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Member Since 15 Nov 2012
Offline Last Active Dec 16 2012 12:30 PM

#5001856 4 X Economy & Layers

Posted by on 17 November 2012 - 04:19 PM

What I'm hearing from you (please correct me if I'm wrong) is to keep the complexity of the raw materials (ie: the requirement for mining planets) and also the complexity of the assembly (ie: requiring a number of components for assembly) whilst doing away with the complexity of the production chain and its inherent logistics issues.

May I suggest abstracting the production chain then?

Maybe you can do away with the need for specific refining planets and just abstract to an overall "empire industrial capacity". So your mining planets stay as is. You colonise a planet with resources, and setup mining facilities. Your assembly planets stay as is. You colonise a planet a setup assembly plants (such as shipyards, construction yards etc). Then at the Empire level have a single industrial capacity. Have your assembly planets able to build the various refineries, and they go into a central Empire pool which is able to refine that resource from any location in the Empire. Then your assembly plants just take the components from the central pool.

What this does is it eliminates that entire layer of shipping materials between various planets on their journey through the production chains, whilst keeping the complexity of colonising and protecting resource planets.

If I can direct your attention to the following screenshot which shows how the Imperialism series (from the 90's) did it:
Posted Image

And I have to admit, it abstracted this well and it really provided for the game. On the question of internal trade and piracy, the game abstracted this level too and you had a central pool of transport ships. As you as you had more transport slots than resources, you had access to the full resource amount. If there was less, you would have to choose which resources were transported, and which were not (see screenshot below). You didn't need to transport refined materials (such as steel). Pirates could blockade your on-map ports (you could have it at the system level) and there was a chance they would intercept those resources. You'd have to send in troops to dislodge the pirates (or enemy ships if at war and they blockaded you). The whole game became a battle between transporting resources from the New World to help industrialise your nation so you could build the ships and troops necessary to defend those resources and expand.

Screenshot showing allocation of transport ships to resources:
Posted Image

#5001851 4X game: Communication ranges

Posted by on 17 November 2012 - 03:41 PM

Something that I have always kind of wanted to see was a game based around planning and a realistic command structure. You set goals, you design strategies, and you issue general orders with that regard. You become far more pulled back from the small details of the whole game, and then worry more about the larger picture.

Make managing the AI a large part of the game. Selecting traits of a commander become important. When given the option of choosing a fleet commander, do you want the older veteran with bonuses to fleet organization, defence, and such, but that is also very cautious on the attack and possibly more likely to fall back and lose ground in an effort to maintain his fleet strength? Or do you go with a younger, more daring commander who is a great tactician, having insanely high bonuses to his fleet's attack power, but is highly unlikely to pull his fleet back on his own, willing to risk high causalities for a victory in the field?

Building a 4X game around heavy reliance on AI control also brings in a very unique aspect that most games gloss over: Internal politics and conflict. All too often 4X games place you as an all powerful god with the full 110% support and backing of their civilization. What if internal politics and intrigue became one of the main factors of the game? Mismanagement of your AI commanders could see you losing a huge chunk of your empire after a highly charismatic and influential commander is allowed too much control over too distant a piece of your forces. (This also brings in another option for diplomacy: Fostering ties with rebel factions, supporting internal conflict, possibly destroying larger enemies by breaking them in pieces and letting them fight your war for you.)

So, in short, if you are going to roll with the idea that you do not retain 100% control over things at all times, then I feel you should embrace it and make it a major element of the game.

I highly recommend taking a look at Hearts of Iron 3.

It's theme is world war 2, but here is what you can do as Supreme Commander:
- divide the war into a number of theatres
- allocate full command hierarchies to each front, including choosing between various leaders with different traits (eg: offensive, defensive, logistics, wolfpack, etc)
- each front will then request the number and structure of units they want, which you then produce and allocate

The beauty of this game's system is you can step in at ANY level of the hierarchy. For instance if playing Germany at the start of the war, you can divide Germany into three theatres (east/west/south), allocate leaders and units, then tell the west and south theatres to "defend their front" and then take a division level approach with the west theatre for the invasion of Poland. Or simply tell the west theatre to capture Poland and it will do it.

Note that the AI commanders are making the tactical decisions (unless you step in and do it yourself). Thus, you may order the front to capture Poland, but the AI manages it, even pulling back and retreating if necessary.

#5001597 Game Interface Feedback

Posted by on 16 November 2012 - 12:36 PM

Just want to point out that my kid is 6, and plays Minecraft better than me using WASD and the mouse. :)

Plus, if you're talking about teenagers for the game, they're probably already playing FPS's which all use WASD and the mouse.

But in saying that, you can still keep the arrow keys, just move the other hot keys to that side of the keyboard too.

#5001392 4X game: Communication ranges

Posted by on 15 November 2012 - 06:03 PM

If you're looking for help, maybe take a look at how other 4x style games do this type of concept.

If it were me, I'd look at possibly how Hearts of Iron III does "command and control". Basically, the larger the group (or fleet in your case) the higher up the hierarchy command and control centre is needed. So in HoI3 for an Army Group you need a Field Marshal as the HQ, for a division you need a Colonial or Major, and for a Corp you need a Captain.

Basically, to keep it "familiar" to the players you need to see what existing protocols are established and either replicate that, or change it slightly for your game.

So for your game, I would keep the comms distance, but then to allow the player to bypass that require higher levels of commanding officer on the fleet to maintain command and control over the fleet. For instance you may have a Fleet Admiral allow you to retain comms with a fleet of say 5 capital ships and a range of escort ships. If the player only has a lesser commander available, then the fleet must be smaller to retain comms with.