A few simple things to make FO more playable

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eleazar
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#1 Post by eleazar » Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:34 pm

With the addition of space monsters, and minor species, FO has IMHO become a lot more fun to play. Of course, i'm well aware that that a huge amount of the existing content is provisional, unbalanced, and incomplete. But once a game reaches the point that it is fun --even if incomplete-- attracting interest and assistance is so much easier.

I think we may be wise to focus for now the issues that most hinder playability and are most easy to fix.

Here's a list of things based on my experience playing and the recent batch of "first look" reports, and my admittedly half-informed guess about what would be easy to implement.


* Mobile space monsters. These would randomly move around or attach any ships they ran across. Should probably only be low to medium level monsters. "A.I." something like:
  • If see ships: stay and fight
    no ships: 30% chance of moving to a random star lane.
* Space monster Nests. These systems spawn new mobile monsters at regular intervals. These two items would presumably be much, much easier than making a semi-compitent Imperial AI, and give the player something of an opponent.

* Minor planets start with a random population -- i.e. every one is not at their current max.

* Minor planets can hurt "attacking" ships. Or at least some of them can.

* In the Open dialog sort files by modification date-- most recent at the top. 90% of the time that's the file you want.

* Better sitrep battle messages. Stuff like:
  • Ship lost at system X
    Hostiles defeated at system X
    Colony on planet X lost
    Planet X captured
    Imperial capital captured at X
    Empire X defeated!
* Destruction of capitol building when capital is captured.

* More things to find while exploring: see this list

* Different strengths for various species -- i'm working on that one...

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Uziush Vielky
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Re: A few simple things to make FO more playable

#2 Post by Uziush Vielky » Sat Aug 06, 2011 8:50 pm

eleazar wrote: * Better sitrep battle messages. Stuff like:
  • Ship lost at system X
    Hostiles defeated at system X
    Colony on planet X lost
    Planet X captured
    Imperial capital captured at X
    Empire X defeated!
And maybe something like "Empire X surrendered to Empire Y" or something that games such as Galciv2 lacked "Empire X Surrendered to you". It annoyed me very much if a weak empire surrenered to my arch enemy giving them even more power. Why doesn't anybody wanted to surrender to me? Of course if it was an allied empire it could be more likely.

eleazar wrote: * More things to find while exploring: see this list
I like the "useful indigenes" in the link above. Perhaps the could be special species that have more race picks than "normal" species.
eleazar wrote: * Different strengths for various species -- i'm working on that one...
Is it some clue on the race picks? Hope you're planning on realising some concept for the system soon.

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Re: A few simple things to make FO more playable

#3 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Aug 06, 2011 8:56 pm

eleazar wrote: Mobile space monsters. These would randomly move around or attach any ships they ran across. Should probably only be low to medium level monsters. "A.I." something like:
  • If see ships: stay and fight
    no ships: 30% chance of moving to a random star lane.
I'll add a SetDestination effect, which will work on fleets, including space monster fleets, and will allow arbitrary conditions and behaviour to determine movement.
* Space monster Nests. These systems spawn new mobile monsters at regular intervals. These two items would presumably be much, much easier than making a semi-compitent Imperial AI, and give the player something of an opponent.
I was thinking that the existing strains of space monsters could be different stages in a single monster-species' lifecycle, or perhaps different castes, with floaters being the nest stage that mature into a bunch of krill, squid visiting trees to turn them into floaters, krill maturing into squid and trees, and squid sometimes maturing into vaccum dragons. Or the dragons could be a separate species. that hunts the other strains.
* Minor planets start with a random population -- i.e. every one is not at their current max.
Player planets used to start at less than max population, but it was kind of pointless as they just grew up to normal size in a relatively short time given all the bonuses to homeworlds. For random minor planets / species, you could just set their target populations to be significantly lower than a playable species.
* Minor planets can hurt "attacking" ships. Or at least some of them can.
They can now, if you give them adequate defense meters to shoot with.
* Destruction of capitol building when capital is captured.
Why? Imperial Palace already only works if it's acting on a planet owned by the empire that produced the palace... If a conquering empire wants to destroy a building on a captured planet, they can just scrap it...

