Lifeforms for free!
This is not really a finished Idea, just a little something I would like some additional perspective on. In case the title didn't give it away, I would like to discuss the alien resource model. This is rather long. If you are only interested in the idea with respect to gameplay, I suggest you skip to that section (Hypothetical Details (gameplay)).
I know the devs have mentioned a 'unified resource model'. They probably have something neat planned, I am aware of that. I still think this is worth half a thought. I did do a search, but I didn't find anything similar. Feel free to claim credits, link to a thread if possible, I'd like to read it -.-The IdeaI would like to scrap the alien resources completely. I want alien buildings, tech and lifeforms to be driven by infestation alone.
In the rest of this post I will try to flesh this out a bit, tell you why I think it would be cool, add some details to how I think it should work. I'd like your input. Cool! (motivations)
First of, I think it is very very strange that the Kharaa are so dependent on nanosludge. I mean, these are supossed to be interstellar bad-boy bacteria. Why would they completely rely on some arbitrary compound used by humans. Makes no sense.
On the other hand, having the bacteria drive the bacteria seems a lot more natural. Having buildings and lifeforms simply grow out of the goo whenever they are "needed" and there is "enough" goo seems pretty straight forward (and interstellar bad-ass).
Secondly, dynamic infestation is way cool. I think all of us would like it to have a central role in gameplay. Simply leaving it as eyecandy would be a sin of magnitude.
I also think it goes extremely well with the 'completely different sides' pillar of NS2.
Further down, I will propose that lifeforms are (sort of) free. In line with the marines buying their own equipment, I think this could work out nicely. There's a lot of but's and if's though, so I suggest you read on.
The marines will still be focused on single points of interest, resource nodes, and the alien team will be focused on infestation (which will pretty much be just general control of as much territory as possible). I think asymmetric interests would make areas vary in importance from team to team, and ultimately result in a lot of tactical diversity. This is heavy on the guessing though, all offset by things like squad spawning.
This would probably work wonderfully with dynamic hive locations. In fact, I also think dynamic hive locations is needed to make this thing work, but I'll get to that.
I remember, back when we still had new players coming into ns, that once in a while you would meet a newbie (noob...) who had somehow gotten a notion of something he called "MY RES!". This terrible misconception would not make it into NS2 if resources was removed. Rather, this would emphasize that aliens are fighting for the collective, fighting for the infestation. Hypothetical Details (gameplay)
The resources today drive two main aspects of the alien game. Resources allow aliens to build structures (or so it is in the current NS, and I will use that as a base), and evolve into nastier lifeforms. I trust you will complain if you find my assumptions unreasonable. Value
I think I have to introduce some notion of value here in order to make sense. Resources in the current NS have value because they represent an investment of time on behalf of the players. This idea is about getting rid of the resource system, while still retaining value.
I'll throw in an example here, because I think I'm getting terribly abstract.
Fading in classic is fun. (Fading in) combat is not. We all know the feeling of rounding the last corner to safety with 20ish hp after having met a pair of over-friendly shotguns. Almost dying as a fade (in classic) is the most exhilarating game experiences I've ever had the pleasure of repeating. I will venture that it is so exiting because it really matters if you die. As a fade, you represent a huge investment of time from your entire team (Both past and future, as you are more likely to lose if you die in stupid ways). In short, classic fades have a lot of value. Playing a fade in combat is almost exactly the same game, only it's very boring. I think this is somehow related to the free-ness of the fade. The lack of consequences for getting dead.
This is essentially what I need you to help me explore. Is it possible to remove the alien resources, while keeping value?
I am going to propose another value scheme here, but I would like to discuss any alternative schemes you might come up with, as this one sort of fails in exactly the fade example above.
