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Acharis

Space empire building game

28 posts in this topic

Some maybe rememeber my older posts about space empire & emperor's simulator. I gathered all these, simplified, removed the boring parts and that's what I came up with smile.png Looking for feedback and the usual stuff.

 

Genre: turn based strategy, singleplayer (only)

Theme: space empire builder

Mechanic: asymmetric gameplay (like in tower defence games), the player controls the empire and the AI controls invaders & problems (so it's not traditional  4x game, but it takes a lot of concepts from these too)

 

My goal is to make that game rather fast (months, not years), also I want it to feel cozy and not bloated to the player. Like some mini empire builder you play after you finished these long, bloated, full blown 4x games.

 

 

 

Overview & map

You start in the very center of the galaxy (ALWAYS) and you are the meaniest, baddest, the most powerful & advanced civilization around. At the very beginning of the game you claim the title of the Emperor of the Known Universe (althrough the known universe is rather small biggrin.png) and go on a quest to unify the galaxy under your rule (not that difficult) and defend if from various threats (much more challenging).

 

The galaxy is made of a few dozens of planets (not that many) connected by routes (so traditional here). You start in the exact center, there are plenty of uninhabited worlds and worlds with neutral races/nations (they can join your empire willingly or by conquest). There are also few special planets (parasites/symbiots, pirates), usually at the outskirts of the galaxy. Also there are several entry points (at the very edges of the galaxy) via which "aliens from another dimension/galaxy" can (and will) enter.

 

Planets can have special/rare resources, alien artifacts (ruins), special conditions, can also be terraformed and colonized.

 

 

Enemies/neutrals (AI)

* neutral planets - passive races that only defend their own planet, they will never form any empire or go on a conquest, their destiny it to eventually join your empire (willingly or not), they will improve their planets a bit and build local fleets & defences, but overall they just exist

 

* pirates - they build bases on various planets, demand tribute from neutral planets and overall disrupts the trade; they excell at hit & run tactic so, while not a match to your imperial fleet (if you built it properly) they are not trivial to eradicate; they can also respawn on some distant uninhabited planed when eradicated

 

* symbiots/parasites - a special planet somewhere at the outskirs it houses a rase of toxic, hostile, uninteligent race. Once every 100 turns they go on a rampage and infestate the planets pone by one (then they go back to their home planet and hibernate till the next cycle), their home planet is extremelly hard to conquer

 

* aliens from another galaxy - they enter via portals/entry points at the outskirts, their goal is annihilation not conquest, they go around destroying everything (when they appear the neutral planets suddenly are much more eager to join your empire for some reason biggrin.png). You can't attack them at the beggining since they habve no home playet in your galaxy, but later you will have an option to send a fleet via the portal and get rid of them (no new map, just a hidden battle/event/simulation)

 

* plague - not enemy per se (your fleet can't stop it), but hehaves similarly. Plague starts on one planet and spreads around, then dies out causing heavy casualities among population if not quatantined properly.

 

 

Buildings

I want to avoid all building queues, clicking on every planet each turn and so on. So the model will be like this:

- Each planet produces "infrastructure points" that are added to the global imperial pool (probably you will be accumulate the indefinitely)

- You can build any building anywhere instantly by spending these points, but no more that one building per planet per turn (you can make one action per planet each turn, so you either terraform, construct, give an edict).

- These infrastructure/construction points are used for buildings only, ships use different points made by shipyards

- Planets also automaticaly increase their infrastructure over time (local AI upgrades it based on racial traits/preferences), unless you tax the planet too much, so even when neglected each planet will improve on its own over time.

EDIT: simplified, you only select the industry type and then it's all automatic, except for special military instalations/bases

 

 

Diplomacy

Used to make neutrals join the empire. Usually they will have some demands before joining (like what their status within empire will be, what level of taxation, what military (conscription) obligations, etc). Sometimes (especially primitive races) will even try to bribe you if you let them join the empire.

