Hidden Necromancers and new waves of zombies


#1

Hey All,

There has been bit of discussion lately about how the early game is good, there are lots of tough decisions to made, but once you have the zombies mostly under control the mid to late game is just clean up and not super exciting.

@Eshal I think suggested some kind of gate that keeps spawning more zombies and @starry_wisdom suggested necromancers that create waves of zombies.

I’m a little wary of just injecting more zombies into the map mid to late game “just because” but I do think it would be cool to have some “hidden necromancers” of some kind that are actually in the map and a part of the overall game mechanics.

As well as fighting back the zombies you would have to do a bit of detective work to find them. Each necromancer would have some kind of timer, and if you dont find them before the timer counts down, they blight a village and start a whole new wave of zombies.

The interesting bit I think is that you know that in 2 days there will be a new horde to deal with, but you dont know where it will be.

On the other hand, it could just be prolonging the game just for the sake of making it longer.

What do you guys think?


#2

Let me be more clear what I was roughly thinking

My thoughts were more along the lines of having the necromancers being the real win condition (or at least a large part of it).

In other words the necromancers being in essence the boss to deal with - something like a high strength, non hidden, immunity to range, immunity to movement compulsion. (plus maybe whatever else is deemed needed).

My thought was they would spawn increasing size waves of zombies until defeated.

It would be tied into some way that if they were defeated the game would be over quickly (maybe enabling the reaper you had planned earlier).

The hope in my eyes would be

  1. not prolong the game - indeed I would hope it would end hopeless games earlier and the won games that need a lot of time would be dealt with via finishing the necromancers
    2)adding a time pressure that is lacking (in my opinion) after the first 24 hours or so
    3)increase teamwork (at least on harder difficulties) by requiring multiple players to muster quickly to deal with the necromancers.
  2. Ending the game on a massive fight towards the necromancer rather than the chase down the goblin hiding in the middle of nowhere.
    5)make harder difficulties more interesting - at the moment they feel like easier difficulties that have just gone on longer - in my opinion the fundamental problem is that every person you save is one less undead. I think this causes unintended problems when you are able to crowd control and starve the undead of more people to feed on.

Honestly I hadn’t fleshed out all of the details of what I was thinking as I didn’t think they would be talked about. I think there are likely a variety of ways to archive those goals but this was my first thought at the idea.

this post brought to you via insomnia hopefully its still intelligible :slight_smile:
I will also do my best to shut up unless asked otherwise as it seems more important to get as many peoples views on it than anything else.


#3

I think that this is something that all the bosses should do in general, and hopefully it will improve when we go over them and make them tougher - increase in strength over time, invulnerable to ranged attacks etc.

Also, I think there are interesting alternate game modes in there - games where zombies spawn out of portals, games where several necromancers are running around raising up graveyards.

Of course, there could be a deeper fiction that every Blight is caused by a Necromancer, and he must be found and killed before the map is complete. I don’t know what it would mean for them to be “hidden” or “found”. Are they hiding in a zombie horde? Are they running between towns secretly Blighting them and you can only tell they are there if a town becomes suddenly Blighted without zombies attacking it? Do you find them if you run into them?


#4

um Ive just realized I may be dragging the topic away from what jay meant it to be - I really didn’t mean to I probably should stop posting before I go to bed but hoped that saying what I was thinking may help


#5

Well, sometimes it’s easy to burn those graves, othertimes, not so much. Why would anyone bother to burn the grave? Instead just leave a decent force outside the town and let them keep on making your troops stronger 10 zombies at a time. In blight we are managing three resources, Mana, Gold, and Lives. In many similar games you are building an engine to crank out troops to crush the already established engine that the AI has. Not too much different here, just that instead of chopping down wood or mining some strange resource from the ground, we have the finite lives to deal with, so it will always come to a fairly one sided victory for one side or the other, as one either runs out of bodies to convert into zombies, or the other runs out of citizens to recruit as warriors. As it stands now, it’s a skirmish game a long skirmish, but a skirmish with a finite maximum number of troops. Given that the stated frame of the game is stopping the speedy advancing horde in basically real time, it doesn’t make the sense to do things like build blacksmiths and what not to make your weapons stronger, but a big catch for folks in games is that sense of continual improvement. People like leveling up cards, troops, and things. It’s fun, and makes grinding through slightly repetetive maps and what not more rewarding. You don’t mind if you’ve “solved” it as much when you feel like you are earning something and moving towards some other goal. Like being able to beat the new monthly campaign missions.

