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About valrus

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    Artificial Intelligence
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  1. Terrain changes are most interesting when players are frequently moving around; otherwise it's kind of just another way of saying "buff/debuff". But I can see why you want to keep battles short; I can still play the SNES-era RPGs because battles are over so quickly. What about a tug-of-war mechanic, where the battle line moves left and right across the battlefield depending on player/enemy advantage, and running the opponent off the screen is a win? Like the Chocobo Eater battle in Final Fantasy X? That combined with manipulable terrain is an interesting combination, because the characters/enemies are being pushed/pulled on and off buffed/debuffed terrain, and that sets up interesting decisions. But it's still compatible with having quite fast battles; it's not like you have the freedom of movement and action that makes a SRPG tactical battle so much slower.
  2. valrus

    How do you make the player the star?

    Another thing that Sid Meier has talked about, relevant to this, is the personification of "Leaders" in Civilization. He talked about two reasons for having other leaders being personified in the game, (1) as a salient historical thing that a non-historian player will likely have heard of but also (2) because it helps with the role-playing aspect, like "What would make a player feel like they're a world leader?""To interact with the great leaders of history as an equal". (Same goes for building Wonders. Like even someone whose grasp of history isn't great has heard of the Pyramids, and also building the Pyramids makes you feel like a powerful leader.) Sid Meier's games usually have you being the most interesting and most-full-of-agency person in the situation. You're not a spectator, or a random person watching something bigger than you, you're not the Chancellor while someone else is the emperor, etc. That's on purpose, it's a part of his design philosophy, and also on-purpose are the role-playing elements (in the literal sense, I don't mean RPG-elements) that reinforce "you're the emperor", "you're the swashbuckling pirate", etc. Also related: his insistence that the player is the one who gets to have the fun, not the programmer or the simulation. The neat, cool stuff shouldn't be happening behind the scenes with the player reacting to it. (Like it's hard to imagine a Sid Meier studio making Crusader Kings II, with the player reacting to the wild swings of history generated by a largely opaque simulation; in many ways that's the opposite of his play philosophy.)
  3. valrus

    Rpg magic alternatives

    I think it's hard to mix low fantasy and explanations, it ends up in the kind of worldbuilding and system-building of high fantasy. Especially with the crystal theme. Maybe to keep it low, give it overtones of religion instead? Like they're fragments of bones from something giant and dead and possibly divine, that fall from the sky or float up from the deep. There are conflicting expectations about what they really are and how they manage to influence the world, but some nations revere them as holy relics and others exploit them for more practical purposes. (In some ways that's more "magical", but it at least avoids "stock videogame high magic" with crystals, elemental energy types, mana and spells, etc.) For where the energy/activation/drive comes from, maybe go the other way around: maybe you don't have to work to release the energy, but work to contain it. Say the crystals are constantly radiating energy unless prevented by doing so by (say) a circle of chanting monk/engineers, a circle of crystals of the opposite "polarity", some holy symbols that contain the evil in the crystal, whatever. In order to drive the ship, the monks/anticrystals shift positions to leave gaps, releasing energy in particular directions. However, if too much of the containing circle is destroyed (too many monks dead in combat, too many anticrystals shattered, etc.), there's nothing to contain the energy, resulting in a catastrophic detonation. That gives an important tactical difference between ship types: when in close combat with a crystal ship, you want to go for precision strikes or boarding, lest you damage the containment circle and take out your own ship(s) in the process.
  4. valrus

