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Member Since 27 Aug 2003
Offline Last Active Today, 06:10 AM

#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.

#5116883 Alchemy System, what would make alchemy fun?

Posted by Luckless on 14 December 2013 - 10:10 AM

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to potion creation is that if it isn't going to be a major feature and prime focus of the game, then it needs to be quick, easy, simple, and nearly thoughtless. If the game is a pure hack and slash where I'm wading through blood of enemies, then keep your potion list short, and have a fairly direct conversion process. Drag the three dozen bluebell flowers from your inventory to the potions table, and 'bam', I have 4 level 1 mana potions. Drag those 4 mana potions to the potion table again, then drag 8 bottles of refined spirit, and 'boom', I have 4 level 2 mana potions. I'm recycling the trash that naturally gathered in my inventory as I play, I'm not putting a ton of thought into it.



However, if the game's goal is to be a far deeper RP experience, with a far slower pace and more mental power put into playing the game, then make the system more complex. I might even say go so far as to procedurally generate the ingredient combinations on run time so that each time you play the game you start 'fresh', not knowing how to mix the potions but having to find the hints and details in books and such scattered throughout the game, and use well designed in game mechanics to research and identify what effects they can have. Part of what killed the Elder Scrolls potion making for me when it came to replay-ability was the fact that I already knew how the whole thing worked, and could generate some rather over powered stuff from the get go.

#5116787 Alchemy System, what would make alchemy fun?

Posted by Luckless on 13 December 2013 - 06:03 PM

One of my classmates made a really fun tech demo back in university that was just potion making. It was basically potions class from the Harry Potter series, in game form, and went so far as to include what amounted to a dissection simulator and soft body physics sim as part of the harvesting/ingredient prep process. Making a potion wasn't simply a matter of taking item A, B, and C, dragging them onto a panel, hitting a button, and then waiting for a progress bar. To make something you might have to actually cut the heart out of a giant leech, and only the heart, to get the full effect. 


Bits and pieces of the ingredients had traits associated with them, and then actions also had an influence on the out come. Potions were a complex language, and there could be a dozen different ways to 'say' an effect. 


So part 1 of Item A might have 'fire', part 2 of item A might have 'negate-all' (failure to properly remove part 2 from part 1 would mean the potion failed as the effect was negated.)


To make a 'fire potion' you would use a cauldron to simmer the item which applies the 'activate' action to it. From there you might stir with a silver spoon for the 'enhance' action. During the creation you could apply various other modifiers to change things up and the end result could range from something that created light in the bottle, warmed the drinker up, or caused them to burst into flames. 



It was complex, it took a long time to develop, but it was interesting and fun all on its own to see what kind of effects you could generate with the system, and eventually learn the 'language' that was his potion system. 



However, if you're not putting the effort into it to make it complex and interesting, then you either need to have it take no time at all to do in the game, or at least walk away. 


If making potions in your game involves a progress bar, then please beat yourself with something heavy. 

#5104479 non combat ships

Posted by Luckless on 25 October 2013 - 04:33 PM

I always assumed a shipyard that built military vehicles didn't do civilian stuff in the same way that a tank factory doesn't build cars.


I do kind of like the idea that civilian ships are tied into growth and expansion with perhaps a minimum amount of civilian vehicles are required for your colonies to reach a certain levels of development and having a surplus will speed of growth.   It could be as simple as setting the shipyard to auto build commercial vehicles and then it goes away and does it with no more interaction for you starts producing space trucks, and space buses.  As your colonies develop you start to see more advanced and large civilian vehicles you might even see a luxury casino station open in orbit of a planet.


The most widely produced tank in history was initially produced in a locomotive factory that was converted for wartime use. The battleship Bismarck was made in the same yard that produced some of the largest civilian liners in history, and now produces warships and equipment for the oil industry. Industrial capacity is industrial capacity. If you can build a heavily armoured warship, then you can likely build lighter commercial ships in even less time.


One mechanic that could be interesting to play with is having different classes of production that are suitable for either commercial or military production. Engines and hulls for example. The factories that can build the biggest engines would clearly cost more, say 3x as much as one that could only produce smaller engines (such as those more likely to be used by lighter commercial vessels), but while the 'bigger' factory could also produce the smaller engines it would no do so at 3x the rate. The same could go for hull armour. Yards designed mainly to handle lighter armour would be cheaper, but take far longer to build ships with heavier armour.


The economy could be based on a 'merchant marine' and private sector fleets. While most planets would produce at least a little of any given resource, various planets could specialize in production of a handful so they can provide a massive surplus over what they would use internally. You could also include things like ground troops that would need to be ferried between bases and the front line. May even want to include heavy and light transports, where heavy ships would be able to survive combat, while the lighter versions would suffer extremely high losses. The lighter ones could be used to ferry troops and supplies in low combat-risk zones to supply dumps, while the heavier ones would then finish the journey.


