Empire Types - "Origins"

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Re: Empire Types - "Origins"

#31 Post by Vezzra »

Oberlus wrote: Tue Aug 18, 2020 8:05 amAs I understood it, Origins are a sort of empire-wide (not species) traits.
So to speak, yes. Not literally, more general "stuff" that's specific for your empire, not any species.
They could be special "imperial traits" that can't be acquired except at game start, but that seems awkward, hard to explain why other empires can't get the same through research. So I think Vezzra's idea of making them as techs unlocked at start is the way to go.
Pre-unlocked techs would probably be the most important part of Origins, yes. Pre-unlocked policies too.

Starting buildings (see labgnome's post for an idea) and fleets can (and should) be part of that too, but will be by far less important/impactful than pre-unlocked techs and policies of course.
The most obvious Origin would be the one that eases up life for hidden distributed empires
Yes, as the only very obviously different strategy we currently have.
Grant Electromagneting Dampening (100 RP), unlocked by Active Radar (100 RP), allows to use from start the +20 stealth ship part and halves RP cost of Planetary Cloud Cover (100 RP down from 200 RP).
This allows for early hidden planets and ships, but do not help the empire to stick to the hidden strategy, that will require huge investment on the detection and stealth parts techs and/or the planetary stealth techs. But that's maybe the only need, that bump at start, since the early pacific expansion, without having to devote PP to armed ships, might be enough to put this empire among the ones expanding faster.
For example. Maybe add techs/policies that help with the potentially higher Influence costs etc.

Regarding your ideas for other Origins: yep, something along these lines. For mechanics which aren't properly provided/implemented yet (diplomacy, tall vs. wide) it will be difficult to come up with reasonable Origin ideas of course. First these mechanics need to be properly designed before we can start to think about fitting Origins.

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Re: Empire Types - "Origins"

#32 Post by Ophiuchus »

I think I could buy into Origins providing some assets the other empires could unlock/build in early game if those invested. It would be similar to give all empires e.g. 120RP to buy a starting set before turn 1.

I think origins would succeed in the sense of making an impact if the unlocked assets shape early decisions for expansion, production and research. If we do the game right those early decisions will impact later decisions. Empire-shape and native-integration stuff would have the most impact.
Vezzra wrote: Mon Aug 24, 2020 3:58 pm
Oberlus wrote: Tue Aug 18, 2020 8:05 amThe most obvious Origin would be the one that eases up life for hidden distributed empires
Yes, as the only very obviously different strategy we currently have.
Could also be for frontier-expansion (e.g. frontier policy - with bonus to stockpile and PP once per supply-group, so one-system supply-groups generate the most bonus) leads to "exploded" empire layout.
A policy giving bonus for every colonized system reachable by local supply would lead to looking for a well positioned tiny planet (for extra supply) where to build your imperial palace and colonize around as many systems around that (and also would lead to researching more supply techs).

Else there is early rush, build-an-economy, upgradable-fleet, and generally there are sweet points for resource-effective fleets (so you hold of investing in fleet as much as you can until need and tech are on a high level).

There could be stealthed-fleet strategy (using stealth to make your fleet more effective and more surprising).

Game-wise main problem to origins i see here is still the unknown galaxy shape. If you are locked in with monsters unlocks for a wide colonisation policy wont help at all.
It makes sense if one plays to try a certain play-style. For playing to win should we consider choosing an origin a gamble?
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Re: Empire Types - "Origins"

#33 Post by Ophiuchus »

Vezzra wrote: Mon Aug 24, 2020 3:44 pmOrigins are only supposed to alleviate some issues and introduce a bit more variety at game start. As a mechanic it is very simple and, I expect, easy to implement. So, the investment (the amount of "bucks") isn't that huge, while the benefits (the "bang") should be good enough.
Prototyping of origins can be done in FOCS, simply do the unlocks in an effect and add it to the species (and gate it to human player). Maybe one could also query the empire name and switch origin based on that. If there is some content, we can add backend support/UI.
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Re: Empire Types - "Origins"

#34 Post by Vezzra »

Ophiuchus wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:03 am I think I could buy into Origins providing some assets the other empires could unlock/build in early game if those invested. It would be similar to give all empires e.g. 120RP to buy a starting set before turn 1.
That's more or less the idea.

