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"Research" System in 4X Games


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#21 powerneg   Members   -  Reputation: 1463

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 10:49 AM

acharis was saying the press(and fans) would consider research a key-element in 4X-games, thus it might be a bad idea to sell it as a 4X.
(i think you should probably sell it as die-hard-4X or 4X meets total war or something)

 

a few questions:
will there be any (special) resources in your game ?
why do you want to game to (seem to) last shorter ("only" a few years)

 

i ll keep the rest of my comments to myself, because they all come down to "but you could research this, but you could research that" xD



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#22 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3691

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 11:04 AM

Afterall, a review is about the fun, not genre-consistency (at least it should be).

Nope. A review is about if it is better or worse than MOO2 (at least as long as you use the 4X tag) :D You underestimate players laziness and their blind definition of genres. That's why I'm suggesting you mention it clearly upon marketing that it is not a typical 4X game, it will both close the mouths of annoying pests like me and make people who look for a unique play more interested. The worst thing you could do is to make an impression that it's something like MOO2 (beacue you will disappoint those who love MOO and make those who hate it skip your game without checking).

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#23 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 8988

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 12:34 PM

will there be any (special) resources in your game ?

 

Please define. The term resources is extremely broad.

 

why do you want to game to (seem to) last shorter ("only" a few years)

I'm not sure. Probably because of the game scope. I'm scoping down a lot of things from the 4X genre which has evolved in a race to bigger galaxies, more planets controlled, larger fleets, etc. It somehow felt natural (although not necessary) to scale down from the millenias model as a result. More importantly, its more a consequence than a cause, in that I never actually voiced this idea until trying to explain the difference between reseach and infrastructure upgrades.

 

i ll keep the rest of my comments to myself, because they all come down to "but you could research this, but you could research that" xD

I do it as well, all the time in fact. I've reopened that discussion several times, but I always come back where I started with the "it is simpler without this, and probably more fun". Maybe I'm wrong, but if I can make it "right" it will be just as fun.

 

Nope. A review is about if it is better or worse than MOO2 (at least as long as you use the 4X tag)

I'm expecting a lot of hatred here, but... I didn't like Moo2 very much. To me, it was an ok game, but it deals too much with abstraction. Any 4X game (probably the majority) that deals with abstracted resources feels kind of odd to me. I don't like increasing my "production power". I'd rather have the actual industries filled with people producing actual tools or something. Similarly, I want to stock up on fuel and minerals, not on manufacturing power or whatever. I understand why they do it, and it does simplify the economy when you go macro, but I feel there is a sweet spot when you scope the game down where micro-management of actual resources is not overwhelming. It was just right in VGA Planets, which is why I believe it can be achieved. But, economy and resources will be part of another thread (I'm not ready to discuss my plans here yet as the model is still evolving a lot from day to day).

 

it is not a typical 4X game

I obviously intend to say that (like everyone else says though).

 

The worst thing you could do is to make an impression that it's something like MOO2 (beacue you will disappoint those who love MOO and make those who hate it skip your game without checking).

Accurate.

Duly noted.

That said, I'm nowhere close to marketing the game, but even finding additionnal team members might be harder if I can't label this right. Some people won't want to lend a hand on a Moo2 clone and might get the wrong impression.



#24 Max315   Members   -  Reputation: 114

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 10:08 AM

From a design standpoint, I really like your idea. I also think that shaking up the tired old research formula used in 4x games is a good goal.

 

However, when I step back and imagine playing your game I'm a bit turned off.

 

Let me explain: In the game you describe, your level of “Technology” is directly related to what level your starbases different production capabilities are. If in the scenario you described, where you build your starbase that specialized in weapons and defense near a potential enemy (although it doesn’t matter where it is located, not trying to bring strategy into this) is destroyed by an invading enemy, you’ve essentially already lost. Your other starbases aren’t cable of building effective combat ships, and the time/resources required to upgrade one of them to that point will likely mean the destruction or occupation of most or all of your empire.

 

This is of course just my opinion, and perhaps this is even what you are aiming for (making starbases extremely important, and their loss almost game losing before you have multiple starbases that specializes in the same area). I find it slightly unforgiving though. I hate the feeling in a 4x game where a war between you and an opponent is decided in a single instant, or battle. Basically, I despise the “mop up” phase of a 4x, where you’ve basically already won/lost, and are just going through the motions of finishing the game.

