Hey Erik! Excited to see more announcements when they come out for what we can expect. I know you guys have only released a small amount of information in relation to everything you guys are doing for DW2
and ill be interested to see what you guys are doing for planetary invasions this time around.
That being said, I had an idea or two on how to liven up the conquering of planets and making their invasions and defending of invasions more interesting.
Ill start with a basic idea for each part of the process and expand to be more specific, or try to at least so it all makes sense and doesn't get lost in babbling.
1) A better illustration of the planets surface, its terrain features that are specific to each planetary type along with where cities are located on the surface.
2) Troop complement for the planet and where they are garrisoned. (Troop types, amount, etc.)
3) Transport types. For general transport and specific (more on that later)
4) Planetary defenses. (Planetary shields, landing defenses, bunkers, AA guns, etc)
5) Technology applications
1. PLANET SURFACE
So when it comes to the planets surface, having a unique area for each planet (continents/landmass and such) might be understandably tough to do. Maybe a system to help with randomization can be implemented, but for now I'll assume its possible to randomize each planets surface to be unique, for the sake of argument and the rest of this.
Assuming that planetary surfaces can be randomized so that each planet is different, ill start with what can be shown. Now im not sure what level of detail could be reached with something like this, let alone how zoomed in or out it would be and if you could zoom in a bit closer to the surface during invasions or something like that. I'll start at colonization. Having capitals and minor cities represented on the surface. When colonizing a planet, you would choose where on the surface to place your first city. As population grows, you could place more cities on the surface and would be a nice way to visually see a growing planet. Since planets have terrain, you would be able to choose city sites with the idea of where they might be more easily defended. A city surrounded by mountains with a few natural choke points would be harder to attack once on the planets surface (more on that later).
Assuming a planetary surface implementation, you could then have different types of units for different roles. Your basic foot soldier or ground unit type (cannon fodder). Things like tanks or armored units. Artillery. Fighters/bombers. Ground/air transports. Obviously this list of unit types could be very long and not 100% sure physically creating each one a click at a time would be very fun. Or maybe it would, it would take some testing to see what is engaging and what becomes too much of a chore when its being applied on a galactic scale. It may be more practical to have a building responsible for steadily creating each troop type up to a cap based on the pops assigned to that building. Conscription building for Infantry. Forge or Armor Factory for Tanks/Heavy Units. Fighter/Bomber Factory. This way you could even have military focused worlds entirely devoted to keeping your troop numbers up for the war effort. And as technology advances you could gain access to Elite versions of the base units based on your civilization, but more on that later in the Technology Applications section.
So when thinking about graphically representing these units on the planets surface, that is where i have trouble deciding what could be both efficient and exciting to watch. Especially with the scale. What i keep settling on is a mix of simulation and player input. Being able to physically control every aspect of a planetary invasion could be an entire game of its own and while probably possible in the future of computer processing capabilities, at the moment its a pipe dream. So i think the medium that might be possible is something along these lines. Still being able to see how many troops each side is fielding (the hundreds of thousands to the millions or even billions - think insect/hive here). I do think what would be important is giving the player the ability to, at the very least, control where on the planet troops are landing to invade and a minimal level of control when it comes to moving your troops around the planet to attack certain cities/defenses and such.
