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Member Since 27 Aug 2003
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 01:52 PM

#5285026 Races vs. techtree vs. doctrines - choosing from the start or not...

Posted by Luckless on 04 April 2016 - 09:20 AM

A big question you have to ask yourself is: How is the game going to play out?


Branching tech trees are an option. Everyone starts with the same things, and then make choices based on the style of play they will attempt. One of the key things when doing this is to ensure your maps and combat can combine to allow situational advantages depending on choices made. (ie, if user A chooses an Infantry focus tech tree, and user B chooses to jump into the Air tech tree, then make sure that User A can still do things like hide infantry in forests or buildings. Users must then try and force battle into an area that matches their advantage while avoiding fighting while their opponent has the advantage.)


Ideally a branching tech tree would allow baiting and feinting, make your opponent think that you are taking one route, allowing them to invest in a direct counter to that expected route, and then you ambush them with a context/location sensitive counter-counter. (A invests in Heavy Armour ground units, B invests in ground attack helicopters, and then A surprises B with a unit of AAA or AA Infantry hidden in a group of woods.)

#5279844 [Spaceship Builder] The complexity of internal logistics

Posted by Luckless on 06 March 2016 - 10:49 AM

I also agree with the suggestion of looking at Prison Architect or similar games for how they handle the layered interconnect for resources. For starters it just makes sense to put your power, data, etc on a secondary layer to the function and utility blocks of a design because it is a little cleaner and easier to visualize when switching between different display modes, and it also is kind of what we do in real life. (Imagine building a large ship where all the power cables and such ran at waist height on any deck. Kind of makes getting around the ship difficult.)



As for issues like cargo handling, well, what kind of game do you want? Where do you want the player spending time and how do you want it to work? 


Designing the game to support a more complex system for things like layout affecting cargo handling means you get more options and choices for the player.


Ie, holes in the outer armour shell means those areas are weaker and more vulnerable to damage. Every hole through the armour makes your ship that much weaker, but at the same time the fewer holes you have then the fewer things like weapons firing through the armour or cargo hatches you have.


So do you build your ship to have the one small cargo hatch and one small power/data connection, meaning all your weapons are on the outside where they're more easily damaged and you can only slowly transfer cargo?


Or maybe you stick all the weapons core systems behind armour where they're less likely to be damaged, but the ship itself is a little more vulnerable? After all if all your weapons get blown off in the first few minutes of a battle then you're in for a rough time even if it takes the enemy ages to chip away at your armour before you die. Maybe it is better to be more likely to take heavier damage throughout the whole fight, but you keep more of your weapons firing for longer?


Maybe you want to heavily compartmentalize your ship, with lots of small cargo bays separated by lighter internal airlocks and one main central external cargo hatch. A single external cargo hatch doesn't have a very negative impact on the ship's armour, and if a hole does get blown through the armour in one spot then it can only take out a small fraction of the ship's cargo or systems. But of course all those internal airlocks take up space, and would slow down cargo handling.


What are the costs to cargo handling time? Is there a negative impact to having a ship that might take days to load or unload vs one that is laid out to unload in hours, or minutes? Maybe it might be worth it in some cases and play styles to go with small cargo bays each with their own external hatch to unload and reload quickly? Or maybe a system where you have 'external cargo pod', like shipping containers that the ground crew just plucks off in moments and can slam the next one on and you're ready to go without even having to open a cargo door?



Then there is the game play element of "Cargo Tetris". Do you want to play this? Do you want the player to worry about where something is, and how it gets on and off the ship? Maybe taking on a pile of large containers is not the best of ideas at a given time for your ship because your next stop will mean pulling them all out of the way to unload something you already have? 


What about bulk cargo? Liquid tanks that feed in and out of the ship through pipes, or dry bulk cargo that is carried by conveyor belts? (Which may pose safety risks due to things like providing a route for fire/damage to spread) They could let you store a higher volume/mass per 'square' of ship than general cargo bays, but are far more restricted to what they can carry or maybe what ports they can load and unload from?


