Using the Resource Model
So people are worried the current one hive implementation will encourage turtling while discouraging hive/tech point expansion. We all understand the concern because we have all seen the problems it causes.
Problems in a one hive system tech system:
- It doesn't discourage turtling/inaction, and some times it even encourages turtling/inaction.
- It allows for stalements in which games tend to last so long they get repititive and dull. The endless give and take scenario.
- It doesn't directly reward or encourage the fighting for and control of territory, especially tech points.
- It causes very linear game play and strategies because players will figure out what strategy works best for such a linear resource model.
The original solution was to tie tech to hives in order to force expansion and confrontation. However, tying tech to hives causes a large host of other problems. It makes game play very linear, yet again. Every one knows the tech progression before the game even starts forcing a set strategy. We all know about the second hive rush and lock down. It also causes a slippery slope mechanical problem in which whatever team locks down the critical hive is bound to win. Instead we need a more elegant and simple solution that still encourages player action in some form or another.
The way traditional RTS games handled this dilemma was three fold. First, they made resources limited so you were forced, at some point in the game, to expand out and fight over territory/resource control. Second, they added different resources and made some higher tier and some lower tier; some resources are more valuable for late game than others. Third, the use and introduction of worker units to harvest said resources. This creates a whole number of game play options. How many workers do I designate to the different resources to maximize the effectiveness of my strategy? When do I start gathering higher tier resources? When do I expand to try and acquire more basic resources? Do I focus first on the higher tier resources when I expand or do I first get my basic resource pool going? and so on. This creates very complex game play which rewards players who consider the metagame and react appropriately, if it is turtling up to survive your opponents quick push so you can expand later or if it is taking a risk and quick expanding or if it is dumping workers into higher res sooner so you can tech faster. Get the point? The focus is on action, not inaction. It is "What do I do to maximize my chance of winning?" It isn't, "What do I not do to maxamize my chance of winning."
However, NS2, for many understandable reasons, technically only has one harvestable resource. It then splits it into pres and tres, but it is still coming from the exact same source. You don't have to locate a different type of node to get either pres or tres. As a result, the resource model is extremely linear and simple; The commander's only real choice, when it comes to resources, is deciding when to build a harvester. On top of that, once the node is built the collection rate is steady. He doesn't have to build workers to increase production rate off that node. With a limited amount of nodes per map, this limits options even further. This is why usually you only see teams build the node right by their hive. Again this limits tactical choices by the commander and his team. This has led to the somewhat static game play and strategies we see within public servers. Continued skulk rushes and alien aggression at the beginning, turtling in mid to late game, and a general lack of team work and communication between players. Why does it matter? We only need one hive/tech point and a few res nodes to win right? after that it comes mostly down to the players shooting skills.
This is a rather simple and elegant solution which relies on mechanics already in the game. Being a FPS/RTS hybrid, which ups the game pace substantially, you can't make the economic model to complex. You want players focused more on the dynamic and quickly changing battlefield more than micromanaging harvesters and resources. However, you still want to encourage a few things.
- You want to encourage players to be active and continually fighting over territory, especially techpoints.
- You want players to feel like they're making progress in their goal of defeating the enemy team. it can be through holding a territory, tech point, or node or it can be taking a tech point, node, or territory or it can be through life form and tech upgrades or it can be through a combination of a number of options. However, it requires and focuses on player action more than inaction.
- You want to reward players for their actions, for risking something in order to gain control of that tech point, resource node, or territory.
- You want to provide players with a very non-linear experience by giving them a plethora of options and possibilities to choose from while making the actual mechanics they interact with smooth, simple, and elegant as possible. Just because something is easy to use doesn't mean it can't provide a deep experience.
In order to accomplish this, I would argue tech points should directly be tied to resource collection rates. The more tech points you have built the quicker/more resources your nodes collect. This accomplishes everything from the list above by complicating the resource model while making it simple to use and understand. It also insures games keep a smooth ebb and flow to them because it will take time for the extra resources to actually kick in and shift the balance of the game. This gives the player time to consider their options in countering their enemy. They could wage a full frontal assault on one of the player's tech points, they could go after their nodes since they might be easier to kill, they could divert their resources to trying to expand their node control, they can try and get a tech point of their own, they could do a combination of all three, or they could do a number of other things. However, the important part is they have choices to make which reward them, make them feel like they're making progress, keeps them focus on action not inaction, and keeps the game play new and fresh. Lastly, it also encourages continual action through territory control and scouting. It becomes very important to know where and when your player has put up a tech point because the sooner you know, the sooner you can react.