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Monday, May 30, 2011

Research progress

Looks like the last released version is the final version after all, because I've started work on research part of the game. The framework for research is now implemented. It now processes research per turn, and have the code ready for the UI. Everything is implemented for research, except for the research screen, and the sitrep report of a technology that've reached completion.

I'd like to take the time to explain how technology will work in this game. It's not quite the same as other 4x games that I've played. I think all of them have either one-time research for each technology, or limited amounts of levels you can research. For example, in Master of Orion, once you've researched Stellar Converter, you now have that weapon. You can't improve on it except by researching higher technologies that help minitazure the weapon. In Space Empires, you can research the same technology several times, but then the limit is reached.

The improvements either reduces space, or improves damage, but in most cases, it also requires re-designing your ships to use the latest technology. The way my game's technology works aims to minimize frequent ship re-designs.

For one, a technology's space usage is always the same. If level 1 laser cannon requires 7 space, it will always require 7 space, even if it's level 25 or 1,000. What's different is that the damage output is improved. The accuracy stays the same. It's the same with other fields. Engines move faster, but use the same amount of space.

Now you might be thinking, why no minitazurations? My goal is to prevent the "Ultimate Ship Design" that you can put all the best weapons and own everyone with just one ship design. I wanted a "Rock, Paper, Scissors" approach. So different engines will take up different amount of space, each with their own galaxy and combat speed. Different armors and shields performs differently against each weapon type. Different computers impacts the efficiency of different weapons.

If an armor is 80% effective against particle weapons, it means it takes 120% of the damage. If a shield is 50% effective against particle weapon, then it absorbs 50% of its total resistance from the damage before the damage is applied to the armor.

So if I have the armor and shield as described above, and the shield's resistance is 4, and the particle weapon does 10 damage, then the shield absorbs 2 points of damage before it's applied to armor. The remaining 8 is boosted to 9.6 damage due to the armor's weakness against particle weapons. So 9.6 points is deducted from the ship's HP.

Computers can either boost or gimp different weapons. SO you can't just pack a lot of death rays, and huge bombs, and expect it to handle everything. You need ships that's dedicated to bombing, and ships that's dedicated to beam weapons. If a comptuer have 50% beam efficiency, all beam weapons on that ship have its damage cut by 50%, and its accuracy cut by 50% as well.

If you have any questions about how technologies work in my game, feel free to post them in comments!


  1. So how do technologies work in BB? You said that you aim to minimize frequency of ship designs. Does that mean level 2 and higher are immediately applied, like upgrades in most real time strategies?

    Will there be level cap? Your post suggests that answer is "no", but it's not clear.

    Personally, I'm not fan of unlimited tech levels. Mostly because of my experience with Space Empires V. Almost every tech in that game is limited to level 100 (you already know that, but other readers may not :)) and each level linearly increases techs benefit. That linearity makes late game boring. For example, level 51 anti capital missiles are about 2% better (have more damage) than level 50. To make things worse, developers decided (in vanilla version) to make only one direct damage missile tech because of these 100 researchable levels. In Master of Orion II, upgrading form nuclear missiles to merculites felt like upgrade. In SE5, upgrading anything from level 20 to level 21 didn't feel like much of improvement. So how to make unlimited techs fun? Well, by making benefits increase more then linearly. For example, instead of damage*(1 + 0,1 * level), make it damage*(1 + 0,1 * level ^ 1,5).

    Anyway, in vanilla Zvjezdojedac, technologies will have up to 10 levels. For me, it's more natural to label similar techs with different names. I mean, it's more natural to player's eyes to have reactor techs named "fission reactor", "fusion reactor", "anti-matter reactor" then "reactor level 10", "reactor level 20" and "reactor level 30".

  2. Yes, higher level technologies are automatically applied to ships that use those technologies. It's part of your maintenance fee for your ships.

    Right now, there's no level cap. However, you can specify level cap for different technologies (-1 meaning infinite), so you could customize a tech to be only 5 levels, while another may be capped to 10. The support for level caps is already in the game.

    I plan to have a mixture of different technologies, so you're not limited to just one missile tech like in Space Empires V that you mentioned (I only played IV). Different technologies will have different damages/accuracites. My goal is to make you think "Should I improve what I have, or get the new technology". Sometimes it's better to upgrade what you have since you already have ships employing those technologies. Sometimes you need new technologies when you feel the old technologies are reaching the end of their usefulness.

    The only time you'll see "Level 10" is in the research screen/sitrep report. In Ship Design and Space Combat, it'll just say "Laser Cannon" listing its damage that've factored in the tech increases.

    I want to employ many different technologies, and at the same time, allow the players to improve on those technologies. Some technologies you won't be able to research until you've defeated some space monsters or sentinels.

    If you don't like the technologies that the game comes with, you can create a new technology file that includes the techs you want, you can specify 1 level cap so each tech can be only researched once, and so forth.