Power Creeps update

  • Dev Team

    @kasami said in Power Creeps update:

    I would much more have prefered a system with max lvl 20-25, where lvl 2 skills require PC lvl 5, lvl 3 skills => PC lvl 10, lvl 4 skills => PC lvl 15, lvl 5 skills => PC lvl 20 (limits up for debate)

    OK, we'll try to draft some possible builds using this system, and see if it's any better. The downside I see here is that different classes have different max level, so limits and conditions will be different for each class as well.


  • Dev Team


    Shards; How will we deal with power creeps in multi shard empires? Assuming, (as is most logical) that if we spawn a PC in one shard then we can't spawn it in another, will there be any way for us to determine this other than tracking ourselves, or will it just return OK when we try to spawn and not spawn?

    Not decided yet.

    The problem as I see it is if I want to create a PC that has lvl 5 in multiple useful, symbiotic, abilities then if there's one level that has both of these abilities then I simply cannot.

    But why this is a problem? Such restrictions present a challenge and makes planning more difficult, and more fun. Absolute freedom is just boring.

    Oh and while I'm on the topic; the idea that a "choose one of 3 powers per level" makes it a more streamlined experience is to completely misunderstand the player mindset, which is not "what can I do at this level?" but more "How do I get this ability to this level?" and "Is it better to just create another PC?"

    The question "How do I get this ability to this level?" isn't easier with the proposed alternative, since you have to plan what other skills you have to take in order to get this ability to this level.

    ops; I second what Knightshade said about the name of this. I could get behind it if each of the PC classes use their own resource (e.g. ops for operator, execs for executor and ... coms? .. for commander), but if it's the same resource for each class, then please consider renaming this, something like "fuel" would be better (though not perfect).

    It's for Operators only. Commander and Executor won't use resources at all, most probably.

    How do opposing effects interact?; If I've got a tower that I've done a lvl5 OPERATE_TOWER on and someone else does a lvl5 OBSTRUCT_TOWER what's the net effect? Is it +50% -50% (additively stacked) i.e. back to normal, or is it multiplicatively stacked i.e. the tower would be 75% of it's normal effectiveness, or does one simply override the other? Same question for spawns.

    That's a good question. We'll need to do some math before I can answer.

    hostile powers affected by ramparts; I know this has been mentioned and the response was "we're still deciding", but this is an important questioned that needs to be answered sooner rather than later. if OBSTRUCT_SPAWN, DRAIN_EXTENSION, OBSTRUCT_TOWER are blocked by ramparts then we'll be looking at the question "are these too week? can they be made better? Is it possible to balance these up to usefulness?" whereas if ramparts don't block these abilities then the questions will be "are these OP? can they be weakened? Is it possible to balance these down to not be game destroying?". OK, yes I'm exaggerating here, but my point is, it's really pointless to discuss these further until we have an answer to the rampart question.

    I think that most probably ramparts won't protect structures from powers, since otherwise they make too little sense.

  • Dev Team


    How does the OPERATE_TOWER work? Does it reduce the range penalties somehow? Does it increase the max damage? Does it reduce the cost to operate?

    It affects damage/heal/repair amount.

  • @artch

    Commander and Executor won't use resources at all, most probably.

    That doesn't sound good. If they are free to use, and cannot be permanently destroyed, how do you run someone out of combat resources (currently one of the only ways to kill an end-game player, or otherwise survive their attack).

    If someone can just keep sending a giant wave of power creeps every 100k ticks for free ... they probably will.

  • Dev Team

    @gankdalf As I said, all discussions regarding Commander and Executor will be ignored for now, please refrain from them until Operator is released.

  • @artch Are ops an actually "physically" resource in the game or acc bound like market credits?
    That doesn't seem to be specified anywhere.

    Side note:
    I really don't like the idea of free to use "skills". All skill activations should spend ops regardless of PC type.
    One universal resource called "Operations" is more than enough.

  • There seems to be a huge benefit to be gained by creating many low level operators to generate ops or refill extensions, since it only takes 1 level to get either of those, and you can bypass many of the long cooldowns (for operate extensions) by simply using 5 level 1 power creeps instead of 1 level 18 power creep.

    So, is there any limitation on how many level 1 power creeps you can have? Is the cooldown for filling extensions per-room or per power creep?

