Saturday, October 14, 2017

Introducing White Stars: Asynchronous Co-op with PvP elements and Corporation progression

I've written before about potential star types we're evaluating. Today I'm happy to announce an upcoming new star type that I think will be a great fit for the game. As usual, keep in mind gameplay details are subject to change as we playtest and tweak.


The White Star is a multiple day activity players go into with their Corporation. This mode will bring much deeper co-operation: Corporation members will need to discuss fleet allocation and tactics extensively, before and during the mission. There will also be a strong competitive element, as there's a hostile Corporation operating in the same star, going after the same resources.

If you've been involved in the community, you may have heard about or taken part in heated "PvP" discussions, and whether such a mode would be a good or bad thing for the game. Regardless what you think about PvP, I encourage you to find an active Corporation and try this optional mode when it's online, especially if you care about the game's design pillars. As I explain below, White Stars have been specifically designed to enhance each of the pillars, providing another layer of progression, more meaningful interaction between players, and deeper strategy.

Slowing down time to allow better tactics and social gameplay

Red Stars offer some opportunity for tactics and co-operation, mainly in Private stars when you are part of a good Corporation. But the fact that the real action lasts only 5-10 minutes or so means things are always a bit hectic: there's rarely time to evaluate alternate strategies and weigh pros and cons.

White Stars last for many days (while not final, the star will live for around 7 days). Time passes by very slowly: A route that takes 30 seconds on a Red Star may take 5 hours on the White Star. You don't play this mode in one sitting: Instead, you check developments 2-3 times a day and update orders, if needed.

This slowness is what gives this star its asynchronous nature. A high number of players can play on the same star, without all having to be online at the same time. It also allows planning and updating tactics in a way that's not possible in Red Stars. The long times give ample time to discuss tactics with Corporation members, create and update plans, and adjust them when the circumstances demand it.

The goal in the White Star is to claim Relics for your Corporation. Relics spawn automatically on the planets over time. All 3 ship types will have a unique role to play in the White Star. Transports pick up Relics and have to move them to safety before they can be claimed. Miners can speed up Relic generation by depositing Hydrogen on the planets. Battleships are needed to defend against, or attack the other Corporation's ships. Each participating player will be allowed to send 2 ships in the White Star, one of which can be a Battleship.

Working with and against real players adds a completely new dimention to tactics, that is simply not possible against Cerberus ships. Human players have access to all regular ship types and modules. They can lure you in traps, let you down or come to your rescue when you least expect it.

White Stars will pose many questions that Corporations have to answer together. What ships to send, and when? What modules make the most sense for the specific map and enemy we've been matched against? Which key spots on the maps will we try to control, and how? Which are we happy to leave to the enemy? What is our mining strategy in the early game? Will we play aggressively or defensively? Answering these, and many more questions should result in a fun experience in well-organized Corporations. I am also certain that it will result in a very frustrating experience in loose, unorganized Corporations that don't like to use the chat screen. It will be interesting to see where most participating Corporations will fall in terms of the White Star exprerience they offer to their members.

Corporation Progression

The White Stars will offer much deeper social gameplay and strategy - but what about the third pillar of the game, Progression?

As players participate in White Stars and collect Relics, those Relics are stored on the Corporation regardless of victory or loss. Relics will play a key role in progressing a Corporation and giving it distinct history in the game.

While the first version will just treat Relics as a bragging rights number (similar to Influence), we have future plans to allow Corporations to use their collected Relics over time and gain distinct advantages. In that way, the game will gain another layer of progression: People working together over time to build a Corporation that truly stands out compared to a newly created one.


Hades' Star and other asynchronous social strategy games

Our game was influenced and inspired by excellent asynchronous social strategy games like Neptune's Pride and Subterfuge. With White Stars, this influence will be more pronounced. If you've played those games, you'll immediately understand the time slowdown and social mechanics. In some ways, I believe Hades' Star is better positioned to offer a great and longer lasting social asynchronous game mode:

- White Stars will be introduced a bit later to the game (roughly around RS4), where players will presumably be more committed to the game and are more likely to finish a full multiple-day match. Player engagement will make a big difference in the experience, and players quitting in the middle of a match can be a big problem.

- The Corporation vs Corporation nature gives the White Star a genuine cooperative part - not the frustrating and predictable "let's be friends now so we can betray each other later" "cooperation" found in similar games.

- We plan to keep supporting and evolving the game, with new modules and balancing existing modules, to ensure a great experience over the months and years ahead.

White Stars will be on the next major update, which we expect to come sometime in November.

44 comments:

  1. Sounds VERY exciting! Looks like you've put a lot of time and thought into this! Keep up the great work!

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    1. It looks like it's going to be even better to play, as your team had put a lot into the proses!!

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  2. If PvP is the underlying goal here, will the agility to look at the modules of other's ships be disabled to level the playing field?

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    1. It will not be disabled. The White Star is being designed around full knowledge of where the enemy ships are, what modules they have, and even when the cooldowns of those modules will end.

