My thoughts on the game

General discussion for the game Anacreon
Lazygun
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My thoughts on the game

Post by Lazygun » Tue Oct 04, 2016 8:08 pm

The game site seemed to be down for at least 7 hours today and so instead of managing my empire I had time to write down some ideas that have been going through my head recently.

I've been playing for just about a month, as the Seekers of Knowledge, in case you didn't know. When I started I could only conquer worlds with less than 100 strength of defense. I have since expanded to conquer the majority of worlds within economic range of my main and sector capital and at this point I have no intention of ever expanding beyond my current economic sphere. Just waiting for the independent gorgos fleets to slowly attrition away.

You may disagree with some of what I have to say but I hope it gives food for thought anyway. Some of it may have already been said but not with my own special spin.

My first comments refer to empire management and the game interface. I really need to be able to ask questions like these and get answers:
* Where did I park my warphants?
* where do I have heaps of hexacarbide? (100/1000/10000 watches of input/output)
* where am I in danger of running out of food in the next cycle?
* which planets are producing or importing less than optimal?
* which planets are close to rebellion?
* where do I have unbuilt arcologies?
* where am I allocating less/more than X% to planetary defences?

I have made some progress with dissecting the $Anacreon global variable using the javascript console but I'm a dabbling programmer and I'm not sure it's worth persevering while some of the game balance issues remain unresolved.

The '!' icons that appear next to planets are too brief. I really want to know if it's an isolated occurence or the start of a trend. I would really like to see the game track complaints with something like the following pseudocode, display a summary in the 'news' window, and only pop up a '!' if the value gets too high. Something like:

Code: Select all

new_tech_complaint = round_down(old_tech_complaint*0.9)+(if this_watch_complaint then 10 else 0)
I really think planets should try to maintain bigger stockpiles of their consumables. For a game that runs for months it isn't reasonable to expect players to check in several times an hour. Setting trade hubs to import 999% of their demand doesn't really work because as soon as the hub has more stock than it considers optimal (which the player can't change) it stops importing so the stocks seesaw wildly creating instability. At least trade hubs and sector capitals should want to store more. Hey, there's an idea! Tie the amount a hub wants to store to the % of workforce assigned to the starport.

The game could distribute what planets need and then in a second pass, distribute any remaining stock according to what they want.

More user interface woes: the info panel/hud at the bottom of the screen, well my screen is a lot wider than it is tall and the usable galactic map is a long thin horizontal strip. I would much prefer it if I could put that panel on the side of my screen instead.

And something really has to be done about the duration of the game update. On my computer which isn't particularly slow it takes around 20 seconds of each minute during which the interface is completely unresponsive. And then I can finish what I was doing, spot something else that needs doing, and just after I start it the next game update rolls around.

Rather than create a wall of text I'm going to put my thoughts on game balance in a separate post.

Lazygun
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Regarding game balance

Post by Lazygun » Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:59 pm

I believe the ability of jumpships to make sudden deep strikes into enemy territory and then retreat back to a well-defended citadel is bad for the game.


I completely understand the appeal of being a predator: scouting out your target, assembling your forces, watching for the perfect opening with excitement, the thrill of the chase, the swift and sudden dispatching of the prey and the satisfaction as you stand among their dismembered remains.

On the other hand it's dispiriting to be that prey, to log on and be surprised to find your work for the past weeks or months ruined with no warning.

There have been many suggestions on what to do to fix this, but mine is that jumping is inherently dangerous and jumpships suffer extra attrition, with increasing attrition for longer time spent between planets. Smaller ships (scouts) will suffer much less, if at all, from this attrition and the jumpship owner can avoid the penalty by ordering the jumpships to move at starship rates.

Missiles vs beams

I suggest that beams be weak against planetary defenses. Also make it so that a ship using its beams to destroy incoming missiles does not have those beams available for use against enemy ships. These two changes would promote the use of mixed fleets.

