Larian Banner
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Joined: Jan 2009
Stabbey Offline OP
veteran
OP Offline
veteran
Joined: Jan 2009
It's now been exactly one year since the release of Dragon Commander. It was a good game, no doubt about it, with its eclectic mix of different elements which somehow came together into something greater.

That does not mean, however, that there is no room for improvement. It has been 10 months, since the last patch for Dragon Commander. I know the reason for this: all of Larian's resources were diverted to Divinity: Original Sin, in an attempt to make it the best RPG Larian has ever made. I think most people can agree that it was a tremendous success on that front.

D:OS has been released into the wild, and Larian has had a month since its release to recuperate, so now I am once again going to take up the call to Larian to not abandon Dragon Commander, and to continue to patch and adjust the game. I know that it might not seem to make a lot of sense, since Dragon Commander is "old and busted" and Original Sin is "the new hotness" (to quite the philosopher William Smith).


The consensus which has developed is that the RTS portion of Dragon Commander is not very good. That's not my opinion, but I sunk in close to 200 hours in the Dragon Commander beta getting used to it most people did not. I beat the story campaign on Normal and Hard, but when it comes to the Custom Campaigns, I have discovered that I prefer my altered settings to the default ones.

With my altered settings, it takes a lot longer to get your economy going, which means that the RTS battle is slower paced, with fewer units on the field, which means that managing them is easier, keeping them alive is more important, and world map units are much more important. Most importantly, though, it makes the RTS much more about strategy and tactics and less about spamming hordes of cheap disposable units.

I think that a lot of relatively simple changes could tremendously improve the game. I know that 'simple' in game design is not always simple to implement, though.


Stabbey's Top 5 Most Wanted Changes to Dragon Commander:


1) Population Regeneration Options

THE ISSUE:
Population regenerates to full after every battle. It makes no difference how many times you fight a battle in the same territory. It makes no difference if you fight in Grimland once all game, or if fight in Grimland for 18, 246 turns in a row. The first battle in Grimland will have just as many available recruits as the 18,264th consecutive battle in Grimland.

THE PROBLEM:
This flat-out eliminates a great deal of potential strategic depth and complexity. You don't have to worry about entering a battlefield with limited recruit resources.

In turn, that makes population manipulation cards worth very little because the effects are restricted to a single turn. Increased population cards are only useful as a defensive measure and even then, only if the enemy attacks the country you used it on that turn. Genocide cards are slightly more useful because you can at least be sure to attack and use them on the same turn.

100% regeneration each turn makes the game much less interesting and strategic than it could be.

PROPOSAL:
I would like to see a Custom Campaign option that lets you set the number of turns it takes population to fully regenerate after a battle, ranging from 0 (does not regenerate) to 10 turns. (1 turn is the default). Zero regeneration might come with a warning "Are you sure? Population not regenerating could make the RTS mode quite difficult.")

10 turns would have the population regenerate by 10% of the normal amount each turn, 4 turns would have the population regenerate by 25% per turn, 1 turn regenerates by 100% each turn.



2) "Round-Robin" Turn Order option for Custom Campaigns

THE ISSUE:
In the beta, which was using the multiplayer rules, the different players went in a different order each turn, and the next turn they switched. This meant that there, even though it was against the AI, human players didn't always have the advantage of moving first. In single-player and custom campaigns though, the human player always goes first. Always.


THE PROBLEM:
Moving first is a HUGE advantage. In the beta, I learned that if you planned to attack an enemy, but the enemy moved first and attacked you, your troops were stuck there even if it was just a single Trooper. If you were sending troops from multiple countries at once to invade another target, and the AI attacked one of your countries, you would suddenly have fewer troops than you were counting on for that battle. It means that when crossing ocean tiles, no matter how heavily populated the seas are with the enemy, your Transports can never be intercepted by the enemy.

When you always go first, it means the enemy has many fewer chances to surprise you or disrupt your attacks. Less surprise makes the game less interesting.

Again, always going first makes the game less interesting.

PROPOSAL:
I would like to see a Custom Campaign option to allow for round-robin style moves like the multiplayer has.