It will be probably done by sending some "diplomats" units to the planet.

 

 

Research

Yes, there will be research in the game smile.png

 

 

Fleet

Not sure yet how it will work. Most likely ships will be built either on the capital planet or on one of military bases planets (so on like 1-5 planets max, not everywhere).

Edited by Acharis
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Buildings

One thought, how about having industries instead of buildings ? Either have multiple industries like buildings (planet X have advanced military ship industry and a rudimentary agra industry) or assign a single industry to a planet (planet X have only an agra industry which costs you X infra points per turn).

You mean you don't find buildings fun/needed? And that I should remove them and replace with some more generic & straighforward system (like an option "this planet shall produce food")?

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My advice is to think like the Emperor.
Heh, strangely that was my initial idea which I thought would might be not that appealing to players :) OK, since I'm not the only one who thinks that way, I will go back to "Emperor's level" of thinking.

 

Buildings - there could be a designation of a planet as a food/industry/reserach type, but it means a specialization, not that it produces 0 other things; like industrial planet gets +300% to production but still produces some food and research. I wouild also add 4th type "government" which would act as a center of administration for surrounding planets (you capital planet is locked as government type) boosting their output based on distance.

 

Addons - each planet could also have one "addon" slot, you can select what is there hospitals center, long range radars, communication relay, these would have some effects (but not planet wise but more like empire wide - these can provide emergency services for other planets, scan for enemy fleets and so on). You can see the addon on the galaxy view map (small icon next to the planet).

 

Forts - in addition any planet can have fortifications (both planetary and orbital), these greatly increase planet's defence and boost your fleets fighting there, fort can have 3 levels and would be clearly visible on the galaxy view. These would be expensive/limited, so only few planets would have these (usually in choke points).

 

 

And, since there is not much hassle regarding planets I could make more planets total :D Which is nice :)

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I really think you are on to something here -- as a potential player, the features you are describing are right up my gaming alley!  Not too deep or "grand", not too watered down.  Good luck with the project!

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Planets

 

OK, I think I like the simplified approach as well :) So, how about this:

- you set up industry type (food,production,research) + addon + fort as bescribed 2 posts above

- each planet grows over time on its own (auto infrastructure upgrade), the speed of the growth depends on taxation level (decided empire wide)

 

But usually, the player would not want to invest in the frontier worlds (which are at high risk of getting heavy hit during war) and would prefer to concentrate on the code (safe) world. How to make it?

I thought of these variants:

- the player can click(toggle) an invest/not invest "button" on any planet

- the invest level is automatic and depends on the distance from the homeworld (core worlds are invested on fully, distant ones in minimal degree - the definition of "distant" changes over time as the empire grows)

 

 

 

Neutral planets/races & diplomacy

 

What you think of that part? I have some doubts if I should implement it...

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Regardless of how much you want to develop frontier worlds, it's probably more expensive to get materials and people over there. So investment costs will be higher (in theory).

 

But I would leave the investment level up to the player, unless it becomes too complex.

 

You might want to take a look at Master of Orion to see how that implemented some of these problems, it was quite nice and seems similar.

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Neutral planets/races & diplomacy

 

What you think of that part? I have some doubts if I should implement it...

 

What TRUE emperor worries about diplomacy?  All planets should either be seen as colonies or targets!  biggrin.png  Your ambassador is your Death Star (or regional equivalent).

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Neutral planets/races & diplomacy

 

What you think of that part? I have some doubts if I should implement it...

 

What TRUE emperor worries about diplomacy?  All planets should either be seen as colonies or targets!  biggrin.png  Your ambassador is your Death Star (or regional equivalent).

But shouldn't the empire be so magnificient that other, lesser, races want to join willingly? :D Diplomacy is merely a tool to make these ignorants understand the great joys they will experience if they join :)

 

Anyway, how about the neutral planets concept? Keep it? Remove? Modify?