 

Is losing a war in a single battle realistic? Absolutely. Is it fun? Not really. If I lose a key planet or asset, I still want there to be a way for me to claw my way back into the game, or at least go down struggling! Losing the ability to produce an effective military after a single loss would not really allow for that.

 

I brought this up because I’m trying to find an effective way of eliminating this “mop up” phase from my own game. I want the player to still think they have a chance to effect the game even when they have almost been eliminated (maybe not win, but take some enemies down with him, and put up a fight of some kind). I want the player to still have meaningful choices that can have some kind of effect even if they’ve lost a key system/asset.

 

I’m trying to eliminate that feeling when after a single loss, you sit back in your chair, take a look at this massive empire you spent hours building, and say “That’s it, I’ve already lost.”

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should not be able to take crushing losses, but no single loss should decide the course of the game.

 

Phew! Sorry, at some point there I stopped commenting on your game and started discussing problems in mine! Anyway, this whole thing is just me throwing ideas and personal preferences around, so while I might find it unforgiving, maybe it’s just right for everyone else J



#25 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 8988

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 11:48 AM


Let me explain: In the game you describe, your level of “Technology” is directly related to what level your starbases different production capabilities are. If in the scenario you described, where you build your starbase that specialized in weapons and defense near a potential enemy (although it doesn’t matter where it is located, not trying to bring strategy into this) is destroyed by an invading enemy, you’ve essentially already lost. Your other starbases aren’t cable of building effective combat ships, and the time/resources required to upgrade one of them to that point will likely mean the destruction or occupation of most or all of your empire.

 

You'd obviously need more than one production center. While resources come into play, time wouldn't be as much of a factor. You could technically go up 3 levels in 3 turns possibly, or maybe just in 1 (representing you brought people in to perform the upgrades to the infrastructure during that month).

 

In the base ref game I'm using it actually works well, and you can always end up promoting another starbase to do more than one thing, but you'd rather not if you can avoid it.

Also, try not to think of it as a "this starbase makes weapons" as much as "this starbase produces mid warships". All bases should technically invest some in engines, weapons, but in varying degrees depending on the resources you expect to be able to collect from the nearby planets, and the role the SB will play.

You would have some maxed out SBs to produce your top-of-the-line warships, for sure, so you'd survive the loss of a SB, but it would hurt.

 

The intent is also to shift the loss of a planet (in a galaxy so large, losing one planet isn't that bad, really) to the loss of an investment (starbase). When someone kills your starbase, they are sinking many resources:

- The initial resources spent to build up the starbase, and a fraction of the cost of all of the ships that had to ferry cargo there.

- The investments made in tech upgrades done to the starbase

 

While capturing planets denies potential (resources that has yet to be mined), losing a starbase outright destroys a portion of the game's finite resources, much like breaking ships would. Think of SBs like veryyyy expensive ships.

 


This is of course just my opinion, and perhaps this is even what you are aiming for (making starbases extremely important, and their loss almost game losing before you have multiple starbases that specializes in the same area). I find it slightly unforgiving though. I hate the feeling in a 4x game where a war between you and an opponent is decided in a single instant, or battle. Basically, I despise the “mop up” phase of a 4x, where you’ve basically already won/lost, and are just going through the motions of finishing the game.

Starbases would also have strong defenses, making it impossible (or so) to wreck in the early game. They could take on a few ships, unflinching.

Likewise, since SBs will be so strong, while losing would be crippling, building a new one would give you a sudden advantage. The intent here is that, if an enemy's advance has wrecked one of your SBs, you'll turn back, defend your next line of defense (possibly, your closest SB) and lick your wounds from there. They offer sufficient defensive advantage to insure your fleet will probably hold back the enemy there until more reinforcements come along, and you can probably build another SB in a different direction during that time, to reinforce your line with even more ships, or better techs.

 

I think your concern is valid, but can be kept in check with clever balancing.

 


Is losing a war in a single battle realistic? Absolutely. Is it fun? Not really. If I lose a key planet or asset, I still want there to be a way for me to claw my way back into the game, or at least go down struggling! Losing the ability to produce an effective military after a single loss would not really allow for that.

