The Calm before the Steam

Another mid-week patch of Revenge of the Titans, to v1.80.10, with a special nerfing just to annoy Sylen, who posts on this blog from time to time. Several annoying bugs fixed, including a couple of fundamental ones; and some further tweaks to balance involving heavy weapons, which were still way too powerful most of the time.

The stockpile limit’s been slashed to 5 units, which is easily enough, if you’re honest with yourself, provided you’re careful about not getting them blown up. And merely placing them makes the gidrahs… upset. Which should spice things up a little. This gave me the opportunity to put in a nice little side-effect for decoys, which now actually make the gidrahs less angry. This rather makes them a very, very important building, now.

Steam

This version is currently wrangling its way into Steam. We sort of missed our launch window so we’re just waiting for Valve to basically switch it on – it’s uploaded, it works, it’s all ready to rock n roll. Puppygames customers will be able to request a Steam key to get the Steam version of the game (which is actually of course almost identical to the Puppygames one). Likewise Humble Bundlers. I don’t actually know how this process works yet mind so bear with me whilst we work out how.

Bugs Fixed

  • Fixed: got rid of that annoying “missing sellMode.buffer” message in the error log
  • Fixed: [0] available in mini-build panel for buildings that aren’t limited
  • Fixed: droids accidentally were targeting big gidrahs preferably to gidlets
  • Fixed: gidlet could get paralysed by being in same map tile as a building without actually colliding with it causing level to never end
  • Fixed: online hiscores going a bit screwy (serverside fix)
  • Fixed: fullscreen scrolling using the mouse when using custom viewport

Balance

  • Use of heavy weapons, droids and shield generators makes the gidrahs cross
  • Decoys now calm the gidrahs down
  • Heavy weapons stockpiles now limited to 5

New Features and Enhancements

  • New icons!
  • Droids less likely to target big gidrahs or bosses deliberately if there are easier targets around
  • Wraiths no longer harmed by stray bullets unless you’ve got xray tech
  • Tactical gidrahs now more agitated by heavy weapons

Internal

  • Droids now only scan for opportunity targets every second
  • Changed Windows memory parameters slightly (64m initial heap, 256m max)
  • Removed an unintentional recursion in gidrah movement AI
  • Gidlets now whizz about randomly when they reach their target tile to help them hit things
  • Gidrahs now removed automatically after 5 seconds of reaching their target tile without any action

Sandbox Mode

I’d quite like to put this in at some point down the line. Any suggestions for how you’d like it to work? Maybe we can collectively design a few new game modes instead of just the one. I’m quite keen on exploring the idea of a mode which allows you to upload hand-crafted ASCII maps and a set of available buildings, for other people to play against and either try to survive a set number of aliens, or play against the clock like Survival mode for hiscores. Quite complicated though and unlikely to earn any money… or maybe… horrors! … we should issue it as the dreaded DLC and sell it for a couple of bucks? That’d help fund it.

71 thoughts on 'The Calm before the Steam'

    1. Well I just played some stages to test out the “cross” and anger factor. I barely noticed any difference, which is a shame. Reading the post that they would get cross and angry with the placement of heavy tech got me excited. I was expecting at least something visually, showing me that they were angry such as more roaring/screaming, eyes change color to a dark red, etc. However, all that happens is that they increase in speed. If anything this gives me the feeling that they are panicking and increasing their speed to take you down quicker before you can develop further. Overall the anger factor as is, is a little disappointing. I love the idea, but the implementation is disappointing.

  1. I guess they start sprouting profanities or something, causing turret gunners to cower in fear…

  2. Its an honor.

    But in all seriousness what does 5 mean? You can horde 5 of each heavy weapon/ droid factory?

    Do you think it might be possible to make getting tech more available in survival? waiting for boss spawns is pretty weak in comparison to both 1.87 survival and 1.810 campaign/ Endless.

    I have some ideas for sandbox too.

  3. Custom maps sounds like a neat thing but you can probably tag on some extra buildings or maybe another planet before releasing it as pay DLC.

    People could create puzzle maps where you only have a selection of weapons and a set number and types of enemies, then people can post their best times or scores based on how much money they used, how much they mined and the recycle value of buildings perhaps.

    An idea for a game mode is you could start with just the blaster and refinery and then every minute or so you unlock a new piece of random tech with the super weapons being less likely to be unlocked. Perhaps you can have the tech as pickups that drop from big enemies.

  4. First and foremost sandbox mode should be *sandbox*, meaning complete freedom & creativity are KEY. Special modes would be nice, but they definitely should take backseat to the primary sandbox mode itself.

    I think the options for unlimited funds, and all tech available without limits should be standard. You should be able to *balance this yourself* by being able to manipulate enemy spawns.

