Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

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Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#1 Post by Oberlus » Mon Feb 18, 2019 5:27 pm

I'm continuing this subject about themed vs functional tech categories in a new thread for clarity, since I expect a lot to discuss about.

The idea is to distribute the techs into themed categories (lithic, building, orbital...) that include techs of several functions (more production/research/influence/population, hulls, environment improvement...), so that there are more possible research paths and picking one is more interesting/fun.

We had something like that in MoO2, in some of its categories: e.g. Physics gave you lasers and other energy weapons, an environment improvement (planetary gravity generator), scanning and targetting parts, the jump gate, an improvement for shields (but no shields, that was in Force Fields category) and some fancy ship parts for combat.
But it also had that characteristic (annoying for some) that you had to choose only one out of the three possible apps per tier (unless you were a Creative species). This helped a lot in the "fun" of decision making (actually making it harder, because you have to plan ahead what you want from each tier of each category, for best complementation of the apps you get).

Unless some popular clamour raises against, I think allowing to research any tech (once prerequisites are met) is the way to go in FO, and that to bring in more fun into de research decision making we just need the themed categories (instead of functional), arranged in a way that specialising in a a given function (e.g. more population) is still possible although not just by focusing in a single category: you'll have to pick several categories and focus on the apps you want (and in the tiers were most apps don't fit in your strategy, you focus on the theory to skip faster to next tier apps).

Up to here I think most of the community agrees?


Assuming a yes, I'm racking my brains to come up with adequate categories. In my next post (not sure when) I'll explain what I've got up to now and ask for guidance and ideas.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#2 Post by Oberlus » Wed Feb 20, 2019 11:48 pm

First idea (inspired by Vezzra thougths on themed categories and by some others' suggestions on making the tech tree more dependent on metabolisms):

TL;DR:
- We get six new categories, one per each metabolism O/R/L/P/S/G, for metabolism-related boosts of all kind.
- A seventh new category for Energy hulls becomes the most expensive to research but with most powerful techs.
- There is a new government category that contains most policy unlockings and metabolism-unrelated influence boosts.
- Construction gets most general (metabolism-unrelated) boosts and the basic hull line (that requires more hulls models).
- Growth, research, production, stealth, detection and defence categories disappear, spread among the metabolic categories and Construction.
- Each hull line is absorbed by one metabolism category.
- Weapons and rest of ship parts are also spread among the metabolism categories and Construction.



More wordly:

* Organic: carbon-based metabolism/biology, neuron-based brains...
- All organic hulls, with major overhauling so that weapons and other parts are actually organic for the living hulls.
- Organic-specific armours, fuel, engines and weapon parts.
- Few/minor production boosts (some for organic species, some for everyone).
- Some boosts to research for organic species (brain related).
- Several/major boosts to influence for organic species (and maybe some for all).
- Some environment improvement and planetary space increase for organic species (maybe some for all).
- Minor boosts to planetary defence (mostly dependent on organic species and certain environments).
- Some boosts to planetary stealth (mostly dependent on organic species and certain environments).
- ?
This assumes organic species will be (on average) more skilled in influence and not so for research and production.

* Lithic: rocks, crystals, asteroids, lithic metabolism/biology...
- All asteroid hulls.
- Asteroid-specific armours and weapons (few and fancy, asteroids can mount regular weapons).
- Several/major production boosts (some for lithic species, some for everyone).
- Few/minor boosts to research for lithic species (something about crystal resonance computing or :s).
- Few/minor boosts to influence for lithic species.
- Some environment improvement and planetary space increase for lithic species (maybe some for all).
- Major boosts to planetary defence (mostly dependent on lithic species and certain environments).
- Minor boosts to planetary stealth (mostly dependent on lithic species and certain environments).
- Some boost to supply (asteroid related maybe).
- ?
This assumes lithic species will be (on average) more skilled in production and less in influence and research.

