Multiplayer interaction incentives

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

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Sapphire Wyvern
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#16 Post by Sapphire Wyvern »

Sandlapper wrote:Yeah, Aq decided it here(same thread):

http://freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=7743#7743
* There will be no 'random' element to the tech tree that blocks certain tech; however, specific modules may allow or disallow certain specific techs to certain races. Similarly, it will not be possible to research applications without fulfilling the pre-requisites, although of course alternate means of getting technology (such as spies, events, or diplomacy) do not require you to have pre-requisites.
Ah, I see. I'll note that what I'm talking about here is *significantly* different to those proposals back in the day. Acquitaine ruled against random tech tree variation, and I am inclined to agree. Besides, the two proposals actually have different effects on gameplay (random holes -> less repeatability, mutual exclusion->empire interaction).

I was more thinking along the lines of enforcing different research paths for different empires by making some choices mutually exclusive (NOT random - still the player's choice), rather than relying on the game's inherent queueing mechanisms to encourage empires to diversify. In theory, this would improve the game by encouraging empires to trade for, steal, or obtain via conquest/raiding what they chose not to research themselves. For instance: all Theories can be researched, but some Applications might be mutually exclusive (just pick one!).

This idea does appear to be different to those raised in the review. However, I am also aware that this is a settled matter and I don't expect any previous decisions to be overturned. :)

EDIT: deleted previous thoughts on work required to implement mutual exclusion; research has shown it to be incorrect.

Mutual exclusion would require an additional Condition for tech Effects: UnderResearch(techname), which is true if that tech is currently in your research queue and false otherwise. If two technologies were mutually exclusive, each would have the prerequisite of NOT(UnderResearch(othertech)). This is because mutual exclusion would not be intended to prevent an empire from obtaining both techs - in fact quite the opposite - but simply to prevent both of them from being obtained via research. It would also require the research UI to regenerate the list of valid projects each time a project is placed in the queue, rather than when the UI is loaded.

<shrug> So that's how it could be done. It's not supported by the current version of the game design, and I suppose it'll stay that way unless a modder wants to implement it.

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Geoff the Medio
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#17 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Again, this can in effect be done within the current all techs available to everyone system with a few minor additions to buildings and effects. First, when it's possible to do so, you'd have some tech unlock a building, which when built, a) prevents any other players from building it (limit one per galaxy), b) prevents the player who built it from building another similar building, and c) unlocks whatever you want to make exclusive to one player, and mutually exclusive for one player with some set of other things.

So players A, B and C all research tech 1, which unlocks building Alpha, which when produced and controlled by player A, prevents players B and C from producing building alpha, and prevents player A from producing buildings Beta and Gamma, which are unlocked by techs 2 and 3 respectively. Buildings Alpha, Beta and Gamma all unlock different stuff. So each player can pick one of Alpha, Beta or Gamma, ensuring that that player is the only one who gets their chosen building, but also preventing that player from producing either of the other two buildings in this example.

Alternatively, the buildings could have strategic resource prerequisites of some kind... so which of Alpha, Beta or Gamma you produce wouldn't generally be a choice, but would be determined by which resource you have access to.

I think I had another alternative, but I'm rather sleep deprived and seem to have forgotten it...

Sapphire Wyvern
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#18 Post by Sapphire Wyvern »

Geoff the Medio wrote:Again, this can in effect be done within the current all techs available to everyone system with a few minor additions to buildings and effects. First, when it's possible to do so, you'd have some tech unlock a building, which when built, a) prevents any other players from building it (limit one per galaxy), b) prevents the player who built it from building another similar building, and c) unlocks whatever you want to make exclusive to one player, and mutually exclusive for one player with some set of other things.
But what if the player had the mutually exclusive things they weren't supposed to have access to in the production/research queue when the 'flag' building was finished? This is the race condition I was referring to (and the reason why I wanted to have a new Condition that examines what's in the queue, as well as what's been finished).

Now that you point it out, though, I realise that another option is to check a project's prerequisites each turn, rather than just at the beginning. This will need to be done anyway because of Wonders making build/research choices invalid. If you no longer qualify to work on a project-in-progress (eg because someone else has already built the Wonder you're working on or, under my proposal, you've finished researching a conflicting tech) you have to abandon the project.