  • @gankdalf said in Power Creeps update:

    There seems to be a huge benefit to be gained by creating many low level operators to generate ops or refill extensions, since it only takes 1 level to get either of those, and you can bypass many of the long cooldowns (for operate extensions) by simply using 5 level 1 power creeps instead of 1 level 18 power creep.

    So, is there any limitation on how many level 1 power creeps you can have? Is the cooldown for filling extensions per-room or per power creep?

    5 level 1 power creeps is 10 levels (IIUC it takes one level to create, one for the first skill). 1 level 19 (I think you meant 19?) is 20 levels. So yes, your option is cheaper.

    The other option can get (by my count) level 4 extend source, level 3 extend mineral, level 2 shield, level 2 generate ops, level 1 operate tower, level 1 operate labs and level 1 operate spawn.

    So yes, I can do half as many rooms this way, but I think the extra skills are also rather useful.

  • Okay actually something big about the tree that is probably causing the most issue is that there are basically 2 classes in the Operator. There is the defensive/economy/utility booster and the offensive infiltrator/disruptor. These two are almost completely incompatible.

    It's not that they have many duties that they can fulfill and have to split their actions between unique tasks and programming challenges, it's that there are powers that are incompatible and remove a large amount of the choice factor. Because operators that are optimized for any type of economy situation will likely be small and have no offense powers, while combat optimized operators are basically required to have things like disrupt tower and shield and the highest personal level possible.

    This simply dilutes the unique choices of both versions. It isn't a 3-per level choice. It is a 0 to 2-per level choice almost every time. You cannot use economy powers in an enemy room and you cannot use offense powers in your own rooms, so unless they are supposed to wonder back and forth between combat and personal economy, having them mixed just seems weird.

    Sure there could be some excuse that these creeps need something to do during down-time, but in reality the choices they are given result in having a level 3 extends source, a level 1 operate spawn, and maybe a couple other level 1 powers that may be more efficiently ignored rather than utilized.

    example: https://screeps.com/power-planner/?creeps=1_Disruptor_12222222012112111202222021

    Breakdown (click to expand)
    • Level 1: Only one or two viable offense powers
    • Level 2: No viable offense powers
    • Level 3: Only one or zero viable offense powers
    • Level 4: One viable offense power
    • Level 5: No viable offense powers
    • Level 6: One viable offense power
    • Level 7: Three or two viable offense powers
    • Level 8: No viable offense powers
    • Level 9: Two viable offense powers
    • Level 10: One viable offense power
    • Level 11: Three viable offense powers
    • Level 12: One viable offense power
    • Level 13: One viable offense power
    • Level 14: Two viable offense powers
    • Level 15: No viable offense powers
    • Level 16: One viable offense power
    • Level 17: Two viable offense powers
    • Level 18: No viable offense powers
    • Level 19: One viable offense power
    • Level 20: One viable offense power
    • Level 21: Two viable offense powers
    • Level 22: One viable offense power
    • Level 23: Two viable offense powers
    • Level 24: Two viable offense powers
    • Level 25: No viable offense powers

    Without going into balance between powers at all, this means that you only have choices at the following levels: 1, 7, 9, 11, 14, 17, 21, 23, and 24.

    For a feature that is supposed to give players a hard choice, it seems counterproductive to only give choices at less than 50% of the levels, especially considering how long it takes to get each level. Leveling a creep up for no benefit with no choice involved is going to feel horrible.

    There was some choice in what this creep could do while off-duty, but it turns out that it will just be bouncing between all of the sources in a room, and maybe walking over to operate a tower or spawn in case of emergency.


