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Member Since 27 Aug 2003
Online Last Active Today, 10:11 AM

#5169333 How to manage 100 planets?

Posted by Luckless on 26 July 2014 - 11:01 AM

Random thoughts that might be useful:


Base your control on regions, which are all controlled from a "regional capital" planet. Planets within a region are all specialists, based on the nature of a planet with some minimal flexibility to change what a planet does. Each planet provides various kinds of 'resource points' which are then controlled from just the capital. From that screen you can upgrade a given planets facilities 'to the next level', but don't force the player to manually decide if they want 'another mine in grid X,Y, a Habitat module, or to upgrade the existing habitat to a mk II version. Just keep in simple: Each planet has 3-4 'slots', a main 'infrastructure' slot, along with modifier slots (advanced waste processors/farming/storage, university/academy, intelligence facility, specific kind of research labs, defence systems, etc)


So rather than jumping between 20 planets at the start, you really have 2 or 3 capitals to worry about, and all your other 'planets' are merely modifiers that feed into your main hub where you make all your choices. The main 'infrastructure' slot can be a choice tree and represent general capacity/production from that planet, while each planet's modifier slot gives you strategic flexibility. Do you take the gamble of not taking up slots of core worlds with defence bonus options, and maximize them for production, while making the rim worlds far less productive, but arm the rim to the teeth as a wall against invasion?


Planets suitable for habitation would become your population and agricultural centres which produce food and workers/crew/scientists, but you have the option to decimate them and turn them into industrial or mining worlds. Planets which are borderline habitable would default to industrial production, with the option to invest into improving them for main habitation. Sub-habitable words become dedicated to mining or science which merely feed resources into the system which are then 'used' on other planets, but require food/population support from the other planets they support. 


A single screen can then easily allow the player to make decisions on 10-20 planets at a time, so your 100 world empire is easily managed from just a handful of screens. Add upgrades to your main hub world to allow them to control larger areas




This also gives you lots of design options for how the player can control their economics. Keeping it dead simple and just have planets feed resources to the core hub automatically, or putting it into the hands of the player to design trade routes (Which then become vulnerable points of their empire). Depending on your method of space travel this can be a really awesome mechanic in and of itself.


Maybe trade is done by way of Frank Herbert's Dune universe, where each planet is visited by a massive highliner like ship at scheduled intervals. New highliners are a massive cost, so the player would have to plan routes effectively, and decide if they want small amounts of resources to trickle into the core every turn/tick (where they can be used for your major projects/fleets), or do you use fewer highliners with longer routes which will result in having to go several turns without new resources, but then receive massive stockpiles every few turns?

#5167519 How to exit the game gracefully?

Posted by Luckless on 17 July 2014 - 09:50 PM

The games that annoy me when it comes to quitting them are mostly those that give me a bloody loading screen as I'm quitting, and/or make me wade through stuff to actually exit.


In game > Menu > load screen > some other menu > load spinner > yet-another-menu > long load spinner > main menu > quit menu asking me if I actually want to leave the game > LOAD ****ING SPINNER > desktop


When what I want is


In game > Menu > Confirm I meant to quit in the middle of my game > Desktop. No loading spinners, no delay, no flashy sounds or graphics to make me think the game is more 'polished' than it really is.



The other thing that bugs me on quitting functions are games which have no knowledge about their save state.


In game > menu > save game > menu > quit game (Without doing anything to game state) > Are you sure you want to quit? unsaved data will be lost! (Wait, did I save, or didn't I just save? I'm tired and in a hurry...)

#5167246 Fleets with personality & no micromanagement (4X)

Posted by Luckless on 16 July 2014 - 04:15 PM

Personally I would step it back further with abstraction. 


You don't build ships, you build ship yards.


Each flotilla of a fleet is then assigned a 'doctrine', and have a status for how effectively they match their selected doctrine. (This can be faked purely with math, or calculated based on some internal 'ship' simulation that actually accounts for the ships and what kind of stats each one has)


Each fleet/flotilla then is seen as a size/strength rating, doctrine rating (How suited their ships are to their planned tasks, planet security, ground invasion fleet, orbital bombardment, space superiority, etc), and modernization rating. 


player can adjust their fleets budgets from a unified management screen, choosing to allocate resources from your pool of ship yards to fleet maintenance, fleet construction, fleet modernization, or choose a special order of scrapping and rebuilding the oldest/most useless ships. 


