Let me start off by saying I love the direction that the Radiant team has taken combat. The fact that players actually need to incorporate strategy into defending their town is something I really hoped we would see in later development, and now that it’s actually being put into the game I am very excited.
Something that I was not entirely excited about however was the introduction of gongs.
For those of you who haven’t seen the May 3rd Desktop Tuesday, a slew of new enemy classes are being introduced. These changes are all fantastic and I can’t wait for them to be released in the next Alpha. However, one of the changes deals with the “GameMaster” and how enemies are dispersed.
Certain types of Kobold enemies will drop decorative hats, which will allow for the creation and construction of scouting “Gongs”. Placing a Gong into your city will signal to the “GameMaster” that your town is ready to take on harder enemies.
Now, if we remember back to the early days of the kick-starter campaign; Tom and Tony proposed a completely different mechanic that would decide how enemies and challenges were dispersed. The original concept was that the “GameMaster” would be able to detect how many military defenses you town had, and would then deploy enemies that would match your towns defensive ability.
So for example, if you built up a ton of knights and had them heavily armed, your town would then be a larger target for raids and harder enemies would be thrown your way. Whereas if you had a town full of farmers and only one or two footmen, you would only be occasionally raided - still enough to challenge you, but not enough to completely overrun you.
This whole concept of adding in “Gongs” really irks me because it is removing a sense of automated gameplay flow. It makes the game happen less naturally and forces you to manually tell the game how to work.
An example of how this may be a bad mechanic would be another city building game - Sim City. In Sim City there are randomly dispersed natural disasters that can occur. If Maxis was to introduce a similar Gong mechanic to Sim City, the player would have to signal to the “GameMaster” that he was ready to take on natural disasters.
This sort of thing completely removes fluidity and challenge from the game. It makes things much easier on the player and that is something I really don’t like. This essentially removes an entire competent of challenge from the game. It’s like playing in peaceful mode on Minecraft.
I am 100% in support of a Game Master that detects how a player is playing the game, and delivers an experience that would best suit that play style.
I am not however in support of a Game Master that has to be told when the player is ready to actually play the game.
The only way I would be partially satisfied with this Gong concept is if there was some sort of significant incentive (something that the game has been missing for a while now in many departments) that would give players a reason to activate a gong, rather than just an additional challenge and possibly nicer loot drops from enemies.
So perhaps (in addition to allowing for harder enemies) a gong might allow a player to support increased population - or maybe activating a gong will boost morale for all citizens. Maybe even gongs could improve the trade deals from traders that stop by. Anything that gives the player extra incentive to activate a gong than just additional challenge.
Thank you for reading my wall of text, and please remember that this is all just my opinion - whatever that is worth.