Player progression: Phase 3 - Galactic expansion

Let's talk about Phase 3, where players will be engaging in epic combat encounters, advancing their tech trees, and working closely with other players to expand their Empires.

a year ago

Latest Post Infoslate #8 - April update by Kirk Bushell public

In the previous article regarding player progression, I talked about the first steps players will take off their Homeworld and what awaits them within their immediate surroundings. In short, Phase 2 is when the game of Halcyon Online starts to really take off. In Phase 3, the game goes into hyperdrive.

In Phase 2, players have established their empire across a few planets, set up mining operations in the local asteroid belt, planted the seeds of potential trade agreements, and are now growing their armada.

Phase 3 is when players specialise - in how they will focus their resource-generation and management efforts, but also in how they will build their fleets. Halcyon Online presents multiple choices in regards to your empire's growth and expansion. Will you develop fleets that are tanky and hard to take out, or build more toward a glass cannon empire where your spacecraft are very powerful but lack resilience? Maybe you'll develop stealth technology, making it hard for your opponents to respond. Whatever your choice, each path through the technology tree provides players with pros and cons.

Those decision trees extend to all aspects of your empire-building. An early focus on resource management, advancing your homeworld as far as possible before expanding, builds a firm foundation for future conquest - but means you're likely to find more resistance from early explorers as you expand into other worlds. In contrast, aggressive expansion in the early stages means access to more resources, but each position is fragile. Either is a valid path to take, but will limit or strengthen you at certain points of the game.

Expansion in every direction.

Research in the game is vastly different from the other titles out there, as well as your Empire's infrastructure. Both aspects contain game systems that allow you to expand and specialise your progress to the nth degree. For example, once you unlock certain craft, you can then spend more research time in developing their strengths. You can also spend a lot of time working on your resource efficiency for every construction project, such as mining, or energy production.

In addition to this, many technologies have their own technology "trees" that allow you to develop those nodes further and go beyond simple stat improvements. Developing lighter craft eventually develops stealth capabilities for them, pushing them beyond 'nimble' into 'undetectable'. If cargo hauling is your primary focus but others are trying to profit off your trade routes, you can outfit your freighters for raiding purposes. The goal in my design and development of Halcyon Online is to provide interesting options at various points of the game, so that every play through is a different experience - even when playing across multiple games in Campaign mode.

In Halcyon Online, it's very easy to get bogged down in the details - but every time that you do, your Empire becomes all the stronger for it. Each tier of research for every unlocked technology substantially improves that technology, and so becomes a valid path in its own right. It presents interesting choices that you must make. No matter your decision, learning how to develop your empire and focusing on chosen strengths will change how you play. For example, if you're not developing solar energy technology, there's little incentive to colonise planets closest to their host star (where they receive solar energy bonuses). Do you focus on developing your mining resource efforts first, thereby costing you time in producing spacecraft; or do you race ahead to unlocking Cruisers? At what point do you hold off sidegrades and specialise on the technology you've just achieved, working toward mastery of it? There will never be enough time in a single game to develop all research, so you will certainly need to focus on certain outcomes.

Epic combat encounters

In Phase 3, players will be banding together with other players to form alliances, and use those alliances to hunt down other players. This is a crucial step due to one of the player protection mechanisms: players can have a number of their own fleets defending one of their planets, but can only send one fleet on an attacking mission at a given target. This means that players can turtle up against single players relatively easily, but attacking opponents may require multiple players and broader efforts to take down very powerful players.

Missions of that kind can result in hundreds - if not thousands - of ships all involved in a single combat round, resulting in huge amounts of damage on both sides and heavily dependent on a sound strategy with the right fleet compositions to win - or at the very least, to mitigate damage.

In addition to this, there will be some expeditions and missions offered to players as part of the PvE and PvP experiences that will require many, many players to achieve a certain objective, such as raids (more on that to come in future articles). These missions can be shared, and will require large numbers of craft, with rewards such as large resource pools or entire new systems to be colonised.

The goal of Phase 3 is to bring players together, to work toward similar goals, whether that be in defending one another or in banding together to take down a larger opponent or raid encounter.

Phase 2 is where Halcyon Online picks up momentum, but Phase 3 is where the epic nature of the game finds its feet, leading into Phase 4 and the main endgame condition: the Dyson Sphere.

What are you most looking forward to with Halcyon Online?

Kirk Bushell

Published a year ago