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A member registered Sep 09, 2017

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As the enemy leader card deck starts filling up with cards that aren't direct damage, taunt will be more important since it won't be using direct damage each turn.

If all the enemy has in its hand is direct damage, it'll use it. If you consider what you've seen the enemy decks play, its mostly buffs, reinforcements, and direct. Leader cards that do other things displace direct damage and transfer the focus back to creature battle. IMO.

The Long Dark has done well on its Sandbox Mode for a very long time, building out the game mechanics and fine tuning things while working the story mode in and additional maps over time.

Making it an unlockable for after story mode is completed sounds like a great idea, once the game is finished. During early access, it would be a huge asset to facilitate playtesting and engagement, and can be re-packaged, locked away, or left unlocked as an "early access reward" or whatever. 

You've said your focus is on content and I get that, just sharing my perspective.

I felt like "nowhere mode" captures the thematics of the game a little more but that's exactly what it would be, yeah, endless mode. 

Anything I can do to help?

I guess this is a feature request.

A number of games have this, and benefit from it in early access in particular. For this game it might look like this.

The game starts as normal, though instead of arriving at the Spaceport, you arrive at another refugee camp. You proceed to make a selection like you usually would as to the type of terrain and main enemy, but the game essentially feeds back through another procedural map. 

We might be seeing the same few story areas over and over, but that goes with early access.

The main benefits of this are that it *shouldn't* be too hard to deploy, and it would allow for more effective playtesting. Right now we appear to be playing through the first two maps of the story mode repeatedly. I've seen some enemy decks only once, like the..."Five finger..." I can't remember that zone or faction. I got killed.

This would also help test save/load fidelity a bit.

If we can have essentially unlimited play through samey but procedurally made maps, we can test out an increasingly large number of card combinations, how they fare against different enemies, and how such a mode would do in the long run. 

Finishing the story mode is part of the long plan, we know that. 

Your hard work is highly appreciated and personally, I want to thank you for it. This game is filled with love and care and heart. It is a real gem. A "nowhere mode" would let us wander in your labor of love for endless hours, both before and after the story arc is finalized.

For every ability, the ability to give it or take it away, themed and costed appropriately for each deck. 

War Drums (Ferals): 6 momentum, Construct, 0,3, Followers you control gain Charge.

Propaganda Broadcast (Union Fist): 4 momentum, target follower loses Taunt and gains Stealth. If it already has Stealth, it gains Shielded.

Infiltration Protocol (Rusters): 5 momentum, target Obstacle is destroyed and deals 2 damage to its neighbor tiles. Spawn a 2,2 Drone. 

Aging Artillery (Union Fist): 7 Momentum, Construct, 0,5, Incite, deal 3 damage to a random enemy tile, and 1 to each adjacent tile and itself. Revenge: Deal 3 damage to the controlling player.

Subversive Doctrine (Fanatics): 6 Momentum, target follower loses Sniper and gains Taunt. 

No Fly Zone (Union Fist): 5 Momentum, target follower loses Flight, gains +2,-1, and Rage.

Provoke: 4 Momentum, target follower loses Taunt and gains +2,-1 and First Strike

Stampede (Beast): 3 Momentum, Construct, 0,4, Followers under your control lose Charge and gain Overwhelming and +2, +1.

Brilliant Missile Battery (Rusters): 6 Momentum, Construct, 0,4, at the start of your turn draw Brilliant Missile. Revenge: Deal 3 damage to each adjacent space. Brilliant Missile: 0 Momentum, Charge, Flight, 1,1.

Asymmetric (Raiders): 6 Momentum, target follower's health becomes 2 and gains Shielded.

Collateral (Raiders): 4 Momentum, target follower gains -2,0 and Blast.

Meat Shield (Ferals): 3 Momentum, spawn a 2,1 beast with Taunt and Charge.

Flak Drones (Rusters): 5 Momentum, target followers' attack is set to 0, and they gain Sniper and Blast. 

Savage (Ferals): 5 Momentum, destroy target follower you control. Heal remaining followers to full.


You're doing a great job Martin! Thank you so much for all your hard work. You can be confident that your work is appreciated.

Yes, I agree, on both points. AI is hard, and your time is most likely better spent on working on the content.

I can't imagine setting out to do a project and thinking "I'm aware of three ways to do AI. I'm going to use one that isn't as good as another, but is just as deployable."

AI is a huge, nebulous, confusing, omni-faceted space hydra can be as different a problem as the people trying to solve it.

My micro-studio, Applied Game Science Laboratories, is based partly on trying to address age old problems like AI and machine learning in new ways and applying concepts from other disciplines to them. My background is in molecular biology and medicine,  so the way I attack a problem like this is probably different than the way a classically trained programmer might. I don't know really, since I'm not a classically trained programmer.  

I could see it being possible to deploy some relatively small scale solutions to certain types of AI problems for a game like this using some of the principles I've been working on. It largely depends on what you've got under the hood and which tools you're already working with.

At the end of the day, it sounds like you're happy with the current performance of the AI overall, so I'll move my feedback on to more focused areas of content rather than broad issues.  

I'm happy to keep helping and I hope my long posts aren't a problem ;)

In a few conversations in various places, the concept of card combinations as a threshold for the power or "permission" for the AI to do certain things has come up as part of the game design. 

My impression of the AI strategy and behavior, and what I've taken in from various conversations, leads me to suggest that it may be wise to thicken up the AI decks and introduce routines for sub-optimal play.

What I think may be happening is the enemy player is recycling anything too expensive to play, playing everything they can play as fast as they can play it, which is usually direct damage and reinforcement cards, and building up very effective combos as a certainty and deploying them as soon as it is a valid choice. 

