Themed tech categories (Help wanted)

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Oberlus
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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#31 Post by Oberlus » Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:54 am

Now that I've finished the first proposal for weapons (and most combat parts), I'm thinking again on the distribution of techs between the different themes and tiers. And I have this concern to discuss with you.

If all techs are in a single branch in each theme, once you unlock the next tier it could be always suboptimal to skip certain techs and thus be hard to ensure diversity of strategies.
For example, if combat parts and meter boosts are in the same branch, if would be unlikely that a player focus only on the boosts (or on the weapons), because there would be other techs less important to skip (when researching the subset of techs of a given tier to unlock the next one).
With current FO tech tree, one can go first for research, production and population boosts during early expansion, neglecting ship parts while producing tier 1 ships, and later, with better research, get the tier 2 parts and start pumping better ships tu complement your now outdated fleet. Or one can go first for some tier 2 ship parts/hulls, to produce the first combat ship already superior to your enemies'. The point is, if you want to go for one thing and not the other, you can. With tiered version that is true only when we speak of techs from different themes. If it's about techs of same theme and tier, with tiers having 3-6 techs, what's the point of skipping one boost or one importan hull or ship part, if you already require several techs of this tier to unlock the next one? You go straight for the most important ones.

So I think we need to split each theme in at least two branches. I'll first try combat and non-combat related and see if I can produce two branches of comparable sizes.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#32 Post by Krikkitone » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:54 pm

Well the idea is for each tier you have
1-more techs than you need to go to the next level, so you have a choice about which techs you use
2-the option to research the tier itself for less cost (ie get to the next level without getting any of the benefits)


So strategies are

lowest research cost, just get the next tier by doing "theory research"

middle research cost, get the tier by picking a sub set of the techs (3 out of the 5, 2 out of the 3, etc. whichever is the amount you need)

high research cost, research all the techs of the tier because they are all useful, even though you already have the tier bonus

[most people would probably choose between low-middle (no wasted research)]

Not that I'd object to multiple branches in a category, but i think it might be more easily done by having a tech require more than just a tier (ie to get Cyber Government 5 you need Cyber Tier5 AND Cyber Government 3

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#33 Post by Oberlus » Sat Apr 13, 2019 12:14 pm

Krikkitone wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:54 pm
Not that I'd object to multiple branches in a category, but i think it might be more easily done by having a tech require more than just a tier (ie to get Cyber Government 5 you need Cyber Tier 5 AND Cyber Government 3
Agree.

TL;DR

I'm thinking we can try to go for a single branch per each theme.


Long version.

A simple example. Imagine we have 6 apps per tier, and 4 required to unlock next tier.
Tier 1Tier 2
Prodc. boost 1Prod. boost 1
Res. boost 1Inf. boost 2
Weapon 1Weapon 2
Hull 1Hull 2
Armour 1Armour 2
Engine 1Engine 2
What would you grab from each tier?
Probably PBoost 1 and RBoost 1, and for the other 2 apps of tier 1, depending on the characteristics of the hulls, weapons and rest of available ship parts in each tier, and what are doing your enemies, you can prefer a given combination of hull and ship parts (hull 1 + weapon 2, or hull 2 + weapon 2, etc), and thus pick up the items you need most from each tier. You could skip (not research) Weapon 1 and get weapon 2 (or skip armour 1 and get armour 2, or hull, etc.), which can't be done in current tree tech because <ship_part/hull>_X+1 most offen requires <ship_part/hull>_X.

I think allowing <ship_part/X>_X+1 without having first <ship_part>_X is good for strategy diversity, and more when taking into account that with new tech tree we'll have more variety of weapons, so that weapons of lower tier can be better for certain situations (that isn't true with current weapon tier: laser is always better than mass drivers, plasma better than laser, etc.).

If we manage to make all or most parts relevant for at least some common situations, I think there will be diversity of choices. If on the contraire an small subset of apps will be always more useful than the rest, then the choices of most players on each tier will tend to be the same and make games boring.

I think I'm managing to make shields, armours and weapons more or less balanced in that sense. Thus, designs with either high or low weapon/armour parts ratio can make sense, fleets of older (lower tier) designs can be good versus certain fleets of newer (higher tier) designs because they exploit the right weaknesses (e.g. old small hulls with many old weapons and no armour vs newer, bigger hulls with newer, bigger weapons that suffer from overkill waste).
Thus, I believe we can place all ship parts and hulls in the same branch.

