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A great idea for a game, and some suggestions...

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Level 10 Human Student
Alignment: Chaotic
Posted on May 29, 2010 at 6:37 am

First of all I'd like to say that this game is a very good effort from such a small team. I've always wanted this kind of game - an RTS or TBS centred on the struggle for hegemony in Greece.

I've played it now for a few hours and have been struck by the high difficulty level. In some ways I do like a challenge, but with this game I feel as though I'm in constant danger of being overrun. The AI seems to launch attacks where it knows I'm overstretched and when it knows I'm busy elsewhere. I might be embarking on a rare offensive, then zoom out to find that a single peltast unit has sneaked through my borders and taken an unwalled core polis unopposed. Not wanting to weaken my own attack, I withdraw a cavalry unit from frontier duty in the west and send it after the roving band of peltasts, with a view to recapturing the town. No sooner has the cavalry got a significant distance from the area it was guarding then Epirus raids it, capturing an unwalled town and burning the farms. At about the same time, Athens and Methone land a raiding party near Pella and pillage the countryside, so I dispatch units to drive them back into the sea.

I then return to my offensive to find that my men are retreating because, without me babysitting them, they have just stood around while being reduced by peltast fire. While it is true that peltasts were the bane of heavier units in Classical Greece, it almost feels unfair that the AI builds them in great blobs. They make great raiding units but unfortunately they are rather useless for the player because as Macedon a raiding strategy is ineffective.

Furthermore I have found that the GUI gives inadequate warning of enemy attacks. Often I find that I am forced to react after the enemy has begun causing damage.

With these gripes in mind I would like to make a few suggestions to the developers for future patches (I understand the AI is less brutal in the coming patch, though it is not available on Impulse yet):

1. Increase the population cap each town gives the player. At the moment I need too many units defending my borders to field a viable offensive army. Gold is never an issue, but population is. Historically the reverse was true.

2. Reduce multi-front wars by introducing a limited diplomatic system. You should at least be able to pay off other factions so they leave you alone for a while. If the game were less parochial (i.e. less restricted by the RPG-like objectives and not limited to Macedon) then a more accurate simulation of the nuances of Greek diplomacy might have been vital. As things stand however, limited options will suffice. At the moment it seems like Macedon vs The World, and this wasn't strictly true.

3. Unwalled towns with a garrison should not be captured so easily! All poleis had a strategic location from where the local garrison would fight during a siege. Having a town garrisoned by spearmen being taken by peltasts just because it doesn't have walls is rather galling. An "easier" siege meter should appear for unwalled, garrisoned towns, or the AI should automatically make the defenders sally out to meet invaders (perhaps if they enter the supply area of the town).

4. Units should not stand around idle if they are under attack. This is very important. If I'm unable to micromanage my troops because I'm occupied elsewhere, it's annoying to return to find them dead because they didn't react to an enemy attack. Units should attempt to engage enemy units in a certain circle around themselves. Perhaps there should be different aggression settings for your units - "Stand Ground", "Drive Off" and "Pursue". The middle option would mean that the unit would return to its initial location having forced the enemy to move away, while the latter would have the unit run after the enemy at top speed.

5. Some kind of obvious audio and/or visual warning should appear when the enemy enters your territory.

Level 10 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on May 29, 2010 at 9:22 am

1. Increase the population cap each town gives the player. At the moment I need too many units defending my borders to field a viable offensive army. Gold is never an issue, but population is. Historically the reverse was true.

Before the latest two patches, this was very true. Once they toned down the aggression, I was easily able to have enough army for conquest as well as enough at strategic points. Keep in mind, you won't stop fires on your farms.... that's part of it.

For #3 and #4, I agree as well and this suggestion (or others very similar) were made. New AI is always the toughest to implement properly, while avoiding situations that allow far different circumstances to trigger the same reaction (from the code) and therefore have a run on the logic.

5. Some kind of obvious audio and/or visual warning should appear when the enemy enters your territory.

The game does have visual warnings, as well as an audio warning for a new "Enemy in visual range of ...something...". They also have auto-pause for visual alerts as well as combat alerts. I have yet to figure out the best combination, but currently I have auto-pause on for visual alerts, and not for combat. If I get into combat after being alerted for them, well.. I maybe deserve whatever happens for the lack of attention.

I find I leave my game paused more than I let it run, especially when making tactical/strategic/supply decisions through the large area I'm holding.

Also, there are some posts that talk about who attacks with no provocation (well, besides your rise to power) and those that only start attacking/raiding when you start attacking them. Taking an outpost (guard tower) for someone not attacking you will cause them to start, at least for me so far.

Hang in there and let the beta patch roll out to Impulse. The game plays a lot differently (from the reactionary standpoint).

Level 22 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Location: Toronto
Posted on May 29, 2010 at 10:39 am

The new patch has been uploaded to Impulse. They say it usually takes about 24hrs for updates to go live.

In the meantime, you can always download the demo from our site... The latest should be available within a few minutes of this post.

The demo is the full version. it just needs the serial code to unlock it, so you can safely install the demo over top of your Impulse version, or install the demo and plug in the serial code that you got from Impulse and you should be good.

As to the design issues. These are all features that were/are on the drawing board.
-Having troops auto attack when under ranged fire makes sense. The problem we had was how far to have them chase the ranged attacker and how to define the limits of the response. It can help to set the combat notification to auto-pause and use the "c" key to jump to each unit/area in combat.
-Having the garrison of an unwalled city sortie out to attack makes sense as they are destroyed if the city is captured. One solution is to station or camp the garrison beside the city, within resupply range. The AI assesses the strength of field forces and may abort an attack or raid when they approach to visual range and see that they are outmatched.
-Being a small self funded Indie developer, we just ran out of time/money before being able to properly implement the level of diplomacy that we'd originally planned for, so trimmed it for the initial release.

Hegemony is a work in progress and we'll provide updated enhancements and bug fixes as quickly as we can. In the meantime, your support and feedback is greatly appreciated!


Level 10 Human gamer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Posted on May 29, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I understand that you are a small team and that time and money does matter, and you really did a brilliant job on the game! I am enjoying it very much and your steady stream of updates is exemplary. ( This game is alot more of a challenge than any Total war game is on hardest difficulty and I love it when I REALLY have to position units in bottleneck or other important strategic positions in order to survive since the enemies are mostly outmatching me so I have to create epic bottleneck battles =))

Can we assume because of your post that we probably will see some diplomacy later in the updating/patching process?

Oh also an important question for me: Are the AI enemies fighting each other too or do they only attack the player?

Also i would like to see the cavalry really charge into enemy lines instead of stop directly infront of the enemy. It just seems as there is no "impact", no cavalry charge you know what I mean? I know cavalry has some shock value, but its hard for me to believe it delivered that shock without really charging into the enemies causing chaos. =]

/signed that defenders of unwalled cities should exit it upon attack
/signed counterattacking enemy ranged units =]
And ty for already integrating difficulty levels! :D

Level 22 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Location: Toronto
Posted on May 29, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Diplomacy was going to let you pick a faction to be paid a "bribe" to not attack you while you were paying the bribe. Each faction had a different amount required and the design would make it difficult to afford bribes for more than one or two factions at a time. A number of quest rewards also included spells of peace, but these were also scrapped in the release version.

The AI factions will attack each other but don't often unless they cross paths en route.

There is a charge bonus applied at impact based on the length of the charge and the presence of a general. [EDIT: The charge bonus didn't make it into the final release -rob] The lack of stirrups made impact relatively ineffective compared to later times.

I'll discuss with Rob, what's feasible and we shall see what we can do.