    That way we would be able to make our ideal base and see how it fares against the most ridiculous gidrah swarm we can throw at it.

    Sandbox should be what it sounds like, a fun place to mess around and experiment, without any kind of imposed oversight or limitation.

    Modifiers to sandbox could be activated to create special modes.

    Has anybody played a simple little tower defense game called “Harvest: Massive encounter”? It’s a fun little indy game you can find on steam, and although the core game-play is very different, they did a good job of getting sandbox mode down right.

  5. Steam achievements? Seriously? That would be awesome.

    Humble Bundler here eagerly waiting for the Steam release!

    1. oh please no DLC !!. I hate it really….nearly every game has dlcs now….

      I miss the old times with “real” addons.

  6. Maybe you can post the “Humble Bundle” Steam-Keys on the Downloadpage for the “Humble Bundlers”. Right under the”soundtrack” and “download” button for Revenge of the Titans

    Every person who bought the HIB has a unique download link. So nobody can “steal” the key

    Thats I would do…..

    1. Humble Bundle owners should have a single Steam key for HB1 and HB2. Basically one key for the 5 games in that bundle. I would assume that those who registered their HB2 keys will just have RotT added to their library when it becomes available.

      It’s up towards the top of the page, along with onlive and desura keys for some games.

  7. I noticed something with the ghost Titans that has always kind of bothered me, I debated saying anything, but here I go. Ghosts walk a fine line between being tangible and intangible. When floating across the field, I noticed they crush droids beneath them as they float. This puzzles me. First off, to crush droids they need to be tangible, but I guess they are until they need not to be such as when they pass through barricades. However, if the norm is tangible allowing the crushing of droids, then scanners not being able to pick them up seems a little off. Second, they are floating not walking. Therefore they would have to be skimming the ground in order to even come into contact with the droids due to their small size. So the complete destruction of each droid as the ghosts float over seems a little off as well. Don’t know if you have a good explanation for this odd effect, but I just thought I’d point it out.

    In regards to the new gidrah reaction to heavy tech, ie the angry reaction, if you haven’t already done so, I have a small suggestion that would be a really nice touch to the whole angry reaction of the gidrahs. The work involved would be minimal as well since the animation is already done. When you place a heavy tech and the gidrahs get angry, an instantly visible and dramatic reaction from them would really get the player panicking. My example would be, when the first heavy tech is placed after they have started their attack, the gidrahs roar/scream in unison, and continue moving with increased speed and maybe roaring more often. Something like this would really aid player immersion and set the fearful mood. If no new heavy tech is placed after they have started attacking, but heavy tech was placed prior, then they would just start off angry.
    It’s just a suggestion, feel free to ignore it.

    For a sandbox mode. I would personally love a mode where you can set any parameter you want. For example the options related to how many and what Titans attack, number of waves, starting cash, mineral deposits, average distance deposits are from base, tech available, structure of the map, etc. Essentially a fully customizable map with every option you can think of. It would a decent amount of work, but near endless fun to be had.

    Your idea of the the hand made ASCII maps would be cool.

    Typing this really late, so please excuse any errors.

  8. For sandbox mode, I think a pvp where one player places guns and another places gidrahs would be cool. Alternately, you could play against your own (prerecorded) high score games, or some top score games. I’m thinking gidrahs would cost some kind of money (maybe a system similar to anger) which you could earn for things like

    -keeping crystals from being harvested
    -destroying buildings
    -destroying droids
    -damaging the base
    -powerups going uncollected
    -gidrahs dying
    -coffee being spilt

    As you earn more money, you can buy bigger and badder gidrahs and decide where to place them.
    The fun comes in recognizing the weaknesses in the ]enemy defense and capitalizing on it with appropriate units.

    If you want to get fancy, have attributes cost points, and let people build custom gidrah templates using various attributes. – so an armored flyer for example.

    If this were pvp, then there’s fun on the other side as well, as it’d make for a game that’s much tougher than that supplied by the ai (although it’s already fairly tough).

