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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:51 pm 
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Space Krill

Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:36 pm
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I originally intended this as a reply to the "Content: High-Level Strategic Options" thread, but I felt it might fit better here.

Here's a couple of ideas for different long-term tech/development choices.


Biology vs. Machines

The choice between engineering lifeforms and constructing inorganic machines.

The biological approach could have a advantages with food production, population and health. Later it could become better suited for environments with water and moderate temperatures, like swamp or ocean worlds. Maybe an edge with terraforming those and tundra, on account of the changes being primarily biological or chemical. In general, biotech would be less resource intensive, more flexible and more fragile.

Machines could excel in mining and production. It would do better in desert and in vacuum and have significant advantages for early space exploration. Give them an edge in exploiting and terraforming more extreme environments, like barren and inferno. In general, machines would be more specialized, more durable and more resource intensive.

Tool use vs. Self-modification

The choice between creating tools to help you and changing yourself to be better suited for the task.

Tools would be more about building devices to perform tasks for you or change your environment. Development would be relatively straightforward: you construct buildings that help you in whatever task they were designed for. Your citizens retain their environmental preferences and require terraforming or protective equipment to survive on hostile planets.

Possibly the most obvious effect of self-modification could be reduced need for terraforming. Your citizens will adapt to survive, allowing for faster early development and retaining any special effects an environment may have. Extreme modifications would probably cause considerable unrest.


Having both of these two axes in the game would allow for four very distinct development paths.

Mechanical tool users would be the closest to a traditional scifi empire: normal humans or aliens with high-tech tools and equipment. This branch could play the most like the original moo series. Maybe make it the most production-heavy and best suited for huge projects like planet construction or stellar alteration.

Biological tool use could be a farming powerhouse. Terraforming would also be prominent, especially for the intermediate environments. Living spaceships would probably be later in the tech tree and take longer to build. Maybe have some production use food instead of minerals?

Biological modification could range from slight increases in various abilities to becoming too varied to even be recognized as the same species, with maybe corresponding variation in unrest. Instead of terraforming your citizens would adapt to their environment, starting with ones most similar to your original preference. The most hostile worlds would likely be off limits for most of the game. Maybe keep direct bonuses to productivity small and improve population growth and capacity instead.

Mechanical modification
- cyberpunk, or maybe the borg? Start with contact lenses, prosthetics and whatnot, maybe go all the way to meklar-style artificial bodies later, with corresponding increases in unrest. Population-wise this would be the opposite of biological modification: productivity improves greatly with little benefits to population capacity or growth, possibly even a penalty. Maybe make highly modified citizens consume minerals and production in addition to food. Cyborgs would be best suited for surviving hostile environments, eventually allowing colonization of even asteroid belts. Oceans and swamps could be a maintenance nightmare early on.


How to encourage specialization?
It would be nice if there were incentives to stick with one path so that even same-race empires could end up developing in completely different directions. I don't think different tech paths should be made mutually exclusive, however. There could, and probably should, be situations where one would want a hybrid approach, possibly mixing any number of paths.

There could be clear requirements for getting the full benefit of each path, and those requirements could conflict between paths. Eg. cyborgs could get the most benefit from free market and be mostly useless under planned economies, and bio-modification vice versa. That way even if you researched multiple paths you could only get the full bonuses from one or two.

Thoughts?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:48 pm 
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Space Kraken

Joined: Sun Sep 27, 2009 10:51 am
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Location: Moskow, RU
Looks interesting but maybe a little too complicated for me...


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 8:27 pm 
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Programming, Design, Admin
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 1:33 am
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aleksiL wrote:
Thoughts?

I like and have considered having various mutually exclusive or independent paths through game content.

I'm glad you discussed the in-game meaning of different content pathes, as the issue of how to make the various options different from a gameplay perspective is more important than picking things like what to call the options, (eg. "mechanical" vs. "biological" tech). We can likely find plausible sci-fi story justifications for any interesting divergence in gameplay nature of content.

Using gameplay mechanics to differentiate can be done partly by taking advantage of content other than techs, or paths through the tech tree to unlock a certain set of same-effect but different-name abilities, though.

One path through the content could be focused more on having lots of production capacity, with buildings that boost production themselves requiring lots of production for an empire to create, while a separate path would be more research focused, with lots of research-boosting techs themselves costing lots of research points.

A separate set of pathes would be between various ship tech branches where there are clear and prominent distinctions between the branches in terms of what pros and cons the various hulls have.

Quote:
The biological approach could have a advantages with food production, population and health. Later it could become better suited for environments with water and moderate temperatures, like swamp or ocean worlds.

Preference for one set of planet environments over another is probably something that races should deal with, unless it can be done in a way that will make the difference equally useful for any racial environment. It's not necessarily bad to have one race be more or less suited for a particular tech path, but indirect dependence through which environments can be modified is a potentially strange and unclear way to set that up.

Terraforming vs. self-modification is a nice pair of options, possibly which could be a triad with exploration / expansionism. These could be useful for having "moral" choices that certain populations could prefer or dislike, to make chosing have more consequences for population preferences.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:56 am 
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Space Krill

Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:36 pm
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Preference for one set of planet environments over another is probably something that races should deal with, unless it can be done in a way that will make the difference equally useful for any racial environment. It's not necessarily bad to have one race be more or less suited for a particular tech path, but indirect dependence through which environments can be modified is a potentially strange and unclear way to set that up.


I now have a better understanding of how environmental preferences are supposed to work, and my original idea doesn't mesh too well with that. Maybe biotech could be more sensitive to its environment while machines work equally well pretty much anywhere.

Originally biotech would be suited only to the native environment of a species. It would receive penalties in adequate environments and be useless in worse. There could be technologies for reducing these penalties.

Maybe there could be environment-specific technologies for harnessing the native life. Empires would start with the tech for their native environments and could research technology for any environment they have colonized. Colonizing hostile worlds could require mastering an intermediate environment first: Biotechnology needs to survive on a planet before it can protect your colonists.

Machines, by contrast, would only be limited by the survival of their users. On hostile worlds you'd need to build the structures to protect the population. Max pop could depend on infrastructure, with techs to increase both construction and its effects on population.

Come to think of it, I like the idea of the construction meter affecting a planet's development in different ways. You could base terraforming on it: if you keep track of the original environment you could have eg. every 10 points of infrastructure bring the planet one step closer to the species preference, with further tech advances lowering the treshold.


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