I don't know yet if the same is true for boosts. I mean, boosts for population, research and production (and influence) are always good unless you are in bad need of something else (i.e. get new weapon asap to start pumping out better ships against incoming invasion). So the decision making regarding boosts is like "put first in the research queue whatever hull/weapon/armour I do need right now to survive, then the boosts (first the one I'm going to get the most of), then the rest". I mean, the selection of parts and hulls might require more thinking (and scouting), but the part about boost selection seems to be close to boring. That's not necessarily bad, it's more or less the same that happens with current tech tree (at least that is my perception: I will get Nascent AI and Adaptive Autom. ASAP, then Quantum Comp. and Fusion, etc. alternating these with hulls, weapons and armour by demand (as comented above) along with the growth techs required for further expansion (i.e. I get next growth tech when I can't find any other colonisable environment in the vecinity and not before unless I'm in research surplus).

If we can come up with a way to make boosts more of a situational decision... I realise the "situational decision" characteristic of hull/parts selection is possible thanks to the different characteristics (and strategies) that different hulls/parts have/allow. This is different for boosts. There is no strategic situation in which you don't want more production or more research (there is only the situation in which you can't afford to get it yet). Boosts are not alternatives that occupy space, have a cost, etc., they are weightless complements and you want them all. Well, not them all always. When you have no colonies focuses on say research, you don't need pop-based research boosts (at that moment), the same than late game you won't need any more research at all unless you are pursuing technological victory. But for most of the game you do want them all.

Government and policies will bring in new forms of situational decision for boosts thanks to the exclusive choices that policy cards will present. E.g. you can have in place either more production per population or more research per population, so you might want to get only the boost you'll be using for the time. Or you could have either more production per population or more production per planet (flat bonus), so that you'll prioritise pop-based or flat boost techs depending on wether your empire is wide or tall.

And what Krikkitone says: for apps of high tiers that are systematically researched while other related, lower tier apps are systematically skipped, we can resort to require the lower apps in the higher ones (when related), althought I guess only as a last resource, because I don't think this will help with strategy diversity.

In the end, I don't see an easy way to make boosts more situational than they are now, and I guess we can leave with them being selected asap in most strategies. And as such, I don't see the need anymore to split every theme into branches. At least not a need regarding diversity of strategies. Another thing would be that we could want to make the tech tree, and particularly the implicit requirements imposed by the tiered system, more "reasonable", not because of gameplay reasons but because of player's dislike/rejection of things like a new kind of space monster (hull) being seemingly unlocked by getting subterranean habitation. I propose to ignore that last part for now, present the NTT with 4 non-branched themes and branch them out after playtesting feedback if necessary. Divinding each tier into two branches should not be too much extra effort.


Also, this: Currently FO has 196 techs (I might have missed some). With new weapons and hulls, that number will rise to near 300, and probably reach 320 with other new techs that will stem from dividing current tech tree into four themes. With four themes and five tiers, we get around 80 techs per theme (they won't require to be balanced in number of techs, one theme could have 70 and another 90) and 16 techs per tier (again, some tiers could have more than others).

Do you think 5 tiers with 16 techs per tier is not the best distribution?
Should I think of increasing the number of tiers?
For now, I think 5 tiers is a good choice. Mostly because I didn't think of this before and I already made the weapons with a 5 tier system in mind. But I realise that is not the best design principle, so time to think about this seriously.
Short themes with wide tiers could be the best way to slow down research steamrolling, or not. Let's see. Assuming the apps of each tier cost roughly three times (or two, or whatever, TBD) the cost of previous tier apps:
A) If we require 8 out of 16 apps per tier (with 5 tiers) to unlock next tier, to unlock tier 3 and get your first tier 3 app (say a nice tier 3 weapon) you need aprox. the equivalent to 41 tier one apps (8 tier 1 apps to unlock tier 2, 8 tier 2 apps to unlock tier 3, one tier 3 app). With same research points, another empire could have unlocked tier 2 of two themes (16 tier one apps) and have a better selection of 8 tier 2 apps of two different themes (maybe some nice combination of mech armour, energy shield and weapons of both themes, plus the boosts of both themes).
B) If instead we require 4 out of 8 apps per tier, with 10 tiers, with the PPs required to get those 41 tier-1 apps one empire focusing in a single theme would get up to (almost) 3 tier-3 apps (i.e. 4 tier 1 apps, 4 tier 2 apps, 3 tier 3 apps; these will probably be tier 3 weapon, hulls and some kind of defense, or two of these plus one boost, plus a narrow selection of the tier 1 and 2 boosts and ship parts that best complement with the selected tier 3 parts), and an empire researching two themes would get 1 tier 3 app (8 tier 1 apps and 8 tier 2 apps of two themes, probably more than can be used effectively against the single-theme focused empire, plus 1 tier 3 app of one of those themes that shall allow for a ship design that counters the ship designs of the single-theme emperire).
Is one of this two scenarios better balanced than the other?
That's certainly hard to say without trying it for real (once implemented), but it would be great if we had an a priori idea. But I don't see if one or the other is more balanced than the other. So, I bet for the five tier system now. But feedback is welcome.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#34 Post by labgnome » Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:26 am

