Galaxy History - Playing different Ages

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guiguibaah
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Galaxy History - Playing different Ages

#1 Post by guiguibaah » Tue Feb 08, 2005 12:10 am

I apologize in advance if this is in the wrong forum (as opposed to brainstorming) - However the idea does have some story impacts so I thought I'd share this..



Oh, and it's rather long, so if you're the kind like me who has a short attention span, there's always Duke Nukem Forever.




Had this idea at work today.

Isn't it a little odd in Moo2 that the age you set the galaxy has no impact on the selection of races or the galaxy history? For those who have not played Moo2, at game setup you can chose the age of your galaxy, whether it is a new galaxy full of bright blue stars and mineral rich planets, to an old galaxy with big red stars and organic rich planets, to something in between. In all three cases, the game storyline stays the same, with the same derelics, artifacts and races to play against.

While listening to Star Control 2 music, a thought came in my head. Wouldn't it be interesting if the age of the galaxy not only determined the types of stars and mineral content, but the very races you could play with / against? Instead of having a starting point where history and story ends where the game begins, could we have an option where the story continues into later ages - where you could actually play the 'ancient' races so often spoken by your historians. Storylines could intersect. An ancient race that you played as has now split into two different races. Humans, once emotional and courageous, have become Kangishans who are cold and calculated.

Here is an example. I've used some Star Control 2 race names to make reference to their 'ages'.

2 billion years. The first Age.
History
- Only one race has existed before the first age races, the "Precursors".
- Alien artifacts are rare because all that is left are precursor artifacts.
- The artifacts that you can find are few, but they give you the most benefit.

Galaxy
- The galaxy has more blue stars and nebulas.
- The galaxy has less black holes, singularities, neutron stars, etc.

- No Splinter colonies exist.
- There are precious few sub-light races (natives) to find.
- Greater concentration of mineral rich planets.
- There isn't any 'funny stuff' going around like weird diseases, strange space monsters, fickle star lanes, raids, etc...

Specials
- One special planet known as 'Orion' where the precursors used to live.
- No "Blasted" (glassed) worlds to discover.
- Special victory condition "Transcendance into enery"

Races
5 different races to play.
- Ur-Quan
- Meal-Num
- GG
- Taalo
- Arreelooaleea

Feel
- The general 'feel' of the game is that everything is new and barely untouched. I'm thinking the League of Sentien Races (Star Control 2 history)
- One of the "Native" races could be our pre-human ancestors, as read by one of the Taalo reports.
- Music is more 'New Age' is this era.

3 billion years old. The second Age.
History
- The five ancient races existed, including the precursors.
- The ancients of the first age existed and left artifacts, as well as some sparse precursor artifacts.

Galaxy
- The galaxy is balanced. Average dispersal of stars and nebulas.
- The galaxy has an average amount of black holes, singularities, neutron stars, etc.

- Splinter colonies exist.
- Average number of sub-light races.
- Average concentration of mineral and organic rich planets.

- The galaxy has a fair amount of strange items and relics to discover.
- You must suffer raids from one of the ancient races.

Specials
- One special planet known as 'Orion' where the precursors used to live.
- Two homeworlds of the ancients exist.
- Some blasted worlds exist, which were two of the ancient races homeworlds.
- One of the ancient races attack the galaxy through another portal.

Technology
- A few 'high level' technologies that could be researched as ancients are unavailable. Instead, they can be discovered much like the antarean technologies were discovered in Moo2.
- Special victory condition "Defeat the Ur-Quan".

Races
8 Different races to play.
- Humans
- Mrrnhrrm
- Ur-Quan (Cast off)
- Arreelooaleea
- Spathi
- Chenjensu
- Mycon
- Illwrath

Feel
- The general 'feel' of the game is that the galaxy has some history to it - it is the average setting.
- The music is modern sounding.


4 Billion years old. The final age.
History
- There was a cleansing period. A second age race conquered and subjugated all other races... then vanished.
(IE: Slave shielded worlds in SC2).
- Two other second age races have been blasted into non-existence.

Galaxy
- The galaxy is old. There are many red stars, and few nebulas.
- The galaxy has a lot of black holes, neutron stars, binary stars, and empty space.