Although I'm not opposed to have Origins that provide more powerful stuff that other empires could not get, or only get through considerable investments, as long as this powerful stuff is counter-balanced by sufficiently severe disadvantages. But that's something optional, for later iterations/revisions of the mechanic, once we've got a better idea how well the mechanic works.

Giving players some "starting" RP and/or other kind of "points" which they could spend on selecting "starting stuff" would be an alternative, far more flexible approach. The disadvantage of that approach is it's much more difficult to balance and get right, than just providing a set of predefined "start configurations".

Basically similar to how, in case of species, it would be far more flexible to allow players to create their own species by providing a species creation framework. We'd have to provide some kind of "species points" which could be spent on species traits etc., Stellaris does this. But that's of course much harder to balance and get right than just providing a set of predefined species.
Game-wise main problem to origins i see here is still the unknown galaxy shape. If you are locked in with monsters unlocks for a wide colonisation policy wont help at all.
That's an issue we already have with starting species. If you select a starting species which is good at early fast expansion and you find yourself locked in, then that is a big problem. The proper solution for that however is to fix universe generation and starting position selection so that that doesn't happen.

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Re: Empire Types - "Origins"

#35 Post by Ophiuchus »

Vezzra wrote: Wed Aug 26, 2020 9:12 am
Ophiuchus wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:03 am Game-wise main problem to origins i see here is still the unknown galaxy shape. If you are locked in with monsters unlocks for a wide colonisation policy wont help at all.
That's an issue we already have with starting species. If you select a starting species which is good at early fast expansion and you find yourself locked in, then that is a big problem. The proper solution for that however is to fix universe generation and starting position selection so that that doesn't happen.
Yes that is a solution, but also boring. I find it far more interesting to have different starting challenges, where the solution for single player is to allow for acquiring the necessary tools and growing into the situation.

For multiplayer you want to be able to even the playing field. So I would rather like to have a game rule to tweak this. So there would be a second(?) pass in galaxy generation which only fiddles with starting position and you can switch that on/off.
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Re: Empire Types - "Origins"

#36 Post by LienRag »

Vezzra wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 2:26 pm
LienRag wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:56 pmCould you elaborate a bit about the species!=empire thing ?
I mean, I understand that one specie should be playable in a diverse manner, not having the initial Specie entirely determinate the gameplay
I think it's a bit more than that. Because what you say here applies to most 4X space games - the initial species should not determine the entire gameplay completely. FO goes a bit farther than that: species are only an asset of the empire, nothing more.

Currently that goes so far as that's it's basically irrelevant which species is on the capital. Functionally, there is no "ruling"/"main"/"dominant"/whatever species. You don't play a "Human", "Trith", "Laenfa", "Sly" empire. You can, in theory, very quickly discard your starting species and continue to mainly use a native species you found early on, to the point where you can completely wipe out your starting species (by Evacuation/CC). Your empire would stay the "same", so to speak, even if it's comprised of a completely different species.

While most other 4X space games offer you the option to incorporate other species into your empire, I don't know any that go to these extremes as FO does.

Thanks for your explanations. I get the concept better now, though I'm still a bit fuzzy about the gameplay consequences of this design philosophy.

For most of your answers, I guess that we are in agreement about the core principles.
Though, as I said on my first post here, I find your idea interesting, I'm still a bit wary that your Origins would railroad the player in a pre-defined style rather than give him full flexibility. And even if he's the one that chooses his railroad, it's still a railroad and so imho something we should avoid.

English is not my first language, so I may have trouble explaining myself here : obviously having the player making choices which have consequences (including having to discard other options to do that) is a core game feature in a good strategic game. But it's not the same as having an artificial choice driving the player's strategy for the whole game.


Vezzra wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 2:26 pm
But it seems to me that wanting to play a specific Empire without adapting one's strategy to the initial specie (and the Galaxy topology, more so the one around the HomeWorld) is not what a strategy game should promote.
Of course, agreed. Otherwise the choice of starting species (or having species at all) would be pointless. And having to adapt to your surroundings is important, otherwise having different starting conditions/surroundings would be pointless.

