FAF Lite, Supcom but simpler

I am attempting to create a mod for FAF that is designed to reduce the complexity of the game for poeple who dont whant to play on a pro level and create a more relaxed style of gameplay. It may also serve as a better introduction to FAF for new players rather than throwing them in the deep end.

Seeing as a large number of players like maps such as astro and gap, it would seem most casual players prefer and easy play style.

The mod will remove game features like upgrading mex's and reclaim, reducing player apm allowing them to focus more on actual combat and strategies.

As it focuses on reducing the apm of the players it will allow a more even spread of player skill reducing the advantages that more skilled players have and give less skilled players a better chance of at least keeping up for longer.

changes so far

remove mass extractor upgrades and adjust mass cost of higher units
remove reclaim and wrecks/no more clicking on rocks and trees
remove power drain from mass extractor
remove fuel from aircraft
create warnings and tips such as mass bar full make more factories ect
increase starting storage of energy and mass

remove power drain from mass extractor, so stalling power does not kill your mass income

TA4Life: "At the very least we are not slaves to the UI" | http://www.youtube.com/user/dimatularus | http://www.twitch.tv/zlo_rd

Do not remove the mass extractor upgrades, but make them cost the same as they produce while lasting longer. (And do what ZLO says)

Normally a T1 mass extractor is +2 mass, but when it is upgrading it simply produces +0 mass for 5 minutes.

Adjust the build cost for a T2 mass extractor such that 1 T1 engineer assisting will drain exactly -1 mass.

I guess the idea is: how much can we cut from the game such that what is left behind still teaches people the fundamentals. The idea would be for graduates of "FAF lite" to understand the most important aspects of the game to where it's not that hard to learn whatever else they need to learn. And not everyone might agree with me on this, but I think the most important things to learn are how to spend mass, balance mass/power, make units and use units. All of which you can learn at the T1 phase.

I would suggest removing the mex upgrades entirely. That is what I did for "stone age." There really isn't a point in teaching people the "wrong" balance for when to get mex upgrades by making them more expensive. And as long as they are an option, some people will try to get them, which will mean very slow, turtle-y games. If the point is to simplify the game, removing the ability to spend resources on growing your economy will definitely make it simpler.

Learning how to balance resources between making units and making mex upgrades is just not something that new players need to learn. Mostly they just need to be encouraged to get spam going and learn how to use it. They should be focused on spending all of their resources on making factories and keeping their bars balanced and using units efficiently. If they learn all that, it will be no trouble at all for them to graduate to "real" FAF and learn about mex upgrades. Everybody basically comes in knowing that they want to have upgraded mexes. But to really teach someone how to balance between spending mass on factories/units and spending mass on mex upgrades, they would be able to learn that balance much better if they already understand the value of units. If they know what 900 mass worth of tanks can accomplish in the game, they will be in a much better position to make a decision about whether upgrading a mex is smart.

And if you want to focus on fundamentals without complex stuff, I would suggest getting rid of T2/T3/T4 entirely, like Stone Age. People can learn about balancing their mass vs. energy income while they're only using T1 tech. They can learn about unit movement and unit composition and intel and shields with only using T1 tech. They don't need cloaking and stealth and jamming and TMD and SMD and long-range artillery to learn the basics of the game.

People might eventually get bored with the low-tech stuff, but not really. High-level players draw 5x5 maps on the ladder and there's nothing boring or dumb about those matches. A person could play t1-only matches for a very long time before they got bored with the game. And obviously once they get bored they can play full-version matches.

I'm not sure about the idea of getting rid of reclaim because it ends up being so important to the full game. If you teach someone how to play really well in an environment where there is no reclaim, and then they graduate to the real game, maybe they can pick it up quickly (after all, if they understand the value of mass they should understand the value of reclaiming it). So I can't say that removing reclaim (or at least, removing or reducing the value of unit wrecks) would be harmful to people learning the game. Removing the "mass donation" aspect of the game could encourage people to be more aggressive, which is usually what we want newer players to do. I think it's normal for newer players (not all of them) to be overly passive.

If you want to avoid overwhelming people, just don't use big maps, navy maps, or any kind of transport rush map at all. So obviously you need to put thought into map selection, just making a mod alone isn't going to be enough.

Perhaps even get rid of transports entirely. Drops obviously are very important in the full game but you could still learn a lot about the fundamentals of getting your economy up and moving units around without needing to teach people about using and countering drops.

Getting rid of air units entirely -- I would be against that.