A decision will have to be made about what happens to the invested resources, but this solution doesn't require support for an additional Condition to be coded. However, I think the UI would be better if scheduling one component of a mutually exclusive group (whether buildings or techs) simply meant that the other components of that group cannot be added to the queue - this would still require an InProgress(project, empire) Condition.

But since you've shown that mutually-exclusive techs can be implemented with the current set of Conditions, it appears to be an open question as to whether they should be implemented. A cursory examination of the current Effects Document suggests that your suggested technique can be implemented directly using Tech Effects alone, skipping the "middle-man" building.
So players A, B and C all research tech 1, which unlocks building Alpha, which when produced and controlled by player A, prevents players B and C from producing building alpha, and prevents player A from producing buildings Beta and Gamma, which are unlocked by techs 2 and 3 respectively. Buildings Alpha, Beta and Gamma all unlock different stuff. So each player can pick one of Alpha, Beta or Gamma, ensuring that that player is the only one who gets their chosen building, but also preventing that player from producing either of the other two buildings in this example.

Alternatively, the buildings could have strategic resource prerequisites of some kind... so which of Alpha, Beta or Gamma you produce wouldn't generally be a choice, but would be determined by which resource you have access to.
This is an interesting idea, but doesn't produce the interaction incentive (my goodness, it's the thread topic! :)) which was the objective. This is because buildings are not easily tradable or stealable; only conquest is left as an alternative. Perhaps I haven't been clear enough: my proposed mutual exclusivity is on a per empire basis; the other empires are perfectly free to make their own choices about which element of the set to pursue. The objective is not so much to create "empire exclusives" - that's what Wonders are for - but to require players to be actively Doing Stuff with and/or to each other to get access to all the tech options. :)

Tell me more about Strategic Resources. Those sound like a useful Interaction Incentive. Are there any decisions made as to what they will be, or how they will work, yet?

(Slightly Off Topic: Actually, this has just reminded me that I desperately want colonies, ships, and information (not just techs, but also ship specs, spy reports, maps etc) to be tradable goods in the multiplayer Diplomacy screen. It irritated me so much in SMAC that there were more diplomatic options when dealing with AIs then there were when dealing with humans; no base trades, no money loans, etc. I must remember to bring this up when we get to that part of the roadmap. :))

Incidentally, the crowd has been silent about my idea for multiple sets of synergistic "Orion artifacts" to encourage exploration, trade, raiding/conquest & espionage. Are there any objectors? Or does it just not appeal one way or another?

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Geoff the Medio
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#19 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Sapphire Wyvern wrote:But what if the player had the mutually exclusive things they weren't supposed to have access to in the production/research queue when the 'flag' building was finished? This is the race condition I was referring to (and the reason why I wanted to have a new Condition that examines what's in the queue, as well as what's been finished).
However limits on how many of a particular building can exist is implemented would fulfill this requirement. Whether it's an "Enqueued Condition" or "InProgress Condition" or something equivalent outside the Conditions systems isn't that important, I don't think, as this would necessarily have to check both when something is enqueued, and be updated whenever someone else produces the limited-number item.
But since you've shown that mutually-exclusive techs can be implemented with the current set of Conditions, it appears to be an open question as to whether they should be implemented. A cursory examination of the current Effects Document suggests that your suggested technique can be implemented directly using Tech Effects alone, skipping the "middle-man" building.
I've assumed for the purposes of this discussion that the decision to have all techs available to everyone still stands. IMO it's a decision that should be / should have been made later rather than back whenever (out of context of the rest of the game content and balance), and I'm not completely convinced it actually has been made since it's not explicitly in the thread summary or design document, but Sandlapper seemed fairly sure it had been.
my proposed mutual exclusivity is on a per empire basis; the other empires are perfectly free to make their own choices about which element of the set to pursue. The objective is not so much to create "empire exclusives" - that's what Wonders are for - but to require players to be actively Doing Stuff with and/or to each other to get access to all the tech options. :)
If you want each empire to only be able to research one of a set, and have to trade with others to get the rest of the set, then I think that's specifically what the aformentioned decision was to not do. I didn't see any reason not to do so on the linked thread, or any specific statement that it wouldn't be done, but I didn't really look very hard either, and again Sandlapper seems convinced.
Tell me more about Strategic Resources. Those sound like a useful Interaction Incentive. Are there any decisions made as to what they will be, or how they will work, yet?
Nothing has yet been decided about strategic resources. I envision a Civ3-like system.
Incidentally, the crowd has been silent about my idea for multiple sets of synergistic "Orion artifacts" to encourage exploration, trade, raiding/conquest & espionage. Are there any objectors? Or does it just not appeal one way or another?
See the "identical ruins' part here:

http://freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=11909#11909

and probly other stuff later or earlier in the thread...