- Many splinter colonies
- Many sub-light races
- The planets are more 'organic' rich though fossil fuels, sediments, etc.

- The galaxy has a large amount of items, derelicts and relics to discover.
- You suffer raids from one of the ancient races, as well as strange space monsters.

Specials
- Orion no longer exists. Instead there are several disperesed ghost worlds.
- No ancient age homeworlds exist.
- A lot of blasted worlds exist. Player must piece together a puzzle.
- A large amount of space monsters (turns out it is one of the 'modern races', like the mycon)
- A lot of extra 'stuff' to go around and blow up, like ancient sentry drones, space monsters, etc..
- Starlanes are fickle.. Many hidden lanes.

Races
9 different races to play.
- Humans
- Spathi
- Chenjensu
- Illwrath
- Kangisha (modified humans)
- Taalo (returned)
- Orz
- Druuge
- Irg (the singular thought entity - a 'fart' of the transcended GG).

Feel
- The General 'feel' of the game is that the galaxy is something of a proverbial junkyard / mausoleum.
- The music is dark and gothic. Some themes could be slightly remixed from their earlier age precursors.
- Special vicotry condition "Return of the precursors".



* * * *

Total # of races... 15

- Ur-Quan
- Meal-Num
- GG
- Taalo
- Arreelooaleea

- Humans
- Mrrnhrrm
- Spathi
- Chenjensu
- Mycon
- Illwrath

- Kangisha (modified humans)
- Orz
- Druuge
- Mjb (the singular thought entity).

The same amount Moo3 had. Granted, the number could be expanded or reduced.

I think it could be interesting as it could add an immersive element not seen in your traditional 4x games. One could start at the 'modern' age as humans, playing the game and learning the strange history behind the galaxy. Then jump ahead 1 billion years to play as one of the ancients... Then, next game, you play 2 billion years later to discover that your 'oh-so-mighty' humans are no longer the pariahs they used to be, who have transformed into the now Kangisha. And all through this, there is a common storyline the player can discover as by playing the different races from their perspectives.
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utilae
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#2 Post by utilae » Tue Feb 08, 2005 1:51 am

Good idea.

It would be good if players can still choose whatever races they want or choose to be restricted and use the races that the age allows.

Also, if it is really early age, then their would be no artifacts, no ancients races (ancient races would be young). If it was late age, then their would be artifacts and ancients.

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Geoff the Medio
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Re: Galaxy History - Playing different Ages

#3 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue Feb 08, 2005 2:18 am

guiguibaah wrote:Isn't it a little odd in Moo2 that the age you set the galaxy has no impact on the selection of races or the galaxy history?
I think the idea is that the playable races are all races that exist "now"... whenever "now" happens to be in the history of the galaxy as a whole. It seems somewhat odd to have a bunch of playable races, then tell the player they can't play one or play against one because they picked the wrong galaxy age... However see below for more thoughts...
Instead of having a starting point where history and story ends where the game begins, could we have an option where the story continues into later ages - where you could actually play the 'ancient' races so often spoken by your historians.
By "your historians" I assume you mean the historians of player races in more traditional games...?

It seems to me that "ancient races" should be extra powerful compared to younger ones. (That's generally how it works out in most fiction anyway). Given this, perhaps whether or not the player can pick an ancient race could be part of the difficulty setting? Most games rely on the AI "cheating" or having "unfair" bonuses to increase the difficutly. If we actually explain the bonuses given to the AI (at hard difficulties) or the player (at easy difficulties) by the races being played being "ancient" or "young", then that might make people more willing to accept such bonuses...

Anyway, I know you're very keen on the whole story side of this, so perhaps we should have a few "official" scenarios that happen at different galaxy ages. In the various scenarios, you'd be able to play different sets of races, according to the "history of the galaxy" as written, and the story for the scenarios would be written around this...

However, in the "free" or "custom" game, you'd be be able to pick from any of the races available, even those that shouldn't coexist according to the main game story. This migth require making an additional "generic" scenario that has story events and related settings not so tied to the official story or galaxy age, which would act as the free / custom game, and work with all races or whatever settings the player picks.

