Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

For what's not in 'Top Priority Game Design'. Post your ideas, visions, suggestions for the game, rules, modifications, etc.

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Ophiuchus
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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#16 Post by Ophiuchus » Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:54 pm

em3 wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 7:18 pm
Ophiuchus wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 6:22 pm
I think your idea of atomic/orthogonal functional branches is not the best option left.
I'll reply more verbosely, when I have more time, but I think that is a gross oversimplification of what Vezzra suggests.
Too many words, too few numbers for me. I seem to get lost in the discussion LOL

I definitely misread him. He said mixing 2 to 3 themes for composing your strategy. And having up to 12 themes (i think he wrote somewhere about 20 themes; this i think would be way too much and this lead me to thinking he meant atomic functional themes/branches). I do not know how many tiers and techs he thinks of.

I think the current self-sufficient theme suggestion from Oberlus is less than 300 techs organized in 6 tiers in 5 themes (I think 300 techs is too much).

My personal preference would be not more tech than fits on a single screen (seems I am the only one?).

Another variant of lean themes: Lets say you organized your X techs in T functional themes. Now see if you can remix the techs into about T sparse self-sufficient strategies (self-sufficient in the sense that you could win a game under some circumstances; e.g. hulls with many externals and good armour parts; and sparse in the sense that taking tech from other will be necessary to win in many cases: lousy weapons and barely sufficient supply). Then fluff the themes up (find a fitting remembrable story for the theme) and harden them afterwards (minor tweaks to the techs to fit the story better as long is this does not hurt composability).

Another variant of self-sufficient themes: Lets say you organized your techs in self-sufficient themes which each basically support a single way of playing the game. If you make unlocking tiers and researching in other themes kind of cheap (because six is quite many) you basically have access to all the tech and are not railroaded into your "first" theme.

Once again the main benefit I see for the tier system as opposed to any tree based system is that the UI gets way more structured and can be much more effective screen-space wise while still offering a great overview.
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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 Tree Fundamentals

#17 Post by Ophiuchus » Mon Apr 22, 2019 9:11 pm

Vezzra wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 3:40 pm
labgnome wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:38 pm
..
That said, there are some things I'd absolutely object to, and probably would veto. Having themed trunks that are intended to offer everything, so that a player can viably pursue only one, but that runs out of interesting/useful stuff to research already at midgame for a typical empire in a typical game, is one of them. That is not going to happen, if you really decide to stick with your approach, please take that into account.
Ok, If I get it right labgnome has a vision of themes different from Oberlus as well from Vezzra. I think labgnome wants no composability of themes; so they also do not address cross-theme issues when posting content suggestions. I will call this a strategy theme. So basically the Endless Space approach but you can independently choose species and strategy theme.

For me in that form is a no go (for freeorion) - whatever strategy you choose should depend on the universe and the species in your empire. This can change. So having a fixed strategy chosen at the beginning of the game is morally wrong ;)

This reminds me again - whatever we come up with should be very freeorion and not some other 4x. Multispecies and change of strategy are (for me at least) freeorion essentials.
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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 Tree Fundamentals

#18 Post by labgnome » Mon Apr 22, 2019 10:02 pm

Vezzra wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 1:51 pm
I could see that. Although I will say I'd try to keep the numbers down to a reasonable amount to avoid there being too many choices or having to spent too much time hunting down the technology you want.
Of course. But as I pointed out in my post above, that is going to be a challenge for either model.
Oberlus has worked out a nice concise system for the proposed tech tree which addresses these issues.
Vezzra wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 1:51 pm
Two things I guess will be absolutely necessary so players can handle the massive tech trees: you have to be able to hide/display entire trunks in the UI (the same way you can now hide/display the categories), so you can hide the themes/trunks you're not interested in. Because with either model we're going to have tons of techs which the player ususally will only be interested in a small subset of.
You can already choose weather or not to display certain technologies in the current UI, so that sort of functionality is already supported.
Vezzra wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 1:51 pm
The other thing will be a summary description of each tree/trunk/theme, that point out the major features, strength and weaknesses of that particular trunk, so (new) players do not need to analyze the trunk in detail and maybe read the description of a lot of its techs in order to get an idea what they can expect, and how they need to adapt their strategies when selecting that trunk.
This seems quite doable, especially once we work out how each theme is going to work and what kind of strategy they will each support.
Vezzra wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 1:51 pm
He he. If you want to go down that road, let me humor you: That's not an application of high-energy physics to diplomacy, but to communications. Sure, the latter is a requirement for the former (you will have difficulties engaging in diplomacy if no one has any idea what the other is talking about ;)), but still two different things. :D
I mean it's the same thing in-game if it gives you diplomatic options or some kind of influence boost. It really only matters for flavor if the technology is called "xeno-embassies" or if it's "tachyon ansebles".
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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#19 Post by labgnome » Mon Apr 22, 2019 10:49 pm