But having to adapt your strategy to your surroundings is a very different thing from having your surroundings dictate/restrict your selection of fundamental strategies you can pursue.

I'm not sure that I'm on your side here. Having different viable gameplays is a fundamental design principle of FreeOrion, but imho it means that one should be able to choose very different strategies to adapt to the game (starting position, galaxy, natives, other players, ...), not cling to a particular strategy at a whim.

I played a little-known MMOG a while ago, and I was always surprised by how the players whined that the game didn't allow them to play how they thought they should, rather than learn how the game worked and devise their strategy accordingly.

And that's my fear with your Origins, that if not crafted carefully enough, they'll enhance the tendancy of bad players to try to impose their preferred style to the game rather than learn to adapt to the situation in hand.

In other words, what if you have a "hidden/stealthy" Origin and then you find the galaxy unsuited for that strategy (let's imagine having two close rivals with Science advantage, who'll be able to research Lighthouse early) ? No plan survives contact with the enemy, as the saying goes, and a strategy game should not try to force that saying wrong - only allow a player to disprove it by his incredible skill.


Vezzra wrote: Sun Aug 16, 2020 2:26 pm Bascially I mean the following: Today I want to try playing a stealthy supply disconnected empire. These need very specific prerequistes to be a viable option. I most definitely do not want to have to start over the game several times after playing maybe 20-30 turns because my starting positions turned out to be not suitable for playing that type of game, before I get a map and starting location that works.

That's a big, fat no-go. A design flaw of epic proportions.

I think "try" is the operative word here. You should be able to try, not necessarily to succeed.
That's my qualm with your Origins the way you seem to envision them : they seem like they would allow you to pursue a strategy without having to work for it.




In the meantime, wouldn't the KISS way be to allow the player to choose a free Policy at start ?
There was discussions about how early policies would have one advantage and big disadvantages, while later Policies would be lighter on the disadvantages; that leaves space for crafting very specific Policies to your liking (like one giving a big Stealth bonus, or a big Stockpile bonus - never both together, as pursuing any specific gamestyle should be difficult for the player, not something that the game mechanisms gives him for free) that the player can then choose from after seeing where he is.

The later is particularly true if we give a standard, bad Policy, at start for all players and then make the first Policy change to be free (this could be the only advantage to the initial bad Policy, let's call it "Adaptibility" : changing from it doesn't cost Influence) : this way the player would have to balance choosing a better Policy earlier and waiting to have scouted the area to be able to choose the best Policy for the situation.

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Re: Empire Types - "Origins"

#37 Post by Vezzra »

Ophiuchus wrote: Wed Aug 26, 2020 2:22 pmYes that is a solution, but also boring. I find it far more interesting to have different starting challenges, where the solution for single player is to allow for acquiring the necessary tools and growing into the situation.
Well, in that case it's desired that your choices at game setup might turn out ill-suited for the starting position you find yourself in, and forcing you to adapt accordingly.

But then that applies to starting species and your choice of Origin equally. If it's ok and desired for the one, why shouldn't it be equally so for the other?
For multiplayer you want to be able to even the playing field. So I would rather like to have a game rule to tweak this. So there would be a second(?) pass in galaxy generation which only fiddles with starting position and you can switch that on/off.
That's of course something worth considering. Introducing options/game rules which let you control how much the starting positions are "evened out". I like that idea.

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Re: Empire Types - "Origins"

#38 Post by Vezzra »

LienRag wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 7:56 pmI'm still a bit wary that your Origins would railroad the player in a pre-defined style rather than give him full flexibility. And even if he's the one that chooses his railroad, it's still a railroad and so imho something we should avoid.
Agreed. But then, that's a matter how you set up the different Origins. You can of course do something extreme like unlocking certain parts of the tech tree while completely locking down others, or, more generally speaking, give exclusive access to some stuff and completely deny access to other stuff.

That would quickly lead to the railroading you mention.