3. TRANSPORT TYPES
When it comes to transporting your armies around the stars, I think having general transportation and specific transportation can introduce some interesting gameplay to invasions. For General Transportation, think what we have in the game now thats pretty straightforward. You wanted to move troops from one planet to another? Cool, we have space boxes to put everyone in and move around on the galactic map. No problems there. As for Specific Transportation, think more of the different ways to get down onto a planets surface and how to move around quickly once on the surface itself. This ties in a bit with planetary defenses so i'll try not to get too in depth with that as there is a section dedicated to that later on. When invading a planet, I would think there would be stages to that invasion. Does the Planet have a Planetary Shield? Cant just send transports in, they would blow up against the shield right? Gotta use your fleet to batter down the shield so transports can move in. This would be where Specific Transportation could come in and choosing where your troops land on the surface itself along with where the Planetary Defenses are located. Flying down with the big transports loaded with troops are huge targets for planetary AA. Easy pickings and just asking to lose a lot of men during the getting on the surface phase. Fleets themselves would become more useful during invasions, being a platform to fire down on those defenses to try and make it easier to land. However not to make fleets just an OP invasion tactic, having larger planetary weapons that could shoot up at fleets that are orbiting the planet could keep this from being too overpowered. While larger troop transports would make easy targets on the way down, something like drop pods to get smaller amounts of men on the ground to try and secure a landing area for the full army to start landing is a better option and a good intro tech revolving around planetary invasions. This would give the ability to drop right on top of defensive emplacements and start inflicting casualties. (Dropping right onto units as normal civs might come with a big morale hit as a way to balance this, unless its an Elite troop type made for this purpose that would negate the buff or just reduce it). Once on the planet itself, using Aerial transports to get troops around the planet faster or between continents can be used.
This is just an outline for how invasion stages might go but it gives a lot of room for improvisation for how people approach conquering a planet and brings a lot of variation to the game without being too complex. It also allows for technology upgrades throughout the game to change how invasions are approached, both in attacking and defending.
4. PLANETARY DEFENSES
A big part of making sure your planets are defensible are emplacements to defend against certain units/invasion types. If the planets surface is implemented, physically building emplacements to make it harder to take the planet becomes possible. Things like Garrisons/Bunkers/Artillery Emplacements/AA/Ground to Space weaponry/Shields become unique to each planets construction and then each conquest becomes a unique experience/challenge. Cities themselves would have Garrisons to hold soldiers defending the city, these troops would come with huge defensive bonuses to keep invaders from being able to just drop a handful of units on a city and take it. Some kind of bombardment could bring down the garrisons holding the city and make it easier for ground troops to take. Bunkers could be placed to cover a certain amount of ground, same with Artillery Emplacements that would have a larger range and do damage to units within their range. AA, the obvious defending against bombers/fighters and transports within their range. Ground to Space Emplacements could engage large ships in orbit, but have large accuracy debuffs against smaller craft like transports and fighters/bombers. This all adds enough to the game to make invasions an interesting problem to solve, and much more engaging to be a part of or even prepare for. It also makes the invasion process last much longer, tough dug in planets could take years to siege down. You then need to make sure you can keep your supremacy over that system for the duration, wouldnt want to lose your orbital fleet and leave millions of your troops stranded on a planet that isnt your own yet.
5. Technology Applications
So for this section i'm going to try to stick with how the invasion process might change as the game moves through into the mid and late game. This is more generalizing ideas and nothing really too specific.
Introducing transporters (think Star Trek transporters) in the tech tree. Could have a specialized transporter unit that just need to get down to the planet and set up. Once activated, would be able to continually transport large amounts of units straight from the transports in orbit right onto the surface, completely ignoring the planetary AA.
Civ type-specific Techs. Normal civs arent going to conduct their invasions the same as Hives(Insect) or Exterminators. Hives could have techs later on that allow them to create hatcheries on invaded planets to create drones on a planet they are still in the process of invading. Think a Zerg type of invasion, get down to the planet and create something like a spawning pool to bolster your forces. This gives the defenders an urgency to try and deal with it somehow. Whether thats bombing the site or going on the offensive, leaving their defenses before they get overrun.
Exterminators are the obvious anomaly, they only care about killing everything. Could be some really interesting tech introduced to be as "there I go killin again" as you could get. Think bio-weapons, massive war machines. Their units could cause morale debuffs to everything but Elite units. Knowing some huge force is coming specifically to kill everything can be pretty unsettling.
So yeah thats basically the ideas for how to make Planetary Invasions and conquering planets a bit more interesting. How it would all look is obviously the hardest part. I dont think it would look all that appealing having large markers to represent troops/defenses and such. Even having a hex based system for the surface might be too constraining. Even having a "color blob" showing your troops location on planet could work if implemented well. I dont know. Would definitely like to see the planetary combat improved though and excited to see what you guys have done to improve from DWU, which I already liked over most other 4x games i've played. Cheers!