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 Post subject: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:31 pm 
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The following is more for guidance to the devs once the bug-killing stage is over and the game-balancing-and-features phase can begin.

Once past the fumbling few first games...in normal difficulty I'm now expanding so fast that the game is basically over by lvl 5 tech. In last night's game I had 13 colonized systems vs. the AI having an average of 5 colonized systems. Motherships building in two different shipyards every 13 turns.

Note: light spoilers follow for those wanting to discover themselves.


Perhaps some of the below is skewed because I heavily customized my civilization....


Sorry a bit long, TLDR warning.

__________________

1. Customize the starting race to swap in terraforming tech (and shields? one should never leave spacedock without shields) if not there already. The terrans especially have some really poor initial tech choices.

2. Start game

a. Custom design all ship sizes. Especially: the starbase. Prefer heavy beams on all axis with a battery of light beams for missile defense. Currently I don't believe a single fighter squadron equals a single heavy beam but that is very debatable since the fighter can attack any direction and a heavy beam can only cover on 120degree arc. And I suppose a system full of starbases...*all* launching fighters might make a bad day in space for the bad guys.

b. Build colonizer and two scouts.

c. Purchase all of the level one planet infrastructure and then also level 2 factory when this can be afforded.

d. Intent is to begin building starbase asap, so that the second colonizer can be refitted

e. Send scouts to find the nearest huge planet (huge/terran/rich preferred but any huge planet will do). Since no starbase...scrap colonizer after 1st colony is created to save $$$.

f. If doing the "normal" galaxy mode: research all of the "electronic" techs 1 or 2 levels while next building a assault troops transport. Then capture the derelict ship in Pluto's orbit. Electronics techs should get a nice boost while adding a bunch of new techs. Scrap the transport afterwards to save $$$.

g. begin building second colonizer. I timed this to complete about the same time as the starbase in my game last night. We want to colonize/refit/repeat with that single ship for awhile.

h. Build two more scouts and orbit them at the homeworld for defense

i. Examine pollution level on homeworld (and other polluted colonies) and clean when appropriate.

j. Avoid colonizing toxic worlds unless compelling reason...the pollution penalities can be huge and take forever to clean up.



2. When first outpost is created, adjust "ecology control" to terraform. (Terraform appears to be a "cost-free" activity at the moment:)

a. Buy all first level colony planet developments. then buy the second level "factory" planet development

b. Build two more scouts and send them to orbit this new colony world as defense (against hostile civ explorers)

c. Once factory is at level 2, then a starbase should be build-able within 40-ish turns. Wait for the right moment to invest that 10M credits.

d. Move that pair of scouts to another new colony once the starbase is built


3. Use same formula for future world expansion:

a. Planetary specials are trumped by "huge" planet size. With terraforming...objective is huge planets, poor or not, environment irrelevant.

b. Two scouts per colony rule until starbases are built

c. when income is sufficient, build a second or third colonizer and prioritize either new huge worlds...or back-fill the rest of the owned systems


4. Where to build nodal fleet concentrations depends on the threat conditions in the neighborhood and/or quest requirements.



The keys to the above are:

Cherry pick the nicest planets: huge non-toxic. If neighbor is angered by expansion...just give them some credits for 10 turns.

Purchase planetary developments when possible when they are cheap...level 2 factory required to build starbase.

Missile bases are not worth the 10M expense until swimming in credits

Terraform just as soon as the outpost is placed

Regularly update all ship designs as techs are discovered. Those starbases will do the refitting on the orbiting ships.


__________


Some suggestions for counters/balance:



In normal difficulty, AI needs to have strong expansion/planetary system purchase as part of strategy. Otherwise, perhaps consider:


1. Terraforming is currently cost-free. Perhaps should be an expensive endeavor that requires level 2 or even 3 factory, be expensive, interrupt/lower production/incoming across the board etc. It is also extremely fast to complete.

2. Expansion penalities:

a. new colonies can be gobbled by large neighbor

What's missing is the Civ/GalCiv dynamic where if you colonize close to a large, well developed civilization...your colony is in danger of assimilating culturally into that empire.

Once past the "military outpost" stage...future civilization outposts are likely not going to be a bunch of nationalist tribals who only identify with their own species. These intelligent free-willed peoples will likely evaluate in their own best interests...as human history has largely proven out. After a few generations of speaking the local dominant's language, eating their food, listening to their music, buying their stuff, etc. who cares about the distant homeworld?