Oberlus wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 12:14 pm
Government and policies will bring in new forms of situational decision for boosts thanks to the exclusive choices that policy cards will present. E.g. you can have in place either more production per population or more research per population, so you might want to get only the boost you'll be using for the time. Or you could have either more production per population or more production per planet (flat bonus), so that you'll prioritise pop-based or flat boost techs depending on wether your empire is wide or tall.
I would suggest that we should ultimately make most boosts the result of policies. It's rally the only way to make them strategic.
Oberlus wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 12:14 pm
Also, this: Currently FO has 196 techs (I might have missed some). With new weapons and hulls, that number will rise to near 300, and probably reach 320 with other new techs that will stem from dividing current tech tree into four themes. With four themes and five tiers, we get around 80 techs per theme (they won't require to be balanced in number of techs, one theme could have 70 and another 90) and 16 techs per tier (again, some tiers could have more than others).

Do you think 5 tiers with 16 techs per tier is not the best distribution?
Should I think of increasing the number of tiers?
For now, I think 5 tiers is a good choice. Mostly because I didn't think of this before and I already made the weapons with a 5 tier system in mind. But I realise that is not the best design principle, so time to think about this seriously.
Short themes with wide tiers could be the best way to slow down research steamrolling, or not. Let's see. Assuming the apps of each tier cost roughly three times (or two, or whatever, TBD) the cost of previous tier apps:
A) If we require 8 out of 16 apps per tier (with 5 tiers) to unlock next tier, to unlock tier 3 and get your first tier 3 app (say a nice tier 3 weapon) you need aprox. the equivalent to 41 tier one apps (8 tier 1 apps to unlock tier 2, 8 tier 2 apps to unlock tier 3, one tier 3 app). With same research points, another empire could have unlocked tier 2 of two themes (16 tier one apps) and have a better selection of 8 tier 2 apps of two different themes (maybe some nice combination of mech armour, energy shield and weapons of both themes, plus the boosts of both themes).
B) If instead we require 4 out of 8 apps per tier, with 10 tiers, with the PPs required to get those 41 tier-1 apps one empire focusing in a single theme would get up to (almost) 3 tier-3 apps (i.e. 4 tier 1 apps, 4 tier 2 apps, 3 tier 3 apps; these will probably be tier 3 weapon, hulls and some kind of defense, or two of these plus one boost, plus a narrow selection of the tier 1 and 2 boosts and ship parts that best complement with the selected tier 3 parts), and an empire researching two themes would get 1 tier 3 app (8 tier 1 apps and 8 tier 2 apps of two themes, probably more than can be used effectively against the single-theme focused empire, plus 1 tier 3 app of one of those themes that shall allow for a ship design that counters the ship designs of the single-theme emperire).
Is one of this two scenarios better balanced than the other?
That's certainly hard to say without trying it for real (once implemented), but it would be great if we had an a priori idea. But I don't see if one or the other is more balanced than the other. So, I bet for the five tier system now. But feedback is welcome.
A couple of questions:
1. How strongly do you want to encourage sticking to one theme? Because that depends on what you mean by balanced.
2. How sold are you on four themes? What about a five of six themed system? With themes dedicated to strategies like tall, wide, or even hidden/stealthy and different victory goals like conquest, tech and diplomatic.
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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#35 Post by Ophiuchus » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:02 am