    Not sure if that fits the spirit of “sandbox” mode, but it’s a mode…It might make for some good downloadable content, as it really improves on the game. Thanks for all the updates Cas, but seriously take it easy! Enjoy your kid some! The game is great already. I appreciate your work ethic, but i’d really like for you to get it out on Steam already so I can start bugging my friends to buy it!
    -Emile

  9. You know, when I saw patch notes for .1.80.8/1.80.9 I refrained from posting. Partially because I’m currently on a visit to family, which has such crappy connection that downloading ~80 megs of installer isn’t really an option and I didn’t want to “wine: based on changelog alone, partially because I hoped that hey, maybe it won’t be as bad as it reads. And droid nerf I could relate to – as cool as droids are performance is a viable reason to limit their numbers. But this nerf take the cake. Not only I’m going to have limitations on my head, but I’m also going to get *punished* for using the interesting buildings? Really? Heavy weapons are already balanced by number of factors – they are results of long-ish research paths. They are costly. They have low magazines and reload for ages. And – in case of missile launcher and pre-shielding disruptor they are dangerous to use. Likewise droids – they are easier to get initially, but still, to get their full potential you need to through *longest* research path in whole game. Shields have their drawbacks too – massive cost and to use them you need to figure out how to place them in already crowded neighbourhood of turrets and their tons of addons. And on top of that – half of this stuff is nearly required – droids are only thing that can target gidlets, lasers are the only thing that targets flying girdahs, and rockets – while not as necessary as other two – were the only sane solution I’ve found to dealing with large “bomb” type girdahs (who have. sixteen. bloody. armor) and tons of other heavily armored girdahs game was throwing at me.

    Now before someone tries to say something – no, I am not a “casual” gamer. But neither I’m one of the people who only find delight in playing insane difficulty challenges. For me game is hard enough as it is – the last version I’ve played (and won finally) felt about right – there were moments that frustrated me, but overall they were possible to beat in the end, and brought enough enjoyment to overweight te frustration in the end. I’m not sure will I find that enjoyment in new version. Oh I will try it to be fair – once I’ll get the opportunity to download it anyway – but right now it looks like I’ll be returning to my backed-up install of 1.80.7. Which is the first installer I felt the need to backup…

    Alright, bile spewed, rant’s over. That would be all from me for now.

    1. The changes are far more subtle than you think. Playing through the game until Saturn I didn’t even notice any difference.

      1. I think that the issue I have is that I don’t feel like I’m being rewarded for all of the research I’m doing. Every time I unlock a new upgrade, the difference appears negligible. The upgrades don’t feel worth the money on the battlefield. Statistically, whether they are or aren’t, it doesn’t matter; that they don’t feel worth the money is the issue, and I think this is due to their being slightly underpowered. It makes little sense to me that the weapon you start with, which you put no research into, remains a go to weapon throughout the game, even though the player continues to make countless research decisions. The weapons and upgrades I get from research are only slightly better than the base gun in certain, very specific, ways, and are highly limited in the way they are intended to be used against the enemy. Additionally, too many of the technologies that are required throughout the game aren’t accessible enough.

        It seems I am never able to catch a break or get ahead, and am continuously trying to catch up with my research to meet the demands of the presently invading force (and, unfortunately, I am only aware of the research I need to tackle them AFTER they arrive). This snowballs over time if the player doesn’t know what the heck research route they are supposed to take (and it is clear from the way that you speak that there is only one correct way to play this game). IMO, you have PLENTY of tension in your game, but a deficiency in fun-factor. Try to give us some peaks and valleys eh? Fun vs Tension? Let the player get ahead sometimes.

        1. There’s been at least 3 completely different strategies through the research that have been outlined on the blog in the past (not by me, by players)! You can choose all sorts of paths really, they’re all reasonably good with pros and cons, and what you have chosen is of course what makes your Survival games…

        2. The angering thing is evident as early as Earth if you plop down several droid factories on the boss map. Not sure I like that.

          From a player’s point of view, I’ve already made a decision and sacrifice to get special weapons by way of research. By grabbing those, I’ve already neglected other stats or abilities to some significant degree. I do this further when I actually buy the weapons.

          Having the gids get faster as a result of some of weapons just feels like a punishment, and makes it outright dangerous to deploy those weapons if you don’t have the immediate cash on hand to build additional defense to compensate.

          Getting six extra droids on the field sometimes isn’t worth the relativistic velocities that the gids are hitting on their end run on the base.

          Decoys theoretically counteract all this, but at this point you’re adding an additional 1500 pricetag to each weapon.

          I also have a minor complaint with the current level generation. I’m commonly seeing crystals right near the border of the map near spawn points, particularly around Mars when the damned spiders show up. There just isn’t enough space sometimes to fit significant turrets in between the two without causing inordinate losses or having to place some items blind in the dark areas.

      2. I think maybe a part of this issue is that things escalate very quickly. It might be interesting if you played with a more gradual introduction of each monster. I sort of imagine giving the player some great new tech at the beginning of each world, allowing the player to have the upper hand for a round or two with this new tech, and then gradually putting on additional pressure with a greater number of enemies that have adapted defensively toward that tech.

      3. Cas you need to listen your player-base more often(I mean honestly of the few people who care to talk, there have been quite afew that found fault with the last couple patches, and that should mean something). Alot of us definitely felt the changes before Saturn, likewise with the changes in survival.