3) Let the Three-Act Story-Campaign use Custom Campaign Options

THE ISSUE:
I love the Custom Campaign settings. They are great, and they let me adjust the balance of the game to my taste to keep things challenging but fair. I use Double Recruit Costs, Double Dragon Spawn Cost, increased Dragon Respawn Time and 70 Starting Recruits (enough to produce 1 Battle Forge and 1 Recruitment Center). This slows down the unit production and makes the Strategy Map units you bring into the RTS phase a lot more important.

THE PROBLEM:
The Story Campaign is stuck with the default settings, and not everyone likes those settings. Many people think the unit production is too zerg-like, with too many units which are too hard to control and micromanage. It can be learned, but it takes quite a lot of practice.

I'm not sure how many people even know what the Custom Campaign option is, and they may just stick to the story campaign. Because the story campaign is not for everyone, and it can't be changed, when I recommend this game, I have to offer caveats and warnings.

PROPOSAL:
If there was a way to use Custom Campaign settings (including the two options I proposed above) in the story campaign, I would be able to give a much stronger recommendation of the game.


I like that the Custom Campaign has a lot of options, but there are a few more which would also help.

PROPOSAL: Additional Custom Campaign Option suggestions

Technology Tier limits
Both the Dragon Powers and the units and upgrades are already conveniently divided into four distinct tiers. Separate options to limit the technology you can research AND also the dragon powers you can use would add in more interesting ways to play the game, and more variations to increase the challenge. These would NOT prohibit Cards which grant you Dragon Powers above your tier, or the ability to build units above your tier (or use upgrades for existing units above your tier). On the contrary, letting those cards continue to exist would expand strategic depth as now you have to choose when to use those precious upgrades.


Gold Cost multiplier for the World Map
This would allow you to adjust the cost for buying new units from war factories and so forth. Admittedly, this isn't going to be an option I'd use most of the time, but on the Planet Earth map, there are so many countries, that once you get some territory, your income skyrockets and you can build an overwhelming number of units, and replace them quickly if they are lost. On large maps like that one, I'd like to be able to increase the cost to buy units, to make it harder to acquire massive armies and replace them. I'm not sure if it should adjust the gold cost of buildings, that may be fine, but it might need to tweak the cost to buy cards from the emporium.


World map unit to RTS unit converter sliders
What I mean by this is a way to adjust how many units you get in RTS mode per unit on the campaign map. Right now there are two settings: 3 RTS units per Battle Forge unit and 2 RTS units for everything else except Transports, which are always 1:1. Ideally, I'd like to change the Trooper and Grenadier ratio from 1:3 to 1:5. However, a 1:5 ratio for Shamans and Warlocks would be too many, so I don't think sliders for Battle Forge/Shipyard/Aerofactory/War Factory would work I can only really see it working with 12 sliders, going from 1 to 5. I know 12 sliders is probably too much to ask, and possibly a lot of re-working the code.



4) Make Wizard Towers Useful

THE ISSUE:
All Wizard Towers do is give you a random Dragon Skill card once every three turns. Wizard Towers are without a doubt the most useless World Map building in the game. They are the only building which gets less useful the more you have. The only real advantage I can see for these is that it lets you get Dragon Skills for one round without needing to spend Research points on them.

THE PROBLEM:
However, because the card is random that advantage comes with severe drawbacks that basically outweigh the benefits: it could be a skill you've already researched, giving you a useless card you can do nothing with, and there's no way to reliably get skills you might want to use regularly. If you want to use specific Dragon skills, it's better to just research them.

PROPOSAL:
I can see two possible changes to make Wizard Towers useful:

A) The first is to change the Wizard Tower into an "emporium" for Dragon Skill Cards only. A random selection of eight Dragon Skill cards are made available. Because the cards are Dragon Skill specific, they should be cheaper than normal Emporium cards (say a 2, 4, 6, or 8 gold fee depending on Tier level of the skill.) This lets Wizard Towers actually fulfill their intended role: It gives players the strategic option to let them buy Dragon Skills with gold instead of Research Points saving the RP for unit upgrades. More towers means more selection will be available.

