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Acharis

Exploration in space 4X (boring & tedious)

37 posts in this topic

Archaeology

Yes... I was thinking about archeology too, but first we need to solve the problem of simply exploring new planets (first visit), for an overall geological survey (poor/rich) and to check if there is an enemy colony already. That's the thing we have to deal with first.

 

 

 


To take a different direction (appropriately to the topic tongue.png), why have unexplored space be safe? Fill empty space with roving horrors and marauding space pirates, any of which could all too easily eat/possess/raid your little exploration ship, and all of which are invisible until you're all but on top of them, and exploration becomes a dangerous proposition.

That's standard smile.png In every single game (space 4x) I send these small ships and they are eaten by something sooner or later smile.png Exploration always is dangerous but it makes no practical sense (just statistics, you sent 8 ships, 4 are eaten, 2 destryoed by other races, 2 return). There is no thirll, no choice, no nothing...

 

 

 

Is it worth sending a scout to that little planet out there?

Yes smile.png Scout ships are cheap, it's no brainer.

Besides, you HAVE TO visit that little planet at least once to check if there is an enemy, or if there is some wormhole or anything. So, making scout ships expensive would not solve anything really (plus then you would send cheap frigates or whatever you have).

Edited by Acharis
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Yes smile.png Scout ships are cheap, it's no brainer.

Besides, you HAVE TO visit that little planet at least once to check if there is an enemy, or if there is some wormhole or anything. So, making scout ships expensive would not solve anything really (plus then you would send cheap frigates or whatever you have).

 

 

That's exactly it.  Scout ships should be neither cheap nor expensive.  There's a middle ground where you should debate whether it's worth spending a few turns to build one on a new planet, or one or two turns on a productive one.

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I think we need to distinguish two types of exploration:

* charting space & probing for enemies (to find routes to planets and enemy colonies)

* survey (to find out what's on the planet)

 

 


Thousands of years before you have the capability to visit a nearby star, you will have seen it. Astronomers will have measured it, worked out it's mass, worked out the probability of planets, probability of life, etc. etc. etc.

So you shouldn't just be sending out scouts at random, you should have data available to make value estimations and informed decisions.
Yes... I feel it could be an answer...

 


This is a part of the game design developers should consider and implement. I hate the black map syndrome. Makes no sense to me.
Actually, in most/all games I have seen you see all the systems from the start (that they exist and colour of the star). So, there is no black map. You need to scout the systems for exact planets, what is on the planets, routes to the planets (if the games uses paths) and if there is an enemy/monster.

 


That's exactly it. Scout ships should be neither cheap nor expensive. There's a middle ground where you should debate whether it's worth spending a few turns to build one on a new planet, or one or two turns on a productive one.
I disagree :) You have to scan ALL nearby systems for security if nothing else. Actually, losing a scout ship is the best outcome (that's what you look for), it means the system has a space monster or that you encountered another empire (which is the most valuable information, far more important than if the planet is good for colonization).

 


What makes exploration in non-space games interesting?
Yeah, I think expolration is not fun in itself. And probably it does not have to be. The whole point is that you don't know everything from the start, that you don't know the whole setup, that there are surprises waiting (and people LOVE surprises :))

 


First, I would like to say that you are doing a great job of questioning many of the 'standard' 4X mechanics or styles of play. It is always a good thing to question why.
Yes, I love this form of procastration :) It's so much easier to question things than to implement them :D
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You could have a send probe button. Essentially you paid small cost to send a scout drone to a system and it will provide a full account of all planets. Thus eliminating the need for scouts instead you pay the cost directly for each system you want to know about. The same approach could also be used to recon enemy worlds later on in the game.

On the flip side why not make explorer class ships super expensive? An explorer class ship would be one the biggest ships in your fleet able to operate far beyond your normal range with no support requirements. You might only build a couple of explorer class ships in a game. There purpose is to explore deep space and build new warp gates to add to your hyperspace network. They can travel in deep space and are not limited to normal travel lanes. As such isolated system off the normal travel lanes can only be reached and added to your empire by sending an explorer class ship there to build gate. They also can't be included in any fleets as other ships are unable to operate in places the explorers travel.
Yes. Except one little "problem" :) The player can just send regular fleet there :) So, scouting can't be more expensive that using regular fleet (or no one will use that option).