I would prefer if we can build the tech tree to have a really good UI. If one has a great UI it indicates the underlying structure is easy to understand. Why am i saying this? I think too many tech entries in the UI screen would spoil this.
  • GREAT: no scrolling required; GOOD: scrolling rarely required, only in one direction;
  • 16 techs per tier are (probably) too many. i got the feeling the one-theme approach induces a lot of redundancy. This probably needs a UI hack (hiding/sorting/ordering of themes). GREAT: showing all themes at once on a screen. GOOD: showing all relevant themes at once on a screen.
  • visualising dependencies between techs takes up screen space. If possible no dependencies besides dependency on the tier. Else a maximum of one dependency which could be expressed by an icon.
  • Weapons contain the most degrees of freedom compared to other ship parts. The basics of the others are cost, effectiveness (capacity), slot usage, restrictions and "dynamics". Fuel parts currently: cost doesnt matter, takes up a spare internal slot, restrictions: unique (there can be only one in the hull) and dynamics: auto-upgrades on tech updates. Why fuel parts are like that? Because we found them too boring to even warrant different parts.
  • Advancement/Upgrades like MD-1, MD-2 would not affect screen space much. For different techs we should not use the same syntax/terms. How about shields-A, shields-B... If we wanted to stick closer to the current FOCS it could be shields-1-y etc ( shields-x-y: x for the tech numer and y for the upgrade level, shields-1-1, shields-1-2 ). I want to prevent term confusion like we have now with fighters vs figthers.
Potentials for tweaking/implementation:
  • Not every theme needs weapon tech at every tier, different pacing of tech (and also different number of techs per tier) could also could be used differentiate themes.
  • Also a tier could contain more than a single weapon tech (same "power-level", but different purposes)
  • maybe get rid of some kind of parts or put them into high tier (e.g. no armor parts before mid or endgame); sprinkle them between the themes on (so one theme gets earlier access, but at a less efficient level; another theme needs to wait/stretch itself more to it in a higher tier, but more efficient)
  • directly researching a tier-tech could also give a non-scaling mini-boost. (E.g. a +1 research bonus on your empire root). I think non-scaling boosts can be easily balanced because you know when they are relevant. (E.g. the +1 RP constant boost becomes mostly irrelevant if the empire has at least 20RP (it would give a mere 5% increase), so lets say five planets and a linear +2 RP boost like Nascent Artificial Intelligence)
  • ways to discourage using multiple themes: Order the themes by the number of RP points spent on a theme. Technology of the topmost theme need normal RP amount, researching tech in the 2nd topmost theme need double RP amount, third needs triple amount...
  • ways to discourage using multiple themes: initial unlock cost. First unlocked theme costs 0RP, second unlocked theme costs 100RP, third unlocked theme costs 400RP, fourth unlocked theme costs 1000RP
So i probably would need UI mock-ups to judge the intended amounts of tech/structure.
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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)

#36 Post by Oberlus » Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:57 am

labgnome wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:26 am
I would suggest that we should ultimately make most boosts the result of policies. It's rally the only way to make them strategic.
I think you are right.
labgnome wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:26 am
1. How strongly do you want to encourage sticking to one theme? Because that depends on what you mean by balanced.
I have no strong opinion on that.
IIRC, Vezzra stated (in this thread, I think) that going for only one theme should not be a viable option, and I understand that as not allowing any theme to be round up for late game. I tried in the weapons design to make each theme at least good at something and bad at something, but depending on the situation and the bad choices of your enemies, I presume you could do well focusing on only one theme and do not unlock tier 2 of other themes until mid game.
labgnome wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:26 am
2. How sold are you on four themes? What about a five of six themed system? With themes dedicated to strategies like tall, wide, or even hidden/stealthy and different victory goals like conquest, tech and diplomatic.
I'm not sold at all in the the number of themes (although it could be annoying to have to redo the weapons design, if necessary I'll do it motivated). What I don't have is more ideas for "themed" trunks/trees, looks like my imagination is rather limited (I'm more of a hard sci-fi guy). The current 4 theme idea is from Krikkitone, and I like it a lot. If we had a tall-strategy and a wide-strategy trunks, wouldn't that be much like functional instead of themed? I must confess I don't really grasp the concept of themed vs functional, a lot of greys in there for me.

I recommend you reading this post and the ones that follow.

Currently, I see these four themes like this (mostly quoting Krikkitone):

Biotec: zergs, biology, genetics, nature, evolutionary intelligence, adaptation, monsters...
Cybertec: borg, cybernetics (meat-machine mix for body and mind enhancements), robotics, nanotechnology, AI, technologically-powered mind networks...
Energy: protoss, energy, physics (theorists), psionics, telepathy, powerful computers, star manipulation, force-fields (shields), beam/energy weapons...
Mech: terran, industry (and polution), brute force, megastructures, megaweapons, oppression...