* Robotic: metal-based metabolism/biology, electromagnetic brains, nanotech, robotics
- All robotic hulls.
- Specific parts (like robotic interface shields).
- Some boosts to production (some for robotic species, some for everyone).
- Some boosts to research for robotic species, some for all (computer related).
- Some boosts to influence for robotic species.
- Some environment improvement and planetary space increase for organic species (maybe some for all).
- Minor boosts to planetary defence (mostly dependent on robotic species and certain environments).
- Minor boosts to planetary stealth (mostly dependent on robotic species and certain environments).
- Minor boosts to supply.
- ?
This assumes robotic species are fairly average on P/R/I but less good on the others.

* Phototrophic: I'm inclined to not consider this a metabolism in the same way than O/L/R, and treat it more as a species trait, just like telepathy. But regardless of this, we could have a "Light" category:
- No dedicated hulls.
- Laser weapons.
- Specific parts for organic hulls (like solar web).
- Some production boosts (solar related).
- Some planetary defence boosts.
- Some planetary stealth boosts.
- Some detection techs.
- ?
If also a phototrophic metabolism category:
- Some environment and planetary space increase for phototrophic species.
- Some production, research and influence boosts for phototrophic species.

* Gaseous: gas-based metabolism/biology, gaseous brains?, fancy gaseous stuff about anything?
- Gaseous hulls? They could be the slowest and most fragile but the most stealthy.
- Few/minor boosts to production (some for robotic species, some for everyone).
- Some boosts to research for gaseous species.
- Few/minor boosts to influence for gaseous and all species.
- Some environment improvement and planetary space increase for gaseous species.
- Major boosts to planetary defence (mostly dependent on gaseous species and GG environment).
- Major boosts to planetary stealth (mostly dependent on robotic species and GG environment).
- ?
Gaseous would be a bit worse than the rest on everything but stealth and defence.

* Self-sustaining: radiovores would be here, and make conceptualisation easier for me (radiation stuff). But I've read in older posts in the forum that this metabolism just conveys a we-get-the-three-specials-for-granted-and-have-less-concerns-about-environments-...-oh-and-we-are-vague-about-the-actual-methabolism, then I have less ideas to fluff-in any lacking tech. But here I go with what could be that "self-sustaining is not just radiovores, treat them as they have little environment concerns and be vague to the extreme about actual metabolism stuff":
- No dedicated hulls.
- Some boosts to production for self-sustaining species.
- Some boosts to research for self-sustaining species.
- Some boosts to influence for self-sustaining species.
- Some planetary space increase for self-sustaining species.
- Some boosts to planetary defence for self-sustaining species.
- Some boosts to planetary stealth for self-sustaining species.
- ?
This category would be the less interesting for non-self-sustaining species.

* Energy: energy/force-fields/plasma metabolism/biology (a metabolism that no playable species would have but that can be achieved through intense research), force fields, star manipulation, shields.
- All energy hulls.
- Plasma and Death Ray weapons.
- Most shields, best engine parts and some fuel parts for non-living hulls.
- Energy-specific shields/armours, fuel, engines and weapon parts (the best of the best).
- Major production boosts (stars and force fields).
- Some research boosts (stars and force fields).
- Some boosts to influence? (star manipulation related?).
- Major environment improvement and planetary space increase for all species.
- Major boosts to planetary defence.
- Some boosts to planetary stealth.
- Best detection techs.
- Star manipulation stuff (collapse into black hole, nova bomb...).
- ?

Alternatively, Self-sustaining and Energy could be fused, taking self-sustaining species as energy metabolism, downgrade Energy boosts so that it is not the ultimate tech-set of the game but just another metabolic-based path comparable to the others in strengths and weaknesses, and move the star stuff to other general category, like Construction.

* Construction: not related to metabolisms/biology, just building and infrastructure stuff.
- Basic hulls (will need more than current hulls, to make it a viable strategy late game).
- Mass driver weapons and general armour, fuel and troop parts.
- Basic detection techs.
- Production, research and influence boosts from buildings/infrastructure.
- Planetary space increase (subterranean, underwater, aerial).
- Planetary defence.
- Supply boosts.
- Planet formation and destruction.
- Fleet reparation techs.
- ?

