Stackable summon spells - how to balance it?

By on May 3, 2013 11:24:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

abob101

Join Date 11/2010
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Hi guys,

I've been thinking about trying to mod in some additional summon stuff, specifically stackable summons.  Curious to see how it would play out  Thing is, I can't quite come up with a way to have it balance.  Hoping for some discussion from the clever people here.

The basic thing I'm shooting for is to have 1 *stackable* summon spell for each element.  So lets say for Earth, you get:

Earth 1 - Summon Earth Shrill (10 mana)

Earth 2 - Summon Stone Golem (20 mana)

Earth 3 - Summon Crag Spawn (30 mana)

Earth 4 - Summon Earth Elemental (40 mana)

Earth 5 - Summon something big and nasty (50 mana)

So by stackable I mean you can cast these at the strategic level as many times as you want.  The mana cost shown there is just an example (would probably need to be higher costs, possibly something like 10, 20, 30, 50, 80) but would obviosuly be a higher mana cost depending on the level.

The question here is... what should the mana upkeep be for each of these?

As far as I can tell, all the strategic summons currently have 1 mana upkeep.  That works fine when you can only have one of each summons at a time.  But i'm wondering if it would be way too powerful if the spells are stackable.  For one thing... if they all had a mana upkeep of 1... there would be no reason to cast anything but the most powerful Summons you have.

Maybe make the upkeep cost equal to the level of the spellbook, so 1 to 5 ?   Not sure, that seems kind steep.

What do you think?  Any input appreciated.

Thanks.

 

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May 3, 2013 11:42:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What we were planning to do with the Goetia mod was have a new unitstat called Dominion. You needed dominion to summon stuff, and having summons drained dominion from the character. This would allow specialization into summoner mages (+dominion) and other things like equipping staffs to boost it, or even faction-wide bonuses. Just an idea of how to allow for stacking without allowing for infinite stacking.

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May 4, 2013 1:12:47 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Interesting idea. Never thought of putting something at the unitstat (champion) level.

Would about tactical summons... where you going to require dominion for a tactical summons?

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May 4, 2013 1:14:10 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nevermind just found your Goetia WIP post.  I see tactical was going to be mana only.

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May 4, 2013 2:07:53 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Only because we were planning to extensively use randomization in tactical battles, and that made it so we couldn't drain a unitstat due to the limited nature of randomization. We were going to use long cast times in tactical instead.

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May 4, 2013 2:49:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Heavenfall,
that made it so we couldn't drain a unitstat due to the limited nature of randomization.

ok yep can see that would have been a problem if you wanted random stuff.

 

 

How far did you get with modelling the use of "Dominion".... did you get as far as crunching some numbers on the design?  So you were thinking of having an upfront Dominion cost to cast the summons, then a (lesser) ongoing maintenance cost?  Would you also have a mana cost for the spell?

 

It's an interesting way to go about it, but i'm just concerned about the possibility of a player "saving up" their dominion by not using it for a long period, then going summon crazy and spamming an isntant force, taking a city... them dispelling all the summons again.  I guess that's part of the idea of being a summoner though.   

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May 4, 2013 4:57:49 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

No, it would work like an upper limit, you can't save it up.

Champion X has 3/3 dominion on a unit. Summoning a shrill requires 1 dominion and drains 1 dominion. This means Champion X is brought down to 2 Dominion (-1 modifier from the spell). When the unit is killed or unsummed, the spell ends and the unit no longer has 2 dominion, now it has 3.

If the champion summons 3 shrills he has 3 * -1 dominion, bringing it down to 0. He then cannot summon another one.

We never got as far as testing any real numbers, but mana cost was fairly high across the board as well. In particular, casting the summon in strategic was expensive while upkeep was lower (to encourage using the same units over a period of time, instead of just summoning just before an important battle which would confuse the AI).

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May 4, 2013 5:24:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I've actually just spent the last hour doing some tests with the unitstat, exactly the way you just described.  I found most of it worked really well.... when you add the unitstat and cast a few summons, you can open the characters Unit Details hover over their "Dominion" and it lists all the summons you have on the go... all the +1 and -1 modifiers etc.

That's actually really great.  And like you said opens up options for abiltiies and items to enhance it.