Vezzra wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 3:16 pm
This whole discussion originated in a debate about revising the tech tree, and about the suggestion to return to the TAR model the tech tree was originally intended to adhere to. That suggestion wasn't universally liked, some objected (the main gripe being having theory techs you need to research but don't give you anything tangible besides unlocking access to other techs). Thus the idea of the tiered tech tree has been proposed: Having the techs organized in tiers, and each tier getting unlocked (that is, the techs assigned to it become researchable) if a certain limit of the techs of the prior tier get researched.
I will say after looking at your comments that a lot of the mutation from your original idea comes from the departure from the TAR system, and that maybe we should return to it in order to come to some kind of compromise.
Vezzra wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 3:16 pm
IIRC one of the first concerns brought up was the question if the entire tech tree would become one linear sequence of tiers, as that apparently was immediately perceived as too dull/boring (at least by some, me among them). The answer was, of course not, we are going to organize the tech tree in multiple trunks to make things more interesting and flexible. Oberlus (I think) was the one who made some first suggestion for trunks, naturally functional/application oriented as our current tech tree has been.

It has been at that point that I brought up my idea of making themed trunks instead of functional ones, because the idea of having a weapons trunk, a ship tech trunk, a industry trunk etc. isn't very appealing to me. Instead, have trunks that adhere to a certain theme (e.g. "High Energy Physics"), which would provide techs/applications for several fields: weapons, pop growth, research boosts, etc. In order to get everything you need, you'd have to delve into at least several trunks, etc. - I've explained the concept often enough at this point I guess ;)
I think that this approach just makes more sense as a functional one rather than themed and that might be why your idea got lost in the fog.
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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#20 Post by labgnome » Mon Apr 22, 2019 10:50 pm

Vezzra wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 3:40 pm
I'd say you've contributed more than just "feedback". You actively engaged in the design process, contributed a lot of thoughts and ideas to help making an abstract idea (themed tech tree) a reality.
Thank you, that means a lot to me. Honestly sometimes it seems like I can't really contribute much since I really can't be involved in github.
Vezzra wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 3:40 pm
That said, there are some things I'd absolutely object to, and probably would veto. Having themed trunks that are intended to offer everything, so that a player can viably pursue only one, but that runs out of interesting/useful stuff to research already at midgame for a typical empire in a typical game, is one of them. That is not going to happen, if you really decide to stick with your approach, please take that into account.
I think this a little eary to be taking such a strong stance. I think there is still time and room to come to some kind of compromise or consensus. I don't know that we are at a point that we need to be drawing lines in the sand.
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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#21 Post by em3 » Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:11 pm

I think the only consensus, so far, is that we are discussing tiered linear technology branches, not TAR model. There is no reason to assume anyone is still referencing the old graph model with TAR instead.

As far as UI is concerned, let's make one thing clear: there is no reason to display all the themes on a single screen. They should be accessible as separate screens, using tabs or icons or a list. That is true, whether we adopt 3 tech themes or 20.

While having 4-6 themes for "technical" stuff, like hulls, weapons, population etc boosts could be acceptable (although I'd prefer closer to 8-10), it must be acknowledged, that many "soft" technologies are about to be needed. For policies, for influence, for espionage, for diplomacy. Cramming them into the technical themes seems, frankly, silly to me.

We don't even need to talk about the hypothetical here. Take concentration camps. Should they be available only in one theme? Mechanical? Cybernetic? Or maybe they should be pre-unlocked ("Hi, wellcome to FreeOrion. This is your starting planet. Here you can build a scout ship, an outpost ship, and a concentration camp. Have a nice day.")?
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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#22 Post by em3 » Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:24 pm

Replying to question from another thread.
Ophiuchus wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 7:34 pm
Would you please clarify what you mean hear with theme here.
Yeah, well, here lies the problem. There's so much confusion here. I can get no relief.

When talking about themes I assumed something like what Vezzra describes. Word "theme" stands here for a "thematic technology branch/domain". One theme would consist of up to 1/3 or 1/2 of all functions available (ship offence, ship defence, fleet support, planetary offence, planetary defence, habitability, logistics, stealth, detection, production, research, growth, espionage, diplomacy, policies). Probably less. Very probably not closely linked (no the consisting only of space combat-related techs).

As such, the themes would not be "functional" as in representing one or a couple of functions, but rather "specialized", with increased specialization coming from choosing technologies on each tier.
[...] for Man has earned his right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone totally batshit insane. - Randall Munroe, title text to xkcd #556

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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#23 Post by em3 » Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:34 pm

Risking downplaying my arguments a lot (and going off topic even more)... Take my opinions with a grain of salt. While I did play some FreeOrion in the past and intend to contribute some C++ coding in near future (once life allows it), I can't say I'm coming from a position as informed as most of you.

