Feedback A missing spice of life is the game's biggest flaw? Thoughts after arcade mode

Discussion in 'Suggestions' started by Couch Tomato, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. Couch Tomato

    Couch Tomato Aquatic Astronaut

    I finished most of the campaign, which was pretty fun -- still have to unlock the epilogue, so I've been going through a few rounds of arcade mode.

    I noticed Arcade Mode makes you battle on generic battle maps, which is fine. That is actually the core of games like this and Advance Wars. However, after playing the same map on several times, I realized something. I just keep doing the same thing. Get to the buildings before the opponent does. Build the same units, etc. There's very little variation to the way I play, even between different commanders.

    Why does it start to feel repetitive, when it didn't quite feel that way in Advance Wars? I realized that the difference was the commanders. In Advance Wars, the CO substantially changed your army composition and therefore changed your opening strategy from the get-go. If I was Grit, I want to grab the choke points and line them with artillery. If I'm Max, I want to rush tanks. If I'm Drake, rule the seas. Etc.

    In Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, COs attach to units and have a field of influence, which depends on the CO. This isn't as global as the other AW games, but was enough to dictate strategy. Waylon is gonna get on an air unit, and you're going to want to respond to that.

    In WarGroove, while the commanders do have unique grooves, they don't change the way I play the game. In fact, their groove is purely a tactical feature. Keep your high value units away from Sigrid and Unlockable #1 when they have their grooves. Make sure to finish off Mercia's units. That's about it. Unlike AW COs, WarGroove commanders do not influence strategy. And I think that's a big deal in a strategy game.

    As a side note, the CO powers of the AW COs also add a tactical element on top of their buffs, which instead confer a strategical element.


    I'm not sure about the best way to fix this. But I can present the goal: Make commanders influence strategy in addition to just tactics. Here are different options:

    1) AW-style global CO abilities
    This has been suggested by some people. You can have things that make sense. For example, Sigrid can have bonuses to aerial units. Caesar to dogs and probably infantry in general. Greenfinger can be the wooden unit (i.e. ballistas and trebuchets) specialist. Nuru can have effects to unit cost and compensatory changes to unit strength to offset her OP groove.

    Any sweeping changes such as global CO abilities is possible, but will substantially alter the campaign and puzzle modes. Maybe one way is to allow commander abilities as an option for arcade/multiplayer only. That way you don't have to step on what you've already created. The only downside to that is that a tutorial for abilities would not be naturally presented in the campaign.

    2) Days of Ruin-style CO zones
    Probable a little more technically complex change. You'd have to have a constant visual field around the commander to demonstrate the zone. Also, it would be very difficult to have abilities that promote naval units and aerial units because unlike DoR, WarGroove commanders can't plug into a unit, and so you can't expect commanders to keep with these units. Because of this, I think this option is pretty unrealistic.

    3) Faction-specific abilities
    Many negative reviews have focused on the fact the factions have no differences. I don't understand this, because this wasn't the case in AW either! However, the strategy gamer in me thinks of games like Age of Empires, Civilization, etc where factions were similar but had 1-2 unique abilities. This could be a reasonable alternative for WarGroove. Unlike giving commander-specific abilities, which would give 12+ different strategical styles, this would only give at least 4 (or 5) different strategical styles... but at least that's something.

    For example, the Floran League could have cheaper units, but also weaker units. This would go well with balancing Nuru's groove. Heavonsong Empire units could gain a boost to mechanical units, but weaker magical units; this would lead to a stronger navy, stronger artillery, but weaker air force. Felheim could be the opposite, with strong magical units, but overall weak navy but strong air force. Cherrystone would be the natural "neutral" faction. The fifth faction (spoilers) could have stronger, but more expensive units, the opposite of the Florans.

    Anyways, those are some of my ideas. I still have a very positive impression of this game, but to me, the missed opportunity in strategical variety is the biggest flaw and may be the limiting factor on the lasting appeal of this game down the line.
      Beefster and aiscool like this.
    • aiscool

      aiscool Poptop Tamer

      100% agree.

      I want option 1, but I think option 3 would be the best fit for Wargroove. There are so much flavor and enjoyment in the different factions artistically, it only makes sense that that would be complemented by the mechanics. I think it should definitely be a toggle-able option, and I assume it wouldn't have a major effect on the campaign you built. You may want to add a mission introducing each faction (or just test at the start of the first mission in the area).
      • Beefster

        Beefster Poptop Tamer

        A big part of why arcade mode is monotonous is because the AI is really dumb (once you understand it) and doesn't quite understand how to rush for contested property, doesn't plan ahead, and often walks right into danger. But I also think you're right about strategy not changing because of the commander.

