Jump to content
  • Advertisement

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Tom

How to avoid the "arms race" ideology?

This topic is 5559 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Hi. I''m working diligently on a strategy game, and I could use some input. I''ve just recently decided to take a modular approach to unit design; that is, players can customize units by adding items to specific "modules." If you''re unfamiliar with this concept, you should download and play Stars! for an excellent example of modular unit design. With modular design comes a need for players to research new technologies so they can upgrade their forces as the game progresses. The problem with this is that it turns the game into an arms race, where the defining goal is to see who can get the best technology first and use it to destroy his enemies. Too many strategy games suffer from this problem, and it gets boring very fast. I want to have elements that detract from the arms race syndrome and provide for alternate styles of play. Suggestions?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
Just a quick thinking... Maybe you could balance the attack and the research speed... When your units attack someone, your research speed decreases, maybe it could be automatically determined, or you could adjust the research speed with a bar... don''t know, I should develop a little more my idea

Mac for productivity
Linux for development
Palm for mobility
Windows... for the Solitaire

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You could increase everyones chances of attaining a technology as soon as one player achieves it.

ie. Player A is the first to discover SuperLightHighDamageLasers. Player''s B, C and D now get a 50% resource boost to their research on that particular technology. You could also make the bonus cumulative on the same tech tree. So if player A gets SuperLightUltraHighDamageLasers, then the on the old ones go upt to 75%. This would reduce the length of time that someone remains outdated, but would still motivate people to research.

ps. As there is always espionage, you can explain away the bonus as learning the enemies secrets. Or, you could not inform the players that the bonus exists.



First make it work,
then make it fast.

--Brian Kernighan

"I’m happy to share what I can, because I’m in it for the love of programming. The Ferraris are just gravy, honest!" --John Carmack: Forward to Graphics Programming Black Book

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Make it take a good while to upgrade all your units? So even if I''ve researched a tactical nuke with dual laser cannons, all my units are still fitted with catapults, and I''ll need to drag them home to base for refitting, which takes time.

Or try to strike a balance between upgrade cost and weapon strength. Tricky, I know, but essentially, you could try to hit a balance where, if you''ve got a big force equipped with mediocre weapons, it''s just not worth upgrading them, unless you''ve got way too much money, or something like that. So your new tech will be used primarily in building new units, but generally, you won''t bother to upgrade the old ones.

You might want to take a look at Master of Orion 3... It''s got it''s share of shortcomings, but it''s actually a pretty decent game. But the point in mentioning it is that in MOO3, you can''t upgrade your ships *at all*. So your fleets usually consist of various semi-obsolete ships, since by the time you''ve managed to build a bunch of your new advanced ships, you''ll have invented something better.

---------
Life is like a grapefruit. It''s sort of orangy-yellow and dimpled on the outside, wet and squidgy in the middle. It''s got pips inside, too. Oh, and some people have half a one for breakfast

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Would it provide more variety to allow a player to upgrade beginning units to fightability status, or choose to research tougher units and upgrade them?

It could be set up that by the time one player generates a lot of upgraded beginning units, the other player has enough mid-grade units without upgrades, along with stationary emplacements, to fend off an attack.

So really it becomes a matter of deciding exactly which units you prefer to do battle with, instead of it being an arms race.

[edited by - Waverider on March 31, 2003 1:19:26 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by CaptainJester
You could increase everyones chances of attaining a technology as soon as one player achieves it.

ie. Player A is the first to discover SuperLightHighDamageLasers. Player''s B, C and D now get a 50% resource boost to their research on that particular technology. You could also make the bonus cumulative on the same tech tree. So if player A gets SuperLightUltraHighDamageLasers, then the on the old ones go upt to 75%. This would reduce the length of time that someone remains outdated, but would still motivate people to research.

ps. As there is always espionage, you can explain away the bonus as learning the enemies secrets. Or, you could not inform the players that the bonus exists.



I sort of like the idea of every player having easier access to the technology, but I don''t think a research bonus (especially an invisible one) is the way to go. How about if one player captures another player''s unit somehow, then they get the technology used in that unit, or they can research it really fast?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think one way to help eliminate it would be to make upgrades take longer to finish and boost them so they still provide the aboud the same boost per unit time spent researching it.

The way it is now in most RTS games, each upgrade provides a small bonus and researches very quickly. A common tactic in WC3 is to make a little base defense, a few units, and then start upgrading. Since upgrades finish relatively fast, the person can get extremely upgraded units by the time the other player gets a small army. Because base defense is extremely strong, the small army can''t hurt the teching player at all, and because upgrades are done fast, the teching player will have a small army of very powerful units before the other player can get enough units to take down the base defense.

If upgrades took a long time (like say the time it takes to build 15 units), cost more (the price of 10 units instead of 1), and also provided a greater boost(+10% damage instead of +3%), you would need to slowly upgrade as you build an army instead of trying to get all the upgrades first and then build an army. Also, base defense should be there to help an inferior army fight off a supperior army, not to defend the base all by itself.

That would move upgrades to something done in the background to strengthen an army instead of the primary focus of the game. At least, it seems like it would. It might also help to make upgrades for a unit be done from the same building that produces the unit so that you can''t research and build at the same time until you get enough resources to build a second ''Unit Training Station'' (by which time you should already have several units, or the other player should be in the process of destroying you).