So, in few words, its like Biotec are mutant ecologists, Cybertec are, well, cyber and hive-mind, Energy are telepathic versions of Rick Sanchez, and Mech are industrious militaristics. And that's what I'm understanding no as "themed".

If we can change that to get more distinct themes in the same way, I'll be happy.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#37 Post by Oberlus » Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:35 am

Ophiuchus wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:02 am
I think too many tech entries in the UI screen would spoil this.
I think you refer to too many apps in a single theme-tier.
16 apps hanging under each tier-theory will certainly be too much to fit in a single screen for most screens.
GREAT: no scrolling required; GOOD: scrolling rarely required, only in one direction;
Great is impossible with 200 techs (current number) no matter what we try. Good is doable, I think.
i got the feeling the one-theme approach induces a lot of redundancy
This needs more discussion :D
I need clarification on what redundancy. But I guess you refer to things like all themes having weapons in all tiers, more than one theme having armour parts, etc?
I can change that if we agree on it.
In fact, we could agree a 10 tier system. There would be no more than 8 apps (and 1 theory) per tier. I think that would fit in most screens if app pannels are small enough.
GREAT: showing all themes at once on a screen. GOOD: showing all relevant themes at once on a screen.
Not sure I understand you. Showing all apps of all tiers of all themes is not possible. We could show a button to switch between each theme (like tabs in a spreadsheet, showing only one sheet each time) and a button to show all themes (sheets) at once in a big zoomable screen like the tech tree we already have. To show a subselection of themes (keeping in mind that we have 4 right now, but could have more) the buttons could be non-exclusive, and only switch to the more compact spread-sheet-like-visualisation-that-goes-nice-with-tiers when there is only one theme selected.
visualising dependencies between techs takes up screen space. If possible no dependencies besides dependency on the tier. Else a maximum of one dependency which could be expressed by an icon.
I think The Silent One and I discussed ways to show as many dependencies as necessary, with a single icon on the right side of each app that at a glance lets you know what kind of requirement is left to fulfil (if there is only one) or if there is more than one unmet requirements (and a tooltip to indicate each individual requirement, with links on each one to go to the wherever theme is it). But by system we will ose few to none requirements, the tierred system shall make that possible.
Why fuel parts are like that? Because we found them too boring to even warrant different parts.
Also because even if those fuel tanks were incredibly funny storytellers to amuse you while playing, they are still useless in-game.

shields-x-y: x for the tech numer and y for the upgrade level
I'm not planing to add upgrades to shields. Current system does not have it (nor the one I have proposed), and it is well balanced IMO. Do you think we should have improvements for shields.
On the other hand, I got your point about naming. Agree with you.

Regarding multiple theme strategies, I wouldn't try to discourage them at start. IIRC, Vezzra thought that going two themes should be possible and usually better than going only one. Here I was worrying about having made too powerful any single theme strategy and if I should make easier or harder to pursue only one theme (probably by changing the factor of cost increase per tier).

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#38 Post by The Silent One » Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:11 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:35 am
We could show a button to switch between each theme (like tabs in a spreadsheet, showing only one sheet each time) [...]
This is the way to got imho. The player will need to scroll vertically to get to higher tiers.
I'm not planing to add upgrades to shields.
Why not? Seems like a typical refinement opportunity?
Regarding multiple theme strategies, I wouldn't try to discourage them at start. IIRC, Vezzra thought that going two themes should be possible and usually better than going only one. Here I was worrying about having made too powerful any single theme strategy and if I should make easier or harder to pursue only one theme (probably by changing the factor of cost increase per tier).
If we can do it well, to go with a one-, two-, or multi-theme approach should all be possible. Each should have pros and cons, like a one-theme approach lets you get to high-tier tech faster, but a multi-theme approach lets you combine tactics from different themes at the cost of not getting towards the end of the tech tree as fast as when you just pursue one theme.
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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#39 Post by Oberlus » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:58 pm

