Welcome everyone to another update for Awakening of the Rebellion. The time since the last update has flown by, and the team has continued to be hard at work getting the mod closer and closer to completion. We’ve got some brand new goodies to talk about, so let’s get to it.
Mod of the Year
Yep, it’s that time of the year again! Time for you to go to the banner at the top of this page and vote! Seriously, do it right now. It will feel good, I promise. In the current stage of voting, you can vote for multiple mods. We would like to also ask you to support our fellow mods and vote for them as well.
Rise of Hope: Nkorn and the ROH Modding team
Rise of the Mandalorians: Farseer
Star Wars Rebellion: Megabalta
Battlefront Commander: Clonetrooper163
Galactic Battlegrounds – Expanding Fronts – Gen_Rhyn_Dallows
Thrawns Revenge: ICW and Ascendancy – Corey
And we also would like to give out a shout out to
YuuzhanVong at War: Burntstrobe and the Shapers
Even though they are considered out of the running for this year’s Moddb award because of last years most anticipated mod win, they are a vital component to our success and provide a lot of support to the entire EaWmodding community.
We will also be doing a special event for this year’s mod of the year event. Starting from now until the end of the year, we will be doing daily unit updates showing off our updated units and unit roster. These images will also be used for the mod’s manual that will release along with the mod. So enjoy the sneak peek and once again, don’t forget to vote!
AotR 2.6 Steam Workshop Support
As many of you know, Petroglyph and Disney have been very kind to restart support for Empire at War on Steam. The new patch adds multiplayer support and a lot of additional bugfixes, the most impactful for this mod being that the AI can now be fully loaded from the Mods directory. Because of this, we have released an updated version of AotR 2.6 onto the Steam Workshop, which has no additional steps for AI installation. Simply load the mod from the in game launcher, or use the provided launch options in the description. The mod also fixes the minor issue of the Death Star spawning for the AI after a successful Rebel story completion.
We also are looking into releasing a version here for Moddb for all you non-steam user folks. Thanks to Corey from Thrawn’s Revenge, who has many times repeated (to my blissful forgetfulness) that we can try and compile the AI and XML files into a Meg file to load the AI without any additional installation on your part. Hopefully, we can get that fix in along with the additional fix for the Death Star story for everyone to enjoy.
Now on to 2.7…
Alpha, what Alpha?
Over the past few months, the much fabled AotR 2.7 Alpha has circled around various testers and YouTube personalities. The goal of the closed alpha was to help ensure general stability and overall feedback on the new AI and design changes. We have plans for a third and (hopefully) final alpha which will have some more core features and updates that need testing. But before we talk about that, I wanted to share some of the high level learnings that the team has taken from the closed alpha.
We found that the AI from the alpha has lost a lot of aggressiveness than what was expected out of an AotR experience. Instead the AI opted to put more effort into defenses and especially in the late game, had the tendency to be able to build things they should not be able to. To remedy this problem, the AI attack scripts and evaluations have already received a major overhaul. More focus was put on the AI aggressiveness into back systems, so they are always moving towards the galaxy edge from their starting positions.
Another minor adjustment with a lot of impact is the fact that the AI can now attack planets through systems that are not defended in space. Meaning that holding the ground on a world will no longer prevent them from attacking weaker planets in the back. This small change has already made huge impacts into how difficult the AI is, and it causes some very interesting encounters to happen.
On top of this, we reworked how the AI gets its units. They will no longer be able to build a unit they do not have the required structure for, preventing the late game slog of large ship stacks. However, because of this change, we have made the Empire’s basic frigate shipyards buildable on all planets in order to keep them from getting “unit locked” without a shipyard planet. This brings them on the same playing field as the other two factions.
“Difficult to see, the future is”
There are a couple of additional features that have found their way late into the game for AotR. Spearheaded by Maxim, and with the help of YvaW’s very own KadVenku, we were able to add some features that were previously a challenge for us. Because of this, we are going ever so slightly delay working on the beta for a short bit, and instead work on releasing a third alpha. Many of the new features use completely new Lua architecture that needs to be tested for stability. Keep in mind that without these new Lua discoveries, these items were previously not going to be in AotR!
Hero Rescue Missions
Ever since the moment I began working on AotR, I had an idea to change how the normal hero respawn system worked. The problem with heroes in Empire at War stems from the fact that you can use them with a lack of regard for their survival and always get them back after a simple respawn timer. While this is an alright system for heroes that don’t provide much combat bonuses, it becomes a problem with heroes such as Admiral Akbar or the Executor. Many players have complained that they would kill either of these two heroes, sacrificing a majority of their fleet only to have their hard work be annulled with the hero respawning.
So the next option would be to remove hero respawns all together. While that would be an easy solution, it presents two more gameplay concerns. Firstly, an infinite death system causes players to be far too cautious in using their heroes for combat, favoring to keep units in the back lines to keep their galactic bonuses. We don’t want all heroes to become just stat boosts, and we don’t want to make the player fear using them. The second issue here is that AotR has an in depth story element that requires certain heroes to be alive in order for the story to progress. In a way, we need certain heroes to come back so the story can continue.
