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Portugal Stew

A Quick Thought on Research, or, Why Tech Trees Make No Sense

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From Supreme Commander to Civilization, there's always been something a wee bit off about tech trees. In the case of RTSs, it's generally a matter of presentation; it doesn't make a lick of sense for a small battalion of soldiers to have to "research" new battlefield technology. Build the infrastructure to be able to utilize said technology, sure. Prove the battle crucial enough to afford advanced weaponry, sure. But research? The idea of "researching" the technology for cloaked psychic warriors in a minute and a half is preposterous, even if you argue there's a timelapse where every minute represents a day or something.
Then, in the case of Civilization, it's not necessarily that the tech tree is poorly described (after all, your society is researching, in a literal sense, because the technology simple doesn't exist yet or has not been revealed), it's just bizarre that a paleolithic tribe has the foresight to understand that someday, in the distant future, deciding whether to make pottery or spears will better prepare them for the nuclear arms race.

So my question is, how would you fix the research/tech tree system? Personally, in the case of a long-term Civ-type game, I had been thinking about if you had a system that procedurally develops technologies with progressively better, albeit sometimes unpredictable stats, where the outcome is statistically proportionate to what you put in but without guaranteed results. That is, you can invest money into developing a technology the improve upon or counter an existing weapon, but you have no way of being certain what you'll ultimately come out with or if it will ultimately be viable. You see a lot of this in real life warfare, such as during the War Between the States with the Hunley submarine and during WWII with all sorts of crazy giant tanks Hitler tried to build. I'm sure some players would hate the luck of the draw aspect, but I think random results would spice up the game.

So, any other thoughts?

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I think in a well-balanced game, each faction should only be able to achieve a fraction of the possible researches. So at any moment, the player still needs to decide what researches are most beneficial for the situation.

In the game you describe, the strategic landscape is too monotonic. If a player is planning what to do in the nuclear age while the game is still in stone age, the game isn't giving the player enough concern that the game could end well before the nuclear age.

In this perspective, the problem is not about the tech tree, but the threat being unrealistic: The players are playing too defensively in the early ages.

In terms of a multiplayer game, one model that may fix this is to present the ages as a series of matches in a tournament. In such a system, when a player starts a game in stone age, he plays against a player in stone age on a small map. Because the two villages are so close, one of them must be eliminated (perhaps as the victory condition). The winner then continues in a different match with his original village, and plays against the winner of another match, using the same territory tiles they used in the previous matches as their starting points, inside a bigger tile.

Topology:

Match 1: Both players on a 1x1 tile. Winner takes the tile.
Match 2: Both players start on a 1x1 tile on the opposite corners of a 3x3 map. Winner takes the 3x3 tile.
Match 3: Both players start on a 3x3 tile on opposite corners of a 9x9 map, winner takes the 9x9 map.
Match 4: and so on...

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Could you make it so that technology was not the most dominant force in determining victory? I can see technology being varied as you imagine only so long as you could know that you didn't lose a long term game just because of a bad "hand." But if you have to invest huge amounts of time but can't know your status versus others I don't see that working well.

I can see a more short term, casual strategy game benefiting from lots of randomization on the other hand. There's less to invest in and the bad feeling you get from a crappy hand can be ameliorated by quickly being able to play again.

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Original post by Wai
I think in a well-balanced game, each faction should only be able to achieve a fraction of the possible researches. So at any moment, the player still needs to decide what researches are most beneficial for the situation.

That sounds like an arguable design philosophy, but probably a generally agreeable one. I do hate getting to that point of a game in, say Supreme Commander 2 when everything's upgraded to maximum capacity and that entire aspect of gameplay is lost. But then again, SC2 was an absolutely dismal game overall. So good point.
Quote:
Ibid.
In the game you describe, the strategic landscape is too monotonic. If a player is planning what to do in the nuclear age while the game is still in stone age, the game isn't giving the player enough concern that the game could end well before the nuclear age.

In this perspective, the problem is not about the tech tree, but the threat being unrealistic: The players are playing too defensively in the early ages.

