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Author Topic: An expedition rework idea  (Read 393 times)

intrinsic_parity

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An expedition rework idea
« on: August 18, 2021, 03:15:37 PM »

I'll start by saying I think it's generally understood that current expeditions are somewhat of a placeholder endgame that will be expanded upon, and so it's expected that they aren't super polished.


Long winded discussion of the gameplay function of expeditions:
My understanding of the gameplay function of expeditions in the current game is that they are a mechanism primarily to impede the player from setting and forgetting their colonies for passive income.

In my opinion, this should be the role of pirates, not factions. Pirate raids, pirate activity, and pirates bases are enough to force the player to invest in defenses and require player actions to get colonies off the ground. In my opinion, it's fine if the player can get their defenses to a point where they can stop paying attention to their colonies, as long as it is sufficiently difficult and expensive to get to that point. In other words, it should be 'upfront' difficulty rather than 'grindy' difficulty.

One of my biggest issues with the current end game is that expeditions are mostly just an annoyance once you get max defenses up, it just becomes a reputation tax. I think this is both unfun, and also somewhat strange from a 'lore' perspective (why are the factions chill with sending massive fleets endlessly to their deaths as long as you do one delivery mission for them each month). I think having a mechanic where you have to perpetually do trivial tasks in an endgame is just generally bad. The price for having colonies should be in the difficulty of getting them to that end-game power level IMO.

My goal with this suggestion is to come up with a system where expeditions are a more 'upfront' cost to establishing colonies that is difficult in a fun way, and also makes more sense thematically/within the lore.


The suggestion:
Expeditions are one time events for each factions. Perhaps once per colony per faction, or once per industry type per faction, but some small finite number of times.

When you initially reach the threshold of production (or free port or whatever) for triggering an expedition, you are given the option to shut down the industry, pay some (large) portion of your income/production to the faction every month, or refuse. Paying a fraction of income should be a way of delaying the expedition i.e. you can stop paying at a later date and trigger the expedition then. It should be enough of your income that you really don't want to do it forever. Maybe the faction could demand more and more as you grow or something. Once you refuse, there is a delay before the expedition is sent, and maybe you can leverage contacts to get more info about when it will happen and what it will entail.

Since the expedition is a one-time thing, it should be a 'boss battle' type event. I personally thing that the 'endless waves of capital ships' type stuff from nex is not that engaging, so what I would propose would be that each faction has a unique boss ship that only gets sent during expeditions and isn't recoverable. The expedition is trying to take your colony from you, so you need to win to avoid losing the colony. The idea is that you really shouldn't be able to avoid losing your colony without fighting yourself, and it should be hard, even for a mid-late game fleet with a max level station.

Once you defeat the factions expedition, they should stop bothering you because you stood up to their best shot. They also probably shouldn't like you much anymore, but that's more a reputation thing than an expedition thing. Maybe there could be an alternate path with a commissions faction to avoid expeditions or something.

The idea is that the expedition system limits the income you can get from colonies until you can beat the bosses. You have to keep them small/under the radar, or have your income heavily reduced if you can't beat the bosses. It also creates a situation where it's actually reasonable to make sacrifices/lose ships to win, which is something I really want to see in the game. Ideally, it adds a big upfront dose of difficulty to making super colonies, but eliminates the annoying long-term rep tax.
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Jotisan

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Re: An expedition rework idea
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2021, 05:01:40 PM »

Interesting idea, I don't particularly like expeditions, but they are a constant danger, especially if you are using AI, maybe reorder the relationship system with the factions where if you are using AI or taking a good part of the market, but having a good relationship they don't attack you, they just turn a blind eye (or maybe pay the pirates to attack you), and if the relationship is bad they send expeditions, and then the player can pay them or fight the expedition as you suggested.

And perhaps changing how colony development takes place, where small colonies (of small factions) are not seen as threats, only when they take part in the market for a particular product or reach an 'enviable' level of development can expeditions to occur.
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: An expedition rework idea
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2021, 05:26:49 PM »

Interesting idea, I don't particularly like expeditions, but they are a constant danger, especially if you are using AI, maybe reorder the relationship system with the factions where if you are using AI or taking a good part of the market, but having a good relationship they don't attack you, they just turn a blind eye (or maybe pay the pirates to attack you), and if the relationship is bad they send expeditions, and then the player can pay them or fight the expedition as you suggested.
I don't agree that expeditions are actually constant threat. Once you get two or more colonies with max defenses in the same system, expeditions always get defeated in orbit. Then they just become a reputations tax, which is sort of the motivation for the suggestion. I want to get away from periodic expeditions because I don't think it's interesting for an end game.

