Everything’s Changed

Oh noes!1!1! We’ve only gone and completely changed everything in the latest beta of Revenge of the Titans v1.7. And I really do mean changed. Pay very close attention, because the way you’ve played the game until now won’t work any more! By way of easing you into what is undoubtedly a horribly traumatic shift of tectonic proportions (and indeed, speed, judging by our tardiness), I shall first briefly explain how the previous versions played out, roughly.

What The Old Game Did

The timer starts when you place your first refinery, and the Titans start spawning. Crystals are dotted all over the shop, and so you spam your super-cheap refineries everywhere, guaranteed to make a reasonable profit from them. The timer eventually stops, and the remaining Titans start getting faster. Then when the last Titan is slain, the level ends, and any unmined crystal is lost forever. And slightly inexplicably. The better you do, the less crystals are generated for the next level, by way of curbing your brilliance a little if you’re doing exceptionally well…

What Was Wrong With That?

So you’ve been playing the game for a while and were pretty much happy with this state of affairs. But there were a couple of niggly issues that irritated me a bit, and which maybe irritated you too. Firstly, you have to spam loads of factories everywhere, and they get in the way a bit, and they’re a bit irritating to have to keep wafting your finger over when there are so many of them. Secondly, why is it that you lose any unmined crystals after having killed all the bad guys? That doesn’t make any sense at all.

How Can It Be Fixed?

Unfortunately fixing this minor gripe turned out to be quite involved. Every time something was fixed it broke the balance of something else. Let’s start with the losing unmined crystals issue.

Fine: we’ll fix that by not ending the level until all the crystals are mined. This unfortunately has enormous knock-on implications. Firstly, it means that you need to be made very aware that you’re not mining crystals, so that requires a HUD update. It now has a flashing warning icon telling you there are crystals that don’t have refineries on them; you can click it to cycle zoom between all such crystals. There’s also a counter telling you how many crystals there are left on the level.

Secondly, the sheer number of crystals you’ve got to scout around finding on later levels gets tedious and incredibly difficult. So I had to drastically reduce the number of crystals. Unfortunately this meant that they were then accounting for very little cash, and worse, you could surround all the crystals sometimes so efficiently, they’d get mined before a single Titan even spawned, thus ending the level! So I had to make refineries cost loads more. But then they mined so slowly the levels were artificially dragged out too long. So I made them hold $250 instead of $100.

Thirdly, what’s to stop you just making a neat defence, starting the Titan invasion, and then shooting Titans for cash indefinitely whilst not bothering to mine crystals at all? So Titans are now no longer worth any cash! This fundamentally changes the balance. Now all your money has to come from crystals (and, more rarely, pickups). This puts a much greater emphasis on the mining aspect of the game. It also allows you to choose between leisurely mining and frantic defence, or frantic mining and leisurely defence, or strike some balance between the two. Your research patterns will change significantly: reactors speed up refinery production – and thus end the level sooner – meaning you spend less on defences. Silos make refineries take much longer to mine crystals – thus making the level take longer and spawning loads more aliens, but can make you 50% more money when placed cunningly. Decisions, decisions!

Now we’ve got another dilemma. With no way to make money from shooting gidrahs, what do you do when the player’s got less than $250 left for a new refinery and no other income coming in? I put a tweak in: you can always build at least one refinery, and it’ll cost you all your remaining cash up to the full cost of a refinery. You can even build one for free if you’ve got no money.

The timer bar now counts down to an “elevated threat level” skull. When the timer runs out, the Titans start their rush. As if that weren’t incentive enough to try and mine everything before it occurs, there’s also a medal and large cash bonus for mining all the crystals before this happens 🙂

As soon as all the crystals are mined, the timer finishes automatically and the rush starts, so you have to mop up the remaining aliens.

