Marine “Power Grid” design
I wanted to explain and get feedback on the idea of the marine "power grid" in Natural Selection 2. This idea came from discussions about Company of Heroes and supply lines (featured in many board games) and whose main goal is to give the combat a dynamic feel. As the game progresses, different regions of the map should have shifting values and different rewards for building or destroying there.
One more thing – in NS2 there are no hive rooms per se and the marines can’t build their Command Stations anywhere. Both teams must build their Hives or Command Stations at special points on the map called "tech points". Building here lets the team have the ability to have another commander, and also is needed for "teching up" to tier 2 or tier 3.
Here’s the current idea, let me know what you think.
The power grid is like the concept of "territory" in Company of Heroes. It keeps marine structures functional. It means that structures are only powered if they connect back to a built, active Command Station. The purpose of the power grid is to cause different areas of the map to have different strategic value at different times, to enable comebacks and to give the aliens an ability to win even when the situation looks hopeless.
On the left is the map layout with the tech points (hive and command station points) represented by red squares and resource nozzles by purple circles. The arrows represent the routes players can travel but don’t affect the power grid. The right picture shows the power grid – each room is treated a a unit on the grid (power region). Command Stations provide power to all adjacent rooms that have a built resource tower in them.
The resource tower pumps resources into the Command Station, and the Command Station powers the resource tower. When the resource tower is active, the entire room sparks to life and "powers on". If a resource tower is then built in an adjacent room, that room powers up and other structures in that room can function. Structures will not function if the room they are in are not powered up.
When resource towers or command stations take damage, lights and computers in rooms that are powered by that node will start flickering. Destroying a resource tower in the middle of a chain, or destroying the command station at the end of the chain will power all dependent rooms down. Damaging a tower or command station will cause lights and monitors in affected rooms to flicker, hinting at what might occur. When the power goes out, infantry portals stop spawning in players, armories can’t be used to buy or resupply, sentries power down, etc. These power regions will be drawn for the Commander, and will blink red when unpowered.
For clarification, alien structures aren’t affected by the power grid (although they have their own system that relates to dynamic infestation).
04/16 Update: Check out this post where KungFuSquirrel (our lead mapper) answers more questions.