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Member Since 10 Dec 2008
Online Last Active Today, 06:09 AM

#5193639 [4X space] Research (discussion)

Posted by Orymus3 on 19 November 2014 - 11:52 AM

You'd discover items or encounter events that would unlock research topics each topic had a cost in the six different science fields. Once you paid that cost it would take a period of time before you received the results of the research.


I've always had an appeal for a system where there is a "cause for breakthroughs".

Such, a lot of empirical research can be ongoing on relatively mundane topics, but most of the breakthroughs origin from "odd discoveries" such as: we have a mutant, or stellar samples have been recovered, etc. Science gets boosted by discoveries as even the smallest thing can put a new perspective on everything we already have and we think of new tests to do on things we thought we knew etc.


So, finding traces of long gone civilizations should probably improve scientific progress by quite a margin.


Since your game is single player, and greatly asymmetrical, why not introduce such physical components on some of the planets? Finding ruins from older species and researching them might net you some advantage. Perhaps tying these unique researches to specific objects in the map so that some (many, if not all) techs can only be researched once their object has been found and researched. Would also prevent from having to deal with scientists constantly falling idle: instead, they're always assumed to be "working", but can research particular objects in hope that there's more to learn from them.


One implementation of such a system could be as follows:

Your team can only research one item at any given time. That item yields science pts (undisclosed amount). That amount reduces as technologies from this item are discovered, but science pts can still be used to progress towards more general technologies (improving engines, etc.)




"Broke Rune of Ku'lak"

Gives 100 science pts per turn investigated.

Unique tech 1 - 1000 pts: Morale +5% empire wide "The teachings of Ku'lak" (from here on, this artifact yield only 80 pts/turns)

Unique tech 2 - 3000 pts: Morale +10% empire wide "The covenant of Ku'lak" (from here on, this artifact yield only 60 pts/turns)

Unique tech 3 - 5000 pts: Morale + 15% empire wide, resist riots + 10% "Ku'lak's reign" (from here on, this artifact yield only 30 pts/turns)


Progress towards unlocking these techs is only accounted for while this item is selected. 

Any points given by this artifact also translates to all other mundane techs being researched.


All mundane techs could be concurrent but have variable costs. Since progress towards each tech is measured by the same points, you can have some techs cost more or less depending on the order you want them unlocked, but some artifacts could mess up with that.


For example:


Engines I (1000 pts) Speed + 5%

Engines II (2000 pts) Speed + 10%

Warp-Drives (3000 pts) Fuel Cost - 10%


An artifact could have Warp-Drive as one of its "unique techs" meaning progress towards its realization might be twice as fast, meaning that having such an artifact in-hand would insure you can get Warp-Drives unlocked before Engines II


(focusing on techs would then become irrelevant)


Just a few random thoughts, of course.

#5192658 Fleets (as formations)

Posted by Orymus3 on 13 November 2014 - 09:05 AM

Actual, I prefer fleet template but I may not have the whole picture here...

#5192339 Gameplay and Balance Design between a mage and a warrior

Posted by Orymus3 on 11 November 2014 - 07:29 PM

try prototyping it instead



Also, there's more to theoretical balancing than how you've presented it.

I actually make a living lining up numbers to make them balance in the context of a game and it is never that straightforward.

The more subtle the balance, the better the game.

#5190978 Game/Level Design, Balancing, Production (Management)

Posted by Orymus3 on 03 November 2014 - 01:48 PM

What games do you think you'd go into?


There are so many...

For example, for a long while, I used to argue with people that, despite the RTS genre had evolved, it's origins (Dune 2) still had created a bunch of early concepts that had either not been improved, or had been ignored.


For example: Dune 2 (short)

- Had an AI-neutral yet belligerent and game-balancing WORM. The worm would randomly kill harvester units, but could be defeated, etc. Most times, the player with the strongest economy would encounter it first, relatively weakening them, and keeping the battle "even". It was a very interesting and exciting feature.

- Had a mini-map where the player could choose which territory to attack. This feature was ignored for long before Dark Crusade (Warhammer) brought it back to great effect.

- Had a mercenary-system where you exchange resources for immediate units (as opposed to regular buildings producing units, which was also present) which was somewhat ignored until Ground Control.

- It used a single resource, to great effect (most RTS tried to do more with more by using simply more resources, but Dune 2 proved that you could do more with less, with just the spice)

- Asymmetric design: Each house had their own special units. It took a fair bit of time until Starcraft brought this idea to fruition (to great effect).