Fleets would self balance themselves towards their doctrines, trading 'ships' if one type would more closely align somewhere else, or ordering new ships from the fleet yards themselves. 



Fleets/flotillas (and their commanding officers) would slowly gain general ability the longer they serve, and specific abilities in their selected doctrine. And these can also have a Rock-Paper-Scissors mechanic to them with various pros and cons, and possibly unlocking new ones as the game advances. 





The doctrines mean that the player still gets to make important and meaningful choices about their fleets, but don't have to fiddle with spreadsheet style game play to do so.

#5165056 Game Design: The Illusion of Choice

Posted by Luckless on 06 July 2014 - 09:36 AM

For game design I have seen "Illusion of Choice" used in two main ways.


1. The game lays things out such that it looks like the player is making a choice. A or B. However, neither option actually changes anything, and the player will not be impacted in a notable way. Eliminating one of the 'choices', or replacing it with a coin toss, would not actually impact anything. To me I mostly see this as adding flavour and cosmetic options, which make the game feel more rounded and interesting, but can feel 'cheap' if not handled well. (ie, Deus Ex: Human Revolution end was cheapened in my view, as all the choices you make eventually lead you to basically a single choice node at the end, but don't actually have an impact.)


2. The "win or death" choice. To me this is just bad design. Sure, you "can" play as the necromancer character who relies purely on minions to protect your character and deal damage, but if you ignore their buff/debuff skill tree and the direct attack skills, then you will be totally steamrolled by mid game and will be forced to restart from the beginning because the choices you made were completely unworkable. Or you "can" choose to use the shotgun instead of the sword, but you won't be able to complete the game with it because you'll run out of ammo.


Win or Death is basically a single line or narrow line of choices that lead to victory and additional choices that all lead to defeat, but the game leads you to suggest they are all equally valid. These have to be VERY carefully watched for. They can work in a game, but you risk annoying the player.


It is also related to what I refer to as a precognition door choice. You present the user with two or more doors. Behind one is treasure, and behind the other is a horde of angry shot gun wielding clowns who will near instantly kill you no matter what you do after that door is opened. During your first play through they are both equally valid choices, but the player is not given any information on that 'choice', and therefore is forced to pick at random. The player is then punished for being stupid and not picking the 'one and only correct' door, and must restart/reload, from where they can then select the 'correct' option only after they have already viewed the outcome. To me these are simply annoying and frustrating, and make for an easy reason for me to hit the power switch and just go outside or something.

#5157610 Is working in terminal/console really a waste of time?

Posted by Luckless on 02 June 2014 - 01:27 PM

Yes, learn different tools and ways to tackle the same job. Then evaluate what your actual needs are and apply suitable solutions.


Some days I have half a dozen terminal windows open and spread over multiple desktops in OSX, because I can quickly flick between them with a swipe of my macbook's track pad and get to the one I need. It stays light weight and takes less system resources than running full instances of Eclipse or XCode which have me spending more time looking at a spinning beach ball on my underpowered macbook than I do actually working on my project.


Other days I program with 3 different computers and half a dozen monitors to spread stuff around on.


Sort out how You can make effective use of the resources you have around yourself, and evaluate what new resources are probably good goals for you to work toward.

#5157555 Is working in terminal/console really a waste of time?

Posted by Luckless on 02 June 2014 - 10:56 AM

About 90% of my code is dealing with terminal/console based stuff, simply because it is focused on smaller tools, and command line stuff is far easier to be flexible in building tool chains than any GUI would be. So in my biased opinion it is very important to learn and be comfortable working in a command line environment. (And many of the tools I work with are in the windows environment, so it isn't just a Linux/OSX thing.)


To me coding In a console environment is of somewhat questionable use. It is something that can be useful to do, but generally I find it to be a less than ideal way to work compared to modern IDEs and multiple monitor setups if you can have access to them.