 

What I like is some sort of unorganized "barbarians" you can conquest and make join the empire (what I don't like is them being too weak - which is unavoidable considering each is just one planet). And that you can use these neutrals to stop/slow down various invasion (they put up some resistance against aliens from another dimension, parasitic symbionts, etc) either because they fight or because their planet need to be occupied - which drains more forces than uninhabited planets.

 

Or maybe some culture mechanic? Like you spread cultural influence from your capital/advanced planets and over time it makes all neutrals in range more and more willing to join?

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I try to think of game mechanics in a very tabletop/boardgame way.  Your above idea of "culture" really intrigues me and I came up with this:

 

In many tabletop RPGs your character might obtain bonuses or "perks" that allow him/her to more easily hit or break an enemies' defense during combat.  What if Culture was a measure of a planet's ability to "resist" the colonization of the Empire?  For instance, a very high culture on Planet Gorp provides bonuses to the defenders' offensive capability and the population's resistance to adopting the Empire's rules (civil unrest, terrorism, coups).

 

BUT... if you can manage to spread the Empire's culture to a planet (spies, propaganda, space missionaries, entertainment) you can mitigate the above and turn the situation to your favor with penalties to the planets defense.

 

In a tabletop game this could be represented by a simple Attribute that influences various in-game tests:

 

ATTACK = (Weapon Skill + Weapon Rating + Random Roll) +/- Culture Bonus/Penalty

 

I hope this help!  Realize it is a half-baked idea being typed at 5:51am.  Adapt it, change it, improve it, or junk it!

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You could create some kind of open-culture-treaty(something about free travel for citizens and open sports events etc.) that you offer to planets and then the culture/influence of the empire would start to (culturally) "convert" the population of those planets, off course it'll go slower if the empire has multiple of those treaties going on.

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But what you think of these neutral planets in general? Do these fit? Maybe remove them?

 

 

The thing is, if I increase the number of planets (since these have no buildings, just one industry type - so we can afford to make more planets without overexerting the player) I will have more neutral planets, yet there is a limit to different races I can introduce (it's not even about implementation/budget, simply having more than 10-20 races is too much to remember/grasp to a player...) Yet, with this size of galaxy (like 100 planets let's say) making 10 neutral planets with unique races makes no sense to me...

I'm not sure.

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Do races move ?
Are there racial differences ?
Will planets be unique enough without a unique race ?

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But what you think of these neutral planets in general? Do these fit? Maybe remove them?

 

Neutral planets are a fitting addition.  If I'm grasping the whole of your concept, they represent a "resource" that is not so much contested but unaligned.  This certainly can lead to competition to control that resource that is different than finding unoccupied planets or colonizing enemy planets.

 

As I reflect on your game I can't help but to think of the Crusades, particularly the First through Third.  I suggest you read some sort of brief history of the ebb and flow of that sad conflict for some ideas.  The Islamic world shared a common faith, but they were often at odds with each other, allowing invading armies to conquer in the face of daunting odds.  It seems to exemplify the idea of how neutral planets (in this case cities) relate to the surrounding power struggle. 

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Do races move ?
Nope. They just sit on their homeworld forever.

 


Are there racial differences ?
Will planets be unique enough without a unique race ?
Does it matter? If there are 100 planets and like 10-20 at most inhabited (one planet per race) it's a rare thing for a planet to have them... Either way I doubt it would add a lot of uniqueness to planets in general since there are so few of such races.

The low quantity of these really bothers me... I simply can't make 40 different races (which would make 40% of planets neutral which would be the best in my opinion).

 


Neutral planets are a fitting addition. If I'm grasping the whole of your concept, they represent a "resource" that is not so much contested but unaligned

Well, yes... Sort of. One of their uses is a neutral "cannon fodder" since they are attacked by all sort of invading aliens, symbiots, pirates, and since these neutral can put some sort of fight they can slow down the enemy (which happen to be your enemy as well). Anything that try to attack you will attack neutrals as well (maybe with few exceptions).