* Government: everything logistics, influence and government related not specific to metabolisms or very technical stuff.
- General influence boosts.
- Some boosts to production, research, defence, supply, stealth and espionage.
- Government seats unlockings, some requiring buildings (no direct boost but through policy application).
- Most policy unlockings will be in this category, the rest on other categories will require a given government tier unlocked or specific government apps or buildings.


Please notice that all this is merely a sketch. Once trying to make a full design problems will arise and changes will be needed. Also note that my use of the terms like "boost" is very vague.

So...

What do you think of all this?
Would you prefer a functional approach instead of this themed approach?
Can you suggest a better categorisation with other themes different from metabolism-specific?
Or improvements to the current themes?

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#3 Post by Krikkitone » Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:14 pm

I think if they are to be themes, they should be actual Themes (instead of just metabolism research categories).. you would mostly get 1 or two with a few tiny bits of the others

Each should have some weapons, governments/policies and means of boosting RSI and population (although some more than others)

Thoughts of category themes with names

PHYSICS: StarTrek/Protoss theme

MECHANICAL: Star Wars/ Terran theme (big industrial)

BIOTECH: Zerg/bio theme

CYBERNETICS: Cyberpunk/robots

What they would have/be strong in (ie all would have industry boosts, but Mechanical would have more)
Research boosts should be fairly evenly spread

PHYSICS- (high energy, low population utopians)
Beam Weapons, Shields, Engines, Energy Hull, ability to colonize bad environments, increase planetary space, ways to boost happiness through high tech

MECHANICAL-
Armor, Industry boosts, Standard and Asteroid Hulls, Terraforming, mega weapons, mega structures, not many interesting social techs (mostly about mass production) , some Lithic boosts?

BIOTECH- (some techs may have different versions for different metabolisms)
Organic hulls, some weapons, Most growth boosts (except Robotic), Fuel boosts, Adaptation to environment, Genetic engineering, Eugenics Social Policies, Evolving Government (efficiency)

CYBERNETICS-
Robotics Hulls, Fighters, Robotic Growth boosts, Exobots, Detection, Spy bonuses, AI government, Uploads/Mind Editing

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#4 Post by Oberlus » Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:21 am

Just four categories. I like it!
And I like these four themes way more than my first idea.

I'll wait for more input on this before starting any real implementation. I think the design phase will take months.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#5 Post by em3 » Fri Feb 22, 2019 1:04 pm

The tech categories should definitely be decoupled from species metabolism. First, I would not want to be forced to research a particular category by selecting a starting species. Second, I would not want to have trouble improving any native or other species I acquire just because they have different metabolism than the technologies I researched so far.
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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#6 Post by Oberlus » Fri Feb 22, 2019 1:13 pm

em3 wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 1:04 pm
The tech categories should definitely be decoupled from species metabolism. First, I would not want to be forced to research a particular category by selecting a starting species.
Fair enough!
Second, I would not want to have trouble improving any native or other species I acquire just because they have different metabolism than the technologies I researched so far.
Why not?
I let myself be influenced by the production/research capabilities of my starting species (i.e. if it is better in production, I get robotic production and fusion generation earlier, if it's better in research I first get algorithmic elegance and also rush to quantum networking). And I think that is more or less the same than being influenced by your starting metabolism.
Although I like more the metabolism-decoupled approach, I think this question is relevant for setting prerequisites and the such for that approach.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#7 Post by AndrewW » Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:00 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 1:13 pm
I let myself be influenced by the production/research capabilities of my starting species (i.e. if it is better in production, I get robotic production and fusion generation earlier, if it's better in research I first get algorithmic elegance and also rush to quantum networking). And I think that is more or less the same than being influenced by your starting metabolism.
Although I like more the metabolism-decoupled approach, I think this question is relevant for setting prerequisites and the such for that approach.

