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persistent space Strategy game

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I'm in the process of trying to figure out how to do this... Basically a game that takes Galaxy Civ 2 and Astro Empires and merges them into one... much larger and persistent. So basically my idea is this... you start off on a single planet, build it up and your tech up... You then expand off your planet once you get enough tech to do so and colonize your system and then once you get the tech you expand to other systems and start building an empire. Basically like Galaxy Civ 2 However, The area to explore would be huge on the scale of like say a sector block of the galaxy to start (it's a lot of stars...but reasonable i think)and the game is persistent which means you ca log in and play at any time, like Astro empires. Also the planet building is much less complex to code. I think this is possible and i wonder why it hasn't been done before... Considering people like RTSs and people like persistent worlds...why not combine the two?

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Not sure about why, but I know that one reason Gal Civ and games like it appeal to me is because of the level of control I have. In a persistent MMO I don't see that control happening when you log off. That is, you could easily work for hours to build up your systems only to have some griefer come along and trash everything.

However, if you had a risk management strategy I might be just the sort of guy to play an online 4X.

It would need to be something that didn't force me to be connected to an IV drip just to play the damn game. Some way of going offline like in MMORPGs might work. Maybe something like this:

What if you used the tried and true fictional device of the "stargate" to control who could be attacked? Every world of a player's empire might be connected to the network such that when a player logged off their stargates would go dark (after an appropriate cooldown delay). If they wanted to develop a system free of interference, they'd keep the stargate off but lose out on imported resources or trade with other empires.

You might use the same idea to govern the range of empire interactions. Obviously having more of the world available, whether players on online or not, is more interesting if the focus is PvP. So maybe being online longer means your stargate builds up more of a charge and can reach more distant targets.

With persistence you also have the problem with balancing new players with old. One thing that *might* help this is to make it so that either stargates cost more as they age or (probably more logical) require more energy the more mass you send through them. If planets / systems build up more value as they age-- that is, their resources decline as you'd expect but the complexity of the infrastructure and industrial base increases so that capture rather than annihilation makes more sense-- then an old empire will really have to balance the benefit of raiding a younger one.

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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
What if you used the tried and true fictional device of the "stargate" to control who could be attacked? Every world of a player's empire might be connected to the network such that when a player logged off their stargates would go dark (after an appropriate cooldown delay). If they wanted to develop a system free of interference, they'd keep the stargate off but lose out on imported resources or trade with other empires.

That's a nice idea, really. Simple yet effective.

Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
With persistence you also have the problem with balancing new players with old. One thing that *might* help this is to make it so that either stargates cost more as they age or (probably more logical) require more energy the more mass you send through them. If planets / systems build up more value as they age-- that is, their resources decline as you'd expect but the complexity of the infrastructure and industrial base increases so that capture rather than annihilation makes more sense-- then an old empire will really have to balance the benefit of raiding a younger one.

That's nice too. Grinding clearly wouldn't be such a pest to overall gameplay balance, because there's some REAL complexity to consider for old/veteran players.

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The thing is... you can't have whole sections of the map vanishing every time someone logs off.

One thing that I was thinking is have an AI of sorts where you can have defense ships that you can position that will hold position, patrol the area, or explore automatically... That handles defense while offline...and then you also would apply that to some other things like cargo vessels... it would be very annoying to have to control a ship going back and forth for trading.

For newbies... I was thinking something like what would really happen. If you do get attacked as a newby what happens is you either maintain control of your planet with your tech upped a bit, but slowed developing or you get jumped to a new planet as if you were refugees. What if you don't want to be part of that guys' empire? You can try to form a new empire via alliances and rebellion and such.

Also there is a few other things... like a empire won't be able to expand to far past a certain point without major effort to do so. You have to mine the materials, process the materials, train up pop for space flight, build ships, and then build communication arrays and transport then to create a grid so that if a ship goes outside your grid you can no longer communicate with it. Not to mention building the tech up.

This where alliances comes into play A network of players can set up a huge range over a relatively short period of time due to each civ building it's own network and then allowing others to communicate through it...but a veteran could build up just as massive an empire over time if they wanted to.


Another thing that ties with the alliances thing... this is an empire building thing...not particularly PvP. An empire can be built through conflict or politics.