    Space 4X - military bases

    Hmmm. I think base protection has to not stack, or else the player is incentivized to build a base on every planet. (Like, oh, here are five planets within a radius, I'll build five bases to get a 5x bonus.) I mean, you could do diminishing returns, like having protection increase logarithmically rather than linearly, but I think it's just easier to say "you're covered or you're not". (Or if you have different levels of bases as technology improves, "you're covered by whichever base is strongest". So the maximum of local protection rates, rather than the sum. But I like the simplicity of "bases provide a standard level of protection, and all bonuses to that come from special mobile units with personality.) What about special fleet bonus stacking? I think special fleet bonus stacking is fine; you only have a few of those anyway, and if they all have a different bonus it's interesting to try different combinations. Two more questions: Can one base host several special fleets, or should it be exclusive? (Or maybe it's a matter of planet size, or technology, like advanced bases can support one more special fleet.) Can a base be destroyed while a special fleet is headquartered there? Like, if the base provides 100 resistance points, and Admiral Smou's Irregulars multiply that by 1.25 or extend its radius by 20 light years, what happens if the base is destroyed? Is there no protection? But presumably the Irregulars themselves provide some resistance, so maybe they offer both a multiplier bonus and some resistance of their own. Or, just, make it so that the special forces are always the first to die, so it never comes up that they're left on a planet without a base.
  5. valrus

    Space 4X - military bases

    I like the idea of radii, which makes it a bit more like police protection in SimCity rather than fleets in MoO. You choose a planet to be a military base, and planets within a certain volume are protected. (Or, if your space map consists of a graph of jump lanes or something similar, planets within n jumps are protected.) Maybe have two systems of protection, each pretty simple. Bases are permanent, and can have as many military bases as you can afford, and those give a certain radius and degree of protection. You can also have up to twelve non-base "fleets", which need a base to support them. Fleets are treated as an atomic unit (you don't know or care about the specific ships in them) that give some specific bonus (like wider radius, or better protection, or increased reinforcements, or better morale, etc.) to the base they're stationed at. You can reassign a fleet to a different base at any time, although (of course) there's a period of some weeks where the fleet is in transit and doesn't give any bonus anywhere.
  6. It's all equally imaginary; cryptocurrencies can be the underpinning of a working economy just as well as pieces of paper or shiny metals. Why will Boeing make me an airplane if I give it lots of pieces of paper? Because their supplies accept it, their employees accept it, and on down the line, and the employees accept it because grocery stores and banks accept it... What keeps it going? A shared understanding that the pieces of paper are "worth something", combined with a government decree that businesses have to accept them. The benefits of deciding that crypto underpins the economy in your game world is that it's immediately empire-wide by nature (like you don't have to transport it), and it's produced by buildings you already have (power plants and/or research centers). It's basically a way of theming "energy" as "funds", without having to worry about how you actually transport "energy" across the map.
  7. I think the best fit for a near-future postapocolyptic setting would be cryptocurrencies. So your funds would be determined by unutilized computing power. Essentially it'd mean an oppositional relationship between research (using your computing cycles to solve real problems) and money (using your computing cycles to solve meaningless problems that make you money).
  8. valrus

    Space game ideas?

    I like it; there aren't very many few first-person six-degrees-of-freedom games that aren't pew-pew.  In addition to your other ideas (which are good), I think I'd like to play a "delivery" game with 6DoF, like flying around and through a complex space station picking up and delivering things/people/aliens.  Aliens would mean lots of neat life-support switches (like picking up a Qchari you need to vent oxygen in pod 2 and fill it with methane, and get the temperature down to 5 degrees), and com switches (like for being hailed or for communicating with your passenger). There's a natural upgrade system there, too -- you get money, you buy more passenger modules, additional life support options, translation capabilities for your com, access to station shortcuts, etc.
  9. valrus

    Plants in a robotic world.