    Now for an economy based creep, they will (as written) most likely just be a ton of level 1 creeps generating ops or filling extensions, since it is obviously more level efficient for ops generators to just have an army of level 1 creeps, however, if you did have a high level economy operator, they would never have to take an offense power, and therefore never want to enter an enemy room, and therefore would just have fewer choices at no benefit.

    example: https://screeps.com/power-planner/?creeps=0_Booster_11210200100020022001000201

    Breakdown (click to expand)
    Economy, scouting, and defense powers can be used by the same creep effectively, but they are different, so I will not annotate them differently, since I am not trying to argue that some powers are useless (yet).
    • Level 1: Two viable powers
    • Level 2: Three viable powers
    • Level 3: Three viable powers
    • Level 4: Two viable powers
    • Level 5: Three viable powers
    • Level 6: Two viable powers
    • Level 7: Two or one viable powers
    • Level 8: Three viable powers
    • Level 9: One viable power
    • Level 10: Two viable powers
    • Level 11: Two or one viable powers
    • Level 12: Two viable powers
    • Level 13: Two viable powers
    • Level 14: Two or one viable powers
    • Level 15: Three viable powers
    • Level 16: Two viable powers
    • Level 17: Two or one viable powers
    • Level 18: Three viable powers
    • Level 19: Two viable powers
    • Level 20: Two viable powers
    • Level 21: Two or on viable powers
    • Level 22: Two viable powers
    • Level 23: One viable power
    • Level 24: Two viable powers
    • Level 25: Three viable powers

    Okay so obviously this looks much better than the offense creep, since most of the powers are economy/defense/utility focused and can all be used in your rooms effectively, however, every level with a good choice for the offense creeps has an equally bad choice for the local creeps.

    Levels 9, 23, and every level with Shield in it, are pretty poor on power selections for any power creep that isn't wreaking havoc and chaos on your enemies. Sure you could make some excuse where an economy creep could leverage some of these powers to allow it to travel through enemy defended rooms unharmed, shortening it's path, but I cannot see that ever being viable with this selection of powers.

    The argument could be made that they are primarily for local use, but can come out of their shells during war time to use the couple of powers they have, but in reality, they will just pick the one choice that is useful in their native environment, and the other "choices" just become dead slots.


    I like being forced to choose between a few powers at each level, so that I do not have stationary power creeps are just filling extensions or sources, but if the choice is between "do nothing because you will never be entering an enemy room" and "do something minor because there isn't anything else to pick", it's not a choice either.

    My "vote" is currently on the MOBA-like system where you simply have to have a high enough total level to get the next level of powers. It not only simplifies the system greatly, but it means that if you have enough powers for both offense and defense they are capable of living side-by-side in the same class without removing choices. I think the MOBA-like system is easier to work with for a level based system, while the 3 choice system (as-is) works better for perks and powers that only have a single level.

    Heroes of the Storm uses the 3 or 4-choice system in a similar way to how you are trying to implement it here, but instead of a linear increase, each choice modifies a power in a unique way that cannot be revisited at later levels, so choosing EXTEND_SOURCE at level 2 would function differently than choosing EXTEND_SOURCE at level 5.

    An example of this would be: all operators have most operator powers at level 1, but would have choices like:

    (these are all in addition to normal power functionality, some assume that the original power doesn't have the functionality that was stated in the level, even if the original document did)

    Level 1:

    • GENERATE_OPS generates an extra op if this creep standing near 3 other creeps
    • OPERATE_EXTENSION has room-wide range
    • DRAIN_EXTENSION prevents effected extension from being refilled for 2 ticks

    Level 2:

    • OPERATE_OBSERVER you keep visibility of an observed room for an extra tick
    • OPERATE_TOWER effected towers use half the normal energy cost to fire
    • EXTEND_SOURCE regeneration rate of the source is also set to 150 when extended until it regenerates

    Level 3:

    • OPERATE_SPAWN: creeps spawned during effect time are given 4 free weightless TOUGH parts. these can exceed the parts cap
    • OPERATE_EXTENSION: stores an extra 50 energy in all affected extensions. This can exceed the capacity of an extension until it is removed.
    • GENERATE_OPS generates an extra op if this creep is standing on a swamp

    (these choices combine, so having GENERATE_OPS at level 1 and 3 would mean it is possible to generate 3 ops a use if the power creep uses it on a swamp near 3 other creeps)

    Obviously this requires a lot more thought and likely work, but it would fit the leveling system better IMO

  • @tigga Yeah I agree that several of the powers are likely worth it. It just seems strange that the level 1 powers can be abused in this way. Seems counter-intuitive.

  • Pretty excited to see the blog post about Power Creeps.