In that particular example I was commenting on the Civilization series' model, which technically works, and works well, from a gameplay perspective, but is transparent to the point of omniscience. To be fair, my experience with Civ IV has never involved rushing to nuclear arms, except when I was getting started and wanted to watch some cities explode.
Quote:
Ibid.
In terms of a multiplayer game, one model that may fix this is to present the ages as a series of matches in a tournament. In such a system, when a player starts a game in stone age, he plays against a player in stone age on a small map. Because the two villages are so close, one of them must be eliminated (perhaps as the victory condition). The winner then continues in a different match with his original village, and plays against the winner of another match, using the same territory tiles they used in the previous matches as their starting points, inside a bigger tile.

blah blah blah blah

I wasn't thinking of a specifically historically-oriented game divided into ages, but that's a neat concept, except that it allows for complete player annihilation at every stage, which seems like pretty high stakes. At least in Civ you could almost always scrape by, even if you lose land and influence.

Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Could you make it so that technology was not the most dominant force in determining victory? I can see technology being varied as you imagine only so long as you could know that you didn't lose a long term game just because of a bad "hand." But if you have to invest huge amounts of time but can't know your status versus others I don't see that working well.

I can see a more short term, casual strategy game benefiting from lots of randomization on the other hand. There's less to invest in and the bad feeling you get from a crappy hand can be ameliorated by quickly being able to play again.

That is more or less what I had in mind (when I spoke of "long-term" I was thinking more in terms of in-game chronological scale than actual play time; I guess I was vague on that point), but now that you bring it up, there's plenty of room for balancing things out.

For example, keep in mind the fact that once a technology's been discovered, it can be duplicated. Trenches, for example, quickly became the dominant strategy for every country in both world wars and several others, even though they were only "discovered" by a few commanders (granted, digging holes is about as old a technology as fire, but in the case of industrial/modern age warfare it's value was something else entirely). But for better examples, tanks, airplanes, and atomic bombs were all swiftly adopted by everyone withing years or months of their introductions.

So there could be perks to learning a given technology first, perhaps simply by design for it being there first, but your application of said technology to a competent foe could make developing similar, if not identical, technology incredibly inexpensive. And vice versa.

Or something else. There's a billion and a half ways you can balance bad luck with good play. Short skirmishes are the most practical and most effective, but they are by no means the absolute unique solution.

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I have thought about some different ways to handle technology in games.

The first way is to have technology as an ephemeral object. That is one that can be lost.

With this, technology, once discovered, could be lost by that player. This requiers it to be stored somewhere that other player could attack and destroy (destroying the tech along with it).

This would also allow tech to be traded, copied or stolen as an object. Thus a spie might be sent in to steal a copy of a tech, then destroy the original.

Also, if the player was limited in how much technology they could store, then they would have to make a choice when they develop new tech as to what old tech they can afford to loose (and willingly destroy the unwanted tech).

Strategies would develop in protecting their technologies and destroying and stealing their opponents, making technology a much more dynamic gameplay element. And what could be more fun that litterally blowing your oopponent back to the stone age... :D


Another idea was that tech research is uncertain (and this could be combined with the first idea). Although there might be tech trees, just researching a branch does not mean that you will ever develop a particular tech, or that you will develop it at a specific level of research/time.

As you research a particular branch, you get a greater chance of discovering a technology, but the amount needed and what that tech is is not certain. However, some advancements will increase the chances of discovering certain technologies.


The last idea is more about how technology effects a game. In most cases, when a tech advance is researched, it gives makes the player more powerful in a general sense. That is the new units/weapons/etc are more powerful than all other previous technologies.

A good example is in RTS games where new units are always better than existing units.

In terms of strategies and tactics, the new units dominate the older units.

My idea is to turn this upside down a bit. What if the new technologies, instead of making units that are better across the board, are more of a specialist. That is they are better against certain enemy types, but are less effective than the old units against other types.

For example:

Lets say you have 3 units in an RTS: Conscript, Rider, Slinger

Conscripts are good against Riders but not so good against slinger. However they can attack and do significant damage against slingers. The same applies to the other unit types (but I am just going to foccus on one unit type for this example).

However, the player can research Pikes, and then produce (or turn the conscript into) Pikemen.