But you can also do a much more moderate thing like granting access to some stuff that otherwise would have taken some time to acquire, to jump-start your game into a certain direction, but without locking you into these choices, and still leaving you with the option to change your path.

I mean, to a quite significant degree that already happens anyway. Currently you get some stuff unlocked/provided at game start, and then, from the very first turn, you already start making decisions that put you on a certain path (by the choices you make about the first techs you research, the stuff you first build etc.). Within the first few turns you might find the starting stuff you've been given and first choices you made well or not so well suited to what you find in the vicinity of your starting position.

And then you have to adapt your choices, in extreme cases maybe make some drastic changes about the path you'd want to pursue.

Origins are just supposed to offer the player more choices about the stuff that's provided at game start. IMO it's boring to always start with the same unlocked techs, starting buildings and starting fleets.
obviously having the player making choices which have consequences (including having to discard other options to do that) is a core game feature in a good strategic game. But it's not the same as having an artificial choice driving the player's strategy for the whole game.
The Origins mechanic isn't supposed to do that anymore than the selection of a starting species already does.

Basically we could do everything the Origin mechanic is supposed to do with starting species already. The Sly species is an example where it's actually already done, and where, AFAICT, the railroading you mentioned happens to a certain degree, because Sly have been designed specifically with stealthy supply disconnected empire gameplay in mind.

Origins is an attempt to decouple some of the stuff that's currently packed into the species definition from said species to maintain the species!=empire concept.
I'm not sure that I'm on your side here. Having different viable gameplays is a fundamental design principle of FreeOrion, but imho it means that one should be able to choose very different strategies to adapt to the game (starting position, galaxy, natives, other players, ...), not cling to a particular strategy at a whim.
Depends on what exactly you mean by "cling to a particular strategy at a whim". Of course it should be a challenge to pursue the strategy of your choice, and players should need to adapt their strategy if the want to go down a certain path.

But whether I want to play peaceful explorers focused on research (and pursuing the "tech victory" path once we've got such concepts into the game), cunning diplomats (who try to win by cleverly manipulating the other empires via the diplomatic mechanics of the game), or bloodthirsty conquerors (who try to win the game by steamrolling the rest of the galaxy with their superior military) shouldn't be something that's dictated by my starting position.

Otherwise, what's the point of having species traits that have actual gameplay impact? There we already offer the player a choice what kind of game they want to play. You don't choose Eaxaw if you want to go peaceful research heavy, for example.
And that's my fear with your Origins, that if not crafted carefully enough, they'll enhance the tendancy of bad players to try to impose their preferred style to the game rather than learn to adapt to the situation in hand.
Well, that's a fundamental challenge with basically all mechanics that need content. How well the mechanic actually works in-game depends not only on a solid framework and the fundamental ruleset, but equally as much on the actual content, see my examples above about how you can craft the different Origins.

And then, again, there is the question of having to adapt to a situation versus the situation restricting your choices to a degree where it's no longer fun. It's fine if players have to adapt, and maybe adapt quite a lot. It's not fine if my starting position dictates if I have to play peaceful explorers or bloodthirsty conquerors. As a player I definitely should be able to freely choose between those paths and be able to follow through with that choice. It does not have to be easy, it's perfectly fine if it is challenging, it's not fine if it's impossible.

(Of course, for players who want that we can always offer the chance to even make that fundamental decision for them, by providing options where starting species and Origin are selected randomly. ;))

I mean, otherwise, wouldn't that be the railroading you objected to? The only difference would be that players would be railroaded into certain paths by their (randomly decided) starting position instead of their choice of starting species and Origin.
In other words, what if you have a "hidden/stealthy" Origin and then you find the galaxy unsuited for that strategy (let's imagine having two close rivals with Science advantage, who'll be able to research Lighthouse early) ? No plan survives contact with the enemy, as the saying goes, and a strategy game should not try to force that saying wrong - only allow a player to disprove it by his incredible skill.
Depends on what you mean by "unsuited for that strategy". If that means that you find yourself in a very challenging, but not completely impossible situation, then of course, that's how it should be. But then, what issues do Origins raise in that particular case that selection of starting species (Sly) won't?

