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PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2003 2:32 pm 
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This thread is for informational purposes only. It describes the Hearts of Iron technology model that was passed a while back. There are several facets of a tech tree as it applies to us which have not been passed; I will try to indicate which pieces we actually want.

Hearts of Iron has a large number of tech categories. In each category, there are several levels of theory, and under each theory there are several levels of application. Some of the categories are broad, while others are less so; off the top of my head, I can think of the following (it's been a while since I played HoI though)

Infantry
Tanks
Electronics
Industry
Nuclear Science
Naval Technology
Submarines
Rocektry
Light Aircraft (fighters)
Heavy Aircraft (bombers)
Military Doctrine (land)
Military Doctrine (air)
Military Doctrine (Sea)

In each category, the actual 'discoveries' are applications that live underneath theories. Infantry, for example, has several levels of Command and Control theory. Theories can sometimes give you bonuses to things, but generally that's reserved for applications. For Command and Control (C&C), the theories might be something like 'Intermediate C&C' or 'Advanced C&C' which would have descriptions (and a little graphic) explaining how they are more advanced than the previous level. Each application under C&C would improve the organization (similar to morale) of a particular kind of soldier, or it would improve their ability to detect enemies, and so on. Many theories require theory research from other branches, and many applications require multiple previous theories, sometimes also from other branches.

This is all fairly straightforward. Here's where it starts to really separate from MOO.

The MOO research model says that 'a research project takes X amount of points and an empire generates Y amount of points per turn. When X = Y, give them the tech.' This model is tried and true, and while I don't have an enormous problem with it, one of the criticisms it has faced is that, late-game, everything just starts rolling in and you get the 'every Empire maxed' situation fairly rapidly. You can increase the cost of the tech, but sooner or later, an empire will be able to get a large amount of tech very quickly. Since it's a sci-fi setting, people don't necessarily have a problem with this, but in HoI terms, it would be like researching the atom bomb from start to finish in a month.

The HoI model assigns a point value and a time value to each project. For example, 'Sloped armor' for tanks might require 6 research points and 120 days. If you begin this project, you lose those 6 research points that you are generating for 120 days. Even if you have 300 research points, you cannot spend more than the maximum number of points on a project to speed it up; it will always take 120 days (caveat: there is tech in HoI that reduces the amount of time for certain research. We could easily do the same thing. But this is a one time reduction and it is usually something like 2-3% per time-speeding tech).

What you can do with the HoI model is have several projects going at once. I'm trying to remain unbiased about the current design issue, but this seems to favor the 'many categories' approach, since with fewer categories (and thus fewer cross-branch dependencies), you cannot research too much at once since you are perpetually waiting for some level of theory to be unlocked; with more branches but shallower branches, you can research across the tree, so the empire that focuses on research does get rewarded.

The flip side of this approach is that you can do nothing without a minimum number of research points. If a project requires 6 RP, and you only have 3, you cannot begin the project and simply have it take twice as long. This, however, was one area that we determined we may wish to alter for our purposes, so this was explicitly noted as being mutable later on - if we want to allow this, we can. It will be part of a design thread later.

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 Post subject: HOI tech tree
PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2003 3:36 pm 
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I have never played (or even heard of HOI) but that tech tree idea sounds like a good one. I have always thought that the Tech came too quickly. A lot of the time you cant keep up with the buildings/ship upgrades because the tech comes at you too fast and it makes so many tech's obsolite to fast.

I think it would be a good idea to be able to speed up the tech a little by adding more points to it but make it VERY expensive to do this so much so that maybe all of your other projects are going to take longer to complete since you have been diverting resources from them to complete this project.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2003 5:54 pm 
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I agree with your end but not with your means.

To say 'you can speed up a project a little by spending more points on it' creates an interface nightmare. Right now, we have 'start project' and 'stop project.' If we also must assign points to a project, then you're not really starting it just by pushing a button, are you?