Now, Pikemen are excelent against Riders 9and other units based on the riders such as cavalry), however, the bukly pikes make them less effective against slingers as pikes won't allow them to move as quickly as the slingers.

This means that if you are uncertain what your enemy is going to throw at you, then a more general unit will be better, such as the conscripts. Howeverm if you know what your enemy is going to attack with, then the higher tech unit (the pikemen vs riders) will be a far better option.

Technology advances from the generalists to the specialists. But, because the specialists are good against any unit, the generalists are still useful as the core part of your army.

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Original post by Edtharan
I have thought about some different ways to handle technology in games.

The first way is to have technology as an ephemeral object. That is one that can be lost.

With this, technology, once discovered, could be lost by that player. This requiers it to be stored somewhere that other player could attack and destroy (destroying the tech along with it).

This would also allow tech to be traded, copied or stolen as an object. Thus a spie might be sent in to steal a copy of a tech, then destroy the original.

Also, if the player was limited in how much technology they could store, then they would have to make a choice when they develop new tech as to what old tech they can afford to loose (and willingly destroy the unwanted tech).

Strategies would develop in protecting their technologies and destroying and stealing their opponents, making technology a much more dynamic gameplay element. And what could be more fun that litterally blowing your oopponent back to the stone age... :D


I believe you would love my idea about ship-design-driven-research over here: http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=589945 it could do all of those. (How do you make a link at these forums, and are there some guidelines somewhere which I missed?)


Quote:
Another idea was that tech research is uncertain (and this could be combined with the first idea). Although there might be tech trees, just researching a branch does not mean that you will ever develop a particular tech, or that you will develop it at a specific level of research/time.

As you research a particular branch, you get a greater chance of discovering a technology, but the amount needed and what that tech is is not certain. However, some advancements will increase the chances of discovering certain technologies.


The risk here is that if the effort for player trying to get something is high, but he doesn't, it is taken in very negative way, especially if the player is still exploring the game. In SotS this is somewhat implemented, but it is sometimes very frustrating when you have built a fleet based on the assumption that you will get certain tech maxed and you don't. It is quite challenging to start maxing some other tech late on the game if your opponents manage to do it first. The tech transfer is not too expensive in the gameplay, but it is mentally very frustrating.

Dead-ends should not make temporary dead-ends in your gameplay, but they perhaps should force you to go somewhere you didn't expect to go at.

Quote:
The last idea is more about how technology effects a game. In most cases, when a tech advance is researched, it gives makes the player more powerful in a general sense. That is the new units/weapons/etc are more powerful than all other previous technologies.

A good example is in RTS games where new units are always better than existing units.

In terms of strategies and tactics, the new units dominate the older units.

My idea is to turn this upside down a bit. What if the new technologies, instead of making units that are better across the board, are more of a specialist. That is they are better against certain enemy types, but are less effective than the old units against other types.

For example:

Lets say you have 3 units in an RTS: Conscript, Rider, Slinger

Conscripts are good against Riders but not so good against slinger. However they can attack and do significant damage against slingers. The same applies to the other unit types (but I am just going to foccus on one unit type for this example).

However, the player can research Pikes, and then produce (or turn the conscript into) Pikemen.

Now, Pikemen are excelent against Riders 9and other units based on the riders such as cavalry), however, the bukly pikes make them less effective against slingers as pikes won't allow them to move as quickly as the slingers.

This means that if you are uncertain what your enemy is going to throw at you, then a more general unit will be better, such as the conscripts. Howeverm if you know what your enemy is going to attack with, then the higher tech unit (the pikemen vs riders) will be a far better option.

Technology advances from the generalists to the specialists. But, because the specialists are good against any unit, the generalists are still useful as the core part of your army.


My idea solves this (for 4x space strategy games) by making the technology prototypes vulnerable against basic-level anti-tech weapons (idea being that new tech is vulnerable because of unstability, but only building and using tech-prototypes in combat will advance tech quick). In general, new tech prototype is expensive and vulnerable, but are also the only way to improve your tech quickly.


EDIT: Oh, you actually already commented it, though check my new post.

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How about instead of researching techs individually you can choose an area to research in. That way results are semi-random but you can control if you want Military research or trade research etc.