    I don't see the benefit to the "bee" in the second scenario.  I mean, there could be some malicious plants that infect bees to turn them into living seeds, but if the entire ecosystem is built on that, you're going to run out of bees. Also note that in a robot world, your larger plants won't necessarily need intermediaries to transmit data; a big, powered metal stalk can be a radio transmitter/antenna on its own, with a reach of the square root of its height times about 3600.
  10. I'd add it to overhead.  Every month there's some overhead for (say) marketing, multiplied by the number of unique products.  So if you have five products that's $500 a month, but if you have 30 that's $3000 a month.
  11. The only thing about the visual design of Chrono Trigger that you wouldn't have with your idea is that the Chrono Trigger designers always knew exactly how the ground would intersect any shape.  (Chrono Trigger special attacks aren't occluded by objects in the scenery, if I remember correctly, the only thing about the level that would constrain their shape is the ground, and that's always at the same angle and distance from the camera so they never have to change.)  You would need to keep track of the angle of, and distance to, the ground around each posible spell-target point, and its distance from the camera, so that you could display the correct section of the cone or sphere at the correct scale. On the other hand, thinking about "pre-rendered" here (rather than just thinking about "static vs dynamic camera") may have you limiting your options.  If you're making the environments in 3d in the first place, just render them, don't *pre*-render them.  You're not running this on a Super Nintendo or PS1; the system will be happy to render whatever you can (reasonably) make.  That'll take care of rendering the proper conic sections and spherical caps without you having to keep track of where the ground is by some other means, and also handle occlusion by scenery in a way Chrono Trigger didn't.
  12. There was a "one-switch" competition years ago (back when one-switch brought to mind disability accessibility rather than mobile interfaces) where the winning entry was about a little ship that traveled solely by attraction to environmental features.  Hitting the one button in the game turned the attraction on and off.   Also, don't forget Ikaruga!
  13. You could find old mining surveys, but be unable to actually interpret them until you've done some mining yourself.  Like "Okay, I think that thing represents the river, because it forks twice in quick succession like that river does.  There's a bunch of glyphs over here and there, but I don't know what they mean, like does this one mean 'coal' and this sort of hat above it mean 'at the surface', or maybe 'a lot of' or 'not much of'..."  You have to scout out the area and do some mining to test your hypotheses, and as your hypotheses are verified or fasified you gain the ability to read the maps (and thus not have to do so much manual investigation for the rest of the game).
  14. valrus

    Passive Custom Tactical?

    Gratuitous Space Battles
  15. valrus

    Sending out heroes on quests

    Setting aside the larger gameplay loops for the moment (e.g., what money buys, how your guild/town/etc. develops, the main plot arc), the core loop of this sort of game is a gambling game a lot like poker.  You choose a hand (your heroes) and hope that alone or in combination they can face an unknown competing hand (the challenges that the heroes will face during the mission), and often there are "tells" in the game that hint at what the challenges are going to be.   If this core loop isn't fun, it can be tough to build a good game around.  But to some extent we can guess whether it will be fun by wondering if the equivalent poker-like game would be fun.  So consider "sending out heroes on jobs" in the Final Fantasy Tactics series.  It isn't by itself a lot of fun; it'd be like poker where you only choose one card at a time (the hero you're sending), and then wait and see if it's higher than another card or the right suit (the hidden requirements for the job, like having high strength or being a dragoon).  It's fine as a minor mechanic in an otherwise complex game, but it'd be too tedious if it were the core gameplay loop.   Given the perennial popularity of poker-like games, adding mechanics from poker is a possible way to keep the core loop interesting (rather than having a tedious core loop supported by external incentives).   Most obviously, treating the heroes more like a poker hand by giving the heroes properties in combination with each other that they wouldn't have alone. In some forms of poker, you gain more information as the round proceeds, and can make decisions based on your better understanding of the situation and its stakes.  Maybe you get letters from your heroes noting a changed situation and asking for advice.  "The duke fortified the castle with more troops.  Do we still attack at dawn, do we give up and go home, or wait a week for you to send reinforcements?" Letting the "opponent" "fold" when outmatched ("The enemy abandoned the castle and ran away!") adds some tension when the opponent *doesn't* fold.  Are they more powerful than they let on, or are they bluffing? Having "community cards", random elements that are shared between the player's team and the "opponent".  Like after sending them out on the mission, a sandstorm arises. Does this help your team overcome the challenge (so press ahead), or make it more difficult (so run away)?
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