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#20 Post by Ran Taro »

Sapphire Wyvern wrote: Incidentally, the crowd has been silent about my idea for multiple sets of synergistic "Orion artifacts" to encourage exploration, trade, raiding/conquest & espionage. Are there any objectors? Or does it just not appeal one way or another?
For the record, I think it's an excellent idea. Not that I'm the one you need to impress with it, but I though I'd express some support at least! :D

In regard to mutually exclusive tech progression. I like the principle behind it, but I think it will seem too arbitary and frustrating to the player in the game. I have a hard time even imagining fluff that would satisfactorily explain it.

I would suggest a 'softer' implementation of the same idea. Rather than making techs mutually exclusive, make different techs on different 'paths' become exponentially more expensive in RP's as more 'paths' are researched. So as a fanciful example: Choice 1. (eg Quantum Physics related techs) is researched at normal RP cost, Choice 2. (eg Biological replication related techs) is double RP cost, and Choice 3 (eg Social Advancement related techs) is quadrupal RP cost. Fluff wise this represents that once you have the infrastructure and experts in one field, its much easier to continue down that path than to develop a whole new school of research. Gamewise it means that players are not absolutley restricted by what will feel like an arbitrary mechanic, and they are only encouraged, rather than forced out of a standalone research strategy.

Alternately, you could make research cheaper once another player has fully researched it, encouraging each player to co-operate and communicate by researching different 'virgin' techs, then benefit by picking up the ones everyone else has researched cheaply (and making lots of different techs available to trade or steal). Devious or weaker tech players could then decide to not hold up their end of the deal and just research cheap 'already discovered' techs at the price of always lagging one step behind. This would have the advantage of making sense - since once you know someone has discovered something exists it is much easier to replicate the discovery than it was for them to do it from scratch.

[edit] now that I think of it, the above two ideas could work together, extra technology research on a different 'path' could increase the cost in RP's exponentially, whilst each race that has already researched a tech could decrease its cost exponentially for those following after.
Last edited by Ran Taro on Tue Nov 22, 2005 11:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

guiguibaah
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Mutually exclusive wonders.

#21 Post by guiguibaah »

One thing I found a bit annoying in CIV was when I would be constructing a wonder in a race to completion with 2 other opponents and lose. One would finish the wonder, dealing I and the other player a huge blow.

Not only had they completed a wonder and now have access to special bonuses, they have been able to deal to me and any other opponent a critical blow in production, for now I must forsake all that production itno something else.. If I am lucky, I can switch to antoher wonder. If not, I gotta buy something quick witha lot of cash, otherwise I'm behind in production.

I was thinking to myself - it is a little odd.. I mean, it is somewhat akin to the Pyramids being constructed in Egypt, and the Mayan suddenly saying to themselves "Oh crud! We must scap all our work in our pyramids and build... Granaries now, since our pyramids are obsolete"


* * *


I understand the value of a wonder race in gameplay - attempting to build a wonder could leave you open to a military attack by an opponent who decided to pool production into ships instead.

However sometimes two completely independant and unconnected players vie to create the same wonder, not being able to influence the other in production.

This sometimes leads to the "wonder runaway race", where the 1st race constructing a wonder benefits from bonuses of the first to build the second, the third, etc.. etc...


* * *


What I think would be interesting, would be: If you are currently in a wonder race, and you lose out to the 1st person to complete the wonder, you may still opt to continue building the original wonder - however all its effects will be halved. It becomes a lesser wonder. If you haven't started building the wonder and someone completes it, you cannot build it.
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#22 Post by Geoff the Medio »

I expect we'll have more buildings that are limited to some number per empire minor civ-wonders, or ones which must not be built within X distance of another building, than one per galaxy/planet civ-type wonders.

