Fixing the Power Problem

Ideas and suggestions for how to improve the Warzone 2100 base game only. Ideas for mods go in Mapping/Modding instead. Read sticky posts first!
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Chojun
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Fixing the Power Problem

Post by Chojun » 13 Dec 2011, 21:35

All,

I wanted to start up a thread to gather ideas on how to address the problem of power in WZ. I have some ideas of my own that I'm going to implement in my own little section of the world but I thought I'd get some input from others.

Problem: The power system doesn't really allow the player to pursue research, build defenses, and construct an army at the same time.
Problem: High (and extremely high) oil maps are a symptom of the problem.
Problem: Power problems help facilitate turtling since it's easier to hole up and research/defend than create an army
Problem: Power problems facilitate very long game times
Problem: Do players really have any incentive to use low/normal power settings in the multiplayer/skirmish game menus? I mean, what's the point? To have a really, really long/really long game (respectively)? :P


So, for starters, lets throw out the entire power system as presently constituted and go back to some basics.

Let's start with a simple discussion of the implications of Warzone's resource gathering system from the standpoint of the RTS genre in general. I'll compare it with Starcraft, which is pretty run-of-the-mill and typical for RTS games:

* In SC, the player typically starts with a base that is located in the heart of a mineral field. The mineral field is exhaustable and represents the base's primary economy.
* The rate at which resources are gathered determines the rate at which the player builds his army and upgrades it - Players can invest some of the resources on gathering units that can increase the rate at which resources are mined (to a certain point)
* During the course of the game, it becomes strategically important to expand to a secondary resource location to 1) increase resource input and then 2) to hedge against the exhaustion of resources from the primary location.
* Players that do not expand soon enough (or at all) often lose the game (guaranteed loss, eventually)
* The economy of the game becomes therefore the primary tactical strategy - he who controls and manages his own resources most effectively, wins
* Typically the strategic importance of one resource location is high.
* Players typically start the game with minimal resources in reserve - mandating a resource-centric strategy for the first minutes of the game
* A player must have all resources required for a unit/building/upgrade before progress on it can begin.

In Warzone, this dynamic changed greatly:
* Resources are inexhaustable and are often spread throughout the entire map. Typically they are not co-located and are often in indefensible areas.
* Resources come in at a steady rate and the player cannot invest more to increase the output of a single resource.
* The strategic importance of one resource location (typically one oil well) is low.
* Resources directly determine the overall rate at which a player can expand his army and upgrade it.
* The resources located at the player's primary base are often adequate to maintain a small but technologically competitive army and upgrade it.
* Denying a player from an expansion resource does not doom the player to defeat - ergo resources have secondary importance
* Players start the game with adequate-to-abundant resources in reserve - enough to initially pursue a non-resource-centric strategy
* A player does not need to have enough resources to complete a unit/building/upgrade, as these will progress as resources come in.

So - given the problems and implications/comparisons with the traditional RTS - how do we change the power system to facilitate the spirit of Warzone - Strategy by Design?

Per
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Re: Fixing the Power Problem

Post by Per » 14 Dec 2011, 01:40

A very good post. A few random, rambling points.

It is worth noting that in master we have changed the power system slightly, so that you now must pay up front.

I do not think you can win if you neither expand nor rush.

I have been thinking that it makes very little sense that you upgrade the power generators. I've written about this in another post, I think. It would be far better if you could upgrade derricks in a manner that gave you far more power from them (but not not by using trucks - there must be a fixed time delay downside to doing this). Since players would naturally upgrade derricks in their home base first, it would be better if that was not possible - only special oil resources always placed outside your base could be upgraded.

I find the power generators not to have a very compelling game mechanic. They are not very strategic, they are more of a simcity chore.

I think part of the problem with high power maps is that there is a lack of things to do in the early game without it. In Starcraft you have to scout and deal with harass attacks, but in Warzone maps are too big, units too slow and defenses too good for harass to a good strategy except for preventing fast oil expansion. There is little tactical sneakiness in Warzone, at least until you get VTOLs and transports.

Unlike in other games, once your initial base is setup, expanding on oil is a very low risk strategy. Building an oil derrick costs next to nothing. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. On the positive side, it is a cheap way to create an incentive for the other player to go out and attack, and create some action / space. On the bad side, it makes the amount of oil on the map into a game changing variable. In Starcraft, a map with a ton of mineral fields would not automatically give any reason to build lots of expansions, since expansions are a huge investment that competes with the need to build up forces and tech up.

