Concept idea for a strategy game, need some advice

Concept idea for a strategy game, need some advice

Postby Danimal » 05 Jan 2014, 00:18

Hi guys, i have had an idea for a game for quite some time, but i think one aspect of it can get boring fast, so i would like to know your opinion.


The story: (fantasy setting)
The intro relates how the undeads come and conquer most of the country, they are defeated into a big battle but the king dies on it and its heir is betrayed by all of his "loyal" followers. He is saved from certain death on a way, depending of what faction you want to control.
The nobles cant agree on a new ruler due to their greed and so they break down into many provinces ruled by a human factions (knights, church, mages...), but the undead are far from defeated and with the human union shattered the war is at a stalemate.


Gameplay mechanics: (simplified)
The game would put you in charge of one minor faction out of three (humans, undead and goblins), the goal is to conquer the country.
To do so, you are put in control of a capital, where you can recruit units, build different buildings and research.
All your units start as a basic class, and then when they get enougth XP are promoted to higher ones, if you have the related contruccion built at the capital and can affort the upgrade cost (militia->squire->knight \ militia->apprentice->mage). Kind of like "Disciples 2".

The world map would play like "mount and blade", you assemble an army (size depending on your ruler level and units quality) and get to roam freely on real time, killing whatever crosses your ways and running away from stronger foes. The different factions would be at each others throats meanwhile and from time to time agree to throw a holy/dark crusade agaisnt the undeads/humans. Enemy units move in squads that can engage with whatever they consider a menace or run away while patrolling or performing a mission.
When you are strong enought you can start taking provinces from any side until you have conquered everything and win the game.

The combat (PROBLEM HERE), would be played in turns on a hex map, "Battle for wesnoth" being a clear inspiration of what i want it be, BUT maps in battle for wesnoth have an important load of history, while on this game no matter how many unit types, terrain types or whatever i add, by the 100th battle most people would be sick of the grindfest. Possible solutions would be to make it very fast paced and adding an autoresolve.
But since i plan to make your units "inmortal" (they can be resurrected on cities) losing a combat isnt a matter of life and death, its rather a grindy mechanic im inserting, losing will have its penalties of course, you will have to wait until the units you took are healed back and forced to take others (possibly lower level or class) meanwhile, loss of materials....

So, i myself, am conflicted about adding a grindy gameplay mechanic in there, you need the grind to upgrade your units and get a nice rooster troop (heavies, lights, fliers, siege...) ready for each occasion, but it migth be too much grind no matter what i try to lessen it?


Thanks to anyone who wastes his/her time reading this.
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Re: Concept idea for a strategy game, need some advice

Postby Julius » 05 Jan 2014, 14:45

Sounds similar to heroes of might & magic except for the realtime world-map. Although Age Of Wonders had a simultaneous turn feature in multiplayer that probably plays similar.

In HoMM (and similar games) the combat grind was always a problem, although the more complex you made it (see Age of Wonders) the more interesting it was in singleplayer (but since each battle is a game in itself, it is impossible to do in multiplayer).

Recently I think there have been some attempts to replace the typical hex-based combat with a Magic the Gathering like digital collectible card game mechanic, which I think is not a bad idea and could be explored further.

P.S.: There is actually a pretty good HoMM3 FOSS engine which is currently adding modding support called VCMI.
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Re: Concept idea for a strategy game, need some advice

Postby Danimal » 05 Jan 2014, 16:03

i get your points, but i would like it to be in 3D, and as for units you would have to recruit them one per one, that way i can add random characteristic on creation to each one, that would affect their stats growth (like strong, stupid, sneaky) so they are not generic troops of the same kind, making them somewhat unique.

I dont like card games and sadly cant draw for my life, so that option is discarded (pun intended), also there is an old game like that, "Discord times" which recreates exactly what you described (and it was fun).

But im taking your advice, to give it complexity without frustating anyone. I guess the story and intermediate rewards will have to carry the burden of keeping the player interest.

Also, i dont plan multiplayer at all, trying to add that into a hobby project is rising a death flag.
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Re: Concept idea for a strategy game, need some advice

Postby oln » 05 Jan 2014, 16:12

Julius {l Wrote}:Recently I think there have been some attempts to replace the typical hex-based combat with a Magic the Gathering like digital collectible card game mechanic, which I think is not a bad idea and could be explored further.

The etherlords games are pretty much that. (HOMM with MTG battles.)
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Re: Concept idea for a strategy game, need some advice

Postby eugeneloza » 22 Sep 2014, 21:00

The combat (PROBLEM HERE) ... while on this game no matter how many unit types, terrain types or whatever i add, by the 100th battle most people would be sick of the grindfest.

The first thing that comes to my mind is the quantity of turn-based battles, or, more rigid, the ratio of battles to other activities. How much time should the player spend battling? Plan it in advance. I.e. if you want the player to spend 50% of all time battling, then you have to balance the amount of battles respectively (reduce or increase). If you consider the battles as the most important part of the game, 75% would be fine.
What is the most important part of the game? Is it capital management? Is it battles?
If the battles are the main part of the game, you should make them diverse. It is not made by many unit types, terrain types or whatever you add. It is made by tactical properties. I.e. rogue units will backstab; flying units will be almost invulnerable to mlee; dragons will damage all units in a group; mages will cast fireballs that hit a large region (maybe including your own units), elves will get a huge bonus in forests, orcs will find themselves comfortable in volcanoes, wyrms will move under the ground, summoners will summon temporary powerful elementals, and necromancers will rise killed units as zombies, elephants will push through enemy frontier breaching it and cvavlry will flank slower units... etc, etc, etc. Make each battle a balance puzzle. This, mathematically, means that each unit has its strengths and weaknesses which influence the outcome of the battle (see a classic Battle Bugs - a perfect example). How can you lure elves out of the forest? What should you do to eliminate giants outpost? How can you assassinate enemy general to disorganize the city defenses? How can you deal with just a single archer squadron against a horde of battle eagles? What can you do about trap-puzzles in a haunted city? Why not blowing up a bridge under your enemies? Why not build your own bridge with a squadron of engineers, while enemy protects the main bridge and believes he is safe? Damn it... it just dark! And the mist covers all the battlefield... Night creatures have a huge bonus against creatures of day... And the strange howling sound spoils morale of your units... And that wall is simply indestructible, your ram units are easily destroyed by city's defense troops, you have to build siege towers during the battles and send elite troops forward...
Most of this is rather easy to implement (adjust attack-to-defense ratio and unit speed in different situations). The hardest thing will be to teach computer to use this stuff efficiently. Maybe the battle maps would be generated with a pre-defined 'solution path' which AI will follow, but it is not mandatory for a human player.
You can also make small battlefield so that battles will be short. Like in Master of Orion. Or you can make a large field with seek&destroy task which will take a lot of time like in X-COM. Or you can merge the two and make random encounters at smaller fields, while sieges would be a very large and complex puzzle in breaching the city's defense lines.
Or even... Let the player be unable to directly influence the battle process. He will need skilled commanders/officers/squad leaders to extend his control from uncontrolled mob, which he can only observe, to a elite army which will obey all his commands from global scale to a single soldier. And that will make the player build Military academies to provide military education for his leaders.
If you just want to cut down the amount of battles it is rather easy - make each player use e.g. no more than 8 armies (like heroes in HOMM).
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