Player progression

Let's talk about player progression in Halcyon Online. What can players expect to see and unlock as they progress through the game, and what awaits them at each major milestone?

a year ago

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

In any video game, player progression is tantamount to the player experience. Pace too slowly, players can get bored and stop playing altogether. Progress too fast and players can wrap up a game in mere hours, or even in some cases, minutes. In a RTS (Real Time Strategy) game like Halcyon Online, pacing and player progression is even more important.

In Halcyon Online, players take on the role of leading a corporation as CEO, working in tandem with their chosen faction to achieve desired outcomes. Corporations, and therefore their leaders, are tasked with colonising the galaxy, and setting up hubs of human activity, thereby ensuring the survival of the human species over time. However, working together across so many worlds is not that easy.

Players will begin on their chosen homeworld, building up their infrastructure, researching new technology and building out their private military in case, well, stronger words are necessary for a specific outcome. What does this all look like in terms of progression?

Home is where the heart is.

Players begin on their homeworld as the leader of their corporation. Phase 1 in any new game in Halcyon Online is in building up the resources and technology on your homeworld so that you can safely branch out to other planets & other celestial objects within your star system. As you might imagine, just leaving your own homeworld to colonise other planets is no easy feat, and takes a fairly large number of resources & energy. Phase 1 therefore, is about preparing your corporation to colonise other planets. It's also the phase that is most friendly to new players, as the demands on them and their planet are few.

Fans of Halcyon Online will likely play on multiple "servers" at once. A server in this instance refers to a galaxy, running in a particular game mode. Ie. Some may be operating in Classic mode, whereas others are running a Campaign mode.

Phase 2 is when the heart of Halcyon Online really kicks off. At this point players have colonised at least 1 other planet, usually within their own star system (but not always), and are making inroads towards collecting resources off-planet - essentially from moons, or asteroids. Players therefore begin to shift their focus to their star system and amassing resources as fast as they can from its planets, moons, asteroids, and PVE missions in preparation for larger combat operations.

Phase 3 is where players are starting to establish themselves as capable managers & generals. They have many planets, effectively having become Type-1 empires, all producing various resources that are being fed into the war machine to produce a number of very powerful vessels. They have established trade routes between themselves and other players, as well as having setup complex mining and energy collection operations both within their system, and abroad. Players are now more focused on epic multi-player wars and events that can literally change the outcome of a given galaxy or sector (depending on the galaxy's game mode). Smart operations backed by constant intelligence of enemy forces is crucially important, resulting in regular combat missions.

Phase 4 is when some players will become Type-2 empires. Dyson Spheres will be created across the galaxy, harvesting energy that will then empower them to create whatever resources they require, through fusion technology. The difference between Dyson Spheres and other infrastructure, is that they can be targeted for destruction, so therefore demand good defences. This also means that Dyson Spheres do -not- contribute directly to a player's score, as many players will benefit from a single sphere.

Dyson Spheres produce enormous amounts of energy to those who are able to access it, providing them with unlimited energy through which they can use to then start producing raw resources, utilising Fusion Synthesis Plants (FSPs) to achieve their goals. FSPs produce truly awesome amounts of natural resources, empowering empires to be able to construct huge fleets. Due to this fact, being able to slow down or even deny your enemies their access to a Dyson Sphere is crucially important to the endgame victory condition. This can be achieved by destroying supply lines during construction, or by destroying the structure itself. As a result, players embarking on such an infrastructure project will be very keen to defend its progress, as well as when it's completed.

The focus for players as they progress through the game is as follows:

  1. Their homeworld.
  2. Their homeworld's star system and its resources.
  3. Multiple star systems and by extension, their many colonies.
  4. Their alliance, and a strong focus on Dyson Sphere construction.

The speed at which players learn about the various game systems is also tied to each phase. For example, in Phase 1 players are learning about resource collection and management, and research. In Phase 2, players learn how to produce ships and organise and manage fleets, as well as operate missions. In Phase 3, players are stepping up their combat efficiencies and learning how to setup efficient trade and resource routes. Finally, as part of Phase 4, players are producing the game's most powerful spacecraft and systems, and utilising them as best they can.

Progression all the way down.

The game is structured so that progress across the various tiers is matched by the types of infrastructure players can build, the technology they can research, the ships they can produce, as well as the types of missions available to them. For example, players will not have access to planet colonisation missions until they are able to build Colony ships.

Each tier of progression therefore unlocks new ways of engaging with the game, opening up more and more until a Dyson Sphere is produced and all hell breaks loose. It's also tied to intensity and stress - Phase 1 is relatively cool and calm, Phase 4 is where the fate of the game is in the balance and a wrong move could spell victory, or defeat.

Dyson Spheres are immense, very expensive structures that in Halcyon Online require many players to create - and only one star system will benefit. The idea is that because only one system will benefit, then a Dyson Sphere will require the resources and teamwork of a single system's total potential output. As a result, alliances and friendships will need to be formed to efficiently create these structures within a star system and to help defend their construction.

I for one, am very much looking forward to seeing thousands of players work toward these objectives, discussing strategies and opting for the most efficient paths through the game to win galaxies for their desired faction, as well as the challenges they'll face.

Kirk Bushell

Published a year ago