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Re: Fixing the Power Problem

Post by Berg » 14 Dec 2011, 02:05

On reading here I do note that starcraft is cited as a standard to try and emulate ..

I personally think we should not emulate any other game look at what we have and enhance it dont change it to ape what other games do..

By trying to copy other games you will end up with not warzone.

The trend for mapmakers to load bases up with more oil then you possibly need is defeating what warzone was meant to do.
Per wrote:I find the power generators not to have a very compelling game mechanic. They are not very strategic, they are more of a simcity chore.
If you have limited power gens taking one down is a tactical bonus for you against your enemy.

There is a way to stimulate tactics look at the original maps and limit the structure amounts to keep within these ideals.

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Re: Fixing the Power Problem

Post by Reg312 » 14 Dec 2011, 02:15

Chojun wrote: Problem: The power system doesn't really allow the player to pursue research, build defenses, and construct an army at the same time.
Wrong.
Chojun wrote: High (and extremely high) oil maps are a symptom of the problem.
Agreed
Chojun wrote: Power problems help facilitate turtling since it's easier to hole up and research/defend than create an army
Disagree.
Many people like WZ because it have nice defense.
Defend tactics works bad on classic low oil maps
Why turling is so bad? i like attack tactic and it works good.
Also WZ have some very strong buildings.
Chojun wrote: Denying a player from an expansion resource does not doom the player to defeat - ergo resources have secondary importance
Strongly disagree
In low oil games each oil derrick increase your power. Sitting on base it is a common mistake of noobs
Per wrote: It would be far better if you could upgrade derricks in a manner that gave you far more power from them
Agreed

why WZ always comaped with fk Starcraft?

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Re: Fixing the Power Problem

Post by Chojun » 14 Dec 2011, 06:35

Let me clarify that I am in fact contrasting Warzone to StarCraft. I've always believed that WZ is superior to SC, but that WZ missed the mark. I believe power is part of the problem.
Per wrote:I do not think you can win if you neither expand nor rush.
Rushing is always a good tactic - it has the potential to capitalize on an opponent's inefficency. Expanding in WZ is effective if you are referring to establishing forward staging points, but I don't want to get side-tracked.
Per wrote:I have been thinking that it makes very little sense that you upgrade the power generators.
Agreed. The upgrade is free and if I remember correctly, it doubles power output. Why not upgrade? The upgrade itself then becomes nearly superfluous. Not sure how to fix this.
Per wrote:It would be far better if you could upgrade derricks in a manner that gave you far more power from them (but not not by using trucks - there must be a fixed time delay downside to doing this). Since players would naturally upgrade derricks in their home base first, it would be better if that was not possible - only special oil resources always placed outside your base could be upgraded.
An interesting concept, but I think that this would introduce a bit of unwelcome micromanagement. Plus, spending all that time upgrading ponderously vulnerable oil derricks would be a chore. However, it would be interesting if special, limited bonus wells popped up from time-to-time that could be tapped for helpful power gains.

I still think that researching power upgrades is probably the better GPM than upgrading the derricks or the generator themselves.
Per wrote:I find the power generators not to have a very compelling game mechanic. They are not very strategic, they are more of a simcity chore.
Agreed - They are not very strategic at all. Their destruction mostly poses an inconvenience to the player, unless somehow the player doesn't notice that their generator was destroyed. Kinda like the HQ - shoot, now we can't design units anymore :roll: :wink: In the source I am playing with, destroying a generator causes the player to lose all the power it holds. The generator in this case becomes a bit more strategically important, but I still think that this falls short, because now the generator becomes a bit more of a liability for the player instead of merely a neccessity.
Per wrote:I think part of the problem with high power maps is that there is a lack of things to do in the early game without it.
This is what I'm talking about - but on a larger scale, low power and power problems in general just slows the game down. That's all it does. The strategic importance of a single oil derrick is low, which means the player spreads himself thin expanding to many derricks in order to see a tangible benefit.
Per wrote:it makes the amount of oil on the map into a game changing variable
Agreed.

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Re: Fixing the Power Problem

Post by cybersphinx » 14 Dec 2011, 06:45

There was an idea floating around to make the power output of single oil wells configurable before the game. That would a. make a single derrick more important, and b. decouple playing style from oil placement on maps (so high or low oil depends on the game setting, not the map).
We want information... information... information.

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Re: Fixing the Power Problem

Post by Per » 14 Dec 2011, 12:05

Berg wrote:On reading here I do note that starcraft is cited as a standard to try and emulate ..

