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Homeworld Remastered 2.0 
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Post Homeworld Remastered 2.0
In case it didn't reach anyone here by other channels, the long promised big patch for Homeworld Remastered finally came out. Lots of cool things about it, the patch notes are a bit low on detail in some areas but still give a good idea what's in it. The headliners are formations and tactics that now work a lot more like Homeworld 1, but that's not all thats in there. The game is on Good Old Games now too, if you don't like Steam.

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Tue Jun 07, 2016 9:09 am
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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
I'll have to try this again. Remembered that when I first got this version, I was disappointed, especially in the remastering of the original campaign.


Thu Jun 09, 2016 10:48 pm
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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
Ah, crap... There goes my weekend again... :lol:

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Fri Jun 10, 2016 10:05 am
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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
I never beat it the last time around... the Last mission kept kicking my butt. Any advise on my next attempt in the remastered version?


Fri Jun 10, 2016 12:55 pm
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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
Quazel wrote:
I never beat it the last time around... the Last mission kept kicking my butt. Any advise on my next attempt in the remastered version?

Thanks the the fleet scaling system your best bet is not to have to many ships (ie all the ion cannon frigates from the gravity well mission) so say you have 50-60 frigates not only is it going to take those frigates 4-5 mins to get into a formation and a position so that you can use them to defend the mothership with they will also cause the enemy to spawn more ships to come after your mother ship so having 15-20 frigates works better as you can get them into formation and position in 30 secs in that final mission i normally split my caps to deal with one fleet my fighters to harass another/the recourcing location above your mothership and my frigates to deal with the other fleet as part of this i use my salvage corvets to capture any capital ships my frigates are facing then any my fighters are facing then the ones my caps are fighting (with all squads prioritize destroying the frigates in all fleets as your salavge corvets can normally capture most of the caps especially if you engage away from your MS then tell your forces to fire and retreat towards the MS)


Mon Jun 13, 2016 2:50 am
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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
uthilian wrote:
Quazel wrote:
I never beat it the last time around... the Last mission kept kicking my butt. Any advise on my next attempt in the remastered version?

Thanks the the fleet scaling system your best bet is not to have to many ships (ie all the ion cannon frigates from the gravity well mission) so say you have 50-60 frigates not only is it going to take those frigates 4-5 mins to get into a formation and a position so that you can use them to defend the mothership with they will also cause the enemy to spawn more ships to come after your mother ship so having 15-20 frigates works better as you can get them into formation and position in 30 secs in that final mission i normally split my caps to deal with one fleet my fighters to harass another/the recourcing location above your mothership and my frigates to deal with the other fleet as part of this i use my salvage corvets to capture any capital ships my frigates are facing then any my fighters are facing then the ones my caps are fighting (with all squads prioritize destroying the frigates in all fleets as your salavge corvets can normally capture most of the caps especially if you engage away from your MS then tell your forces to fire and retreat towards the MS)


Scaling is one of those things I consider a cardinal sin in video gaming.
If you scale up to "meet" the player's resources, you basically obviate any and all incentive to do better than the "minimum" required. If you scale down, you obviate any and all incentive to do good, and in some ridiculous cases incentivize doing bad.

That always bothered me about the HW2 engine. The enemy should have X resources, whether you've been doing fan-fucking-tastically, or have been completely derping. If you got into an Unwinnable situation, well, that's what autosaves are for. If you've been doing so crazily good that your fleet primarily consists of ships you've liberated from the enemy, you should steamroll, because you've earned it.


Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:41 pm
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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
Scaling usually goes sour, but it does exist for a reason, to try to make your current mastery of the game always relevant, regardless of how good or bad you were doing earlier. Even if that's a good idea, the systems to do it are usually pretty damn flawed, unfortunately. Homeworld 1 actually had scaling faculties in the engine too, but they were only used to scale enemy ship count once or twice. The rest of the time what they do is make levels have more resources if you've fallen behind, which is a conceptually appealing solution.