Many more, but these are off the top of my head...


Another example: Space War (1953!)

- One of the very first games ever made... it was actually multiplayer (realtime) vs. and had a bunch of CGA graphics.

Most people imagine the first game was single player, text based, and pretty boring overall, but it's actually a decent game to sit on and play (I'd love a controller-friendly version nowadays though). You can shoot laser, missiles, rotate 360 degrees, and there's gravity and you can crash on a planet.




This would probably feel a bit like a "history of video games" lesson mixed with "how to look for new - old - ideas" feel.


Would it be worth reading?

#5190411 Game/Level Design, Balancing, Production (Management)

Posted by Orymus3 on 31 October 2014 - 10:11 AM

That's interesting.
I used to blog about how retro games can still teach us things that developers have failed to remember from past experiences...
Might revive this.

#5190124 Grades of planets (colonization level)

Posted by Orymus3 on 30 October 2014 - 06:37 AM

I personally use:

- Outpost

- Colony

- Production Center

- Metropolis

- Capitol


but these may not apply perfectly to your particular game?

#5189738 [4X / TBS] Space Game - No ship Customization?

Posted by Orymus3 on 28 October 2014 - 11:59 AM

So it's kind of customization, but after the ship was produced, so it avoids redesigning all ships designs every time you research a new laser.
I still need to figure out how to tie the production of modules with the retrofit and the player option to select what should have what installed in what order.


VGA Planets 3.0's Solar Federation used that system.

In VGA Planets 4.0 (less popular) all races used that system.

It was somewhat interesting because people would pump out ship hulls (strong ones early) and outfit them with cheap engines and weapons, and adjust as their economy allowed.


Originally, I wanted to keep that kind of flexibility, but this IS a customization system. Assuming I do keep customization in, that would be a viable approach indeed, but I'm still not entirely sure about the ramifications of such a system.


- Encourages players to build strong hulls and cheap components early (assuming ship limit mechanic)

- Allows ships to remain relevant as the game progresses (not bound by earlier decisions "forever")

- Ship building choices are less relevant, only ship hulls truly matter.

- Emulate a growing system where earlier hulls are recycled with new purposes as the game progresses (remove top weapons from small gunships and put them on a warship and recycle the gunships as cheap scouts, or break apart weapons from a large ship to outfit a bunch of deadly gunships and turning the bigger ship into some kind of freighter).

- Assumes some form of ship customization is in place (weapons, at the very least)

- Could be an interesting reason for ships to return to a planet that has a base capable of refitting their ships, and that has the necessary ship components.

- Emulated multi-base independence (one base constructs top hulls, another constructs top weapons, ships move from one to the other as a sort of assembly line). Instead of maxing all bases, a player benefits from this specialized system.

- Causes an issue: how do you move components from one base to another?


These are just early thoughts...

#5189379 [4X / TBS] Space Game - No ship Customization?

Posted by Orymus3 on 27 October 2014 - 06:22 AM

VGA Planets has several degenerated mechanics and if you are going to clone it you could fix these. If you can't see anything degenerated/broken there, well.... you have a problem You won't be able to clone it succesfully (I mean surpass it). At most you could make a cheap imitation... So, my advice is to look at VGA Planets in a more critical eye. Then you will know how to fix it and make the way they should made it in the first place.


On that, we agree.

I've removed a number of mechanics and arranged a lot of how this works. Otherwise, I'd be making a VGA Planets Mod ;)


For example you don't need to implement pirate race at all Free yourself from the VGS Planets influence or at least sidetrack from it. I just wanted it to sits somewhere in the back of your head


I don't want to :P

The original Pirate race doesn't work all that well, and I believe I can do much better. I believe I already have as a matter of fact. Mine is more about boarding enemy ships than stealing fuel anyway (which always felt a bit out of flavor to my taste). They are real swashbucklers now! Also, they also have a reason to steal actual ships.


That being said, if you feel there are various quirks I should get rid of, don't hesitate to PM them to me. I'd rather not further side-track this forum discussion, but I'm definitely interested in your opinion: even if I don't envision things the way you do, they're always food for thought.


Orymus3 invited me to take a look at some of the huge Acharis-Orymus3 discussions you've been having. I don't feel like I can add too much more to this particular thread, but I would like to recommend the game Stars! to both of you. It was a lesser known title that came out in 1995 and is no longer sold, but  you can still download a copy and use one of the public serial numbers. If you haven't played it yet, you should check it out.


