Real Time Strategy in Sins Versus Tactical Real Time Strategy in Sins.
The interesting thing about AOTF is it’s not a pure RTS like other Sins mods currently available many of the mechanics will work differently to what’s currently out there and you won’t be relying on death ball fleets in fact you’re going to have a lot less ship wise than you would have seen in say Star Trek Armada 3, and every ship from small to large will have a specific role.
Now i know what you’re thinking doesn’t every ship has a specific role in STA3, SOTP, ASC or any other sins mod? Yes, yes they do for those mods, however there are some commonalities between all mods that follow base sins that were going to throw away from the beginning which is why AOTF is quite ambitious in scope and I’m going to demonstrate this by talking about the humble but not so humble scout class for the federation.
The Scout class ship in sins has always been an oddity to me as a coder, it’s the first ship you usually start with and in most mods its sole purpose in life is to fly off on auto explore run itself into some neutral and then die a horrible embarrassing death, i hate it so much that i turned auto explore off in STA3 for all scouts (to some people’s annoyance). Even in STA3 scouts fly off they cross certain gravity wells then they die a horrible death, can we please feel for the brave men and women who serve on these Federation vessels!
So why are scouts different even in AOTF, well firstly they are needed to counter other vessels, sure they are some of the cheapest ships to build but they are no slouches in combat terms either, able to be part of a fleet as much as any other vessel, we are taking some risks in AOTF because of its tactical nature. Firstly, gone is auto explore... there is no autoexploreing death available to you as a player (The AI care little for scouts still sending ships wherever they like) if you want to scout a system you’re going to need to send that ship off to do so and command it, Nooo i hear your cry, but wait how will you then make a scout a scout? It’s about abilities. Abilities are the key to every vessel in AOTF a lot of the abilities will not auto cast for the player (The AI will) you have to choose to command each ship and its abilities.
Some call this Micro Intensive, or just plain Micro for short, now the issue where most mods have in the past fallen down with Micro is that you have far too many ships engaged in combat to micro as a player, and this is where AOTF starts to differ, firstly this is early enterprise era building up to the four years’ war, there will not be hundreds of vessels available to you as a fleet you will have probably at most available in the region of 50 ships or thereabouts, sounds like a lot still but it’s really not when you factor in costs of each ship. This helps us also ensure that early game ships have a use still.
With so few vessels to command you really need to think about how you fight a battle each ship including our humble scout has a role in the opening minutes of a battle, lets focus in on our scout its abilities will be an attack to disable a targets engine, unique to its class and the ability to deploy a sensor probe that keeps a gravity well in view for a certain duration. The latter is great for watching certain avenues of attack the former is where the scout shines, so let’s play out a scenario.
Each ship has its role as we said before, corvettes for example are fast and great at dealing with long range threats such as artillery vessels and alike, they are great for flanking purposes, let’s say you deploy some artillery to bombard an enemy fleet as it approaches, great good for you, wait there’s a corvette from the other playing flanking on your right, you can’t afford to pull a heavy cruiser from your fleet to deal with this or you will lose the main engagement so what do you do? well there’s some options you could taunt the scout continually with a tanking class vessel that’s one way to drag a corvette off its target, or why waste such a valuable ability when you could just disable the corvettes engines with a well-timed phase canon blast, and thus here comes our hero of the hour, saviour of the artillery the humble, or not so humble now Scout class. Here is you smiling at your hero of the hour, grinning from ear to ear while typing the words "played" into the chat to your opponent.
You see from the above every single vessel in AOTF gets to be the hero of a battle because you the player has to carefully choose how and when you use those abilities, the cool downs will not be super short either, and did i mention that using an ability 3 or 4 times drains pretty much all your antimatter, so timing and good tactics are important because you will need to be sending your fleet vessels back to refuel on antimatter. This sets the scene for the wider game, you can’t afford to death ball and you must decide when to send your ships back to space dock for repairs and refuelling because a fleet that’s well rested, fuelled and fit to fight will demolish one that’s been at constant battle for days, thus supplies are everything, abilities are your way to win and your humble scouts get to be a hero.
If this has intrigued, you and your starting to wonder how will each ship of the fleet perform? what will it counter??? then you need to stay tuned to this mod like glue.
My names Bane, I’m the lead coder for balance and gameplay in AOTF and STA3 Nemesis and if you would like to know more and discuss sci-fi with me and others you can catch my weekly AOTF and Ascendancy coding streams at Youtube.com every Tuesday at 8PM BST where we code and test AOTF live.
Until next time as Orion says Stay Classy or Don't