Author Topic: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics  (Read 7335 times)

Jubal

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #60 on: October 24, 2018, 11:04:14 PM »
Yeah. It's the sort of thing that needs much better links between academics and the bigger game dev industry players sadly - MMOs would be more the sort of arena where you could really rely on a usefully sized test sample.
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SLiV

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #61 on: November 01, 2018, 04:05:10 PM »
Good news everyone! Epicinium is now live on Kickstarter! ;D



Things we have discovered so far:
  • WYSIWYG editors are awful.
  • Gifs getting reencoded is awful.
  • Stressing because the page won't launch because you still have changes open in a different tab is awful.
  • People are really great!

So now it's sit back and relax, right?

Jubal

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Got my pledge in already :)

And an Exilian frontpage for that lovely illustration too: https://exilian.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=5795

I've got a FB post out about it too, and I'll get some Twitter stuff scheduled.
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SLiV

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Thank you so much Jubal! Also for featuring us in the newsletter on Thursday. I saw them come by earlier just didn't have the time then to thank you. The first 48 hours have been really hectic.

The illustration was a bit of a last minute commission, but we're really happy with it. Really captures the spirit of Epicinium, I think. Also makes me even more determined to do a water-based expansion after, if we ever get there.


Jubal

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No problem, I know these sorts of campaigns are a huge stretch on people (having been helping run Exilian for as long as I have, I've seen a fair few of them pass through at this point!). Very best of luck with it :)
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Tusky

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backed!

Best of luck
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SLiV

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Thanks a lot!

SLiV

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As we have entered the final 72 hours of the campaign, we're sitting at 35%, so it will be a steep climb if we still manage to make it.  :-X

We decided to open up the beta for everyone for this period, so that those interested in the Kickstarter can try out the game for themselves. We released version 0.31.0 to accommodate them by allowing Discord users to play as a guest without registering, and we improved the tutorial by adding icons that match the graphics used in the game, because people were having troubles matching the names of the units with the icons that the UI uses.



We also added stars to the surface texture of City tiles, to make them more uniquely identifiable. The objective of the game is to "occupy or destroy all enemy City tiles", but when people read or hear this, they don't yet know the difference between City tiles, Town tiles etcetera, so they might think they need to capture all enemy tiles. This makes them play very methodically, which can be fun but it can also make games drag on for far longer than they need to.

In general, games taking too long is one of the main concerns I have about the game right now. I have been re-reading some articles by the Wayward Strategist, which I found very helpful. Although they are mostly about RTS games, I think they still apply to Epicinium because we based a lot of economic game design on Age of Empires and StarCraft. What I noticed when looking at positive and negative feedback loops, was that all of our positive feedback loops that exist in the early game seem to disappear in the late game. For example, having map control gives a huge economic advantage early on, because the opponent is neither able to build up their economy safely nor sufficiently able to launch a counterattack. However once a player has amounted a large enough advantage that both players would agree that that player will probably end up winning, it can still take a while for their opponent to be defeated. This is because all of the winning players units have to walk all the way across the map, whereas the defending player can create units inside the tiles that they are trying to defend. This, in combination with the intentional negative feedback loop of having a hard limit on the number of new orders you can give per turn, can cause games to stall out a bit.

So I think the main game design challenge I would want to solve next month, would be to flip this around: if there are some negative feedback loops in the early game that dissolve as the game goes on, and more positive feedback loops or at least game systems that become more volative as the game goes on, then hopefully games will be shorter and stay exciting throughout. The tricky part is not making it feel artificial, of course. I'm thinking about adding a new resource to the game, or making different types of units cost different resources. Because one of the reasons it is currently hard to come back from a defensive position, is that you need money, power and orders to produce defenses, and those same resources are used to build your economy, or to launch a counterattack. You can only win by expanding your economy or doing something something sneaky, but you can only prevent a loss by building defenses. Games would be more interesting if you could do both at the same time, because now it sometimes leads to players just holding on for the sake of holding on, which can be frustrating for either player. I myself am guilty of this, by the way, as evidenced by last weeks dev match. (The matches were still very fun, however.)



Well, this turned out to be a bit more of a ramble than I had planned. But that's good, I needed to come up with a new devlog topic anyway. :P

Jubal

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One thing I'm reminded of is the Civ II think where you had partisan units that could appear after a city was taken - something like that which could give a rapid unit production thing to a defending player could help them turn the situation around without pressuring them to play too defensively, if you want a more aggressive game overall.

I'm not sure how I feel about the star thing - I think it's good that they have something more to mark them out, but I feel like some other marker might fit the general look more?

Sorry to see that the Kickstarter doesn't quite look like it'll getting there - I gave it one last shout-out in the new newsletter.
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SLiV

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Ooh that might be interesting. The downside of producing riflemen at cities is that it lowers the power of the city and hence its income, thereby making a comeback even more difficult. But if rebels spawned for "free" if cities were captured or destroyed, that might buy the defending player some time to spend their resources on a counterattack.

Yeah the star is not my most inspired work. I'm mostly curious if it would actually work to reduce the confusion about the game objectives. I should watch some replays to see if new players play more focussed now.

Thanks for the shoutout, Jubal. :)