Also a political structure where you can be conquered and rebel and such it makes for a dynamic game world politically, but also makes it interesting in that the conquering player has to sorta make it worth the while of the conquered player...so eventually they might become a strong ally or a major flaw in your empire.

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If combat is abstract or very simple I think I could trust an AI. But I think if it's layered, say involving tactical positioning, deployment of special resources and anticipation of enemy strategy based on past experience-- well, then I'd be reluctant to even trust a really good AI. Humans always find loopholes. And there'd always be the chance that the barrier between my wishes/settings and the interface would be enough to cost me my entire system in a night's sleep, especially if I was waiting for yet another AI exploit patch.

That would be a deal breaker for me.

If you have enough environmental challenges, including NPC empires, I think it would compensate for parts of the map becoming inaccessible. Maybe there are PVE systems to raid that outnumber the number of players. (You could go to town with this, making up weird reclusive civilizations, barbarian nations, mutant fleets, etc.)

A compromise might be to have degrees of inaccessibility. Using the stargate fiction again, you could control for types of ships (say by mass or by dilating the stargate aperture), say allowing fast, light raiders and trading craft but not planet razing fleets. The tradeoff might be in income, in that not many bad ships can come through but not many good ones either.

Politics might work, but only if there are really strong, built in penalties against the Lord of the Flies crap that many unrestricted MMOs seem to devolve into. You could have formalized, set piece battles fought in formal engagements as a rule, for instance (say a corporate or aristocratic code of duel sanctioned because it's a limited war that relieves stress)

I think it's a BIG mistake to underestimate the power imbalance that would accrue between old and new players. Restarting as a refugee or limited destruction is a band-aid. You don't have any real guarantee that a new player entering midway through the life of your game isn't going to have to constantly restart again and again because they're easy pickings.

Alliances don't help much, here, either. I take something like Evony, where massive thug alliances can raid you over and over again, as an example. The effect is that you're prevented from getting anywhere. Unlike in a real political situation where continual war might bankrupt the state or weary the citizenry due to constant loss of loved ones, most 4X games are wargames with lipstick. The fighting is the meat of the game. There might be economics and politics and teching up, but the real fun and challenge is in pitching your fleet (and military strategies) against another. When you drop new players into FIXED locations I don't see how they're going to have much defense from continuous abuse from older networks of player gangs (often, it seems, school age kids who get their kicks on this sort of thing and have lots of time) unless you somehow balance the world away from this.

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I can't speak for any graphical games, but web-based games have used the auto-defense army thing before, and while it certainly helped against drive-by raids, it didn't help against anything remotely coordinated. Plenty of players would wake up to find out that only 50% of their army was left and that they had lost 30% of their resources.

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I don't know how tactical you are talking about, but most RTS aren't too tactical besides ship unit vs ship unit and not in AI or positioning... if it were then I think that would be way above what I'm talking about.

I personally don't like NPCs that much. Even if you create an NPC it either is too strong or too weak and to make an advancing one you have just as bad a dilemma as you would without it.

As far as inaccessibility... there is that type of thing. Border defenses. Planetary defenses. Ships. etcs. If you are welcome you can come in without problem, but if your an enemy or maybe unknown you get attacked. That is, between evenly matched players. Defenses obviously need to be rather cheap to produce.

The Lord of the flies type thing works in other games because usually there is only groups as in "I'm with this group" politics and the rest are made up by the players. If you create a strong governmental and political system I think there won't be any problems like that, or rather there might be initially but when people understand the mechanics of it that will break down just like if you somehow unify every player in the game there would likely be problems and it would shatter between minor conflicts so it is a self resetting system.

As far as the differences between older players and newer players restarting isn't what i'm saying. They restart on a new planet as far as structures are concerned,, but they would get a random portion of their previous fleet and their entire tech from before...or maybe their tech with a little lose or a little gain. I don't think this is enough though. I think the best solution is distance, but that is unfeasible from what I understand. There is however a solution i think I just came up with, or rather a solution to why i wouldn't use it before... i could simply put a protection on new players and say something like a Q-like species is protecting them as long as they don't exit their system and adjust it as needed.