I read the design notes where George talks about missile defenders providing cover for other ships but that doesn't work with the current battle simulator when the two wings of ships can be on opposite sides of the target planet. I would like to see a mechanism where ships are combined into mixed battlegroups that function together, moving at the speed of the least agile.

Somehow beef up planetary defenses

The inability to travel to a different planet is a big strategic drawback, but since planetary defenses don't need to travel they can pack more offensive power and armor. Perhaps they should have a longer range than ships so they always get a chance to do at least some damage.

Of course there's a danger that worlds can become impregnable so I suggest we give fleets the ability to blockade the world they orbit, cutting off all trade without entering the range of planetary defenses. This would count as an attack.

While we're at it, we need to make sure that newbies have enough ships to conquer at least a couple of nearby independent worlds in the first hour or so of the game. Worlds that have the potential to become new capitals should build jumpships when independent.

Law & Order doctrine should not be a no-brainer decision for moderately large empires

I think we should reduce the benefits of Law and Order, remove the sharp cutoff above which it becomes mandatory, and improve the benefits of other doctrines.

Secession chance should rise slowly as the empire expands rather than instantly going from neglect-able to all-important. Players should have a chance to react to secession movements and a time limit to counteract them. Players could then remain in other doctrines without worrying that their empire would split overnight. I have not experienced a world seceding from my empire so for all I know it already works this way and you should ignore me, but I suspect not.

There should be alternate means of preventing secession, besides trampling it under your jackboots. Perhaps by keeping your planets happy except that as your empire expands it becomes harder to keep them happy especially those furthest from your capital.

It should not be possible to rebellion-proof every planet, otherwise the penalty for attacking a weaker empire has no teeth. Rebellion-proofing planets should have some balancing adverse effect, like reducing efficiency or at least reducing efficiency gains. Or allocate workers % to "prison" as the happiness decreases. Planets in civil war with 'unquestioning rebel support' should generate extra rebels from the population, even when garrisoned by imperial guards.

Improve benefits for Fire & Movement and Strength & Honour. Give them lower manpower costs of the appropriate kinds of ships, on all their planets. I'm out of ideas for improving trade doctrine.

Reduce sector-capital spam

When I see a whole sector of space scattered with lonely sector capitals, and all generating imperial guards (because it's a no-brainer to be in L&O doctrine!) it offends my common sense as well as my sense of fairness. 'Guards' implies they are the elite of your army not the backbone. And the idea of every planet being the capital of nothing. Ugh!

Have the number of sector capitals increase the risk of rebellion and secession even for L&O empires. Make isolated sector capitals more likely to go independent, and the same for crowded sector capitals (add up the number of friendly planets in administration range, divide by the number of sector capitals. Too low means the capital is more likely to go its own way).

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Re: My thoughts on the game

Post by Watch TV, Do Nothing » Tue Oct 04, 2016 10:40 pm

These are all solid suggestions. The failure of protected ships to cover other ships effectively is something that's bugged me in the past but that I've never seen articulated effectively. Protected ships should definitely be screening unprotected ships better.

Greater effectiveness of missiles vs. planetary defenses is something that is naturally suggested by missiles' greater raw damage and undermined by their apparent range issues for attackers. Strengthening planetary defenses ties in with fixing them so that they actually work correctly, the various satellites are pretty much all worthless because they have issues attacking multiple fleets and don't generate as big a volume of fire as other defense types. Longer range is something I've suggested; at a minimum just increase firing range a tiny bit to let them get the first strike on attackers in the same range class. Right now a big Eldritch fleet, range:10, will take out a planet's worth of HEL cannons, also range:10, with almost no casualties because the Eldritches can always get the first hit in.

Reduced labor (not resource) requirements for signature ship types under T&E and F&M doctrines make sense. Perhaps T&E could get slightly reduced Mesophon purchase prices.

Sector capital spam could also be addressed by allowing only a certain relatively small % of planets in an empire to be designated as sector capitals.

