Part 162: clear your castle & thor's thunderclear your castle & thor's thunder
It's time for the teknotiss system to go out with a bang. How much of a bang? Well, let's just say that the last planet almost breaks the game. It does force it to a crawl. We'll get to why on that, but suffice to say that I sped up most of that mission by about 70% on the video - any more than that, and it would have made my blatherings indecipherable. And even then, it's still running slower than standard CW3 speed for part of it. But it does save the viewer over 40 minutes of even more painfully-slow waiting.
Before that though, there was clear your castle. And here we pretty much need to do what it says on the tin. We have ourselves a keep with a series of walls around it, and will be attacked on all sides. We also have lots of resources and, by virtue of the power zones, a pretty darned impregnable starting location. Not shown here due to the zoom is that further out in each corner of the map are another fifteen spore towers. In each corner. I don't know the total spore count, I didn't bother with it. Suffice to say it is many. Not as many as spore spam, but a lot.
I start by working on taking down the inner ring of emitters and getting some energy going. Then I move into the upgrades. One nice touch I like is that the Totems and Forge start off deactivated, which would suck up all the energy and force the player to turn them off manually otherwhise.
No trouble withstanding the early spore waves, but I didn't get out to the next wall where the ore deposits are quickly enough. I wasn't really sure how I wanted to do it, and creeper overflowed that wall here, eventually wrecking all of the ore mines. Time here is about 4:30, so this is preventable but requires fairly quick work.
Didn't take long to get them back up with the aid of SuperMortars firing over to clear out nearby creeper. This quickly became one of those maps where it's hard to see everything that's going on because there's just so much activity, particularly here in the center.
There are also limitations in this level. Bombers/Strafers have a limited number, as do Pulse Cannons. No Relays, Siphons, or Snipers as well as they are locked. The last two are just 'uh, why bother' but the relay one is quite unusual and basically just means weapons take longer to refill with supply and you have to use collectors everywhere. I don't think it serves any great purpose on this map, so it just seems to be something that was changed just to change it.
This is the basic pattern I used to expand. At this point there's only one more outward wall to reach, and Creeper density is high enough that I've got a bunch of Berthas in place. But basically, once I've cleared the next wall I deploy collectors and nullifiers so that anything nearby is dead, then move Beams out, then gradually mortars and then finally sprayers on the wall. Lather.rinse.repeat.
At the final perimeter, a benefit to the map being purely symmetrical. Once I figured out where I wanted to place everything, I just had to duplicate it on all four sides. And you can see all the wonderful towers in the corners, which were super fun for our nullifiers to eliminate.
A nice cathartic kill 'em all map with plenty of options in how to do it, although the restrictions do make me scratch my head a bit.
A little more is cut off at the top. It looks like I've already played this a bit, but I haven't - this is the starting state with some creeper, digitalis, runners, etc. already spawned.
** The Thors. One guards the passage to the bottom of the map where we start. Two others are available via artifact on the extreme right and left. Eventually.
** Lots of power zones to start us off, which is good.
** This screenshot shows one spore for the tower. And that's true of those on this side of the divide. Above it though they spew out 20 each, and they don't all build at the same rate. I did the math just because, and it turns out there are enough spore towers to belch out close to 800 projectiles per salvo. From experimentation while playing, I concluded that this was the primary cause for the game to slowdown and not just be able to keep up. Others things contribute, but it seems that killing these off and stopping the spam from them was the best performance improvement.
** Artifacts in the southeast. We'll need those to get very far at all. Starting limitations are 4 Terps, 4 Guppies, 12 Cannons, and 6 Mortars, no aircraft - sprayers - snipers - forge - bertha at all.
** Ore Deposits just northeast of the chokepoint. Clearly a major resource to be gathered.
** The emitters are of various strengths. Mousing over a few, I thought they were quite weak at first. I didn't choose the right ones. Those that are embedded directly in the digitalis are. But those that are not, and there are by my count 16 of them, are 10x strength fellas, 200 creeper per half-second. Combined, those big emitters produce 6.4k creeper a second.
The initial Thor starts fully powered, which I hadn't initially realized. So you just have to get energy to it before it runs out. My first thought was roughly the correct one, alternating SuperReactors and SuperBeams along the initial defensive line to provide both energy and anti-Spore defense.
This is how far I got, just the first few spots past the thor, before confronting the creeper and having to put up weapons. Getting the ammunition here while sans upgrades was an issue, and I should have moved the Node sooner than I did and/or deployed the guppies to help out with supply. What I actually did was just futz about for a while, then eventually build more weapons. The counter at the bottom shows us that only the single-spore towers are currently firing. The bigger towers are only half-built, so the reader is advised to do what I didn't do, and make haste here so that you make as much progress as possible before they finish.
11 minutes in, and the full fury is beginning to be unleashed. They are staggered in their release times as well. I'm not ready, but I've got enough of a line that they will be spread out a good amount at least. If you watch the video at this point (49-50 mins.) you can definitely tell there's a slowdown here. It's another 10 mins. or so in before I started speeding it up. But from here on out, it's a constant, neverending shooting gallery. There are ALWAYS spores in the air. For over an hour game-time, and much longer than that me-time.
Continuing to crawl forward, I eventually do clear out this corner, grabbing all the much-needed artifacts and deploying guppies to help with the energy to fend everything off.
Here's a good aerial view from near the end of that process, showing the stupid amount of spores and creeper buildup. And though they are super-tiny, you can perhaps make out the hundreds of runners crawling around waiting for something's day to ruin as well.
Several Shields starred in the effort to push up the hill towards the Ore Field. Securing this took some time, and more afterwards to get enough Sprayers up to use it all. It was definitely time well-spent though, because there's just something about 15 or so always-on sprayers to slow down even the most determined creeper assault. At this point the footage is still running a bit fast with the acceleration, but soon I'll be doing enough crap to make up for that .
For a while I just sort of slowly and haphazardly expanded, got Berthas up, etc., but I didn't really have a cohesive plan. There was so much going on with this map that it took me quite a while to get a sense of how I wanted to attack it.
Bertha Theme Park. I would eventually sight one of these on every big emitter I could find.
Another zoomed-out shot just to show the stupid scale of the combat here. At around this stage of things I decided to try to encircle the digitalis area. I had two reasons for this: getting the other Thor Artifacts, and I thought that's where all of the remaining big emitters were. I was wrong on the second part - that's where like half of them are, and missing the other half would cost me significant time. But it still wasn't a terrible plan.
I had 81 AC output per second at this juncture, and I was fully convinced it wasn't enough and I would have liked more.
The next while wasn't super-interesting. More about beating a path, but here the Thor Battlegroup makes the turn north after reaching the western edge, and pushes up along this to grab its counterpart. Once we got it, that's when the slowdown really started getting stupid. Me ramping up packet speed to I believe Level 39 wasn't the most brilliant thing ever for framerate either.
Things generally proceeded in like manner for the 25 minutes of game-time, and roughly infinity squared of my time, that it took to complete the encirclement. Not long after, I noticed this:
This is a little before the moment of realization, but you can see that as I try to gradually tighten my circle, about halfway up this image there is a row of stronger emitters going across the screen. Once I realized what was going on and pushed in on those more aggressively to remove them, it was just a matter of swamping the limited remaining resistance to close this off.
Thor's Thunder is worthy of the name, given that it not only features a massive battle with an intruiging start, but also made Creeper World itself beg for mercy.