As a failsafe you could make it that if, after 10 turns or something, you still haven't unlocked anything then something is unlocked automatically.

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While I agree with the outline of the idea in the OP, I think that it's a problem that is largely inescapable. There can be a lot of different approaches to reducing the prescience of a commander or leader in a game (hidden future tech on trees, for example), but once a player has played through a game a time or two he or she will already have knowledge of what technologies lead to others regardless of whether or not an explicit tree is presented in-game for their review.

If you ever played Pax Imperia 2, it had a system in which you researched different areas simultaneously and controlled the rate by adjusting funding levels among them. You would have several options of what to research in a given area at a time, and some technology was labelled as "pure research", which would unlock new options rather than producing a new, usable technology. It prevents game-spanning forsight from the start the first few matches you play through, but after that tech hiding isn't very useful. Master of Orion II had a similar system, with a similar problem.

Randomizing stats of research presents its own problems, as noted above. The narrower the range of variation you allow in tech stats, the less impact your idea will have on research decisions as it will still be fairly predictable. A wider range will reduce more of the game to luck, which can be frustrating for players.

What I might do to add a little variety to research would be to research categories rather than specific techs ("firearms" rather than "M-4 carbine rifle"), with a behind-the-scenes bonus applied to specific research paths. For example, you may want a better rifle, and so you research "firearms", but your research produces a machine gun instead. You can keep researching firearms and hope to develop a new rifle, but the machine gun will tweak research probability towards the next step in the machine gun path, rather than developing an entirely different tech. That way there's still an unpredictable element, but the specific results you get just give you a specialized focus that you can use in your strategy rather than risk getting a dud technology.

You could also include scientists as a resource, with some being better at researching one thing than another. That way you can still work towards more specific technologies, but only indirectly by adjusting who works for you and how much funding they get, etc.

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Technology could be developed on need.
If you use archers a lot your people would develop longbowmen, and then crossbows.

That way the player controls what is going to get but not directly, like "research longbowmen"

The player controls research founding, wich determines the speed of advancements.

Some techs could be dependant on infrastructure.
For example, to build tanks you need an assembly plant, for the assembly plant you need a factory, for that you need a foundry, for that you need a workshop, for that you need a blacksmith.
So if you destroy all production buildings of a civ, you sent'em back to stone age.

In SC happens the same, if you are in tier 3 and your enemy blows all your high tech buildng, you fall back to tier 1. Now change "tier" for "age".

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There is something to be said for the difference between infrastructure and technology, though. For example, although much of Africa lacks the industrial infrastructure to produce semiautomatic weapons, the existence of the technology means it can be acquired, which still makes militants even competitive against much better-funded, more technologically advanced nations (remember Black Hawk Down?)

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Quote:
Original post by klefebz
But that is because of weapons being smuggled from ex-USSR and China.
Are you planning to include technology leaking and weapons/tools commerce in a strategy game?


There is still a big difference between technology and infrastructure. If you take a blacksmith who knows how to produce steel in a reliable fashion, and you burned his shop to the ground then he could still quickly rebuild and go back to producing decent steel for tools/weapons.

Now compare the time it takes the smith to rebuild his shop to that of another smith to develop the technology independently. The first smith can be up and running again in a few weeks or months, (Or days if there are other people he can call on to provide the materials he needs) but other smiths may take generations to develop the same technology.

Also consider that there are gun smiths in very poor parts of Africa who can make the parts needed to build something like an AK. They've seen the weapon, have torn it apart, and rebuilt hundreds of the things. It might take them all year to get all the materials needed to build one from scratch, and usually would scrounge parts from other guns, but they skill have the ability. It is the infrastructure and industrial base that allowed Soviet States to produce hundreds of thousands of the weapons.

We also have examples of people producing armored vehicles in their home garages. Groups producing high powered rocket engines on shoe string budgets, and many other projects that go against the idea that you need a large industrial base devoted to producing something.

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Quote:
Original post by Portugal Stew
The idea of "researching" the technology for cloaked psychic warriors in a minute and a half is preposterous, even if you argue there's a timelapse where every minute represents a day or something.
True!
Quote:
So my question is, how would you fix the research/tech tree system?
Who says it's broken?