Also to consider, your empire is likely to be made up of different metabolisms so, are those Organics better when they are researching one thing, while robotics are better at another. Then you have to say have the robotics researching one thing, while the organics research something else? For maximum effect of course. This would be a mess and certainly against the no micromanagement.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#8 Post by Oberlus » Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:06 am

AndrewW wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:00 pm
are those Organics better when they are researching one thing, while robotics are better at another.
Nope. The research is (and will be, I think) Empire wide. You don't research something with someone and something else with someone else. Your whole empire (composed of one or more species/metabolisms) produce RPs and you invest them in whatever you like.
The micromanagement (in the metabolism-based categories that I think are now discarded) would come from the fact that you must take into account which species/metabolisms you have and how much population/planets of each one to better decide which research will bring you greater benefits (say, if you have a lot of lithic planets focused on industry, a boost to industry from lithic would yield the maximum increase in P/R/I production, instead of, e.g., a boost to research or a smaller industry boost to every species). Basic Amdahl's law application. Not really micromanagement, IMO.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#9 Post by Ophiuchus » Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:23 am

Krikkitone wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:14 pm
I think if they are to be themes, they should be actual Themes (instead of just metabolism research categories).. you would mostly get 1 or two with a few tiny bits of the others

Each should have some weapons, governments/policies and means of boosting RSI and population (although some more than others)

Thoughts of category themes with names

PHYSICS: StarTrek/Protoss theme

MECHANICAL: Star Wars/ Terran theme (big industrial)

BIOTECH: Zerg/bio theme

CYBERNETICS: Cyberpunk/robots
Grep tells me have about 160 non-theory techs and 30 theory techs ATM maybe 27 of the non-theory techs are upgrades.

So how to structure this lets say 130 techs into 4 themes? 7 Tiers with about five techs each? 6 tiers with about five or six techs each?

If we had 5 themes instead, 6 tiers would have about 4, maybe five techs. 5 tiers about five techs. I think that could mostly fit on a screen.
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Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#10 Post by Oberlus » Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:35 pm

I don't expect categories and tiers to have all similar numbers. Plus there may be independent branches on each category (that split after some tier).
Also, I expect to remove/repurpose some of the theory techs an to add several new ones.
I guess we'll see how it fits once I get a initial proposal of the tech tree.

But more categories are certainly welcome.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#11 Post by Ophiuchus » Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:20 pm

Hm another theme could be ANCIENT/interaction with the universe/bounty hunter. This could include communication with natives, history analyser, xeno*, monster things, hunting monsters things, ancient ruins things, exploration goodies, discoveries from scanning systems, telepathy stuff, growth specials, gaia(?), usage of starlanes, stars, star-gates(?)

This could include techs which get unlocked/researchable by doing certain things (local scanning two planets with ancient ruins, local scanning three different types of monster nests, seeing experimentor monsters, scanning project zero).

This could include techs which are researchable only if you have access to certain specials.

So the whole thing could feel a bit like hunting for treasure. You need to stretch for some goals (e.g. sending ships into enemy territory to scan their ancient ruins). Also the results could be more specific than of general usage.
Plus there may be independent branches on each category (that split after some tier).
Out of interest, how is that supposed to be visualized?
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Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#12 Post by Oberlus » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:13 am