Do you want the player to have to choose between being able to access cargo mid-flight? Those external cargo pods sure are fast and easy to handle, but maybe that load of advanced warheads you were shipping somewhere could have been better used if moved to your missile bay rather than stuck somewhere on the outside of the ship where you can access it. (Or back to Cargo Tetris: All those pallets of gold sure are valuable... sitting there in front of all those weapons reloads...)



How about internal handling for those weapons? Do you want the player to worry about it, focusing inside the ship, or do you want their attention to be on the outside, positioning of the ship, priority of attacks and such? Do you want the player to have the tools to design handling systems with complex things like flash-gates, moving ammo for the weapons from the well protected magazines deep inside the ship to the more vulnerable weapons stations on the edge? Or do you want to hand wave and not worry about it? 


Personally I would love to sit there and tinker with systems and interlocks: Flash doors take x time to open/close, conveyor systems take y time to move, so I need z design so that every missile is in its on 'slot' when moving from the bulk magazine near the well protected core to the firing station on the outside. Or maybe I'll build a system that moves a whole pallet of them from the main magazine in protection zone 3 to a staging area in protection zone 2, and from there the missiles will be taken off the pallet one by one and fed to the firing tube in the vulnerable protection zone 1... Because you really don't want the loss of one missile bay to mean all the extra ammo on your ship chain reacts and the whole thing goes up.


Or maybe I'll decide that having a few spots spread around the outside of the ship will each have a bunch of tubes stacked together, and each station will have a good supply of missiles on hand. This means I could have massive rapid volley fire early on. If one of the tubes in a sector gets taken out it means a big chunk of the ship and all the other tubes and ammo in that sector will most likely go up as well, but the main magazine and the other three firing sectors will stay alive to keep going.




Or maybe your game is better off with "I have X cargo bay space, Y cargo handling systems, so it takes Z time to load/unload".

#5277900 Right way to handle people complaining about price?

Posted by Luckless on 24 February 2016 - 10:42 AM

The best way to handle this is to do market research BEFORE you show off the price to customers.


Personally I find far too many companies are way over pricing their early access. They put things up which are 'interesting' and I'm tempted to buy, but then they price it at $20-30 before the project is even finished, and I walk right on by.


Some will argue that I'm suggesting a 'race to the bottom' pricing and that I'm only buying under priced games... But honestly I find the market is burning itself with a lack of quality control and gate keeping. I paid $20 for a few early access games in the past, which looked like simple but interesting projects, and the developers seemed to be on the level with content out the door already in a playable fashion, and I expected them to be able to carry on their development...


And then they dropped the project and left me with a horribly buggy only sort of playable and feature complete application that wasn't nearly as great of a deal as it first looked.


So now when i see someone asking for more than a few dollars on a project? ... Meh. I'll spend my money at lower risk points. Far cheaper titles that are relying on bulk sales where I won't feel nearly as burned if it flops, or on mature AAA content well after its release date that still got good reviews. 



At the same time, I avoid "Free to Play" content, and anything with micro transaction or excessive DLC like the plague because of how much of a dice roll it is as to what I'm going to spend to actually enjoy the game. I want my gaming transactions to be fairly simple and straight forward: I give you money, you give me a complete product that in and of itself is fun to play, and includes a similar amount or more content than the last version of it you sold me. I have no problem with Paradox's EU or Crusader Kings series DLC, as I've gotten a solid game from the get go that I enjoyed, and while the initial launch prices of the DLC is higher than I normally like, I've still bought a few on launch if it was interesting new mechanics added, or I pick them up 75% off some time later on a sale. (And honestly I buy that DLC more as a "Thank you for being cool developers doing neat and interesting things without screwing your fans over" than I do for buying new content.)




It is a business and a minefield, and there are no simple easy answers sadly.

