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Space archeologists

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Older topic: http://www.gamedev.net/topic/662607-archelogists-examining-ruins-of-alien-races/

 

 

4X game, you have surveyed/explored a planet (so you know resources, can colonize, etc, etc the standard stuff).

 

Now there might be ancient ruins/artifact/etc on the planet. Let's say there is a % chance it's discovered upon colonization and each following turn based on population (urbanized planets with billions citizens will most likely have all ruins found, while a planet with a few farmers not necessarily, or something like that).

But ruins being discovered means nothing, you need to send space archeologists team to unlock the secret of the ruins :)

 

How it could work (those archeologists and/or discovering ruins)?

 

 

 

Note: It's a subsystem of a 4X game, not archeology simulator! So don't go overboard with complexity :D It should provide some choices to the player (like archeologists allocation maybe).

 

 

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Archeology tends to balance speed vs. carefulness, as some archeological finds are quite fragile.  Ruins also might block building modern things (assuming that you choose not to bulldoze them).  Some types of scans and searches to discover loot would be more expensive than others.

 

What might one find in space ruins?  I am thinking these categories:

- things automatically converted into wealth, e.g. rare metals, jewels

- things that must be traded to get the wealth out of them, e.g. art objects

- things that can be scavenged to speed up or make cheaper the building of new stuff on that planet but wouldn't be worth taking off-planet, e.g. salvaged building stone, common metals, low tech/inefficient fuel sources

- things that are standard resources you use throughout your civilization (whatever the equivalent of dilithium crystals or vespene gas is in this game)

- things that can be developed into an export, e.g. seeds, animal remains from which DNA can be extracted, specific biotech organisms, magical knowledge (if there's magic in this universe)

- things that expand your abilities, e.g. tech, general biotech knowledge, material to modify your own DNA/units (if that's a mechanic in this game)

Edited by sunandshadow

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Archeology tends to balance speed vs. carefulness, as some archeological finds are quite fragile. Ruins also might block building modern things (assuming that you choose not to bulldoze them). Some types of scans and searches to discover loot would be more expensive than others.
Hmmm, so how about something like this:

- ruins have 3 grades of "undigging": basic, advanced, complete (could use better names for these)

- you have limited number of archeologists, they work automaticly, they first try to uncover all ruins to the Basic level before they move on to Advanced/Complete (you have an option to set a certain planet/ruins as "archeological priority" in such case they will do that one first to the Complete level and they assign max archeologists there)

- you can set "speed vs carefulness" (globally), speedy makes archeologists work faster but increases a chance for a failure (in such case the ruins change to "collapsed" and can't be explored further)

- you can assign more funds (globally) to archeologists (so you, kind of, have more of them)

 

Metagame:

In addition to standard undiggning reward there is a chance to discover "ancient tables/scriptures", these are kind of "archeological experience points" and when you reach certain amount of these you unlock certain knowledge (like can see transdimensional rifts on the map, unlocks some non standard technologies, get to know more of the game lord (history of the galaxy)).

Also, all idle archeologists have a chance to discover these ancient tables too (without the need of ruins).

 


What might one find in space ruins? I am thinking these categories:
- things automatically converted into wealth, e.g. rare metals, jewels
- things that must be traded to get the wealth out of them, e.g. art objects
- things that can be scavenged to speed up or make cheaper the building of new stuff on that planet but wouldn't be worth taking off-planet, e.g. salvaged building stone, common metals, low tech/inefficient fuel sources
- things that are standard resources you use throughout your civilization (whatever the equivalent of dilithium crystals or vespene gas is in this game)
- things that can be developed into an export, e.g. seeds, animal remains from which DNA can be extracted, specific biotech organisms, magical knowledge (if there's magic in this universe)
- things that expand your abilities, e.g. tech, general biotech knowledge, material to modify your own DNA/units (if that's a mechanic in this game)
Sounds cute, if you have more of these, post.

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Hmmm, so how about something like this:

- ruins have 3 grades of "undigging": basic, advanced, complete (could use better names for these)

- you have limited number of archeologists, they work automaticly, they first try to uncover all ruins to the Basic level before they move on to Advanced/Complete (you have an option to set a certain planet/ruins as "archeological priority" in such case they will do that one first to the Complete level and they assign max archeologists there)

- you can set "speed vs carefulness" (globally), speedy makes archeologists work faster but increases a chance for a failure (in such case the ruins change to "collapsed" and can't be explored further)

- you can assign more funds (globally) to archeologists (so you, kind of, have more of them)

Perhaps (as sunandshadow suggested) allow the player the option of bulldozing ruins: this makes way for construction, but removes the ruin from that planet and thus removes the opportunity for a discovery. This might provide some interesting choices for the player; for example, when under pressure to build more infrastructure, is it worth accepting the price of putting off development for the chance of uncovering something useful in the ruins, or is it better to just give up on the ruins and focus on construction?