In both cases you'd be confronted with a situation where the initial strengths of your empire aren't well suited for the situation you find yourself in, and you have to try to deal with that. As long as you still have a reasonably good chance to succeed, provided you play well, it's fine.

However, if "unsuited for that strategy" means that it becomes unreasonably difficult, if not impossible to pursue the hidden distributed empire path anymore, then we have a problem. That should not happen. The same way it should not happen that playing peaceful, research heavy is made impossible, or leaving the player only with aggressive/warlike options due to the situation they find themselves in.
I think "try" is the operative word here. You should be able to try, not necessarily to succeed.
Well, yeah, of course. Origins should just provide the means to make certain paths reasonably viable, not unchallenging.

To get back to the example of stealthy supply disconnected empires: The respective Origin(s) suitable for that path should give the stuff necessary to get started with such an empire. But the player should have to work hard and commit themselves to the strategy to be able to pull that off, by having to invest in the technologies, choose the right policies, invest in building the right stuff to be able to stay hidden.

That definitely should not be easy. And there should be no guarantee, whatever you do, that the other players, if they play their cards right (so to speak), can defeat your efforts and uncover your hidden empire. That should depend, as much as possible, on how well each one plays.

But that should be obvious anyway. Any mechanic that provides a clearly optimal strategy is badly balanced and uninteresting. Origins are no exceptions. As you said, it (like everything else) needs to be balanced carefully.
In the meantime, wouldn't the KISS way be to allow the player to choose a free Policy at start ?
There was discussions about how early policies would have one advantage and big disadvantages, while later Policies would be lighter on the disadvantages; that leaves space for crafting very specific Policies to your liking (like one giving a big Stealth bonus, or a big Stockpile bonus - never both together, as pursuing any specific gamestyle should be difficult for the player, not something that the game mechanisms gives him for free) that the player can then choose from after seeing where he is.
The concept of offering players the opportunity to make some more significant choices early on regarding the path they want to follow isn't mutually exclusive with the Origins idea.

Origins, like starting species, is just something you decide at game setup. You don't get to decide on your starting species a few turns into the game, after you've scouted around a bit and got a better idea of what species would suit your particular starting position best. And no one has any issues with that. Origins just belong in the same category of choices...

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Re: Empire Types - "Origins"

#39 Post by Ophiuchus »

Vezzra wrote: Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:39 pm Origins, like starting species, is just something you decide at game setup. You don't get to decide on your starting species a few turns into the game, after you've scouted around a bit and got a better idea of what species would suit your particular starting position best. And no one has any issues with that. Origins just belong in the same category of choices...
How about we start out with origins as mutually exclusive cheap-to-research techs? Those techs would provide unlocks. One could decide to grab the package early to reap the benefits or later in order to do some scouting first.
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Re: Empire Types - "Origins"

#40 Post by LienRag »

Vezzra wrote: Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:39 pm
LienRag wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 7:56 pmI'm still a bit wary that your Origins would railroad the player in a pre-defined style rather than give him full flexibility.
As I wrote on my first message here, I'm not opposed to your idea.

It just strikes me as something that could hurt profoundly the game if badly implemented, so I ask for very careful thinking of all its potential consequences before beginning to include them in the game.

Because there will be pressure to implement it in a bad way ("make this strategy viable" without thinking more about why it isn't viable now and what is actually necessary to make it viable at a fundamental level), so we need to be clear about what we want and how we want it.

To use a Starcraft analogy, it's not the same thing to want to play Protoss and to want to play Dark Templars.
A player is entirely free to want to play Protoss and it's entirely fine if the game allows that rather than a random faction at start.
But one player (at least a good one) doesn't choose to play Dark Templars; a Protoss player examines the game and decides whether going the Dark Templars way is the right path to victory or not.

I'm not sure that this difference is clear to you actually, and that is why I'm still a bit uneasy with your answers.
Or maybe it's just that I wasn't able to really understand what you mean ?

