designed nature of exploration

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

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Daveybaby
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#31 Post by Daveybaby »

So we'd all have to leave scouts hanging around in every system forever, in the hope of discovering something? Doesnt sound much fun to me.
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Ragnar
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#32 Post by Ragnar »

You may have to (probably want to) leave defensive fleets in your systems. If we go with any bit of the MoO3 style pickets, we would have scouts in our fleets. These would add to the DPs each turn. This fits with Prokonsul Piotrus's idea that these DPs would also be used for your ability to gain tactical information, like about mines etc. This forces you to use scouts with your fleets, if you don't want to go in blind. Just like the Army works today. :)

I do see your point that having a fleet in every system will be a pain late game. We should also be able to rely on some type of building or defensive structure to gain DPs within an established colony. System ships could also have scanners.

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Colony

#33 Post by guiguibaah »

Well, one option is that colonies themselves generate DP's over time, and the more colonies, the more they discover. This way your scouts can be used in areas you haven't colonized, or perhaps help out discover stuff that just had a new or relatively new colony added to it.

A fully-loaded homeworld system should be able to discover even them most elusive secret in less than 10 turns. However, you can't pick up a colony and move it to a system with no planets, such as near a black hole, binary star / neutron star, so hence scouts (and maybe later game, science ships) come in handy. Who knows, maybe we could even have a few hidden systems here and there, to give a bonus to the player to decides to do a lot of searching / scouting.
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#34 Post by noelte »

How about this. To discover stuff at a given system you have to have a ship with the appropriate sensors. Than you can give it a discover order. After that, the ship is looking for specials ... After the ships has finished it's mission, the system is somehow marked as discovered by sensor tech xy. That means you won't find any additional things if you give any other ship a discover order which has sensor tech lower or equal xy.

I don't like the idea of having hanging around ships in every system just in hope for discoveries.
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#35 Post by drek »

Giving orders for each system sounds pretty tedious.

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#36 Post by noelte »

drek wrote:Giving orders for each system sounds pretty tedious.
Might be. OK than say, ship with x sensor tech has hang around at a system for y turns. if y reaches max Y turns there is nothing to discover.

---

we might also introduce some system discover level. Say it goes from 0-100. Every sensor tech can add x discover points to that level until it reaches a max level.

f.i:

sensor tech lvl1 - adds 0.1 discover pt per turn - max 5
sensor tech lvl2 - adds 0.2 discover pt per turn - max 10

things are discovered if the system discover level reaches a specific level.
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Re: Colony

#37 Post by Daveybaby »

guiguibaah wrote:Well, one option is that colonies themselves generate DP's over time, and the more colonies, the more they discover. This way your scouts can be used in areas you haven't colonized, or perhaps help out discover stuff that just had a new or relatively new colony added to it.

A fully-loaded homeworld system should be able to discover even them most elusive secret in less than 10 turns. However, you can't pick up a colony and move it to a system with no planets, such as near a black hole, binary star / neutron star, so hence scouts (and maybe later game, science ships) come in handy. Who knows, maybe we could even have a few hidden systems here and there, to give a bonus to the player to decides to do a lot of searching / scouting.
That doesnt sound too painful - if you can safely forget about scouting a system once you start to populate it, then a lot of the tedious micromanagement is removed. Performing extended scouting missions for (hopefully just a few) special systems is not a problem - it becomes an interesting diversion rather than a tedious chore.
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#38 Post by Ragnar »

Agreed. We can abtract the system survey ships into colony DPs gaining as the population grows to avoid micro. Of course, adding player controled scouts would get your discoveries quicker.

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Geoff the Medio
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#39 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Ragnar wrote:Agreed. We can abtract the system survey ships into colony DPs gaining as the population grows to avoid micro. Of course, adding player controled scouts would get your discoveries quicker.
There are likely systems that can't support colonies, so survey ships are still needed. Also, colonies find stuff on their own planet preferentially over stuff on other planets not inhabited in system, due to being incompatible / unprofitable with race's environment preference. Survey ships could help find stuff on uninhabitable planets. There's also the issue of which semi-inhabitable planets to colonize, when you have many options... and limited resources for colonizing. Survey ships would find specials that make one better or worse than the other.