Also, I believe hegemony AI inspection are a completely separate mechanic from expeditions, although they play out in a similar way. AI inspections could potentially stay they way they are to regulate player AI use.


And perhaps changing how colony development takes place, where small colonies (of small factions) are not seen as threats, only when they take part in the market for a particular product or reach an 'enviable' level of development can expeditions to occur.
I think this is how it already works, i.e. the factions only start bothering you when you reach a certain level of production/colony size, but I could be wrong. If that's not how it already works, then that's definitely part of my suggestion.
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Megas

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Re: An expedition rework idea
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2021, 05:29:38 PM »

Expeditions is a part of the babysitting problem.  Player needs to grind for rep to fix rep losses.  Makes wiping all core worlds off the map with sat bombs or repeated raiding and waiting to force decivilization is a very tempting long term solution to stop the expeditions and have peace of mind despite income loss.

I would like to threaten them with total annihilation if they do not back off with expedition spam, and the indies too if they are dumb enough to side with my enemies because they cannot deal with a sat bomb aimed at an overly aggressive major faction that is too dumb to back off.

I think this is how it already works, i.e. the factions only start bothering you when you reach a certain level of production/colony size, but I could be wrong. If that's not how it already works, then that's definitely part of my suggestion.
Major factions do not bother with size 3 colonies.  Pirates might still raid though.
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SCC

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Re: An expedition rework idea
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2021, 10:48:51 PM »

I think it would be nice, if those boss expeditions had multiple angles of attack to them. When you get notified of it, you could have several tools to prepare for it: bribes, raids or attacking convoys could be used to divert resources from the expedition, obtain plans of attack, sabotage shipyards, so on.
That said, I expect that it's rather the -*%endgame enemy%*- will be made with multiple activities in mind.

ubuntufreakdragon

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Re: An expedition rework idea
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2021, 05:19:38 AM »

I would rather like to see the expedition likeliness dependent on defences and current reputation.
<sarcasm inside>A colony with a low level mining op of your friends with a Star Fortress above, locks like an ideal target to the current AI.</sarcasm inside>
If the value of the target is much smaller than reputation + defence rating there shouldn't any expedition at all.
A system similar to pather interest.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2021, 06:08:14 AM by ubuntufreakdragon »
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: An expedition rework idea
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2021, 10:13:53 AM »

I think it would be nice, if those boss expeditions had multiple angles of attack to them. When you get notified of it, you could have several tools to prepare for it: bribes, raids or attacking convoys could be used to divert resources from the expedition, obtain plans of attack, sabotage shipyards, so on.
That said, I expect that it's rather the -*%endgame enemy%*- will be made with multiple activities in mind.
I really like this idea. Thinking about it a bit more, current expeditions are really lacking interactivity because you find out about them too late to do anything besides fight them yourself. There is not time to reinforce/ build up defenses or interfere with them or do anything like that. Adding that would make them feel better, although I really don't like the periodic nature of current expeditions. It's too repetitive once you've established an endgame fleet and colonies IMO.

I would rather like to see the expedition likeliness dependent on defences and current reputation.
A colony with a low level mining op of your friends with a Star Fortress above, locks like an ideal target to the current AI.
If the value of the target is much smaller than reputation + defence rating there shouldn't any expedition at all.
A system similar to pather interest.
I don't think it makes sense to use defense rating. Then you could not build defenses to avoid expeditions, which is the opposite of what expeditions are supposed to do. The point of expeditions is to test your defenses, so they should come regardless of how much you've invested in defenses.

I do agree that expeditions shouldn't come too early, but I think the game already tries to do that. I'm pretty sure expeditions are triggered by colony size + industry output. That makes more thematic sense as well IMO.

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Phenir

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Re: An expedition rework idea
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2021, 02:06:21 PM »

I would rather like to see the expedition likeliness dependent on defences and current reputation.
A colony with a low level mining op of your friends with a Star Fortress above, locks like an ideal target to the current AI.
If the value of the target is much smaller than reputation + defence rating there shouldn't any expedition at all.
A system similar to pather interest.
I don't think it makes sense to use defense rating. Then you could not build defenses to avoid expeditions, which is the opposite of what expeditions are supposed to do. The point of expeditions is to test your defenses, so they should come regardless of how much you've invested in defenses.

I do agree that expeditions shouldn't come too early, but I think the game already tries to do that. I'm pretty sure expeditions are triggered by colony size + industry output. That makes more thematic sense as well IMO.
He means expeditions currently don't care about the defense rating even if the defense rating is extremely high for the low value target. They should think the opposite. A high defense rating should deter them. Like it's not worth it to bust this star fortress + shield + batteries just because they have 5% of the global market share.

Colonies under size 4 currently can't be targeted by anything.