 

A potential additional penalty for bulldozing ruins might be increased dissent in the populace due to perceived disrespect, thus increasing the risk of rebellion; on the other hand, letting one's infrastructure fall behind demand might decrease the overall happiness of the planet's population, or slow production.
 

"undigging"

If you're using this term facetiously, then ignore the following; otherwise, I think (if I'm reading you correctly) that the word that you're looking for is "excavating".

Edited by Thaumaturge

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Archeology tends to balance speed vs. carefulness, as some archeological finds are quite fragile. Ruins also might block building modern things (assuming that you choose not to bulldoze them). Some types of scans and searches to discover loot would be more expensive than others.
Hmmm, so how about something like this:

- ruins have 3 grades of "undigging": basic, advanced, complete (could use better names for these)

- you have limited number of archeologists, they work automaticly, they first try to uncover all ruins to the Basic level before they move on to Advanced/Complete (you have an option to set a certain planet/ruins as "archeological priority" in such case they will do that one first to the Complete level and they assign max archeologists there)

- you can set "speed vs carefulness" (globally), speedy makes archeologists work faster but increases a chance for a failure (in such case the ruins change to "collapsed" and can't be explored further)

- you can assign more funds (globally) to archeologists (so you, kind of, have more of them)

 

Metagame:

In addition to standard undiggning reward there is a chance to discover "ancient tables/scriptures", these are kind of "archeological experience points" and when you reach certain amount of these you unlock certain knowledge (like can see transdimensional rifts on the map, unlocks some non standard technologies, get to know more of the game lord (history of the galaxy)).

Also, all idle archeologists have a chance to discover these ancient tables too (without the need of ruins).

 

[categories of diggables]

Sounds cute, if you have more of these, post.

I thought that was a pretty complete set of categories, unless you wanted more examples per category.

 

As far as excavating, that's actually quite different from what I was vaguely imagining.  I was thinking:

 

Scan - Examine a specific excavation site for X specific resource - costs N, requires 1 archeologist, takes T time (maybe 30s or 1 min), has 100% accuracy, does not actually excavate anything, just tells the player if it is there.  This is used if the player urgently needs a particular resource, to figure out where to excavate.

 

QuickNDirty Excavation - gains 0% of fragile category items, 50% of delicate category items, 90% of sturdy category items, and 100% of indestructible category items.  Costs 3N per site, requires 2 archeologists, takes 3T time.  Afterwards, the ruin is gone and can be developed with normal buildings.

 

Slow Excavation - gains 100% of everything, costs 4N per site, requires 2 archeologists, takes 6T time.  Afterwards, the ruin is gone and can be developed with normal buildings.

 

Costly Excavation - gains 100% of everything, costs 6N per site, requires 2 archeologists, takes 3T time.  Afterwards, the ruin is gone and can be developed with normal buildings.

 

Demolition - gains 0% of everything, costs 0N, does not require any archeologists, takes 2T time.  Afterwards, the ruin is gone and can be developed with normal buildings.

 

And for all of these you could get a bulk deal by doing a whole planet at once - save 10% or 20% of the cost.

Edited by sunandshadow

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Archeology is not just finding 'stuff'; it piecing together and intepreting/reading it to find the truths (even for advances in technology -- if you cant yet tell what something does, or what else it works with, then it might not be too valuable (yet).

 

So have amassing of evidence (lots of pieces which add upto some whole)  and stepwise elabotrations advancements upon basic finds.   Have 'experts' and specialists who have prior knowledge or techniques to build understaning of things found.

 

Have 'tomb/grave robbers/fortune hunters' whom you have to counter who steal/ruin stuff before you can get to them/work with the stuff for long enough - also competitors in your explorations who will try to get the 'value' first and even destroy things before you can get to them.  Likewise indigenous peoples/authorities whom you may need to placate to be able to do the work (or require their assistance in the work).

 

Central repositoriies of such archeological knowledge where previously found pieces of the puzzles might be found  or information about where to look (or where already been worked)  -- research  and academia etc...  (anbd pay for expeditions)   Rich patrons...   Explorer Societies ...   Governments .... (and foreign governments who might want to thwart them)

 

Lots of elements in the above typical factors to choose from..

 

 

 

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I would perhaps integrate the process of study into your research system, however you've decided that is going to work.  Because to a large extent it's a conceptually similar process and you might as well reuse the code and reuse the player's knowledge of the system.

 

So when you find a site, what it does is add a little 3-level tech tree into your research system, with the base node being just "Excavate site on Arturi B".  Once that research is complete, you get additional branches for whatever artifacts are there.  (So say there are two artifacts there, and you already know what one is, you'd then have a little tree with three nodes, two discovered and one not-yet-understood.)  If you research the artifact node, you figure out what it is.  (Like that it's a weapon technology, or it's a valuable art piece, etc.)  For simple things (like statues), that research is enough and you can use/sell/whatever it.  For complicated things (like technologies), you get a third-level node in the tree, and if you research that, you get the scientific/technological breakthrough corresponding to it.