The Silent One wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:11 pm
The player will need to scroll vertically to get to higher tiers.
I might be confused. Looking at your last mockups (whick I like a lot), tier N+1 is at the right of tier N, and to see higher tiers you need to scroll horizontally.
The Silent One wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:11 pm
If we can do it well, to go with a one-, two-, or multi-theme approach should all be possible
Totally agree.
The Silent One wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:11 pm
Why not? Seems like a typical refinement opportunity?
The balancing of shields vs small/big shots was a bit tricky. It is hard to make shields a moderate defense against few-shot weapons at the same time that it is a powerful-but-not-definitive defense agaist multi-shot. So having a fixed value for each shield was helpful. Anyway, I could make base shield strength half as powerful and add three refinements to up them back to the top strength (x1.26 each upgrade), getting something like this:
Base Ref. 1 Ref. 2 Ref. 3
Shield T1 8 10 13 16
Shield T2 12 15 19 24
Shield T3 18 22 28 36
Shield T4 27 34 42 54
Shield T5 40 50 64 80
I have to make calculations but I guess the worst this can do to balance is make base versions of shields non-useful at the start, but late game would be good anyway.

Yes, I like the idea, I will do it.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#40 Post by Oberlus » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:01 pm

Regarding the too many apps per theme-tier issue (bad for visualisation), I've think we could do this:

Keep the current 4 general themes (unless someone comes up with something better with more than 4 themes), and the current 5 tier system. But the second tier of each theme branches into two sub-themes:
  • Energy:
    - Psionics (telepathy and void stuff).
    - Physics (the rest).
  • Mech:
    - Megastructures.
    - Asteroid (asteroid mining? engineering?).
  • Cybertec:
    - Cybernetics (machine-living complementation)
    - AI (autonomous automation).
  • Biotec:
    - Ecology (environment and planetary wide effects)
    - Genetics (effects for the species, hulls/monsters, etc.).
(I welcome suggestions for the sub-themes).
If we allow 9 apps max per each tier, we get 36 in tier 1 of the four themes, and double of that (for two branches on each theme) for tiers 2 to 5, so 324 apps max, plus 20 theories. That should be more space than necessary to accomodate all the techs. 8 apps max per tier could be doable, total max 288 apps (plus 20 theories).
With this system I think most players won't require to do vertical scroll to see all apps of a theme-tier, and horizontal scrolling to see higher tiers is not cumbersome.

If that theme branching is annoying in any way for playing or implementation, we could do the branching from the very beggining, effectively getting 8 instead of 4 themes.

Another way would be to leave the 4 themes unbranched and double the number of tiers, from 5 to 10. Should not be a problem.


So we've got three options to have max 8-9 apps per tier:
A: Sub-branching of current 4 themes after tier 1.
B: Splitting of current 4 themes into 8 (or something like that).
C: Keep 4 themes with no branches but up tiers to 10.

Please, let me now what would you choose and why.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#41 Post by The Silent One » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:07 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:58 pm
I might be confused. Looking at your last mockups (whick I like a lot), tier N+1 is at the right of tier N, and to see higher tiers you need to scroll horizontally.
Shouldn't write when I'm in a hurry. Horizontally, of course.
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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#42 Post by labgnome » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:57 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:57 am
Biotec: zergs, biology, genetics, nature, evolutionary intelligence, adaptation, monsters...
Cybertec: borg, cybernetics (meat-machine mix for body and mind enhancements), robotics, nanotechnology, AI, technologically-powered mind networks...
Energy: protoss, energy, physics (theorists), psionics, telepathy, powerful computers, star manipulation, force-fields (shields), beam/energy weapons...
Mech: terran, industry (and polution), brute force, megastructures, megaweapons, oppression...

So, in few words, its like Biotec are mutant ecologists, Cybertec are, well, cyber and hive-mind, Energy are telepathic versions of Rick Sanchez, and Mech are industrious militaristics. And that's what I'm understanding no as "themed".
Okay I think I grok the themes a little better. I would say that if we are going for themes, I would lean towards cost penalizing cross-theme or multi-theme research. As it seems that themes are meant to add flavor to your style of play. Instead I would suggest that espionage or technology trade should be the primary way to get technologies from other themes. This would give motivation to engage in those activities. FYI: I think that after influence and government/policies are a thing that a diplomacy screen should be next.

I suppose my next question is about the tier system: how will that effect adding and removing technologies from the game. Personally if It's going to have to be a whole re-work every time we want to add or remove a technology, then I would like to push-back for a strait-forward TAR system. I am concerned that using the tier system will make it so that the system breaks-down if too many technologies are added or removed at a particular tier. One of the big reasons I wanted to fix the tech tree is to make it easier to add and remove technologies from the game. I would prefer a tech tree with trunks that various technology branches and leaves could be added to, removed from or moved around easily and with minimal hassle. That's part of the reason the current tech tree is such a mess, and I wouldn't want us to wind up in a similar place in the future.

