Hello, everyone! This is my first post on the Discourse so far. I hope you find the discussion interesting and entertaining.
With the recent posts and livestreams by the Stonehearth team, one thing has been particularly curious to me: how will combat work, and what direction will it be taken farther along in the developmental process? A key point that Tom and the others have made in their discussions is that they are attempting to avoid direct control of units, as they believe it would create too much micro-management in the game–case in point, the Trapper. While I still very much feel that some level of control is necessary (such as RimWorld’s drafting ability, that still lets workers operate on their own when not fighting), I can see an advantage to it; finding every solider in the battle for a game like Age of Empires or Warcraft 3 is oftentimes difficult, and has often frustrated me. So how should a combat system be created, both where the player is not in direct control of every person, yet the individuality of your units (not just a mass of expendable soldiers) is important?
The answer that keeps coming to me is strategies and tactics. By specifying certain behaviors in your soldiers, it allows for the player to lose the reins of the battle while still being in some sort of control of your forces. However, for the sake of gradual progression in the game and more overall depth in the “combat” branch of Stonehearth, I believe this would work best as a specified unit class–namely, the Tactician.
Combat will not always be part of the game. There are periods of peace and exploration, and during these, I feel that the player’s military units might seem only useful for the moments of war. Yet the Tactician would be able to keep active in and out of battle, researching new abilities or improvements for your forces. I would largely classify these either as “Commands” or “Upgrades”.
Commands would be exactly as they sound–orders to direct units. These can range from the classic “Defend” option for shield-using soldiers and “Retreat” to a safe point when damaged, to more situation-specific ideas such as igniting a forest with enemies in it or planting an explosive keg and detonating it from a distance (which would require the Engineer class). I personally would love to see the possibility of creating your own formations for your troops, each with their own behaviors.
Upgrades act as bonuses to your units’ effectiveness. They too can be very general, like faster movement for foot soldiers, or specific, like additional damage or resistance against goblin enemies. These could even be expanded to include more social or economic concepts, such as higher morale and faster construction (this could further prove their use out of combat, but might be too diverse for one type of unit. It is more of a passive class, so perhaps this could work?).
Obviously, such a unit would be more of a long-term commitment, as their abilities need to grow over time. To prevent them from being over-powered, perhaps only a limited number of Commands and Upgrades can be equipped at one time, while unequipped abilities could take the shape of books or scrolls in the world and be stored in a chest, library, etc… As the unit promotes, they can “memorize” more abilities at once, giving them more diversity. They could begin as a Tactician, then a Strategist or General, eventually reaching some awe-inspiring title of some sort, like “Grandmaster Combatologist” (although that sounds very silly and ridiculous).
Like the discussion on farming, the class could be explored as much or as little as the player wants, but it would certainly help them out in the long run. The resources and spoils you obtain could be used to research abilities, or found through trading and exploring. I can see them as a sort of “mini-leader” to your troops and people, acting as a way to herd them as groups and create a little more fun and creativity to the combat portion of Stonehearth. I’d love to hear both the Discourse’s and the team’s opinion of such a direction for gameplay. Combat is still very young in Stonehearth, and I can’t wait to see what it becomes.
Get ready for the Titans!