        I think global passives could work, but they'd have to be pretty minor, on the order of +-10% rather than the 30-50% that was common in AW. They're also really hard to balance- especially since Eagle, Kanbei, Grit, and Colin were downright OP. Even 10% can matter a lot and the min-maxed characters are often far superior to the neutrals.

        What I think would be exciting is if the commanders were actually functionally different aside from grooves. What if Emeric was more like a mage? 5 movement range, strong against air units, crits from forests and mountains, but substantially more vulnerable to most ground units. What if Caesar was more like a dog? 5 movement, higher damage dealt, more damage received, etc...

        Basically the only commander that substantially buffs specific units is Emeric because the Elder Shield zone counts toward mage crits.

        Another alternative would be faction and/or commander exclusive units. Maybe Emeric could recruit archmages, Mercia could recruit clerics, Tenri could recruit gliders (basically swordsmen with air movement), etc...

        One thing is for sure though. I go into autopilot when playing arcade mode because it's pretty repetitive and braindead from being able to use a formulaic strategy on the rocks-for-brains AI. I would have loved to have something more like the War Room from AW where the maps weren't symmetric.
        • Fadedsun

          Fadedsun Astral Cartographer

          For all the talk people have had about how they'd like to see changes to how commanders function, I wish Chucklewish would weigh in on the subject. Why are they so quiet? They've been pretty good about interacting with the community about different subjects except for this one.
          • Beefster

            Beefster Poptop Tamer

            I can empathize with it from a game designer perspective and I honestly think this type of thing is best left to modders.

            Chucklefish has made specific and deliberate design decisions about commanders and unit design and the community keeps telling them their design sucks because it's boring or whatever. We are basically asking for the game to be designed differently when we've been playing it for a month and a half while the developers have been working on it for something like 10 years. Quite frankly, we know nothing about the process that went into this and have zero grounds to think that our ideas are better. We can make little suggestions like "pike spam OP plz nerf" or "Hard Mode is ridiculous" because these don't make sweeping alterations to the design of the game. But something like changing how commanders work has some pretty sweeping effects on gameplay and would also lead to having to rebalance the campaign missions.
            • aiscool

              aiscool Poptop Tamer

              Yes and no.

              I 100% agree that if they don't want to make the game/changed people ask for they don't have to.

              On the other hand, user feedback is important whether or not your user's vision lines up with your own. A lot of the people suggesting that type of changed (like myself) probably don't expect it to be accepted. But community involvement is valuable because sometimes a big change can happen. A lot of that feedback to developers is used in making sequels down the road.

              I followed Wargroove since mid-2017 and was really excited about it. Unfortunately, the lack of variance made the game fall very flat for me. The lack of variety in the game let my interest fizzle out after only about 15 hours. I was disappointed at that. Is it a solid game, yes, but I don't think it's very interesting for continued play. (I don't play online PvP) If a sequel comes out down the line, I'll definitely consider playing it, but I hope there's more room for personal expression.
              • Fadedsun

                Fadedsun Astral Cartographer

                I could tell you that online PvP also suffers from a lack of variation. Right now, the competitive community is mostly trying to solve this by making better, balanced maps to play on. This is in direct response to the way the current units in the game function. If CF doesn't plan on balance updates to their current version of the game, of course the modding community will have to take the call. Of course, it would be helpful to know what CF has planned in this regard so the modding community will know where their attention should be focused.
                • Beefster

                  Beefster Poptop Tamer

                  Nuru got nerfed and Ryota got buffed, so there's definitely already an effort made for balance.

                  I think we're all in agreement that there's a lack of variation and we have our suggestions to fix it. Hopefully CF listens and comes up with something. I'll be happy whether it's passives, exclusive units, commander stat variance, or something else.
                  • Ozzcams Razor

                    Ozzcams Razor Master Chief

                    This is my biggest complaint of the game - a relatively weak AI for general tactics and an AI that takes inconsistent and limited advantage of the commanders' groove powers. Regardless of what additional variations CF adds to the commanders and grooves, these will only be short term novelties until the AI is strengthened to be more competitive.
                    • Fadedsun

                      Fadedsun Astral Cartographer

                      Agreed. It's disappointing how bad the AI is. The only way to get a challenging game from the AI is on an unbalanced map that heavily favors the AI. It would be nice to be able to pick up the game for a quick session with the AI and have a decent challenge.
                      • aiscool

                        aiscool Poptop Tamer

                        That's the way it is in almost any game. Very few games have AI that can compare to playing against a human that adapts to ever-changing meta's. Even games that are symmetrical versus games, the AI gets advantages that allow them to be a challenge. In fighting games they have frame 1 reactions, in RTS games they can view and act on the whole map at once, and in a lot of MOBA's they get bonus xp/gold. I don't mind sub-optimal AI of the challenges are built to accommodate. (although there is no excuse for suiciding commanders...haven't played in a while, so i'm not sure if that still happens)

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