@artch I strongly disagree with
Right, and this is a big problem. In an MMO like this, the attacker is always at an advantage due to the time he spent planning the attack, and if some mechanic gives him even more time-related advantages over the defender, it's a bad mechanic.
I think defense is definitely at the advantage. Walls, ramparts, towers, closer spawning, safemode, TTL travel distance. They all are 100% in favor of the defender and are huge advantages. The time spent planning and honestly just that you can attack when players are AFK is the only thing that makes it even feasible to attack a properly reinforced room.
I don't think that purely reactive defense should be as strong as a prepared defense. Right now the only difference is a few hundred ticks of spawning to get defenders out, which is negligible in terms of wall damage.
The cost with deleting and rebuilding PC is that you are missing millions of power worth of power creep levels for 24 hours. That's a HUGE opportunity cost, especially for a fully upgraded PC. Also, if your rooms are designed to run with them in mind you're operating at a position of weakness for that duration. I'd put it akin to suddenly restricting yourself by 50 cpu for 24 hours.
I do agree with making power creeps feel special. I see how you've arrived at this, especially given your starting point and I like the idea of a power creep being a commitment. The one thing that having freepass tokens for long periods of time does is that it makes it painful to programmatically control power creep creation. Which I think might be one of your goals based on previous discussions (not even wanting to make an API for power creeps etc), but is a very strange goal for a programming game.
Obviously the punishment of losing a level is way too high, and giving out tokens is weird and unintuitive gameplay that will especially punish newer players. I'd like to propose another approach:
- When a power creep is spawned, you are locking your power levels into that creep for a long duration. After X ticks since that PC was first brought into this world, you can choose to retire it by reabsorbing it over 24 hours. At the end of 24 hours you can freely assign those levels again.
- Leveling a creep adds a fraction of the CD to the timer
- Optional: The CD scales in part with the number of power levels an account has, where having a ton of levels locks a player out of refitting individual creeps for longer.
- Optional: Recreating a power creep you had before offers a discount. (Builds identity)
- Optional: Every time you reassign power creeps, the constant that multiplies the timer goes up. This decreases with time. (Disincentives frequent swapping)
This will make power creeps a large commitment that players will have to think carefully and design around. This means that it's not free or easy to swap between options, but it is possible to do so. If you want to add shortcircuiting logic you can spend a level to immediately reassign, but I'd advise against that.
I think it's clear the tokens are a just a weird way of trying to limit player swapping, and level loss is a definite feel-bad mechanic. I think removing both and making it clear that building a PC is like building a room, a clear commitment of time and resources that you need to think clearly about.