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Siege of Centauri Dev Journal: Strategy & Mayhem - Dichotomy of Design

Published on Friday, August 16, 2019 By GGTheMachine In Siege of Centauri Dev Journals

Strategy and mayhem are the core of what makes a tower defense fun to play. Tower defense games need to pose meaningful decisions to the player, but while also containing tension and frenzy. Siege of Centauri went through different iterations internally as we tried to find the perfect mix of strategy and mayhem. Strategy and mayhem aren't inherently at odds with each other, but inevitably will be at times. Each tower defense game has different leanings, but there's always a balance to strike and navigating that dichotomy has been a design challenge. Today I'll be sharing some of the examples where this dichotomy has come up and how we've navigated around it.

Tower Costs

Ignoring balance and difficulty for a moment, how much should towers cost? It may seem like a basic question, but it matters a lot! If towers are too cheap, then placing them can feel inconsequential and a repetitive chore. If towers are expensive, you'll naturally only have a few so as each is more of a commitment, making each one more meaningful. However, overly high tower costs mean you can spend too much time saving up and waiting rather than placing towers. You can feel more like an observer than a player, and overly expensive towers can make the rock/paper/scissors counter system too punishing. Lower tower prices also mean you have more action on the screen, which creates cool visuals! Sitting back and watching towers blow stuff up should be fun.


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FREE WEEKEND: Try Galactic Civilizations III on Steam August 15th - 19th!

Published on Thursday, August 15, 2019 By Tatiora In GalCiv III News

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Build a civilization that will stand the test of time in the largest space-based strategy game ever! Choose from dozens of unique races and make a name for yourself across the galaxy through diplomacy, espionage, technological advances, and more.

Galactic Civilizations III is a 4X space strategy game set in the 23rd century. Humans and aliens compete against each other for domination of the galaxy through war, cultural hegemony, diplomacy, and more. Customize your game experience right down to every detail: galaxy size, opponent factions, victory conditions, AI difficulty level, and frequency of galactic events and anomalies. 

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Star Control: Origins
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Siege of Centauri: Beta 3 Changelog

Published on Monday, August 12, 2019 By DerekPaxton In Siege of Centauri Dev Journals

*** RELEASED 08/22/2019 ***

New Features

  • Endless Mode- The onslaught doesn't end. See how long you can last against increasingly more difficult waves.
    • Covey- Five paths lead down from the north toward your colony. Can you defend against them all?
    • Mendel- A huge desert map gives plenty of room to build defenses. And you will need it against a wide variety of attackers.
    • Ulrath- An arctic forest with dispersed resources. It will be hard to defend your Colony, Metal Refinery and Fission reactor, hard decisions will need to be made.


  • New Campaign Missions- Follow the story of the Siege of Centauri with seven new missions.
    • Plains of Fire- This Medium sized Desert map will test your ability to withstand threats of all sorts. Air units, dreadnoughts, shielded, swarms and even units that produce aircraft as they travel.
    • Dule- This night map introduces a new enemy whose army grows as it travels. Take it out quickly, or it could be too large by the time it reaches your Colony.
    • Plutus- Your Colony is well defended here, but your resources aren't. Try to keep everything safe, which won't be easy because of a new enemy that speeds up all its allies.
    • Sord- The enemy has also deployed turrets at this location. Be careful where you use Milton and Reinforcements, if they are too close to the enemy turrets, they won't last long.
    • Caina- Spiders eggs dot this map. If the enemies reach them they will tear them open and the spiders will join the attack on your colony.
    • Styx- A new Juggernaut assaults your colony, and it produces waves of Falling Stars as it travels. Can you kill it before it reaches your colony while the stars are disabling your defenses?
    • Sedge- This time there is no Colony to protect. Instead you are building a device that will end the war. Can you complete construction and hold it for the 10 minutes it takes to activate while the enemy assault grows?


  • Download and Share Scenarios- Have you always wanted to make your own tower defense game? Create your own maps and missions, share them with the community and download scenarios the community has created. check out the Modder's Guide here:

  • New Towers- Two new towers are available to equip and upgrade.
    • Mortar- A cheap area effect tower, great for weakening swarms and softening any allies without spending much metal.
    • Nova Tower- An assault tower with long range, high damage and and area of effect. Whats the catch? It only damages shields and won't do anything to enemies without them.