It is true that I'm not the most experienced players of all times, but it is my conception that stealth strategies (or Science victory since you spoke of that too) are more akin to going Dark Templars or Zealots : a choice that is made adapting on the circumstances, a tool used in order to reach victory or discarded if they're not the right tool for the task at hand.
A player may like to play Dark Templars and be eager to play them, but he still would use them only after scouting the enemy and deciding that it's a reasonable bet; and he should have no qualm with switching to another strategy if necessary.

In a way, starting species allow that : I played Sly and Laenfa, and both times I ended using stealth only as minor military advantage (being protected from invasion at early game, infiltrating enemy empires to open Stargates behind enemy lines and/or devastating their fleets with my mines later) while my core strength lied in a multi-species Empire where Silexians or others provided the Supply my starting specie lacked.
Not to say that making a better usage of their stealth isn't possible nor a good strategy, but that these species are still quite versatile : Sly can rely to the powerhouses that are their Gas Giants, Laenfa have very high Population (so high everything else) on White and Blue stars, etc.
Ditto with Egassem : yes they have very good troops, but they are also very productive : so conquering everything is certainly a good option, but it's not the only one.


I don't see the FreeOrion equivalent of playing Protoss rather than Zerg, and I'm really worried that your Origins would allow a player to stubbornly play Dark Templars because he likes them rather than carefully think about what he's going to play.

More specific answers follow :


Vezzra wrote: Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:39 pm But you can also do a much more moderate thing like granting access to some stuff that otherwise would have taken some time to acquire, to jump-start your game into a certain direction, but without locking you into these choices, and still leaving you with the option to change your path.
(...)
Origins are just supposed to offer the player more choices about the stuff that's provided at game start. IMO it's boring to always start with the same unlocked techs, starting buildings and starting fleets.
Yeah, with that I have no real qualm, a bit like Ophiuchus' idea of giving 120 RP at start to use at one's will (though if it's just a way to research Physical Brain and NAI it will not bring that much diversity; also I really don't like, as long as a real, innovative Origin mechanism has not been proposed, to have to make such decisions without seeing the Galaxy around).



Vezzra wrote: Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:39 pm Origins is an attempt to decouple some of the stuff that's currently packed into the species definition from said species to maintain the species!=empire concept.

I agree with the idea, I have yet to see an implementation of it that I like.
Maybe it's just my lack of imagination ?


Vezzra wrote: Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:39 pm Depends on what exactly you mean by "cling to a particular strategy at a whim". Of course it should be a challenge to pursue the strategy of your choice, and players should need to adapt their strategy if the want to go down a certain path.

But whether I want to play peaceful explorers focused on research (and pursuing the "tech victory" path once we've got such concepts into the game), cunning diplomats (who try to win by cleverly manipulating the other empires via the diplomatic mechanics of the game), or bloodthirsty conquerors (who try to win the game by steamrolling the rest of the galaxy with their superior military) shouldn't be something that's dictated by my starting position.

Well, here is the point. Yes, you should be able to follow through these paths, but not just because you like them, because they are the right paths for the situation at hand.

It is important that no starting position railroads a player into one only path, but the fact that the player would have to think hard about the path he'll choose considering the starting position is imho one important part of the game. And it's entirely fine with me if one path (like research victory as you suggested) is not possible depending on the initial situation, as long as many other choices are still possible : basically, one may like Dark Templars, but if the opponent is Zerg, it's a big no - at least until later in the game if he's able to muster a strike force capable of quickly killing Overlords and Spore colonies.




Vezzra wrote: Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:39 pm
I think "try" is the operative word here. You should be able to try, not necessarily to succeed.
Well, yeah, of course. Origins should just provide the means to make certain paths reasonably viable, not unchallenging.

To get back to the example of stealthy supply disconnected empires: The respective Origin(s) suitable for that path should give the stuff necessary to get started with such an empire. But the player should have to work hard and commit themselves to the strategy to be able to pull that off, by having to invest in the technologies, choose the right policies, invest in building the right stuff to be able to stay hidden.

That definitely should not be easy. And there should be no guarantee, whatever you do, that the other players, if they play their cards right (so to speak), can defeat your efforts and uncover your hidden empire. That should depend, as much as possible, on how well each one plays.

But that should be obvious anyway. Any mechanic that provides a clearly optimal strategy is badly balanced and uninteresting. Origins are no exceptions. As you said, it (like everything else) needs to be balanced carefully.