 


This certainly can lead to competition to control that resource
Competition with whom? There are no other empires.

 


As I reflect on your game I can't help but to think of the Crusades, particularly the First through Third. I suggest you read some sort of brief history of the ebb and flow of that sad conflict for some ideas. The Islamic world shared a common faith, but they were often at odds with each other, allowing invading armies to conquer in the face of daunting odds. It seems to exemplify the idea of how neutral planets (in this case cities) relate to the surrounding power struggle.
Yeah, sort of. Europe had the Church with a single Pope and, regardless of numerous local disputes and everything it was a centrally governed religion (to an extend) with some common goals for all kingdoms. Muslims had no such thing, they were all separated.

Yes, it's kind of the same here, the player is the Empire, all planets under one rule. Neutrals are divided.

But, more importantly, in the log run the neutrals will have to join to empire if they want to survive (invasion of aliens from another dimension that want to annihilate everyone). Also, neutrals share the same enemies with the empire.

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Competition with whom? There are no other empires.

 

Who/what-ever you are fighting -- I'm using the words "competition" and "resource" in a super vague way.  The planet not wanting to join the empire is competition.  Or, as I tend to look at these games, any spot on the map, no matter how small, that I don't control is an affront and my competition!

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Maybe like this:

 

There are 8 races in the galaxy (+ some hostile/toxic ones: borg, symbiots, aliens from the "Alien"). One of the races (Terrans) is the founder of the empire (player have their allegiance and their homeworld).

 

The player does not colonize planets (or not only the player), each race (doesn't matter if they are part of the empire or not) auto colonizes planets nearby their homeplanet from time to time. These planets are considered neutral/independent (in some cases they will instantly join the empire). The Empire can persuade a single planet (not the whole race) to join the Empire (especially easy if within cultural zone of the Empire). Upon first planet of that race joining the Empire you select the status of that race within empire (slaves-equal-masters), it affects all further planets of that race (well, it you set them as slaves they might not be so eager to join :D), if the homeworld of that race joins the Empire you get +50% to all other planets of that race joining the Empire.

 

Althrough, I'm not sure what should happen if you attack a planet of that race (does other planets will help them?). Note I would prefer to not implement any sophisticated algorithms for neutrals, since that's not the scope of the game.

 

 

Rebels - a planet can secceed from the Empire (event, some conditions, poor imperial stability value, etc). Such planet becomes a rebel (semi hostile), and can (and should) be reassimilated by the Empire. I think rebels should fight the empire actively somehow.

You can "grant independence" to ALL rebels planets (can't grant it to just one), in such case they will stop being rebels and become neutrals, they get tons of bonuses against joining the empire (cultural assimilation) and you are not allowed to conquer them for 100 turns (or face big prestige drop). Also, you lose some prestige (sometimes letting them secceed is simply not an option because it will destroy the empire internally).

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I need help on these races/neutral planets. Not sure what model would make sense...

 

- make the galaxy empty (no neutrals only hostiles) and only one race (Terrans) that conlonizes it?

- make 8 races and they auto colonize regardless if they belong to empire or not and planets act separately (not per race)

- make like 40 races (a bit insane :D), problayby just parametrized (like: Race A is scientific + aggressive)

Or some other model?

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I like there being neutral races, because it offers some potentially interesting choices with respect to how to annex them (propaganda, economic takeovers, slow immigration of loyal races, religious conversion...)

 

It sounds like you're making a distinction between the race and the state, which is a nice distinction that few of these games make.  (We're used to expecting every "Bloglomid" settlement to be part of a Bloglomid empire, but don't Bloglomids ever just... emigrate?)  It'd be extra interesting if planets could have multiple types aliens on them, potentially living in harmony, potentially simmering with resentment and periodic violence.

