Extending the Supreme Commander/Forged Alliance Experience – Part 2

In my previous post, i described how our group of casual gamers had identified some shortcomings in Supreme Commander – Forged Alliance (Patch 1.5.3599) that we wanted to have fixed.

In short, these were:

  • Air is way too strong
  • Experimentals are too cheap.
  • Economy drives off too fast for less gifted players and becomes pointless once T3 is reached.

In this post, i present three mods we developed and used to improve the situation:

  • Weak Air

This mod simply reduces weapon damage and health points for air units to 85% of their initial value for T1 and T2 and to 60% for T3! Some other adjustments are made for transports and air experimentals. See the lua file for details.

  • Expensive Experimentals

This mod doubles the cost of all experimental units and increases their build time by the factor of 1.5!

  • Limited Eco

This mod simply disables all T3 extractors as well as all metal converters.

I also have made a UI mod that maps some new keys, one of which selects the extractor of least upgrade level that is nearest to the mouse cursor position. Another key upgrades the selected extractor. Less experienced players will like this easy why of upgrading just by pressing the two keys in sequence.

The use of these mods has greatly improved our game experience. We saw again what we loved from TA: Epic battles for supremacy of land, nice tactical drop operations behind enemy lines, excellent team coordination on sneak attacks etc. etc.  Goodbye to boring air domination and experimental rush, welcome back to the fun of a great tactical war game!

Some of the mods underwent several balancing cycles. We globally consider them stable, but there might still be some space for improvement here and there. We nearly always play with all three mods enabled. But we keep them separate, so that other people can try with only one or two to start.

You are free to try them out yourselves and give me feedback!

All mods are available with their source code here: https://trac.assembla.com/scfa-mods/wiki/WikiStart


Future plans…

I have some plans for other mods, that extend on the above ideas.

Why bother with mass extractors and upgrades at all? What we want is a battle for the metal spots, but the rest should be somehow automated.

A first idea is to build the extractors once, but then they automatically provide more and more income, the longer they live. It would be kind of an automatic, smooth upgrade. I’m still trying to figure out what would be the best function of production output over time: Linearly,  (slightly) exponentially or logarithmically increasing? All of the former do not have an upper bound. A negative exponential with a lower and upper bound would probably be ok too, something like: P(t) = Pmax –  (Pmax – P0) * exp(-lambda*t). This starts at P(0)=P0 and asymptotically reaches Pmax for t=infinity.

Pushing this idea even further: Maybe we can get around the extractor building construction altogether? Why not simply attribute the metal spot to the player that has the most (or strongest? or most engineers?) land units in a given perimeter around the spot. We just need to have a visual clue to which player the spot belongs. Of course, as soon as a spot switches sides, its production output starts over from the minimum value again. This would make it interesting to attack spots far behind the enemy lines, even if they cannot be held for a long time. The difference with the first idea though is that spots could not be destroyed any more (e.g. with an air attack).



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