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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Planets Screens Done, and Thoughts on Technology

I've finished implementing the "Apply" button, and fixed some incorrect icon placements in the planets screen. Everything is working beautifully!

The next thing for me to do is finish the technology system. I've redone it in the past, but I'm not really happy with the result, so I think I may re-do it again.

I'm thinking of a system where the technologies you can research are randomized (with creative trait resulting in less missing technologies). Also, the technology's pre-requisites would be randomized as well, unless they have explicit requirements in the data file, to avoid "teching" strategies like in Civilization and to spice things up every game.

For example, say Plasma Cannon is level 40. It have a random pre-requisite of a level 34 Auto Repair. You will need to research Auto Repair first before you can research Plasma Cannon. In a new game, it now have a pre-requisite of Level 37 Fusion Engine. However, if Stargate technology have a pre-requisite of "Singularity Torpedo" in the xml file, it will always have that pre-requisite. So it supports a system where all technologies have certain pre-requisites (similar to Civilization), or randomized (kinda, but not quite so, like MoO 1), or a mix of both, depending on the technology file. A technology may be a pre-requisite for more than one advanced technology, and a technology may have more than one pre-requisite.

I also am thinking of removing the "6 fields", and have a list of possible technologies to research, and you can research up to 8 different technologies at a time. To add an item to research, just click on the item that you want to research, then "Research". Once it's added to the list of items currently being researched, it can't be removed. When it's done researching, it will be removed, opening up a slot for the next project.

It looks like I'm going to do research screen first before the other screens :) Feedback/comments on this system? I'm sleep-deprived, so if the idea sounds crazy, it might be :)


  1. The trouble with randomized prequisites is it as in your example makes not a jot of sense from an in universe perspective.

    "I researched advanced garden landscaping and unlocked the ability to build phasic megadoomer cannons...what? what?! what?!" *headexplosion*

    In short unless you can have the randomizer know something of rhyme or reason it's a bad idea.

    Also on an unrelated note. How many ships do you forsee us parallel building simultaneously and how control will we have over allocating resources to the projects?

  2. Hmm, yeah, guess I'll stay with the current system of "5 levels". If you research a technology in the top 5 available levels, it unlocks the next 5 levels (not 5 technologies, there may be only one technology in level 10-15 for example). Similar to MoO 1.

    As for building projects (ships, terraforming, etc), you add projects to list of current projects. There's no limit to projects, and you allocate percentages of your overall production. So if you add two ships, you can set one to 70%, and another at 30%. You can scrap projects and get some salvage (not 100% though) from those projects.

  3. This suggestion is pretty similar to the research system of Space Empires 4 - except the random prerequisites, which is crazy.
    The only thing I could imagine for that to make it work is to have a list of possible prerequisites for every tech and randomization would choose only from those.

    In fact I have a very detailed (and AFAIK original) research system idea you could use, but as I am developing (in slow motion :( ) a similar game I haven't decided yet to reveal it to you - sorry.

  4. one possible way to have randomized prequisites is to take a step towards rhyme and reason by giving every technology A. a value score so that you dont have to research the wave motion gun before the plasma pelle gun(A prequisite must have less than or equal value to the tech its a prequisitie to in other words)

    and B. a category designation from a set of possibilities (If we were ripping off MOO2 these categories could be power,construction,chemistry etc) so prequisites are only selected from the same category. So you wont get construction tech as a prequisite to the wave motion gun(power) but you would get power prequisites.

  5. TBSS - Do you have a website or a blog for your game? I would love to check it out!

    Warped Realities - Maybe a simpler system would work. Let's say that Plasma cannon is level 40, but with "fudge factor" of 15. That means it could show up between level 25 and 55. You unlock the next 5 levels by researching a technology in top 5 levels in your list. No pre-requisites to worry about, just whether or not it will show up in your list, and at which part of the game. How does that sound?

  6. Sounds workable. I was just proposing a way of salvaging your extremely silly idea was all.

  7. Heh, looking at it again, yeah it is silly. It was 12 AM when I thought of that. No more posting ideas at 12 AM for me :) I was trying to think of a research system that's fun and something that you'd like to manage.

    Unless anyone offers a better idea, I'm going ahead with levels and "fudge factors" for semi-randomized technology trees. I will keep the 6 fields, and only research one item from each field, similar to MoO 1.

