, but it would probably be simpler to implement than most.

...I'm not satisfied with that idea, though. Must ponder further.

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:35 pm
by SephiRok
Just tried, got up to 4 cities and defended against the Xenos without any problems on medium difficulty with Terra Salvum.

Another solid idea is adding an advancement tech that delays their attacks.

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:38 pm
by Giskler
What if, after you first encounter the aliens you have a choice of trying to understand them (research chain that's tied to fungus being beneficial) or trying to eradicate them.

By trying to understand them you would gain access to tamed alien units, all the fungal benefits and unique alien tech, but lose out on exploitative tech like more resources, better forming, more efficient weapons against aliens. Perhaps by choosing to fight aliens you can develop devices that increase your attack power or defensive power against the aliens, early warning system (you are alerted to alien units entering your territory) etc.

Would love for it to be an important decision like this that shapes the rest of your game. It could also give diplomatic modifier that's negative or positive depending on which route you picked. E.g. "Eco-friendly +15" for those that chose to understand the aliens.

There could also be unique operations that you only access by being eco-friendly like my suggestion of an alien beacon or fungus bomb. Likewise, going eco-friendly should make weapons of mass destruction like nukes unavailable to them.

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:33 pm
by Wildfire
Giskler - love the ideas, may I propose the alien calling beacon be henceforth named, the "Giskler beacon". With this, I think everyone should go watch Studio Ghibli's "NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind" ( ... ind_(film) ) to see a really good workup of the fight against pollution and it's effects - it's really good and some of the beasts are fairly similar.

Love the laser beam riding bugs as well. The power 8 big bug that always pops and destroys my first tank should be a prime mover for this. Could store power packs under the carapace. Kinda reminds me of the original "Dune" movie, just instead of worms, we've got legs on our critters.

I also really like Theodotus's system of pollution amount - this could definitely be an easy way to record or look at the environmental changes being done to the planet and surrounds.

I agree with there should be a way to interact more with the native wildlife. Needs to have a system that your more pollution spawning areas would be targeted to receive more xeno attacks - could even be used by players to route xeno wildlife away from areas slightly as well, would drop the cities pollution factor by removing hazardous waste to an outlying tile, but by doing so, losing all resource value from the tile itself until a time when you could have high grade recycling tech or something. This could be fitted with defensive troops w/ flamethrowers and would "pull or call" the xeno away from the cities towards a kill-zone. Would be slightly more realistic game play as well - i.e. unless you're Greece (sorry guys!) most cities don't store the trash in the actual cities themselves.

The environmental faction does have a few extra turns before the Xeno's turn on them, but each game I played up to about 100 turns or so, every time I was allotted the environmental faction, I was stuck in Tundra section for some reason.

I always loved the original "Outpost" gameplay start though. Get some starter items and make your spaceship, get some probes and satellites that all take up space on the vessel, and do a few long range scans and then shoot for the stars, and hope like mad you picked a good spot. Once you came into orbit of the star you got to send down your probes and launch the satellites if you had thought to bring any, and then scan for a good spot. If you didn't bring them, well.. hope luck was with you and you landed not in a volcano or something. Would love to see that here, or in a future game. Being able to start with less troops or resources that you didn't bring with but being able to start in a better starting position may make or break your game, but would need more randomization than "Outpost" was able to give.

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:07 pm
by Theodotus
I very much like Giskler's idea about choosing an approach after encountering the wildlife. Maybe make it so that some factions could only follow one of the paths (Environmentalists would have to choose to coexist; Fanatics would have to choose to exterminate) in order to maintain the flavor of that faction, while others could pick either path but would have to stick with it once chosen.

Re: Interesting dilemma

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:11 am
by Ayron
SephiRok wrote:I agree aliens can be used for so much more.

I remember we have talked about adding a way to convert aliens to your side. The question is what is the best way. A device? An operation? A unit-consumed operation? How do you target a specific unit in a tile? Does he magically move to your tile after he's converted?
A device (or even weapon) to be equiped on a unit, something like a 'communicator'?
Rightclicking on a alien (so basicly attacking it) would give you the change to talk them into fighting on your side.
(Of course, they might misunderstand you or don't want to listen at all and just fight you instead.)
Needs more thinking on bonuses etc but shouldn't be that hard to implement. Right?