Question: "I would like to know how you plan to balance the typical rts defence/econ strat with the farm mechanic most mobas use to gather resources. Since (neither) rts games nor mobas tend to favor early aggression strategies I'm a little curious about the commander's incentive to build weaker first tier units (assuming there are even tiers) and essentially giving the enemy free gold."
I would definitely agree that Moba's don't tend to favor early aggression, however I would disagree that rts games don't. In my favorite rts games, one of the best things about them is that are multiple high level strategies (early rush, teching, econ etc). Our goal is to bring them some of this into Sins of a Dark Age
. Even at this premature balance stage, I would say that early aggression is definitely an option. I'll give a few examples. One of our map features are valuable gold nodes that can be captured. If you hold on to them, they continue to give you gold for as long as you hold them. By design, these nodes are typically away from defensive positions and are roughly equally accessible by either team. Both teams are incentivized to acquire the nodes as soon as possible (to gain the longest possible advantage over time - or to deny it from the enemy). This gives us persistent points of conflict that are not as *safe* as the typical tower/farm the wave positions so you can have conflict early, often and throughout the game.
Another example of early aggression would be a stronger incentive system to advance your lane. In a typical Moba, aggressive advancement of a lane past the first tower in is something that doesn't usually occur very early and is often something you don't want to do as the equilibrium point of the wave battles will likely shift into the enemy's territory leaving you more subject to ganking and making his farming easier. While this is still true to some extent in Sins of a Dark Age we do feel there are valid reasons to (and tools to support) early aggressive advancement. For example, on one of our maps there is one captureable teleport point on each side of the map. These are positioned such that taking out any front line tower will give you much easier access to capturing the enemy's teleport point. Once you have this you can advance both Heroes and Commander units much faster to the frontline battle and promote even more aggression.
As for how the Commander fits into all of this well let's first remember that its totally possible for a Commander to not have units at all throughout the entire game if he chose a different build. Even in a unit-less build he will be able to strongly support early Hero aggression. This route obviously avoids giving the enemy free gold. Now, if he does build units he still has a role to play in early aggression. Certain Commander units are great for early capturing of nodes and scouting out the areas around them (e.g small, weak fast moving ones). Heroes are single points of power but a Commander can distribute his power so he can choose to be much more effective at this role. Sure he may lose some units at a single point of conflict, but the Commander doesn't have all his eggs in one basket and Hero can't be everywhere at once. Alternatively, he could bring out units that are more concentrated in power (e.g tough melee foot soldiers) and use these to push with a wave and heroes to drop the first tower and make a play for the teleport point. The key thing to realize here is that these Commander units are typically much more powerful (and upgradeable) than the wave fodder units so they are resilient against Heroes and can actually pose a threat to them. In fact in the early game we were having issues with the Commander's army being too effective against Heroes and we had to tune them back.
While there is more to cover on this subject, our objective is to make sure its a viable strategy for both Heroes and Commanders to engage in early aggression.
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