  • New Enemies- Lots of new threats to test your defenses.
    • Rolling Hive- This hard to kill hive produces flying Wasps as it travels that will fly directly to your colony from wherever the Hive is.
    • Floating Factory- The enemy produces Scarabs as it travels that slowly add to its army. What starts as a single threat could be a massive swarm if it isn't taken out in time.
    • Harbinger- This flying fortress will need everything you have to take it down.
    • Taskmaster- This slowly advancing enemy will speed up all allies that come near it. From entire hoards, to dreadnoughts barreling toward your base. Be care who you allow it to get close to.
    • Nest of the Queen- A devastating production dreadnought. It can take out your Colony in seconds if it gets close. The Nest is especially difficult to beat because it sends out waves of Falling Stars to disable towers in front of it.
    • Heart of the Phoenix- The toughest and most deadly enemy so far. When this dreadnought is destroyed, it forms a sturdy egg that will birth a new Phoenix after a delay. Destroy the Egg before process can complete.
    • Vulture- A special enemy on Sedge that will take out anything in its path, including your towers.

  • New Upgrades- Lots of new upgrades to allow you to customize your towers the way you want. 
    • Nuclear EMP- Upgrades the Carpathia's standard EMP delivery system to a small nuclear payload, allowing for a much larger blast radius.
    • Ares Charge- Reduces the Energy cost of your disruption beam by 25%.
    • Defense Scrambling- For a short period, targets take an additional 20%, 30% or 40% increased damage depending on tower level.
    • Chain Lightning- Overloads an enemy, causing them to pulse with energy that will damage nearby units.
    • Colony Interface- Connect to the Colony's computer network to assist its upgrade procedure, reducing the cost of Colony upgrades by 25%.
    • Shellshock- All enemies hit have their weapon reload increased by 100%, 150% or 200% depending on tower level.
    • Field Leak- Disables the targets shield regeneration for 30 seconds.
    • Lossless Recycle- Reduces the cooldown of all orbital abilities by 25%.
    • Colony Pulse- Colony Weapons ignore shields.
    • Recharge Generator- Reduce the cooldown of Overcharge by 90%, allowing you to spam it as long as you have the energy to use it.
    • Targeting Calibrations- Updates Milton with Icarus targeting capable of engaging airborne targets.
    • Metal Replication- Allows the Carpathia to automatically generate additional metal equal to a small percentage of your existing metal stores.
    • And many more.


  • Everything has been re-balanced.
  • Really, everything? Yes.
  • What about...? Yes, that too.
  • Difficulty now modifies maximum spawn size (so you wont get as many enemies in swarms on lower difficult levels).
  • Orbital Strike no longer has a 10 second delay.
  • Reduced the time a Falling Star disables towers.
  • Towers are allowed to shoot beyond their range a bit if they have been tracking an enemy that just moved out of range (this prevents a very frustrating issue where towers would aim, then the target gets out of range, then aim, then the target gets out or range forever and never shoot).


  • You can't overcharge in the radius of an Orbital Nullifier.
  • So many performance improvements.
  • Fixed edge scroll issues that were keeping players form being able to place a tower at the edge of the screen.
  • Fixed an issue where maps with a lot of waves would overwhelm the wave panel.
  • Reinforcements are better at engaging with enemies.
  • Crash fixes.
  • Fixed lighting on Epicurus.
  • Milton's Jake Peralta module uploaded. Cool cool cool cool cool.
  • Fixed an issue that could cause negative scores.
  • Fixed an issue where your high score wouldn't be updated if you were defeated.


  • Tons of new sound effects.
  • Tons of new and improved visual effects.
  • There is now a briefing screen before every mission (v/o is coming).
  • Added tooltips to the score entries so you can see exactly how the score is calculated.
  • WASD key selection no longer disables tower hotkeys.
  • Victory screen now includes shield damage done.
  • The campaign screen now shows what difficulty level you beat each map at.
  • Added a warning if you try to start a mission with air units without an anti-air tower equipped.
  • Added a warning if you try to start a mission without any towers equipped.
  • When you select an upgrade for a tower, that tower automatically becomes equipped.
  • If you unequip a tower, all upgrades for that tower are automatically returned.
  • We now show if you have unspent upgrade points on the mission screen.
  • We change the cursor when you mouseover an Energy Cell, to indicate that it will explode if you click it.
  • Milton is now displayed with your tower damage on the Victory screen.
  • We now show new unlocks on the victory screen.
  • Updated loading tips.
  • We now display the amount of free towers you have available on the tower button, if an upgrade has given you some.
  • Updated camera to be more top down at farther zoom.
  • New icons for all towers.
  • There is now a view indicator on the minimap.