        Quite honestly most of each change-log is based on your whims, and they are often pretty radical. People dont play the same way you do. I most certainly dont (I’ve watched some of your plays on youtube).

        1. All the changes have been very subtle, and in general play, actually pretty hard to notice. Most of the whinging has come from people who haven’t even tried the patches. (Yes, look back).

          1. Campaign aside, I dont see how you can argue that going from being able to place buildings when you want to needing to wait for Boss drops is a “subtle” change.

  10. A new game mode could be the “Gidrah migration” or ” The titans march”. Like wildebeest in Africa , a very huge stream of titans has to go in the rain season from point A to point B.

    Then you have to exterminate as many as possible during their massive migration placing turrets, barricades and the rest of the stuff to prevent them to arrive from one side of the map to the other one. Several points to be considered is the initial number of titans in march, the winning conditions (allow to arrive a certain limit of titans?, a timed game and then count the number of titans extermined?), the number of funds at the start, the techs available and so on….

  11. Crap, we just had a major earthquake here in Japan. Trains are stopped, subways and highways are shut down and massive tsunamis just…

    Oh! Look! New version of Revenge of the Titans!

  12. So when is the steam release coming? Did Valve skip you? I have been waiting for a week now. Have you integrated the achievements yet? I wish you good luck with the steam sales. I hope Valve will put your game in the showcase :).

  13. Cas, if previous idea wasn’t enough I’ve come up with a 2 players one, maybe better suited to a new on-line game. I don’t know.

    In a 1v1 arrangement both players place defensive buildings AND points of spawning units, gidrahs or droids of different types, whose mission is to go through the defenses to destroy the enemy main base. In this game you would have to work in defensive strategy, attack strategy and gathering strategy. Notice that you only control the position of the buildings and of the spawning points, not the movement of any unit, that would be the common AI behavior already developed.

    The spawning points for example would not be available in all the map, especially in a zone close to the enemy base unless you claim the area previously using some tech device.

  14. I don’t know if this has been suggested already – nor am I sure if it belongs in the ‘sandbox’ – but it would be cool if we could take the role of the Titans against user created setups.

    Give each element of the game has a specific value – buildings, turrets, upgrades, titans – everything. However much money/points a user spends building a set of defenses on a map, the Titan player gets that many points to spend on waves to send in at predefined entry points (along the lines of many tabletop wargames). Once a wave is sent in, standard AI determines how the Titans act.

    To put it simply: the builder builds defenses, then players try to build waves to over come those defenses.

    Just an idea.

  15. I’d pay for the sandbox mode for a few bucks. It’d be a dlc that’s actually worth it! (civ5 3$ map dlcs >>) A co-op one would be awesome! And would get me to buy two of the dlc… plus it could get other people to force their friends to BUY RotT and the dlc. Not sure if co-op would be possible but just an idea. (could be fun to be the one controlling the titans trying to bring down a friend but that’s no sandbox per se , and probably not what you’re looking for. xD)

  16. While in the past I’ve seen the balance changes as a kind of lottery for us all — sometimes you luck out and something you love gets better, sometimes you lose and your favorite tactic gets nerffed — it seems like I’ve had a brutal losing streak going steady since the very early days of 1.80.

    I would have no problem with being forced to play the game in a decentralized way if the balance changes had helped my ability to do so – but now it seems like with slower resource collection due to more expensive collectors and reprocessors, I’ve fallen back into that resource hole from the early early days of the game. Its maddening. I could defend multiple locations if I had the resources, but I can’t get the resources because I can’t effectively defend the refineries, both because of my lack of those very resources, and because of the crippled heavy weapons and severely limited upgrade units.

    It also doesn’t help that the new easier level doesn’t re-randomize the map anymore.

    So there it is. I’ve become one of those guys who complains on these posts. ARRRRRRG! I’ve become everything I hate!

    1. Yes I’m feeling I simply ran out of cash and the placement of refineries it’s been made one by one and when I have some break and I can stop of placing turrets. This does not help really much to recover from the first investment and, for example in survival I can cope with the next wave after the first megatitan but I cannot stand my ground anymore because there ae very poor chances to have more refineries, even if I sell the useless ones.

  17. thought of some other ideas for sandbox…special game rules that make the game different in interesting ways (endless/survival):
    – only one turret alowed (can use many upgrades and walls though…)
    -only mines can be used, but they’re unlimited (or refil fast)
    -only capacitors can be used
    -fog of war is everywhere (except within the range of turrets)
    -killing monsters spawns two monsters of a lower level…
    -monsters drop in from the sky at random locations

    anyway, just a few random ideas, thought they may be fun.

