The Crust Combat System Concept

04 Apr 2024
by Oleg Simukov

What do you think about that?

Hello Community,

In this article we want to talk about our experiments with the combat system and get your opinion on it as we approach another Stretch Goal.

Core Loop Combat System

Fighting for Helium-3 on the Moon in sandbox mode.

As the player's base grows, there is an increasing need for energy. The game is balanced in such a way that as the game progresses, more and more energy is required, and this growth is not linear but almost exponential. Servicing a base with colonists and producing hi-tier resources requires an enormous amount of energy. Helium-3 is needed in large quantities to meet the energy demand, as hydrogen-based fuel has too low an efficiency to cover all the needs.

Mining Helium-3

Mining Helium-3 requires a Harvester, which is built in the Great Machinery Factory and requires medium and high-tech resources. The Harvester also requires fuel or energy cells to operate and move around the map. Which limits its range and autonomy time.

Helium-3 is extracted from the surface layer of regolith in different areas of the moon. The concentration of Helium-3 in each area is different, there are richer areas with concentrations in craters, and there are less rich areas.

The basic concept of the combat system is to capture and hold key areas on the moon. Something similar can be seen in the HoI game. Capturing one area gives the player several bonuses:

  • - access to Helium-3 deposits,
  • - the ability to build outposts to refuel and repair units,
  • - exploration of scientifically interesting craters and anomalies that generate science points with the help of rovers,
  • - logistical advantage, allowing you to "reach" remote promising areas and points of interest.

However, when capturing a large number of zones, it becomes increasingly difficult to control and defend them, so the player should carefully consider their expansion. Helium-3 mining speed is determined by several factors: the concentration of helium in an area, the number of Harvesters in an area, logistics to the main base (outposts, remoteness and speed) and special technologies that increase mining speeds. This combination of factors gives the player more flexibility in choosing a development and expansion strategy.

Military Unit Production

The game adds several ground unit factories, a flying unit factory, artillery railguns and satellites that give certain bonuses to your units, and penalties to enemy units while above the battlefield.

The efficiency and automation of a player's base greatly affects the speed and scalability of their combat units. Thus moon factory efficiency becomes as important as military strategy on the global map. Each factory in the game is equipped with conveyor entrances for fast automatic delivery of resources, which allows you to put the production of different equipment on the stream.

Unit Parameters

Each unit has a number of parameters that determine its purpose and combat potential:

  • - Damage type (predominant damage type of the guns (laser, kinetic, explosive))
  • - Damage (the total damage output of the guns)
  • - Armor (number of armor points)
  • - Hull (number of hull points)
  • - Maneuverability (the probability of evading enemy hits and the probability of leaving the battle)
  • - Speed (speed of movement on the global map and the probability of withdrawal from combat)

Combat units are divided into small, medium and large units.

Medium and large units have the ability to customize by changing the composition of components in the cells of the unit, which allows you to collect different characteristics and purpose of units. For example, to fight flying enemy units will be better suited missiles, to fight light and fast units - high-precision lasers, and to destroy armored targets - heavy kinetic guns. The player can also build a fast but lightly armored unit that can intercept an enemy unit heading towards your precious Harvestor.

Units also have experience and veteran points that increase with the number of victories and increase damage and maneuverability parameters.

Ai factions

From the beginning of the game, each faction has only one home area under its control. The other areas have a neutral status, which allows Helium-3 and other resources to be mined from that area without restrictions. Building an outpost paints the area in the faction's (or player's) color, opens new opportunities, and prohibits other factions from mining the area. This mechanic allows you to develop diplomatic relations with factions and mine the same areas without resorting to military action. But all resources are limited, sooner or later the harvesters of the player and other factions will meet at the points of highest concentration of Helium-3, which may lead to conflict.


Combat skirmishes take place on the orbital level (global map) between Ai faction units and the player. During the battle there are calculations with dice (random numbers), on the results of which various modifiers of composition and abilities of units of each side are applied. Each unit has a number of characteristics that add up and participate in the battle calculations:

  • - Damage (determines the combined damage power of all of the combat unit's guns)
  • - Armor (number of armor and hull points)
  • - Accuracy (the probability of hitting an enemy unit, made up of the accuracy of the guns mounted on the units)
  • - Maneuverability (determines the ability to evade enemy hits and the ability to withdraw from combat)
  • - Speed (affects the probability of withdrawal from the battle and determines the speed of movement on the global map).

Depending on the number of units, the battle can last a long time, which allows you to pull up additional units, or decide to retreat with the loss of some of their forces.

Each unit has the option to withdraw from the battle if it takes critical damage, if its maneuverability and speed are high enough.

The side that does the most damage to the enemy and keeps at least one active unit in the combat zone wins the battle.

Relationship to the game's economy

In our concept, the combat system should not distract the player too much with micromanagement, but should set global goals and make them think strategically ahead of time. All mechanics in The Crust we strived to make automated, but with the possibility of fine manual control. This combination allows the player to achieve the best efficiency of his factory in the early stages, and not to drown in a series of micro tasks when developing a particularly large base. We want to apply the same principle to the combat system. The player will have a wide range of opportunities to win, he can focus on fine-tuning and managing units, diving into tactics, or emphasize mass production focusing on logistics and efficiency of creating new units.

The combat system is a great direction for The Crust's development, it allows us to expand the economy, greatly increase replayability and take the first step towards a possible multiplayer mode for the game.

The combat system will be available as a sandbox mode, after which we will probably add it to the third chapter of the company.

However, the so-called creative mode will remain in the game, which will allow you to develop your lunar venture or go through the story campaign without much stress.

We are still thinking about the fog of war, exploration units and satellites. We are very interested in your opinion about it, what do you think about this concept?


Great combat design . May I suggest an INTEL or SPY fog of war . Knowing and also NOT knowing always worries us all .
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