Essentially, there are scenarios that limit the player's options in order to set the stage for better / focused story-telling, but the player should always have the option to do whatever they want in a custom game, but we should also support the custom game with its own less tailored story content.
For those who have not played Moo2, at game setup you can chose the age of your galaxy, whether it is a new galaxy full of bright blue stars and mineral rich planets, to an old galaxy with big red stars and organic rich planets, to something in between.
The following is a realism argument, but in this context it seems appropriate: Having more mineral-rich planets in a young galaxy or at blue stars strikes me as a bit odd. If the galaxy is young, there has been less time for stars to complete their lifecycles and go nova, so fewer metals (elements heavier than helium to astronomers) have been produced in the galaxy and scattered as planetary nebulae, so fewer planets with lots of metals will have formed.
2 billion years. The first Age.
[...]
- Music is more 'New Age' is this era.
Is "New Age" music really appropriate for a "first" or "early" age? "New Age" to me is more like futuristic or advanced, not early...
- Average number of sub-light races.
This strikes me as something that shouldn't be controlled by the same game-setting as star colours and such... From a gameplay perspective, it should probably be a separate control. As for fluff, you could make arguments either way as to whether older or younger galaxies have more pre-light races...
- The music is modern sounding.
What do you mean by "modern sounding" ? Modern to western ears? Rap? Rock / Metal? Jazz? "Modern Classical" with weird serialism or minimalist or whatever other weird ideas all those composers had in the 20th century that most people don't think even sounds like "music" ?
2 billion years. The first Age.
...
3 billion years old. The second Age.
...
4 Billion years old. The final age.
The earth itself is thought to be 4.5 billion years old, and wikipedia suggests the Milky Way is about 13.6 billion years old. So how about the ages are rough ranges of early ~= 5-10 billion, middle ~= 10-15 billion, and old ~= 15-20 billion...
- The galaxy is old. There are many red stars, and few nebulas.
Off Topic: On the subject of nebulas, IMO we should have another star type called "Nebula" which is a protostar that hasn't collapsed enough to start fusion (which causes solar wind which blows away the gas of the nebula).

More Off Topic: I'd also like to have more scientific star type names... eg. Nebula, Brown Dwarf, White Dwarf, Red Dwarf, Red Giant / Red Supergiant, Pulsar, Blue Giant, Yellow / Orange / White Main Stage, Black Hole. These will function just like star colours do now, but be more "fun"... really... fun... yes.)
- A large amount of space monsters (turns out it is one of the 'modern races', like the mycon)
There could be a sub-plot about some ancient race's biological ships going feral and reproducing on their own to make one kind of space monster... A few varieties would be nice though. Daveybaby has some (IMO) nice ideas that will probly never get into FO due to being too simulationist...
- Starlanes are fickle.. Many hidden lanes.
Some non-story ideas regarding lanes here.

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Velizar
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#4 Post by Velizar » Tue Feb 08, 2005 9:00 pm

I don't know. While it does seem to offer a bit more in the story/immersion compartment, I am uncomfortable with the thought of being unable to meet *this* race if I choose *this* age. Seems to me that it would be like making FreeOrion 2: War of Ancients and FreeOrion 3: The Resurrection all in one game! A bit more discussion on this one?
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#5 Post by Ablaze » Tue Feb 08, 2005 10:48 pm

I like this idea, it would be quite interesting as a post v1.0 mod.

I do think that this thread is much more fitting in the brainstorming section.

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#6 Post by Impaler » Fri Feb 11, 2005 1:00 pm

I like the general thrust of the "Age" oriented story lines, specificaly the way the different ages put the players race a diferent advantages and disadvantages. The First age seems more like an "easy" setting inwhich your race is pre-destined to be powerfull, the playing field is sparse and expantion is the key to the game. Mid and Late become progressivly more "carve your nitich in a crowded environment will established powers in it and sounds considerably harder.

Geoffs point that all of these settings should be individualy configurable in the standard game setup is definatly correct, the senarios layed out should all be custom "packages" of settings in the same vein as any Custom Senario, it will just so happen that these 3 senarios form the "Official Campagin" with the player needing to win one to "unlock" the next and so on. A very long Galactic History could be played out along these lines. An official "Map" would be an excelent element to add to a Campagin of this type.