    I think the "power-enabled" room flag is a really elegant solution to preventing newer players from being run over. I do want to understand how neutral rooms ever revert to "unpowered" though. If a room is neutral, the "powered" status should probably have a cooldown so it goes away eventually. Otherwise unpowered players have to do this dance where they claim a powered neutral room, unclaim, and then reclaim it to get it into the unpowered state. That seems silly.

    How do ops work? Are they carried/allocated per power creep, or are they drawn from a global pool on the player's account when used? It probably matters more for the more combat-oriented roles.

    Do I get something special when I kill an enemy power creep? It would be fun if they dropped a substantial amount of power/ops when killed. It also adds an "ante" mechanic where if a big player is beating up on a smaller player with power creeps, they are at least wagering more resources, which allows the smaller player to win more in the case where they win. Now that we have tombstones, it seems like this should definitely be considered.

    I'll add a +1 to what everyone is saying about the MOBA style leveling system.

    I also think that some of the proposed powers are more CPU-intense than the others (for example, the extend_mineral power), and this should be considered in the cost. I'm not sure that power is worth it at the moment, especially at low levels.

    Extend_extensions on the other hand seems overpowered at level 1 and underwhelming at level 5.

    I think it's fine if there is a plan to see what powers are being used over time and balancing them with the goal of having all powers be viable.

    operate_observer seems terrible. First why would I ever take this when I can scrape the game's GUI and have unlimited observing all the time for free? Secondly, why is the cooldown so high, the ops cost so huge, and the range scaling so terrible? This is a skill that doesn't want to have 5 levels. It wants to have 1 level. This skill would be much more interesting if it provided intel that an unpowered observer does not supply. For example, it would be more interesting if operate_observer level 2-5 also told me the enemy player's bucket and credit totals. Maybe level 3 would be able to tell me what tick the next invader wave will arrive. Level 4 tells me the content of that wave. Level 5 lets me know when NPCs/powerbanks will spawn, or gives me vision over a 16x16 area for the purposes of pathfinding. But I'm still not sure how interesting it would be. This skill actually wants to be something like "scout" - find the closest enemy creeps to my power creep.

    Notes about PCs in general, considering the other two types:

    I think the idea of different types of power creeps having different max level caps is silly, and that consideration should not effect the skill-tree design decision.

    I don't like the asymmetry of Operators being the only creeps that cost a resource to use their skills. It doesn't make sense to me.

    I do like the idea of the "ops" resource in general. It allows market forces to balance the skills to some extent and allows for some metagame.

    My 2c

  • SUN

    Notably heroes of the storm upgrades often effect the abilities in a way that is not a straight numeric increase but effect both the strategic and tactical game as a whole.

    Examples include:

    • Ability is permanent until recast (Skill-shot keeps travelling across the map on the same path)
    • Ability effects additional targets
    • Ability now restores a recourse (Health/mana/etc)
    • Ability now removes one or more negative effects.
    • You can recast this ability a second time after you cast it once (only after then (or a couple of seconds pass) will it go on cooldown)
    • Slows the target
    • Allows the ability to operate on targets that it wouldn't normally work on
    • Ability can now stack in some form.
    • Ability range/ability damage (Sometimes at a tradeoff to one or the other)
    • Select one of two ultimate abilities.
    • Notably for screeps: Unlocks an entirely new ability that the character would not otherwise have access to such as repairing friendly structures or a blink.
    • Ability gains a second 'charge'; This means that if you hit the cooldown twice without using it you can use the ability twice in quick succession.

    I do have some problems with it though:

    • Screeps has a much broader skill selection
    • Disproportionately valuable mutations (Made even worse by the broader skill selection)
    • Everyone in HoTs is assumed to be on the same level to some extent (barring experience gaps that occur during play)
    • Skills don't stack: eg. Operate_Terminal can only be active once on a terminal making some mutations literally worthless in some situations.
    • HoTs has all skills unlocked from the start (Barring the much more powerful ultimate abilities).
    • There is no two headed creep where one player controls the legs and physical skills while another controls the power abilities.

  • @pundemonium

    Yeah I also don't like how min/maxy the proposed skill tree is, with every skill providing an easily-quantified bonus.

    It would be much better to have skills where the value of the bonus was unclear, for example the powered "operate_observer" skill that tells me when invader waves are coming. The value of this bonus depends on what I do with that knowledge and it more interesting than just adding 1k energy to a source, the value of which is fairly straightforward to figure out in any unit you want to consider (cpu, energy, credits).

