Shadow Empire Poll #1

There has been a lot of feedback to Shadow Empire already. I have been happy that most of it was positive :) And I would like to thank everybody who supported me in buying Shadow Empire.

At this moment I am churning out “open beta” builds almost everyday as I am focussing on making the game even more stable and improving or fixing rules that were not exactly doing what they should have been doing.

I hope that within a few weeks I can shift time to actually adding stuff to the game. And I would like to have some player input by that time. I am not going to do what the majority wants, but I do want to take it into account. I don’t want to spend my time on something only a small minority of players wants to see added :)

Below I have 4 questions for you all. You can only pick 1 answer in each question and that is done deliberately to force you to commit to a preference. Might be a bit painful to choose, but it will be more insightful for me. Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts!

What should have the focus of the dev?

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What existing part of the game should have polishing priority?

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What part of AI development should have priority?

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What kind of BIG new feature-set would interest you the most?

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11 Responses to Shadow Empire Poll #1

  1. Stelteck says:

    Two small things in my humble opinion.

    Carefull with : Make it play more with the same rules as Human Majors do (39%, 11 Votes). It is really difficult and may make the AI less competitive. It will not really add something of value to the solo player experience.
    The best AI mecanism are when several simple AI behaviour add pressure to the player, such in game like AI WAR. It do not matter if it is not the same rule as the player, if it is providing an entertaining and challenging experience.

    Also, if you could try to speed AI turn processing time it would be great.

  2. ManOnFire says:

    The ability to mod new events, decisions, units, factions, tech, etc.

  3. George says:

    Hi Vic

    I went for something else for question 2 because I feel both the interface and AI could use a few passes. Specifically, as a game about information Shadow Empire does not always present information in readily accessible ways. Some players have reported struggling to even find their reports, so cannot find really important screens like their Empire Dashboard. As a somewhat more technically competent player used to a couple of your games and games with obtuse UI/UX in general, I didn’t have that problem. However, I do sometimes wish for more quick glance overviews. Give me more executive summaries man! :P

    An example might be reports about the armed forces and OOB tool, both great and detailed. However, neither are quick to use. The OOB tool starts completely collapsed and is kinda small, even for my young eyes at 26, confined to the top of the screen. Probably harder for older fans and your games will attract an older crowd generally. Army reports, on the other hand, are very easy to read but quite detailed. A lot of data is printed out in an OHQ report. If I want to check the status of an individual unit, I will go find it to check its stats on the map or consult a more detailed subreport. When I read an OHQ report I want a rough sense of the formation’s operational readiness as a formation, normally because I’ve just started up again and want to refresh myself.

    I would love it if the current report where demoted to a supply or detailed report and, if possible, an overview report were added. Something like OOH is located near X or in zone X, it consists of X units of Y type with Z total subunits. Average readiness is X, average supply is X. OOH mostly attacked/defended/garrisoned etc. last turn. OOH green/amber/red/black.

    I think there are a few more reports that could do with an executive summary and a detailed breakdown as seperate reports. I will try to note them down when I come across them.

    On AI, it’s hard to say how much or what to do here. Games are so diverse and experience levels vary a lot. I am moderately experienced at wargames but tend to get bored 1/3 – 1/2 way through. I like the grand sweep of 4Xs more. Feels like more gets done and a grander story is told than 12 weeks and 6 turns of ‘today we sat in mud mother and waited’. I jest but sometimes operational wargames, especially for the Eastern Front WWII, feel a lot like that. All that being said, at the moment things feel quite binary. Either that minor/major has X early capacity you do not (mech/armour are the big killer) or has a much better start, so you die. Very skilled players can endure, at great disadvantage. Or they don’t, all farmers here for minors and you got the best major start, so steamroller here we come. Smoothing this out a bit, if possible, would be good I think. Delicate balance because the highly varied starts and emerging narratives are a big draw too.

    I also answered airforces (assuming this generalises to aerospace forces, though space assets might just have to be stratagems I realise) because air power is so revolutionary to warfare. Reconnaissance, precise and blanket bombardment over longer distance and with greater power than conventional artillery, rapid movement of goods and troops over very long distance, enhanced operational capability including but not limited to med-evac, insertion, extraction, combined arms support of infantry, force coordination, intelligence etc. All possible in large part thanks to air power, though some of these things can be done without air power, albeit less easily and less well. It would also be an interesting tactical dilemma if some planets, such as Medusas with their thick and hostile jungles or moons with their lack of atmo, problematised air power in different ways without making it unusable. A small degree of landscape modification to clear forests and prepare air strips would also be necessary.

    Navy was a very, very close second. Piped to the post mostly because my laptop may not handle maps large enough to support continents properly, though it could handle compressed continent maps same total size as current medium-large maps or archipelagos that give a strong naval game in the same size, and partly because navies are important to military history, operations etc but are the most independent branch. Navies are important, on Earth, because seas are important simply due to ubiquity. Most of the Earth’s surface is water so being able to move goods, people and force across it and control it is very important. Our games do not take place on Earth. At least 3 classes of planets will literally never use navies, as presently implemented (moons, planetoids and Seths). Armies and air forces work tightly together. In the modern world, one cannot function without the other.