#5275626 Multithreading Nowadays

Posted by Luckless on 14 February 2016 - 10:09 AM

Hyperthreading can also be a double edged sword at times. It is like a second processor core, but not exactly the same thing. I really haven't done much work with hyperthreaded processors, and all that I honestly remember about the edge cases is that they exist. If you are going to start programming things with an aim at providing strong support for Intel's tech then it is probably a good idea to spend some time digging around with google for the various pitfalls of hyperthreading.

#5274045 Footware at work

Posted by Luckless on 03 February 2016 - 09:08 AM

Wearing something more than socks is generally a good idea in an office environment. For one there is the risk of stepping on things to consider. It might not be a construction site that demands steel toed boots, but stepping on a dropped staple or thumb tack, or having someone accidentally roll their chair over your little toe does not make for a great day at work.


Beyond that you also really kind of want to be wearing something that you can comfortably walk outside in, or at the very least have something you can safely slip on in seconds and exit the building, simply for safety reasons for if the fire alarm goes off. (You really don't want to be trying to file down stairs with the rest of your coworkers with untied laces flopping everywhere. You won't be thought of too kindly if you trip and fall on someone or make someone else trip. Having witnessed it in a previous job, I must say that breaking a coworker's wrist during a fire drill because you were too lazy to tie your shoes does not appear to go over all that well with coworkers and management.)

#5272295 When the Player and the CPU attacks at the same time

Posted by Luckless on 22 January 2016 - 03:26 PM

In actual combat it is perfectly possible to have both sides attack and hurt/kill each other. 


Depending on the nature of your game, I would say this is acceptable, and even a good mechanic to discourage random button mashing and force the user into more careful thoughts about what they're doing.


Another aspect that ties into this is that just because you've stabbed your opponent isn't always an indicator that they're not going to just stab you right back. Being able to deliver a killing blow without taking one in return is kind of an important factor in real fights.

#5271191 So difficult to find 3d artists!

Posted by Luckless on 14 January 2016 - 07:14 PM

Where have you been looking? I have seen complaints from both sides of not being able to find artists/programmers. 


If you're spending all your time on sites with high programmer populations and some artists (such as here) then it can be a hard get the attention of the limited pool of artists. However if you go hang out on more art centred forums, then you'll be one of the few programmers and give yourself rather improved odds.

#5266200 Sailing game: should players consider the wind?

Posted by Luckless on 13 December 2015 - 10:17 PM


Simply adding 'more sails!' isn't the way to make a ship faster, but is a good way to weigh things down and sink yourself. 

A large collection of clipper ships would beg to disagree.



Yes, but those were the result of hundreds of years of refinement and engineering progress, and there was a little more work to those ships than simply adding another stick of wood and whatever canvas could be found. 

#5265936 Sailing game: should players consider the wind?

Posted by Luckless on 11 December 2015 - 03:14 PM

If you're going to make a game about naval combat in any era, then I would say you need to account for wind.


Even in post-Dreadnought era naval combat you would be impacted by wind and wave action, if for nothing other than its impact on targeting. (If you're trying to lob shells out to 20+km and hit a target a few hundred metres long and a few dozen wide, well then a gusting cross wind is probably going to have a 'bit of an impact' on whether you hit or drop a few tonnes of steel and explosives harmlessly into the ocean.)


But for sailing? That needs to account for it even more, otherwise what is the point? Sure, include a simplified scheme as an option, but ideally the game should be teaching people how sailing works.


And if you're going to include design and building, then I would argue you should also be accounting for balances and general seakeeping. Simply adding 'more sails!' isn't the way to make a ship faster, but is a good way to weigh things down and sink yourself. 

#5265760 Rebels mechanic (4X in space)

Posted by Luckless on 10 December 2015 - 01:22 PM

Rebels can easily work in a number of different ways, depending on how you want your game to run and the number of layers you wish to work with.


