Oh, I see, [reactors] consume resources now. Well there's no need to upload now, I suppose, since that answers the question of where it all went.
So we need more energy and now the reactors consume resources? Oh man, this is so game over. I have at least one of each on each of the planets I have and I still haven't managed to break over 0 energy since the energy requirements are so high now. Balance needed! Please.
Okay, this is a really tough call for balance. I have not yet reached a decision, but input is very welcome. Here is my train of thought:
1. On the one hand, Kal and his teammate are intentionally playing what is supposed to be a losing strategy. They are intentionally trying to take over every planet in a 120-planet galaxy, and have been at this for 40+ game hours now. The AI should kill them in these circumstances, otherwise a lot of the "grand strategy" is moot (one of the selling points of this game is supposed to be that you cannot just take everything indiscriminately and win).
2. On the other hand, they have managed to survive until now, and it's strange to have them die by energy starvation rather than the AI getting too big and killing them. And I'm not actually opposed to somebody being able to take every planet in the galaxy if the difficulty is low enough and their skill/patience is high enough, it's just supposed to be really difficult (and impossible past a certain difficulty). What difficulty they are on, I cannot remember off the top of my head.
3. Back on that first hand, the fact that Kal and his partner have survived until now is more a factor of a balance issue up until now, not a balance problem now. They have gone outside the scope of what the general game design was supposed to really allow in normal circumstances -- they should have lost 20+ hours ago, in one manner of thinking. If they were starting fresh with the current prerelease, they would never have been able to get themselves into the current state of affairs because energy would have been too limiting all along.
4. Back on the second hand, I really
don't like breaking backwards-compatibility. Sometimes that is inevitable as the game changes, but this one doesn't really feel "right" to me. If it's breaking Kal's game, how many other games will it be breaking?
5. Still on that second hand, if people are able to play that sort of longform game and still do okay, and if they find it fun, then isn't that something I want to support? Maybe they are playing on a difficulty level below what they could really handle in a "real" mode of game where they don't try to take every planet they come to, and that seems like a perfectly valid way to play to me. I really like having people enjoying the game in different ways, tailored to what style of play they prefer. I know I have certainly played outside the bounds of "normal" gameplay in certain games in the past -- my experiences with doing that with Empire Earth were what led to a lot of the core design elements in AI War, as a matter of fact.
6. I sympathize with the desire for players to be able to stretch the rules and play in different ways -- Admiral with his parasites, eRa with his lower difficulty levels but handicapped AIs, darke with his level 10 AIs but handicapped self, Kal and his partner with their incredibly-marathon completionist game. None of those is precisely the core game I designed, but that's totally cool with me and I really love that people are doing all these things. Except when it messes with the balance of the core game, which binds all of these offshoots together.
7. I am still looking to have incentives for expansion, rather than consolidation (since there is already a huge incentive for consolidation in the form of the AI Progress -- and actually the amount of exposed wormholes you have, for that matter). The energy reactor ongoing costs is very much in support of that, and I really like it. However, players of very long games are likely to hit a very solid wall with this new system, because the amount of metal/crystal you can bring in greatly diminishes with the number of harvesters you have, to the point where they eventually won't be able to support the reactors. In many ways, this is like double-taxation on metal/crystal resources.
Tenative Conclusion: I think that I need to remove both the multiplayer boosts and the too-many producer penalties for harvesters. This will encourage expansion, and will be a nice counterpoint to the energy reactor ongoing costs, which are simpler to manage anyway. This would also remove that artificial resource wall, which right now is putting a cap on the game Kal is playing. I think it would let him keep playing as he likes, without wrecking the balance of the core game, while giving Haagenti even more incentive to stop turtling quite so much.