As previously said, the SB will be a strong static defense element. In other words, it will cost less resources per "firepower" unit than ships would.

Thus, it will always be more cost efficient to move back, build a base, and get your troops around it, than to build ships and strike. So, if the enemy intends to continue his pursuit, he either needs a very strong military advantage (which he has probably lost trying to defeat your SB in the first place), or he'll also need to settle down and build a new SB of his own to capitalize on the economic advantage he has gained, and slowly turn it into military might.

I think of SBs are production centers, much like expansions in Starcraft 2. You have to fight for them, and they grant you an advantage, but the amount of investment put towards securing the expansion means you'll also stop there, and not raze the whole map in one hit.

 

This is where techs come in: when you have built your SB, building up your techs insures that you'll need to spend some time including this new area of the map to your logistic plans, bringing the resources to raise its level, etc.

Your opponent (or you) should be rewarded for thinking about bringing freighters along with their fleet in an effort to kickstart a starbase and minimize the amount of time before their SB becomes a good production center.

 


I brought this up because I’m trying to find an effective way of eliminating this “mop up” phase from my own game. I want the player to still think they have a chance to effect the game even when they have almost been eliminated (maybe not win, but take some enemies down with him, and put up a fight of some kind). I want the player to still have meaningful choices that can have some kind of effect even if they’ve lost a key system/asset.

My personal approach to this is actually located in ships. Most 4X games assume that there is a drastic difference in power scale between ship classes (a destroyer has 10 times the firepower of a corvette for example). I reduced this so that 2 corvettes could easily take down one destroyer for example, and increased the cost of the destroyer nonetheless, because, at any given place, it would be stronger than any ship below its class. Concentration of power, in space, is hard to achieve: you want to cover wide areas, because players can always use that against you if you focus on strong ships. Likewise though, you'll need actual might to defeat Starbases, so you will still have to build destroyers, else, you'll lose too many corvettes in the process.

 


Phew! Sorry, at some point there I stopped commenting on your game and started discussing problems in mine! Anyway, this whole thing is just me throwing ideas and personal preferences around, so while I might find it unforgiving, maybe it’s just right for everyone else J

I'm ok with that, its good to discuss with somebody tackling the same problem. Unfortunately, I know too little about your project to really lend a hand, but I'd sure like to!



#26 Max315   Members   -  Reputation: 114

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 12:31 PM

Now that you’ve fleshed it out like that, I can see where you’re coming from, and I see it working with the addition of some defensive bonuses.

 

That being said, have you thought about using space as a limiting/customizing mechanic of SBs? For example, what if a SB started off with a set number of available slots/bays/compartments in which to install production facilities (this could be expanded by upgrading/enlarging the SB perhaps?). This would force more specialized starbases, unless you had lots of extra resources to spare in enlarging the starbase in addition to building all the facilities.

 

Perhaps you could even allow using some of that space for extra defensive capabilities instead of production. Thus you could build a type of “Battle Station” that would help defend key areas/planets. Unless of course you plan on having different classes of SBs all together, which would make that redundant.

 

Just some food for thought!



#27 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 8988

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 12:54 PM


That being said, have you thought about using space as a limiting/customizing mechanic of SBs? For example, what if a SB started off with a set number of available slots/bays/compartments in which to install production facilities (this could be expanded by upgrading/enlarging the SB perhaps?). This would force more specialized starbases, unless you had lots of extra resources to spare in enlarging the starbase in addition to building all the facilities.

 

There's currently no hard limit per module per se, but each module beyond the first costs increasingly more indeed, in such a way that a starbase that does "everything" costs possibly twice as much as two starbases that, put together, can do everything if you see what I mean.

 


Perhaps you could even allow using some of that space for extra defensive capabilities instead of production. Thus you could build a type of “Battle Station” that would help defend key areas/planets. Unless of course you plan on having different classes of SBs all together, which would make that redundant.

 

Well, sort of, although, I'm geared towards having weapons platforms for this, which would have extremely low mobility, but formidable firepower. They wouldn't be much use for assault, but great at defending certain planets, and could be towed from one planet to another.

 

Thanks for the suggestions though!






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