I do have some strong opinions on where the project should head (I almost entirely abandoned the forum for some months after imperial stockpile was introduced because I believe it undermines one of the cleanest and most KISS systems in FO). But most of us do, and most of you put much more effort into making their vision real, than I do.
[...] for Man has earned his right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone totally batshit insane. - Randall Munroe, title text to xkcd #556

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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#24 Post by Ophiuchus » Tue Apr 23, 2019 12:02 am

em3 wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:11 pm
As far as UI is concerned, let's make one thing clear: there is no reason to display all the themes on a single screen. They should be accessible as separate screens, using tabs or icons or a list. That is true, whether we adopt 3 tech themes or 20.
Of course in principle there is reason to display all themes on a single screen - an overview of what tech exists and what is already researched and available and in process. I think that is KISS UI and beautiful. Only supports a small number of techs though.

I think tabs are horrible GUI. You wrote you prefer 8 to 10 themes. Having to go through 10 tabs to find that information sounds pretty bad.

I certainly won't implement such a thing.
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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 Tree Fundamentals

#25 Post by Oberlus » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:05 am

em3 wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:11 pm
Take concentration camps. Should they be available only in one theme? Mechanical? Cybernetic? Or maybe they should be pre-unlocked ("Hi, wellcome to FreeOrion. This is your starting planet. Here you can build a scout ship, an outpost ship, and a concentration camp. Have a nice day.")?
For the 4-6 approach, each theme would encompass both technical and social techs and policies. So answering the example questions: CC should be in Mech, that have the theme of oppressive social control, and not unlocked at start (except for given species with the right trait).
I only see a problem with this approach: that some players won't like that X stuff was assigned to Y theme while it should "clearly" be in Z theme, flavour-wise. (Notice the flavour-wise; I intend to make the themes balanced enough so that no player should be sure that something is misplaced balance-wise).
That could be a reason to go for 10-20 themes with restricted subsets of functions (but still thematic). As I said before, I'm going to try it. The same that I had no idea what I was doing when I first picked up Vezzra's idea of the themed tech tree (because I was absolutely function-oriented) and only understood it once I put my hands on it (which I got wrong anyway and ended up being 4 themes, interesting themselves thanks to Krikkitone), I will understand better the 10-20 approach once I am trying to make it real.

Therefore, I would ask you all to wait for that before setting anything on stone.

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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#26 Post by labgnome » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:26 am

Ophiuchus wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 6:22 pm
Some benefits of self-sufficient composable themes:
  • Newbies will not be completely overwhelmed (they can stick to a single trunk at the beginning and it will be ok-ish) and are able to expand their game later on
  • Themes are more "story-like" and as such they give a better framework to remember the techs for players, and designers
  • Priorities in balancing are better defined
  • Themes are more "story-like" and as such they give a better framework to design new content
  • Balancing is easier (if we give some penalties/restriction for multi-themes) - at least not worse (if there are no penalties/restrictions).
  • Themes are more "story-like" and as such they give a framework to talk about inter-connected techs (as compared to your atomic functional approach)
  • Themes are more "story-like" and may lend themselves to generate story arches in the future (should we add something like this)
On the downside one could say that you neglect thinking about all possible tech combinations. But that complexity comes from the number of techs mostly, not how you organize your branches.
I think all of these are great points. I definitely would like to see more story possibilities in the game.
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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#27 Post by The Silent One » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:43 am

em3 wrote:I think the only consensus, so far, is that we are discussing tiered linear technology branches, not TAR model.
Agreed.
em3 wrote:As far as UI is concerned, let's make one thing clear: there is no reason to display all the themes on a single screen.
As I replied on the other thread, let's not get lost with the UI discussions. The actual question, I think, is about number and content of the themes. I would favor a combination of large, exhaustive themes (= Oberlus current model of 4-5) and unlockable, more specific side-themes (=Vezzra's suggestions of psionics, dark matter, ...; maybe another 5?) that will not necessairly be available from the start, but may be unlock as "side-arms" of the main themes or by special conditions (say, the dark matter resource). In short, a "main theme" and "side theme" model.
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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#28 Post by Oberlus » Tue Apr 23, 2019 12:24 pm

The Silent One wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:43 am
The actual question, I think, is about number and content of the themes. I would favor a combination of large, exhaustive themes (= Oberlus current model of 4-5) and unlockable, more specific side-themes (=Vezzra's suggestions of psionics, dark matter, ...; maybe another 5?) that will not necessairly be available from the start, but may be unlock as "side-arms" of the main themes or by special conditions (say, the dark matter resource). In short, a "main theme" and "side theme" model.
Interesting idea. More to mull over.

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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#29 Post by labgnome » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:12 pm

em3 wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:11 pm
I think the only consensus, so far, is that we are discussing tiered linear technology branches, not TAR model. There is no reason to assume anyone is still referencing the old graph model with TAR instead.
I am willing to bring back discussion of the TAR system, over the proposed tier system.
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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#30 Post by Ophiuchus » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:42 pm

labgnome wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:12 pm
em3 wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:11 pm
I think the only consensus, so far, is that we are discussing tiered linear technology branches, not TAR model. There is no reason to assume anyone is still referencing the old graph model with TAR instead.
I am willing to bring back discussion of the TAR system, over the proposed tier system.
I think you are the only one. And I guess the reason is that very detailed dependencies between technologies are not really interesting (?).
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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