 

I think the 40 races is awesome.  Procedurally generate their portraits and names and symbols!  Have as many races as possible personality combinations; let people generate maps with a thousand alien races, each one different.  It would get people talking!  It'd be like Crusader Kings II except each person is an entire alien race.

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I like there being neutral races, because it offers some potentially interesting choices with respect to how to annex them (propaganda, economic takeovers, slow immigration of loyal races, religious conversion...)

I see, thanks, that's the feedback I'm looking for (what is fun and what to keep).

 

 

 

It sounds like you're making a distinction between the race and the state

Well... yes... or maybe. Multiracial empire is one of my ideas. But I feel I'm missing something very important here and that it is not the core of the game.

 

Maybe let's look at it from the point of view of planets & gameplay ignoring the races for a moment.

 

 

In that game you should claim like 1/3 of the map (the central part around your home world) very fast and very early, it's like the core of your empire that stays loyal to you most of the time. Then the next 1/3 should be claimable with a modest effort (propaganda, diplomacy, culture, economic take over). And the last 1/3 should be some sort of frontier/outskirts with planets resistant to joining, the breeding ground of pirates, separatists, rebels, strange & dangerous aliens, the use of force would be primary form of conquest in that part.

Then some disaster comes (in forms of very aggressive aliens) and they start conquering/annihilating planets (no matter who owns it) and the player try to stops them in a tower defence style (so neutral planets are useful as an expendable cannon fodder that slows enemy without any negative effect to us (it's not our citizens/factories that are annihilated)).

Then there is some internal separatists uprising and some of our planets turn rebels and want to leave the empire which we need to stop as well.

 

That's how it should look like from the gameplay point of view (I don't know how/where races falls in here...)

 

 

Colonization mechanic - it should be fast at the beginning, like 1 planet per turn, and the immigration to new planets should be fast as well (and growth rate on empty planets too blazing fast - until they reach modest numbers). Let's say your empire colonizes one planet each turn automaticaly. They go by the distance from your capital. You can also click a planet and set "colonize", it will be colonized first or click "do not colonize" and it will be never colonized (so you only prioritize or disallow colonization). The neutral races could colonize separately.

Once a planet is colonized it gets an "empire join check" and it either joins the empire instantly or not (if it was colonized by citizens of your empire you get a +50% bonus to instant joining).

Edited by Acharis
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Or maybe make it a single race empire?

 

Like: you are Terrans, all aliens are hostile/weird/not to be negotiated with.

You start with the single planet in the center then automatic colonization starts. There are two kinds of colonization: "official" done by corporations with the intent to stay in the empire, always nearby planets and "private" with the intent to set a far, far away frontier planet your independent home with own government.

 

So you are all the same race, just the population pararerly colonizes inside the empire and outside of it.

 

Then the population migrates as they see fit (you have no/low control over it).

 

 

Fauna & flora - instead of the "40 random races" there could be randomly generated fauna & flora on planets, some very hostile/dangerous. The thing is once someone colonizes the planet the fauna can travel too (there are always some idiots that take take their pet Xenozaur to another planet) and you some times don't want these to spread around.

Since you have no control over neutral planets it might become a breeding ground for these nasty parasites/diseases and you might want to introduce a ban/restriction to travel to planets outside your empire (or quarantine them, or simply bombard from the orbit as the last resort).

 

Hmmm, it might be interesting too I suppose...

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After agonizing thinking (both solutions had merit & tastiness) I decided to go for a single race empire (terrans) :) The population spreads on the galaxy on their own (frequently choosing to stay independent) and one of your goals would be to unify them (make join the empire).

 

Also, I would probably add more hostile alien races.

 

Example of (more) hostiles:

- colonization of methane breathers - they come from one side of the map, they do not strive to conquer the galaxy but take over planets one by one (they prefer empty planets - avoid conflict), the thing is they terraform these planets making them useless (unless reterraformed), so it is the player who needs to be aggressive if he wants to preserve the planets for future.