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Re: My thoughts on the game

Post by WorldsStrongestNerd » Tue Oct 04, 2016 11:47 pm

Screening ships would indeed help balance the game. Make it so that a fleet of eldritch is indeed powerful, but they get shredded by defenses. You have to include other types of ships to help provide cover. If the game could be balanced so that jumpships work much better paired with a fast starship like minatours or sirus that would help to slow down the game. Make it so that striking with a fast jumpship only fleet is a high risk/ high reward manouver.

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Re: My thoughts on the game

Post by Lazygun » Sun Oct 09, 2016 12:02 pm

A few more ideas that have not so much impact on gameplay but that I still consider would be nice to have:

* Planets could keep track of the name their previous owner gave them, for easier restoration of their original name. Yeah, that's been one of the most annoying chores after the excitement yesterday. At the very least, allow renaming only when under sector capital administration.

* Planets that have little or no demand for their current output could start to slack off once their stockpiles get ridiculously high, like a full cycle of output. Idle population would be less likely to complain about hard working conditions.

* Can we have planets prioritising survival goods and then food when there are resource shortages?

* Imperial guards that surrender should not be as fanatically devoted to their new empire, so convert them to regular troops.

* We definitely need a different mechanism for displaying critical alerts for planets. When I logged on yesterday I had to click through maybe hundreds of messages about planets being attacked, planets upset about missing luxuries, planets descending into civil war and so on, before I could even see my empire! Something like the civil war system would be better, with different styled icons next to the planet for different levels of importance, and the actual message displayed in the planet's news (scrollable!,and with history)

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Re: My thoughts on the game

Post by Watch TV, Do Nothing » Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:57 pm

Lazygun wrote:A few more ideas that have not so much impact on gameplay but that I still consider would be nice to have:

* Planets could keep track of the name their previous owner gave them, for easier restoration of their original name. Yeah, that's been one of the most annoying chores after the excitement yesterday.
Maybe players should be able to mark or nickname planets without renaming them if they need an internal naming scheme for keeping track of planets. As for the current fad of naming planets and fleets to communicate with other players, I feel that it reflects the weakness of the messaging system.
At the very least, allow renaming only when under sector capital administration.
This is good and probably easier to implement.
* Planets that have little or no demand for their current output could start to slack off once their stockpiles get ridiculously high, like a full cycle of output. Idle population would be less likely to complain about hard working conditions.
It's unclear to me what causes the hard working conditions complaint or what its effect is (small social order penalty?). I don't like the idea of people slacking off though, it will just penalize players who aren't willing to micromanage. Stockpiles should get better distributed throughout the empire via trade routes to increase overall resiliency during wartime.

Another option would be for stockpiles to attract pirates, NPC fleets that would travel around the galaxy and descend on unprotected worlds to haul off or destroy stockpiles without actually conquering the planet.

Another option would be for certain planetary conditions to automatically cause the construction of non-buildable, non-demolishable structures with interesting effects. For example, in Crusader Kings I if your empire went into debt, a "moneylenders" building could automatically appear in provinces that would increase your tax revenue but anger the clergy. Maybe huge resource stockpiles could produce artist's colony structures or something like that, which would consume large amounts of resources, have an interesting effect (increase social order on surrounding worlds, reduce construction time on surrounding worlds, generate aes, produce or attract unique units like alien mercenaries), and automatically self-demolish when stockpiles are depleted below a certain level.
* Can we have planets prioritising survival goods and then food when there are resource shortages?
This seems to be a bug and has been noted in Ministry.
* Imperial guards that surrender should not be as fanatically devoted to their new empire, so convert them to regular troops.
The surrender mechanics in general are too favorable to attackers, this is one good option to reduce that. Another would be for imperial guards to fight to the death or hide among the populace, rejoining any counterattack by the enemy (e.g. if 10k imperial guards would have surrendered, they instead hide and if the enemy subsequently invades the world they get an extra 5k imperial guards in their column) or inciting civil war if a large number of enemy infantry aren't left as a garrison.
* We definitely need a different mechanism for displaying critical alerts for planets. When I logged on yesterday I had to click through maybe hundreds of messages about planets being attacked, planets upset about missing luxuries, planets descending into civil war and so on, before I could even see my empire! Something like the civil war system would be better, with different styled icons next to the planet for different levels of importance, and the actual message displayed in the planet's news (scrollable!,and with history)
Yes, definitely.