I support HoI's solution to this - have certain techs that slow other things down. We can come up with a means of starting a project with fewer points than is necessary simply with a third button, but I'd rather not introduce a whole 'point assignment' method.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 8:45 am 
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The HoI method sounds great. But we should be careful on "how long" a project takes. If we start getting too excessive with time amounts for techs, then a research intensive race will suffer, a lot. And what happens when we run out of things to reasearch?
I believe we have already agreed to having 3 seperate areas. i.e. applied, theory, and refinement. thus for applied, and theory we can have the HoI model, but for refinement we can have a more tradition moo touch to it. That way when applied and theory is maxed, we can throw all our points at refinement. Including miniturization, maximize damage, and reducing cost, etc.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 4:15 pm 
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PowerCrazy wrote:
The HoI method sounds great. But we should be careful on "how long" a project takes. If we start getting too excessive with time amounts for techs, then a research intensive race will suffer, a lot. And what happens when we run out of things to reasearch?
I believe we have already agreed to having 3 seperate areas. i.e. applied, theory, and refinement. thus for applied, and theory we can have the HoI model, but for refinement we can have a more tradition moo touch to it. That way when applied and theory is maxed, we can throw all our points at refinement. Including miniturization, maximize damage, and reducing cost, etc.


This first part is probably going a bit off topic, but IMO races should be VERY different. Like, for a researching race, soemthing could take 20 turns to research. For a non-researching one, like 30 or 40. Big differences in other things too. Anyway, I think (in general) the tech tree should be as simple yet powerful as possible.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 10:28 pm 
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Balancing this for races is not part of the current discussion.

Also, 'refinement' was never passed as a separate category. It seems to me be simply 'an application that is better than a previous application.' If we need to make this more explicit somehow, we'll address it, though, I don't think it would be difficult to call some things refinements and others just applications.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2003 10:20 am 
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I have often chaffed at the whole "reserach Points" Tech cost of X stuff. Admitedly it is simple but it realy breaks down at high levels.


If you will let me go off on a bit of a tangent here to try to analize how real scientist do reserch and why discovering the A-bomb in 6 months is rediculous.

First off Science starts with Scientists. These people need to have extensive and focused schooling in their particular field, once the graduate they start contributing to the growing body of knowlage in their field. In any particular field of reserach their will be a number of "problems" that the scientific comunity focuses on. In theoretical Sciences like Cosmology lots of people will spend a lot of time thinking about these problems, and then finaly after countless fruitless hours one guy (usaly some poor grad student) will have a Eureaka moment and will gain an insight on a tiny portion of the problem. But now this tidbit of information must be diseminated to other scientist, this is ware scientific journals come in. By constantly reading these scientists stay abrest of the latest ideas in their field. As the idea is spread about other scientists will try to confirm or refute the idea. This inevitably takes time and money and much more thinking, many ideas get shoot down, some linger on championed by their creators, a few very insightfull ideas are found to be correct. Many untimatly sucessfull theories grow by slow acumulations of smaller ideas each discoverd by differnet people rather then the Single Einstein like character (This is particularly true of String Theory which has been growing like this for over 30 years). But before reserach can move on to other parts of a problem the great breakthrough must be "absorbed" by the scientific comunity, no one can contribute if they are not "on the same page". If the idea is big enough like General Relivity it could take a generation for full intigration down to the level of the general population (and admited most people are not familiar with relativity). As more and more people and scientists absorbe a discovery the chance that they can make a substantive contribution to the next level of knowlage incresseses. Many such contributions are the result of "cross polination" in which a scientist already knows one idea that has aplication in a differnt field of reserach and they learn of a new idea or problem and realize their is a fruitfull connection between the two.

Lets look at what we have.

1 - Each scientist who is up to date in their field has a chance to have a Eureaka and make a breakthrough. The more scientists are working in the field the more Eureakas will be generated.