The total amount of crystal generated each level is now completely fixed at a constant (though the distribution is still random). This eliminates one factor of complexity when attempting to tune the difficulty level. Silos are also rather a lot more tricky to use again, which limits their potential to screw balance up. Silos are a long-term strategy. Difficulty now solely affects how mean the Titans are.

By the way, you still get a big cash bonus for defeating a boss. Hurrah!

The end result is all a bit more nicely balanced, logical, and a little bit more like survival mode. So, er, what do you make of all that then?

Downloads

The downloads are in the usual place:

Windows
Mac OS X
Debian Linux (32 bit)
Debian Linux (64 bit)
Generic Linux (32 bit)
Generic Linux (64 bit)
Webstart (all OSes)

Bugs Fixed

  • Fixed: turret beam angle was offset
  • Fixed: don’t do building destruction noise on sale
  • Fixed: flying gidrahs ramp-up speed was way too much too soon
  • Fixed: gold awarded even when level made easier
  • Fixed: large weapons ammo indicator never reached empty
  • Fixed: endless mode finished at level 50, and was therefore precisely not endless at all
  • Fixed: ESC menu missing buttons sometimes
  • Fixed: Shotgun missing ricochet emitter

New Features and Enhancements

  • Totally changed gameplay
  • Survival: each world increases in size and difficulty
  • Disruptors now show blast range as a purple ring
  • Blast mine pips
  • Speech!
  • Boss death noises
  • Finalised blaster noises (hurrah for slinkies and tuning forks!)
  • Bullets now ricochet for only a short distance, and with an added angular jitter
  • Show total medal and rank bonus on intermission screen
  • New and improved gidrah AI
  • Extraction Tuning research now doubles refinery production rate
  • Optics research now gives an entire scanner’s worth of extra range to all turrets (was half)
  • Lasers prefer flying targets
  • Blasters no longer cause stun, to help differentiate them from shotguns
  • Gidrahs that go pop no longer spew out gidlets when crushed or smartbombed
  • Tweaked the tactical brain so that it places different importance on factories, bases, turrets and decoys
  • Tweaked the smart brain so that it favours bases and decoys over other buildings if nearer
  • Tweaked all the brains so they take a bit more notice of danger
  • Limit range of shotguns and assault cannons to approximately max scanning range
  • Shotguns and assault cannons nerfed! Less pellets, less spread, and pellets damage attenuated by distance
  • Rocket shells now accelerate
  • New HUD: use ‘E’ key to zoom to crystals that don’t have refineries attached

Balance

  • Refineries now cost $250… but can hold $250 capacity in the same time the old ones got $100
  • Selling refineries now yields a $100 recycling bonus
  • Armoured gidrahs shot by weapons that aren’t sufficiently powerful will survive rather longer
  • Survival: Bosses get slightly less hitpoints
  • Survival: Gidrah hitpoint calculation adjusted
  • Blast cannon now has 4 points armour piercing
  • Scanners now only cost $5000 to research on account of just how critical they are to success
  • Likewise silo research now only costs $5000
  • Cooling towers now cost $5000 to research, putting them on an equal footing with the other turret upgrades
  • Decoys now only cost $10000 to research to encourage uptake
  • Decoys now only cost $750 to build to encourage use
  • Silos now cost $10000 to research
  • Silos now cost $250 + $250 per silo each once more, but maximum efficiency increase is now 50% (range: 17%, 25%, 33%, 50%)
  • Slightly longer delay between waves
  • Disruptors buffed again! To 36 pts damage this time
  • Slowed down enemy fire rate a lot
  • Available crystals based solely on level, and unaffected by cash in the bank or difficulty
  • Crystals now 50% more far-flung
  • Crystals now twice as valuable
  • Base amount of crystals increases slightly each world
  • Tweaked the end-of-level-rush duration to be drawn out a little longer, and slightly less mental
  • Spiders from Mars now a bit faster
  • Assault cannon now costs $10000 to research