Guiguibaah also hit upon a very clever idea that I think would be nice to include in the game, that of customizing game music at game set up. Most games simply have their single "track" that plays all the time or a Win-amp like tool that can be manipulated durring the game. Woundnt it be nice if the game could remember as part of the save game file your personal musical preferences alowing you to "set the mood" for the course of that game once and then forget about it. People might need to place their music files in specific directores and sub-directores for this to work, with the Save game file simply recording the name of this file for future reference (it would ofcorse be prohibitive to actualy save the music files as part of the savegame file). Ofcorse if the desired file is not found you would default to the "Official" Music package/packages that are supplied. If this ideas seems fruitfull then it should probably be descussed on the Music Forums.
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Ablaze
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#7 Post by Ablaze » Fri Feb 11, 2005 7:17 pm

I think it would be even cooler if the races who later became ancient depended on who came out on top in the early parts. The later games could have quite a different feel if you won them with a cloak-and-dagger race then if you won them with a technology oriented race.

I think the best way to do the sounds would be to have a sound file for each "feel" with the pre-packaged sounds in it. Then if you wanted to add any you could make a subdirectory of the same name. Any files in that subdirectory would also be played. If you wanted to only play your own songs then you could move/remove/rename the sound file.
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#8 Post by herbert_vaucanson » Wed Mar 09, 2005 1:14 pm

I like this concept of ages too.

As already observed, the timeline should be something like 10 - 15 -20 billions years.

I would propose a different way to characterise races, though.
Again as observed, it would be nice to play or encounter any race in any campaign, and of course old races should have been altered by their technological history. So I propose the decoupling between:

1) naturally evolved races - the ones that come out spontaneously from primordial soup - or crystal bath.

2) templates to superimpose to naturally evolved races - which would describe later age races, or which could be accumulated by the races with technological development - as should be the case!

These templates could for instance be applied after the discovery of a major technology. Some of the major templates could be "cyborg-artificial", "telepatic-psionic", "energy_based".

Playing in a late galaxy wwould simply raise the chance of a race of already having a template.

Let us say that the "transcendence" victory consists in stacking these major three to your race through technology - or spying. You would become a telephatic energy being which seamlessly plugs into machines or what-so-ever (think Vorlons or future Rangers in Babylon 5).

There could be also minor templates which a race would not pick for themselves in normal circumstances, like "parasitic" (think Harvesters in Moo2) or the possibility of catastrophies, let us say of incompatibility of some of these templates, which leave behind a renegade/outcast part of your race after one of these transitions - or a deevolution after final trascendence.

One idea I loved is that the order in which you acquire these template technologies (allowing transitions) is not fixed, and that each transition, beside altering the race with new bonuses (and eventual maluses to be corrected with later techs, and eventual splinter empires which did not want to join in the transition), also alter the speed of which research in the other field is done. So it might make sense not to become cybernetic now because in some turn I might get the chance to add the telepathic template, which I feel my race needs more.

One last thing: there should be gameplay reasons/ways for a race to evolve WITHOUT have to expand to cover half of the galaxy, so that it actually might make sense to encounter some of the elder races (and survive).

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#9 Post by Krikkitone » Sat Mar 12, 2005 5:43 pm

Well I'd do it somewhat differently

1. Set Galaxy Conditions
"Native level"
"Artifact Level"
"Monster Level" (monsters being all manner of wierd things)
"Age.. Mineral v. Biological richness"


2. Set your and AI bonuses/level
Your Level
Starting Technology
Starting Universe knowledge (based on ancient maps)
Starting Infrastructure and Territory

Standard AI highest level (same settings)

#2 settings would factor directly into difficulty (#1 settings would matter more for your strategy...conquest instead of colonization if the galaxy is packed with natives)

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Kharagh
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#10 Post by Kharagh » Thu Apr 14, 2005 11:19 am

I like herbert_vaucanson's template idea very much. It sounds like a lot of fun to be able to alter your races during the game and to meet differrent races every time you play.
Splinter Groups which don't want to make a trasition also seem like a great way to add diversity to the game.

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Deeply agree!

#11 Post by Dreamer » Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:36 pm

like the template idea, a lot! I always wanted to evolve my race and create the perfect super-race. Kind like a "perfection winning condition".

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