Ashes Dev Journal - Meta Campaigns

Published on Friday, August 9, 2019 By GGTheMachine In Ashes Dev Journals

Many RTS campaigns have a meta-map which dictates the flow of the campaign, such as the one found in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade. Meta campaigns aren't inherently a good or bad approach compared to a traditional, linear mission structure, it depends on how well it's executed.  Meta campaigns are easy to mess up and be an anti-fun grind, so they should not be tacked on as an extra feature. A meta-campaign should be the entire focus for the single player campaign or a substantial DLC like Company of Heroes 2's Ardennes Assault. So what is it that makes a good meta-campaign?

Not all types of RTS games are going to work equally as well with a meta-campaign which is crucial to identify. Meta campaigns tend to consist of procedurally generated skirmish missions with certain perks such as different win conditions. Short 1v1 skirmishes with constraints don't make sense for an RTS game like Supreme Commander, which instead shines in lengthy sandbox style missions on massive maps. With an emphasis on skirmish style missions, the skirmish AI has to be really fun to verse for a meta-campaign to not just feel like a grind. While Rise of Nations has minimal variation in its missions, the skirmish AI is so fun to verse that it hardly matters. Let's take a look at some of the reasons an RTS might want to do a meta-campaign over a traditional linear campaign.


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Galactic Civilizations III v3.8 Ascension Update Available Today!

Published on Thursday, August 8, 2019 By Tatiora In GalCiv III News

Galactic Civilizations III v3.8 Update Brings Major UI Changes

Set in the 23rd century, Galactic Civilizations III is a 4X space strategy game where humans and aliens compete against each other for domination of the galaxy. v3.8 brings a few exciting changes to this already massive game, which you can read more about below.

No more sneaky Ascensions! At the forefront of the update are changes to the Ascension notifications and UI. Each civilization's progress is now displayed on an easy-to-read progress bar, and anytime someone gains control of an Ascension crystal, an icon will alert you to it. 

The shipyard display now shows how much production is being sent to that shipyard so that you know how fast it's able to build things. The planet list views will now also show research.

We've also made some other improvements to the UI's layout, including updating screens so that they use fonts, colors, and font sizes consistently. We've also added a feature where you can adjust the difficulty level in the middle of a game. Read the full list of changes below!


  • As soon as someone controls an Ascension crystal, have an icon show up and informs you that Ascension has started. Mousing over should show you how far along each civ with Ascension is from ascending as a % bar with (turns).
  • UI Layout updates
    • Updated most screens to use fonts, colors, and font sizes consistently.
    • Made fonts bigger wherever possible.
    • General cleanup of margins and list entries wherever possible.
    • Removed extra returns from the "word on the street" blurbs.
    • Move some of the drop-downs in options screens to keep them from clipping.
  • You can now adjust the difficulty level mid-game through the options screen (single player only).
  • Starting ships don't append a number to their name unless another ship of the same design has already been spawned. This is to support custom flavorful names for core starting ships from starting ship designs
  • Updated starting ship names of factions added to the game after Crusade.
  • Shipyard display now shows how much production is being sent to that shipyard, so you know how fast it can build things.
  • Fixed an issue causing the unit buttons from not showing up in Medium UI on the Colony List screen.
  • Planet view list now displays research
  • Aliens can now be tagged as being available or unavailable as random civilizations
  • Fixed Tourism exploit in Crusade version of the Consulate
  • The AI has been ordered to stop freezing time to keep its mission ships safe (stuck turn fix)
  • Addressed "word on the street" grammar and spelling mistakes
  • Removed duplicate planet data in crusade and base game data folders that could potentially cause bad things(TM)
  • Adjusted the choose civ screen to improve text wrapping
  • Fixed alignment issue on the Drath starting screen
  • Fixed a bug that prevented commanders from being assigned to United Earth ships

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Siege of Centauri: Scenario Workshop Sneak Peek

Published on Sunday, August 4, 2019 By DerekPaxton In Siege of Centauri Dev Journals

We have a great time designing missions for Siege of Centauri. There is a lot of design work to do to get the pacing right. To much and it's overwhelming, to little and it's boring.

