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Inverurie Jones

Space 4X Game (original, huh?)

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Hello, guys and girls. As I'm sure you've gathered already, I, like everyone else on here, have an idea for a game. At the moment it exists on paper only, albeit in considerable detail. While I would rather avoid direct comparisons to other games, the basic concept is probably best summed up thus: The real-time spacefaring and colonisation aspects of Imperium Galactica 2 combined with the world-dominating and war-fighting characteristics of the Total War series and the economy- and city-management goodness of such things as Tropico and Caesar 3. Sound like fun? Or a big, splattery mess of incompatible bits? The space empire-building will have to be limited to only a handful of systems (realistic systems around real stars within a 20 LY radius of Sol) in order to allow for the fact that each planet consists of a variable (but usually large) number of 'sectors' which function in much the same way as the planets in Imperium Galactica; these are where the player constructs settlements, produces goods and raises troops etc. The planets themselves will be constructed according to real science and inhabited by plausible native life. Everything in the game is geared toward giving the player the chance to get stuck into and emersed in colonising distant worlds, running cities and leading armies. No cries of 'it's like playing a spreadsheet!' here, thanks! Almost every single aspect of ruling one's empire can be controlled manually or left in the hands of AI officers, diplomats etc, all of whom are individual characters with names, faces and attributes. Anyway, that's a very, VERY quick run-down of the game concept. Any suggestions as to things to add/remove/expand or whether or not you think it sounds feasible at all would be great. Thanks in advance! IJ [Edited by - Inverurie Jones on July 21, 2006 12:25:06 PM]

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Eh, it doesn't sound very feasible, but that's maybe since I thought Imperium Galactica 2 was a steaming pile of a game...

In more constructive criticism, you seem to be describing a lot of what you'd like your game to be like, but not very much about how you're going to accomplish that, or how the different parts will interact. Also, you might want to take a look into playing Master of Orion 3. Another Space 4x game designed to be more realistic and either micromanaged or AI managed; one that failed horribly and is a fine example of how good ideas sometimes fail in practice.

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Ah, yes, I thought I might not have put it across very well. I enjoy playing MOO3, but the lack of detail (while there were plenty of sliders to tweak and numbers to juggle, there was never anything to distinguish one world from another) is a major failing.

Essentially, the game is an RTS of sorts.
Beginning on a habitable world orbiting a star of your choice (within 20 light years of Sol) you must build up a colony, expanding it from a few basic pre-fabs and bean-fields into a decent sized city. With a whole world at your disposal (with a few other colonies and maybe even a few natives going about) this shouldn't be too difficult. When the infrastructure is in place the player may take that giant leap back into space and moving on to other moons, planets and assorted floaty things. At a strategic level the space-based parts would play a little like MOO3 or Space Empires IV- mostly moving ships between systems or different regions within systems- while the planet-based side is more along the lines of a conventional strategy game, ie. 'move the little blokes from one section to another'.
By selecting a region, either of space or a planet's surface and selecting the relevant control the player can visit the region and construct buildings, space stations, whatever.
Nothing in this is particularly new, it's just that it brings together a few elements (particularly space empire building and city building) that ought to mingle far more regularly.

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For me, Moo2 was the best space 4x game ever. Even though many consider the micromanagement bad, it is a breeze compared to some other games that have gone in the wrong direction.

I think if you start from a point that is Moo2, then simplify the complex micromanagement bits (like how FreeOrion is using planetary focus instead of buildings) and expand the bits that need more depth (eg tech, more weapons, more effects) and streamline everything (space combat can be improved using modern interface methods), then you can have a great game.

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Wow. It sounds like a lot. Too much to handle for one player.

I’ve played Imperium Galactica 2 and others of its ilk and I always had trouble getting beyond 100 turns because it’s just way way WAY to much information for my little mind to hold. After a while I’d loose all focus of the overall game and I’d only be able to focus on one little bit at a time.

For example I’d only play the military aspect and colonial expansion/development, research, economy etc would take a back seat.

They are all like that and it seems unavoidable for that variety of game.

All in all they tend to be a big honking mess and you idea seems bigger than all the others. But maybe, if you break up the game play, you can keep players focused and they wont have to keep notes on a pad as they play (like me…heh)

You said it was “the game is an RTS of sorts” and I think that may be a mistake. Control your economy, expand your colonies, move diplomatically, research and development, and combat? In real time? On an imperial level!? WOW! :D

How about you mix real time with turn based game play?

For example, the game is in real time in that you and the other empires are acting and reacting simultaneously but your actions are broken up into blocks and each block is completed before you move onto the next. This will keep things focused and not such a jumble of everything at once.