  8. One item from each field. Is that per level MoO2 style where you pick one tech per level and can't get the other level techs except for tech trading

    or just we can have six possible research projects running and we can't have more than 1 project in a field of study at a time?

  9. Hmm, I haven't actually considered MoO 2's style, because I didn't really like it. It would be a very interesting design choice if I combine MoO 1 ability to research 6 projects at once with MoO 2's losing ability to research certain technologies per level.

    The randomization of tech levels (level +/- fudge factor) can create situations where choices are no-brainer (awesome weapon, crappy radar, crappy weapon), or very very tough (awesome beam, awesome torpedo, awesome projectile). It will prevent memorization of which choices to pick because it won't be the same each game.

    Maybe I can add an option at game setup screen where you pick whether or not you lose technologies per selection, so players can pick the playstyle they prefer? I think that'd be a good feature.

  10. I of course have no objection to more new game options.

  11. I have set up a MediaWiki to keep my ideas together, but it's not publicly available - I want to make money out of it, if I ever finish it... :(
    Half of the problem is that I consider my ideas original and valuable - what a hybris, I know :)
    The other half is that I progress so slowly, that anyone could take them - even unintentionally...
    The only reasons I keep thinking on giving it to you are that:
    - there is non-zero chance that I will never finish my game :(
    - your game seems to be interesting, with pretty similar design choices than mine (except the fleet vs. ship approach)
    - you seem to create Linux version as well, which is important for me

    Of course it may easily happen, that you will finish your game by the time I make the decision -> you will not be interested anymore in my solution for research, diplomacy or micromanagement

    Regarding your current idea: it's not bad. Though nothing exciting, but it's similar enough to MOO1 solution to be familiar to everyone.

    Optionalized MOO2 solution: I would be careful about making too much options for the users. This is a design decision, and you should not leave it to your users. You are creating a game, not a game creation framework. However I may be wrong - Space Empires 4 has large set of similar options. Although I hate those options, probably several users like it - otherwise they would have removed them...

  12. Not to be offensive, but the problem with ideas is that they're dime a dozen. Most of the time, those ideas never come into reality. For example, how many successful MoO 2 clones do you see? I see a lot of failed projects.

    This is why I don't worry about other people stealing my game ideas for this game, even when I posted my ideas freely. 4X space games is a genre that's very difficult to develop compared to other genres.

    I'm not trying to persuade you to tell me your ideas, just that ideas are worthless until they're actually executed. I'm satisfied with my research system. However, I do have a lot of ideas for an sequel to this game if this game is successful. So if that happens, new ideas are welcome.

    As for the options, currently there's only two options so far: Permanent Alliances and Only One Per Level. They are pretty big game changers. I'm not adding trivial options such as "Increase Space Monster Spawning by 5%", those kind of options can be modded in through data files.

    Another thing, this game runs on SlimDX, which requires DirectX. I've been considering about converting it to OpenGL for portability, and possibly putting it on Android. But those won't happen until after the game's done. If there are enough demand for this, then I will convert it, no worries.

  13. Regarding MoO2 clones: I could name a few, but only as a side finding - I've always tried to find MoO1 clones. However I agree, most projects I have found are unfinished. And I have to admit my game is almost in this category: I am working on it in my spare time (LOL) in the last 5-8 years (couldn't tell you exactly when I started it) and basically only the main screen, the diplomacy and the research system is done.

    However I have to disagree on the cheapness of ideas: one simple idea is cheap for sure - but if you want to build a consistent system of ideas then the costs (in time) are increasing exponentially. And I will definitely not sell my ideas to you on a 120 ideas / 1 USD price :)

    But you don't have to worry about your ideas, I agree on that part: you are progressing so fast, that's amazing itself - if you keep your momentum, noone can steel them before you finish.

    Regarding your hint on SlimDX: if I understand correctly that means Windows-only game again... Which is surprising to me, because I remember some Linux versions from the beginning of this project - or am I wrong? I will try to find them.

  14. I've used SlimDX from the very beginning of this project. I never compiled a Linux version. You might be thinking of the ReMoO project that I've started which uses OpenGL, and could be theoretically ported over to Linux/Mac. As of now, I don't have a Mac or Linux so I'm unable to create those builds.

    That's true, there's virtually no MoO 1 clones, which is the main reason why I'm developing Beyond Beyaan! :)