We may have a misunderstanding here : what you seem to mean is that a player should be able to try a predefined strategy (like stealthy disconnected empire) and lose the game if other players play their cards better.
What I meant is that a player should be able to try a strategy (like stealthy disconnected empire) and then discard it in favor of another if he finds that this strategy is not the best for the situation - of course he'll take a hit by switching strategies, but this hit is (in a well-designed game) lower than pursuing an unadapted strategy.

Your phrase about "committing to the strategy" may be a key to our divergence, actually : if by "commits to the strategy" you only state the obvious, that a player pursuing a strategy should make coherent choices, not chase many rabbits at the same time, then I obviously agree with you.
But I also fear (maybe without basis) that you envision a gameplay where stealthy disconnected empire (for example) is a specific strategy, which needs commitment, rather than a tool that can be incorporated in different strategies (although always while having to think hard about the global coherence of the strategy). So I fear that your Origins would be a way to make a player choose amongst a small number of railroads, and that later the only skills required would be in the execution of these strategies, rather than having a player delicately crafting a unique strategy by combining the resources and constraints offered by the Galaxy with the resources (techs, buildings) and constraints (the restrictions ingrained in the tech tree) offered by the game rules.

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Re: Empire Types - "Origins"

#41 Post by Oberlus »

So much verbosity for so little info.

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Re: Empire Types - "Origins"

#42 Post by Ophiuchus »

Oberlus wrote: Fri Sep 04, 2020 12:35 pm So much verbosity for so little info.
I found it a good post.
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Vezzra
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Re: Empire Types - "Origins"

#43 Post by Vezzra »

Ok, the verbosity is getting out of hand, I'll try (big emphasis on the "try part here ;)) to cut straight to what I think is the core issue here:
LienRag wrote: Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:06 amWell, here is the point. Yes, you should be able to follow through these paths, but not just because you like them, because they are the right paths for the situation at hand.
I think we finally managed to arrive at the heart of the issue: because this is exactly where I disagree, at least to a certain degree.

What kind of victory I go for (conquest, diplomacy, tech, and whatever else we might cook up in the future) must not depend on my starting position. Or, more realistically, as less as possible, it won't be possible to balance everything so perfectly that your starting position hasn't any effect at all, but it should not be enough to actually impact your choosen path so negatively it's no more a viable option.

Playing a hidden distributed empire is definitely one of the choices included here.

To restate what I've said before: if the game forces me to quit and restart several times (and that after having to play a couple of turns before things become clear) because my starting position makes it impossible to play e.g. peaceful scientists, then that is to be considered bad design.

That does not mean that a player should not be able to change their fundamental strategy/path to victory they've choosen before, for whatever reason (one of them realising that their particular starting position offers certain opportunities/other options which make such a reconsideration a good idea). It should come with a certain cost of course to do so, but it definitely must be a viable option.

But it also must be a viable option to stick with your original plan.

The finer details, how to actually follow through with your choosen path/strategy/plan of course will depend on your starting position.

It should also be a viable option to have some kind of "neutral" start, where your choice of starting species and Origin doesn't prefer any particular path, and let the player decide on their path based entirely on what they find within the first turns.

But making it so that a player can only play a hidden distributed empire if they are lucky enough so that the starting position allows for it, then I completely fail to see how that is a good idea...
it's entirely fine with me if one path (like research victory as you suggested) is not possible depending on the initial situation, as long as many other choices are still possible
For the reasons cited I'm not fine with that idea at all, especially if some of the (fundamental) paths/strategies require quite some luck to get the right circumstances to be able to play them.
basically, one may like Dark Templars, but if the opponent is Zerg, it's a big no - at least until later in the game if he's able to muster a strike force capable of quickly killing Overlords and Spore colonies.
I don't know Starcraft (beside the name), so I don't know about the specifics of Dark templars and Zerg, but what I got from your description so far looks like those Dark Templars isn't something you can start with, but a path you at some point in the game can choose to follow. However, those Dark Templar are not always a viable option, it depends on the in-game situation (if confronted with Zerg, it's obviously a bad idea to go Dark Templar).