As far as other themes go I would suggest a theme.
Crystalline: kryptonian/minbari, crystals, grown buildings, subterranean, lasers, asteroids, utopian...
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Oberlus
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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#43 Post by Oberlus » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:56 pm

labgnome wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:57 pm
I would say that if we are going for themes, I would lean towards cost penalizing cross-theme or multi-theme research. As it seems that themes are meant to add flavor to your style of play. Instead I would suggest that espionage or technology trade should be the primary way to get technologies from other themes. This would give motivation to engage in those activities.
I like that, encouraging non-violent relations among empires.
Ways to penalise simultaneous research of different themes (or to encourage going for a single theme):
- Via external requirements (like having telepathic species to go through Psionics branch at a lower cost). This can imply that the starting position determines your preferred theme (at least for a while), which some player can see as against strategy diversity. I'm unsure whether I like or dislike this option.
- Via some internal mechanic that increases the cost of each additional theme. So it is an strategic choice what theme you start researching first (it will be the cheap one for the rest of the game, its apps will be the ones that you can get sooner with smallest cost), and what you begin researching second (because you probably won't be researching a third or fourth theme until you're way into late game). Pro, does not impose an strategy depending on starting conditions, con, it might be a too strong deterrent for multi-theme strategies.

I still don't think it is bad to go for multiple themes. I'm more concerned of gameplay/strategic diversity than flavour. So, as long as allowing multiple-theme approaches does not imply that single-theme strategies become usless (and therefore underused) and does not imply that a single-theme strategy will be systematically better than multi-themes (so that multi-themes will be underused), I don't think we need to encourage or discourage anything.

labgnome wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:57 pm
I suppose my next question is about the tier system: how will that effect adding and removing technologies from the game. Personally if It's going to have to be a whole re-work every time we want to add or remove a technology, then I would like to push-back for a strait-forward TAR system. I am concerned that using the tier system will make it so that the system breaks-down if too many technologies are added or removed at a particular tier. One of the big reasons I wanted to fix the tech tree is to make it easier to add and remove technologies from the game. I would prefer a tech tree with trunks that various technology branches and leaves could be added to, removed from or moved around easily and with minimal hassle. That's part of the reason the current tech tree is such a mess, and I wouldn't want us to wind up in a similar place in the future.
Well, this is a very important point you've raised here.
I need some reflexion on this issue, and then ask you some doubts I already have.

labgnome wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:57 pm
As far as other themes go I would suggest a theme.
Crystalline: kryptonian/minbari, crystals, grown buildings, subterranean, lasers, asteroids, utopian...
Promising. They would get the asteroids (so one hull line per theme), some of the population and industry boosts I've already put within Mech (and they can live without them), some of the weapons from Energy and Mech... I don't know if I can make their weaponry and Energy's distinctive enough. I'll try and report back.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#44 Post by Oberlus » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:09 am

labgnome wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:57 pm
how will that effect adding and removing technologies from the game. Personally if It's going to have to be a whole re-work every time we want to add or remove a technology, then I would like to push-back for a strait-forward TAR system. I am concerned that using the tier system will make it so that the system breaks-down if too many technologies are added or removed at a particular tier. One of the big reasons I wanted to fix the tech tree is to make it easier to add and remove technologies from the game.
Adding new
- themes needs rework, some techs must be reassigned to a different theme and/or tier;
- tiers needs some rework, moving techs between tiers;
- (few) more techs needs no rework as long as there is enough space in the screen or we drop Ophichus suggested requirement of no vertical scrolling.
- many more techs would certainly need more themes or more tiers if the no vertical scroll is a requirement.

Deleting
- themes needs rework,
- tiers needs some rework,
- techs need no rework unless some theme-tier gets less than 3 apps.

All these "rework" seems easier with tiered system than with free tech tree (current system) but similar than with pure TAR system. In fact, the underlying link and requirement structure of the techs is the same (the one used now with some additions to ease up the scripting of alternative requirements).