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#40 Post by Impaler »

Looks like were going to do a thread Revival here, I think we has some good material here to work with and this could be expanded into a over-arching game consept with a direct linkage to ship sensors and components.

The current plan seems to be that a variety of universe Objects will have "Discovery Points Needed" number atatched to them. Certain Player controlled assests (ships, colonise) will then generate Discovery Points each turn and aplly them to the undiscovered objects in their area. Once enough points have been acumulated the Object is Discover and revealed to the player for them to interact with.

If this is the case then I think we should add an option for Fleets/Colonies to be given orders to "Explore" which would act to greatly multiply their Discover Point Generation. The downside is that they ignore defence so if your system is attacked the fleet is automaticaly scattered all over the map and will likly be eaten up piece meal, conduct this activity at your own risk (note that points are always being generated even if you dont give explore orders, exploring just multiplies them say by 4 or something)

Each type of Scannor/Colony ect should have some kind of cap on the amount of discover points it can apply towards a particular object. This reflects the "depth" of Exploration as limited by the tecnology avalible. It dosent seem right for a puny early game scout acting over a long period (or a bunch over a short period) to find everything. With caps you make the object undiscoverable untill better scanners with higher caps become avalible. At the same time the work of the low level scanner is not wasted as it has perminently added points to the objects up to its cap, later when the more advanced scans happen they wont have to start from scratch.

The player should get some kind of feedback when he hits theese caps so that he can know their is no longer any need to keep the fleet in the system.

An alternative cap method might be based on scan "type", we come up with several Fluff types and give objects differnt combinations of these Points that need to be acumulated. Say for instance StarLane entry points are detected by "Nutrino Emishion" scans. Only Nutrino Detectors will add points to the discovery of this Object. Thus the player much chosse WHAT to explore for. By clever manipulation and overlapping we could create something ware each progressivly more advanced scanner is capable of finding anything the oders scanners could + some "new" thing. This would make the upgrading paths more stratiforward. It would all infact be quite modible if the system is set in a nice way.

Lastly Planets should be able to build some kind of Scanner that will generate points for the whole system and eliminate the need to keep a fleet of Exploration ships inside the system at all times. In essense you can "build" the Scanner component of the ship on the planet.

[EDIT] Just had a though that some randomization of the # of points each object recives should happen, this would make things sligtly less predictable and spread out the discover of Objects with equal points required over a Bell curve which would be IMHO better then discovering them all in one big batch. Alternativly their could be randomizing of the required Points, anything to keep you from getting nothing for a long time and then BOOM discover everything in one turn.
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Geoff the Medio
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#41 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Threadhopping...
guiguibaah wrote:Perhaps binary stars / brown dwarf systems could have some really cool secret you need to discover - you would have to send a lot of scouts or science ships and keep them there in the system for many turns to discover what's hidden (if anything).

This could lead to some interesting battles if someone else doesn't want you to discover what is there.

... Or perhaps you discover something that was meant to stay hidden :)
I would like for the game to have lots and lots of brown dwarf and red dwarf systems that are (for game purposes) very unlikely to have any planets (or possibly only gas giants). We'd keep the current 10-500 stars of other types (colours) that might possibly have planets. In addition to these though, the the red and brown dwarfs would fill out the map and add lots of things for the player to explore, and lots of places for fleets, space monsters and secrets to be hidden. However, since it's generally known that reds and browns don't usually have many habitable planets, you can limit your early expansion exploration to only stars of other types (colours).

I imagine that things would work out so that you have a firm terratorial claim on systems you have colonized, so brown and red dwarf systems would be more of a no-one's-land, or neutral-zone, especially if they are between two empires (if you fully sourround an uninhabited system, it is de facto yours). Diplmatic issures relating to terratorial claims to uninhabited, and uninhabitable for the most part, systems would be interesting. There could also be medioum to large regions of the map devoid of systems with habitable planets, giving more nomadic races / empires a place to live and/or hide.