One of the lessons I have learned is that even though its fun to have a variety of challenges, large maps, multiple entrances, unpredictable movement, etc, it gets overwhelming very quickly. Unpredictable movement in particular can make someone want to drop kick their monitor when they setup defenses and enemies totally ignore them and go a different way.

In general I like these different threats because when they are used very specifically it provides a new challenge to tackle. For example I love Rul. It is a small map with one entrance, but there is no indication where the enemies are going to go when they enter the map. It isn't overwhelming because it is the challenge factor, everything else (enemy strength, etc) is all relatively easy. Most opponents don't even come for your colony first.

But the "unpredictable movement" tool in our toolbox is used very sparingly.

Likewise I really loved multiple entrances for forcing players to make decisions about deployment and not going down the same path every time as you may notice in other TD games. But it can also be overwhelming when you are completely unaware of an army as it sneaks past your defenses and sacks your colony and you didn't even know it was there. Having to make a calculated strategic decision is good, losing because your weren't monitoring the minimap closely enough isn't fun (and isn't the game we are trying to make).

It seems to feel better in larger groups. So instead of having enemies coming in form the East-West-East-West-East-West it feels better to be East-East-East-West-West-West. That way you are able to focus on a region as part of a larger war that is going on. Knowing you won't have anyone coming through the east entrance for the next 405 waves gives you time to leave that be and worry about other areas of a larger map.

It is a lot of fun. And soon you will be able to have that fun too. Siege will have the ability create and share your own missions with the community, as well as downloading and playing the missions other people have created. If you want to create a mission where There is barely any places to place towers you can do that. If you want nothing but endless rivers of reapers coming at your colony that never ends until you kill 1,000,000 of them, you can do that.

I'll provide a full modding guide for Siege later but for now this is a little sneak peek.

First we have a map editor that allows you to select the size, environment, terrain, buildings, effects and cosmetic values you want. Decide where to put your colony, outposts, fission reactors, metal refinery's and energy cells. Draw out your paths and place plateaus where you want the player to be able to put towers and basins and mountains where you want to block movement. Put your metal refineries in a great defensive location, or put them right by an entrance so they come under immediate attack.

I enjoy making maps, but you can also use one of the existing maps in the game if you want to jump right to planning the attack.

Everything for designing the mission script is in XML. We use the scripting functionality from Ashes of the Singularity, with a lot of new features for Siege. At a very high level you have Waves:

Which tell you what is to spawn and when. It includes the rush bonus for each wave (in case you want to play with those) and the timer for the main wave (Wave3 Timer=55 means that wave 3 will spawn 55 seconds after wave 2). As well as delays for parts of that wave. Just because there are 6 Punishers spawned in Wave 5 doesn't mean they all have to spawn at once (though they could), in the above they spawn 2 seconds part from each other.

You also need to define the paths. These give you complete control over where the units will go. You select where a spawn using this path will begin and where it will travel on its way to your colony. There is an option in the map editor to show positions so you can see exactly what points you want your enemies to travel to.

The third major piece is the Spawns themselves. These are what are called by the waves and you can see that they all have a path assigned. So you can see that if a wave called for a spawn of "Air-Spawn" it will create a Unit_Air (which is a Punisher group) on the path Path-Air for player 1 (the bad guys).

That's all you need to make it work. But if you really want to have some fun there are a lot of trigger you can play with. You can give the player some metal, spawn a specific enemy if a player put a tower in a certain region, make something happen when a particular enemy dies, send in some help for the player, and on and on. All of the missions in Siege are open (you can look through them with any text editor) so you can see how we do it for your own scenarios. And I'm excited to see what all of you come up with.

I came from the modding community so I get a lot of pleasure out of putting these sorts of tools into the game, and I look forward to playing your creations soon.

Summer of Star Control

Published on Monday, July 29, 2019 By Frogboy In Star Control Journals

It's been an exciting Summer so far for fans of Star Control. Last month we re-released the classic trilogy on Steam, posted a major update to the engine to improve the visuals, and now we are busy working on chapter 3 of the Earth Rising expansion.

For those of you who have played the game or will be buying the game in the near future, let's talk about the galactic scene today.

Star Control takes place in the not-so-distant future. The stars are real stars, and in Origins they're placed based on their actual relative distances from Earth. We even have the known exoplanets in there.