Yes, players do wreak the most elegant design solutions :D Those bastards! :D

 

BTW, I love the "send probe button", it's so... cute and easy and elegant :D Only if I knew how to use it with regual fleets (that HAVE TO have an option to explore since they are physically entering the orbit of a planet).

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An explorer ship though has range of 10 or 20 times your maximum range. You can send one to investigate and chart worlds 200 light years a way and if they find a interesting planet you could plan your expansion to reach that world or invest in building a two way warp gate connecting that distant world to the warp gate network. Once in place you or any other race can reach your homeworld from that planet or any other planet in gate system. So you better make sure its not within range of any brain parasite planets if you can't guard the entrance.
Warpgates are really game changing. I don't think I would implement warpgates just so exploration can work :D Besides... in practice, wouldn't you rather colonize rich nearby planets? Proximity is proximity, you already have to defend the part of space near your homeworld (via invasion from nearby races that do not require any warpgate). As a player, I think distant colonization is a suicide (it's not about travel, it's about more hostile races you will be neighbouring).

 


But fleets without science labs are simply unequipped to survey planets, and you can't colonize an unsurveyed planet.
Who cares? Surveying planets is secondary. The primary is danger evaluation and routes mapping. You want to survey planets near your homeworld anyway.  Unless you have different habits as a player?

 

The primary feature is that you move ships/fleets between systems/planets. And when they enter such system you get some information (planet size, enemies, warp paths/lines). And... we can't remove this feature :) It would be confusing and annoying (like "no ship can enter a system that was not surveyed").

 

Plus, once you have the fleet/ship dragged to the system/planet, do you really want to click some button to make additional survey of the planet? I would not :D I feel, while I really like the "send probe button", I would not enjoy it as a player (first my fleet was moved there and now I have to probe the planet? it's basicly double work!)

 

I don't know, I'm kind of sceptical if there is an answer/solution to my question :)

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I don't have much to add, but do want to respond to one point:
 

 

What makes exploration in non-space games interesting? ...

 
Yeah, I think expolration is not fun in itself.

 


On this I strongly disagree: while I'm not sure about the fun of exploration in space games, I love exploration in other types of game: new vistas to see, new environments to explore and navigate and new discoveries to be made.

 

To give an example, while I was at university one little pass-time that I had was exploring some of the campus buildings that I didn't usually have much cause to go into. I loved seeing the various odd layouts, discovering what was to be found where, and so on.

 

I won't say that enjoyment of exploration is universal, simply because I doubt that there is a great proportion of experiences that do have a truly universal response, but I do think that for a significant number of people--myself included--exploration in and of itself can be a lot of fun.

 

Hmm... Thinking about that, perhaps a "black map" scenario might be better for exploration of star systems than the "fully revealed" options that have been suggested, with undiscovered planets and their potential resources and dangers being amongst the risks and rewards of exploration. It would probably also help if space weren't as... well... empty as it can seem, in order to encourage thoughts like "I wonder what's over that hill", or "what's that odd thing over there"--perhaps odd sensor readings might provike that sense of curiosity: "Commander, we're picking up anomalous neutrino bursts in that dead system over there! Should we investigate? It could be precursor technology activating--or it could be the local space monsters preparing for their next meal..." However, as has been pointed out, a black map might call for some serious handwaving in order to explain just why the map is black.

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Sending fleets to find out what's nearby is so 1492.
LOL, how true :)

 

Why not just give all that to player for free for all system in range?
Yes... I like it a lot...

 

You are to see all planet types, routes/space lanes, fleets present, allegiance of all planets/systems in scanning range of your colonies & outposts (and maybe in scanning range of fleets too). It also updates as long as within range (what if you lose a colony?)

 

But I have some problem with "range", I mean the fleet range. I was hoping for a mechanic where you are free to roam the galaxy far away from your colonies... So range would make no sense here. Ideas?

 

 

 

There would be also a second step, the "survey". Sending a team on the planet to dig around (to find artifacts, examine plants & animals, minerals survey, etc). You are not able to colonize a planet unless it was surveyed.

Let's say you have one imperial survey team only, normally they go around randomly (nearest planets first), unless you give a specific order "survey this planet".

And/or make 3 levels of survey (Basic (allows colonization, access to common minerals), Detailed (chance for artifacts and rare minerals), Thorough (shows everything))?