The first thing you do is take care of your economy. Look over a data sheet which gives you an overview of your imperial economy. If you are satisfied with the way things are moving then click NEXT. If not, then manage it in specific places like develop your worlds, establish trade routs with other empires, etc. Then click NEXT.

Now you play around with R&D. Like the way things are progressing? Fine. Click NEXT.
No? well, then put more money into developing your dildongolater™ matrix. Then click NEXT.

Military? Same thing. No wars to be fought? Leave it alone and click NEXT. Middle of a war? Then you’d probably stay within this block for a long time. Can it manage itself? Click NEXT.

Diplomacy? Same thing.

It’s just a quick hash of an idea and its ugly but you get he idea.

One thing that always bothered me about these games is that you’re the president/emperor/prime minister/sometimes even God yet you’re the poor slob who decides what buildings are built? You place farms down? You are the one actively talking with the diplomats of other empires? You’re the guy directing the battle?

I thought I was the Emperor!!

Not the diplomat, farmer, engineer, economist, general, research scientist! I should have people to do these things for me.

Know what I mean? What about a game from the leaders perspective? Has this ever been done?









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When it comes to the diplomacy part of a game such as this, I'm not a fan. The systems used are usually too limited or you go through the entire process for little visible or tangible reward. For instance, you enter the diplomatic screen intent on becoming allies with an opposing power. Everything is fine, they become an ally which results in them not attacking you... and thats usually it. Allies in the real world don't behave like that, they exchange troops, ships, training expertise, complete joint missions etc.
For example you and your ally have a mutual enemy but only your empire has a border with it. Your ally sends a squadron (troops, ships etc)under your command (for the time being) to help bolster your defence. If/When the alliance breaks down you lose command of the squadron and you have an enemy force within your borders attacking your forces while attempting to get home to their own empire.

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I know what you mean. Diplomacy is a mess in most games and none more so than Rome Total War. Gah…it’s horrible.

Kind of going back to my last thread, what if instead of the player doing all the diplomacy he gets briefed by his chief diplomatic agent? I.e. his own personal Condi Rice. He can ask her questions like “whats the deal with this space empire!?” and “I think both the Space Empire X and ourselves could benefit from a military pact. Put out your feelers and make see what they say.”

Well, Condi is off in her space ship and she comes back 10 minutes later with a report. Maybe it goes something like this.

“Mr. Overlord. Space Empire X was warm to our suggestion of a military pact. We have similar interests and cultures and we both share a boarder with the Empire of Evil Slimy Buggies. They asked us to write a proposal and submit it to them.”

At this point a little diplomacy screen pops up with lots of options that the player simply clicks off on. These options are alliance options like:
-Our units can cross into each others space at any time
-Our units can cross into each others space ONLY when there is conflict
-Our ships can rearm and repair are each others
etc etc etc and you click off on the ones that you want to submit to Space Empire X.





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Quote:

I thought I was the Emperor!!

Not the diplomat, farmer, engineer, economist, general, research scientist! I should have people to do these things for me.

Well, one obvious reason for this is that it's just not very much fun to sit staring at a screen showing a throne room and occasionally some reports you can read. [wink]
Perhaps, being diplomat, farmer, engineer, economist, general, scientist is just more fun for the player than being a vague undefined "Emperor". What exactly is the emperor supposed to do? Talk to people? Great, we all know how well "talking to people" works in games... [grin]

Quote:
Original post by CharlesFXD
Kind of going back to my last thread, what if instead of the player doing all the diplomacy he gets briefed by his chief diplomatic agent? I.e. his own personal Condi Rice. He can ask her questions like “whats the deal with this space empire!?” and “I think both the Space Empire X and ourselves could benefit from a military pact. Put out your feelers and make see what they say.”

Very realistic, but why would this be *better*?

Quote:

At this point a little diplomacy screen pops up with lots of options that the player simply clicks off on. These options are alliance options like:
-Our units can cross into each others space at any time
-Our units can cross into each others space ONLY when there is conflict
-Our ships can rearm and repair are each others
etc etc etc and you click off on the ones that you want to submit to Space Empire X.

Tricky part is to make the AI behave like this too. Make your ally understand that they're, well, allied to you, that they may or may not cross through your space, and that you have a *common* enemy, rather than fighting two individual wars.
Until you can solve that, I think the question of "which little checkboxes should I have on my diplomacy screen" is less important. :)

Quote:

The real-time spacefaring and colonisation aspects of Imperium Galactica 2 combined with the world-dominating and war-fighting characteristics of the Total War series and the economy- and city-management goodness of such things as Tropico and Caesar 3.

Are you sure you *want* to combine these? When I play SimCity, it's because I want to manage a city, and then having Total War-style wars would only annoy and distract. When I'm playing Total War, I want to fighht big huge battles, and having to move spaceships around in IG2-style would again just distract, especially since I'm probably already up to my neck in city simulation.