The issue in the game mechanic that I'm finding is that a) a human player can expand 4x the speed of the AI (in normal difficulty so will try the harder diff tonight) so b) without the danger of assimilation, the human can cherry pick really nice (i.e. huge/rich/special) planets right from under the noses of the nearby AI empires with little more than a "stop expanding diplomatic complaint". Which can be offset easily with a 10 turn $$$ gift (good old gift-cheese tactic from Civ/Galciv!)

I suppose an "AI claims this planet" sort of threat might some brakes to the cherry picking.


b. Territorial limits: inhibit colonization unless specific treaty "colonize within borders" is established. I.e. make those "dotted line" borders to be hard limits and don't allow anyone else to colonize there.

c. Some counter to the purchase-planet-improvments. I.e. a cool-down, or limit-per-turn, or pollution penality.

d. Land-grabbers should annoy everyone. Severe diplomatic penalties of more than N percent of planets claimed over neighbors? Automatic war-of-survival kicks in (player gets warning prior to colonizing the planet that would trigger the war?

e. population/culture penalties: if the empire starts to be mostly lots of hard-scrabble, tough places to live...morale, growth, creativity might suffer until those planets are nice places to live? i.e. give some alternative strategy of "grooming selected worlds to greatness" vs. "seeding the galaxy with colonies that all grow at the same rate like grass".

f. Perhaps a "corruption" or "unrest" sort of mechanic...otherwise if this is an expansion game the human player will have big advantage.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:05 pm 
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I agree something needs to be done to slow down colony rush which is a no brainer strategy.Moo2 had limited range due to fuel.I also think new planets should have a high development cost.In general it seems you explore and seed the whole galaxy very quickly.

Personally I would restrict ship range based on supply and cut out non supplied exploring.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:38 pm 
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Well, when it comes to playing these 4X genre games, its down to choice, you can rush or you can take your time, i can get access to a trainer to use, but its my choice to use it or not.

I never rush, for me, it ruins the fun of the game, i take my time, i never understand why players always need to rush and finish the game as fast as possible and then complain its over too fast...i know you are not complaining, i am just saying that is what most people tend to do, instead of actually just enjoying the game, they find ways to win as fast as possible, as easily as possible...sad, but true.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:01 pm 
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Not really.It was an issue on the olders 4x games but the latest Civs,etc have mechanics to slow colony spamming as the being easily the best strategy.You choosing to play poorly does not excuse that.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:11 pm 
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Ashbery76 wrote:
Not really.It was an issue on the olders 4x games but the latest Civs,etc have mechanics to slow colony spamming as the being easily the best strategy.You choosing to play poorly does not excuse that.


So, because i like to postpone the 'congratulations, you are the winner' splash screen instead of getting there as fast as possible means i play poorly? seriously?


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:14 pm 
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Re: Ashbery76: yeah at the moment it's like...here i'll just drop this colony-in-a-box module, add some credits, terraform, and the sucker just takes off

Re: Lithari: i never think of myself as "colony rushing" but I get your point. I don't really want to colony rush...but DO want those juicy huge planets in my neighborhood asap. What else comes close to importance? This was my adaptation after having no clue in games 1 and 2 and being waaaay behind. It's just at the moment...I do NOT really feel I have a viable alternative "colony specialization" or "colony enhancing" strategy. Each colony can be developed up to a certain point and that's it. The last level development tier is hideously expensive and, except for the home world research final tier...doesn't have huge impact until the population/terraforming catches up IMHO. In fact I can't really create a super-specialized planet...just one more weighted in one direction. Which skews us back towards huge planets...

So more empire=more colonies.

I agree that a huge colony with a tiny settlement has no matching contribution/importance to a highly developed planet mars with the entire Valles Marineris developed into an industrial zone (assuming there were enough minerals to feed such an infrastructure)

From wikipedia: ...an immense system of deep, interconnected canyons and troughs collectively known as the Valles Marineris. The canyon system extends...for a length of over 4,000 km, nearly a quarter of the planet’s circumference. If placed on Earth, Valles Marineris would span the width of North America...In places, the canyons are up to 300 km wide and 10 km deep.

____

Thanks for comments...also just noticed the game-start option:

Destroy colonizer after first use.


...trying this tonight as a slow-down method. Problem is that due to "planet infrastructure and terraforming rushing" that <2b credit cost of a colonizer isn't much. I suppose the build time is a beginning factor?


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:36 pm 
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yeah, its the way i play,i build 1 colony ship, find the best planet in the system and colonize it, then get it up to working order, then colonize another....its more fun for me this way, i mean i saw videos of starcraft 2 competitions and all i saw was quick flashes, it was so boring, i couldn't watch it.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:46 am 
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"Destroy colonizer after first use" game option does nerf the ability to re-use the same colony ship rapidly for colonies 2-6 or so. Workaround: simply task 2 or more planets to build colonizers. Especially nerfs the intra-system colonization where a single colonizer can start many outposts in the same system as a starbase, insanely rapidly.