2 - The Eureaka must be debated over by the rest of the Scientists before it becomes a real confirmend discovery. Eureaka's thus have a "gestation time" before they affect the rest of the comunity.

3 - After such a discovery other scientists and in a sense the whole civalization must absorb the advancement inorder for future progress to be made. Thus a Eureaka temporarily reduces the chance of another Eureaka being generated in the same field no matter how many scientists are working on the field.

4 - As the idea is absorbed, secondary cross-polination can happen across unrelated fields. A Eureaka in one field can trigger additional onces in other often totaly unrelated fields.

As we can see the rate of discoveris would by nessesity not incresse linerarly with the number of scientists working in a field. If we consider "research point" output of an empire as representing a quantity of up to date scientists working in a field rather then a linear meashurment of scientist "work" then we would have a better handle on the problem. Research points would no longer "acumulate" into a pile of "points", the instead represent a chance to make a discovery. The player would alocate research between the desired reserach goals by a bar and slider method like that of MOO1. These points would then be multiplied by a % that reflects the chance of a Eureaka occurring in the each individual Research point will make a Eureaka (This this constantly changing number is called the Eureaka% and is very important to determing reserach rates). The product would thus be the chance of a Eureaka in the whole group. Each turn the Eureaka% incresses slightly. When a Eureaka occurs it greatly reduces the Eureaka% as the comunity absorbs the discover. The affect would last for several turns and would not be reset by addition Eureakas so reserach is in essence self limiting.

Conversly their would be a slight incresse in the Eureaka% of other fields. Lastly changing the reserch alocation of a project upwards (in raw Reserach Points) pushes the % downwards for a period of time proportional to the amount of upwards movment, this represents the time needed for these new scientist to get versed in the field. lowering the alocation can recoup some of the loss (as it will be the newest least up-to-date guys who are removed first)

After an apropriate number of Eureaka's are generated the whole problem is "Solved" and the player recives the desired goodies. A new project can then be started but the Eureaka% will start low and grow slowly (note that the incresse in the Eureaka% is not affected by the number of Reaseach Points/Scientist alocated to the project).

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2003 3:23 pm 
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The manner in which real scientists work has a tenuous connection at best to how we're going to decide anything. I've made this point before (and I think it's on the announcement board), but let's try to minimize usage of the realism argument, as our two cardinal rules more or less discredit it.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 5:15 am 
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I dont think its wise to reject an idea off handedly simply because I tried to base it on principals of realism. If such an aproatch leads to a fun and enjoyable game then who cares how I originated the idea. I am trying to think outside the box here and it is not encouraging to hear a response that dose not coment at all on the actual mechanics or usefullness of my sugjestion, but instead takes umbrage at my though process. I never advocated that realism was inherently better or more desirable.

If you prefer me to strip away the back ground I can do so easily. My point boils down to killing the consept of Acumulating points to make a research discover. Rather their is a continuosly variable % chance to make the breakthrough in any given turn. By making this % chance the product of 2 other factors you have a straitforward non-linear method for keeping research from becoming too easy in the late game and discouraging focusing all reserach effort on one goal at a time, which is almost always the most desirable thing in a linear aproatch.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 5:21 am 
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I only raise the issue of realism because it's come up a dozen times before. It is not an appropirate argument for any feature in FO; 'we should do it this way because it's like that in science' arguments will be dismissed out of hand simply because we have already spent a great deal of time entertaining them and dismissing them at length. I don't feel any need to revisit them.

However, your actual point is not at all inappropriate -- the percentage chance per turn is how MOO3 does it (and MOO2, to a lesser extent; once you reach a certain cutoff, you get a % chance that improves every turn).

I agree that we don't need to have absolutely fixed times for these things, and that some variation or percentage formula may be doable. I'll mark this down to be discussed once we start in on the specifics of the tech tree.