We can also have one-of-a-set wonders, where there can only exist one of each in the galaxy, but each empire can also only have one of the set. So there'd be 5 buildings, and only one of each of the 5 can be built anywhere, but a given empire can also only have one of the set. This way if you miss out on building the first one, you can build the other one instead. This doesn't remove the lost production from being beaten, but that's part of the risk / strategy and can't always be eliminated.

We can also have limit-on-per-galaxy major wonders, as well as lower quality copies that anyone can build, as you suggest. These need not even be separate buildable items... it could just be that the first building of type X is extra effective, but they all cost the same, regardless of whether it's the 1st or the 6th copy.

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Re: Mutually exclusive wonders.

#23 Post by skdiw »

guiguibaah wrote:One thing I found a bit annoying in CIV was when I would be constructing a wonder in a race to completion with 2 other opponents and lose. One would finish the wonder, dealing I and the other player a huge blow.

Not only had they completed a wonder and now have access to special bonuses, they have been able to deal to me and any other opponent a critical blow in production, for now I must forsake all that production itno something else.. If I am lucky, I can switch to antoher wonder. If not, I gotta buy something quick witha lot of cash, otherwise I'm behind in production.

I was thinking to myself - it is a little odd.. I mean, it is somewhat akin to the Pyramids being constructed in Egypt, and the Mayan suddenly saying to themselves "Oh crud! We must scap all our work in our pyramids and build... Granaries now, since our pyramids are obsolete"
lol, I totally find it odd how that happens. I agree with your idea. I think the first race who builts the major galaxy-wide wonder first gets full benefit, while any other race completed the wonder within a short time after original is built gets a much reduced benefits. Alternatively, we can do whichever race starts the wonder project must complete it; but once started (or we can change it to 20% complete) no other race can start the project.


@sapphire
I don't mind synergic artifacts, if they are easier to complete. I think Exploration is too weak in most 4X games and I think artifacts or recurring explorable anomolies is one key way to promote that. The problem is that most artifacts of that type in games are either too insignifcant or too hard to complete a set.

btw, we are trying to design both the races and tech trees to have a such a profile to promote certain path of playing. Each race will have a personality and hopefully techs will diverge at the end so no one race can have mastery over all the tech branches.



As a side note, I do remember Aq permitting unique techs available to certain conditions or races, but he wants the number of uniques be very limited for balance purposes.

Strategic resources out in open space are hard to do because each object on the galaxy map needs to be connected by at least one starlane.
:mrgreen:

Sapphire Wyvern
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Re: Mutually exclusive wonders.

#24 Post by Sapphire Wyvern »

skdiw wrote: @sapphire
I don't mind synergic artifacts, if they are easier to complete. I think Exploration is too weak in most 4X games and I think artifacts or recurring explorable anomolies is one key way to promote that. The problem is that most artifacts of that type in games are either too insignifcant or too hard to complete a set.
Yep, we want to avoid the Diablo II syndrome, where it's just not worth keeping them.

Therefore, each set of synergistic artifacts should be complete within the galaxy, unlike D2 where you typically have to play many games and trade online to complete a set. In each FO game, *All* the parts of *each* set should exist somewhere on the map. However, they should not be concentrated in any one region - they are an interaction incentive so it would defeat the point for one player to scoop up a complete set at the start. Additionally, in any given game, more than one such set of artifacts should exist, so that they become a resource that is worth trading, Pokemon style. I'd say 3-5 sets per galaxy would be optimal, depending on galaxy size. Each set should be different and non-overlapping, although some of the Artifacts in each set might grant identical bonuses.

Here's my plan: each Artifact has an automatic bonus which applies to a single system. Artifacts are assigned to systems in the same way that MoOII planetary leaders are assigned to systems. When you find a new Artifact, you can assign it to any system you control by scheduling a project that takes, say 3-4 turns and very little PP in the build screen. No planet may be assigned more than one Artifact simultaneously. Moving the Artifact to another planet would be done by simply repeating the assignment project at a different world. (There's a reason for this added wrinkle, so bear with me).

If you defeat the fleets & ground defenses of an enemy system which is benefitting from an Artifact, you steal the Artifact and it is added to your collection. Aha! A reason to attack other than direct conquest! Excellent! This is the reason why they can't be moved instantaneously: the benefits granted to systems encourages spreading them out, and non-instant assignment times means that a quick raid stands a good chance of catching the Artifact before it can be moved. (In case you're wondering about the logic of capturing the Artifact without needing troopships, I'm assuming that any fleet that can take out the defenses has enough marines to launch a raid on a planet, even if there aren't enough troops to conquer it completely - seems reasonable to me.)