#5153312 Macroeconomy

Posted by Luckless on 13 May 2014 - 08:21 AM

I'm trying to understand what your design goals are and how your game play would function.


It is almost sounding like you want to include elements from something more like SimCity, but which starts out with an existing development you are forced to maintain and far slower expansion? You would take a more hands off control of things and focus the player's decision making on things like upgrading infrastructure or providing subsidies to build something the player wants, but there would be no guarantee that the project would be completed. (ie, you put up $X for a new apartment complex, multiple entities can potentially bid on the project, user picks one, and the project may or may not be finished or up to standards that you want based on various factors.)?

#5138440 2D or 3D star map?

Posted by Luckless on 12 March 2014 - 10:38 AM

Ask yourself what going 3D will add to the game. 


Negatives to 3D are that it is harder to visualize, and represents a vastly more complex world to work with. 


Positives are that it represents a vastly more complex world to work with. (You have to pick if that is actually a positive or negative impact on your game.)


Personally I like 3D when it comes to something that I explore, but control relatively few things in. 3D strategy games become far more complex and aren't always actually an improvement over similar designs done in 2D fields.

#5135037 Non-Developer Betatester Source?

Posted by Luckless on 27 February 2014 - 08:10 AM

If you are really serious about the project then you can always hire testers. It will cost you a chunk of change, but it can be really worth investing in experienced testers who can look past what the game is currently and help you point out problem spots early on. This is especially true if you happen to be doing mobile app development. (Sculpin QA for example has multiple copies of every model of apple mobile device in house with most versions of iOS installed. Plus most of the popular android devices.)


Even if you are only able to contract a few hours at a time it can be worth it. You don't have to go chasing after a testing house to give you feed back, and a bad release put in the hands of a testing house isn't likely to have a negative impact on public opinion if you've screwed something up as they're bound by NDAs. 


Good luck.

#5132222 Ugh! Your shorthand is too short!

Posted by Luckless on 17 February 2014 - 10:37 PM

Use longer names instead of single letter variables. Consider replacing


a with alpha

b with beta

d with delta




Please don't. It can be a nightmare if someone else gets working on the project with you.


Beta and Bravo, Alpha and Alfa, Gamma or Charlie and Char. It was painful trying to be sure who was talking about what.

#5130921 Early game Civ-like game

Posted by Luckless on 12 February 2014 - 05:40 PM

Something I've considered is making a Civ Like game, but with far more flexible units and cities.


The main unit in the game becomes a "Group of People". GoPs are the members of your civilization. They are your armies, your workers, your settlers, and your cities. As long as they are in a tile that can provide abundant food and shelter each GoP will slowly increase in size (and power) till it splits in two, except all GoPs on the same tile will feed into the same new unit.


While on a tile they can create improvements or take actions with what is there. They can 'gather food', or 'construct improvements'. Each GoP will have a limited number of turns they can last without food, which can be increased with technology and improvements. Units could 'share' food over a given range, which is extended by things like roads, rivers, logistical organization, etc. Some improvements would be quick to build, such as basic shelter, simple farms, construct primitive weapons, etc. Others would take longer, build fortification, build advanced bridge, etc. Then other actions could be to use an existing building/improvement: such as to construct complex weapons.


So you start the game with a dozen or so GoPs. These you can spread around, but since multiple GoPs 'breed' faster when they are together, you would be encouraged to group them. But having a larger number means you can start scouting more and gaining more information about the world around you.


GoPs that are armed as soldiers aren't as effective at other tasks, but would take a few turns to train even if a weapons stock pile was already made for them. This would limit people from going "All soldiers, all the time".


And since your settlements are flexible, you are free to shift your GoPs around the map as the game advances. Of course sooner or later you will start constructing buildings and such that take enough time that abandoning them becomes less and less effective, and eventually your cities become far more permanent. 