I am aware :) I believe it even pops up in one of my discussions, but that may be on TIGSource, not quite sure (it's been a while).


The scout comes with 1 engine, 1 scanner, and 1 general slot. Generally scouts are used for just that, scouting. But you could put a weapon on it to snipe cargo ships or unarmed starbases. Or you could slap a fuel tank on it to make it scout further. Or a cargo pod to haul a few minerals or colonists between your worlds.


That's sort of what I'm trying to avoid in the first place though: it gives the player too much freedom where they actual fun and challenge comes from taming the ship design mechanics to field the ships you need, instead of having to choose a ship not necessarily made perfectly for what you want to do, and figure out a way to make it happen regardless.

I believe that the "ship customization" approach has been catered for by several games (with more or less detail, depending on the game), but the actual skillset of dealing with what you have appears to be under-represented. It is ever-present in RTS games, but rarely in 4X. 

As a result, having a finite number of "slots" that can do anything is a simple system, and a clever one at that, but it is going the "wrong direction" for what I'm trying to achieve.

I think it is important for factions to have things they simply suck at, if only to see how players will cope with that.


For example, most of my factions have freighters, which are, dedicated transport ships. These are critical for the economy.


- One faction has a stealth freighter with less capacity. Essentially, it is much harder to intercept, which means their economy is well-protected, and does not call for enemy attention, but its limited cargo size means it is not as efficient.

- Another faction has an armed cargo transport. It punished other players for attempting to intercept it, though, provided larger numbers, it can still fall.

- Another faction has a fast cargo transport. Though the cargo size is limited, it gives them a serious economic edge because they can get stuff there that much faster.

- Another faction has no cargo transports and must rely on warships to do double duty, which is less than ideal, but provides dedicated protection.

- Another faction has a very large cargo, but no dedicated escort-type ships, leaving them vulnerable in open space



How each faction interacts with this basic economic unit differs, and opens up different possibilities. Players can learn to cope with these weaknesses and capitalize on their strengths or they can force a different play (to a limited degree) that better fits their playstyle.

The fun then comes from choosing a faction that feels natural to the player, and scale up their strategy as they meet with clever players that tap into their weaknesses.

As with most asymmetric games, learning more about your opponent will help you figure out how to play your faction better obviously.


I've heard you talk a bit about logistics managing and auto-gen combat. And Stars! has a ton of both. You have to worry about fuel for your ships, minerals for your shipyards, and colonists for different worlds.


I'll refresh my memory on these. Thanks!


It was a play by e-mail game so you only got to setup AI priorities before sending your fleets in to do battle.

So was VGA Planets ;) In fact, VGA Planets was a play-by-mail (through BBS, before tze interwebs) game, and I believe I saw somewhere that it was the most play-by-mail game... ever. In hindsight, this makes perfect sense and makes a point about why it has survived to this day. Thank god they've made an automated web version however! (Planets.nu)


I'm still catching up on the last 18 months of chats, so hopefully I'll be able to contribute a little more next time around.


Acharis still has a lot of these threads opened up, and I only participate from time to time. Truth be told, most of my game design is really completed, and we're down to "level" design (in this case, ships). I still have a few large open questions, such as ship customization, but I have designs for several different outcomes that I've already laid out on paper, it's more a matter of choosing at this stage. Obviously, I can still adjust based on interested ideas that pop-up!

#5188842 When to Recruit

Posted by Orymus3 on 23 October 2014 - 08:15 PM

Writers can be brought in roughly around 50%-60% production phase (my guess).


Might be earlier, depending on whether you intend to localize in various languages, which can take some time depending on the amount of content...

#5188834 Issues with multiplayer 4X game

Posted by Orymus3 on 23 October 2014 - 06:31 PM

Ah the ever struggle of asynchronous gameplay.

Originally, asynch games were developed for BBS, before the internet was even born, and they've evolved. We've seen them rear back their head back in 2008 and are stuck revisiting the complex issues of asynch gameplay.


First and foremost, to work efficiently, asynch gameplay can work in one of two ways:

- 'Ticks' are rare, and players have a long period of time to issue orders for that 'Tick' (my current 4X game is based around this concept, with each Tick taking anywhere between 1 to 3 days, depending on how aggressive the game is set to be).