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Thu Jul 14, 2016 5:30 pm
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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
Siber wrote:
Scaling usually goes sour, but it does exist for a reason, to try to make your current mastery of the game always relevant, regardless of how good or bad you were doing earlier. Even if that's a good idea, the systems to do it are usually pretty damn flawed, unfortunately. Homeworld 1 actually had scaling faculties in the engine too, but they were only used to scale enemy ship count once or twice. The rest of the time what they do is make levels have more resources if you've fallen behind, which is a conceptually appealing solution.


The third and the final missions of HW1 are good examples of where scaling goes completely tits-up. In the third mission, you won't have bombers yet, but the enemy will have frigates. If you built an epic shitpile of interceptors to hammer the Turanics in mission 2, you'll have so many frigates that you won't be able to rescue most of the cryo-trays.

Rather annoyingly, the optimal solution in mission 3 is to decommission all of your interceptors and build as many salvage corvettes as you can, ensuring that you'll be able to make off with all of their assault frigates.

Anyway, I do agree with scaling the available resources if the player has fallen behind - that's basically invisible, and less possible to "cheese," the way with Mission 3 of HWR, and there's also less need to cheese because if it's not kicking in at all, you're already doing aces and probably are the kind of laughing bandit who makes away with half the enemy fleet every mission.


Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:15 am
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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
The problem with auto-scaling enemy forces is that it makes player power progression meaningless. If there's no advantage to building more ships, why would you?

In the new World of Warcraft expansion, the new zones rather being level-specific will scale to the level of the character. This allows the player to tackle the zones in any order, and it's only like 4 zones, so it's not a big deal... but if you try to apply this principle to all zones, then character level itself becomes meaningless. What is the point of increasing your level or getting better gear if every opponent is auto-scaled to your current power level? You've just cut out any reason to progress your character, which is like 90% of the game. Why spend time killing giant rats in Elwynn Forest at level 1 when you can go knock on the Lich King's fortress?

The whole point of power progression is that the player feels accomplishment when gaining power; he can now defeat opponents that were previously too much for him. Auto-scaling opponents destroys this whole element of progression. It's a fundamentally bad mechanism.

Obviously, opponents need to increase in power as the player does, but this should be done independently. In scenario or zone based content, this is easily done by having each successive scenario or zone populated by increasingly powerful opponents. In games like XCOM, the power of opponents increases as time passes, independently of what the player is doing.

The problem in Homeworld is caused by the ability to capture enemy ships and use them, in particular past the artificial unit cap that your own constructed ships must observe. Being able to capture ships is hard enough to balance, but the cap issue makes it absolutely ridiculous, allowing a player to amass an absurd number of ships.

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Fri Jul 15, 2016 2:19 pm
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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
Arioch wrote:
The problem with auto-scaling enemy forces is that it makes player power progression meaningless. If there's no advantage to building more ships, why would you?


It can generate situations (like I cited above with HW mission 3,) where doing too well actually makes things far harder than it should be, or outright impossible. Too many interceptors or scouts in HW1 carried over from mission 2, and you're basically hosed.


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The whole point of power progression is that the player feels accomplishment when gaining power; he can now defeat opponents that were previously too much for him. Auto-scaling opponents destroys this whole element of progression. It's a fundamentally bad mechanism.


Nail, head.

Quote:
Obviously, opponents need to increase in power as the player does, but this should be done independently. In scenario or zone based content, this is easily done by having each successive scenario or zone populated by increasingly powerful opponents. In games like XCOM, the power of opponents increases as time passes, independently of what the player is doing.


There does need to be a catchup mechanism in place for the player for long games like XCOM, though, so the player doesn't wind up facing a long, slow grind to inevitable failure that they can see coming but cannot avert unless the RNG decides to heavily favor them (IE, they savescum like a boss.) Unless savescumming is the intentional catchup mechanism, anyway. Otherwise, players become very easily discouraged at the first setback as they fear any failure or mistake is the first step upon the punishing, unforgiving road of the slippery slope to inevitable failure. This feeds into the savescumming thing, really.