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- colonization of methane breathers -

 

This idea is where it's at.  I love this.  It appeals to my longing for truly alien aliens, otherworldly entities that aren't merely humanoids with brightly colored skin or bumpy foreheads.  I also think it is a great idea to have an opponent driven by unique motivations like a methane atmosphere. 

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- colonization of methane breathers -

 

This idea is where it's at.  I love this.  It appeals to my longing for truly alien aliens, otherworldly entities that aren't merely humanoids with brightly colored skin or bumpy foreheads.  I also think it is a great idea to have an opponent driven by unique motivations like a methane atmosphere. 

 

The (current biggrin.png) plan is like that.

* You are Terrans, some of your people belong to the Empire (good) and some stay independent (bad) or are inside the empire but rebel (bad).

* Then there are non humanoid races, all hostile (in various degrees).

* Humanoid aliens??? I hesitate about them, if they exist they were to be neutral but could not join the empire. So I'm not really sure they make sense at all...

 

About aliens.

The aliens do not play the game. They do not try to stop the player, they just go around and do their stuff. They have their own objectives (which is not "winning the game"). Like parasictic symbiots want to have an enjoyable mating season once every 100 turns and that's it, they don't even understand this "conquest the galaxy" thing smile.png

There is also "everyone for himself" which means the player might want to preserve some alien race and use as a "cannon fooder" to stop other aliens.

 

 

List of aliens:

* aliens from another dimension - the most dangerous ones, they will always come eventually and an important part of the game is to become strong enough for their arrival. They spawn at the trans-dimensional portals at the very edge of the galaxy and then go stright for the player's capital. They do not colonize or conquer, just anihilate all life they encounter.

 

* parasitic symbiots - they live in one planet (insane defences) and once every 100 turns go on a breeding spree. They colonize & conquer nearby planets (they never kill all the population, but the loses are very high). Then, after 30-50 turns they die out and/or come back to their home planet and hibernate. And the cycle repeats smile.png

 

* methane breathers - come from one side of the galaxy and colonize planets, first they "xenoform" the planet making it unusable for the player (they try to avoid conflict and first go for uninhabited planets).

 

* the hive - insectoids, barely sentient, they have very slow and expensive colonization. Actually they have no ships, but launch new "hive clusters" from their planet to the next. The have zero space warfare capabilities, but on the ground they are formidable opponents. The trick is the player can "plant" them (steal one of their hive clusters and transport it to some distant planet where they start to live), which might be useful to stop other aliens (won't work against methane breathers since they will xenomorph the planet killing them all without a fight).

 

* the elders - a race in decline (negative breeding rate, they most likely will extinct somewhere in the mid game), they used to rule the galaxy, now they are dying out and are passive and not interested in anything. They are quite powerful. When they extinct the player can scavenge their technologies and assets (or earlier biggrin.png).

 

 

List of other threats:

* pirates - they have a base somewhere and outposts, can't be eradicated since they will respawn from nothing eventually (they are Terrans). They go around and plunder planets or force them to pay tribute. They target only other Terran planets.

 

* independent colonies - well, some simply don't want to be inside your empire (they will change their mind once trans-dimensional alienes come), overall they are neutral and can be subverted to join the empire.

 

* rebel colonies - imperial colonies that decided they don't want to be part of the empire anymore, very dangerous since it decreases the stability of the empire and can make it all fall apart. You can grant them independence if you are too weak. All rebels are allied, have shared fleet and try to conquer the imperial home planet.

 

* plague - a plague can break out in a colony (usually if there is an exotic fauna/flora) then that plague will spread unless quarantined.

 

* alien eggs (from the "Alien") - there is one planet (or more) where there are alien eggs burried, you don't know where but eventually someone will make a colony there and the aliens will hatch, then they will spread similar to a plague.

Edited by Acharis
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