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Re: My thoughts on the game

Post by Wayward Device » Mon Oct 10, 2016 11:08 pm

Watch TV, Do Nothing wrote:
Lazygun wrote: Another option would be for stockpiles to attract pirates, NPC fleets that would travel around the galaxy and descend on unprotected worlds to haul off or destroy stockpiles without actually conquering the planet.
How about allowing raiding as a hostile action? So if you beat the space forces/ground forces guarding a world you can move anything on there to your transports. This would allow for a legit pirate playstyle and people would start to have to think about protecting their huge piles of stuff. All those little out of the way areas could be used as real pirate bases. People would bribe the pirate empires to attack their enemies and stuff. It would be great.

I guess you could play like that now, but you would have to capture the worlds you raid. Hmmm, I might have to try that. Make a normal empire, build up about 1 million transports + some jumpships. Take over a bunch of hidden away worlds and move supplies to them then keep them fed with raids. If you paired up jumpyards and startyards and kept them supplied it could be very annoying indeed. Shame that you would need so many transports to really make it work.

I still want raiding though.

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Re: My thoughts on the game

Post by Watch TV, Do Nothing » Tue Oct 11, 2016 12:02 am

Wayward Device wrote:
Watch TV, Do Nothing wrote:
Lazygun wrote: Another option would be for stockpiles to attract pirates, NPC fleets that would travel around the galaxy and descend on unprotected worlds to haul off or destroy stockpiles without actually conquering the planet.
How about allowing raiding as a hostile action? So if you beat the space forces/ground forces guarding a world you can move anything on there to your transports. This would allow for a legit pirate playstyle and people would start to have to think about protecting their huge piles of stuff. All those little out of the way areas could be used as real pirate bases. People would bribe the pirate empires to attack their enemies and stuff. It would be great.

I guess you could play like that now, but you would have to capture the worlds you raid. Hmmm, I might have to try that. Make a normal empire, build up about 1 million transports + some jumpships. Take over a bunch of hidden away worlds and move supplies to them then keep them fed with raids. If you paired up jumpyards and startyards and kept them supplied it could be very annoying indeed. Shame that you would need so many transports to really make it work.

I still want raiding though.
Piracy is a viable strategy. Sell goodies to Mesophon and you can buy as many transports as you want, plus if your capitals are in nebulas you can fortify them with bought Cyclops. This would be most effective in an old game with big stockpiles lying around. Be F&M, only have a capital or a few sector capitals on worlds with chronimium deposits (Earthlike worlds can't build high-TL jumpships in isolation), haul all sorts of resources to them and keep the jumpship yards running at 100% at all times. You'd run out of easy targets with advanced jumpdrive stockpiles pretty quickly, it's uncommon for high-TL jumpship autofacs not to have close to 100% of their output getting used so after a brief golden age your Eldritch output would go down considerably as you would also have to run the jumpship autofac structure. Since you rely on hit-and-runs on lightly defended targets you might be able to stretch this out a little by building Undines instead, since graviton launchers are so abundant lolololol. Or even use Helions!

It would be easier to do this if Mesophon allowed arbitrary purchase sizes, or failing that if the API commands for buying from Mesophon were more easily understood so that you could script large purchases rather than doing them manually. You could also try to abduct transports from jumpship yards; in one recent war someone captured something like 600k transports in one attack.

The real limitation is on infantry, not transports. You probably couldn't afford to waste labor on basic infantry or to dedicate planets to building more advanced infantry, so once you had a large enough body on infantry you would have to keep snowballing it through surrenders to beat attrition, which would require frequent attacks on planets with small garrisons. This is kind of tedious.