The only rework that comes new with the tiered system is that one of the no vertical scrolling requirement, unless we also add that requirement to the TAR system (so that the number of apps unlocked by each theory is balanced).
So, unless I'm missing something, I think we can stick to the tiered system.
labgnome wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:57 pm
I would prefer a tech tree with trunks that various technology branches and leaves could be added to, removed from or moved around easily and with minimal hassle. That's part of the reason the current tech tree is such a mess, and I wouldn't want us to wind up in a similar place in the future.
That last part I'm not sure I undestood it. I think current tech tree already has the ability to easily move whole branches, in the sense of change it's category (tag), and requires the same effort to change tech requirements for "real" moving of techs than would do the TAR system (I mean working with FOCS, not sure about conceptually, design-wise). The tiered system for sure doesn't have the same facility to add new branches but in the sense that it does not have branches at all (or it pretends not to have, appart from the main trunk formed by the theories and each "branch" being the apps hanging under each theory. In fact, as I see it, this tiered system is a pure TAR system with themed organisation (instead of functional), no branching allowed after the starting one into the themes (so that T1 can't give place to T2A and T2B, just T2), and with some restrictions for the numbers of apps per theory (i.e. per tier). Summing up, a restricted (more strictly organised) TAR system. IMO, the mess that the current tech tree is stems directly from the lack of an imposed organisation. Both TAR and tiered system would be an improvement, but I (now) think the tiered system (again, the restricted TAR system) could be even better. But I can change my mind if presented with the right example, the same I changed my mind before about TAR vs tiered.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#45 Post by labgnome » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:21 am

Oberlus wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:56 pm
I like that, encouraging non-violent relations among empires.
Ways to penalise simultaneous research of different themes (or to encourage going for a single theme):
- Via external requirements (like having telepathic species to go through Psionics branch at a lower cost). This can imply that the starting position determines your preferred theme (at least for a while), which some player can see as against strategy diversity. I'm unsure whether I like or dislike this option.
- Via some internal mechanic that increases the cost of each additional theme. So it is an strategic choice what theme you start researching first (it will be the cheap one for the rest of the game, its apps will be the ones that you can get sooner with smallest cost), and what you begin researching second (because you probably won't be researching a third or fourth theme until you're way into late game). Pro, does not impose an strategy depending on starting conditions, con, it might be a too strong deterrent for multi-theme strategies.
I would go for primarily an internal mechanic, say upping the cost 10x or so of each new theme, making it costly to invest in all of them. I generally dislike locking a player into a strategy without choice. However I will say that I do like the idea of more techs that telepaths would have an advantage in other than the single one the have now, maybe even some telepath-specific bonuses.
Oberlus wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:56 pm
I still don't think it is bad to go for multiple themes. I'm more concerned of gameplay/strategic diversity than flavour. So, as long as allowing multiple-theme approaches does not imply that single-theme strategies become usless (and therefore underused) and does not imply that a single-theme strategy will be systematically better than multi-themes (so that multi-themes will be underused), I don't think we need to encourage or discourage anything.
I mean discouraging isn't forbidding. If someone really wants to go for multiple themes I don't see any way to stop them, but if we are trying to make each theme have its own "feel" or even tie them to strategies making it easy to get all the way through all the themes undermines that design goal.
Oberlus wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:56 pm
Well, this is a very important point you've raised here.
I need some reflexion on this issue, and then ask you some doubts I already have.
I could see ameliorating some of the concerns by giving theories a low enough initial cot and/or minimum turns to placate people who don't want theory techs.
Oberlus wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:56 pm
Promising. They would get the asteroids (so one hull line per theme), some of the population and industry boosts I've already put within Mech (and they can live without them), some of the weapons from Energy and Mech... I don't know if I can make their weaponry and Energy's distinctive enough. I'll try and report back.
Well I picked lasers because crystal lasers are a thing IRL, so it works, they could have both beam and pulsed lasers (which there are existing assets for), and maybe even a "superlaser" core-slot weapon to compete with the spinal antimatter cannon. You could also have a "crystal shards" missile-type weapon. Also for another internal or core-slot part, "power crystals" are totally a popular sci-fi trope.
Oberlus wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:01 pm
So we've got three options to have max 8-9 apps per tier:
A: Sub-branching of current 4 themes after tier 1.
B: Splitting of current 4 themes into 8 (or something like that).
C: Keep 4 themes with no branches but up tiers to 10.

Please, let me now what would you choose and why.
My favorite option is C. B would be my second choice, if we go for B I would suggest possibly suggest leaving some of the themes as "minor" themes that could accent the "major" themes. Possibly making the minor themes more "functional" in nature.
All of my contributions should be considered released under creative commons attribution share-alike license, CC-BY-SA 3.0 for use in, by and with the Free Orion project.

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