The Other Factions

I am converging on a working RTS engine whose architecture I’m quite happy with. The AI system still needs a little work, probably involving a simple C++ superset language to handle the bullshit necessary for the setup I’m seeing, but since I value readability/learnability nowadays, I’ll see if I can come up with one that doesn’t require such mangling. Anyway, the only supported bit of the engine right now is the standard RTS unit-based style, but the time will soon come that I’ll want to implement the other factions. Before I do that, I have to figure out what they are.

The first alternative faction that Namaste and I have discussed is a “plant” faction which has only buildings and spreads its influence using the wind, roots, and other implicit methods. The play style of that faction will probably end up being something more discrete-feeling. There could be plants which are very lethal and very hard to destroy, but since they are immobile it may not be unbalanced. Instead, the game would be about trapping your enemy and closing on them, rather than organizing an army for a tactical strike. The challenging thing would be using the wind to spread: you would have to wait for the right wind direction, and even then you would only have a vague idea where the building would grow. More generally, a building’s power could be inversely proportional to the control you have in placing it.

Another faction that we’ve talked about is one inspired by nanomachines. This faction’s units would behave normally, except at any time they could convert themselves into something of equal resource value. That is, your entire base could just be a field of resource collectors, and when there was an attack you could convert them into a big army of infantry. I would like to balance this faction in some other way than just making them weaker to compensate; instead I would like to manifest a different play style like there is for the plants. Nothing is immediately coming to mind.

I just had two more ideas as I was watching Star Trek TNG today. The first is a faction that can only communicate by contact, which would involve that kind of long-term planning strategy that i wanted with my relativistic strategy game (which I abandoned due to the complexity of programming with a frame-of-reference-centric world). The second is a faction that could project non-reality onto its opponents, not necessarily chaning the play style for that faction, but changing it for its opponents (which is especially good to challenge those who get really good at just one strategy). The game for the opponents would be about decoding the difference between reality and fantasy; it would be about recon and checking for information consistency. I’m quite excited by this one, even though it would be a challenge to balance.

That’s all for now. I just wanted to jot these down.


3 thoughts on “The Other Factions

  1. your comments on a nanomachine faction lead me to the thought of a very energetic and high-momentum faction. whether this would be the nanomachines or some other type, I’m not sure, but the playstyle would unfold as … well, fluid. to put this in context,i mean, have a faction whose ability to accomplish any specific task can be vastly superior to the other factions, however they have to build up to it. for example, to focus on resource harvesting, this faction would concentrate its units in a small area and lay relatively dorment. their resource gain would be exponential with time, however the weakness to attack of these gatherer units would also increase at least linearly – if not exponentially. to attack, then, the units of this faction would attempt to ‘surge’ at the enemy – the longer they have to prepare for offense, the stronger they attack, but weaker they become in gathering, defending, etc. same principle for all aspects of control. could be interesting. the balancing factor would be how weak they could be if you can get a surprise attack going. also, perhaps, apply ability caps to the assorted aspects of their energy buildup.

  2. That is an interesting concept. To keep things simple, let’s say there are four traits that a player could strive to develop. The other factions have four axes on which they can gradually move and grow, but this faction only has two axes on which they can quickly move. That is, one trait is the negative of the other, so the faction must constantly sacrifice two traits while being strong in two others, or any of the phases in between, but a perfectly balanced player in this faction is completely useless (right on the 0 mark on both axes). I like the theory.

    Part of what I’m going for with this game is to start every player playing as the humans, and blow the player’s mind the first time he encounters the other factions. The first time he sees them as an opponent, he must not even understand what kind of opponent they are. I think I’m going to go with the plant faction for this reason, since plants are a natural part of the environment, it is not usual to think of them as another player. But I don’t have a concept like that yet for the third faction, and I’m looking for one.

  3. A faction that blows their mind eh? What about some sort of causality faction? I’m not sure what their physical representation would be like, maybe just a single unit or something. Basically, their powers and play style go like this: they subtly influence and twist the activities of their opponents to their own end. Think about how a virus hijacks a cell, coercing it into doing what the virus wants. So maybe the causality player has the ability to do things like modify the units/structures the other players are building at any given moment. Think about the Red player’s factory spontaneously producing a Blue tank instead of a Red tank. Or maybe the Blue causality player could give enemy units orders. Maybe something more fundamental, like the causality player could suddenly make all gunfire move backwards in time, causing units that attack to deal themselves damage. I think it would be cool if this faction had very little physical presence in the game, and instead manipulated the environment and other players to their ends. I’m thinking that this faction would play heavily in the information side of the conflict, perhaps creating decoys and mirages, and so forth.

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