- 'Ticks' are common, but forgiving. For this to occur, you have to give meaningful control to players that choose to login 3-4 times a day to do so all the while keeping longer term elements.


In E.V.E., though the game was mostly as MMO with limited persistence, players would choose what they wanted to research when they were online, but these researches/training would still carry on while the player was offline.


I think your best approach to this is similar to that: consider that the player avatar is permanent, and has its own ability to 'act' and treat the player as an advisor. Whenever the player pops in, he gets to direct the priorities of what the avatar will do during the day(s). If you can/wish, abstract actual control of movement. Say ships take a while to move, allow the player to set the ship helm for a given port, but let the movement AI worry about what path to take. That way, the player pops in, says he wants to reach 'Port A', and logs off for a few hours/days until he has arrived at his destination.

If possible, include a few AI controls such as: what do I do if I encounter an enemy during this time? Should I engage or flee? (note that I'm making wild guesses since I'm not very familiar with your game concept).



In my experience, asynch gameplay, when executed well, keeps having you coming back because it is dosing your ability to drain fun from it. You can't get bored by playing too much, when means it sinks in as a habit.

I'm currently registered on Planets.nu, and I always have 2-3 ongoing games at a time. On average, I get to play approx 15-30 minutes a day (one 'tick' in any of these games) so it is not very taxing on my life schedule, and it keeps me involved.

#5188811 Planetary defences, ground forces, fleets

Posted by Orymus3 on 23 October 2014 - 02:17 PM

You could have it play out like a chess board:

O = Armed ship

# = Cargo pod

X = Enemy defender


#           X

#O        X

#OO     X

#O        X

#           X


In the above graph, the X on the outer edges would be able to strike at undefended pods on the sides, but the middle is fairly well defended so the player might just make a breach for their pods using forward ships.

The row with two "O"s would take out the X, and the pod would reach the end.

These extra "O"s could reinforce pods that are vulnerable as the row becomes empty of enemy X...


It would feel a bit like Plants vs Zombie actually :P


In parallel, or sequentially after determining how many pods got through, you could simulate ground invasion based on the amount of Os that got through.


I might actually use a similar system :S

#5188782 What Is Your Game Design Technique?

Posted by Orymus3 on 23 October 2014 - 12:12 PM

Setting the release date before having a prototype that proves your fun seems a bit illogical... one would assume you'd make a prototype, assess the fun, and then set up a schedule.

Arguably, you should have a timeline for your mvp and for your prototype as well. Possibly many other milestones (I particularly like the vertical slice, even though it may not apply evenly to all project types).

#5188766 What Is Your Game Design Technique?

Posted by Orymus3 on 23 October 2014 - 11:19 AM

I would also prototype first. I'm not a big fan of big formal GDDs unless they are straight-to-the-point. Most hobbyists I've seen put too much nitty-gritty and too little context so that the GDD feels like a specification requirements but doesn't do a good job at telling the reader what the game should be.

A prototype can do so much more, and if possible, iterative development prevents you from having to stick to a GDD and simply use common sense week after week to implement the right things.


This may not work on a larger scope project however.

#5188722 Balance (early game difficulty) [strategy]

Posted by Orymus3 on 23 October 2014 - 05:16 AM

However "simple", I'm really interested in seeing how the Elders would impact gameplay overall.

Originally, your thread stated that you were looking for a means to keep a balanced level to prevent player annihilation in the early game, yet, the Elders start strong and decline, leaving YOU more room to expand as the game progresses (as opposed to scaling up the difficulty).

While very interesting from a mechanical standpoint, it also seems like it goes against precisely what you've showcased as your primary concern...

#5188721 Planetary defences, ground forces, fleets

Posted by Orymus3 on 23 October 2014 - 05:14 AM

I have assessed this in a number of ways.

First, some ships have the ability to simply launch drop pods, which means the troops get tossed through space as soon as they enter orbit. Whether the ship becomes destroyed is then irrelevant.

However, planetary defenses will still seek to destroy troops in-transit. Though these defenses are generally used to fire at incoming ships, or help your own ground troops defend the planet, they also play a key role in destroying drop pods. Depending on the amount, a portion of the invading forces becomes annihilated before touching ground.


That being said, the counter-argument would also be valid. Would it even make sense for a ground force without an established space superiority and logistics to be actually able to take over a world? In my game, ground troops require different types of supplies to maintain their ground presence, and a full planetary offensive takes time. If all of your orbiting ships get destroyed, your ground assault will be short-lived.