[edited by - Big Brother on January 1, 1984 12:00:00 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In my modular design, I haven''t yet touched the topic of creating new technologies. However, I have considered the notion of each side having a "Tech Level". when you design modules for your units, they are completely customizable in the sense that you get to determine the characteristics of the module, and pay the appropriate costs. However, the higher your tech level, the cheaper, lighter or less space it will take up on your unit.

For example, in my game you have:
1. OffenseModule: The weaponry of the unit
2. DefenseModule: Anything that deals with the active or passive defense of the unit (armor, point defense weapons, reactive armor, deflection, etc)
3. HullModule: The actual chassis on which all the other modules are plugged into
4. EngineModule: The powerplant that drives the unit (MHD, Fuel Cell, Internal Combustion, etc).
5. MobilityModule: The means of locomotion for the unit (tracked, wheeled, VTOL, jet, etc)
6. IntelligenceModule: Composed of three seperate modules:
Sensory- What kind of sensory devices does unit have (IR, UV, lowlight, magnification, seismic)
Communications- What kind of comm technology does it have? (uplink, broadcast, tightlink?)
EW- does the unit have any EW or ECW equipment? (radar jammers, noise generators, homing radar, triangulation equipment, etc)

All of these modules derive from a BaseModule class which simply provide the characteristics of Mass, Volume, Maintenance and Cost, and the appropriate virtual methods to set and get those values for the overridden methods in the derived class.

So when you design say, a weapon, you determine the characteristics you want for that weapon, within a framework of rules. In other words, you can''t arbitrarily say, "I want a weapon with a damage of 100, a penetration of 100, and I want it to weigh 10kilograms". This will be partially enforced by each Module characteristic being a private data member, and able to be influenced only through the methods of the class (and the methods will in essence be the rule design for that module). Each module will have its own design rules which walks the player through the creation process. Certain aspects of certain modules will have tradeoffs and diminishing returns so that in effect, there are points of no return for design. These diminishing returns however can be set farther back the higher the tech level of each side.

However, this does not cover the concept of creating new technologies. For example, let''s say that there are no fusion power plants capable of fitting in a land vehicle, and hence, that EngineModule type is not available for ground vehicles. Obviously,there would be great advantages for a side that could produce this technology for their ground forces (equip your units with only energy weapons and they need very little in the way of resupply other than food). So you could still have "Tech trees" which provide for this kind of thing.

If you want to provide Tech Tree research in your game, you are still limited by the choices that you the designer want to give the player. It''d be more interesting for the player to be able to research his own ideas but having an open ended design like this may be futile. What''s more, I hate the notion that player''s already know what kind of technological progress they can make...in the real world, you don''t know what kind of new doo-dad you can come up with. What might be more interesting is to have alternate research paths or "goals" that you wish to actively research. For example, let''s say you really want to spur weapon''s research...well, there''s all kinds of weapons, so what do you want to research? Well, what if you simultaneously research electronics. Perhaps you could invent a new type of weapon (a particle accelerator, or a new form of guided weapon which can''t be jammed or fooled by countermeasures).

I think having pre-determined tech trees are a bad idea and is partially what causes the arms race. Imagine for a second if in 1939, all the powers knew that the atomic bomb would be one of the weapons in their arsenal? Imagine what would have happened had the English realized the value of jet engines earlier than the Germans (they actually developed the jet engine before the Germans, but didn''t see the practicality of it)? What if the Japanese knew about radio controlled devices (the Germans had radio guided bombs as early as 1943...one of which helped sink an English aircraft carrier in the mediterranean) and used them instead of their human guided kamikazes?

I think having preset predetermined technology is the greatest reason for the arms race mentality. If you put some uncertainty in it by making the results of your research more variable, then I think it will have a different effect on the players.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
well, a conquest scifi game IS an arms race in one sense or another ... if the goal of the game is victory over all others, then it will always degenerate into a population / resources / production / research / trained unit race ... meaning that any game where the goal is dommination, is always discussed in terms the various "races" (areas of measurement) that are going on ...

vitory of course is usually achieved with a valid BALANCE of certain factors, so that total war capacity is maximized over a particular period of time ... perhaps by few units with high tech, or many units with lower tech, or many people with high defenses ... so many ways to attempt dominance, and that is what makes a game "balanced" or "interesting".

P.S. Stars! is so amazing in so many things ... such a great expansion system, production system, research system, design system, tactical system. It''s only primary weaknesses are its poor diplomany, and maybe a lack of depth in non-military areas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My latest thought on the matter is to implement a high degree of simulation -- sort of a SimCity-meets-StarCraft (SimCraft?). One of the driving goals would be to maximize your infrastructure so that your forces operate smoothly. Having to worry about where your soldiers will sleep and what they''ll eat takes your mind off the arms race aspect. You''re still doing research and building weapons, but at the same time you have to balance the cost of expansion with the cost of sustenance.

Dauntless reminded me of the research mechanic used in Stars!, in which fields would cross over to yield ecumenical discoveries. I''d like to employ a similar system in which the technology available in the future is dependent on what you''ve already researched, and that your expansion into other fields becomes more difficult as you specialize -- your labs simply are not equipped to handle it.

This takes the arms race to another level in which it appears less of an arms race and more of an adventure into the unknown. The research panel would have a list of "probable outcomes," technology that will most likely blossom as a result of that particular avenue. Then there''s the case of prototyping and miniaturization, which adds even more options to the mix.

The biggest problem I foresee it balancing it all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

Participate in the game development conversation and more when you create an account on GameDev.net!

Sign me up!