The most obvious being that a number of planets switch from your control to the rebels, and then they act as an enemy force. Depending on the 'type' of rebel, they can sit tight and just secure their own borders, raid nearby imperial worlds/fleets/supply lines, or attempt aggressive expansion. 


You may also want to go with a deeper layer, where rebellion becomes influenced by 'agents' who go to a planet and stir up trouble. Support for rebellion then raises if you fail to address the agents and issues they are acting on, such as food shortages, cultural issues, labour issues, etc. 


You could also have factions who might use terrorist style attacks to drive their own agenda by attacking planets belonging to other factions within the empire, and if you don't do anything to address the aggressive faction then the other factions being affected by the aggressors will splinter off and deal with things themselves. 



The big thing is to keep rebellion from simply being 'whack-a-mole'. If the empire is made up of various factions and agencies who interact with each other, then give the player tools to help balance various groups against one and other. You don't have to send in a war fleet to suppress a rebellion, but maybe you could instead support a trade federation and supply them with ships and weapons, and give them a mandate to deal with a sector. Of course, that could come back to bite you in the ass 50 turns later when they decide that they have the force power to oppose you and take a chunk of planets for themselves instead.

#5265603 Storyline in a 4X

Posted by Luckless on 09 December 2015 - 12:24 PM

Well take it back to the Dune reference. (Writing this up and I'm realizing how long it has been since I actually read the books. Assume that the following contains spoilers and mistakes, but close enough to get the gist for game design.)


At some point the Emperor was faced with Liet Kynes and the decision as to whether or not to allow him to start doing his massive ecological survey. This decision becomes a branching point in the Dune series with various possible outcomes. Allowing him to go unlocks a route that potentially enables Paul to overthrow the Emperor far down the road, but denying the request to start the research might either close that story branch or open a new one where Liet Kynes meets someone at court and and whole other chain of events might start to unfold. Maybe he meets up with a group and an assassination plot begins, or a plot begins and he discovers it and saves you. 


Depending on how you are doing in the strategy side of things then different storyline events may trigger. Have you just failed to suppress a rebellion? Then you've met conditions under which different events may trigger, possibly so and so in a neighbouring sector will rise up and lead another rebellion because he sees that the empire is weak. Or maybe person such and such will rise up in the recently rebelled provinces with a counter-revolution, because your previous story line choices gained favour with her and her family, and she feels that her people are better off being in the fold of the empire rather than on the edge of it.


Your story scripting would ideally include chances with which ways given choices swing, simply to keep it hard from trying to repeat the same game twice in a row.


The core choice you have to make is, how big is your cast? How many factions are there? Do you want "Random" people to come up and be generated at runtime, or do you want to keep the storyline to be tightly focused with a dozen or so 'names' weaving the story around the emperor? 


Also, what story do you want to tell?




As for your random factors, they can be a simple as laying out options in the script. Option A has a 50% chance of firing, B 30%, C 19% and D is 1%. User might see some of the odds when making a choice, or they might have the odds and effect hidden from view. The point of the random factor would be to add some flexibility and surprise into user choices, and some risk/reward. If Choice A always has a more positive out come than Choice B, then you'll want to pick it. But if Choice B usually is worse than A, but has the chance to be far far better on a good dice roll, then maybe you'll take it on some games instead, depending on how things are going for you.

#5265585 Storyline in a 4X

Posted by Luckless on 09 December 2015 - 09:11 AM

The base game itself makes very little use of the storyteller function, but it is still something that can easily be built on. There are a number of mods that apparently really step it up in that regard, and I only mentioned it as an existing baseline of how 'story elements' are able to be thrown into what would otherwise be a pure numbers game, and how they built a two way system that feeds between each other in a strategy game.


They are using the system in CK2 to add some random curve balls and blimps to help change up the pace of the game from one session to the next and is generic enough that most of the content can apply to whatever character you choose to start with, but using their concept and scripting style as a foundation would let you build storyline elements that are flexible and as interesting as you want to put the effort into making them.