  18. I got 1st place on one of the survivals and now have questions.
    Does each one have a high score?
    Like Moon>open>Small vs Moon>open>Large?

    Also, does it show first place or the next person ranked above you?

  19. Does the “Awesome” medal work? If so, how do you get it?

    I just had an assault cannon with 4 reloaders, 4 cooling towers, 4 scanners, 4 batteries, and also 4 reactors on it… isn’t that “fully upgraded?”

    Or do I also have to do the extended research for the +0.5 reloading speed, +1 armor, and whatever else you can get if you put all your research into Coffee production?

  20. Am I the only one who thinks that any discussion on a sandbox mode (or other game modes) is a bit premature when there’s still this large shadow looming over the game called excessive developer nerfing – I mean seriously, how many players actually enjoy the game more now than earlier versions? Since the last version, this game has lost it’s ‘fun’ factor, so I don’t think I’ll be playing it any more. A real pity, but then haven’t you heard the saying “if it aint broke”? 🙁

    1. It’s less fun because it’s a tiny tiny bit more challenging and a strategy of employing a massively unbalanced pile of giant weapons against the hordes every level isn’t as easy as it was…? Or it’s less fun because it’s too hard now and I need to tweak it a bit?

      I note the request to get the crystals back from the edge a bit – a might have to do that; they are a bit too close to the edge (especially now with the fog of war) but first I’m going to figure out an … AUTOMATIC PATCH UPDATER THING!

      1. Granted, they are tiny changes to make it more challenging, but each update/set of tweaks are increasing the challenges. Each person would come at the game a different way, and forcing a person to not be able to go out limits the fun factor for some people. Wouldn’t it be easier to add a “Minimalist” medal/achievement, where the person beats the level with x number or fewer they get that and maybe more of a cash bonus?

        Granted, I’m not very good at RTS games, and I’m a casual gamer. But it kind of kills replayability when there are only a few skilled styles to play in. Either way I’m excited about when it comes out on Steam (HIB key already loaded), and I’ll continue to talk up the game to people I know, but I’d really like to be able to enjoy more than the first few levels before I hit a wall.

        1. What I need to know is where, when, and how this “wall” turns up – I never seem to come up against it, but then I rarely play past Mars, so perhaps I’ve got the difficulty level all wrong in the later levels.

          Maybe I should get the game to send us stats so I do some real tuning with a bit less guesswork?

          1. I think the game sending back information would probably give you more insight into what problems people are having, though be sure to make it an opt-in rather than an opt-out. What information would you find useful if/when someone gets stuck on a level?

            If I could be honest, you probably haven’t and won’t ever come up against the “wall” because you know the ins and outs of the game better than most anyone else. There’s no surprise of a new alien or field testing a new weapon or even finding out your new weapon doesn’t work on the new alien. It’s nothing you could fix though, it’s just the unfortunate side effect of working on it. I’m sure people who play more RTS’s have a similar skill as opposed to a casual gamer.

            Too hard for me or not, it’s still a wonderful game thus far. Thank you and the rest of PuppyGames for giving us it.

          2. “but then I rarely play past Mars”

            THAT would explain it. Levels on mars and earth are cheese compared to the others, it’s only on the later levels that the combined power of all these nerfs make the game a pain (and extremely difficult) to play. Right now, at least on the levels in the 2nd half of the campaign, the difficulty is akin to something I’d expect on a hard or extreme difficulty mode. And the 2nd half of the campaign is usually the only time you get to play with all the awesome higher-tier research weapons… 😛

  21. It feels like it takes quite a long time for the game to really get going; what with all the additional things I have to research and place for refineries to be effective; not to mention problems with crystal placement meaning I dont have enough room to place the tech to bring in enough money. Crystals seem to be placed far too close to spawn points to adequately defend, which surely is one the reasons to spread defenses out, rather than bunching them all together. I think someone mentioned it earlier, but it does feel like theres less of a “reward” for researching tech or progressing through the levels, due to financial constraints imposed by crystal placements/level layout/terrain etc, combined with the nerfing AND the limitation on heavy weapons. Even without using heavy weapons I’m still scrimping by, and can’t seem to start a level (by mid moon) with more than 10k… the reason Id want to persevere is so I can play survival with as much tech as possible, but I’m nowhere near having a large enough amount of tech to be able to play that game mode to be able to see how badly the new nerfs affect it, and whilst the various changes/nerfs may be subtle seperately, they do all add up. Besides, your the developer, you’ve been playing it for like how long?! So it wont really be that difficult for you. Also, exactly what was the ‘special nerfing for Sylen’? I’ve watched the gameplay video for Earth, and noticed you using a ‘pathway’ strategy, but obviously you cant do that when they dont use roads anymore.