Quote:
The problem in Homeworld is caused by the ability to capture enemy ships and use them, in particular past the artificial unit cap that your own constructed ships must observe. Being able to capture ships is hard enough to balance, but the cap issue makes it absolutely ridiculous, allowing a player to amass an absurd number of ships.


I'm not sure that it's a problem, honestly: capturing the enemy's ships is the "like a boss" way to do things; it's usually more difficult and requires more skill and tactics than just throwing a disgusting pile of salvage corvettes at the enemy, as that's typically a great way to get them blown away whilst accomplishing sweet FA. It should be rewarded commensurately with the ability to just dogpile the enemy with a fleet of his own captured warships when you decide to go all-in, not punished by the enemy throwing ever-more ridiculously huge fleets at you.

Enemy power scaling, the unit cap, and relying on the unit cap to sanity-cap enemy power scaling, are the real problem. Hell, if they'd wanted to, they could have set it up so you can have as large a fleet as you like, but anything up to the unit cap is held in reserve in hyperspace, ready to warp into the field when and where needed.


Fri Jul 15, 2016 3:19 pm
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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
ShadowDragon8685 wrote:
There does need to be a catchup mechanism in place for the player for long games like XCOM, though, so the player doesn't wind up facing a long, slow grind to inevitable failure that they can see coming but cannot avert unless the RNG decides to heavily favor them (IE, they savescum like a boss.)

I don't think this is really necessary; falling behind is the main mode of failure in XCOM. XCOM2 provides some nice features that give you additional options when you're starting to fall behind (such as being able to purchase experienced soldiers in the later game), or end the game when you've fallen too far behind (with the Avatar Project timer), but falling behind is still the "normal" way you lose the game.

And there's some middle ground between savescumming every shot, and being able to replay a mission when you get wiped out.

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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
hi hi

I know that oftentimes in games like Chess or Go, one player resigns before the game reaches a mechanical conclusion. And sometimes, it makes for a truly epic story when someone who has fallen behind manages to catch up again.

Playing old school X-Com, one of my favorite moments was when I was falling way behind, and then by chance, managed to stumble across a key alien resupply base and take it out. It catapulted me from being on the verge of overwhelmed, to back in the game again.


Fri Jul 15, 2016 4:10 pm
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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
Arioch wrote:
I don't think this is really necessary; falling behind is the main mode of failure in XCOM. XCOM2 provides some nice features that give you additional options when you're starting to fall behind (such as being able to purchase experienced soldiers in the later game), or end the game when you've fallen too far behind (with the Avatar Project timer), but falling behind is still the "normal" way you lose the game.


Underlined bit is what I consider to be the problem; if the player perceives that failure is inevitable, they have lost all incentive to play. If there's no possibility for a turnaround, why even continue? Just concede defeat; it's not like your homeworld is literally on the line, so you may as well just start a new game.

That's why there needs to be a way for the player to catch up - to give them an incentive to actually keep playing, instead of just saying "Well, this is pointless, gonna go play Shadow of Mordor instead."

Quote:
And there's some middle ground between savescumming every shot, and being able to replay a mission when you get wiped out.


Which actually segues nicely into my not-random choice to cite Shadow of Mordor up there.
Shadow of Mordor, in my opinion, does defeat right. It is entirely possible for the player to wind up so over their heads that no reasonable amount of player skill or stat-buffing will save them, but the penalties for failure are not severe. It's a setback, not "gg no re," and there's basically little slippery-slope; situations where you can see your demise coming but are powerless to do more than delay it are rare, and even if you do get your HP reduced to null, you can recover with a QTE and go back up to your last-chance HP; the QTE gets a lot harder the more often it happens, but it doesn't become impossible.