I can't think of any T1 units that should be eliminated. The only ones that could be justified are LABs. In theory you could still teach 99% of what people need to know about raiding and defending without people having LABs available. IF you get rid of LABs, I think you have to nerf the selen, like reduce its DPS and cost.

Get rid of veterancy: that seems like a good idea. If you want people to focus on the basics, having an ACU that magically gets hit points back suddenly doesn't seem important. When people graduate to the "full" game, it would be very very easy to learn about veterancy bonuses and their importance. You don't need 120 IQ to understand that suddenly getting an extra 1,000 hit points on your ACU during the middle of a battle is very important/valuable.

Faction choices: you can learn the game fundamentals without aeon at all. Same goes for Sera. You could just eliminate those two factions entirely. I don't think it would be hard to re-code the Aeon ACU to actually be a UEF ACU and to recode the Sera ACU to actually be Cybran (meaning it has the same look/statistics/abilities as that faction's ACU, so if you pick "Aeon" you spawn in with UAL0001 which is identical in appearance and function to UEL0001, meaning you can only make UEF factories and get UEF upgrades and the ACU looks like a UEF).

Many noobs make important build order mistakes very early on, and faf really punishes you for that (e.g. they forget pgens until they run out of e and then try to build them on 20 total power). Simply enabling prebuilt units is one solution to help, but alternatively you could increase the starting storage and resources so early bo mistakes where they built pgens too late doesn't lead to such punishing stalls because they are more likely to have built a decent amount of power by the then.

It might be something to consider - we have this warning when we are out of mass or energy - perhaps there should be a similar warning when we are wasting mass and/or energy - as this is a common situation for someone who's having trouble managing their eco.

Thanks guys, some great ideas.

To any one with modding experience, is it possible to change the mass cost of and entire tech level with a percentage mod or will i need to do it the hard way and change the unit bp of every unit individually?

@zukko I'm not aware of a way to do that, but I'm not an expert. The way I did it, you would need to change every unit individually but you can change it by adding a fudge factor.

For example if a t3 unit is normally 400 mass and you want to make it 20% more expensive, you can edit it to say "400 * 1.2"

You don't have to calculate it out and write "480"

This makes it easier to apply the factor or to change the factor. You can use find*replace to replace all "*1.2" with "*1.3" to quickly change the factor used for the mod.

Also from experience, you can have 1 text file that is used to update any number of BP (blueprint) files.

I made a (really bad) mod that does something like that, called ArtiMod

This would be useful for all players - having the following information shown:

Running total of overflow of E and M
Running total of E and M received through overflow.
Current E & M received through overflow or overflowing
Time spent stalling on mass (Total)
Time spent stalling E (total)

When E or M is below 20% storage flag it in some way (change colour maybe to red?)

Starting income on ACU +50 power +2 mass
Starting storage 20k Power & 5k mass
Power generators provide E storage (20)
Mass extractors provide Mass storage (300, 900, 2700)

@zuif you need any help just ping me on discord I have experience in creating balance mods like this if you need a hand

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" - Spock

@zukko said in FAF lite, an eco balance mod:

Thanks guys, some great ideas.

To any one with modding experience, is it possible to change the mass cost of and entire tech level with a percentage mod or will i need to do it the hard way and change the unit bp of every unit individually?

Yes you can - look up how the x2 / x4 / x8 build rate mods are made. There you can go over every blueprint, determine its categories (Tech 1, Land, etc) and act accordingly.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

If you change the mechanics of the eco system, I dont think it will be helpful for learning. You'll be creating unhelpful habits. It could help for making it a more relaxing game. But the two things (easy game/ improve learning) dont really go together I think. A thing that might be helpful is some sort of feedback mod, that gives u feedback during and/or after the game on your eco management. But stuff like that already exist..

@arma473 @Rowey @Jip thankyou guys for the help much appreciated.

@StormLantern we have been through this conversation several times in another thread, but yes i am aware that this is not a perfect fix all solution, however its better to try and fail than never to have tried at all.

  1. How about notifications on map. No changes in any units or game mechanics. But basic notifications with emplacements on map. If player have not scouted enemy for x minutes from the game beginning, short notification on enemy base to scout. If player have forgotten to take mexes for x time, notification over those mexes. If not reclaimed a valuable reclaim field, notification on that spot. If too much mass(income) and not enought energy (before lag?), notification on home base (or behind base) to build power. If for x time and y condition no upgraded mexes, notification to upgrade starting from base mexes. Followed by mass storage build notifications and then t3 mex suggestion with time. Possibly suggestion if not enough tanks or factorys or fighters or aa. etc.etc.
  2. The same thing, but done by AI. Some not very grazy AI giving suggestions on map. AI estimating situation and rather than playing, giving suggestions/notifications for player. Build tanks here, raid there, upgrade mexes , protect this etc.