Internal

  • Titan Stories
  • Increased max particle count to 2048
  • Forced slave particles to be created
  • Shut off emitters 50 pixels beyond screen edge
  • Update credits screen
  • Increase heap space for 64-bit VMs
  • Allow Sun Java for Linux .deb dependencies
  • Refactored browser opening code to be a bit more reliable
  • Max gidrahs now capped to 200 for performance reasons

26 thoughts on 'Everything’s Changed'

    1. I’ve just bought the game after playing the demo for months and now I’m very curious of proving this totally new experience

  1. You’ll want to tone down those speeches a bit. This Pingu-style gibberish is cool and everything, and it fits the game’s slightly comedic atmosphere well. But that said; the actual sounds are really grating. Maybe make it a lower mumbling rather than sharp “BLAH! BLAH! BLAH!”‘s, or something?

  2. I love the new gameplay and voices (even if they’re a bit loud), but the titans seem to like to avoid barricades a little too much. I put up all my defenses, but they just walk around them :(!

    1. i like this feature, their IA seems really improved, in the previous release they only walked straight lol

      1. It’s fine at certain points, but when you are low on cash and out of barricades they can get a straight shot at your base while you sit there helpless.

  3. Is this the surprise? And if you say yes, are you lying to make the real surprise more surprising? I’ve been a mess ever since you mentioned it.

  4. my 2 cents before playing this update:

    I loved how mining was set up. Loved it. Love the challenge of forcing the player to be really strategic with refinery/silo placement (ie least number of refineries affecting largest amount of crystals). Loved how refineries would “get in the way” as barricades when done (or not done) refining. I even loved having to keep track of completed refineries (I’ve never liked automation. That to me is a technology that gets in the way). The old way was a nice additional challenge to fighting the titans. Now it seems mining crystals is the main goal to ending the battle, which doesn’t conceptually make sense to me. But let me shut up and play it.

  5. Please tell me that the voice is not final. Much preferred the original voice a couple builds ago. Can’t say I’m feeling this new mine everything mechanic, on the other planets sure, you want to grab the crystals and run but on earth you’re defending your home (and I guess the place where research is done) so why do the titans stop coming after you’ve grabbed all the crystal? Maybe it’ll grow on me but I liked the old way just fine.

    1. Okay I’ve had a quick go and I actually quite like the voices. The boffin’s voice is great but the commander’s seems a bit loud, I’m not sure what I’ll think of them after a few hours play though.

      Regarding the mining changes: I’d probably have altered the pre-game chatter before the second level saying something along the lines of ‘The presence of the titans is revealing crystal deposits that can be mined for cash! Deploy refineries to grab these resources before they disappear!”. I’d then have a limited number of titans attack (like before) and have the crystals glowing brightly at the beginning of the level (while the titans are on their way) then as more are killed and the threat diminishes so does the glow of the crystals. When the final titan is killed the level ends and the crystals turn black and cease to be of any value.

      This way you’re getting the problem of the un-mined crystals at level end out of the way without having an illogical situation where the level can only end when all the crystals have been mined. The other problem I see with this is that, if you don’t mine all the crystals like I just have, you can amass a lot of cash drops and special weapons with a strong defence because the waves are (or seem) infinite. I got a berserk, smartbomb and a lot of cash just by sitting there for a few minutes reloading my turrets.

      These are just some initial thoughts. I’ll try and get some more time in with this release and keep you posted.

  6. After playing some time, I have to say that the new system feels a lot more frantic and tense, especially when the timer is finished and the titans start rushing. Maybe I played endless a little too much, or because of the update, but campaign seems really really hard.

  7. “Likewise silo research now only costs $5000”
    “Silos now cost $10000 to research”

    Which is it, then? 😀

  8. Very interesting; look forward to trying this new build out (although have a feeling that I’ll also dislike the new speech (but we’ll see!) 😉

  9. On survival bare map, I’m playing the last world before titan, and the map is way too small. My guns are firing at enemies off screen (which means players are potentially missing power ups and money) and now the pop up windows really get in the way of gameplay. I like the refineries making you 250 dollars a pop, it seems you can make money quicker especially with the silos. The laser is working a whole lot better. Also, I’m at about an hour on the clock and it’s getting a little repetitive. Survival should be a mode where you eventually lose – I’m thriving quite nicely right now.

