Tech Levels -- Adding to the army, not replacing it

There are three different things a higher tech unit can do:

– Fill a new role in the army.
– Add an alternative for a role in the army.
– Replace a role in the army.

As far as RTS design is concerned, some of the best designs are for higher tech units to fill new roles (worthwhile ones) in the army or to add alternatives for existing roles. Those two help to create more strategic and tactical options for players.

However, replacing a role is limiting to strategies available. Note that this isn’t the same as adding an alternative, though an alternative can sometimes be better, and then become a replacement. Preferably, an alternative should be an option that has its unique advantages and disadvantages which are different than those of the other option. Each option should be useful in its own way, not making the others obsolete due to simply outclassing them.

One example is Ion Cannon Frigates vs Attack Bombers in HW1. Both of them are meant to take down large ships, but Ion Cannon Frigates have more damage output and durability while Attack Bombers have more mobility. ICFs are more prone to enemy anti-slow ship weapons, and ABs are more prone to anti-strikecraft weapons. ICFs take up frigate slots and ABs take up fighter slots.

Preferably, both options should be desirable choices for the role, but for different reasons. However, if one outclasses the other to the point of almost always being the superior option, then the other option adds little to no strategy to the game once both options are available.

Now, in Homeworld, class-based ship capacities kind of help to avoid this compared to games that have a total supply capacity for all army units, because you can have one option without taking away the capacity to have the other option. However, you still have to choose what to fill your fighter and frigate capacities with, and what to spend your RUs on.

When designing the multiplayer, let’s try not to replace options with higher tech options. Let’s allow higher tech to enhance the army and to add options without taking other options away.

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Yeah, this is the problem I have with BCs.

They’re not simply the highest DPS and HP per cost of any unit. They also outrange them all, and are pretty fast, get subsystem modules, etc.

I think every unit should have its purpose. Like Zerglings and Marines are always good in SC. In DoW there were these early units that were still always good because they could push units around.

In HW1, the DPS of scouts and intercepters were always relevent, and their speed always made them hard to kill if there wasn’t a grav well.

I missed this post when it went by. But a good one. Nice analogy with bombers and Ions.

That’s also why the use of hcs in hw1 was great. It took immense time to research them and they were not that superior and still could just die from 10 frigs without any problem. In hw2 making 1 unit such OP destroyed the whole MP and the only reason it did survive was caused by modding.

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In HW1 HCs were good merely because they could survive the alpha strike and get repaired by support frigates.

Support frigates only work on units that aren’t instantly dead.

They are also more build time efficient I think even though their dps/hp per RU scaled pretty linearly?

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Actually if we had 2 production lines in hw1 I think that producing hcs wouldnt be an option cause it just took too much time to do so and the results were not so good.

Homeworld 2 tech tree is such that you will eventually replace units.

Homeworld 1 not so much.

I think the difference between the two makes them unique and adds to the asymmetry that people here talk about, but I don’t think Homeworld 2 necessarily has to be that way.