How to make Atlas something better
The design of the map is flawed, in my opinion, and leads to what we have seen thus far—no motivation to attack peers. The “reward” system has the same effect. It appears to be a fixed pool—so, as more teams are added, the rewards attainable by any specific team decline.
How could the map design be changed?
Have a centralize area (or two) that are “safe.” Think of it as the tadpole pond. Make the land level 0, and in addition to the normal upkeep charges, have a “king’s tax” or whatever that would let newer teams, in relatively safety, build up to level 3 infrastructure that could then be stored without being conquered and moved to another location in the “real world.”
As we move out from the “King’s” land, there could be very few neutral zones, but far more no man’s lands. So, if I were designing it, the Kings land is mostly safe (by this I mean that, for a price, someone could still attack you there—it’s not a hiding zone. But the king’s guards are not easily bribed…. So, the price is not insignificant. It’s not 100% safe, but if the “bribe” is paid, the king will “be busy.”
Surrounding the safe zone, is a ring of no man’s land, with a few level 2 plots, but most of the level 2 land does not directly touch the safe zone. Then we move out a little further, and we start seeing a mix of level 2 and 3 in clumps, but also a lot of NML.
Go out further, and now we have larger clumps, with a level 4 as a hub of sorts, and level 3 and 2 also there. Again, lots of NML between the clumps…. Not so much that traveling is a burden, but enough that “staging” an attack is not a freebie.
On the outer ring, have the level 5 lands, again, clumped with 4, 3, and 2. So, we end up with “islands” of player-ownable land, but rather than encouraging centralization and bottlenecks, the power structure is diffuse. Very strong teams would have a motivation to own the best land, naturally, but weaker teams that were ready (or tired of paying the taxes for relative safety) could get better land, especially if they were willing to work with a stronger team.
Portals should be brought back, but it should be more like a beacon… Have a kind of prime that has one purpose—to light that beacon. The portal it opens is immediately “full strength” but it lasts only as long as that prime is alive. For balance, this prime should be fairly easy to kill, but maybe it can learn a skill that gives it stealth or a kind of cloak that works while in NML, but with the right infrastructure, it can be detected. Also, lighting the beacon disables the cloak AND anyone can use it. After all, it’s a beacon. So, both allies of the attackers and allies of the defenders can use it—this introduces a strategy regarding how quickly to kill it. Once the beacon is lit, that prime is in a “locked” state for a set amount of time (could be reduced by being at high levels). Whatever the time is, it should be relatively easy to kill this particular prime either because the defense power is relatively low or because it cannot carry a huge number of troops…. I don’t think both are necessary—if the attacker wishes to sacrifice a large number of troops to keep the portal open longer, I think that should be an option.
I don’t know what a reasonable range for the beacon should be—probably depends upon how big the map is. I don’t think you should be able to travel in this fashion from one corner to the next, but I think a range that allowed for one level 5 “clump” to reach out and touch someone two clumps away would be reasonable. This kind of thing is really hard to gauge without seeing it in action. If the stealth skill is high enough, this prime should be able to get beyond the “meat shield” of the 2s and 3s and get to the 4s or even the 5s before being detected (unless the beacon is lit, then stealth is disabled, and prime cannot move or be unsummoned).
Regarding rewards…. Since troops are expensive in any large quantity, and infrastructure is VERY expensive once you get above 9 or so (yes, it’s expensive before that, but it gets insanely expensive), the rewards for having it need to be commensurate with the cost. The bonuses should be higher (and attainable). I think level 5 (even though I have none) should have special payouts that lower level lands do not have. Maybe the poachers have ALL the crafting materials in substantially larger amounts AND they drop scrolls too. Maybe with high enough infrastructure, a certain number of troops can be instantly revived each day at zero cost. There are lots of things that could make this far more interesting and engaging without leading to a stagnant map where the level 2 and 3 lands change owners, but the 4s and 5 pretty much stay with who has them.
I think there could even be some (very few) level 6 land… but this is special. Not whoever gets it first. Possibly a reward for an Atlas “season” It’s already fully upgraded, and you can lose it, but when the next season starts, it’s on the table again for the “winner.” So, Team A wins the first season and gets this land. They manage to keep it for the whole season, but they come in second place, so they lose it. The new winner gets it, and they can keep it up to a full season, if no one takes it from them. And it’s not just bragging rights. Huge payouts, maybe further portal range, maybe ruby mines or something… IDK… something huge that makes it worth fighting not only to get it, but also to steal it.
Just some thoughts.
Feel free to improve, destroy, or ignore.