Which is where Hero Rescue Missions come into play. Major story characters, such as Leia or Darth Vader, have been given an alternate respawn system. As soon as your hero has been killed in either the galactic map or during combat, you will now receive a mission that informs you that your hero has been captured by the enemy. A “semi-random” location is chosen based on the enemy you just fought, and you will be tasked to take back the planet to get your hero back. This system is only on heroes that are story mission specific and do not have a major impact on combat. Heroes like Akbar or Garm Bel Iblis will not receive these missions, and once killed will be gone forever. Now if your hero is needed for a future mission, you better make some adjustments to your strategy and free them from captivity.
Right now the AI has a basic respawn mechanic in place to simulate this event for them. It is also only applied to the heroes that need to have it for story reasons. We are still thinking about creating missions for capturing AI hero prisoners, but for now we think a basic respawn system suits our needs just fine. If you kill the Executor, you kill it for good. But that doesn’t mean you or the AI won’t be able to rebuild a similar classed ship…
In order to help reduce the clutter of all the building and unit upgrades and help alleviate the limitation of the number of units in the build bar, we have introduced a new filter system for the GUI. By using the new filter buttons you are able to only look at categories of units you wish to see. This becomes especially useful on large production planets that may have more production options than build bar slots. The biggest blocker before for doing this properly is getting it to work correctly with unlocked units via mission rewards. Maxim has solved this problem, so now the unit filters are fully operational.
We wanted to make a system for the Black Sun mercenaries (and any other future units using this method) to collect wages on a weekly basis. Mercenaries will now come cheap initially, and will be a great unit to recruit in a pinch. However, each week there will be a recurring mission that pays for the mercenaries. The mission fixes mercenaries not having to be paid if they are enroute to a world, or draining credits from enemy planets when stationed over them. If you are unable to pay the full weeks’ worth of mercenary wages it will result in mercenaries leaving your cause.
With the upgrade and downgrade base system functional and tested, we are now going to be working on having a downside to keeping planets heavily upgraded. Each building that is not a credit production facility will require weekly upkeep. Cost will be determined based on two categories: building type and upgrade level. Production buildings will cause a small base amount of credits while defensive structures will require more. Anything that requires a power generator will cost the most amount of credits to keep operational. On top of that, the higher the level of building the more it will cost as well. This change will allow us to take full advantage of what the system was designed to do, and that is make sacrifices in order to keep your economy growing positively.
Along with this mechanic, we want the AI to be able to figure out good planets to save money on and actively downgrade planets that are in better defensive spots. This should be the final major galactic AI change we need to do, so we would like to test their behavior thoroughly.
Space Defense Structures
Many people have asked about being able to build additional space structures tailored exclusively for additional defenses. We have been on the fence about this idea for a while, but after hearing the large request for it we are going to work on giving each faction some sort of space structure for defense. Right now we are thinking additional Golan platforms for the Empire (provided you already have a Golan space station), additional Rebel XQs, and some special stuff for the Black Sun that we reveal at a later point. Also included in this project is expanding the Space tech levels from 3 to 5 in order to prepare for our larger pool of units. Each of these stations will use the original space station models, but their weapons and loadouts will be rebalanced so that they will only be able to protect themselves from minor attacks.
It’s Gonna Get a Lot Beta.
I also want to take some time to dive more deeply into the development stages for version 2.7. After the final alpha build, we plan to move forward into developing for the Beta stage. In traditional development terminology, reaching Beta involves being “content complete.” This means that every feature, unit, story mission, and everything to do with galactic conquest is completed. On the road to beta the team will be focusing on finishing the unit overhaul, overhauling the battle AIs, and finishing the entire story. This will not be a short development cycle. In fact, this next stretch of development will be the longest yet. We have well over 100 units to still redo, and three total campaigns to redo from scratch. And that is just the big ticket items. Don’t worry though, we will be providing constant updates as we always have, and there is definitely going to be some really cool surprises along the way.
Once we finish Beta, we will move into the final release candidate development. Here we will focus on balancing, audio, text, and of course, squashing bugs. Once we are confident with the state of the mod, we will then, and only then, release version 2.7.
Throughout our discussions we have had to sacrifice some big ticket items and push them back into future versions. Two major things that are planned that will not make it into the release of 2.7 are the overhauled ground combat and skirmish mode. Much of this work here can be done at the same time as our work for 2.8, but will release sooner than that version. We have added an additional release of 2.7.5, which will include the things that were mentioned above.
Our reasoning here is that while we do want these things completed, they require a significant time investment to complete. Right now we do not have an established mapping team, and many of the ground assets discussed are far grander than any ground map has gone before. We like to make sure that the game engine can actually handle the ideas we have via prototype before actually promising what they are.
On top of that, while skirmish is a mode that we definitely want to make our own, we don’t really feel that it should hold up the release of version 2.7, which already has enough things on its plate. Skirmish in 2.7.5 will take advantage of a lot of gameplay goodies that AotR is known for. Shipyards, upgraded units, and structure upkeep just to name a few. We are heavily inspired by the skirmish mode in SAU 3.3, so take a look at that mode for a better understanding of what we are aiming for.
Anyways, that’s all for now. Once again, don't forget to vote for mod of the year. And as always here's a cool little nifty thing I found...