 


while I was at university one little pass-time that I had was exploring some of the campus buildings
Let me guess, you didn't have to build and manage small scout ships every turn to do so :D It's a different experience :)
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Let me guess, you didn't have to build and manage small scout ships every turn to do so biggrin.png It's a different experience smile.png

True, but the question was of what made exploration fun in non-space games, and your answer seemed to be a statement that exploration wasn't fun in general; it was that latter, general statement that I was answering. :P

 

(Although it is amusing to imagine gathering first-year students to go out and explore for me, bringing back reports of their wanderings, and what hazards--angry lecturers, eldritch floorplans, and so on--they encountered on the way. Of course, not all return; and there are some places from which none return, leaving the question of whether to go oneself, or leave that place to whatever dark deadliness claimed so many first-years... ;P

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You could have wumpuses of a sort: major enemies that scout ships can sense from adjacent systems.  But you don't want to send a scout ship *into* them to test where they are, because after feeding they move invisibly to an adjacent system.  Instead, you want to use your scouts to triangulate what system they're in, and then avoid going there. (Or, if you know there's a planet there that's important to you, sacrifice a scout to get them *out* of that system.)

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This makes exploration and exploitation of planets a key game mechanic.
I definitely don't want this. We are talking about 4X, exploration is only a small part of the game, not the key one. If one wants to focus on exploration he should choose another genre (like Elite style space exploration adventure thing).

 

Exploration is just a small subsystem of 4X. It's the servant mechanic, not the master.

 


You send a scout to Cygnis Alpha III and find it has massive gold deposits, so you build an engineering fleet and send it to the planet. Eventually it gets there and they build a warp gate. Once that is operational you have fast transit and can use none warp equiped space craft to get there.
Warp gates are too heavy restiction. I would not gof for these just for exploration. Also, I don't think warpgates fit 4X in general (it messes control of the territory, which is the key mechanic in these games)...

 

I mean, let's look at the bigger picture. It's 4X game (not a game about exploration). The question is how to make exploration less boring without destroying/changing the rest of the game completely. It's not about how to make exploration fun, it's about how to make an exploration subsystem that would fit a 4X game.

 

Why "scout" ships? Hundreds of Star Trek episodes have proved
Start Trek is not real life, MOO is :D

Plus, not this scale, in 4X you are some sort of emperor/president, you don't deal with what's going on inside a ship.

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4X is a genre of strategy-based video and board games in which players control an empire and "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate".

 

So in your view explore, and exploit are not part of a 4X game? wacko.png

 

I don't really understand what your view of a 4X game is.

 

Explain exactly what your definition of a 4X game is please, you seem to want ... well a 2X game?

 

Warp gates do not mess with control of a territory, in fact they could be a key part in control of a territory. Once you have a warp gate in place, you can expand your influence around it much quicker than having to use slow interstellar travel. Loss of a warp gate due to enemy action would be a major problem and could cause you to lose control of whole regions of space. A key nexus in your warp gate mesh falling to enemy action could easily lose you the game.

 

I'm really not sure what you are after anymore

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eXploration is critical imho. Though deep scans can provide a lot of info about things very far, there's nothing like seeing it for yourself.

That being said, if you look into StarTrek, you'll notice that the Galaxy Class isn't small by any means. It is deployed with specific intentions, and gear to tackle other missions as well. 'To Boldly Go' doesn't meant to take the smallest possible craft, it means to be ready to face anything.

Thus, larger ships should have larger sweeping ranges to deter players from building just smaller ships. Small ships tend to have little to no room for 'extra' systems. They're good at one thing and one thing only, most often, interception.

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So in your view explore, and exploit are not part of a 4X game? wacko.png

I don't really understand what your view of a 4X game is.

Explain exactly what your definition of a 4X game is please, you seem to want ... well a 2X game?

Well... A good point... I think it might be personal, I'm not so fond of this exploration thing and I'm not sure I fully understand why it need to be there... OK, I know why it's needed as a *slave* to other parts of the game, but I never saw it as a feature fun on its own... So, yeah, it might be personal.

 

OK, let's look around then, do you find traditional space exploration fun? Do you like sending these small scout ships? I'm asking about existing games you played (not about how would you like it to work - I try to determine if anyone likes the exploration in 4X space empire games and possibly why they like it).

Edited by Acharis
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