Having such elements in the game is totally fine. I'm certainly not opposed to have certain strategies/paths that only open up later in the game, and which are only viable under certain circumstances, on the contrary, I like that.

However, whether I want to play peaceful scientist, ruthless conqueror or cunning diplomat is not among those options. But e.g. becoming a psionic collective at some point would be, and there could be situations where that might not be a particularly good idea (e.g. when your opponent is an empire with strong anti-psi tech).
What I meant is that a player should be able to try a strategy (like stealthy disconnected empire) and then discard it in favor of another if he finds that this strategy is not the best for the situation - of course he'll take a hit by switching strategies, but this hit is (in a well-designed game) lower than pursuing an unadapted strategy.
We clearly have different ideas what a well-designed game is in that regard. For me, in a well-designed game, switching strategies should be a viable option. Not switching strategies, but sticking to your choosen one (and we're talking about choices like peaceful scientist vs. ruthless conqueror here), should also be viable.

Of course, given a certain situation, one might be better than the other (achieving perfect balance for all possible combinations is not a realistic goal), but both options need to be viable.
But I also fear (maybe without basis) that you envision a gameplay where stealthy disconnected empire (for example) is a specific strategy, which needs commitment, rather than a tool that can be incorporated in different strategies (although always while having to think hard about the global coherence of the strategy).
Why has that to be mutually exclusive? Stealthy supply disconnected in itself is only a tool you can use for a number of different strategies (which of course have some things in common, the stealthy supply disconnected part in particular... ;)).

You can go full hidden distributed empire: A strategy where, if you succeed, the other empires don't know where you actually are, because they never got to see your colonies, ships and other assets. You secretely exists among them, completely under the radar. As I've said repeatedly already, that can only be achieved if you go down that road from turn 1. You can't really disappear after you made contact with your neighbors. Because even if you manage to completely stealth all your assets, your neighbors know you've been there, and know what's going on, and will of course commit to defeat your going into hiding.

I see no possibility to craft game mechanics in a way that even that scenario works out for all involved parties, while still maintaining fun and KISS gameplay. The only way that I can see will work at all is if you are hidden from the start. Hence Origins which make that possible.

Or you can use stealthy supply disconnected to secretely expand into your neighbors territory without them noticing (instead of waging war). That's probably an example for a strategy you adopt at a certain point, and which will not be a viable option in all scenarios.
So I fear that your Origins would be a way to make a player choose amongst a small number of railroads, and that later the only skills required would be in the execution of these strategies, rather than having a player delicately crafting a unique strategy by combining the resources and constraints offered by the Galaxy with the resources (techs, buildings) and constraints (the restrictions ingrained in the tech tree) offered by the game rules.
I get the impression that you only see two possibilities: Either the start is more or less neutral, even the most fundamental choices (peaceful scientist vs. ruthless conqueror etc.) basically depend on starting position, and you can't expect all (fundamental) options being viable.

Or the player can make the fundamental decisions already at game start, but then it's a "the player has to choose the fundamental path at game start and is then stuck with it".

What I envision is "you can choose a path at start if you want, but you don't have to, and you also can change your mind later".
Vezzra wrote: Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:39 pm Origins is an attempt to decouple some of the stuff that's currently packed into the species definition from said species to maintain the species!=empire concept.

I agree with the idea, I have yet to see an implementation of it that I like.
Maybe it's just my lack of imagination ?
Depends on what you mean by "implementation". The technical aspect is simple enough: Right now the universe generation scripts pre-unlock certain techs and items, and place certain starting buildings on your homeworld and create certain starting fleets. What these techs, items, buildings and fleets are is defined is some FOCS files.

Technically Origins would just turn that into a list of several different options, from which you can choose one at game setup. The FOCS files, instead of having only one set of stuff unlocked/created at game start, would have several sets. Depending on the players choice, the universe generation scripts would pre-unlock and create starting stuff based on that choice.

That would be the technical framework. What you do with that is an entirely different matter, very much depending on what you let the different Origins pre-unlock and create. I assume that part is what you're talking about?

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