Going off monjardin's claims about a year ago I imagine that finite-state machine could be written somewhat trivially for a "partial AI" that could do just this- periodically scan for vulnerable worlds based on certain criteria, dispatch a fleet to grab commodities and resources needed to build Eldritches, run off with them, deposit on a capital, dispatch a fleet to grab hexacarbide, chtholon or ramjet components, sell to Mesophon, buy more transports and guards from Mesophon, repeat. If your transports always took all trillum and survival goods when you raided worlds, they would go independent again via civil wars and your empire would never grow large enough for big peacekeeper empires to retaliate- very annoying!

I think the "Pirate" NPC Empire code from DOS Anacreon would do something similar with transport fleets IIRC, it would have a region of space that was its "hunting ground" and it would periodically sent fleets to gank transports passing through it and carry them off. DOS Anacreon also allowed something somewhat similar to the raids you are describing- you could attack fleets in open space with small Hunter-Killer fleets and the attack would not be attributed to you. Planetary raiding would be great, maybe under a dedicated Pirate or Raider doctrine or with special units only purchasable from Mesophon.

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Re: My thoughts on the game

Post by Wayward Device » Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:32 pm

I really want to try this now. I agree about the infantry issue but you could go 1 Law&Order cap 1 jumpyard for your pirate base and still defend it with bought cyclops. If you had the imperial guards from Law&Order you could gain a lot of ships taking over people's under-defended caps. The more I think on this, the more obvious it becomes that the best set up is a large empire that gets pushed back to a single world and balls up all its forces. It's happened before (Bismalia comes to mind) but all those players eventually abdicated. Imagine if you were sitting behind 1 million Gorgos with 2 million transports and 100,000 Eldritch. That would be your perfect pirate king start right there. Now if only you could buy reasonable amounts of stuff from Mesophon. One day it will happen. One day...

I'm not sure how I feel about NPCs in Anacreon. I'd really like to see pirate-like player behavior encouraged before we go down that route. I do wish we had all the awesome old stuff though. I want my stargates and minefields and giant buildable movable planets back! There'd be none of this JUMSHIP OP nonsense if every section of the galaxy was filled with mines 5 layers thick.

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Re: My thoughts on the game

Post by gc2 » Fri Oct 14, 2016 3:26 am

Wow, that's such a great idea
Put that capital in the nebula and we get the Pirates of Jakarta scenario
I'd do it but I'm stuck with a ghost empire that has no planets and hence cannot abdicate

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Re: My thoughts on the game

Post by Watch TV, Do Nothing » Fri Oct 14, 2016 1:34 pm

I think I may have found a workaround that will allow ghost empires to abdicate. Please try this:
  • Log into the Anacreon game using Chrome, then press shift-ctrl-J. This opens the browser's Javascript console frame.
  • Navigate to the Console tab
  • Type in abdicateDialog() and press enter
Tell me if this allows you to abdicate! It definitely brings up the box for my non-stuck empire, but I have not tried actually abdicating this way.

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Re: My thoughts on the game

Post by Xephyr » Fri Oct 14, 2016 11:38 pm

Watch TV, Do Nothing wrote: Tell me if this allows you to abdicate!
Tested this in my Beta I empire - there's no effect.
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Re: My thoughts on the game

Post by gc2 » Sat Oct 15, 2016 4:28 am

It worked!
Thanks

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Re: My thoughts on the game

Post by Watch TV, Do Nothing » Sat Oct 15, 2016 1:46 pm

Xehyr, did you log all the way into the game and enter the commmand with that exact capitalization and the trailing ()?

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Re: My thoughts on the game

Post by Xephyr » Sun Oct 16, 2016 12:45 am

Watch TV, Do Nothing wrote:Xehyr, did you log all the way into the game and enter the commmand with that exact capitalization and the trailing ()?
Yup - The dialog comes up, but choosing to abdictate does nothing.
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