When you say "Summoning a shrill requires 1 dominion" so you mean implementing that by having this it as a prereq:

<Prereq>
  <Type>UnitStat</Type>
  <Attribute>UnitStat_Dominion</Attribute>
  <Value>1</Value>
</Prereq>

I found that worked great, except for one problem.... while it prevents you casting the spell if you don't have enough dominion, it also prevents the spell appearing in the spellbook    

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May 4, 2013 5:36:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm weighing up whether going for a global resource might be a better option.  So having Dominion as a global resource, probably make it not stored so it would work in the same way as the unitstat but shared across all champions.

There are some advantages:

- the dominion cost and maintenance of summon spells would be displayed in the spellbook (it's not for unitstats)

- it wouldn't hide spells in the spellbook if you don't have enough dominion to cast it (they'd be greyed out instead)

- easier to see if you have enough capacity to summon more creatures (it would be displayed at the top of the screen), saves having to click on all your characters to find who has enough dominion to summon creatures

 

Some disadvantage that come to mind:

- You could still have abilities that give you more dominion, but it would be at a global level rather than a character level.  Not quite as good.  

- Same thing for items, you could have them give a boost but it would be global

- Doesn't reflect an individuals ability to sustain summons

 

Looking at this, i'm thinking a global resource (used the same way as you described the unitstat use) might be in some ways simpler.

Have I overlooked anything obvious ?

 

 

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May 4, 2013 5:46:04 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nope, sounds interesting as well.

Behold, I bring you some XML tag from the Olde Timé. For spelldefs:

<RequiredStat>UnitStat_Intelligence, 13</RequiredStat>

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May 4, 2013 7:08:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hmmm, wow.. thats amazing thanks.

However.... not sure it works anymore.  It displays the required minimum unitstat in the spellbook, and doesn't stop the spell display (awesome).   But unfortunately it doesn't seem to prevent casting the spell

Bummer.  Kinda suprising that it doesn't work now.... guess it must have been removed from the code somewhere alone the line.

Thanks for the input.  Might try it out with a global resource and see how that goes.

 

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May 4, 2013 1:21:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Remember to check out how AI multiplies its resources. I don't recall exactly how it happens, but basically they get +% modifiers to some resources. Could be bad if it affected how many units they can summon.

 

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May 4, 2013 2:32:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
Hi guys,

I've been thinking about trying to mod in some additional summon stuff, specifically stackable summons.  Curious to see how it would play out  Thing is, I can't quite come up with a way to have it balance.  Hoping for some discussion from the clever people here.

The basic thing I'm shooting for is to have 1 *stackable* summon spell for each element.  So lets say for Earth, you get:

Earth 1 - Summon Earth Shrill (10 mana)

Earth 2 - Summon Stone Golem (20 mana)

Earth 3 - Summon Crag Spawn (30 mana)

Earth 4 - Summon Earth Elemental (40 mana)

Earth 5 - Summon something big and nasty (50 mana)

So by stackable I mean you can cast these at the strategic level as many times as you want.  The mana cost shown there is just an example (would probably need to be higher costs, possibly something like 10, 20, 30, 50, 80) but would obviosuly be a higher mana cost depending on the level.

The question here is... what should the mana upkeep be for each of these?

As far as I can tell, all the strategic summons currently have 1 mana upkeep.  That works fine when you can only have one of each summons at a time.  But i'm wondering if it would be way too powerful if the spells are stackable.  For one thing... if they all had a mana upkeep of 1... there would be no reason to cast anything but the most powerful Summons you have.

Maybe make the upkeep cost equal to the level of the spellbook, so 1 to 5 ?   Not sure, that seems kind steep.

What do you think?  Any input appreciated.

Thanks.

 

In order for this approach not to be completely abusive, I highly recommend that any unit summoned on the stategic map have a casting time and a mana upkeep.

Thereby, any of these units can be cast in tactical for a balanced casting time, cost no upkeep, and automatically unsummon at combat's end.

 

I'll definately be looking out for a mod in this area of gameplay. Good luck with your development!

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May 4, 2013 3:44:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Provided that you have found a way to count the number of active summons a wizard has, what about using this knowledge to raise upkeep costs? Let's say that each summon costs 1 mana no matter it's power, if you make each upkeep 50% more expensive, it would be like:

1 active summon 1 mana

2 active summons 1+1.5 mana

3 active summons 1+1.5+2 mana

and so on

You would have to fund the sweet spot, which could be 50%, 10% or 200%. 

Also, if you make upkeep costs variable depending on the power of the summoned creature, this would scale the upkeep costs no matter what they were. 