B) The second is to add an additional function of the Wizard Tower, in addition to the Dragon Cards: The ability to trade or transmute 3-5 existing cards into a single new card for a small gold fee. This immediately makes Wizard Towers more attractive because even if you get Dragon Skill cards you don't want, you now have the potential to use those cards to maybe get a card you DO want. If that's not enough, then more Wizard Towers could reduce the fee you pay to transmute the cards (or perhaps reduce the amount of cards you need to trade in at once).


Either option would be good. Personally, I'd like BOTH to happen, but if I had to choose one or the other, I'd go with option A.


5) Make random starting locations for custom campaign/multiplayer maps

THE ISSUE:
In single-player and Custom campaigns, you always start in the same location on the Campaign map.

THE PROBLEM:
It's boring starting from the same place each time you start a custom campaign. It's true that nearly all of the campaign maps are symmetrical, and so it doesn't matter so much where you start. But even on symmetrical maps, if nothing else, random starting locations would add some visual interest instead of starting in the same place each time.

For irregular maps, the benefit is much more obvious. The Planet Earth map is large, and it's divided into different racial blocs. The default starting block is Lizard aligned, but if you started elsewhere, you would have to take a different tack with your politics. That alone would be interesting.

PROPOSAL:
Quite simply, assign the player to a random start location. This should be the default, no option needed.

***


I could go on, but this is long enough.

Please, Larian, do not forget about Dragon Commander and abandon it to apathy.

Last edited by Stabbey; 20/12/14 02:22 PM. Reason: fixed forum glitch text
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: NC, USA
addict
Offline
addict
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: NC, USA
There are a couple things that would make me play this game again ... maybe.

A dragon on dragon battle. I kept waiting for that in the last battles ... and got nothing.

Dragon overpowered. I recall one battle that I actually had a 1% chance to win ... and won because I used my dragon. Granted the battle took about two hours, but I did it (never again though).

Sea domination equals win. Seriously on the larger maps all I had to do was get some ships on every sea tile, and then just clean up. The AI needs a way to block or disrupt this.

MOST IMPORTANT: Adding the wife's last words to the ending. I mean seriously the only person I really cared about and we get nothing. What the hell!

On a side note I REALLY disagreed with some of the political choice results. I hate that even in games now I can't get away from some of that stupidity.

Last edited by LeBurns; 07/08/14 06:38 PM.
Joined: Jan 2014
Location: Germany
journeyman
Offline
journeyman
Joined: Jan 2014
Location: Germany
Everything you said makes sense and like you already said there are more things which have to be changed, e.g. like mentioned by LeBurns the Dragon balancing.

What I would like to see as well, although it might be more work to implement this and therefore even more unlikely to be patched into the game (but I can dream right?!), is that the stats of your units are influenced by your relationship to each race. E.g. the ironclads, which are manned by dwarfs if I remember correctly, would get a bonus if you had a good relationship with the dwarfs.

Nonetheless I will gladly pass these changes up if they make a sequel to Dragon Commander (of course including these changes and all in all improved heavily, to become a success like DoS). laugh



Spiegelberg! He, Spiegelberg! Die Bestie hoert nicht.
Joined: Jul 2013
E
enthusiast
Offline
enthusiast
E
Joined: Jul 2013
I support Stabbeys proposals, especially regarding the custom campaign settings.
It's something I asked/hoped for during beta and after release and would certainly make the game more interesting for me again.

Joined: Oct 2004
old hand
Offline
old hand
Joined: Oct 2004
Has Larian said anything abuot their plans for improving DC (or D:OS) over the next few months ? I know prior to D:OS launch they were pretty much tied up but now that the launch went well (I presume they have a few extra $$$$$$) do they intend to come back and improve this game (or do a version 2) ?

Joined: Jan 2014
Location: Germany
journeyman
Offline
journeyman
Joined: Jan 2014
Location: Germany
as far as I know they will add more henchmen (just like Madora or Jahan, hence with their own stories)

regarding DC I don't know anything about future plans


Spiegelberg! He, Spiegelberg! Die Bestie hoert nicht.
Joined: Mar 2013
journeyman
Offline
journeyman
Joined: Mar 2013
This is beyond the pall in my opinion. I bought this game thinking it would be a nice finished product with an excellent sandbox structure that I could play with anytime I wanted. Instead we get a mess with a haphazard story that falls apart towards the end and a slew of unfinished features. And now we do not even have the apparent hope of seeing Larian get around to fixing this, or am i wrong about that?