  • Dev Team

    @mrfaul Ops are real "material" resources which are carried by creeps, stored in storages and transferred by terminals.

  • @artch cool - that is more interesting than having a global pool of ops. It also makes generate_ops even more valuable, since you can save CPU cycles by making each creep self-sufficient instead of pathing back to the terminal to get more ops. I wonder if this makes generate_ops not a very interesting skill to take, since everyone will always take it.

    Crazy idea: what if generate_ops converted CPU ticks from your bucket into ops? Ops could basically be "frozen cpu" points, which is thematically cool.

  • @pundemonium LOL I feel like some of your listed cons are in jest, but I wanted to note that all of the mutations would have to be compatible, just like they would be in HoTS. And my idea was that just like in HoTS, the effects would modify the original power, not make a new power, so when you used OPERATE_TERMINAL with all its mutations, it would apply all the mutated effects. For example:

    OPERATE_TERMINAL: Decrease transfer energy cost by 30%. Effect duration 1000 ticks, cooldown 500 ticks. Consumes 100 ops resource units. Must be melee range to use this power on a terminal.

    • Mutation 1: The affected terminal also gains 200K capacity for the duration.
    • Mutation 2: The cooldown of the affected terminal is also reduced by 5 ticks for the duration.
    • Mutation 3: Sending resources from the affected terminal to a room you own costs an additional 20% less.
    • Mutation 4: The affected terminal becomes a valid target for link transfers in the same room for the duration.
    • Mutation 5: Range increased to 5.

  • SUN

    @gankdalf I have a hard time taking myself seriously.

    Also re: The terminal example that's assuming the one creep took all of the operate terminal powers. I guess it isn't that big of an issue (or at least least any system is going to have some problems with overlapping power selections)

    That said it becomes progressively more of an issue the more you restrict the selections on a given level.

  • AYCE

    I've been thinking about an alternative to a MOBA-style, where the current tree can be used.

    What about using basically the same system for selection as we have now, but also allowing lower level choices to be taken later on.

    I've not played around with it that much, but it seems to fix the problem I have now that I have to consider all the future choices when making a choice. Instead I can consider the three I can choose between, or a previously non-chosen upgrade. I've gone back and forth about if choosing a skill lower on the tree will unlock the next tier, or if one have to choose one at each level. If one has to choose at each level, raising the max level to maybe 30 might make it very interesting.

    As I've said, I've not deeply analysed this idea, but thought I'll throw it out there for consideration.

  • @pundemonium Ah I think I get what you were saying. You mean if a power creep with Mutation 1 (200K capacity) and another power creep has only Mutation 3, they would have to define the interaction if both use it, but I would just assume that they couldn't stack, so the power creep to use their power 2nd would just get a BUSY error preventing the stacking.

  • AYCE

    Regarding EXTEND_MINERAL:

    I'm wondering how this will work in practice, and how useful it will be. Typically I'll be clearing the minerals in the rooms I own within 5k-10k ticks, and then the regeneration-cooldown will start ticking for 50k ticks. How will EXTEND_MINERAL work on a mineral on cooldown?

    One solution might be just adding the minerals to the available minerals (which is 0 when the cooldown starts), but actually mining these before the cooldown is up will be tedious and potential CPU- and energy-inefficient (up to 100 minerals every 100 ticks). If this is the solution I think the minerals should be added to the amount generated after the cooldown in up.

    Another solution is that EXTEND_MINERAL is not possible to use on a mineral on cooldown, but that will make EXTEND_MINERAL a very underpowered skill. Using the skill will require moving around to rooms that has mineral up, and my approach will basically be that a PC has a home-room it is responsible for. A roaming PC with EXTEND_MINERAL will be very hard to utilize well.

    A different solution might be to change the EXTEND_MINERAL to a new skill that reduces the cooldown. An efficently mined mineral will be on cooldown most of the time, and from my calculations the skill can be changed to "Decrease mineral deposit cooldown by 20/40/60/80/100 ticks. Cooldown 100 ticks.", with basically the same gains as it has today. With an average mineral of around 50k-60k, this will provide about 1 mineral extra each tick (feel free to correct me if my calculations are off).