  10. The upgrade looks great ! BTW, there is a problem in the deb package. Ubuntu complains that the package is older than the current one. It seems that’s because 1.7 is not considered as 1.70, thus older than 1.64 🙂

  11. Argh, the hotkeys have all been switched around. That’s going to kill me. Brain still wants to mash ‘1’ for refineries.

    There’s also a text discrepancy for the jump-to-refinery hotkey; the mouseover says ‘e’; the alert message says ‘r’.

  12. I do not see how this is more logical…

    …unless the story goes that titans have invaded earth, but that’s OK as long as we can strip mine all of the crystals as fast as possible?

    It feels like the story is that the humans have given up even before the game has started.

    Pretty bleak, but fits perhaps with the title as well when you think about it. The titans apparently do get their revenge.

  13. Downloading the update now, and upon reading this, I’ve got a suggestion,

    Level Complete Suggestion: When a level is complete, and all the gidrahs have been eliminated, the player could get a choice wheter he/she wants to continue to mine for crystals or simply proceed to the next stage. There could be a button which reads: “Proceed to next stage” that appears after completing a stage.

  14. Having played with it now, I must say I don’t like the core mining change.

    “frantic mining and leisurely defence” right now is the only way to go. You’ve given players the means to control just how many gids actually appear, and the correct answer there is always AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. No manner of efficiency can yet compare to the fact that I can shorten waves in half or more of what they once were.

    This feature builds balance into a corner. If you now extend the time it takes to mine, there’s just more of a difficulty discrepancy between someone rushing to mine and someone who does not.

    If some newbie misses a crystal, he’s got to fight absolute hordes while suicide-mining that crystal away just to make the horror stop.

    The ‘expert’ player doesn’t have to build any distant defenses on crystals because he can suck them up and sell the remaining buildings before the first group of titans can knock the refineries down. He then can get away with 4x scanners and an efficient few turrets on the home base, every time.

    The whole risk/reward thing might work better if the waves were set size again, and mining the crystals early HASTENED the onset of gid anger.

    1. I agree completely, the balance is all thrown off. The strategy involved in winning before made much more sense because the number of titans was fixed, and making money from crystals was a way to make money, period. Now the incentives are completely different. Why should the number of enemies be directly related to the crystals anyway? The explanation (that the titans lose interest) seems very far-fetched. So what you’re telling me is that the titans are invading earth because they like crystals, but their main interest when they get there is destroying your base, not getting crystals, and once the crystals are gone, they stop attacking your base? Huh? Seems like a very drastic change to the gameplay just to make the slight annoyance of unmined crystals go away, in my opinion.

        1. What Yurch and Justin said. I’m not sure a 3rd way is required. Previous versions have been solid and, other than the minor niggle of crystals remaining unmined at the end of a level, there seems to be no good reason to change the game so drastically, especially at this stage. Me personally, I’d revert back to the previous system of mining with fixed numbers of titans and stick some explanation in somewhere (perhaps have the boffin mention it) about the crystals losing all their value once all the titans in the area have been killed — they could be reactive to the proximity of titans or something. To my knowledge the crystals aren’t explained in any way in the game so you have the liberty of shoehorning the unmined crystals ‘problem’ into the game’s fiction. I think it could be quite neat to have the crystals glow brightly at the beginning of a level and as the titans dwindle so too does the colour and intensity of the crystals. Once the last titan is dead, the crystals ‘die’ as well. It may also be a good way of explaining why the humans haven’t mined the crystals on Earth BEFORE the titans arrived…

  15. No worries everyone – I have a great idea. And it’s to be found in the 1.71 release, which is up now. Just need to blog about it…

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