    1. Oh, I just reduced stockpiling of heavy weapons to 5 from 10. I don’t think many people will ever put that many heavy weapons down in any case. If you do then the game would be rather dull, as you can do it level after level after level… boring! I wanted this game to be a genuine challenge as an antidote to all those rather dull games that you just can’t lose that seem to be everywhere these days. And you can win – it just takes a bit of thinking, perseverance, and a smidgen of luck. And otherwise if you want to just idly waste an hour watching the game practically play itself in some sort of easy mode, well, that’s exactly what we want sandbox mode for – for people who don’t want a challenge, or who want an insane challenge, or whatever.

      I definitely will be looking at crystal distance to spawnpoints in the next patch, although my big thing at the moment is getting the game to make small incremental auto-updates instead of making everyone download 70mb installers every time I do small changes. Part of that change will also make it more easy to mod the game.

      1. With the heavy weapons, the stockpile of 5 aint a problem, likewise with the decoy tech it makes sense; although the droid limitation kinda comes across more like a temporay solution with the problem caused by performance issues – did you say that you have some kind of imposed limitation regarding the coding of the game affecting this? Its not a game-breaker, although the idea of having the level swarming with droids sounds kinda cool! Never got to try that 🙁 So the stockpile quota isnt that much of an issue, but for me what is that, for example, I’m finding that even using a combination of all the blaster types (excluding multi blasters as I still don’t feel that there are a useful tech) and linking them to scanners-batteries-cooling towers they still get overrun pretty quickly, unless I end up stuffing them all in one spot in a large group (and that spot isnt right next to the base, but has in a location that can take them out from the various pathways they use) Although admittedly, I’ve only used/researched concrete walls to defend them. So I’m stuck back into that type of strategy as it’s the only way I can survive, unless I research the delivery stuff (but I was wanting to save that for later in the game)
        But anyway, regardless of the problems I have playing the game – maybe I’m just not that good at it…. when will those mysterious question marks reveal their secrets to us players?
        I still appreciate that you (the developers) always respond to feedback (and take note of it) & obviously love what you do and actually care, as well as trying to make the game as good as it can be. Thank you for that, I’m happy to support a developer such as yourself!

        1. You need to adjust your strategy.

          Specifically – the game was rejigged in the last few updates to prevent the dull strategy of using one huge pile of buffed guns from working all the time. You need a second installation along the way to thin the aliens out before they reach your main installation. If you just keep trying the same strategy over and over again and it’s not working you’ve got to try some alternatives! Experiment and have some fun.

  22. Finally got to play the game a little more the first time since one of the first Humble Indie Bundle releases (always played for short times when each new release was out). I must say, it has greatly improved since the first HIB releases. Awesome game, although there are still some performance problems on my PC (an old AMD 2400+ processor, 1,5 gb RAM, Radeon HD 3450 graphics card). But it seems they got reduced quite a lot in the last releases. But the game still stutters a bit, including sound and mouse movement. Hope they can improve the performance a bit more, then it’ll run fine.

  23. Hehe, by the way, the Moon endboss is really hard in version 1.80.10. Haven’t beaten him yet. Maybe I’ve chosen the wrong tech.

    1. He just needs a good dose of heavy blasters. Or reactor-buffed standard blasters. Or research alien anatomy and xenobiology which allows ordinary blasters and multiblasters to hurt him a bit. Mines work quite well. Various strategies work 🙂

      1. Let’s see… it’s my next mission and I will update with the latest version. I see you have changed the icon. Who did the draw ?

  24. I think stats would be a good call…just tried lasers and decoys early on, it’s pretty tough when the monsters are spread out.

    I also tried teching to decoys first and buffing blasters, that strategy didn’t work at all.
    Decoys seem to cost me more money than they save, this is because the monsters wind up with very random pathing that often changes to avoid blasters. So I wind up needing lots of little clusters of blasters, many of which never hit enough guys to need to reload. Or, I place the blasters scattered out, and a few get taken out by monsters who have changed their path. Also decoys don’t work on all the monsters, so I still need blasters along typical routes…bottom line is I wind up
    needing just as many if not more blasters, with more risk. It does slow down the gidrahs…which is a benefit, but it’s not worth the tradeoff, especially since they cost so much. I’m thinking either making them cheaper, so that you can have a bunch and use several to get the pathing more reliable…or just make it so that once a gidrah has its sights on a decoy, it will walk straight toward it.