Basically, I think combining genres is a great idea. But when you do it, you can't bring the full complexity from both (or all) genres, you have to abstract something away.
If your game is focused on combat (Total War-style), then everything else should play a supporting role. Sure, there can be 4x stuff, and sure, you can have some city management stuff, but don't let it disrupt the focus of the game.

That's why Total War gives you such a simplistic city management interface. Sure, they *could* plug SimCity in there, but it wouldn't improve the game.

Basically, be *very* careful of how much you try to simulate. Simulations tend to become complex. So if you try to simulate real empire-management while also simulating real combat, the player will have to spend 50% of his time on the part of the game he finds boring.

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Quote:
Original post by Spoonbender
Quote:

I thought I was the Emperor!!

Not the diplomat, farmer, engineer, economist, general, research scientist! I should have people to do these things for me.

Well, one obvious reason for this is that it's just not very much fun to sit staring at a screen showing a throne room and occasionally some reports you can read. [wink]
Perhaps, being diplomat, farmer, engineer, economist, general, scientist is just more fun for the player than being a vague undefined "Emperor". What exactly is the emperor supposed to do? Talk to people? Great, we all know how well "talking to people" works in games... [grin]

Quote:
Original post by CharlesFXD
Kind of going back to my last thread, what if instead of the player doing all the diplomacy he gets briefed by his chief diplomatic agent? I.e. his own personal Condi Rice. He can ask her questions like “whats the deal with this space empire!?” and “I think both the Space Empire X and ourselves could benefit from a military pact. Put out your feelers and make see what they say.”

Very realistic, but why would this be *better*?


1)no one is saying that. do todays world leaders sit around in their offices doing nothing? that is hardly the case. i have never heard an ex president say "boy, that job was borring! i should have stayed in congress."
no, they say the job was tough, rewarding, stressful. most of all they say they loved the job.
now imagine if that job was running a space empire!
easy to do? hell no ;) but it would be a unique slant on empire building games.

2)interaction and suspension of disbelief if "Condi's" words were well chosen. that is better than you doing all the grunt work.

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Quote:
Original post by CharlesFXD
1)no one is saying that. do todays world leaders sit around in their offices doing nothing? that is hardly the case. i have never heard an ex president say "boy, that job was borring! i should have stayed in congress."
no, they say the job was tough, rewarding, stressful. most of all they say they loved the job.

Yes, but my point is that they *don't* get to choose where that farm should be built, what your next-gen spaceships should look like, or how to fight that battle.
I never said it'd be too easy for the player if you tried to make a "president-simulator", I said it'd be boring.
Think about what the *player* would experience.
He'd get to choose dialogue options, and that's basically it. He could summon his military leader, pick the "Declare war on that race" option, then pick the "mobilize the army at planet X", or "Focus on taking out objective Y" options.

What he wouldn't get to do is actually *control* anything, or actually interact with the game. Or have any direct involvement with the events in the game. He wouldn't be able to enjoy defending his planet against superior forces. Instead, he'd get a simple text dialogue (Which he's seen a dozen times before) which says something like "My lord, we've managed to fight off the forces at planet Z. They outnumbered us, and we took heavy losses, but we prevailed. <click here for tactical report>"

Quote:
but it would be a unique slant on empire building games.

But unique doesn't neccesarily translate into "Good" or "fun".
Also, it's not that unique. MOO3 tried to do the same, and fell into the same trap. Macromanagement is cool, but there has to be room for some actual achievements and involvement for the player.

Quote:
2)interaction and suspension of disbelief if "Condi's" words were well chosen. that is better than you doing all the grunt work.

Why do you get more interaction out of saying "Second-in-command, try to make a truce with those people", as compared to "Leader of those people, I'd like to make a truce"

Yes, I'm aware it's "how real governments work", but that's not the issue.
I'm just pointing out that basically, the mechanic would be the same. Main difference would be that instead of talking directly to the purple tentacled thing, you talk to your fellow <own race here> person and tell them what to say to the purple tentacled thing. Sure, it could work just as well, but it's hardly a radical change in gameplay, and it wouldn't revolutionize the genre.

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Interesting feedback. Thanks, guys.

I certainly have worried about swamping the player, but I've thought of a (not-so-original) countermeasure to that: administrative heirarchy. Got only one city? Manage it yourself. Got a few? How about leaving their governors/mayors/provosts to get on with it, issuing them only general instructions. Got a few worlds? Planetary governors/ parliaments/ councils can handle that. Military ranks will function in a similar way. Depending on how much delegating the player does, it could start off like Tropico and end up like Hearts of Iron...

What I like about this is that it lets the player decide whether it is a city-builder, a wargame or both depending on what he decides to delegate.

As for being realtime, I may have to work out something there.

IJ

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