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Re: A few simple things to make FO more playable

#4 Post by eleazar » Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:49 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:* Space monster Nests. These systems spawn new mobile monsters at regular intervals. These two items would presumably be much, much easier than making a semi-compitent Imperial AI, and give the player something of an opponent.
I was thinking that the existing strains of space monsters could be different stages in a single monster-species' lifecycle, or perhaps different castes, with floaters being the nest stage that mature into a bunch of krill, squid visiting trees to turn them into floaters, krill maturing into squid and trees, and squid sometimes maturing into vaccum dragons. Or the dragons could be a separate species. that hunts the other strains.
That's a cool idea. It gives a bit of narrative to the existence of space monsters. It would tend to make unexplored corners of the galaxy more dangerous as time goes on, if little monsters can turn into bigger monsters. But i don't think i'd make all monsters the same species.
Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:* Minor planets start with a random population -- i.e. every one is not at their current max.
Player planets used to start at less than max population, but it was kind of pointless as they just grew up to normal size in a relatively short time given all the bonuses to homeworlds. For random minor planets / species, you could just set their target populations to be significantly lower than a playable species.
That would just prevent them from having a large population, right?
Minor planets don't currently get homeworld bonuses (and they probably shouldn't since it seems redundant to clutter up the map with homeworlds, for species that can only live on their homeworld), so starting out at random lower population would be significant difference between these planets.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:* Destruction of capitol building when capital is captured.
Why? Imperial Palace already only works if it's acting on a planet owned by the empire that produced the palace... If a conquering empire wants to destroy a building on a captured planet, they can just scrap it...
Especially with the absence of any sitrep message, it just seems like nothing happened. Also you end up with multiple capitols in your empire, and it's not clear if the captured capital still functions, and if so in what way.

Uziush Vielky wrote:I like the "useful indigenes" in the link above. Perhaps the could be special species that have more race picks than "normal" species.
The current plan is that the minor species you find scattered around will run the gamut from nearly useless to very awesome in specific ways. Since they will be planet-bound it is OK to make them extra powerful, though things are far too unbalanced to know what level will be "more race picks than "normal" species".
Uziush Vielky wrote:
eleazar wrote: * Different strengths for various species -- i'm working on that one...
Is it some clue on the race picks? Hope you're planning on realising some concept for the system soon.
Currently the game supports species having different aptitudes at gathering the 5 resources, but they are currently all the same. I'm not a coder, but i can do simple thing with simple scripting languages. Having species X better at research, for instance. I don't know if it's a good time to make an actual pic system.

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Re: A few simple things to make FO more playable

#5 Post by pd » Sat Aug 06, 2011 11:48 pm

Here's something I had suggested earlier in 2010:
I'm thinking about cutting the amount of techs and buildings down a lot. Remove everything that doesn't do something. I think a handful of techs is enough in every category - about 20-30 in total. Additionally, not more than 10 buildings. Keep it really simple. Everything should have a non-subtle positive effect. I realize, the game will be very easy to play this way, but that's OK. Penalties can be introduced later.

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Re: A few simple things to make FO more playable

#6 Post by eleazar » Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:23 am

pd wrote:Here's something I had suggested earlier in 2010:
I'm thinking about cutting the amount of techs and buildings down a lot. Remove everything that doesn't do something. I think a handful of techs is enough in every category - about 20-30 in total. Additionally, not more than 10 buildings. Keep it really simple. Everything should have a non-subtle positive effect. I realize, the game will be very easy to play this way, but that's OK. Penalties can be introduced later.
The biggest problem with the tech tree IMHO is the large amount of theories, i.e. techs that don't do anything but lead to other techs. The ship branch does seem rather large.

Glancing through, a lot of theories could be combined with their most basic application. Having the occasional pure science theory is fine, but currently the tech tree is nearly half theory. That IMHO is too many techs that don't do anything.

For instance: Asteroid Hulls is currently a theory, which leads immediately to 4 different techs you can research to actually build different asteroid hulls. The most basic application of this theory, "small asteroid hulls" could be combined with the root tech, so that once you research asteroid hulls you can actually build the small hull.

Instance 2: Artificial Heavenly Bodies is a theory that allows you to research "artificial moons" and "artificial planets". Again the lesser application, "artificial moons" could be rolled up into "Artificial Heavenly bodies", and thus the complexity of the tech tree is lessened, but no gameplay is removed.


We do have a lot of clever and well-worded tech descriptions. And the tree is bound to change a lot as we add more features and eventually balance. I don't think we should delete excess tech descriptions, but rather comment them out, or move them to a "holding" text file for possible later retrieval, or remixing.

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Re: A few simple things to make FO more playable

#7 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:49 am

eleazar wrote:I don't think we should delete excess tech descriptions, but rather comment them out, or move them to a "holding" text file for possible later retrieval, or remixing.
SVN stores the full history of all files in it, so deleting something from a file doesn't erase it from history. Granted, not everyone will know to look back through old SVN revisions to see if there were ever some additional techs that have been removed.