How you wage war would then depend on how you choose to tool your economy. Build game play up such that a heavy "Fleet" focused warfare style can be played in a way that is just as valid as a more 'ground force' based approach. Where a fleet based warfare would focus on controlling lines of supply and be a siege warfare style, the ground based attacks would rely on a smaller fleet designed to just protect a fist of transports that pour troops into an area. The fleet could respond to threats faster, but the landing force would be exceptionally potent if you are able to move the troops and supplies to forward staging areas fast enough.




Having a strong civilian fleet could offer you bonuses in research, production expansion, general 'happiness', and such, while strong military control over transit could offer a bonus to espionage defence. (Spies and such are more free to move about your empire when there is less oversight.)

#5102737 Day/Night/Month/Year cycle for city builder

Posted by Luckless on 19 October 2013 - 05:57 PM

I have been toying with taking a rather different approach to the whole issue for a modern city/region builder/simulator. However my goal is to produce a far more 'simulation' style tool than what many 'city builder' games are.


While the vast majority of city builders run in 'real time' with varying speed controls, I have instead been looking at it as more of a turn based affair with various simulations that would have to be completed before the next turn begins. Most likely going to based around monthly council meetings where plans get their final okay or rejections, user gets primary feedback from the city, and any plans/designs that were prepped before hand may be set to begin for the following 'turn'.


If at the start of the turn the city has produced something that is going to change values (ie, higher density buildings completed which then require more power, water, sewage, garbage, traffic flow, etc, or construction begins on a project that is large enough that it would affect traffic, etc.) then the related 'system simulation' would have to be run against the various demand times. Cycle your power grid, transit/road system, etc for their high and low periods on weekdays and weekends. If a given simulation would not have changed, then it is not needed to be rerun before the next cycle may begin.


This means that if nothing is really changing in your city for the next six to eight months, then there is very little that needs to be done and you can quickly skip ahead in time. However if lots of things are changing and developing in your city, then the user is going to be able to see actual changes going on and the game pace will slow down so they can enjoy it better.

#5098761 "front width" how it works?

Posted by Luckless on 04 October 2013 - 10:02 AM



That is a fairly concise overview of Hearts of Iron's take on it. 


The player can make choices that will reduce the amount of frontage some of their units take up, and different kind of units use less area, which means they can fit more combat troops into a fight at one time. The primary reason for this is to limit excessive stacking and generating unrealistic combat where a major portion of an army is shoved down an exceptionally narrow front.

#5097484 Reversed order of "Yes"/"No" button when confirming "Quit...

Posted by Luckless on 28 September 2013 - 01:54 PM

Undo capability doesn't work all that well when the action you've just confirmed fires 100 rounds of 40mm canon fire down range in real life, or flash starts a blast furnace. 


It renders purely accidental clicks nearly impossible as a far more active input is required. There is no way to mistakenly 'click to gain focus' or something and activate the button. You can't run into the problem of having a popup surprise you as you're doing input for something completely unrelated. (More than a few pieces of software suffer from that. Get some error prompt, and it goes away before you even read it because you were in the process of doing something else that happened to share the same controls. FTL: Faster Than Light is a great game example of this. I've let more than a few pirates get away from peanuts and a pile of missiles or drones I don't need because I was trying to select Weapon 1.)

#5097465 Reversed order of "Yes"/"No" button when confirming "Quit...

Posted by Luckless on 28 September 2013 - 12:01 PM

No real clue, but one aspect that I would love to see adopted by more software is one found in some industrial and military equipment I've used where there was no quick "Click here once to do whatever this controls" mechanic. Instead there were sliders. In order to select a given option you had to click and drag across the 'button' zone, or make a very deliberate series of key strokes while holding a set key down. 


For instance you would have a quit with out saving option. To do so you click and hold on the far right side of the popup window for that 'button' zone, drag to the left. The message changes to "Quitting WITHOUT saving, data will not be saved". Releasing the mouse then cancels the order, but dragging it back to the right confirms it. It doesn't even require dual axis accuracy for it, just capture the curser as you slide it back and forth and lock it on the slider plane.


It takes fractionally longer to do, but gives you multiple point warnings in a far smoother interface. It isn't brining up new popups that you then have to then focus on to bring the mouse directly to and click accurately. 

#5097373 "front width" how it works?

Posted by Luckless on 27 September 2013 - 08:58 PM

How it functions really depends on the combat system mechanics you are working with, but it basically boils down to how effectively one side or the other can engage in combat.


I have used systems where "Front width" was actually how long the border between two forces was on the map, which then played into aspects like how much resistance a breakthrough attempt would meet in a given region. (ie, if one side deployed their forces in a mass attack formation, it would greatly deplete their total manpower across the majority of the line, making any attack against them fairly easy at any but a few points. They on the other hand would then have the ability to attack with that mass against any point on the front with relative ease. And then there is the case where both sides deploy their forces in a mass attack formation along a front, but if they don't attack at the same point then neither side meets resistance, and they can both charge head long into each other's territory to do whatever... As often happened in ancient and medieval warfare.)