-Aq

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 6:51 pm 
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I think research should be able to be sped up or slowed down with increased funding. For example, the government could pour billions into developing new missile technology (which translates to hiring more engineers and acquiring better equipment). This would allow the new weapon to be developed faster, but it would still take a certain amount of time. No amount of money will make the project go faster than the time it takes all those people to hammer out a design and build the prototypes.

This way, empires with a large research infrastructure can see a definite benefit, marked by reduced time to discovery, but there will still be a limit to how fast any particular empire can advance in the short term.

How about something like this:

For each tech, you have a base time and minimum research point cost to work on it. You can invest additional RPs to speed up the time, but the returns drop off quickly once you hit a certain threshold. So, if your base time is 50 turns, and you double your investment, you might get it down to like 35, but if you triple the investment, you only bring it down to 30, and if you quadruple it, it only goes down to like 28.

This would allow you emphasize some techs over others, but would still encourage you to spread your research out, since if you concentrate on one area it becomes counterproductive. As an aside, I am a strong supporter of parallel research (multiple projects at once) I've never liked the 'one tech at a time' systems found in MOO2, GalCiv, and others.

This would also mandate some absolute minimum so that you dont wind up with breakthroughs every 2 or 3 turns. The effect will be that he who gets an early start on research stays well ahead of the technology race if they continue to invest. It will be very hard to catch up to somebody who started earlier, even if you've amassed significantly more research power than they now possess. You'd be forced to trade or steal techs to stay competitive. This, IMO, would make for a much richer game.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 7:17 pm 
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I'm going to have to take a conservative line on this one. MOO3 does pretty much what you just described with all of its sliders and overruns and underruns and modifiers, but I found it to be a whole lot of minutae to deal with for a minimal return.

The good part of it that I think you're getting at, though, is being able to diversify how one approaches research between races; or, put another way, we don't want the research tree to be a static thing that one plods down on autopilot in the same manner every single game. I agree entirely that this is a worthwhile goal.

My means of implementing it, though, would try to adhere to KISS a little more. I'm trying to avoid any means of 'allocation' for research beyond picking projects and having some projects speed up other projects (or categories, or theories, or whatever).

I was never really satisfied with MOO2 or MOO3's approach to research. In MOO2 you could increase the RP allocation or decrease it, but you had no idea how it affected your project unless you were already in the magic 'percentage' phase where you could see your % chance of getting the project done that turn.

Also, even in HoI, the tree isn't that static. Some races are naturally going to emphasize some parts of the tree over others. We can also add in external events that affect your research to speed it up or slow it down; but I am (at the moment) against directly allocating X amount of points to Y project.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2003 12:57 am 
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How about if you get a special discount and/or speed up based on how much rp you have spent in the past? So if you dump in a lot of rp into a specific category or theory, you get a small speed up as a bonus in that category. I think this will add more long-term research strategy and no microing the overdrive sliders. We can facilitate specilization by using lots of specific tech and making rp scarce so you can't just research everything concurrently.

Aq wrote:
I was never really satisfied with MOO2 or MOO3's approach to research. In MOO2 you could increase the RP allocation or decrease it, but you had no idea how it affected your project unless you were already in the magic 'percentage' phase where you could see your % chance of getting the project done that turn


We can do a color filling bar on the text. So if you are half way of finishing up corvettes, half of the white text "corvette" will be in green. If you like percentage, overlay the green text with another color to represent probabilities. I always felt that 4x games are boring to look at without some animations. Maybe we can do textual character flips to represent probabilites. So if you have 50% of getting corvette, the letters c,o,r,v of corvettes would flip every 3 seconds.

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The MOO research model says that 'a research project takes X amount of points and an empire generates Y amount of points per turn. When X = Y, give them the tech.' This model is tried and true, and while I don't have an enormous problem with it, one of the criticisms it has faced is that, late-game, everything just starts rolling in and you get the 'every Empire maxed' situation fairly rapidly. You can increase the cost of the tech, but sooner or later, an empire will be able to get a large amount of tech very quickly.