And, based on how many Artifacts from a set you own, you receive synergistic bonuses - either more powerful System-scope effects, or smaller Empire-scope effects, most likely. Synergistic bonuses should grow as your collection does, not be all-or-nothing. One more Artifact should always make a difference; that's what makes them valuable.

Artifacts can also be traded directly empire-to-empire via the Diplomacy screen. At the moment, I'm thinking that Artifacts assigned to planets might be immune to theft by Espionage, but un-assigned Artifacts are fair game for it. In any case, an Artifact should never be 100% "safe" from the moment you discover it - the whole point of them is to 1) reward Exploration and 2) reward doing stuff to and/or with the other players before the end-game.
btw, we are trying to design both the races and tech trees to have a such a profile to promote certain path of playing.
That's cool.
Each race will have a personality and hopefully techs will diverge at the end so no one race can have mastery over all the tech branches.
As a side note, I do remember Aq permitting unique techs available to certain conditions or races, but he wants the number of uniques be very limited for balance purposes.
Ah. Will it be possible to trade or steal through diplomacy/conquest the additional techs? If they are true "racial exclusives" that cannot be obtained even by interacting with other players, that's the opposite of what I was trying to achieve with that earlier proposal.
Strategic resources out in open space are hard to do because each object on the galaxy map needs to be connected by at least one starlane.
Locate them on planets, then? Or am I missing the point?
Last edited by Sapphire Wyvern on Thu Nov 24, 2005 7:14 am, edited 3 times in total.

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skdiw
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Re: Mutually exclusive wonders.

#25 Post by skdiw »

Sapphire Wyvern wrote:
skdiw wrote: Each race will have a personality and hopefully techs will diverge at the end so no one race can have mastery over all the tech branches.
As a side note, I do remember Aq permitting unique techs available to certain conditions or races, but he wants the number of uniques be very limited for balance purposes.
Ah. Will it be possible to trade or steal through diplomacy/conquest the additional techs? If they are true "racial exclusives" that cannot be obtained even by interacting with other players, that's the opposite of what I was trying to achieve with that earlier proposal.
I don't think we specify whether uniques can be stolen/traded.
Strategic resources out in open space are hard to do because each object on the galaxy map needs to be connected by at least one starlane.
Locate them on planets, then? Or am I missing the point?
you got it. I'm just making note that planetary exploration is different experience than from space.
:mrgreen:

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#26 Post by zobo »

I have a suggestion regarding the "stagnation" to a certain type of techs and ship choices:

There should be a "universal constants" file that determines the exact effects of techs, the effectiviness of weapons versus armor, of hitting chances versus size, the ease of espionage.

For each game started a copy is made, with some tweaks. In this game, maybe all propulsion is somewhat weaker. Speeds a little slower. Takes more time to go places. Maybe indirect fire weapons are more easy to be blocked by point defence. Maybe this time stealth fields are small size combined with manouverability is the thing to protect against weapons, armor just won't stop very well.

Why?

Reason 1: More replayability. The universe is different and requires differing tactics. Adapt and overcome.

Reason 2: More customization as to scenarios. If you wish to create your favoured universe you might want the technologies working certain way. If there is a centralized place where you can tweak the system to confirm to your favourite author. If you want big ships ruling the spaceways you can configure the scenario to support it.

Problems:
Balancing. Balancing here should be about finding how much we wish to have variance here and how often. Instead of saying "equivalent level point defence should be able to take out 75% of incoming missiles" we might say "the point defence effectiviness is 75% on average, with standard deviation of 10%" and have the computer randomize it at the beginning of each game. In this system the effectiviness might be something like 45% (making missiles very good) to 95% (next to useless) but generally the value will be around 75%. Balancing will be difficult, though.

Player knowledge:
The player should be able to find out the way universe works. Maybe a research item "warfare statistics" should exist. After battle some reports might be told so a turtling player might have a good overall tech and large fleet but the fleets don't have the best construction, as that player cannot know what's good and what's not.

AI: The ai must learn each game to adapt it's builds. How?

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