Of course, those suggestions would often be wrong. But this should allow -200 player to play as 200 and learn in-game. This should avoid someone not having any power generator at 10 min. Or not upgrading any mexes. Or having one uncapped t3 mex and others t1. Or not reclaiming at all. etc. This should avoid a moment when player does a huge mistake over and over, that does not let him go forward in learning, and as he does not find this mistake, he quits. Also, for example if he sees that takeing mexes is good idea, next time he will do it already before notification, and so the notification will not pop up. Good player should be able to play with this (mod) basicly without any notifications coming up. So it should not give bad habits, because units and game mechanics are the same, and no real advantage over good players. It would only allow to avoid big mistakes, learn faster, learn playing, and not to be obliged to go through tonnes of learning materiel before being able to play a game.

There is a mod already, that does some of this stuff. I think it is simply called "Notifications".
Maybe you can try it out and see if it helps. You could even enhance it with more functionality/notifications if you ask the original mod author for permission

@blackyps You wrote to me I suppose?. Yes I know about "Notifications" mod, and I have tried it. It does not put notifications on map, but on the side of screen. (Although I believe pings should be possible.) It seemed for me that it is more for players with some experiance, so that they can personalise it for not forgeting/missing some things. Rather than to teach early noobs. Not what I was describeing. But teaching mod with notifications on the side should be possible to make also. Maybe less effective than on-map, but it should be better than nothing for some early noobs.

"Maybe you can try it out and see if it helps." Well, I am not really looking this type of help for me. I rather try to respond to those discussions here about FAF being complicated, with steep learning curve and lots of noobs leaving the game. I may move my comment to another thread, if this place is not correct for that.

I don’t have the number off hand but iirc FAF doesn’t actually have an issue with newbs leaving more than other games in the genre.

I’m not sure how I feel about an eco mod, it feels like it would make it harder to actually learn the game when push comes to shove in the end. That being said, I like ZLO’s suggestion of not having mass extractors stop working during power stall. Can help with making it easier to recover from, and I think the only other eco mod I’d make would be more starting storage + more blatant and obvious warnings and tips on how to fix mass and power stalls. Increased storage gives you more time to fix without be overly too much of a hand hold.

A mod/map that is really like and think would be beneficial are better in game tutorials. Basically a better done version of the original campaign made specifically to teach the basics of the game. Perhaps a few different ones teaching basic opening BOs, how to manage different units, intel tutorial, why not to make fire base tutorials, etc.

I think it would be better to actually teach you how to play the game, rather than make you play a different game...

I think providing objectives and incentives would go a long way towards helping players to understand what they are supposed to do and develop the right habits. Imagine if there was a checklist on the side of the screen in-game and each time you complete one of the tasks you get some kind of reward (mass/units/energy/etc). Some things such as:

  • Secure the highlighted mexes, rewards 300 mass (generally would be the 50% on your side but can be tailored for the map)
  • Reclaim the highlighted area, rewards 200 mass
  • Scout the enemy base, rewards 100 mass, repeatable every 3 minutes
  • Do not stall power for two consecutive minutes, rewards 100 mass, repeatable every 5 minutes
  • Do not overflow mass for two consecutive minutes, rewards 100 mass, repeatable every 5 minutes

Generic things that are indisputably the right way to play and explicitly encourage correct concepts and routine. This would prevent the game from being so complicated and overwhelming that players cannot process it. I will restrain myself from talking about executive dysfunction, operationalizing, incentives, and other big-brain things.

This seems like something that could easily be accomplished with a sim mod or a map script. It should be far easier to accomplish than making full-blown tutorial missions or a campaign. I actually think an RTS game should have this concept built into it all the time, not only because it seems like an incredibly powerful tool for teaching players, but it also could add a lot of interesting gameplay dynamics for skilled players as well. Imagine having different, less generic tasks at higher rating levels, or allowing players to choose between different tasks and perks.

@archsimkat said in FAF lite, an eco balance mod:

I think it would be better to actually teach you how to play the game, rather than make you play a different game...

That doesn't seem to work for everyone. If this mod is made, not only could it offer a better experience for some people and may retain some players... it's popularity will also serve as an indicator of what people think of the complex and punishing economy of the base game.

If nobody plays this mod then business as usual. If 50% of <1000 play it then maybe bring some changes to the base game.

FYI personally, I think this mod will not offer a good gaming experience, I don't think I will play it.