      In an asynchronous mode like this, the last thing you want is to feel compelled to check in every moment of the day, or even wake up at night. I personally would hate to play this mode if I didn't know that the enemy ship was equipped with Teleport, and when I wake up in the morning find they teleported in the middle of my non combat ships and destroyed them all.

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    2. How will teleport work of it'll take hours to travel a 30 second distance? Will the range be adjusted? Are the travel time only affected or module cooldowns/duration as well?

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    4. Everything that takes time will be slown down, such as travel time, transports loading Relics and module cooldowns. Some things such as Teleporting will still be instant. Most modules will be adjusted for the White Star (i.e. Teleport range will be reduced for higher levels).

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    5. It is mentioned that miner can deposit hydro on planets to speed up rel8c generation, will we run out of asteroids? If that happens will the only waypoint we could do is at planets?

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  3. Wow!
    Great news! Looking forward to!
    Thx for this amazing game!
    Keep going!

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  4. Spaceships sent into a WS battle will not be available for "normal game" for a week?

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  5. The post says that a trip within the white star can take a couple of hours and the whole thing takes days, does that mean that if we send a BS + transport we'll have one less of each to do all the other everyday tasks like shipments and red stars? That'll be tough, players will need to rely a lot more on others for red stars (which can be detrimental if you're not in a good corp) and shipments will take a lot longer to complete.

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    1. The shipyard fleet size limit will increase to accomodate White Stars.

      The goal is to make this mode run in parallel to all your other activities, without interfering with them too much.

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  6. I would erge you to change the dinamic a little in the following way:
    A. If you player can enter with 2 ships they should be any kind they choose.. 2 bs or 2 transp. Or 2 miners..
    That way true corporation cordination will happen.
    B. Open the ability to choose witch ships lvl a player can build insted of upgrades been perminant and make differences betwin them, like high lvl upgrade ships are stronger but slowet while low lvl are weker but faster.. Etc.
    C. There should be a corporation vault for relics and such.
    D. Pvp relics should give uniqe corp abilities for it to be worth while to even enter the mode.
    E.players should be able to sell ships and buy new ones as they see fit.

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  7. I would erge you to change the dinamic a little in the following way:
    A. If you player can enter with 2 ships they should be any kind they choose.. 2 bs or 2 transp. Or 2 miners..
    That way true corporation cordination will happen.
    B. Open the ability to choose witch ships lvl a player can build insted of upgrades been perminant and make differences betwin them, like high lvl upgrade ships are stronger but slowet while low lvl are weker but faster.. Etc.
    C. There should be a corporation vault for relics and such.
    D. Pvp relics should give uniqe corp abilities for it to be worth while to even enter the mode.
    E.players should be able to sell ships and buy new ones as they see fit.

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    1. A) the last thing they want if for everyone to enter 2 battleships. This also means that the highest level players cant carry everyone else pvp wise.

      B) interesting, but punishes player who have invested in high level ships (that cost >25k each)

      C, D) yes, that will be added later (it says so in the post)

      E) you can, kind of. You can't sell ships but you can decommission them (like selling for $0)

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    2. Thx for your thoughts.. But:
      A. Thats the hole point. Higher level players will most likly do battle while lower lvl players will contribute by doing everything else.
      Also if we could implament B.and E then no punishment.. You can sell your ships (and mods) for what you bout then for (minus small % maby) and then get different ships based on specilizayion.

      I realy think this will add a hole knew depth to the game.

      However it all just talk.
      I wish @Andreas Papathanasis would comment on this and give his thoughts ..

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    3. My only concern is, hoping it don't turn out like most other games, having it become just a fighting game, I love the game as it is, having the option is fine but if it's made so it affects anything in game if you don't fight would be not fun

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  8. Would be nice if you could tell your ships to 'hold fire' to have like a truce (which can always be broken)

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  9. If Red Stars aren't meant for PvP perhaps interceptors should target the warp gate of the player that aggrod them if there aren't any of that player's ships nearer. This could cut down on greifing in the cooperative mode.

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    1. Where is the "like" button? That's a great idea.

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    2. A player couldn't just aggro a Sentinal and then leave the Red Star, but it wouldn't stop one player from kiting an Interceptor through another player's transports. The griefing would have to be more transparent.

      It WOULD mean that if I aggro-ed one and lost the fight it wouldn't ruin anyone else's day at least.

      At this point I've had enough bad experiences in Public Red Stars to not even bother. I see no reason not to run two corporate ones back-to-back instead.

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    3. Where is the "like" button? That's a great idea.

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  10. Awesome! Looking forward to it!

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  11. I think its a bad idea combinate pvp content with pve one (artefacts as rewards o.O wtf!) I play this game because it is WITHOUT pvp and many other players too! For me its relaxing after a day of work.. Maybe pvp would ok so the pvp player have a playing meadow but please... without relevant game stuff. Really. Because not everyone like such pecker things in a game.. Why u not creatng more pve things like gas clouds for miner corps?The joke is on them, like always.. really a thing to quitt game. So R.I.P ?