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Re: A few simple things to make FO more playable

#8 Post by eleazar » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:54 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:This is done, and monsters move around occasionally in the SVN version.
:D
Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:I don't think we should delete excess tech descriptions, but rather comment them out, or move them to a "holding" text file for possible later retrieval, or remixing.
SVN stores the full history of all files in it, so deleting something from a file doesn't erase it from history. Granted, not everyone will know to look back through old SVN revisions to see if there were ever some additional techs that have been removed.
I know SVN keeps everything, but i don't consider it easy to access.

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Re: A few simple things to make FO more playable

#9 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Aug 07, 2011 4:39 am

eleazar wrote:
For random minor planets / species, you could just set their target populations to be significantly lower than a playable species.
That would just prevent them from having a large population, right?
It would prevent them from having large population on their own, but if controlled by an empire, techs might boost the target population.
Minor planets don't currently get homeworld bonuses (and they probably shouldn't since it seems redundant to clutter up the map with homeworlds, for species that can only live on their homeworld), so starting out at random lower population would be significant difference between these planets.
Somewhat, but they'll just keep growing unless there's a lower target population as well, and end up being fully populated anyway...
Also you end up with multiple capitols in your empire, and it's not clear if the captured capital still functions, and if so in what way.
There's only ever one capital per empire. It's not really clear on the map where that is, though I did add a note of it in the empire encyclopedia entry.

Regarding monster reproduction, this should be doable with the existing effects and conditions system. Maybe make an "spawning gland" ship part, and give it to one of the monster designs, and have it have an effect that creates more monsters (using createship) at some random chance, possibly with other conditions.

Edit: Also, since monster movement or reproduction are done through effects, it should be possible to have buildings or techs interact with these. Buildings could repel monsters, boost their reproduction, or draw them towards a location. /Edit

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Re: A few simple things to make FO more playable

#10 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:53 pm

eleazar wrote:* Destruction of capitol building when capital is captured.
Building types now have an optional captureresult parameter, which determines what happens to them when the planet they are on is captured by another empire. Imperial Palace has captureresult = destroy which destroys the building, for example. = retain and = capture can also be specified, though the latter is also the default if there is no captureresult = line in the building type definition.

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Re: A few simple things to make FO more playable

#11 Post by Bigjoe5 » Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:19 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:* Destruction of capitol building when capital is captured.
Building types now have an optional captureresult parameter, which determines what happens to them when the planet they are on is captured by another empire. Imperial Palace has captureresult = destroy which destroys the building, for example. = retain and = capture can also be specified, though the latter is also the default if there is no captureresult = line in the building type definition.
So the original empire can retain control of the building when the planet is captured? That sounds cool. Can stealth prevent such buildings from being seen, or does the owner of the planet automatically gain visibility of all buildings?
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Re: A few simple things to make FO more playable

#12 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:45 pm

Bigjoe5 wrote:Can stealth prevent such buildings from being seen, or does the owner of the planet automatically gain visibility of all buildings?
I don't remember how it's working now, but the idea was to support stealth buildings on other empires' planets.

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Re: A few simple things to make FO more playable

#13 Post by eleazar » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:25 pm

Split out some of the Space Monster stuff to Making Space Monsters Cooler.

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Re: A few simple things to make FO more playable

#14 Post by eleazar » Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:58 am

A couple more ideas:
  • Inclusion of pictures in the Galactopedia (besides the little icon).

    Hiding certain types of "undiscovered" information in the Galactopedia. (like minor species you haven't met)

    A way to distinguish systems without planets from system that you haven't got close enough to to see if there are planets.
I made a wiki page to keep track of progress

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Re: A few simple things to make FO more playable

#15 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Aug 11, 2011 2:21 am

eleazar wrote:Inclusion of pictures in the Galactopedia (besides the little icon).
This requires making a markup language interpreter and page layout engine. Not trivial to do in flexible manner.
Hiding certain types of "undiscovered" information in the Galactopedia. (like minor species you haven't met)
Monster types are hidden until observed. Not sure about doing this in general though... It's all going to be available online anyway... Why make finding info any more difficult for players than necessary?
A way to distinguish systems without planets from system that you haven't got close enough to to see if there are planets.
Already implemented. Unexplored systems, which you don't know the planetary contents of, look like the attached. Explored systems have various other icons. Similarly, unexplored systems have a big ? on the sidepanel, while explored ones have various other star pictures or empty space if there's no star in the system.
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