Idea: Pusher Minions

keithburgun

Administrator
Staff member
#1
Okay so I've been playtesting the game on my own and it still is having a problem it has had for a long time where stuff feels too localized and there aren't enough long/medium arc stuff having to do with the lanes that the player can do. In the past, I had tried to fix this by allowing the player to build stuff on the sides of lanes like buildings and towers and stuff, but that was super clunky and not actually very dynamic.

Here is my latest idea:

On tile 1 of each lane - the first tiles as they connect to your central base - there is a little pad you can step on. When you step on this pad, you can cause the tower to spawn a Pusher Minion. Pusher Minions are kind of like super-minions for your team, but they do not attack towers OR open lane chests, and you can't win the game with one either. All they do is fight enemy minions. They have high armor, high health, but no magic resist, so they are mainly for defense (minions can't kill them easily but towers can).

It's your base that spawns these, and your base has a cooldown on how often it can do it - about once every 50 turns. You step on the little pad and a new button pops up that says "SPAWN PUSHER MINION".

IN ADDITION TO THIS, I think the game needs way more feedback for the status of the lanes. I don't necessarily want to make the minimap bigger though. So I might just have like an upside T shape that's big and white somewhere and the lines get shorter and flash red when they're getting pushed in, so you can always see how pushed a lane is and if something is under attack.
 
#2
When you step on this pad, you can cause the tower to spawn a Pusher Minion. Pusher Minions are kind of like super-minions for your team
....about once every 50 turns.
I was liking it up till the 50 turns part! Will doing something every 50 turns make thaaaaaat much of a difference to gameplay?! What about having the player stay in the base all the time and making the whole game about selecting and sending out different kinds of minions up the lanes? With decisions about that mechanic every turn. It would be your primary action, and directly connected to the core mechanic of lane pushing.

...still is having a problem it has had for a long time where stuff feels too localized and there aren't enough long/medium arc stuff having to do with the lanes that the player can do.
I haven't been watching the streams but is ETO basically like PTL was? (I.e. our avatar moving around a large grid having tactical fights with various enemies). If so I think this can only remain a big problem. For me when I played PTL I wanted to be focusing on the (claimed) core mechanic of lane-pushing, and to be doing stuff towards that, but it felt like all my time was spent having to concentrate on these little tactical fights which seemed disconnected from strategy. Like I bet a military general would find it hard to think effectively about high-level strategy if they were also a front-line fighter at the same time!

I guess this is similar to what you're saying. In which case getting rid of the tactical fights seems like it has to at least be considered as an option. Or another would be radically streamlining the fights (no detailed positional/tempo/ranging/cagey circling etc.) to sort of raise the detail level of the tactics layer up to meet the rest of the strategy arcs rather than trying to think of new mid-arcs to fill the gap because the detailed tactical fights are an indispensable part of the design.

I remember there were several threads on the Dinofarm forum last year when we talked about whether there's any value in the tactical layer of a strategy game, and even whether it's destructive to strategy. What is your current thinking on that issue?
 

keithburgun

Administrator
Staff member
#3
Will doing something every 50 turns make thaaaaaat much of a difference to gameplay?!
I mean it depends on how powerful the thing is, right? If you had a thing that blew up an enemy tower every 50 turns, or something that healed you to full every 50 turns - yeah that'd make a huge difference! I picture these Pusher Minions pushing a lane out to at least 60%, maybe a bit more. So if you can do that every 50 turns that seems really powerful to me! (it's unlikely you would get it every 50 turns, because you're moving around doing different things.)

I think some of your suggestions are TOO BIG changes, but I think maybe a good half-measure to what you're talking about is to make the abilities slightly more medium-arc-ish. This could mean that some abilities leave things on the map which do stuff, or move you further, etc. Examples:

- Tennor's Amp could pump up minions significantly in a wider area. So you could plop one down on a lane and then move to another lane.
- Winchip's grappling hook arm could grapple much further, like maybe 8 or 9 tiles which is a really significant movement ability.

Basically stuff that buffs minions, moves you far, deals damage to towers, etc would be good for the strategic layer.