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    1. I see why you don't like it. I personally am a fan. But you do not have to participate in this mode. It will not effect your gameplay. You can still play the game you enjoy in the exact way you want to. Saying you'll quit because they are trying something out and you don't like it, but you'll quit is very,... well I don't see the point in name calling. Still I prefer to say things like. Well this update isn't my thing, but nice work for trying. Hopefully next time you'll do something more to my tastes. Sorry I just dont see where hating benefits you. No one responds well to hate. Send a little compassion and they might actually listen to you. Ps. I really like your gas giant star for miner corps idea :)

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  12. Hi, very interesting!
    Just a question, will you provide some kind of replay during the white star in order to catch up what we missed while sleeping for example? This could be a critical point to understand the enemies tactics. And if yes I am afraid the current replay might be a bit unfit for the long duration (even x15 is too slow for 5 hours to catch up isn'it ?)

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    1. There will be a replay at the end of the match. We also want to have a way to go back in time and see what happened while the White Star is still in progress, though that functionality may not be in the first version.

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  13. I would hope that white stars will be stratefied by corporate influence so that similiar level players are combating. This way early corps are not able to face much more advanced corps but still have the opportunity to gather relics. The value of the relics could also be stratefied just like red stars.

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  14. Just a suggestion. Can we have the option of moving the chat drop down arrow to the top of the screen? When I have something selected, the object's window hinders the chat drop down arrow and more importantly, the chat notification. It's just a detail, but Iwechat a lot during red stars and we tend to miss important messages because we're constantly have an object selected

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    1. Good idea, or maybe for iPad I would love to be able to play horizontally with a chat on the right (just like Twitch.tv)

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  15. Hello, sorry for such a question here, but I and some people do not care about the work of the Time Warp module. Many say that their effect is not summarized. If one module crosses the same module, then yes, in summary the idea is the same, and in addition their time of action decreases. But if the object is located at the intersection of the fields, and the fields themselves will not cross the second modules, then will the acceleration bonus on the object be summed up? Or everything is much simpler - just not summed up and everything, as if there were no other fields?

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  16. People will just make 10 alts and solo white stars, so they don't have to rely on noob corpmates and so they gain more rewards. Especially if that way they can free up 2 ships on their mains. There are already people who use a second account to clear shipments for their mains. Being able to use alts to win more on a main is pretty lame. Don't know how to stop it though.

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  17. Interesting idea, and I think it will appeal to many players. I do feel though that perhaps the pendulum is swinging too far in the opposite direction. We have now very short matches in red stars, and the next major gameplay mode will be extremely long/slow mechanics...it will feel almost like a different game. I would prefer something in between. I'm just having a hard time getting excited about something that will be THAT slow.

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  18. How dose this time affect impact your normal game? If you have to do without ships for days it could cause problems. Also that wouldn't be a true time dialation just slower travel, because if 30s real time equips 2h ws time, your ships should return while still active in the ws (tho I'm not sure how ud work that)

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  19. I just wanted to ask, how will the relics that we got be divided in the white star? i mean we're limited to two ships right? so some might send bs and miner. if they do, would they still be able to get a dividend of the relics. or should they send in a transport before the white star ends?

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    1. Relics will be stored with the Corporation. Any benefits they give (in future updates) will be shared equally by everyone who is a member of the Corporation.

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    2. Thanks for answering my question. My corp and I are excited for the upcomming update! but also a bit worried that the battles migjt not be balanced

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  20. Love the idea! Keep up the good work! One of the best games out there on Android at the moment!

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  21. Just On Teleport - Would it be possible to add a 'charging' that must be activated first, and has a light overlay of the charge timer and teleport range once activated??

    This would make it a bit more tactical instead of just nerfing the range. ie. it might have a 10hr charge period which can be activated anytime after the WS starts, then a 1 or 2 hour time to jump after it is charged and has been activated. This would let players see if the ship is a threat if they get within tele range, and if they do, that the jump drive is warming up. Once charged it would also potentially act as a 'wall/danger zone' to effectively zone ships out of an area.

    I suppose this would basically mean that the mod starts empty/on CD and has a two stage manual activation to charge and teleport. Maybe too complicated....

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  22. I think your game is great, really enjoying having a coop game on iOS. Nice polish. Good ui, fun gameplay. Well done... I honestly only really have one complaint.... and it's pretty minor... but it really annoys me... I kindof hope you don't have a logical reason for it.. and it's just a oversight.... but please allow us to move our short range scanners... why can I move everything else but that... and I'm constantly punished for a bad choice of placement for my 1st one, which I feel is imperfect design... :) thanks for a great game though. I hope to see a reason why you did that or a change to it at some points! Thanks a lot!

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  23. The connection error messages should include the IP address that failed so that I can report them to my ISP for testing & repair.

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