 

I like the idea of careful vs. sloppy research, it adds a bit of gambling to make archaeology different than research in general.  (Maybe instead of a slider, it could be a project-by-project thing, where you can choose a careful/sloppy value upon selecting that project.)

 

Two more diggables:

  • Finding an ancient star map lets you know where other sites of the same civilization are.
  • Finding a collection of ancient alien texts gives you the third-level project of deciphering that language, so that for future finds from the same civilization you can skip the second step in research.  (So you still have to excavate, and you still have to work to assimilate scientific/technological breakthroughs into human knowledge, but you know what things are automatically because you can just read the labels.)
Edited by valrus

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I thought that was a pretty complete set of categories, unless you wanted more examples per category.
Sure, more examples would be nice (it was fun and inspiring to read :)), especially the artifact/weird/alien tech ones.

 


Perhaps (as sunandshadow suggested) allow the player the option of bulldozing ruins: this makes way for construction, but removes the ruin from that planet and thus removes the opportunity for a discovery. This might provide some interesting choices for the player; for example, when under pressure to build more infrastructure, is it worth accepting the price of putting off development for the chance of uncovering something useful in the ruins, or is it better to just give up on the ruins and focus on construction?
I was thinking and I do not want mixing different subsystems (balance horror later). Like in this case economy (planetary infrastructure) and discivery (archeologists). Also, it's kind of cruel/lame choice for the player. I mean we are pitting "increasing +0.35 to industry" (economy) vs "let me know what's inside" (curiousity), it's cruel, just cruel :D It's not a fun choice to make (as a player I *WANT* to know what's out there, I don't want the game asking me if I want to know it or not, I want to know it by default, no point asking :D)

 

If we were to mix subsystems, archeology/ruins/discovery should be mixed with research system (these are compatible mentally, research is kind of  discovery/unlocking things as well).

 


I would perhaps integrate the process of study into your research system
Yeah, my thought as well. Archeologists are compatible with research system for sure.

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I think there should be two different kinds of ruins.

 

Firstly ruins of civilisations less advanced than your own culture which when excavated yield art, gems, cultural and historical items of monetary value only.

 

Then secondly ruins of cultures more advanced than your own.

 

It is more obvious immediately when found which of the two it is so you can decide if you want to bother excavating it

 

The first type takes less time to excavate and extract value from, whereas the second type takes longer and you may have to wait until you have advanced yourself to understand it. Instead of monetary values though it yields extra tech and research trees of strategic value.

 

Thoughts? 

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I mean we are pitting "increasing +0.35 to industry" (economy) vs "let me know what's inside" (curiousity), it's cruel, just cruel

That was somewhat the point. :P

 


It's not a fun choice to make ...

I think that players of the roguelike genre might differ on that. But fair enough--if it's not the sort of choice that you find enjoyable, then it's likely not a good fit for your game.

 

I do like the "mini tech-tree" idea that valrus suggested.

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I think there should be two different kinds of ruins.
Yes... It's a nice idea.

 

Maybe like this:

- each ruin has 9 levels of excavation

- after completing level 1 you discover what kind of ruin it is (2-3 powerful extinct ancient races (these ruins yeld tech/artifact goodies) and one of an inferior race (these ruins yeld luxury/trade goodies only), the placement of these ruins is semi random (certain parts of the galaxy have significantly higher chance of having certain ruin type)

- after discovering the ruin type you can prioritize (globally), like "Excavate Vorlon ruins first"

- each ancient race's ruins type generate separate "knowledge points", so there are sort of "two trees of upgrades", and you might want to focus on just one type of runins (to go faster to the most powerful knowledge).

 


So when you find a site, what it does is add a little 3-level tech tree into your research system, with the base node being just "Excavate site on Arturi B". Once that research is complete, you get additional branches for whatever artifacts are there. (So say there are two artifacts there, and you already know what one is, you'd then have a little tree with three nodes, two discovered and one not-yet-understood.) If you research the artifact node, you figure out what it is. (Like that it's a weapon technology, or it's a valuable art piece, etc.) For simple things (like statues), that research is enough and you can use/sell/whatever it. For complicated things (like technologies), you get a third-level node in the tree, and if you research that, you get the scientific/technological breakthrough corresponding to it.
I was thinking, and I think it should work some other way. I mean, there should be some connection with research, for sure, but a whole new tech tree inside research system... I don't know sounds too messy too much (not sure what I don't like there, but somehow it feels a bit wrong to me).

 

Originally I was thinking of a whole new field of research "Alien" but... didn't like it either :D

 

I agree with the "more excavation unlocks more goodies" premise. But maybe not exactly technolgies (or not only)? Like if you discover ancient black matter generator you get permanent +10% to research points generated for Energy field of research only? Not sure...

 

BTW, here is the current Research screen: https://www.facebook.com/PocketSpaceEmpire/photos/a.1518291948449273.1073741828.1518285091783292/1570895763188891/?type=1&theater

maybe it would help (first res.points are divided into fields of research and later you spend these points on techs in each field separately).

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