The part of the galaxy we are in is known as the "Mid Spur," which refers to Orion's Spur (sometimes called Orion's arm), in a single sector called the "Scryve Sector". 

The Scryve sector contains hundreds of stars with thousands of planets. We travel between stars, skipping slightly above our dimension, through what is called Hyperspace.

Hyperspace isn't truly FTL travel (though you are traveling at near relativistic speeds) in the sense that your ship isn't itself going faster than light. Rather, Hyperspace exists in a dimension that warps space in incredibly intricate and really impossible to understand ways.

Traveling through hyperspace requires two key components: a Hyperdrive (which allows a ship to enter hyperspace), and a Hyperspace map to tell you where the stars are. Without the map, a ship would quickly get lost in Hyperspace. It is only through the map that the sensors of a ship can detect other star systems. 

What this means is that only stars that have been mapped and given Hyperspace coordinates can be found. This becomes obvious when you travel to the edge of "the map". The better question is: why is the edge so fixed and arbitrary? For instance, why is Earth placed where it is? These are all mysteries that Star Control players will gradually discover over the coming years.

For now, we hope you're having a good time playing and welcome any feedback, suggestions or requests for what you would like to see next! 

If you're new to Star Control, welcome to the galaxy!

Community Newsletter #6 - 07/26/2019

Published on Friday, July 26, 2019 By SchismNavigator In Stardock Community Newsletter

Heat of Summer


Happy Friday! We hope everyone is staying cool during these summer months and drinking copious amounts of H2O. All of us here at Stardock have come back from vacation and are working on some exciting new things that are coming your way soon!


The Horizon


The Turinium Cup 2019

             The what: A 1v1 round-robin style tournament for Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation
  The when: Rounds begin August 12th and the Finals conclude on August 18th
                                   The where: Users must have the Steam version of the game in order to join lobbies and participate
The why: Why not? Join us for some fun and a shot at fleeting internet fame!

Sign Up for the Tournament here!*
*The tournament signup page is powered by Toornament and is not affiliated with Stardock

After you have signed up on Toornmament, make sure you join the main Stardock Discord server.
Send a direct message to Schism Navigator to ensure you have been assigned
the proper access for the tournament channels.

Tournament Details

Map Pool

  • Mirach
  • Urich
  • Ross 128
  • Italia
  • Merga


General Rules:

  • The map for each match will be chosen at random, selected from the map pool.
  • No 15+ language allowed to be used during matches.
  • No death threats or similar personal threats.
  • Any attempts made to cheat will be cause for immediate removal.
  • You agree to have matches you participate in streamed and recorded.

Attendance Rules:

  • Players are expected to allow 15 minutes before official match start.
  • Failure to attend a match will result in an automatic loss and possible elimination.
  • Failure to attend 3 matches will result in automatic elimination from all future matches.
  • All participants must have a Discord account and joined the main Stardock Discord server.

Game Settings:

  • Metal Income: Normal
  • Radioactive Income: Normal
  • Quanta Income: Normal
  • Map Visibility: Revealed
  • Capture Speed: Normal
  • Air Units: Enabled
  • Juggernauts: Enabled
  • Orbitals: Enabled
  • Build Speed: Normal
  • Defensive Bonus: None
  • Neutral Creeps: Normal
  • Victory Points: Map Default
  • Supply Lines: Required

Continue Reading...

Ashes Dev Journal: Super Units

Published on Thursday, July 18, 2019 By GGTheMachine In Ashes Dev Journals

Super units are a controversial topic in RTS; some people love super units while others hate them. Some RTS games handle super units well, while in others they’re obnoxious. RTS vary a lot in their focus, and by extension, so does the implementation of super units. There’s no singular right way to handle super units, but there are some universal ways on how to bugger it up and have them end up annoying, cheesy or feeling unfair. First let's start with some definitions so we're on the same page. I define an RTS super unit to be a singular end-game unit with massive power or impact compared to regular units. There’s a distinction to make between super units and heroes, heroes are generally available and weak in the early game but scale up in strength over time. A super unit is something like the Redeemer in Command & Conquer 3, the Baneblade in Dawn of War and Tiger Tank in Company of Heroes. I’d also consider experimentals/juggernauts in Supreme Commander/Escalation to be super units despite the lack of a unit cap because of their huge cost and power relative to standard units, unlike a Battlecruiser in StarCraft.