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If you take a blacksmith who knows how to produce steel in a reliable fashion, and you burned his shop to the ground then he could still quickly rebuild and go back to producing decent steel for tools/weapons.


And what if he was inside his shop while i burned it? Bah, we are just rambling about this.

We should reduce this to the abstraction of a game.
Say player A had a lot of tanks and lost'em in battle. Player B bombed all the factories.
Since factory was needed to make tanks, or at least make them at a reasonable speed, player A can no longer count on those weapons.
Now lets say player B detonated a EMP weapon over A's territory, eliminating electrical infrastructure. This means A can no longer use electrical illumination (production down because of less workable hours), food refrigeration (famine and disease), telecommunications (efficiency down), and many other 20th and 21st century techs, wich means A is practically dragged 150 years back.

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Technology is based on knowledge and knowledge is a property of society, not infrastructure, however, infrastructure is essential when you need to utilize technology in a larger scale. Though one thing about games is that it is ok to get aspiration from the real world, but a game that models the real world perfectly would be really boring. Games are about game mechanics that adds entertaining value to the game.

The problem is that tech trees are boring and VERY old way of portraying technological advancement. But what are the greatest innovations on technological advancement in the history of games? That is the question we should be asking.

The X-Com series was very funny since you had to capture enemy artifacts, bodies or ships in order to advance in tech.

MoO2 was nice since you had to use diplomatics for trading tech in order to complete the tech tree (unless you were like me and always chose the racial trait that enabled all techs for each tech level)

Natural Selection (Half-Life mod) was awesome FPS/RTS game where the tech advancement was very well done considering it was an FPS for all players but the human commander.

Space Empires were nice since you didn't have to research tech tree a one tech at a time but could specify how you spend on each area of technology.

Besides that I really can't recall too many positive tech innovations.

I think this trap of tech-tree is a dinosaur from the ages when software engineers felt that the safest way of implementing tech advancement in a game would be to model it in simple ontology, because that is the safest way to do it. Today the computers are able to model much more complex ideas, though are the engineers up to the task in game balancing sense?

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Quote:
Original post by Sneftel
Quote:
Original post by Portugal Stew
The idea of "researching" the technology for cloaked psychic warriors in a minute and a half is preposterous, even if you argue there's a timelapse where every minute represents a day or something.
True!
Quote:
So my question is, how would you fix the research/tech tree system?
Who says it's broken?


The tech tree works much better for RTS games, because it makes the game more interesting and the game has much focus outside the technological advancement. It is just a one strategy to go for high tech, with the risk of getting rushed by earlier tech. Makes perfect gaming sense.

For more heavy strategy games the tech tree is more central part of the game, but it is BORING. While everything else in the game might be different every time you play it, the tech tree is the same, and if you want to try different strategies you always have to get to high enough tech level to try it out. Even though games offer the chance of starting from an age where certain level of tech is already acquired, we gamers tend to want to see the affects of the strategy from the start.

I've also noticed that starting the games over is much more fun than finishing them and I believe the tech tree gets part of the blame. In many games it advances more quickly early on and is more significant, later in the game it is just about finishing the opponents off with maxed out tech.

Tech tree is broken in many ways. Parallel research makes the tech tree more interesting. Tech advancement that requires more than just the previous tech as prequisites (like in X-Com) makes it more interesting. Taking out the complete control of the tech advancement from single player makes things more interesting. Certainly there are more ways and I believe pointing out those ones would very benefical, especially from the perspective of already published games, since you can always make abstract ideas, but when someone has published a game with one, it is more concrete and at least implementable.

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Another idea I recently had for tech advancments (I posted it off the top of my head in another thread, but have since though more on it) is that of a more maleable research system.

In curent tech trees, there are nodes that give you the tech advancment. They are hard coded into the game, end even if you only have access to certain ones of them in some playthroughs and not other, they are still hard points.

My idea was to have a system where the player describes the goal of the research and the game calculates how much effort (time and resources) the player has to put into it to reach it.

Some advancments would give a speed boost to the research for certain technologies (for example "Theory of Relitivity" might increase the speed of researching "GPS navigation systems"). This way you could still have prerequsites, but they wouold not be a hard prerequsite.

