Monday, January 07, 2008

Death Hands

Hi guys,
Thanks again for the feedback. Most of the questions you have can be easily explained by reading the documentation for the game (such as the buttons not working and the inability to attack single enemy units).
However, I wanted to comment on two bits of feedback which I found interesting, namely on the Death Hands and on Microwave power.
In my own playtesting with numerous friends, we found many ways to counter both these tactics. First of all, if you aren't allied with Corrino, you should be allied with one of the other two house, which both have powerful weapons also. The Spacing Guild has saboteurs, but more importantly a discount at the Starport, so they can really mobilize armies in a hurry. And the Fremen have Warriors who can sneak around the map because they don't show up on radar (and also PWN large vehicles like Death Hands), and don't suffer losses from worms often.
I found it easy to counter Death Hands. Of course it goes without saying that the most important thing in the game is exploring the whole board, so I always got that advantage early. Once I knew my opponent had them, these are some of the tactics I used:
  • Since their accuracy is horrible over longer ranges, your enemy needs to get them close to you. However, they can't be airlifted, so they have to be moved into place (and remember, units on MOVE orders always take extra damage). Always keep a small group of units in reserve outside of your base to fly/run out to eliminate them in short order. 500 credits may not seem like a lot, but when they're killed so easily, your opponent won't use them often and survive.
  • Since their use requires some micro-management, put some pressure on the rest of your opponent's base while he's working on them, and you can cause much more damage than the average Death Hand shot.
  • Try to force your enemy to fire them from within his own base, before he's had a chance to move them closer to you. They malfunction 10% of the time and land right where they're fired, which can be great fun to watch.
  • Also keep in mind they must be launched one at a time; this combined with the risk of malfunction makes it very wasteful for an enemy to keep them in groups or to send them out with escorts. If he insists on doing so he'll eventually lose a couple thousand credits instead of just 500 when launching one, which will leave a sour taste in his mouth.
  • If I had Fremen, keep a few Warriors scattered around the open areas of the map. They can cause huge disruption to harvesting and Death Hand operations because they excel versus larger units. If I had Saboteurs, run one right up to the Death Hand and detonate. Or, more insidiously, watch his Death Hands to see when he's using them, and take that time to use the micro-management needed to get your man into the perfect place to cause him large monetary losses. Otherwise, even a small team of Trikes and Quads is an effective counter. You'll get there fast, and he's guaranteed to lose at least 500 credits.
In the end, I reduced their price to 500 simply because they weren't useful enough. They're gone after one shot, easily killed, require management time, and don't hit targets often. Personally I'd rather build another squad of Sardaukar and a Wall.

As for Microwave power, sure, those three turrets can do some damage. Only a few problems with that though. First, they can be destroyed while being built, and if they're being constantly repaired, they're chewing up more credits than you think. They can also be picked off one at a time or out-ranged. But most importantly, they're using a lot of extra power if you've built them at a great distance. So, while you're busy doing that, I'll send an attack group into your Windtraps and disable a large part of your base.
I've never had a problem dealing with an opponent using Microwave power. It's really supposed to be more help with expanding your base, rather than as an attack vector. However, I'll be revisiting it during the final phases of the next version (along with everything else, at least a moment), so there might be changes to it in the future.

In my testing, when spice production levels were even, the game ended up being very nicely balanced after the final changes were made.

Thanks again everybody!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Some quick notes...

Just to respond to some of the comments I've received...
Thanks a lot for all the the fine words! It's nice to get some appreciation for all the hard work.
Please be sure to read the documentation file, and focus on the Interface section. That's always a big issue with people, but once you get used to it, I think it's superior.
Just to answer some quick things:
You can select multiple units easily - by double-clicking!
I may very well add game-speed control in the new version. AI is definitely planned.
Microwave power allows you to build structures at any distance from any other structure. The normal power system is still in effect though, so expect that far-out WOR facility to soak up a huge amount of power.
The other bugs I'm aware of. They will not be an issue with the new version (but expect some brand new ones! :P )

Back to work...