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Quote:
Original post by Rycross
I can't speak for any graphical games, but web-based games have used the auto-defense army thing before, and while it certainly helped against drive-by raids, it didn't help against anything remotely coordinated. Plenty of players would wake up to find out that only 50% of their army was left and that they had lost 30% of their resources.


In my experience it is usually do to the fact that you can take advantage of people being offline and not be able to move their attackers and defenders around. If you create something where an AI can respond to the actions of an incoming player rather than just wait to be attacked...

You have a defense net at your borders with a patrol ship.
The enemy breaks this grid.
The grid sends out a signal to the ships
The ships respond and move to intercept and stop the incursion
The ships are slower than the enemy, but one intercepts the enemy early
The ships coordinates are changed to where the attack happens

beyond that, how they would fleet up or something like that i have no idea. I don't think ships would fleet up usually in that situation.

i would imagine that if the incursion looks to be too strong your ships would retreat or something.

The reason you can't take advantage of this is because the incursion fleet wouldn't be able to figure out how many ships or how much defense there is. Usually in games like these all the fleet/army is stationary and its' fairly easy to find out the fleet size and location.

Probably not perfect but i dunno i think it would work well enough.

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One possible way to take care of imbalance between new and old players is to introduce something like "game rounds" which might last for 1-3 months or something, and resetting the universe when the round ends.

I know this is probably a little bit different than what you were thinking, but there are a lot of text-based games similar to this on the internet where you conquer planets, attack other players, build spaceships, etc. that use this system.

A long enough round would be able to give you that feeling of persistence that you want while not discouraging anyone who starts your game 6 months late. You could give permanent prizes for finishing a round in the top of a leaderboard (anyone who finishes in the top 25% gets a new ship design, or whatever you want). This gives some incentive to play over multiple rounds, and also keeps the game from becoming stagnant if one player or team conquers everything, and gives everyone a chance to make it to the top when a new round starts. Also you might not feel like your life's work is destroyed if your empire gets griefed when you're not online, you can always pick up fresh next time.

Its a little bit of a different idea, but could be worth thinking about.

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i absolutely hate that type of thing. I hate working towards something and then having it totally invalidated and that is exactly what resetting games like what im talking about does. Yeah it's cool to win but it sucks in the overall.

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I agree that having preset rounds is the only way to go with an online strategy game. Persist rewards are good as they gave benefits to long term players. It also means the game has start, middle, and end.

Not have a rounds means that you either have established players taking out all the new starters as soon as they can without fear of retaliation. Or you have to impose artificial limits on the game to protect newer players whether it’s a combat equation that is heavily weighted in defence making it nearly impossible to crush other players or having level restrictions which is always bad in strategy games. No one wants to see “sorry you can’t attack the player they only have level 2 empire and you have a level 50 empire”.

One idea that comes to mind with how to run the game would be the old Trade Wars style where players get so many turns a day. They can take them any time during the day and there is no need to spend all your free time in front of a PC.

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Another idea would be to have some sort of star trek federation like entity. Where players who are small can join and when there is fighting they aid/get aid from th federation. This would allow for new players to carve out to be protected but now completely invournable.

One important aspect of a game like his would be politics and diplomacy. Say we have a player that attacks everything around him and grows large, then other people or races would start to hate him. If you then have to manage atleast some sort of domestic politics in your empire you wouldnt want people to rebell or riot so you have to listen to what they want. This would make it hard for empires that likes to attack others to form alliances since their people would not trust eachother ofc carefull planing and actions would allow them to instead form close bonds.

This way empires who are more peaceful can form larger alliances sworn to protect each other so they can help defend each other even if someone is offline.

Another thing you could have is AI defending you while your offline but you can choose allies you trust to allow them to take control of your defenses for you if you are offline and under attack. This could be another option.

Must say that this is one type of gaming I'm really longing for.

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Yeah... I love PHP persistent style games but the ones like evony and astro empires and earth 2025 (or whatever its' called) are all so limited and 2/3 have resets which i dislike.

And Galaxy Civ 2 type games have all of what i'd like out of the PHP games but they too small and not persistent plus once you conquer everything the game is over and that is meh to me. Not to mention they have very bad difficulty settings where you can either roll over everything or you are totally obliterated before you can begin.

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