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May 5, 2013 10:14:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting GFireflyE,
In order for this approach not to be completely abusive, I highly recommend that any unit summoned on the stategic map have a casting time and a mana upkeep.

Thereby, any of these units can be cast in tactical for a balanced casting time, cost no upkeep, and automatically unsummon at combat's end.

I tend to agree that casting times for strategic might be a good idea.  What would be neat would be (late tree) abilities to reduce that cast time.

 

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May 5, 2013 10:17:17 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Guys does anyone know if there is any way to have a summoning spell summon a party/group or whatever instead of a single unit..... without changing the unit definition?

So for example... create spell that summons a Party of Shadow Wargs, without touching the UnitType definition for the Shadow Warg.

I know it's possible to do the skeleton hoard thing and summon multiple in different tiles... but I also wouldn't mind having spells that summon a group (once you have the "Summon Group" ability).  I'm just trying to avoid editing the UnitTypes.

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May 7, 2013 11:06:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting abob101,
Guys does anyone know if there is any way to have a summoning spell summon a party/group or whatever instead of a single unit..... without changing the unit definition?

OK I think I have a sneaky workaround for this. 

I've done some preliminary testing and knocked up a rough prototype, pretty sure this is do-able.  So at this stage i'm going to push on with it, the plan is to introduce a Path of the Summoner that will provide the following:

- 1 summon-able unit type per element per level (initially i'll just use monsters that are already in the game)

- stackable summons, limited by a global resource (as touched on above with HF - thanks for the idea)

- casting times for strategic summons (and abilities to reduce casting times)

- group summons (unlocked via abilities)

- abilities to reduce mana cost for summons and to increase the max summons

Each element will unlock a new unit type with each level, and they will have increasing mana cost and casting time.  This is my start point (earth as an example):

Earth 1 - Earth Shrill (30 mana, 1 mana upkeep), capcost=1, start level 1 + summons level bonus, casting time 0

Earth 2 - Sand Golem (40 mana, 1 mana upkeep), capcost=2, start level 2 + summons level bonus, casting time 1

Earth 3 - Stone Golem (50 mana, 1 mana upkeep), capcost=3, start level 3 + summons level bonus, casting time 2

Earth 4 - Earth Elemental (60 mana, 1 mana upkeep), capcost=5, start level 4 + summons level bonus, casting time 3

Earth 5 - Grave Elemental? (70 mana, 1 mana upkeep), capcost=8, start level 5 + summons level bonus, casting time 4

Probably will go for blanket zero casting time on the tactical spells seeing as tactical battles are so quick in LH.  Bear in mind strategic casting time will be able to be reduce with path abilities.

The "capcost" is the costing that will come from the global unit summons limit.  I have no idea how high this will be... can tweak it later.  Probably go with something like, each champion with Path of the Summoner contributes 3 x level towards the "capcost" resource (similar to "domain discussed above).  

So a level 1 Summoner could have 3 Earth Shrills in this example.

Once they reach level 2, their capcost contribution would be 6.  So now they can have 6 x Earth Shrills on the go.... or 3 x Sand Golems... or a combination of both etc.

That's the concept.  Any comments/feedback very welcome.

I need a name for this "capcost" resource, any bright ideas?  It's a global resource (ala mana) that represents the number summoned unit you can have in play at any time.  I'm no so good at coming up with cool names for such things.  "Channeling" maybe?  "Domain" as an ode to Goetia?

 

 

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May 8, 2013 7:31:53 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What about Summon Power? An Earth Shrill consumes 1 Summon Power as upkeep, and a Sand Golem consumes 2 Summon Power as upkeep. That would be in line with the current air/water/earth/fire/life/death power that already exists and you could even have Summon Shards, making your total Summon Power the sum provided by your champions and your shards.

By the way, it's a great concept the one you are working on. Instead of just reshuffling what the game already has, you are creating a complete new game mechanic. That's the kind of things that really expand a game.