    Regarding some of the anti-nerfing rants…I understand the frustration, since I sometimes have it. I also know that I’d get bored with the game quickly if it were too easy. Everyone’s ability level is different though, so I can imagine the game being too difficult for some people. You do get to make the game easier at each level, though. Maybe a difficulty slider before each level would make the game easier for people who don’t want a challenge, without making it too easy for those that do. In either case, just getting mad about the changes is not productive. When I offer feedback, I try to make it detailed and constructive like the above paragraph. I explain what exactly about the system is bothering me, and suggest some changes to make things better. Just getting mad may encourage Cas to try to make changes, but it probably won’t be the changes we want. So please try to hold that anger in check and express it more specifically in terms of the specific rule you don’t like and how it negatively impacts gameplay for you, rather than telling Cas to stop improving the game. Maybe instead you can ask to have access to older versions, if you really would rather go back to a prior version.

    1. Well said 🙂

      Nearly all the changes I make here are in response to things players have mentioned or complained about (and this blog is definitely not the only place where such things are discussed too!) Unless you have a really good explanation for what’s going wrong for you and a decent design rationale for a suggested fix I’m sort of flying a bit blind and have to tweak things bit by bit, iterating towards the right balance.

      In the next patch, v1.80.11, I’m increasing the availability of barricades and mines, and I’ve reined in the crystals so they don’t stray too far from the base at higher difficulties. I’ve also adjusted (lowered) the difficulty factor past Mars somewhat as I suspect it’s too hard from the general commentary in here. I’ve also added rudimentary mod support!

      Decoys need a knack to correct deployment. The gidrahs who have simple brains head for a random choice out of your bases and decoys – so in many ways decoys aren’t so useful against the rank and file. However the “clever” gidrahs will tend to head for the nearest decoy or base, which on the later levels (Saturn and beyond) tends to be most of them. It is particularly worth noting that the boss is also lured by decoys which is another reason they’re so expensive!

      1. My style since the beginning was a decentralized defense with scattered turrets on the path and the edges of the map. I am being quite proficient now in the noble art of selling what you don’t need anymore, particularly the refineries -although some of them can be useful as barricade buildings-. Yesterday I defeated smoothly the Moon boss by placing + selling + replacing heavy blasters on its path.

        In survival mode I had an easy time standing my ground and gathering all the crystals I could but finally I ran out of cash because the damn rate of new crystals was slower that I expected. I though that when I sold all useless refineries, I would have new crystals to put them again, but it was not the case… I will try more games to see if this happens to me again.

        Finally, I agree that barricades are specially wanted in survival as well as mines.

        1. What I meant is that selling micromanagement is the key to me, and I am grateful to you for having removed the manual collection of money, allowing more time to sell and replace. The turrets auto-reloading was a second priority; I would have done the first levels on Earth or Moon quite well with manual loading -what I did on 1.72- but having access early on to an automatic reloading tech, which now would be for free.

          Related to the auto-reload I have noticed that the manual one is still allowed when you click on the turret. I don’t see the point on this because usually you may click on them accidentally and losing valuable shots and time. Am I wrong or is there any purpose on this?

          1. Yes, manual reload’s still there so you can manually set off staggered reloading so you’re not left with a bunch of turrets that all run out at the same time, allowing the gids to trample on them. Particularly handy with spreader cannon / multi-blaster combos as you can ensure that the gids are either being stunned or hurt.

            1. yup I’ve used the manual reload quite a bit, less of the selling /rebuilding, actually. It’s pretty useful when you’ve got two or more of any weapon and they seem like overkill until they run out, at which point you’re screwed…the maual reload can really help in situations like that. Also there are occasional lulls in action, which gives a chance to reload. Lastly, with rockets sometimes I don’t want to destroy my own buildings when one gidrah got by my rockets….manual reload is ncie there (it may also be nice if there were a way to temporarily turn off rocckets).

              1. Yep, the manual reload is (for me at least) essential, as before I used it I’d find that particularly with assault & spreader cannons the time it takes to reload them (even with upgrades) meant that I was relying on the weaker turrets and the gids would edge ever closer to my defenses….cue panic stations! This is especially important on boss levels where it can be the one saving grace. Many times I’ve barely survived a boss encounter (and in the process gained the ‘phew, that was close’ medal 🙂 Nice touch there Cas!

  25. Perhaps an adjustable difficulty level would be warranted? That way those of us that want to breeze through at least once can do so. I have very limited time to play, and repeating a level multiple times isn’t my idea of fun anymore.

    1. It’s sort of supposed to do that for you already. And if you’re pressed for time, hit the Generate A New Easier Level button as soon as you lose one, and you’ll most likely make it straight through.

  26. I went straight from 1.70.x to 1.80.9 and like a lot of the changes.

    * Less clicking is awesome!
    * The nerfed upgrades were annoying at first but actually had the intended effect and made the game more strategic for me. Nice!
    * More useful research items, like the permanent upgrades, are cool!