Figuring out how techs influences the game is an important first step. We can make tech cost an obscene amount in the late game to prevent flooding of techs while making tech cost little in the early game. We can do a recurrsive cost formula where techs will never end. While your empire saturates in growth, the cost of techs will continue to grow exponentially untill it forces you to specialize and eventually not worthwhile. Another idea on how tech should impact the game is to make it flunctuate between being cost effective and not so cost-effective so players may want to shut down on research (instead having it grow fat by itself) when they reach a not so cost-effective tech level. This idea should enhance a more macro rps game.

An alternative to having x rp to y project is have x rp dumped into a category/theory and the rp is automatically distributed evenly among the projects that you wish to research under that cateory/theory. You get a probability of getting the tech porportional to what the project gets. For example, lets say you dumped in 100 rp into infantry; after you select "guns" and "40mm bullets" out of a list of several other techs under the infantry category, the 100 is divided evenly into guns and 40mm bullets. So now you have 50 rp into guns and 50 rp into bullets without additional micro. You get a probability of getting guns or bullets based of the 50 rp each turn.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2003 3:49 pm 
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Some good suggestions, but I think we are getting away from one of the core pieces of what we originally passed. Each project has an exact RP cost; you must invest that number of RP every turn until the project is finished. You cannot invest more; you may be able to invest less (you can't in HoI, but we determined that it does not necessarily make things much less complicated to have a mechanism through which you could invest, say, half the RP required rather than having sliders and allocations).

It is entirely possible to speed up certain categories (or certain applications within categories, or whatever we like) - however, we can't do this through any sort of allocation mechanism (like splitting up your total RP pool in a particular way). Once you've invested the RPs, you've lost them until you've researced the project or stopped the project; the thing we can adjust is how long the project takes, or the number of RPs required -- not the number of RPs you are able to allocate to it.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2003 5:37 pm 
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Aquitaine wrote:
Some good suggestions, but I think we are getting away from one of the core pieces of what we originally passed. Each project has an exact RP cost; you must invest that number of RP every turn until the project is finished. You cannot invest more; you may be able to invest less (you can't in HoI, but we determined that it does not necessarily make things much less complicated to have a mechanism through which you could invest, say, half the RP required rather than having sliders and allocations).

It is entirely possible to speed up certain categories (or certain applications within categories, or whatever we like) - however, we can't do this through any sort of allocation mechanism (like splitting up your total RP pool in a particular way).
Once you've invested the RPs, you've lost them until you've researced the project or stopped the project; the thing we can adjust is how long the project takes, or the number of RPs required -- not the number of RPs you are able to allocate to it.


Aquitaine, could you describe a little more about how this will work. What it seems like you're saying is that you support a mechanism to vary the amount of time the project will take but you dont support an allocation mechanism. How can we allow the user to vary the amount of time a particular project takes without allocating something?

Are you suggesting we have three buttons 'half cost' 'full cost' and 'double cost' by which you invest a certain amount to get the project in a certain time? This isn't much different from an allocation mechanism IMO, it just sets (arbitrary) limits on what spending levels you can have.

Or do you intend that the user should have no control over the amount of time, that it is a fixed function of the tech being researched, the previous techs researched, racial and building bonuses, etc?

In either case, I have a concern. I think there should be a method to automatically start new projects in a given field whenever one completes, and let the user override these decisions if they want to. Either that, or we should bring up the research screen with a popup every time a project completes so you can pick something else. The reason is that in a large game with lots of sitrep events to parse, a person could easily forget to start their next research project and not realize it for several turns. It could turn into an annoying micromanagement problem if we aren't careful. The default behavior should be that your empire is always researching something, and you can leave it alone for a while, confident that your scientists will be doing something useful. You should only need to intervene if you have a particular agenda.

EDIT: Given the above, it would be a good idea to have a 'set priorities' mechanism like in SMAC, to control which projects your empire picked next.

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