So, dynamic infestation generate something, let's call it excessive bacteria. The more DI, the more excessive bacteria (by rough estimate of area or precise calculation of volume - details details). There would be no pool for this, only the rate is important. Alien lifeforms (and structures) all have an upkeep. They continuously require a certain amount of excessive bacteria. Should the marines make a push and torch some infestation, reducing the amount of excessive bacteria to a level below the total upkeep, nothing should happen. Fades keep flying, chambers keep working, but new buildings and lifeforms can only be created when there is sufficient surplus to support them. And to add a little flavor, I would have the DI grow at some minimum rate plus an additional rate proportional to the unused bacteria (excessive excessive bacteria -.-). The aliens would need to balance map control with actual growth, which sounds potentially deep to me.
I am not sure excessive resources should have any numerical representations in game. Information about income, and how it is spent, should of course be readily available to the player, but I don't feel the need to print numbers on the screen. While it might be simple and effective, I think it breaks the whole organic theme. Buildings
I do not presume to know how the chambers will work in NS2, so I am not going to go into details. I will merely suggest a general principle. The basic idea is that the infestation in a certain area decides (by hint from gorge or alien commander) that it is time to gather up and be a chamber of some sort. Building buildings is simply a matter of organizing goo, so to speak. Each building will then have an upkeep. There has to be sufficient goo in the area first, which limits structures to alien controlled territory.
Hives should be the same, in this respect, only require more space and goo than your average building. Lifeforms
The game today progresses through various distinct stages in a single game, dictated largely by what aliens are roaming the field. This is a great thing, and I would like to keep that. Today, lifeforms are locked simply by their cost. This was not always the case though, and part of this idea is actually a return to NS 1.0x. I would like hives to unlock lifeforms (1 hive - lerk, 2 hives - fade, 3 hives - onos, as in the good old days).
The old ways suffered horribly from 2-hive lockdowns. I'm not going into anecdotes here, I'll just mention that as the main problem. However! Dynamic hive locations!
If the aliens can hive anywhere with enough room, lockdowns are fair game. Should the aliens be unable to achieve enough map-control to capture a suitable spot, they are likely going to lose soon anyway. And I believe this would add value to fades. Not individual fades, I will get to that, but to the ability to fade. (Oni can be reverted to their old role as super-end-gamers-of-doom. Letting them deserve their name and ending those terrible last stands).
This is not essential. With fixed hive locations, I'd have all lifeforms available all the time. I think the game would lose debt though, by not featuring progression and variation in the available alien lifeforms.
Having lifeform upkeep has other benefits, and some drawbacks. I'll assume squad spawning in NS2.
The squad respawning gives the marines a lot of staying power. And I expect they will have a lot of guns too.
Naturally, I expect that we (us, brothers, aliens) will lose an awful lot of fades to the ever-present shirtguns. (*)
Which would matter A LOT by the old resource scheme. I am pretty sure that it would be really hard to balance, especially without making fades truly devastating in the right (wrong) hands.
Having the lifeforms on upkeep would make this a lot easier. Being a fade would cost your team resources. Fighting hard, sometimes dying, would not. This is not perfect, the greatest problem being highlighted by the example above (no individual value), but it does have a positive side. It would be a lot easier for new players to mess around with fades in order to learn, because the whole team doesn't have to put up with a huge one-time investment, wasted over and over again on pointless deaths. Being good fade is still encouraged, and simply surviving by picking off weak foes will waste your team's efforts. Balancing the gestation time so that it adds value to individual lifeforms is possible. As you pay up front, I think newbies are less likely to be frustrated over long gestations. After all, if they die, they can immediately decide to go do something else.
(*) Who said the average kills per death for each team should be 1? I say remove the scoreboard! And let the aliens die a lot.Final Ramblings
There's always going to be lamers around. People going onos in a vent, just to ruin the game for everyone. I don't feel the need to design any precautions against this. Talk to the new people, explain how it works. I remember the old resource model, where gorges would get more than everybody else. And I remember it being explained to me in a nice and polite way. Ban the idiots. One of the great things about ns is that you completely depend on you teammates. I don't think you can design a system where you completely depend on others, while they can't mess everything up. I'd much rather have a game that is potentially great than guaranteed mediocre.
What do you think? Too long, didn't read?
Private - I'll be the one running away, screaming like a little girl. Eeeeeeee... .