    However, I’ve noticed two major annoying things, which surprisingly only few people have complained about (since 1.80, I didn’t check older posts).

    * The most efficient path to money is to trap the very last titan and mine away until you run out of barricades. This makes no sense within the game world, and makes me feel like I’m cheating whenever I do it. Actually, safely collecting everything does make sense. What doesn’t make sense is that the level ends when the fight ends. Still, I need it to survive and not using this “exploit” (which again only exploits the artifical time limt, not the world logic) would be stupid. Of course, defending refineries should be a part of the game.

    Suggested solution: Only offer to end the level when the main attack has ended, do not force the end. When the timer is up, the titans stop attacking the base and go for the crystals (with our without refineries!) instead, but at a somewhat reduced rate.

    This still encourages strategic deployment of refineries, upgrades and some defences at that stage, but it feels like a bonus instead of being punished for killing things too quickly! The effect is, that the income per level is well-known in advance because most players will end up mining everything, but mining crystals quickly in the beginning is still a valid option (no enemies, just time pressure). Also during the main attack, because these titans would attack you anyway, while the titans in the mining-stage are additional enemies. Finally, in later levels, the aftergame titans might swarm a few of the unmined crystals so much that mining it, while feasible, is no longer economical.

    This also underlines some realism in the world, some balance of powers with isolated titan-infested places remaining despite the attack having ended, because there is no point in driving them out of there. (This is the balance I would strive for at least.) If you want to drive the point home that the titans truly are defeated, let the titans commit suicide attacks against the crystals instead, which slowly destroys the crystals. Whatever the implementation, you can keep mining beyond the main attack if you defend well enough and know how to judge the cost vs the value of the crystals.

    * I dislike the free research and think it actually destroyed some of your balancing options. Due to this restricted balancing, some research options are now entirely pointless and just drain research slots instead of giving something cool. I also disliked the old 1.70 system, because I often wanted to buy the 10k item, but couldn’t afford it, but could neither afford to lose that one-time chance to research something so I researched something less desirable that didn’t fit my current master plan …

    Suggested solutions: Make research cost money again, but drop the artificial limit of 1 item per level. That means more balancing options, less useless place-holders (anything that is not a fork in the tech-tree serves absolutely no purpose anymore), and more ways to fun.

    More importantly to newbies, this also means that people not knowing the tech-tree in advance can catch up to some of the mandatory items quickly, if they played well so far. Also, since you now know the income per level much better because all generated crystals will typically be mined, this essentially cancels out with the additional cost of 1 research item. But it greatly helps to smooth out your success and recover from a single particularly bad level. The overall progress in the tech-tree is still limited by the total amount of available money, so it should be possible to keep almost all players from simply researching everything.

    * Oh, a minor point: Selling during the game is just as good as selling after the battle. It would make more sense and reward a careful deployment if those two differed slightly, like 40% and 50%.

    Well, thanks for reading!
    Daniel

  27. I had completed the game with a 1.7x version and just started playing the latest one with some thought.

    So I initially saw the comments and went with making multiple installations of turrets and thinning down the ranks as you suggested but got stuck by the last planet—there didn’t seem to be any way for me to make money from the crystals, and the big blaster using gidrahs just about trampled over the base by firing over mountains.

    So I restarted, sticking to my initial (1.7x) strategy of making a clump of super-powerful blasters. Honestly speaking, this saves me a lot of money, is much more powerful and manageable. Beyond a point, I only have to press tab and I’m through.

    RIght now I’m at Saturn—recently researched the decoy and used it at the center of an extremely powerful multi blaster and blast cannon setup upgraded with lots of batteries, scanners and cooling towers; with the main base protected with just a few multiblasters to save me from the rank and file of Gidrahs that reached there. The decoy installation just about tore up the attacks while I had to strategically use a few mines to ensure the safety of my main base.

    I’d say that even with the balance changes making a super-powerful base works far better than anything else. As a comparison point, I had completed Saturn previously with just around $9k in most levels—now, even without taking the 2.5k, 7k research grants I’ve been at ~$17k in most levels.

  28. PS Would it be possible for you to make some sort of API to automate the players part—along with making whatever numbers you’re using for calculating damage, hit points, etc. ? Then we guys could try our hands at making an AI to take on the Gidrah AI.

    I’d imagine rather interesting competitions around which AI can survive survival mode for the longest time, and what sort of strategies evolve around this. I’d imagine two computers locked in battle with buildings being made and sold at ridiculous rates, etc.—just about inspired by this post about StarCraft AI competition: http://goo.gl/rLUfZ.

    Considering you’ll be open sourcing the engine at some point (or perhaps you already have and I couldn’t find the code), it should be an interesting experiment.

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