Expeditions aren't even a big deal. I'm pretty sure there is something like a 2 expedition limit per cycle, that's 10 rep which is like 2-3 bounties to recover. Even if they are succesful, it's only a minor impact on income for a month or two.
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: An expedition rework idea
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2021, 02:19:40 PM »

Expeditions aren't even a big deal. I'm pretty sure there is something like a 2 expedition limit per cycle, that's 10 rep which is like 2-3 bounties to recover. Even if they are succesful, it's only a minor impact on income for a month or two.
The point of the suggestion is more that I think they can be a lot more interesting and enjoyable, not that they are a huge issue. I just don't think they add much to the game right now. Pirates already cover the early/mid game threat to colonies (and can be expanded to fill that role better in the mid game if necessary), and expeditions become irrelevant beyond the rep loss once you get good defenses. What purpose are they serving? They're pretty much just an end game place holder so that something happens, but we know other better things will be filling that void, so I was spitballing an idea of how to make them a more interesting aspect of colony development.
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Megas

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Re: An expedition rework idea
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2021, 02:33:04 PM »

Purpose?  Punish single colony per system (and make systems with only a single planet undesirable no matter how good the planet and/or system is otherwise).  Player needs to put at least two colonies (with military bases) per system to get necessary defenses to intercept invaders.

With only four colonies total, player needs either two colonies in two systems, or four colonies in one system.

I am half tempted to get Colony Management to boost the total limit to six, but that skill will be removed next release.
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FooF

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Re: An expedition rework idea
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2021, 03:05:24 PM »

As mentioned, I see expeditions as placeholders but I like the general sentiment expressed: at some point, the factions need to realize that they're never breaking through.

I'm not sure if "boss ships" are really the way to go, but "unique/faction-specific encounters" would be cool. Each "invasion" would play out a little different and lean on the MO of the faction. I would imagine the Hegemony would try to brute force their way through so a gigantic fleet might actually be warranted (perhaps the only way to really defeat such a fleet would be to do the aforementioned sabotage of supplies/shipyards). Tri-Tach could legitimately have some unique ship up their sleeves but i wouldn't want each fleet to have their own super ship that no one had seen before up until this point (it would take away from my suspension of disbelief).

I don't even mind expeditions a few times but I agree, non-stop/never-ending doesn't seem logical and after some "last hurrah," the Faction brokers a deal with you or decides to bugger off.

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intrinsic_parity

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Re: An expedition rework idea
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2021, 05:59:00 PM »

Purpose?  Punish single colony per system (and make systems with only a single planet undesirable no matter how good the planet and/or system is otherwise).  Player needs to put at least two colonies (with military bases) per system to get necessary defenses to intercept invaders.
That's arguably a negative, not a reason for them to exist IMO.

I'm not sure if "boss ships" are really the way to go, but "unique/faction-specific encounters" would be cool. Each "invasion" would play out a little different and lean on the MO of the faction. I would imagine the Hegemony would try to brute force their way through so a gigantic fleet might actually be warranted (perhaps the only way to really defeat such a fleet would be to do the aforementioned sabotage of supplies/shipyards). Tri-Tach could legitimately have some unique ship up their sleeves but i wouldn't want each fleet to have their own super ship that no one had seen before up until this point (it would take away from my suspension of disbelief).

I specifically mentioned boss ships/encounters because of my experience with nex. In my experience, there's not really a level of brute force with normal vanilla ships that will actually present a challenge to a well optimized late game fleet (particularly with omega weapons). It just ends up becoming an endurance competition where the only way you lose is by running out of CR after multiple rounds of combat, and since you can cheese repair your fleet at your colony, there's really no level of normal ships that will actually threaten you once you get a solid capital fleet, particularly with a station to help.

That's why I suggested boss ships, because they represent a way to increase the challenge of a particular fight without allowing the player to just use the same ships. I think that's one of the most natural ways to make an artificially harder fight, and other ways I can think of doing it feel much more out of place. They don't have to be a true one time thing either, maybe they show up in all sorts of major raid/invasion fleets from the faction. The important part is that the player can't get them so that the boss fight is actually hard. I suppose that could be achieved in other ways too, but that's my favorite idea.
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Megas

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Re: An expedition rework idea
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2021, 06:44:46 PM »

Purpose?  Punish single colony per system (and make systems with only a single planet undesirable no matter how good the planet and/or system is otherwise).  Player needs to put at least two colonies (with military bases) per system to get necessary defenses to intercept invaders.
That's arguably a negative, not a reason for them to exist IMO.
It is a purpose for them, even if (likely) unintended and lame.  I would have liked single planet systems to be useful and not a babysitting headache if the player decided to colonize one.