Then there are other systems where it is used as an anti-stacking mechanic. Rather than just balling all my forces into a single unit for a surprise fist to shove through the enemy in the hopes of crushing their forces in small amounts before they have time to react and reform, there is then a limit placed on how many units can attack at a given time. So the system would allow a front of say "10" points, when most units costing 3 points. If I deploy 4 normal units against an enemies 3, then they both fight as if there were three units, till one of mine is forced to withdraw and be replaced by the 4th. (And in that time the other side may have brought reinforcements.) This mechanic can also be used to encourage mixed units. Rather than bring 3 units of 3 points each, I might bring 2 units of 3 points, and another 2 'support' units that only cost me 2 points. Now I can deploy 10 points worth of frontage instead of nine. Or maybe I'll use something (research/leadership/etc) to bump my frontage limit up, or lower my unit point cost, and be able to bring more units into the fight at one time.



There are lots of options, and it really depends on what you want to achieve with your system.

#5086878 What's so fun about city builders?

Posted by Luckless on 17 August 2013 - 03:56 PM

If you want to give the player "Something to do" while they wait, then either remove the need for the wait with good time advancement options (if single player), or provide a robust "Advanced planning" system where they can lay out what they will do in the future and try different options.



Another big thing is that a player should never have to guess about how things will advance. I finally got time to spend with my PC and an up to date copy of SimCity while I had access to an internet connection on that machine. I haven't played in months, but managed to put in several solid hours of tinkering with a pair of small mutually supporting cities. However this has basically ended in frustration. Why? Because The developers in their infinite 'wisdom' designed it such that the lower tier buildings are smaller than the levels above them. This lack of information to the player meant that despite using the grid lines on road ways have a very sub-optimal city layout for hitting the second and third density levels, as about 1/3 of the developed space has 'room' to increase in density.



Ideally buildings would be based on general areas/volumes, not fixed lot sizes, and structures will conform to the city layout rather than forcing the user to design the city layout purely to the buildings. Do you really think a developer in New York City would say "Oh no, I won't use that extra twenty feet between these two roads... we'll just leave that as nothing and generate zero profit from it". You should still have minimum sizes for various things, but the user should not be completely blocked from expanding something just because they didn't leave an area in the dimensions you as a designer picked. If something is normally 5x5, but I have something 4x7, then I should not be completely without reasonable options.



Reasonable flexibility on remodelling should also be a feature if you have various transit/connector options. I have always hated having to decimate part of a city in order to upgrade it, rather than simply paying that much more if I need to run a wider road through an area. (Especially in relatively 'low density' areas. Properties could have a 'set back' value, how much room they have from the centre of the road they are built on before the building itself must be demolished to expand the road. Low set back then being less desirable for most property types)

#5086205 starship death and regeneration

Posted by Luckless on 15 August 2013 - 12:59 PM

Another few options to consider:


1. Wave spawns: Dead users will spawn with the next 'wave', time adjusted to the game. This means a player rarely spawns totally alone, hopefully making camping less effective, and counter attacks more deadly (As you are likely to face multiple opponents rushing out of spawn that you have to deal with as a group, rather than single players coming out one at a time over a longer period.)


2. Mobile spawn points. While the default spawn becomes the 'home world' or whatever, forward spawning becomes an option. Also giving the player a choice of where to spawn from limits the ability of people to camp a spawn. If someone is consistently camping one spawn point, then you simply pick another spot.

#5085606 What's so fun about city builders?

Posted by Luckless on 13 August 2013 - 01:25 PM

Personally I enjoy the "What if" aspect of design and management. 


How can things be arranged in such a way as to produce a favourable and productive outcome?


Ideally there should be more than one way to tackle any given problem, and no truly dominate solution that completely outstrips any other.


I'm also a very big fan of general sandbox form with light goals, or alternative paths. Choice is a big factor, so if there is really only a single style that works, or very few options with which to use to advance, then the game is less interesting. (On the other hand, if anything and everything 'works', then the game is generally boring as there become no setbacks.)


One part that I feel is really lacking in city builders is some semblance of actual realism. I would be very interested in a project that focused more on how a real city works within a larger geo-political framework than itself, of which the city has some influence but no control.


Another thing that I would really like to see more of is better road and traffic simulation to a reasonable scale. SimCity has a horribly small and disappointing scale, with utterly foolish traffic simulation for things like emergency response vehicles. (As in taking months for a firetruck to make it two blocks while half the city starts catching fire)


Something more organic in nature where the player buys land to build roads and services, basically to modify the environment from its default set of conditions, and from that 'people' come in/grow up, and 'do stuff', like buy/sell land to build homes and businesses. You then set policies and deal with some form of a petition system that is generated by the 'people', and your choices then feed back into the system to change the outcome and how things develop.