I do like that ANCIENT category :D
Maybe its name could be XENO-something and also include some stuff for xeno-psycology/xeno-interaction?
- History analyzer, with (new) improvements depending on controlled/scanned ancient ruins/artefacts.
- (New) xeno-archeology apps to exploit ancient ruins and artefacts (specials) to get techs, extinct genomes, P/R/I and detection boosts.
- Xeno-resurrection Lab to recreate extinct species and monsters.
- (New) apps to improve communication, comprehension and integration of different species into a single empire. Effects would include boosts to P/R/I production of empires with multiple species (this would make more sense if there was some kind of penalisation for integrating different species in first place, but can also make sense if we accept that multiple species can complement each other to increase production of all of them) and making easier the peaceful (influence) conquest of xeno-species and maintaining peace and order in multi-species empires (less revolts, more resistance to foreign influence).
- Manipulation of stars (collapse into black hole, nova bomb) and starlanes (creation and destruction): I'd put that into PHYSICS, but could fit well in ANCIENT too (so they could go to whatever category needs more apps, which will probably be ANCIENT).
- Monster things (and hunting that): unlocking monster breeding, killing monster nests. I would put those on BIOTECH, since I see monsters as organic hulls, but ANCIENT is a good place too if if is really in need of extra apps (though only 2 apps won't change much).
- Telepathy/psionic stuff: psycogenic dominance, (new) psionic espionage and detection apps.
- (New) psionic weapons?
- Growth and Gaia specials could be treated as ancient artefacts and require some tech to be exploited, or leave them as they are now, or introduce some new growth-related specials that are dependent on ANCIENT apps to be exploited.
- Discoveries from scanning systems: dunno what this could include. Brainstorming needed.
Ophiuchus wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:20 pm
Plus there may be independent branches on each category (that split after some tier).
Out of interest, how is that supposed to be visualized?
I'm not sure. I hope The Silent One knows how :D
But I imagine the arrow that starts on a tier (most recent mockup here) will split into two after the circle with the completed requirements (4/5 in the mockup) and get to two different "tier boxes", one on top of the other. It would be a branched-tier model :D

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#13 Post by The Silent One » Thu Feb 28, 2019 10:21 am

Oberlus wrote:Maybe its name could be XENO-something and also include some stuff for xeno-psycology/xeno-interaction?
How about Xenology (the study of the alien)?
Oberlus wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:13 am
But I imagine the arrow that starts on a tier (most recent mockup here) will split into two after the circle with the completed requirements (4/5 in the mockup) and get to two different "tier boxes", one on top of the other. It would be a branched-tier model :D
Yes, something like that sounds reasonable.
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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#14 Post by EricF » Fri Mar 01, 2019 7:19 am

Krikkitone wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:14 pm
Thoughts of category themes with names

PHYSICS: StarTrek/Protoss theme
Instead of Physics I would suggest Energy instead.

I see you are going the straight Master of Orion tech tree with this, but in reality (there's that word again) wouldn't many techs/weapons be dependent on research from more than one category? A rocket for example is the product of many different branches of science. Physics, Chemistry, Metallurgy, Electronics and I probably missed some. How would you handle this? One way of course is to stick with the simplistic MoO method. Every advance in its own category, but that always seemed overly simplistic to me.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#15 Post by Ophiuchus » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:20 am

EricF wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 7:19 am
I see you are going the straight Master of Orion tech tree with this, but in reality (there's that word again)
And there you could have stopped ;)

The main question is if it makes for nice gameplay. We think it could/would be better than the current system now.

It certainly will make better use of screen space and give more structure (which helps the designers and players making decisions).

One thing I (we?) lack is how the strategy story for the categories works. How are you supposed to progress through the tiers? Is everybody supposed to research from every category, mainly deciding what you skip? Or would one usually try to advance a low number of categories to reap the high level benefits? So for example if we say one for each of the high level strategies it would be important/mainly ok to focus on two categories we would need to put these techs there. So e.g. for wide empire growth PHYSICS and BIOTECH. For tall empire MECHANICAL and BIOTECH. For peaceful hidden expansion CYBERNETICS and XENO. Early rush PHYSICS and MECHANICAL. Or would the wide/tall choices be mostly inside of the e.g. BIOTECH category, so that you would skip the tech which does . This thinking in strategies would also help in deciding e.g. where weapon tech needs to go. If we expect that the player needs to advance at least two categories, it will be ok if some of the categories do not contain easily reachable weapon tech.

EricF, you called the approach simplistic, which means too simple. So in which way could more complex prerequisites improve the gameplay?
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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