Also, I know I can’t be the only one, but an obvious thing to mix things up and make them interesting is PVP. Playing against AI is okay, but what, if I beat this 5 missions I’ll earn a brand new zombie card to use instead of the basic 3 the next time I play as a zombie? Yes!


#6

Very good start. I would defiantly decide before hand how the lore aspect was going to work and kind of go from there. It needs to be an interesting story as well as game play.

Just so that I make sure I’m on the same page here; I originally pitched the idea on the basis that zombie power was inverse to player power. When you flip that equation around and you start escalating the threat as players also grow stronger I think you have a much more interesting game.

I think there is a variety of ways you could implement some version of the idea and still manage to get it right.

So my main question to you the Dev’s would be; what do you feel is a solid endgame goal the players should be building to? I could offer more of my own suggestions but I think it would be nice to get a better picture of your vision first.

Honestly I wouldn’t worry about just putting more zombies out there mid-game. I think you’re going to find the players are more than capable of dealing with them. The real keystone is having something the players are building towards to end the game now that killing all the zombies doesn’t exactly fit.


#7

um once again I agree 100% with everything eshal said with the possible exception of focusing on lore first

I’m begining to think I should just nominate eshal as my spokesman


#8

You’re going to find people like me who will stay as far away as possible from a game built on PvP.

You’re also correct that bodies are a resource in a sense. The problem has been that the turning point in the game comes fairly early and the rest is pretty much given. Ideally if you want to draw out that tension you need to escalate the threat as the players escalate their own counter threat; the winner then remains hanging in the balance for a larger part of the game.

Having undead in general just keep coming in waves is pretty common lore; they are undead after all, how do you kill something that is already dead?


#9

Lots of games have PVP and solo aspects to them, since this game has a multiplayer mode already, PVP is a natural extension, and for the sake of monetization, appealing to the widest audience possible doesn’t hurt. Games like Star Craft, Diablo, Call of Duty, etc. They all have a strong single player game ( with campaigns!), but they also have PVP and Co-op modes that people could optionally engage in for variety, if they so desired. We’ve already got the Co-op.


#10

Yeah, but I can’t think of many that do both of those well. It’s especially difficult when the game has a key co-operative basis. Jay’s hit the nail on the head in my opinion; add a little capitalism to an otherwise socialist game.


#11

Yeah right, I was thinking today about games like MtG and Hearthstone, and how, regardless of what cards you have in front of you, your mana is constantly scaling up and the cards being played are getting more and more powerfull.

The analogy in our game is that we are allowing the players to attack the zombies and take away their land / mana stones, effectively crippling them.

So, lets imagine the enemy team is an evil coven of necromancers that raise the dead with the intention of bringing on the zombie apocalypse. Your objective is still to stop the necromancers and prevent the apocalypse.

Now, we want the strength of necromancers to grow in time, regardless of what you do.

let’s just be as obvious as possible, they accumulate some kind of black mana, and the amount of black mana they receive each day is steadily increasing and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Every time the necromancers accumulate 10 dark mana they do something. Blight a city, raise a lord, something else.

(we could link it to the player’s power directly and give them some dark mana for every city the player’s control)

So, as well as fighting back the zombies you are hunting down the necromancer.

Perhaps finding him can be a little like Scotland Yard. You get clues to where he is, but you can never just see him.


#12

There’s a reason a lot of TBS and RTS games have several win conditions besides destroying all enemy units… and I think this thread basically sums it up.

I think the idea of a necromancer lord or lords is a great idea. I also think that the most interesting part of fighting the zombie hordes so far is the super units that are either tough to kill, buff their buddies, or alter gameplay.

Maybe the necromancer lords convert a regular immortal into a super-immortal every 12 hours or so, strengthening the horde without simply being another nameless zombie making machine.

I also think that as time goes on, the super units should just have a chance to pop up in blighted towns instead of strictly being limited to falling into mana pools… but maybe that’s just me.


#13

Ok, we’re definitely on the same page.

I would avoid just outright blighting a town; adding variety to their ‘something’ else would be nice. The detective angle could work nicely; but there would need to be some flushing out of the idea before I could really comment more on it.

In closing, I really need to head off to bed now…


#14

I need to head to bed too.

I think an idea along this path could work very well if it’s properly fleshed out

Have you ever seen Ai war? It basically has the same idea with Ai progress and that part of the game works very well in my opinion


#15

I think that the problem is more or less that Zombies are, in terms of the card system all either “common” or “rare”, either they are the basic zombie or they are the mana pool bosses. There should be a mechanic for getting something in-between which effects things on a smaller, more regional-level. This is where a “hidden necromancer” unit can shine in generating when it gets to graveyards. There shouldn’t be anything like the Lord of Coins from this sort of thing, but maybe every town within 3 leagues only gets half their normal income.