You may want to pretty the UI aspect up a bit more than what they're using, but Text > Choice Branch > Random Factor > Effect > Loop is a very flexible and workable solution to this kind of thing.

#5265467 Storyline in a 4X

Posted by Luckless on 08 December 2015 - 12:27 PM

Have you played Crusader Kings II? (I believe Europa Universalis might do the same, but it has been so long since I played EUIII, and haven't touched EUIV yet.)


They use a system of 'events' that trigger based on various factors and fill in various character names as needed. A handful of them are longer scripted events with some random factors thrown in, which build a tree of a handful of these popups that are linked, but most are just one off popups "So and So had a dispute with This other guy, Side with So and So to make them happy, side with Other Guy to make them happy, or take a middle ground that doesn't make either side upset with you." kind of things.


You could use something like that to string together a sort of "Pick your own adventure" book for a storyline and build a system that feeds into the 4x game (Bonuses, unlocks, rebellions, etc.) which in turn feeds back into the 'story engine' (Doing well putting down a rebellion feeds back in and may trigger event paths that give you choices that can lead to bonuses, or maybe you choose poorly and the rebellion leader becomes a martyr and your empire spirals out of control with rebellions.)

#5263631 Realistic space battles - fun or not?

Posted by Luckless on 25 November 2015 - 03:16 PM

"Realistic Space Battles" look rather dull, seeing as they don't exist and therefore don't happen. 


However, since that is an overly boring answer it is better to start looking at how technology could advance and make warfare something remotely worthwhile.


Something that is often overlooked during these conversations is the more "Geo-political" angle. On earth we have conflicts because people with different views and goals are close enough that they can actually "do something about it", which in turn rather frequently results in warfare as the easiest answer. "They can't be right if they're dead!" kind of solutions to problems.


So, Why is there a conflict? Why is anyone so angry at, or scared of, someone else that they're willing to invest the time an energy into trying to kill them when there are several AU or more between each other most of the time? Start with the question of "What could possibly drive us to spend that much time and energy to even try fighting a war", and then look to what technology you might have and want to use to fight that.


Energy, relativity, and Delta-V all start to really matter when it comes to figuring out how to fight a war. And if you develop some kinds of technology, then it is going to really have an impact on how two or more sides are going to duke it out. Highly intelligent nano-bots that are hard to detect? Well why even have a war when you can send a few merchant or diplomatic ships? 


So if you are going to start along the lines of designing a "Realistic" system, you're going to have to define what your realism is and what can be done within it.

#5262252 The Birth of a Lich

Posted by Luckless on 16 November 2015 - 08:47 AM

I find that liches are far too often portrayed as vague 'bad guys for the sake of being evil', which I find to be exceptionally boring story wise. What I find to work much better for making the characters interesting is to make them dynamic. Part of the frequent lore on them is that they gain their lich related power through 'unspeakable evil acts of an unspecified nature', but nothing says they have to have started out as purely evil. 


For example: Setting a Good character, probably Neutral Good or Chaotic Good in D&D terms, down a path that leads them to gaining more and more power in their "Big Quest of Goodness!" against evil, which in turn forces them to choose between the good of the many vs the good of the few kind of conflict, may give you far more interesting story options than something along the lines of "Bob is an evil dick, so one day Bob went out and became a Lich, and here we are with Dick Bob the Lich doing his Evil Lich things". 


Do you let the character keep slipping deeper and deeper into evil and shed all humanity and become completely corrupted? Do they fight back and find a way to redeem themselves? Do they kind of balance between the two? 


Game mechanic wise this also offers some interesting options. Do you potentially weaken yourself and head straight for redemption, where some "Do Gooder" might more easily kill you because you haven't gained enough power? Do you try and hedge your bets, sinking 'just a little deeper' into evil to gain more power first, but at the risk of attracting stronger 'Do Gooders" who offset your power gain? Do you just keep sinking down into evil and accept it as your fate?