What kind of boss ships from factions?  Hopefully more Ziggurats or other one-of-a-kind ships (possibly a true super-capital) the player can loot from battle and add it to the fleet and use as a new starship Vindicator (or Xenorphica) or other overpowered hero ship.
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Morrokain

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Re: An expedition rework idea
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2021, 08:13:29 PM »

I really like the idea as a whole. Perhaps instead of boss ships, an existing system can be utilized: Admirals.

The fleet could utilize a well-known character such as Baikal Daud or Jensulte, etc, as an Admiral and that admiral could have crazy over-the-top admiral skills which could vary by faction and provide unique challenges without needing to design a large number of unique boss ships. That could push the difficulty up without introducing the dilema of super ships that players will likely want to be able to get at some point - and that very thing means that something has to be developed to make such an acquisition needed at some point if that was ever possible.

The endgame enemy could certainly serve that purpose of course, but I wanted to present an alternative idea that increases difficulty while still using the ships that factions already have available.

*EDIT*
Forgot to mention, the other aspect of this is that each faction could have a variety of admirals that could be chosen which have different specialties. Since only one is picked, it would provide some replay value as well.

Then, another system could be created to ransom the captured admiral back to the faction - which could be integrated into the story - especially if the character is otherwise important to the plot and shouldn't be killed as a result of the expedition.

Just something thrown into the pot of ideas.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2021, 08:20:57 PM by Morrokain »
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BaBosa

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Re: An expedition rework idea
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2021, 11:54:27 PM »

The main issue I see with expeditions is that they’re annoyingly repetitive and could have a lot more fractures.

About the feature, I’m pretty that’s just because Alex and the team haven’t yet had the spare time to add to it but will sometime in the future.

However I would like if in the next update for factions to not bother sending an expedition if it’s unlikely to succeed as that adds nothing and annoyingly decreases reputation.
And another thing to possibly add is making it so if multiple factions want to send an expedition but not one that’ll break through your defences, they plan to send expeditions that’ll arrive at your system simultaneously and fight together.
Not only does that add to the difficulty but fighting a mix of ship styles makes it harder to specialise against them and would be very interesting.

My 2 cents about expeditions in the future is that it should depend on the ingame reason.

Opportunistic attacks against a colony that’s trying to move into your market to ‘discourage’ them with raids but if the fleet is seriously endangered and expected repairs and replacements too expensive then they wouldn’t bother. These attacks should stop after a couple failed attempts or when defences become too strong.  Though then they should resume if your colony defences are broken, your fleet destroyed or production significantly increased.

Trade war against a colony that is significantly cutting into a factions market share should be the target of a proper campaign, with strategy, multiple fleets, targeting com relays, blockading the system, pick off patrols and move in once stability has lowered and the station is by itself with a fleet designed to fight stations and remove the offending industry, not just disrupt it. And then possibly move onto other industries and same system colonies if you’ve made things difficult or are already hostile factions.
This would make the fights more interesting as you’d have to pick your fights try reduce losses and plan not for complete destruction but hurt them enough to make them back off as they could just grind you down until you have to leave the system to buy more supplies for repairs.

AI fleet should be actually like the opportunistic attacks, with the hegomoney balancing AI use on all your planets vs how strong it would need to be to break through the weakest colony with AI.
Unless they think you’ll let them through.

Also the first two types of attacks should be less likely if they like you and instead you get complaints from those factions and you’re given options like bribe official, give a discount which decreases the export income from that factions colonies or just brush them off which decreases reputation but it starts off a small loss and then increases with the number of times you don’t give them a discount.

Another thing is they should look at systems and not just individual colonies, while they might not attack 1 small farming planet, 3 small farming planets to grater have a bigger effect and because they’re in the same system, a faction may as well hit all of them and not just one. .

I also think the idea of unique admirals is very good. It adds to the difficulty in a unique way and it makes more sense than there not being strong admirals in each faction.

Other option is to make expeditions an exception to the normal battle and fleet size limits, they make sense as it’ll decide the fate of an entire world so they should feel weighty.

Another idea to address the issue of having to stop what you’re doing to defend your colony is if Alex adds an option for us to leave a fleet at colonies that we can take control when a expedition attacks the station or tries to raid. Then the expeditions can be scaled with the expectation that the player is fighting and it cuts some of the hassle of expeditions. Though if ships are lost then you have to return to replace them. Doesn’t really make sense in game but would be a nice feature.

Unique ships doesn’t really make sense unless they feel like their faction is under threat. Otherwise they would save it for the last ditch fights.

Also, it makes sense that having high quality colonies tank your relations, they provide you with anything you want so what’s the need for good relationships at that point.

Addressing the initial post, expeditions are to give you another reason to fight but you have the option to pay to not deal with it by building defences.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2021, 12:30:23 AM by BaBosa »
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