If you want the threat to increase as the game goes on, the specifics of which of these uncommon units gets raised can be weighted towards the more powerful ones as the game goes on.

I do think that an “uncommon” equivalent zombie hero should very much be a thing that only effects 2-4 leagues at most in order to both avoid overwhelming everything and to allow basic human nature to let players foolishly ignore something across the map.


#16

So here’s a crazy random thought/experiment that might help you make some design decisions as well as get some great data for incorporating changes and making tweaks and just playing around with random ideas in general.

Basically set up as an intermediate milestone a ‘ladder’ game mode.

Take/make a 6 player map, put the 6 races on it, each player starts with a different race. Then plop something like my “Hell Gate” idea in the middle; really it can be anything that generates the waves of zombies.

Make it undefeatable; i.e. it just keeps firing out ever growing strength hoards until the players are defeated.

I think it would make an interesting game mode; at least for testing, also fun for the players to see how many waves they can survive. Plus it incrementally builds towards the end goal and gives you something you can experiment with new ideas on: powers, abilities, balancing, quantity, size, location, etc… and collect that data in an accelerated fashion.


#17

Need to consider carefully the “rhythm” of game you want.

Currently you struggle up to a pinch point with lots of tension, then you reach it and realise you have won and there is a boring clean up, or that it is hopeless and you have lost, when many people AFK.

Your power grows almost exponentially, especially with cards that scale with Gold/Valour/Mana.

The Zombie power grows fast in the early stages, then plateaus - a long plateau as zombies dribble in from around the map. The squared combat law change has made the pinch point more stark - I recently closed off a game that had 10k zombies to 4k live troops losing only 100 or so.

If you want a rhythm where the tension is prolonged, you need to change the curves.

a) Prevent the player scaling up. Examples - A penalty for reducing your civilian population. Currently it is a no-brainer to recruit to the last man (or orc/elf/troll/goblin/dwarf). This would reinforce the ultimate goal of protecting the population.Also eliminate some of the more exponential “win-more” cards - Cowardly Noble/Eldermage

b) Scale the zombies over time. Make them more “sticky” - they create mega stacks, and when over 10k they become immune to crowd control. Hells Gates. Super-Bosses. Fog of War - would make it more scary if you did not knoe where the bosses were, and harder to plan choke-points.

Dont want to overwhelm players, just extend the period of tension


#18

both the last two comments feel very wise to me

At its heart the problem for me is best put as eshal put it with the strength of the zombies shrinking at the same time the player grows

its reached a point where I know the outcome of a game probably 10%-20% in, those 10-20% are good but thats not enough imo

if the plan with only 1 card being deployed at a time goes ahead and works as planned it may be a bigger % of the game but with a much less intense peak which I also think would be bad outcome. As it would remove the most interesting part make the okay part longer and keep the dull end in the same place.

eshals comment strikes me as very clever as well - if you could create a bunch of alternate modes like this it could be a weekly competition type of thing which I think would work very well, in that case even if this doesn’t become a default mode if it slightly works the development effort wouldn’t be wasted - it would just be one of the weekly tournaments you could set up.


#19

What we are really lacking is any sort of strong engine building. Some people have found ways to create engines with cards. Mana engines, gold engines, valour engines, etc, but it’s not really in the base game itself. You acquire a few towns to get a bit of gold, and some wells for mana, but it’s not really consistent income at a 24 hour interval, and the only expansion on that engine is acquiring more of the same. On a rough map it might be like the lottery if you can even keep it long enough to get a single pull from it. You have no way to tell the population to flee, a few races might be able kill off the population so they don’t become immortals, But we don’t have other ways to put the population to use, we can’t send out normal people to mine for gold, or elves to pray to the trees for more mana, goblins to thieve and crook on the roads, or whatver. There just aren’t many constraints on our choices. Build troops, deploy cards, attack. When things become trade offs, and the trade offs to make vary depending on circumstances, well that keeps things interesting.

Do I want to upgrade my town to generate more gold per hour? Or do I want to spend my gold to crank out some more swordsmen? Should I dedicate my elves to praying for mana, or have them gathering wood so they can crank out archers faster, etc. It’s. Oh, I have gold. which troop do I want to build or buy.


#20

I agree for the most part, but I would say lets tackle these types of things one at a time.