And when you do die, the penalty is basically nil; you respawn sometime later, and the Uruk that killed you has been buffed, entering the named enemy system if he wasn't already, or becoming more powerful if he was. This can actually work to your advantage, if you want to get a particular Uruk tougher before offing him/turning him into your pawn.

The result is that the player is not disincentivized to keep playing, even if they're facing really long odds. In XCOM, if you face really long odds and lose, the odds become even longer on the next fight, creating a snowball-of-failure effect where failing to succeed against stupidly difficult odds is punished by even more ridiculously punishing odds. In Shadow of Mordor, that... Does not happen. If you lose to the same Uruk too many times in a row, you have options: you can go do something else to power up, you can try to arrange an attack under favorable circumstances to you, you can try to compromise his bodyguards or other nearby Uruk and get them to join battle on your side, you can arrange to fight him in the company of dangerous and huge beasts, or investigate him and prey upon his weaknesses and fears, assuming he has any left.


Fri Jul 15, 2016 4:10 pm
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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
ShadowDragon8685 wrote:
Underlined bit is what I consider to be the problem; if the player perceives that failure is inevitable, they have lost all incentive to play. If there's no possibility for a turnaround, why even continue? Just concede defeat; it's not like your homeworld is literally on the line, so you may as well just start a new game.

That's why there needs to be a way for the player to catch up - to give them an incentive to actually keep playing, instead of just saying "Well, this is pointless, gonna go play Shadow of Mordor instead."

That XCOM is unforgiving is part of its charm. XCOM2 adds some limited catch-up mechanisms and mercy-rule mechanisms, and it allows you to change the difficulty level at will mid-campaign, but you can still lose the game. If you fall hopelessly behind, it's time to quit or start over. There are games that are designed so that the player essentially can't lose, but XCOM is definitely not one of those games, and I think it would be diminished if they tried to make it into that kind of game.

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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
Arioch wrote:
ShadowDragon8685 wrote:
Underlined bit is what I consider to be the problem; if the player perceives that failure is inevitable, they have lost all incentive to play. If there's no possibility for a turnaround, why even continue? Just concede defeat; it's not like your homeworld is literally on the line, so you may as well just start a new game.

That's why there needs to be a way for the player to catch up - to give them an incentive to actually keep playing, instead of just saying "Well, this is pointless, gonna go play Shadow of Mordor instead."

That XCOM is unforgiving is part of its charm. XCOM2 adds some limited catch-up mechanisms and mercy-rule mechanisms, and it allows you to change the difficulty level at will mid-campaign, but you can still lose the game. If you fall hopelessly behind, it's time to quit or start over. There are games that are designed so that the player essentially can't lose, but XCOM is definitely not one of those games, and I think it would be diminished if they tried to make it into that kind of game.


I'm not saying that losing should be absolutely impossible in all games, I just happen to think that if it comes up, it should be sudden, coming on swiftly, not be a death by inches. Even if the player suffers setbacks, they should never damage his ability to continue to the point that defeat is inevitable and he questions why he bothers continuing; any fight, every fight, could be the one where it turns around hard, right up to the point where things go cataclysmic and game over swiftly follows.

Like icekatz's example: he was in dire straits, almost on the ropes, not at the point where he was questioning why he was even bothering to play, and then suddenly, bam! Turnaround time. But if that kind of thing doesn't go well, a loss there should segue directly into game over; no reason to draw it out sadistically, or to make the player just say "screw this" and abandon the game, leaving it unfinished.


Fri Jul 15, 2016 5:00 pm
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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
Well, the game becoming too hard isn't the only problem homeworld faces, becoming too easy could also be the death of a game. If you get way ahead of the curve by the fourth or fifth mission and nothing happens that 'resets' that state, you've got a lot of easy mode ahead of you. Rewarding the player for doing good is one thing, but bordem isn't very rewarding. I think that's something that motivates a lot of the scaling mechanics in video games. Most RTS campaigns reset you each mission, either largely or completely, so the snowballing inherent in a strategy game gets contained. Even XCOM does that to a degree by capping how many soldiers you can have in a fight, though equipment and soldier progression has been known to make late game missions boring for some people.

