Alpha Map Overview: Part 1

September 28, 2019

PT. 1 Overview of Alpha Map

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Hello everyone and welcome to the first installment of a new, limited blog series – Cantata Alpha Perspectives, wherein we discuss features, goals and eventual feedback from the alpha test. In today’s Alpha Perspectives we’re going to talk about and walkthrough the opening of what will likely be most of your first hands-on gameplay of Cantata, the Demo Map! As this series progresses, we’ll examine additional phases of the demo map as well as other alpha content, and offer some directions for tester feedback - for this first section of the Demo Map, the basics of supply and game control are essential to player experience.The goals of the Demo Map are essentially to allow players firsthand experience of the art-style, the UI and the core gameplay loops of Cantata. To that end, the Demo Map is a short (approximately 20-30 minute) sample of Cantata gameplay with a prescribed unit selection, in which the player guides a wayward Machine Drone back to a larger base – the path is fraught with danger and uncertainty for our hero, however.

Your First Steps

Following a brief introduction, the player gains control of the camera and finds themselves at the center of a large crash site. The scroll-wheel zooms the camera in and out between a few fixed levels, while edge-panning with the mouse moves the camera. Straightforward, but always good to start with the basics! <Alt> will bring up both mouseover tooltips and additional UI information. After you look around some, you should see a screen that looks something like this:

We see here information about the terrain tiles (including movement and vision cost), interactables on the map (including the Player Drone, a Machine base, and some local flora) along with their health and available actions for player-controlled interactables. Our two drones are both able to move and attack, while the base has four supply lines available. Vashti has suggested we stretch out our hydraulics and test our circuits with a little walk, so let’s do what she says. Click on a Drone, and then click on the ‘Arrow’ icon in the bottom left to begin a move action.

With any luck, your screen should look something like this one now! Initially in blue, you’ll see the total movement range around our Drone, while hovering over a destination will display an indication of the new movement range as well as the new attack range in red. Within the relative security of our enclosed crash site, most any location should be safe, so choose one that calls to you!

Moving Across the Map

As you can see, there’s quite a distance our two Drones have to cover to reach their compatriots, so it may prove helpful to begin developing some infrastructure to produce reinforcements. Let’s begin with a drone factory. In the top left, you will see a list of three buildings you could produce, select a “Drone Factory” and place it in proximity to your base.  You’ll immediately notice three things: Firstly, you have a Drone Factory now – Congratulations!  However, secondly, you’ll likely observe that the Drone Factory has a big, ugly ‘Lightning Bolt’ symbol over it. That icon means that the building has insufficient supply to produce any supply projects of its own. To supply our new Factory, select your Machine Base, and click on one of the ‘Components’ lines. These represent four different supply lines of Machine Components that the Base Node can supply – and if you’ve read the Cantata 101 on Supply, you’ll know that these Supply networks are vital to developing a functioning base infrastructure. Click on the Blue Square which will allow you to connect a supply line to your factory.  When all is said and done, you should have a newly supplied drone factory, along with three free supply lines you could continue to use at will.

Finally, you’ll notice in the top-left that placing this building took a great deal of AP – building efficiently will be crucial to having sufficient actions to use your units as well! So now that you have a shiny new Drone Factory, let’s select it and begin producing reinforcements. 

Your Supply Network

Selecting the Drone Factory brings up three tabs of information: Supply Providers, Supply Lines and Units. ‘Supply Providers’ tells you which buildings are currently providing supply lines to the Factory, and ‘Supply Lines’ tells you what types of supply the building itself can provide. Much like the Machine Base provides components, it seems that our Drone Factory can supply ‘Steel’ as well. ‘Units’ lists the units that the building can create, selecting Drone brings up the fourth tab of ‘Build Info.’ If you wish to build a Drone, you’ll need to allocate supply for the project.  Drones only require components (the steel is made on-site at the Factory) and below the Drone project, you’ll see all connected sources of Components – in this case, just one, from the Base Node. If you click and drag the slider on the bottom right of that tab, you’ll be able to allocate supply, as you do so, it will begin to reduce the number of turns required to complete the supply project. In all likelihood, in the Demo Map, you’ll generally want to allocate as much supply as possible, but that may not always be the case!  Both the ‘End Turn’ button, and <Space> will end your turn, freeing up more AP and advancing your supply projects one turn closer to completion!

As you advance, you’ll encounter a few Human units which will pose increasingly perilous threats to your Drones, more reinforcements will be required, both in Drones and in more powerful units produced via combinations of Supplies, stemming from the Base Node, the Drone Factory, the Processor Plant and the Machine Hangar. As you continue, apply your initial lessons toward developing an effective and more intricate supply chain! 

Your First Unit

As turns pass, notifications will pop-up in the top right, informing you of such occurrences as sightings of enemy units and the completion of supply projects. For instance, when your new Drone is ready, a green Checkmark will appear over the Factory. Click the Factory, then click on the Drone and selecting its icon will allow you choose where to deploy your new unit, like so.

Congratulations on your new Drone! As you continue to advance toward your home base in the top left of the map, you’ll have opportunities to explore different terrain types and use both movement range and vision to your advantage (or disadvantage). Do note that developing new supply chains will work much like producing Drones: you’ll have to allocate supply, complete projects, and then connect those new supply lines to destination projects. Once you’ve created your first Walker, you’ll be well on your way to victory! And do keep in mind, there’s no reason to limit yourself to one, two, or even four Machine Hangars, so long as you can keep your supply-lines organized.

Up Next

By the time you’ve completed the Demo Map, you should have a good sense of the basics of Cantata, particularly the creation of simple supply lines. Maintaining an effective but expansive supply system is integral to success, and we hope you’ll find this introduction to some of the gameplay dynamics intuitive yet intriguing. As you play, some things to keep track of are your thoughts about how the interactions feel, where gameplay (whether through the mechanics or the UI) felt obtrusive or unintuitive and of course, bugs! Stay tuned for the next Cantata Alpha Perspective where we’ll walk through the next section of the demo map, with a focus on terrain elements and interaction!