As an example of this sytem, you might want a laser weapons that does 100 points of damage and fires 10 shots per second.

So to get that, the game would work out that you need to research "laser weapons" to get the base technology, then research it long enough in "damage output" to reach 100 damage and also "fireing speed" to 10 shots per second. It would then give the player an indication of the time and costs involved in doing this.

IF this was too long a time, they might choose toinstead first research a laser weapon that only did 10 damage each hit and fired 5 shots per second and later on research further to get their 100 damage and 10 shots per second.

If you made it so that there was a geometrical increase as time goes on (eg it would take 10 minuts to research a 50 damage weapon, but 30 minutes to research it straight to 100 damage), then the players would be encouraged to make small advancments at a time (it would be due to the uncertainly in the tech needed to achieve the desired result).

This system would allow players to design the tech nodes that they want and give more strategic variation to the game (eg: a player might in one game focus on fire rate of weapons, but in another game they might focus on raw damage power depending on the tactical situations that occur).

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Original post by Edtharan

As an example of this sytem, you might want a laser weapons that does 100 points of damage and fires 10 shots per second.

So to get that, the game would work out that you need to research "laser weapons" to get the base technology, then research it long enough in "damage output" to reach 100 damage and also "fireing speed" to 10 shots per second. It would then give the player an indication of the time and costs involved in doing this.


I don't think this is applicable in many games. Any realtime game should have too much going to allow you to play with sliders and calculate which setting is optimal for your current situation.
Even in turn based games like civilization I would not research every tech in this way, since I really like fixed tech with a short note on historical data, nice pictures and eventually a short film-sequence as a reward for researching some technology.

A much better approach could be to build tech-labs and assign them parts of the tech tree to work on (like economy, military etc - or general for small advancements in all fields). If you assign the same branch to several labs they give dimishing returns. Also already researched tech should get cheaper for everyone else, eventually leaking completely after when it is in use for some time.

Finelly for designing specific units you could to it similar to alpha centaury. For example if I have tech for armored vehicles, infantry armor, vehicle laser guns and automatic infantry weapons I could design some mobile infantery unit driving around in their vehicle and jumping out for combat. This specific combination of used tech is made into a research project which can be assigned to a military tech-lab.
But the general teching becomes too much of hazzle if you have to set a dozend parameters every third turn.

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I've always wondered how a 4x game with randomized conditions equal for and displayed to all players would work out.

Imagine that on the loading screen, the game displays a graph showing a tech tree, building requirements, unit requirements and abilities, etc, and each time you play the options available are randomly chosen - the game could have a kind of behind-the-scenes "point buy" system that it uses to build random units and cost them out - advantages like '5x base health' would raise "points" and 'requires tier 2 building' or 'costs double gold' or 'takes extra time to build' or 'takes 2 food' could reduce "points", with all units generated to have a given point value (randomizing this per game could be interesting - some games you're playing superhuman ubersoldat with 50 point units and the next you're playing a peasant uprising with -10 point units).

Of course, such a game could not be as complex per play as other games are because the randomization would take a lot of work to understand and take advantage of, but averaged over the long term, such a system might still lead to a kind of deep gameplay.

On the other hand, having a 'build your own units' with the same 'point buy' system used for randomization could provide an interesting alternate game mode - instead of seeing the random data on the loading screen, you'd see the choices your opponent made for their units/tech/etc and they would see your choices. Everybody would have to create a diverse set of units to allow them adapt to different opponent choices (all the pointing being done before game, you have to have a counter for at least a few strategies built into your set of units/etc)

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Several years ago someone did release a script, python or perl I think, that randomly generated a techtree specification file and the associated unit specification file, building specification file and so on for Freeciv.

I have not heard of it for quite a while so I don't think it has been maintained, that is, kept up to date with all the new features of the newfangled tech, unit, buildings, effects etc specfiles.

Which in turn possibly might mean the concept was not after all quite as compelling as the author of the script had hoped.

Or maybe it merely means that in those days Windows did not usually have perl (or python, I am pretty sure the script was written in one or the other of those two languages) installed by default, and typical windows-users typically are not likely to install such a language in order to make use of such a script, and users of various unices preferred to simply mod the spec files to their own tastes rather than have some script modify them randomly...