Yeah you absolutely want a tactical layer on a strategy game. The only reason to think otherwise is just the fact that most of the games we play are the Connect 4 CCG thing where the "strategy layer" is just some super thin BS and the tactics game is actually the game. I don't know of a ton of examples of games where the tactical and the strategic (and everything in between) are all sort of part of the same picture - I guess Civ maybe, or probably League of Legends. But I want to do a better job of this than those. I do think there's merit to the idea of simplifying the tactics and making sure that you can only do so much at the tactical level, but that's not IMO the current problem. The current problem is not "you can do too much at the tactical level" but rather "you can do too little at the strategic".

(If you want to debate the "tactics in a strategy game" concept itself (separate from ETO) further I would make a new thread.)
 
#4
Yeah I definitely like the sound of abilities with a bit more punch to them!

Going back to the superminions maybe a variation could be rather than pushing a button to get them, if you started with say 2 or 3 of them, and when they died and respawned (maybe after a delay) you'd choose which lane to send them down. It might add a bit more team-based MOBA flavour to the experience, or like quake CTF with bots, as if they were your squad, but were really just dumb lane-pushing minions with different abilities. E.g. say you rolled Tay for a match, maybe you'd get Winchip and Tennor as sidekicks!
 

Nachtfischer

Moderator
Staff member
#5
Wouldn't this basically mean you have to be back at base every 50 turns to not waste this free resource? I guess going back frequently has other drawbacks so it might be a decision to make. It just seems weird to have this big global-cooldown ability, which suggests it's bound to your character, but then you have to be at a specific point on the map to trigger it. Do you need the pads?

Keep in mind all this is me just going by gut feeling...
 
#6
What if its bound to character, but it just summons to whatever lane you’re in? Or alternatly a button next to non enemy tower, that summon to that lane.

Speaking of which why are the lanes perpendicular from one another? Is it to make progressing in a lane a linearly increasing turn investment? It seems like most mobas benefit from having lanes change non-linearly in their distance from one another as you push them out.
 

keithburgun

Administrator
Staff member
#7
Wouldn't this basically mean you have to be back at base every 50 turns to not waste this free resource?
No, it automatically keeps pumping minions as soon as it can down the selected lane. You only have to go back IF you want EXTRA minions on other lanes (but that costs money) OR if you want to switch the selected lane (also costs a little money). Also you're gonna be going back for healing and the shop anyway.

What if its bound to character, but it just summons to whatever lane you’re in?
I don't know what "bound to character" means, but I think summons to whatever lane you're in is like, exactly not doing the thing I need this to do, which is give the player the ability to do something on a lane they're not in.

Basically here's another way of saying what this does: players can, at any point, have a maximum of two lanes defended. One with their character, and one with the pusher minions. They can combine these to help with rushdown, but then they're extra vulnerable on the other two lanes. You always have at least one lane not-covered.
 
#8
I think having a zero investment way of defending a lane is a bad idea. As you described the system, the cost to the player would be returning to the base. I think it would be better if instead of going back to base they could also briefly visit a lane (perhaps a button near non-enemy-controlled towers). However with perpendicular lanes this doesn't make much sense since there is no point at which switching lanes is faster than returning to base.

I think you should seriously reconsider having perpendicular lanes, since perpendicular lanes mean the cost of switching lanes varies uniformly with distance from the base, instead of being a complex function. You want the decision to switch lanes to vary non-uniformly based on how pushed out and which lane you're in. Sometimes closer sometimes further, a non-obvious decision. You could get a similar non-linear effect by introducing warp pads (maybe somewhat randomly located) which allow instant travel from one point to another.
 

keithburgun

Administrator
Staff member
#9
Well you already have TWO zero-investment ways of defending lanes: towers and minions. This just makes it not completely uniform. It seems good to me that you can passively protect one lane, since there are two others and you can only, at best, protect one of the two others. So it is a constant juggling of two lanes - one defensively protected by the pushers, one offensively pushed by you, and one getting pushed in by the enemy at all times (unless you want to sometimes double up on one lane in which case there's a really high cost in that two of your lanes get pushed in).

You want the decision to switch lanes to vary non-uniformly based on how pushed out and which lane you're in. Sometimes closer sometimes further, a non-obvious decision.
I do agree about this but I don't understand why perpendicular lanes does this better than the kind we have now. If you go deep into any lane you're getting further from the other lanes and from the base.