The first point is a requirement, and you are very right to address it; I also think that the way you're addressing it is in the good direction.Oberlus wrote: ↑Wed May 20, 2020 11:01 am The main point of OP's proposal is the formulation of influence upkeep (periodic maintenance payment in influence points) costs for fleets and colonies, in a way that
The first point is of uttermost importance for obvious reasons (i.e. it needs to work for galaxies such as 20/2 systems/players, 200/2, 200/20, 2000/20).
- it takes into consideration galaxy size,so that it scalates well with any galaxy setting (otherwise it could only be balanced for a certain galaxy settings, which is same a saying "it's broken").
- it takes into consideration empires' relative sizes, so that it works well with empires of very diverse sizes.
This second point is very important to me, to help games in the latter stages still be fun for all players. That is, to keep difficulty more leveled depite some empires having done much better than others (either by luck o skill) so that we can avoid the issue "enemy empire has 3x more production than mine, there's no point on playing anymore, I've lost already", which is typical in MP games, or "enemy empire has 1/3 of my production, this is boring, I claim victory on my own and start a new game", which is typical in SP games.
The second is commendable, but very difficult to do it right.
Namely, what's the point of doing very well in early or middle game if it doesn't bring victory ? In many (if not all) strategic games, victory by surrender of the enemy is common.
The main way to avoid the very real tediousness of many endgames would be by implementing real conceding mechanisms, either through meta-gaming (like winning gives 1 point to the winner in whatever ranking system is in place, losing gives 0 to the loser; but conceding gives 0,1 point to the one who concedes and 0,9 points to the one conceded to) or through automatic thresholds (which, basically, Transcendance is).
The way AI concedes victory in Age of Empires II when unable to produce more ressources was a huge gameplay improvement on the original Age of Empires, for example.
The AoE "Wonder Building" victory mechanism was equally brilliant : when one player is clearly ahead of all his opponents in all domain, he doesn't need to crush them one by one, he just needs to to build a Wonder and defend it - if his opponents are not able to destroy it, even though they don't have to build a wonder but can put their resources entirely in their army, then it was true that the wonderboy was actually decisively ahead of them.
Now, you are right that a player can get slightly ahead at a moment of the game due to sheer luck or just one good move, and due to snowballing effect get ahead enough of his opponents that the game becomes pointless before he even had to confront the core of their strength.
That is the problem that needs to be fixed, and indeed upkeep can be one of the ways to fix it. But it's quite difficult to understand the delicate threshold between "we want a player to win if he's able to play consistently better than his opponents and to deliver decisive blows to their core Empire structure (so not just one lucky shot)" and "when a player cannot lose anymore the game should end".
Especially, we want Empires with different internal equilibrium to be able to actually compete, and Czar Alexander's answer to Napoleon
"Your campaign ends, mine has only begun" to be possible. So we want a good player to have to think its strategy to the end, including how to pay upkeep for its large army once he built it; but we don't want a clearly superior Empire stranded at endgame because he doesn't have enough influence to wipe the last remnants of his enemies, who have nevertheless no chance to reverse course.
So it's very, very delicate to balance, and I'm glad that I'm not in charge of it because I have no idea on how to manage that...