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From history, what make sense are:

- Technology always dominate.
- Technology is not random. It is progressive. For every random tech you give me, I'll give you an example why it's not random. Read history books about energy and start at chapter 1.


Portugal Stew: "but you have no way of being certain what you'll ultimately come out with or if it will ultimately be viable. You see a lot of this in real life warfare"

No, resource = greater technology too. Example: Manhattan project. Many scientists believe that if you allocate enough resource to a technology, you can achieve it within good time.

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In an earlier draught (draft?) of my post I had written "generated a random techtree specification".

I corrected the wording to "randomly generated a techtree specification" precisely because the previous wording seemed to indicate the techtree was random rather than that a "reasonable" (in so far as any such techtree in any such games tend to be) progression of technologies had been randomly constructed from among many possible "reasonable" progressions of technologies.

Quite a few games have different technology trees yet supposedly cover by means of those different trees pretty much the same history of the planet known by some as Earth. So it is not as if only one such tree makes any sense, is it? (Or is it? Hmmm...)

Part of the purpose too was to extend the tree further so players would be less likely to end up getting the engine-generated non-functional (other than they count for scoring points but who cares about scoring points anyway) "future tech 1", "future tech 2" etc.

Once the tech tree goes beyond what we have now and maybe even what we actually currently expect as distinct from what various speculative fiction - or is it actually fantasy fiction - likes to speculate might become possible some day which tech tree is the one that makes sense is even more debatable.

But the main point here is I didn't mean a random tech tree I meant a nonrandom techtree randomly picked / constructed from among a species or set or whatever of nonrandom tech trees.

(We could have this next or that, but if this then blah blah whereas if that then blah blah, and so on... In a way I guess it is a form of putting into that iteration of the game just a subtree of a much larger tree, one in which maybe some branches ruled out others or made the path to others look so much more rich that it gained its own interesting waystations along the way... and heading into the future there is also hmm is that sci-fi future the one to present this time, or maybe how about that other sci fi future...)

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Quote:
Original post by tommy408
Portugal Stew: "but you have no way of being certain what you'll ultimately come out with or if it will ultimately be viable. You see a lot of this in real life warfare"

No, resource = greater technology too. Example: Manhattan project. Many scientists believe that if you allocate enough resource to a technology, you can achieve it within good time.


Yet, in parallel, the Germans were working on their own nuclear research with equivalent investment, yet failed to make certain key discoveries that were essential to making a usable atomic bomb, despite starting their research months before the Manhattan Project was even conceived. There's a very explicit cause-and-effect relationship, but as I said before, if a player can look from the beginning and be aware of all the relationships between technologies from the stone age, well, that's been explained thoroughly throughout the thread. Realistic or no, elements of randomness better represent historical technological advancement.

Another thing to consider is the Apollo missions. They made no relevant technological advancements in and of themselves, despite enormous investment. Even continued research on the ISS is showing no signs of pushing us into new frontiers. On the other hand, they all indirectly are responsible for several technological advancements that improve quality of life, including Velcro, Kevlar, and novelty freeze-dried ice cream they sell at museum gift shops.

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In which Heinlein novel was it that Lazarus Long said something about the classic case in which a nation exiled (or drove to defect or whatever) half a dozen eggheads and thereby lost a major war?

(Chip/driver manufacturers who don't want to cater to a mere nine hackers, take heed hahaha. Imagine what even just six of them might be capable of. (An in joke reference to another post elsewhere among these fora.))

What is the name of the uh... whoozit (and whoozit?) novels predicated upon a supposedly famous experiment in which the time it took people to cross a room without touching the floor given two pieces of wood not too horribly different in size and shape from skis and two pieces of string was compared to the time taken by people given only one plank and one piece of string? The one where it turned out that people who were given only one such piece of wood and one string did it faster due to not wasting time messing around with the superfluous ski and fastener?

(Laz: has to be either Methuselah's Children or Time Enough for Love. Planks: googling but no luck so far...)

[Edited by - markm on December 18, 2010 9:48:48 PM]

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