The highly overlooked but very special game AI War is considered to contain an "Emergent AI." A 4x type space strategy game in which the enemy group is much more powerful than the player, but what makes it Emergent is that the way the AI chooses and develops strategies. Reportedly, even so many years after it came out it still produces stratagems the developers never intended or programmed into it. From what I understand, this is accomplished by having the Enemy use only observed information about the player and their activities, determine what a perfect strategy would be against the observed model, and then regress the perfect strategy to be less than perfect, ie, imperfect strategies, openings, etc. I think they also include a level of commitment to fighting the player based on how annoying the player is to the AI's goals, which determines what the fight model looks like. 

All that being mostly academic, relevance to Nowhere Prophet would be mixing up the optimal builds and play styles of the enemy decks, so that I don't know exactly what I'm up against. Beasts have been a focus of my attention for balance suggestions, for a few reasons. We talked about game balance at the beginning of the game, and making the beginning of the game accessible. The first milestone might therefore be the milestone at which the player feels they have a grasp of the game and are ready for tougher encounters. Beasts are also a target the player seeks out for their food rich payout. If I have no food, and I can choose between beats and *literally anything else* I choose beasts. 

Things beasts aren't doing at the moment, as far as I've seen, that they could be doing, are things like stealth, and one turn flight. A sneaky panther-esque animal, or a chameleon skin type thing. If winged creatures aren't appropriate for the beast deck or are planned for an insect swarm deck, then an "on incite gain flight for one turn" or "fury: gain flight for one turn" or a Leader card that gives flight for one turn would represent a savage bestial leap, allowing the horde to pounce over barriers. 

Tying in what I was saying about AI War and Emergent AI relies on how the AI determines what it does next. I've only caught a few glimpses behind what might be the curtain, so I really can't speak to what you guys are using. The AI seems to make some good decisions, and some bad decisions. Playing to the field much of the time is good at the moment, as it allows for more playtesting of the way cards work. 

I've seen the AI use a field full of chargers to move them around or smash up obstacles instead of attacking me or my followers. I've seen the AI provide a buff to a creature that just finished attacking me.  I've seen the AI place a creature in front of another creature that just refreshed. So some of this logic appears to be random. 

Giving the AI a clear understanding of grand strategy for a game like this is super challenging, particularly if you want it to be able to anticipate player moves or provide an interesting opponent. 

I'm certain you guys have a system already in place, and I haven't identified precisely what it is just yet. Giving the AI patterns of behavior based on what it has or what the player has done, such as "mitigate available attacker with if available attacker if then available direct damage card loop or place taunt defender exit." But the game is deeper than the current turn, which is why it is attractive. All the parts of its complexity that make it an enjoyable game to play, of course, make it challenging to develop AI for. 

This post is getting super long, so I'm gonna end here and pick up this concept elswhere.

Obstacles don't protect characters from things, and ranged characters other than snipers can't fire around them. Melee characters on the other team can hit the character behind the obstacle just fine.

My point about Ghram Rager is how fast it comes into play. Its a 1,1 that costs the same as Quick Shot, does the same damage, but can also be improved. I've been wiped by beast deck when it gets the right combo out in the second or third turn and starts playing 0 and 1 cost cards that get to attack immediately, receive bonuses for being beasts or other buffs, and manage to keep me from keeping anything on the board long enough to attack.

I've gotten a little mileage out of the Enforcer, I think its particularly interesting how different your strategy and impression of the value of different cards is than mine. 

I thin my deck out before leaving the starting camp, usually to 15 or 12 cards, holding back almost all the 5 cost and most of the 4 cost cards. I keep usually one 4 Momentum card and one Warrior Monk, a 5, but I focus my deck on 2s and 3s. Depending on draws, I usually keep it cheap and fast. For equipment and skills I look for Armor and low cost abilities, I avoid the machine gun and the beam laser and they usually don't pay off for me.

In play I discard anything I can't bring out at the first or second turn, I usually prefer to see a wild hand or a sapper. My best play is with lots of low cost cards reinforced with cards that improve all of them, and protected with a Taunt. I prefer to whittle down the enemy before the momentum is high enough for them to bring out anything I can't handle. 

That's the strat I've developed so far. I've been dealing with each of the factions I've met fairly consistently. I think it speaks to the game design very strongly that multiple strategies are valid, and that for them the various cards have different merit. For my strategy, the Enforcer is so expensive that I likely won't be able to play it, and it would do too much damage to the cards I'm using at the time. 

Some of the Beast cards, at least, aren't balanced the same way the player cards are. 

For example, the Ghram Rager costs 1 Momentum for a 1,1 and it has Charge, a powerful ability that is the equivalent of a free turn. To get a refresh, the player needs to spend a card that, from what I've seen costs momentum and penalizes the target card. 

There are cards that cost less than their attack and health values in the player deck, such as they might be 4 momentum for a 4,5 or a 5,4 but they usually don't have any abilities. Enforcer seems well balanced at 5 for a 6,6 with an ability that troublesome, AND it can't get onto the table for a couple turns even if the player takes advantage of obstacle benefits.

I did read a tool tip or something that suggested I could discard to improve my momentum but I haven't seen a way to do it.

Ghram Rager would be more balanced if it cost 3 momentum, so that if it is played on the first turn, it's the only play aside from the 0 cost cards. I do understand that the advantage of the Beast suit is low cost, rapid deployment cards the player must keep in check or risk getting overrun by. 

On another note, I think the obstacles could be enhanced by providing a form of cover for cards behind them. The game is considering them as under the player's control, if I have a creature behind one it cannot attack it because "only the creature farthest in front may attack." Similar to taunt, obstacles could protect characters behind them from creature and commander attacks, aside from fliers or special commander attacks. 

Not sure if that's within the scope of your design, but since the character behind the obstacle cannot attack it, it would be nice for it to provide an advantage.