First of all, why should an RTS even bother with super units if they may come off as frustrating? Simply, players love controlling cool big flashy toys. We enjoy the power fantasy of unleashing massive carnage and destruction and that’s why super weapons like Nukes are also a common part of the genre. According to Brandon Casteel: “I like super units in RTS more than superweapons because it forces you to work within constraints like unit caps, and because it’s often something you have to risk to use well.” Superweapons are fun for the player using them, but never for the player suffering from it. Fun in RTS games should never come at the direct expense of the other player, (unless that other player is the AI then go nuts!) it should be a mutual collaboration of interaction and counter-play. Super units, if done properly, are a way of enabling the destructive power fantasy but while also leaving room for other players to respond. “Damn I almost destroyed that Baneblade” feels much fairer and generates tension compared to “My entire base just got deleted by a Nuke.”



So how do we ensure super units are fun and not frustrating? Most importantly, they should play by the same rules as other units in the game. Super units can have unique qualities and quirks, but they feel unfair and “cheap” if they have odd exceptions to things that define the game or even the genre. Breaking game rules happens when super units are free, don’t take up population cap or have no counters in a game of hard counters. This frustrating design can be seen in Dawn of War 3 where Super units (and all other elite call-ins) do not cost the main resources of Requisition and Power. Whenever something is free in cost or population it removes the entire decision making process of whether or not you should deploy them at the expense of regular units. Free units, especially super units, also deliver sudden and massive power spikes.

Company of Heroes has also been guilty of some free or low-cost super units. In Company of Heroes 1 heavy tanks only cost Requisition and not Fuel. The lack of fuel cost is frustrating for the opponent because despite deliberating starving the enemy of fuel and keeping them pinned in their base, a King Tiger can still show up out of nowhere and push you back. Super units “not playing by the same rules” can also be done in gameplay mechanics, such as if Tiger Tanks were immune to mines or had free repairs without needing Engineers. It’s about meeting expectations and ensuring skillful play is rewarded; the Hexapod in C&C3 can be cheesy and frustrating because it may get caught out of position, only for it to instantly teleport out. It’s a delicate dichotomy to manage but you want super units to be unique while playing by the same rules as everything else, some judgement is needed to do it properly. Think of it this way, you can give super units new abilities and quirks but not take away vulnerabilities, or instead give them a new vulnerability. Heavy tanks in Company of Heroes can crush through forests and tank traps, Juggernauts in Ashes of the Singularity have infinite veterancy levels and some experimental units in Supreme Commander are mobile unit factories.



C&C3 is a great example of super units (aside from some of the Hexapod cheese) as they still fit into the rock/paper/scissors(RPS) interaction by being weak against masses of Rocket Infantry. However, the super units can be garrisoned to give them powerful turrets to shut down infantry, or grant other attack types and bonuses depending on the type of unit garrisoned. The customization is a cool mechanic for a few reasons, but its potential to break RPS of super units means they’re primarily countered by another means, EMP abilities. Every faction has access to some kind of EMP unit such as Raider Buggies and Grenadiers, and I love the mechanic because utilizing EMP makes engagements tactical and climactic. EMP unit upgrades was introduced into the Kane’s Wrath expansion pack alongside the super units, so instead of having super units with no counters or a regular counter, they made them more interesting by widening the counter system to include a new mechanic. I love EMP because it’s not just a pure RPS counter, EMP works against any vehicle but the massive size of super units makes EMP’s easy to land on them. Another great example is the Colossus in StarCraft 2, it’s more of a tier 3 unit rather than “super” but I love how it’s countered by anti-air weapons. One caveat is that no matter how well designed you think super units are, some players are probably just going to hate them regardless. Give players the option to disable super units in their skirmish & multiplayer games!

If super units have counters then it’s crucial that they can be scouted like anything else. The most common method of scouting super units is a specific production structure required to produce them, this also creates a vulnerability that can be destroyed to prevent the unit from spawning. Giving players some warning also makes their arrival feel fairer and less frustrating. C&C3 has a map-wide announcement when one is built: “The Redeemer has risen!” Or gracefully from the Scrin’s Hexapod: “BLERRRRRGHH!” I personally find the global announcement over the top as it means players generally don’t have to scout since build/upgrade times are fast in C&C3. (Unlike StarCraft 2 where scouting is critical because of long tech transition times). A better approach is in Company of Heroes where every vehicle has an engine noise that can be heard approaching through the fog of war. Heavy tanks like the Tigers are especially loud and distinct, which gives attentive players several seconds to retreat or reposition, rather than a global notification give a minutes notice to build a counter. The engine noises are fun because it’s immersive and intimidating, this could also be done with loud THUDS or shaking as a giant walker is approaching.



