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Telastyn

Fine grained technology

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My current project is a turn based, tile based, large scale, startegy game, along the lines of Master of Magic, Civilization, Imperialism and the such. One of the features I would like to add to the game is a more finely grained technology/research mechanic. Currently I've three ideas that I think will add gameplay options while not greatly encumbering the player. I am curious as to others' opinions and feedback onthese ideas. First, the three ideas in summary. 1. Technology should not be binary. 2. Units should 'own' technology, not empires. 3. Transfer of knowledge should be largely automated. Now for some details. The first idea is simply that technology knowledge should not be an on/off setting. Certainly different people have different levels of knowledge when it comes to different areas. Further, there's a large difference in developing a technology with no basis as opposed to duplicating another's work. The second idea is to localize knowledge. Certainly Joe the Plumber isn't going to learn Quantum theory the day Mike the Physicist invents it on another continent. Further, until relatively modern times, the dissemination of knowledge was a driving factor in the power and control of nations. The third idea is more of a practical one. Managing all of that knowledge transfer is tedious and not fun. The solution I'm likely to use is creating a development period for units. This way, when a new unit is spawned, the player can setup a training schedule for them. The unit then goes off into development, and eventually comes out with the training requested. Other, more speicific ideas coming from these: - Knowledge diffused by trade. A by-product of international trade is the diffusion of knowledge as traders move about. This will also help out players by diffusing the simple "I know that exists" level of knowledge across empires. It will help to level different empires so that a technological advantage does not become dominating. It will promote players to make cohesive empires. It will allow players to make "secret" labratories and the such which would slow development, but slow the time others would learn of it. - Knowledge loss. As units die, they take the knowledge with them. This will disuade warmongering players. It will also simulate the loss of high level spells common across most fantasy settings. - Libraries. The development of scribes and [moreso] the printing press allowed for a great dissemination of knowledge. Instead of taking the time to teach other units, players can have knowhow scribed so that the knowledge isn't lost with their death. - Teaching methods. The automated learning process can change with technological development and different policies implimented by the empire. Units might start out learning technologies only from a dedicated practitioner [apprenticeship]. Implimenting fun things like Bablyon 5's psi-corp or dedicated schools of magic also become possible. *gasp* So, questions, opinions, criticisms, feedback?

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Certainly different people have different levels of knowledge when it comes to different areas.
It will be difficult to represent this difference in knowledge. You might also want to consider that certain occupations require a minimum level of knowledge to do the work.

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It will help to level different empires so that a technological advantage does not become dominating.
It will discourage superior empires from trading. I hope trade has a large enough effect in your game to make these empires lose their superiority quickly.

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It will promote players to make cohesive empires.
I hope your trade connection information is more apparent than in Civilization.

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It will allow players to make "secret" labratories and the such which would slow development, but slow the time others would learn of it.
Typically, secret laboratories know about information outside, but prevent the dissemination of the knowledge they've developed internally. Do you have anything like unidirectional or lopsided trade links?

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- Knowledge loss. As units die, they take the knowledge with them. This will disuade warmongering players. It will also simulate the loss of high level spells common across most fantasy settings.
I think it's more likely that players would simply keep the units with high-level knowledge safe in order to teach new recruits. If knowledge can be plundered, it would probably encourage warmongering instead (not that that's a bad thing).

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- Libraries. The development of scribes and [moreso] the printing press allowed for a great dissemination of knowledge. Instead of taking the time to teach other units, players can have knowhow scribed so that the knowledge isn't lost with their death.
Can we plunder and/or torch libraries? Pretty please?

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Flarelocke, thanks for the thoughtful reply:

Knowledge pre-reqs for specialization is already considered. I'm still considering wether the specialization will be more like traditional RPG classes or if the specialization will simply be a specialization and the knowledge itself defines what a unit can do [ala skill based RPGs].

re: discouraging trade:

Though the larger the empire, the more it needs trade to move around vital resources. Vital resources commonly needed for research. mmm, double edged swords...

re: secret labratories:

True, but the slowdown in research is meant to be more of the PITA red tape that secrecy requires. Trade links will likely be proportional to the trade done [which in turn is likely proportional to population + resources]

re: warmongering:

True, an argument to advocate skill based ability. Then players will need to field high knowledge units. Knowledge likely won't be allowed to be plundered from units. Bribery, spies, bards, divination and the such are likely going to be much better forms of knowledge stealing anyways :D

re: plunder and torching libraries:

Of course! Though I'd wager it would cause the local populace to have some sort of negative reaction.


And one other thing which I forgot to mention, which makes a great influence on the warmongering discussion: units aren't the traditional Civilization units. Units are units of population, so each city population is a unit as well as each mobile unit. [and units can transfer between]

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Original post by Telastyn
Knowledge pre-reqs for specialization is already considered. I'm still considering wether the specialization will be more like traditional RPG classes or if the specialization will simply be a specialization and the knowledge itself defines what a unit can do [ala skill based RPGs].
The latter would be difficult to implement, specifically because of the artwork needed to represent them. If you've got a plumber-physicist but only have individual plumber and physicist sprites or models, which do you use to represent this renaissance plumber?

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Though the larger the empire, the more it needs trade to move around vital resources. Vital resources commonly needed for research. mmm, double edged swords...
What makes foreign trade better than domestic trade? In a large empire, there would be more domestic trade than foreign trade.

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True, but the slowdown in research is meant to be more of the PITA red tape that secrecy requires. Trade links will likely be proportional to the trade done [which in turn is likely proportional to population + resources]
So there's code specifically for making research secret, as opposed to simply doing it in a place that has few or no trade links?

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True, an argument to advocate skill based ability. Then players will need to field high knowledge units. Knowledge likely won't be allowed to be plundered from units. Bribery, spies, bards, divination and the such are likely going to be much better forms of knowledge stealing anyways :D
No, even with skill-based advancement, it will be better for an empire to place their highest knowledge units in places where they can bring complete ignoramuses up to speed, or at the least write their knowledge into books and have these ignoramuses read the books. Of course, skill-based advancement would mean that these teachers' knowledge quickly becomes out of date, as the units on the front lines get more skilled. And the advancement this affords is another encouragement of warmongering (although this could be mitigated by the rate at which these advancing units die in the process of improving their skills).

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And one other thing which I forgot to mention, which makes a great influence on the warmongering discussion: units aren't the traditional Civilization units. Units are units of population, so each city population is a unit as well as each mobile unit. [and units can transfer between]
I've had an idea to do something like this with RTS's for quite some time now, but I'm at a loss to envision how this could work in a turn-based game.

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re: images and specialization:

Well there will only ever be one specialization per unit. Say you have a paladin. The paladin will be able to beat things to a bloody pulp, and will always use the paladin sprite. Wether the ability to beat things to a bloody pulp comes from simply being a paladin, or from the specialization prerequisite 'beat things to a bloody pulp' skill [with being a paladin giving a special bonus vs undead units] is the question. The specialization will always exist, and the sprite will come from that.

re: trade:

There is no difference really, except that empire relations and policies will effect inter-empire trade.

re: secret tech:

Possibly. I am leaning towards not including it, but the possibility exists to 'secretfy' research to prevent common knowledge of it, even beyond the standard hiding. This would essentially represent increased security measures and would be specific code.


re: skills

Certainly, I expect players to create a situation where people from around the empire come to a place to learn the secrets of say... masterwork swordsmithy.

re: units and population:

Very similar to Sid Meyer's Colonization. [I believe it might be abandonware, if not I can explain more.]

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