This is less of a blog post and more of a scratchpad or notes about the game and the ideas for mechanics I’m implementing.
The basic goal of this game is a hex based hybrid between base-builder, tower-defence and RTS on an infinite hexagonal map.
While games don’t need framing devices, they can help to make mechanics less abstract.
I like post-apocalyptic science-fiction settings, so the game will take place on a world (probably not Earth) with post scarcity levels of technology. The planet was covered in a network of cities, and each city had a city core under it harnessing the planet’s geothermal energy and using it to transform matter into anything the population desired.
That is until one day the AI controlling things fractured into two AIs, the good AI and the bad AI. The bad AI started attacking everyone with hard light constructs (creeps) because it was forcefully uploading them to a simulation (or something, I’m still working on this).
The good AI was pushed back to a single city where the survivors were able to stop the advance.
You’re part of the good AI working on restoring all of those uploaded people and civilization. You do this by capturing city cores by connecting them to your network.
A city core produces resources you need: defences take energy and a network connection to run, and require energy and materials to build. You can’t lose your first city core, and possibly other city cores.
Creeps can spawn on any ground you don’t control that is within range of a uncontrolled city core. Your city cores have a sizable area around them that is safe, which is the same sized area enemy creeps can spawn in from uncontrolled cores. Creeps won’t spawn in your safe area, and creeps can’t cross it to attack your infrastructure. Outside your safe city area, you can build protective buildings that keep the creeps from spawning inside their protected area, but creeps can still cross the area once they spawn to attack your protective towers.
To protect your infrastructure, you need to build defences. Towers that can shoot at the creeps.
As towers need energy and a network connection to run, you’ll need to build an energy distribution network, and your control network. Creeps will be trying to attack your energy distribution network, and infiltrate the control network. A successful infiltration of the control network will allow the creeps to either destroy, disable or take over the connected infrastructure (I haven’t decided which, will likely need playtesting).
In order to stop creeps from infiltrating your control network, firewalls can be built that will stop a creep infiltration attempt at them. This will require careful network design.
Weapons will be a mix of long-range (long-range, high-damage but slow), close in (short-range and fast) and AoE weapons (very short range, but always active).
RTS elements will include having units that can scout outside your area of control, though I’d like this to be optional. You can expand your control by pushing out your base and defences.
These are potential mechanics to add that may make things more fun, but aren’t necessarily required for a basic game.
Creeps can be pure energy creeps, physical constructs or a mix of energy and physical. Weapons will be able to disrupt one type of creep, but not both, so a mix of different weapons will need to be constructed. The creeps that are both energy and physical will need both types of damage to destroy, because one aspect can quickly regenerate the other aspect.
Network connections will have capacities. A trunk energy “pipe” may be able to move 100 units of energy, but a leaf “pipe” connected to a single weapon may only move 1 unit. This will add some depth and challenge to network planning. This would apply similarly to the control network, where buildings have a certain number of control points they consumer.
More complex types of connections, such as the need to build “switches” to convert from higher capacity control networks to lower capacity ones. Also wireless links, that are longer range and don’t require networks built in between, but are also much easier for an enemy creep to infiltrate.
Ability for networks to be over-provisioned, that is, you can build 20 energy worth of consumption but only build a 10 energy “pipe” assuming that you’ll never all of the consumption running at once. This leads to also having battery storage, to help smooth out over-capacity issues.
Special weapons, such as an orbital strike, or similar.
Fog-of-war, because the good AI can’t see everywhere without sensors, and the enemy AI sure isn’t sharing. City cores had some area around them that they can sense, units can see a short (or moderate distance, based on the unit) around them and sensor towers can statically increase the viewable area. When a unit or tower is destroyed, this information will be lost.
This will need to be playtested to make sure they’re fun and the right level of complex and challenging.
Population grows in the cities, and taking a city allows you to restore some population. Potentially population is part of score, and you need to manage the population to keep them from contending too much for your offensive/defensive resources.
For score, I’m not a huge fan of scores, but they can be helpful to have an idea of how you’re doing at a specific point in time. So score might be population divided by time. This will it’ll always be in a range and not some ever increasing number.
City cores only produce a finite amount of power, material and control points at a time. They could be upgraded to allow more.
You can build resource production buildings independently of your city cores.
Weapon upgrades and some sort of research or tech tree.
It’s nice to have an end point, even with open-ended games, where you’ve essentially won. In Terraria, it’s defeating the last boss, in Factorio, it’s building that rocket and KSP it’s exploring all of the planets (Eve is probably the last one). You can play the game afterwards, but you’re “done” it and have “won” and can move on if you chose.
I’m not sure what that would look like for this game, but Terraria style boss gating may be a good solution. Have bosses or certain milestones that need to be satisfied to get access to the next tier of weapon or network connection, and then a final sort of boss after which the game plateaus and you’re just working to control all of the area.