The ending was total arse, just because my wizard adviser thought it prudent we dismantled my technological empire and it's mechanized forces. This leaves the possibility that we will have to dredge up the old schematics again and start from scratch but if so we better have the option next time to turn around to the Wizard and say "screw you, this time we are keeping all of these nice things - demon spawned tech or not!"


This game got good reviews because editors did not expect much from a small indie studio and did not thoroughly review it, choosing instead to be impressed by a dragon with a jet-pack. At this point they cannot reinvent the game, add units, or even fix the crummy story but the least they could do is fix up the custom campaign and tweak the units skins.

Maybe it's because I got this game on Good Old Games and not Steam because the service is just bad, I have to manually download everything & I have no idea when there are updates.

Last edited by Fernando; 21/10/14 02:02 PM.
Joined: Mar 2003
Location: Canada
Larian Studios
Offline
Larian Studios
Joined: Mar 2003
Location: Canada

The game was set before the Divinity RPGs, so advanced technology had to be destroyed or lost at some point, to explain it not existing, or just starting to be implemented, in the games set later in the timeline. Larian either needed to write it into the ending of Dragon Commander, or do a hand wave '9 thousand years, stuff happens' whenever it was brought up.

In addition to GOG notifications, there is an auto-updater for the game.

Joined: Mar 2013
journeyman
Offline
journeyman
Joined: Mar 2013
Originally Posted by Raze

The game was set before the Divinity RPGs, so advanced technology had to be destroyed or lost at some point, to explain it not existing, or just starting to be implemented, in the games set later in the timeline. Larian either needed to write it into the ending of Dragon Commander, or do a hand wave '9 thousand years, stuff happens' whenever it was brought up.

In addition to GOG notifications, there is an auto-updater for the game.


Thanks, I suppose that is something.

Joined: Oct 2014
B
stranger
Offline
stranger
B
Joined: Oct 2014
Fog of War is the definite thing that should be added. Seeing everything on the map totally ruins using Transports + Troopers for surprise building captures or Cloaked Zeppelin and army movements.

Joined: Jan 2009
Stabbey Offline OP
veteran
OP Offline
veteran
Joined: Jan 2009
I guess that we're not likely to see any further changes to the game.

Joined: Jan 2009
Stabbey Offline OP
veteran
OP Offline
veteran
Joined: Jan 2009
Originally Posted by Stabbey
Please, Larian, do not forget about Dragon Commander and abandon it to apathy.


Welp.


Anyway, I've once again decided that my number 5 on the list is less important than something else.

5) Over-Support-Limit Force Composition Selection

THE ISSUE:
Sometimes you can deploy more forces into a country than you have support to put on the field. The rest are held as reinforcements. The problem is that the game decides which units appear on the field, generally getting "one of each".

THE PROBLEM:
Getting a wide array of units selected at random means you have no control over what forces you'll immediately have access to in the field. You are forced to be a jack of all trades, which means you could be a master of none. This is yet another area where more strategic depth could be added to the game.

PROPOSAL:
When you deploy more units into a territory than you can support, you are forced into a menu to select how many units of each type you deploy. The deployment would start out as the default that the computer picked out, and you can subtract some units to free up Support and add in others once they're freed up. The tooltips would have to display how much support each unit has.

This lets you choose exactly what force you take into the field to tailor it to your upgrades, the map's strengths, and your tactical goals. The ones you don't want to use are as always, held in reserve for later on.

Allowing you to pick the units you bring with you into battle increases the strategic depth of the battles, letting you have a plan ahead of time on how to face the battle, instead of relying on improvisation based on what a computer picked.


Moderated by  ForkTong, Issh, Larian_QA, Lar_q, Lynn, Macbeth, Raze 

Link Copied to Clipboard
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5