Let’s talk win conditions.
I’ve brought this up so many times I almost sound like a broken record, but let’s jump into it again. I genuinely believe that the game suffers from a lack of a win condition. This is especially true for faster galaxies such as Andradite, although I believe Main would benefit from it as well.
Galaxies often last several months, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but they certainly don’t remain active for more than a month or two. After that, most players hit the late game where they’ve killed off all of their aggressive neighbors, and have teamed up with those still living. They can and sometimes do break those alliances and turn on each other now that their external threats are gone, but eventually and inevitably, a player will run out of targets or come out far enough ahead of everyone else that they have no competition.
We need some sort of win condition to signify the “end” of a galaxy. This doesn’t necessarily mean the galaxy needs to be shut down once someone has won, some players do enjoy the sandbox aspect of the game, but it should signify that a winner has been declared, that players can no longer win in this galaxy and it will, as it currently does, spiral into inactivity. It should signal that a new galaxy will start up soon, so a new player can claim the title of winner, and the current winner can fight to defend their title.
These win conditions can be time based, leaderboard based, or objective based, but at the end of the day we should have some sort of win system in place to ensure that activity continues throughout galaxies rather than stagnating for months where players grow inactive, quit, and most often – don’t come back.
I think for the Andradite galaxy the win condition can be relatively simple. Start the galaxy the first day of a month, and at the end of 6 weeks, whomever is the highest on the leaderboard has won (fleets in a dock need to count towards leaderboard, and other point exploits, will need to be addressed to make this fair). There can be an individual & alliance leaderboard.
Andradite is a fast-paced galaxy in the first place, and you can max out your tech tree and a lot of your planets within a week or two. Beyond that, it’s sort of a rinse and repeat of creating fleets and fighting. You’ve made it through the game’s content well before the galaxy would end. There’s no reason for galaxies to last longer than this. At the end of those 6 weeks we can declare a winner, shut the galaxy down, allow a 2-week break for burnout, then start it again at the first day of the next month. This will result in a 2-month cycle.
For the Main galaxies, since they last a lot longer, and have a somewhat different player base, I think an objective based win condition works better. Due to Main’s slower speed, it usually attracts less competitive players whom prefer a slower and more cooperative game pace. These are also the players most often to talk about some sort of PvE content. Let’s address two things at once then and have the inner 100 LY radius of a galaxy be a PvE Empire that players can conquer.
In this region there will be AI guard zones that function very similar to how the protection zones do the first few days of a player in the Andradite galaxy (no reason to re-invent code that already works fine), and the AI will have planets that players need to destroy with orbital bombers or assault. The deeper towards the core you go, the more difficult the fleets and planets. For instance, the outer rim where players spawn can have weak planets that can be assaulted with a small number of troops guarded by T1 fleets. This progressively increases from Tier 2 to Tier 4 fleets with planets near the end that need to be bombed down.
Points will be awarded to players based on the difficulty of the fleet or planet that they kill. Those planets closest to the core can have dozens of T4 fleets guarding them that will likely require coordination between multiple players, and planets that may require fully developed players or players working together to kill.
On the galaxy map, systems with planets still to conquer can be highlighted in yellow. Once all the systems have been destroyed, a winner may be declared. This should take several months. Similar to Andradite, there should be 2 leaderboards. One which represents the alliance with the most points, and one for the player with the most points.
Unlike the Andradite galaxies however, this galaxy should still last a few months after a winner has been declared. A new galaxy can start before it shuts down, like we currently do, but joins will be disabled in the old galaxy once there’s been a winner. This will allow players that prefer a more sandbox approach to continue playing with their empires without resetting. It will also allow alliances which may have attempted to sabotage each other’s ability to earn points to wage all out war on each other.
I don’t intend for this system to fully replace PvP combat in Main galaxies, simply offer alternative forms of combat for different styles of players. In fact, it is advantageous if one alliance or player is getting too far up the leaderboard, for players to take out their empires before they can be allowed to win. Whatever player or alliance wins will, by the end, have to balance on beating the AI to maintain their point lead while also fighting off players trying to cripple their efforts.
As for Skirmish galaxies, well, I don’t see a place for them and nor have I ever, sorry. Get rid of them.
TL;DR: We need win conditions to keep things active! Andradite should last 6 weeks at which point the highest point player & alliance becomes the winner, there will be a 2-week break, and a new galaxy will start up. Main should have an Objective based leaderboard that I can’t TL;DR (read above), with a similar player & alliance leaderboard winner.
If anyone has any thoughts or ideas on the subject feel free to comment below. This is part of my “Can we talk about this” series of forum posts. Feel free to check out the rest and share your thoughts!