I don't disagree that the hw2 scaling mechanic is anti-fun for many people, myself among them, but I haven't really come up with great solutions for the problems it attempts to address, either.

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Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:39 pm
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Post Re: Homeworld Remastered 2.0
hi hi

As a game designer myself, I can tell you that positive and negative feedback loops are things that get a lot of thought put into them from start to finish.

Andrzej Marczewski has a good overview of positive and negative feedback. But basically, any particularly long running game is going to need both positive feedback loops and negative loops to kick in at different points in order to prevent players from getting bored or frustrated. One example of the interplay between different feedback loops in real life is how hunger propels a predator to hunt, and then eating food provides energy for it to hunt more, and failing to eat food reduces its energy for hunting; but having too much food also propels a predator to become lethargic or become overweight and its hunting capacity decreases.

Positive feedback loops are generally a lot easier to work with than negative feedback loops, and what Homeworld 2 really needed was a well designed negative feedback loop to prevent players from becoming overly successful and bored. Instead, they made a rather poorly designed positive loop for the AI, which for a lot of players, seems to magically counter their every move. If you can manage to hide a Psychic AI under the bed so that people don't realize it, then one might squeak by, but if people realize that the AI is blatantly cheating, they're generally not going to feel happy about it.

The exception to that is where this next point comes in. Different challenge types. There are several basic kinds of challenge and even those can be broken down into subcategories in a game. A game where you fight against an AI with perfect aim might be enjoyable if the AI is deficient in other ways that allows a player to get the upper hand, like not noticing explosive mines affixed to doorways.

Part of Homeworld 2's problem is that there was only one real mode of challenge, optimizing production of rocks, paper, or scissors. Another part of the problem was that, in an effort to make the game more fast paced than its predecessor, the feedback loop was able to progress a lot faster as well, apparently beyond the ability of many people to respond to it.

If a game designer can implement more than one kind of challenge, they can allow a player to follow a feedback loop and become very strong in one regard, while making things harder in another way. In many real time strategy games, one way they do this is by increasing the strength of micromanagement as troop size decreases, and decreasing the strength of micromanagement when troop size increases. (Click's per minute on production, vs clicks per minute on unit actions.)

If I were to make a Homeworld style game, where resources are carried over from mission to mission, I might try to include a maintenance and optimization mechanic. (Something like this was used in Mechcommander, which is a favorite game of mine which also has resource carryover.) Similar to the unit cap per mission, but more of a soft cap, having the ability to upgrade surviving ships into veteran units with abilities optimized to one's gameplay style would help cut down on player power creep, so long as there is only so much maintenance capacity between missions to go around.

If players see that they can only keep X value of units in prime fighting condition between games, they may decide it is worth it to scrap a larger fleet in favor of a mechanically less powerful, but more easily controllable fleet. Or they might decide to keep some of the fleet in mothballs in reserve, in case they have a bad run on another mission. Or they might decide to bring all of them in for an important battle, knowing that many of them will be fighting at reduced capacity, but its ok because they just need to buy time for objective Y to happen.

That, I think, could work well to prevent cross-level creep, while still rewarding players who complete a level without many losses. But for in-level power feedback, which Homeworld 2 was also pretty brutal about, I think one way to add a negative feedback loop without strictly punishing the player for their success would be to have things happen that are not directly related to the victory conditions. Like in Ender's game, the victory condition was not defeating the enemy forces, the victory condition was reaching the goal. If you have ships with strategic utility that is not a function of destroying the enemy fleet better, you can include goals that don't just involve "rock, paper, scissoring," the enemy fleet better.


Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:58 pm
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