I personally think we should not emulate any other game look at what we have and enhance it dont change it to ape what other games do..
Actually, I think that is the worst thing we could do. We should carefully select the areas in which we want to be different / innovative, focus efforts on those areas, and for the rest, try to compatible with what the gaming population expects from a modern RTS game. We should be careful not to get stuck in the Not-Invented-Here syndrome. If we try to be different in too many areas, we won't be able to spend enough effort to make any of them really good, and the game will just be hard to get into, which directly translates to less players.

Starcraft is the #1 RTS game today. Since its makers are extremely conservative, ie very careful not to go outside of the existing expectations of their massive customer base, and the game never was very innovative to begin with, it represents very well both the essence and the best of 'traditional RTS'.

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Re: Fixing the Power Problem

Post by Chojun » 14 Dec 2011, 16:39

That's true. SC really didn't offer anything new to the genre aside from a compelling storyline, fluid gameplay and robust support from the developer plus a cohesive online community.

Their success really lies in their execution, not in what they brought to the table for the RTS genre. Aside from a little more micromanagement and unit abilities, how is SC really different from the C&C series?

And their resource systems are essentially identical. Warzone is the only game I've ever known that has departed from the standard RTS economy model, and Warzone's model is a bit broken. :augh:

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Re: Fixing the Power Problem

Post by TVR » 15 Dec 2011, 06:10

To be honest, the original StarCraft is a technical disaster, yet it appeals to certain types of gamers, who are the majority, for that very reason.

Just like those who think BXR in Halo 2 is a quality feature, and not a horrendous, production-halting glitch that it really is, there are players who actually believe that clicking the same spot a couple dozen times in order to deal with crap path-finding and unit selection is a skill. Or pressing the same hotkey a couple dozen times in order to deal with arbitrarily limited production queues. Or having to manual start resource accumulation because unit AI is too stupid to. That's not even getting into actual combat UI short-comings, let alone genuine bugs that still have not been fixed.

However, these players are extremely mainstream, it does not matter if Warzone 2100 were to become an open-source clone of StarCraft, as the simple fact that they play to gain bragging rights, let alone the money in professional gaming, will prevent any of these elitists from playing a game for the fun of developing and witnessing ingenious strategies [requires human insight], rather than clicking faster [just like a finite-state machine].

There is no standard economic model for RTS games, Total Annihilation, Rise of Nations, and Command and Conquer are completely dissimilar.

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Re: Fixing the Power Problem

Post by Iluvalar » 15 Dec 2011, 09:14

Chojun wrote: Problem: The power system doesn't really allow the player to pursue research, build defenses, and construct an army at the same time.
I dont perceive that as a problem at all. I actually make sure in my mod that it is possible to spend exclusively into one area. Making sure it wont be a structure limit that will stop the player but some rational reason.
Chojun wrote: Problem: Power problems help facilitate turtling since it's easier to hole up and research/defend than create an army
Only if you happen to turtle on the major part of the oils. Which is a very hard feat in good maps. The non-turtling player just have to stop sending his units to carnage and invest more in research.

OH ! This is of course working only if he can invest more XD (see above).

-----
What i do in my NRS however and that should be done in standard game as well, is scaling the research cost with the amount of oil. Instead of needing 400$ to get a 30% bonus, you'd need (say) 25% of your power. independently of the amount of oil in the map. And like power, there should be a "pro/noob" button, where you can set if everybody will always fills their 5 lab with no sweat (noob mode) or your always teared in difficult choice to pick 2 maybe 3 research in the list amongst so many other good choices. And having the difficult choice between armies, defenses or researching more (pro mode) XD (see above)
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Re: Fixing the Power Problem

Post by Jorzi » 15 Dec 2011, 09:45

What TVR said.
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Re: Fixing the Power Problem

Post by Chojun » 15 Dec 2011, 16:42

Jorzi wrote:What TVR said.
I agree with most of it but I still think that people are missing my point. :annoyed:

I do NOT want want WZ to be anything like SC.. -_______________________-

But I do agree that the mainstream RTS is dumb. I want to talk about WZ's power problem though...

:stare:

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Re: Fixing the Power Problem

Post by Jorzi » 15 Dec 2011, 20:17

Ok, sry for offtopic...
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Re: Fixing the Power Problem

Post by Chojun » 15 Dec 2011, 20:58

Hehe, I'm speaking in-general and not about one specific person or post :)

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