I also like this option because it reduces greatly the colonizer micro-management. Which really got overboard when I had a mere four colonizers casting out and back at the same time, along with the assigned guard fleets for each also being flung around.

I still end up with huge expansion and income so now trying higher difficulty as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:03 am 
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moo2 still had colony rushing. you cant really escape colony rushing. its inherant to the math that makes the systems of a 4x game.

you can only make it more or less central to a play-style and differentiate different styles of colony rush. like yang or morgan, maybe lal in smac.

if research, income, the ability to support a military and the need to set your borders early didn't depend on colonies it would be another issue.

the last part is the most important, if you dont expand early you need to fight for that land later. multiplayer moo2 and smac will really rip you apart over that.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:58 am 
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Greetings,

and excuse my poor english, its not my native language.
I played now 2 Games, the second on a higher difficulty level.
And i got another rush strategy working: i colonize everything worth it, regardless hughe or not,
and build only trading and tourism, the first and second levels.
I got such a hillarius cash flow that i can easily buy everything i need. I never build industry, i even destroyed on my home world, because there was simply not need for it. If you get like 200 Bil. - 300 Bil. $ per Round there is no need for industry anymore. I even bought myself the last level for trade and tourism on the most planets.
In this way a colonized more then 20 Systems, while the best AI Players got... 4? The Tantik got 5?
For me you got to much money out of trading and esp. tourism, while industry is painful slow.
And the AI expands none or just little even in higher difficulty.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:09 am 
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Quote:
i colonize everything worth it, regardless hughe or not,
and build only trading and tourism, the first and second levels.
I got such a hillarius cash flow that i can easily buy everything i need.


This is the big issue making the strategic part very weak.Many betas saw this issue a fair while back but got no feedback.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:10 am 
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I agree. This game has so much potential. It's not blaming the player for finding an optimum strategy, rather, the AI and game mechanics should restrict unfettered expansion attempts to make the game more challenging/fun, even if the player is using an optimum economic strategy.

I know it's tough for small scale indie developers, but the question always needs to be asked "is it fun?" Then worry about graphics, novelty etc later...

This issue and the combat UI/excessive micro for simple fleet actions needs to be addressed, or sadly the answer to the question is "no"


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:30 pm 
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Would luv to hear other player feedback on the "Destroy colonizer after first use" game option...

My take after a few games ... this option has put a bit of a damper field on the early colony rush...at least at the *very* beginning. At the point where the human player can have two or more colonizers building quickly (@9 turns completion) then the early mid-game sees the human starting to pull ahead...


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:39 am 
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I don't use that option.
It's generic and useless in current economy.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 2:36 pm 
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The thread is about nerfing the planet-rush tactic (and I've seen in other posts the planet-rush-plus-pre-build-economic-infrastructure-only)

Can you clarify the reasons for considering a re-usable single colony ship at the beginning (once the 1st starbase at homeworld is built) is useless?

(If what you are saying is rather "the economy is too easy and the human can swamp the AI in the race to economic dominance anyway" I could agree)

My take is:

1. re-use the same ship, and refit to be able to colonize again. The refit is free AFAIK. This especially means spamming every planet in the homeworld system if one desires. I choose rather to colonize the huge and huge/rich in the local neighborhood asap...reserving those weak planets in my home system for later.

2. The only thing stopping the player from colonizing yet again the choice planets is travel time for that single colonizer.

3. Combined with pre-purchase of lvl1 planet infrastructure...these quick colonies are immediately profitable.

4. I'm not spending a single dime on a new colonizer.


v.s. "Destroy colonizer after first use"

1. Gotta wait the 9 turns or more for each colonizer. This enforces a delay.

2. Monetary hit for each and every colonizer (>2million) means I have less $$$ to spend on pre-purchase of lvl1 infrastructure. In some games I've found myself having $$$ to only buy the lvl1 factory and have build the other infrastructure normally after the first few colonies.

3. Sure is a lot less micro to send a disposable colony ship at each target planet.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:12 pm 
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Clarifying.

> considering a re-usable single colony ship is useless?
Option to destroy it is useless in current economy.

> The only thing stopping the player is travel time
Yep.

> quick colonies are immediately profitable.
Yep.

> I'm not spending a single dime on a new colonizer
Yep.

> Gotta wait the 9 turns
Buy it.