#5128222 Population growth in space colony game

Posted by Luckless on 02 February 2014 - 01:03 PM

Another issue to think about is what kind of time scales are we working with, and what kind of game play are you really looking for? And how are colonists represented within the game. Ideal game play growth patterns are vastly different if your colony plays more like The Sims vs an older version of SimCity. One having each colonist as a distinct entity that must be tracked, vs a fairly simply integer comparison of NeededWorkForce isLessThan TotalPopulation isLessThan Housing and LifeSupport.


If the game is "in for the long haul" and each colonist is a distinct entity then it could be that you have a preset 'seed' population that arrives in cold storage. You have X number of colonists on life support, and then have set needs you have to achieve before you are allowed to unlock the next batch. ie: Enough food, air, and water production to keep everyone alive, plus some minimum level of living space. After you exhaust your initial pool you then are reliant on new colonists that the colony itself can produce.


By that point in your game play you can be getting into building more automated systems to replace your initial constructions, rather than say needing 12 workers to control your main fabrication facility that produces parts for buildings, you can instead crew it with just 8, freeing up 4 people to work else where in your expanding base.


This lets the player 'keep going', and expanding their colony, but doesn't drive up the processing requirements as much if you are simulating each colonist beyond being just a number. "New" colonists then trickle in far slower as youth develop and are trained, but can be offset by older generations beginning to die off from age or accidents. It can also open the door to interesting plot points and choices, especially if the game relies heavily on colonists personality and factions. 


Maybe you could have the option of deploying Clones. Clones can be matured faster than natural birth children, meaning they are ready for the work force sooner, but may be opposed by members of some factions. Similar with 'simple' advanced robotics that merely reduce labour requirements in facilities and 'complex' advanced robotics that can be full blown AI crew members. Maybe some colonists don't mind that their food was totally grown by mindless machines slaving away in a aquaponics bay somewhere at the edge of the colony, but when a dozen androids march by to their next job site things will feel a little different. (Especially if you have some kind of revolt and oppression mechanic.)

#5127974 Population growth in space colony game

Posted by Luckless on 01 February 2014 - 11:52 AM

I remember it was an interesting sort of balance when playing Outpost 2 back in the day. Usually you would start off and could easily get enough food and housing for everyone, and then you are constantly suffering for a shortage of either workers or scientists.


Then eventually I would hit a tipping point and be left trying to figure out what to DO with everyone and where to put them. The over population could quickly slide into food management issues and morale dropping like a stone.



Personally I've been toying with designs for my own colony management game, but I was using back story elements to throw an interesting little twist in there: The colony is a massive ship of survivors, but something went wrong. The game would start off with only a fraction of the planned setup lander craft which is limiting how quickly the colony infrastructure is initially expanded. Combine that with a failing life support system on the ship in orbit, and the player is then left with hard choices on who and how they try to save as colonists come out of cold storage on the ship in batches at various times during game play.

#5118647 Dealing with multiple scales of player wealth

Posted by Luckless on 21 December 2013 - 05:18 PM

Getting rather off topic, but it isn't really till the very late medieval period that you really see all that many iron swords surpassing bronze swords in length. In the early medieval period you still saw a good amount of bronze weapons in use and production, it was merely that good iron was preferred for its quality. However, a good bronze sword can generally trump a cheap iron one, and we have many examples of bronze swords being longer than much of the early iron swords.


Thousands of years of history over hundreds of cultures, all producing weapons with their own take on things. Very hard to generalize too much about it without a few points popping up to contradict what someone says. (Just look at bronze swords and their riveted handles vs tangs. We can see them swing back and forth between the two methods for a few centuries, while iron swords are almost universally tanged designs of one style or another.)

#5117853 Dealing with multiple scales of player wealth

Posted by Luckless on 18 December 2013 - 09:15 AM

Does it really matter? If I rob my own business of cash to buy more and more expensive gear, then that means my business suffers. And there is only so much 'personal' stuff I can spend money on, eventually I'll run out of useful things to buy.


If spending $500 on a new weapon is more useful to me now than saving it up the $500000 I need for my next warehouse, then I much rather be able to spend that $500 now on what I need and save up for the other things after. 


In my mind splitting funds is just something that might annoy a player. It is their in-game money, let them spend it as they see fit. Just balance the internal economy well enough to support it.