    However, navies… skipping on a navy is fine. Only one country in the world maintains a true blue water fleet, America, and the rest of the world relies on the Americans to prevent piracy and threats to maritime trade. Everyone else is either an ally who tailors their navy to provide local or global support to the Americans in X or Y capacity or are threats to the American navy in specific regional theatres using asymmetrical maritime warfare. The aim of these regional actors is to inflict enough damage quickly enough on merchant shipping to force America to the table with the full expectation of losing a fullblown naval war.

    About the only exception to this are the Indian Navy who, while no contender to the Americans, do maintain blue-water capabilities, including carriers, while being neither a steadfast ally or a regional enemy. This is done because India has a truly massive coastline, a hostile nuclear-armed power they have fought several wars with right next door and a frenemy, in China, who they have also fought wars with nearby too. India has a pretty unique geopolitical situation in that regard.

    No BTW building a couple of white elephant carriers does not mean the Royal Navy is restored to her former glory. We are still the second fiddler of country band trying to pretend with are the lead violinist of the major orchestra!

  4. Godwin says:

    Wow that was a difficult poll.

    On the second question I voted ‘Something Else’ and this is it:
    More different decisions to make (I have seen quite often the same types of leader requests for example (My manor is far away: I want slaves), and mistakes (I promised a certain hex Luxury and we didn’t deliver)). More different Vidcom pictures for things (I really enjoy the art style tbh, reminds me of good old games I played), more different vegetation styles, more planet options (artificial planet where you can set everything by hand: tiny moon with earth gravity and breathable atmosphere and life for example), more research topics, etc. etc. (the latter two are definitely not polish, but I do consider the others polish)

    The 4th question was very hard (between Naval units, Alien flora and fauna and SHADOW story, which I chose), but I do really want to know more and play more with the Shadow part of the game’s title :)

  5. Patrick says:

    What I want most is a map & regime editor. I.E. the scenario editor of Advanced Tactics except that I understand that the equivalent of the “masterfile” may be locked.

    For UI improvements:
    – Supply path view similar to Advanced Tactics.
    – When you are asked about Discovery Vs. Research priority, have a button to look at the management view for the tech tree. Or just show you “We have not yet discovered X but are able to discover it.”
    – When you get new strategems, the video view should explicitly tell you “Due to the priorities on Covert Ops / Prospecting / Whatever, the X Council has prepared these strategems.”
    – Rebel territory should show up as a different color. Otherwise, I may not even know that I had a rebellion until I explore some distant corner of the map that I can’t send spies to for some reason.

  6. pnic101 says:

    I voted for more delegation options as my favourite part of the game is role playing the leader. Just wanted to add that greater/clearer diplomacy would be also be a wonderful addition. Navies would be good just to allow more oceans, but I’d think big oceans would mean even more contact with other nations, making diplomacy more important.

    One very small thing I’d love to see added is relationship change previews for the national budget like you see with decisions. Sometimes I find myself barely tweaking it or just skipping because I don’t want to check back and forth on my relationships with each council leader.

    Thanks for making such a fantastic game!

  7. Rosseau says:

    Said quite a few positive and well-deserved things over at the Matrix forums. This is necessary, as I am surely in the minority: mid-Sixties, and way more good games than time to play them.

    I find the game (so far) requires quite a commitment and has not provided the joy or reward for the time I have invested. I am slogging through with barely enough metal, IP and could get buried in all the awesome detail and reports, but it is way too time-consuming atm. How I would love the option to modify a file, get some resources and get on with my virtual life. ;)

    For me, and perhaps me only, I need more early gratification. Playing other, and very different, games concurrently on Steam (Carrier Battles 4, Winter War, latest LnL digital releases) and they provide me with the positive gaming feedback that I need. This game, I will push on and maybe the rainbow will appear. Or maybe some sunshine, but my investment in time will be too much at that point to feel it has been worthwhile.

  8. Lovenought says:

    Hello! Made an account here just to comment. Loving the game so far.

    For question #2: I would like if there was a bit more influence over the world generation. It’s a bit tedious to have to re-roll each stage of the process tens of times, especially since it starts to require more time to calculate later on. I get that randomness is meant to be a big part of the game, but it’s not really random if people can just reroll until they get something close enough to what they want. It just takes more time.

    I don’t mean doing away with randomness all together, but maybe something like allowing you to set “Maximum day length 48 hours”, “minimum pre-war population 50 million”, “minimum rainfall 400mm”, etc etc.

  9. Saros says:

    Hey Vic,

    I think the first priority needs to be adjusting the major AI so it is much better at judging when to attack, maybe even letting it peek beyond FoW to do so. Right now it will launch too many suicidal attacks which leaves its troops disrupted and you can just sweep them aside. It also needs to be a bit better at using tanks, it seldom manages to mass them in critical numbers.

  10. OldSarge says:

    For several of the questions I could’ve provided multiple answers. I would like to see more diversity in play style and faction responses or tactics.

    I also put in a recommendation for a new cult, The Cult of LIS which comes with a unit feat LIS Prior who helps a unit manage their supplies. ;-)

    Hallowed are the LIS!

  11. Ian says:

    George said it all for me.

    #1. Air units/forces.
    #2. Navies.

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