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May 8, 2013 10:06:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

OK first minor issue.  Have got all the other mechanics working other than this...  Was hoping to have abilities in the Path of the Summoner that generate +X Summons Power per level like this:

 

<AbilityBonus InternalName="SummonCapacity1Ability">
  <AbilityBonusType>Unit_Level</AbilityBonusType>
  <AbilityBonusOption InternalName="SummonCapacity1">
    <DisplayName>Summon Capacity I</DisplayName>
    <Description>+1 Summon Capacity per level</Description>
    <Icon>S_SummonShadowWarg_Icon.png</Icon>
    <GameModifier>
      <ModType>Unit</ModType>
      <Attribute>ProduceResource</Attribute>
      <StrVal>SummonCapacity</StrVal>
      <Value>1<Value>
      <PerLevel>1</PerLevel>
      <Provides>+1 Summon Capacity per level</Provides>
    </GameModifier>
    <Type>Spell</Type>
    <UpgradePathID>SummonCapacity</UpgradePathID>
    <AIData AIPersonality="AI_General">
    <AIPriority>5</AIPriority>
    </AIData>
  </AbilityBonusOption>
</AbilityBonus>

 

Unfortunately this only gives +1 Summons Power.  The PerLevel tag doesn't appear to be valid in an AbilityBonusOption for producing a resource

Anyone got any idea on how to get an ability like this to generate +x per level of a resource per turn?

 

 

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May 8, 2013 10:39:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Use this

            <GameModifier>
                 <ModType>Player</ModType>
                <Attribute>AbilityBonus</Attribute>
                <StrVal>A_Additive_SummonCapacity</StrVal>
                <Value>1</Value>
                <PerLevel>1</PerLevel>
                <Provides>1 Summon Capacity per level</Provides>
            </GameModifier>

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May 8, 2013 11:14:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nice one, that works a treat!   

 

Only minor bummer being that when you hover over the resource at the top of screen it shows the bonus to the Summons Capacity is coming from the city name rather than "units".... presumably because of the way the way the A_Additive thing works.  Not a huge drama though... that's pretty cool and will run with that for now, as I think it seems best to have the limit on units that one can summon scale with the level of the summoners.

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May 8, 2013 11:38:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting abob101,

Nice one, that works a treat!    


Only minor bummer being that when you hover over the resource at the top of screen it shows the bonus to the Summons Capacity is coming from the city name rather than "units".... presumably because of the way the way the A_Additive thing works.  Not a huge drama though... that's pretty cool and will run with that for now, as I think it seems best to have the limit on units that one can summon scale with the level of the summoners.

Happy to help

How is your resource configured? I use it for food upkeep and have the resource as global non storable "Food requirement units", and my resource does not appear st the top of the screen. It appears in the city screen.

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May 8, 2013 11:50:17 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yeah my summons capacity resource is global and non storable also, however I intentionally have set....

<ShownInGlobalDisplay>1</ShownInGlobalDisplay>

So that it appears at the top of screen.  Reason being that it is a shared/global resource across the whole faction... and like mana, you really need to easily be able to see how much you have at any point in time.

 

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May 8, 2013 12:00:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


I see.  Thanks for the clarification!

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May 8, 2013 12:09:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hmm hangon it's not "shared" though.  This is what I have out of interest..

<ResourceType InternalName="JB_Summons">
  <DisplayName>Summons</DisplayName>
  <Description>A measure of the number and strength of summoned creatures your faction can sustain in the material world.</Description>
  <Type>JB_Summons</Type>
  <IconColor>0,0,0</IconColor>
  <Icon>Spellbook_Icon.png</Icon>
  <ClothIcon>Spellbook_Icon.png</ClothIcon>
  <HideInHiergamenon>1</HideInHiergamenon>
  <ModelColor>0,0,0</ModelColor>
  <Global>1</Global>
  <Stored>0</Stored>
 < Rarity>0.0</Rarity>
  <Shared>0</Shared>
  <TradedByCaravans>0</TradedByCaravans>
  <ShownInGlobalDisplay>1</ShownInGlobalDisplay>
  <RummagedPerTurn>0.0001</RummagedPerTurn>
  <Medallions InternalName="JB_Summons_Res_Medallions">
  <All>Spellbook_Icon.png</All>
  </Medallions>
</ResourceType>

 

Hmmm, actually I just noticed that the summons resource generated by the unit with this ability now shows up under the city details in the Resources section.. even though I have it set as a global resource.  I guess that makes sense, kinda.  It is showing the resource contributed to the global pool this city, and the unit is somehow linked to the city once you give it that A_Additive modifier.

 

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May 8, 2013 12:15:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Yes, I just got temporally confused anf wrote about the "shared" thing. The only difference between your resource and mine is the <ShowInGlobalDisplay>.

Based on my experiences I don't think that what you see in cities is the resource contributed by that city. It is the whole quantity, because that's the way A_ADDITIVE works. It's a minor nuissance, but I think it's worth it.

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