A personal frustration of mine is all-or-nothing situations that can occur. If a super unit barely survives with 2% health it shouldn’t just then immediately kill you and end the game. As cool as the experimentals are in Supreme Commander are, they have very annoying qualities. Not only do they have very fast regeneration, but they get massive flat health spikes with veterancy where suddenly ~10,000 health is gained. Escalation does juggernaut veterancy better where the 5% health gain is affected by missing health, so there’s very small combat heals. Even more radical approaches can be taken, I love the design of the Bloodthirster in Dawn of War 1. Once the Bloodthirster is built it takes damage when it’s not in combat, your only choice is to throw it into the meat grinder until it's destroyed! The Hexapod in C&C3 gains resources from nearby destroyed units which encourages the player to use it aggressively. Adding elements of risk/reward can be a lot more interesting than playing ultra-safe with super units. Why not only have temporary super units? There’s a lot that can be done with super units to make them more interesting than just a very big tough unit. Though it’s fine to have simple anti-everything super units so long as that’s normal for the game. Aside from air/anti-air/artillery, Supreme Commander and its experimentals have no counter system because it’s a game about economic and production management

Super units don’t have to just be about raw power. C&C Generals have Commandos which are very fragile but have devastating utility with stealth. The Black Lotus has no attacks but can capture structures and disable vehicles, while Jarmen can snipe infantry and decrew enemy vehicles, allowing for capture with friendly infantry. The non-lethal vulnerability states of these Commando abilities is a lot more tactical, and the micro emphasis is consistent with the focus of the game. Super units have so much more potential than simply tough attack-move units, but they shouldn’t make regular units obsolete which Jarmen is guilty of. Avoiding overlap is crucial, the more viable choices you have at all times the more exciting a game is to play. Immediately rebuilding a super unit every time it dies is not interesting, which Generals is also guilty of since Commandos are not very expensive.



In summary, super units provide a fun power fantasy through which players unleash massive destruction. Unlike super weapons such as nukes, super units, if designed properly, are interactive, risky, generate tension and are still fun for the opponent to deal with. Super units should not be a no-brainer, they should be a strategic decision and investment as much as anything else. If one exists, super units should fit into a counter system allowing players to properly deal with them. Super units can have additional quirks and features to make them unique, but they should play by the same game rules as regular units and not have less vulnerabilities. They should be priced to reflect their power so the opportunity cost is fair, unless they’re overly cost-efficient to compensate for some other weaknesses. Avoid all-or-nothing situations when super units have fast regeneration/heals and make sure super units aren’t just being used in boring ultra safe ways. Super units can be about utility rather than just raw power, especially if the game focuses on micro and utility. Ultimately, fun in multiplayer RTS games should never come at the expense of the other player. Always think about how will this super unit be fun and fair for all players, not just the player wielding it.

I love the juggernaut design in Escalation and have a lot of thoughts on them, I may do another Dev Journal all about them. What do you think of the juggernauts, and what are your favorite super units in RTS?


Siege of Centauri: Plutus

Published on Thursday, July 18, 2019 By DerekPaxton In Siege of Centauri Dev Journals

Plutus offers a very defensive position for your colony. Multiple long plateaus provide the perfect place for turrets. But there are multiple locations outside of this defensive ring that you will need to make hard choices about. That Fission Reactor provides valuable energy. There was a Metal Refinery on the map, it was destroyed by the transport dropping scarabs beside it. And an Outpost in a vulnerable position.

You don't have to defend them all to win, you only need your colony to survive. But you will need to make some hard decisions. Should you upgrade that Metal Refinery to increase its output? Can you keep it alive long enough to make that investment worthwhile? Are you willing to spread out your anti-air to protect your resources, or do you consolidate them around your colony? Do you deploy Milton to guard your Fission Reactor, or keep him to block a choke point and maximize the damage the surrounding towers do?

That's all part of what makes it interesting and I am always surprised when I see players approaching it with different strategy, towers and upgrades than I have (often they are much more successful than me).

It's also worth noting that we have updated the icons and particle effects for the next beta and you can see some of that here. Lot's of great stuff is on its way.

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