> Monetary hit
1,73bc is a big sum for you?

> Sure is a lot less micro
It's not micro. It's exploring.


Explaining.

Colonizer isn't a big hit for a new player's economy, starbase is.
Usually I build a starbase to colonize a nine planets system in 3 + 8*1,5 turns with one colonizer.
Otherwise I'll just buy a colonizer on each planet I've settled on.
This way I'll have much more micro, more money spent (1.73*4*8 compared to 10*4) but I'll colonize the whole system in 4 turns.

Also, colonizer is the smallest starworthy ship in the game (scouts, ironically, can't scout) - usually in 4X colonizer is large or huge.
So after spending the colony module, I can explore further with the same ship and that's actually great for me.


Wot I think.

I believe, the real solution is in following:
1) Tie terraforming time to industrial capability of the colony (making hostile worlds usually not worth it in 200-300 turns)
2) Limit the effectiveness of far colonies by something like viewtopic.php?p=4396#p4396
3) Then carefully tune the economy down, so buying everything won't be the only way to go.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:33 pm 
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Appreciate the explanation.

Re: colonizer monetary hit I should have put more details:

To buy a single colonizer (normal build costs are 1.75bc and 10 turns) immediately for cash would be 5.26bc (in my current very hard diff game for a custom race). That price, combined with whatever pre-purchasing of infrastructure I would want on the planet...is quite a chunk of change at the beginning and limits my initial colonizations to be more of a serial activity vs. more of a spamming activity. Unfortunately the damping effect on colony spam doesn't list much beyond the early mid game.

I have four colonies in my current "scrap colonizers=true" game, with a credit balance of 26bc and an income of 2.77bc. Not exactly swimming in credits vs. my "colonizers refit-for-free" games...but makes that 5.26bc price large enough to pause to consider. But I'm somehow still way beyond the other hapless inhabitant of my sector...who has no colonies beyond their homeworld sector.

Compare with starbase 10bc cost+build time on the homeworld to enable free refits for a one-price 1.75bc colonizer....the price of all future colonies is simply the travel time of the colonizer and lvl1 infrastructure costs for each.

Re: the scouts not being able to explore...huh? I've been able to explore/survey/dig with the initial-design scouts...even use them to extend communications range with another civ...beyond my civ comm range it appears.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:02 pm 
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> To buy a single colonizer
You pay the usual price for it when you order it to be built and then pay x3 of price*percent_left - essentially x4 to buy something in one turn.
5.26 isn't quite 5.25 = 1.75*3 because of rounding.
Difficulty level does not change ratio in this.

> pre-purchasing of infrastructure
1*4 = 4 bc for zero turn
(0.1 + 0.1 + 0.1 + 0.2)*4 = 2bc for the first turn
(1.5 + 1 + 1 + 2)*4 = 22 bc for the second turn
28bc total per colony you won't touch for ~100 turns.

> Not exactly swimming in credits
Good finance + good workforce (morale or fanatical or quasi-immortal) + (preferably) high growth rate totally own.
Taxes are like http://i.imgur.com/ezQLxVS.png (for average finance, good finance seems to boost it x1.45).

And if wet rag on colonizing is dependent only on money, then specializing your race in anything else is a self-imposed limitation.
There should be just so much that money can do, as any other resource, actually.

> I've been able to explore
Ah, looks like they don't run out of supplies now.
It used to be even some time after release that they were always out of supply (you can't fit a 30 units supply bay into 20 units of free space) and therefore crippled.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:14 pm 
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For planet infrastructure, my current plan is: I only pre-purchase the lvl1 of all types, then prepurchase the lvl 2 for factory and start building other lvl2 infrastructure normally if the size allows. Then once lvl2 factory build is done: if I have the cash and think that planet is important: start building a starbase (not prepay). Meanwhile terraforming is full speed ahead where possible.

Yeah, the lvl2 prepurchase really adds up and is too big an investment. And that quasi-immortal race trait looks OP, so haven't used myself.


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 Post subject: Re: Player Expansion Recipe - Nerf Needed?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:28 am 
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Well, I personally don't really play for the challenge, i see no point in the challenge of a game....its a game, winning it regardless of challenge would get me nothing in the real world, so why bother trying to make it harder to play? Its my opinion on this.

When it comes to the colonizer reuse thing, i always have it set to dismantle the ship when you colonize a planet, by the time i have a single trade and/or tourism building built on the homeworld and colony, my profit goes sky-high.

When it comes to choosing which worlds to colonize, i just colonize everything i can get my hands on, toxic can be cleaned and non-terran worlds can be colonized.


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