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#42 Post by drek »

I really dig some of the ideas in the thread, esp. since some of them are mine. :P

But I think we need to become more aware of feature creep. a: if we add every cool thing we can think of to the design, the design will never be realized b: the game will end up with so many aspects to it that it will become difficult to learn and perhaps a chore to play.

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#43 Post by Impaler »

This is true Drek too much stuff to learn can be a pain and it adds more work for codeing team. I think this idea is getting such universal support that it should be refined further and eventualy added to the road map. We can over come the too much leaning problem by making the elements of "Discovery" the same as thouse that handle ship cloaking and detection. The 2 birds with one stone aproatch.

I had some thoughts on Active and Passive Sensors and though up these basic sequencing of events. First for Passive Sensors

Step P1 - All Universe Objects have a "Signal" value that ripples outwards on the Galaxy map and gets weaker with distance before eventualy dropping to zero at some radius. All objects in the effected area are "hit" with the Signal value based on their Distance (Being in the same system is considered 0 distance)

Step P2 - Everything thus Hit checks for legality such as its sensor being of the wrong type to detect that type of signal.

Step P3 - Everything passes legality compares the strength of the Hit with its Detector Sensitivity. Any Hit below the Sensitivity is ignored.

Step P4 - The Hit object querries the Signaler "Dose my Empire already have more Discover Points on you then I am alowed to give?"

Step P5 - If the answer is No then the value of the Hit is added to the discover point total for that object under the listing of the Empire that owns the object being hit.


Active Sensors Act to Add steps to the begining of the process.

Step A1 All Active Sensors Ping out their values in the same maner as described in Step P1.

Step A2 Any objects Hit check for legality. Any object object belonging to a differnt Empire then the object making the Ping now gets run the Passive sequence starting at step P2 using the values of each hit it may have recived.

Step A3 If their were multiple hits to a single object being recived in step A2 then only the value of the largest is retained and used for step A4

Step A4 Thouse passing Legality now multiply the hit value by their Stealth modifier, less then 1 for stealthyness, more then 1 for "anti-stealth".

Step A5 Begin at the Begining step P1 but using the results of step A4 instead of normal Signal values.

Note that active scanning is done individualy for each empire (and possibly each type of Scan if nessary). Passive detections can have everyone lumped together on a single pass because forign empires arnt going to interfer with each other. In Ship Design the Passive Sensor Device is one type of Component and the Active "Ping" devices is another completly seperate device with no ability to listen. The player can focus on totaly passive detection or combine both for maximum effectivness. A ship with only Active Ping devices will need listening devices to make use of its Ping. The nature of the sytem means its not nessary for the Ping and the Detection of the signal to happen at the same location.

==============================

Passive Sensors have 3 qualites that describe them
Type - Sci-Fi fluff types of waves that are detected determining classes of objects it detects.
Resolution - Max Points this scanner can add (See Step P4). Bigger scanners have higher Resolution values.
Sensitivity - Threashold for detecting a signal (See Step P3). Higher Tec Sensors have LOWER sensitivity values, the perfect sensitvity is 0.

Active Sensors have 2 qualites
Types - Same as above
Power - Strength of the signal tye put out

Univers Objects have a signal value but it could varry depending on the Type of Sensor being used. For example one sensor might take the Mass of a Ship as the Signal Value. Another might take its speed or anything else we can think off. Planetary Specials and starlanes will need to have a Signal Value that derived from no other game data (well unless we use the "Wideess" Geoff described for lanes). In any event the number should be slightly randomized at game creation. The "Discover Points needed to Find" values can be random generated for objects that are created along with the map but for things like Fleets they must be derived form the fleets qualites. I would simply set Discover points to be equal to a constant % of the Signal value of an object. Possibly more then one level of detection is possible based on getting progressivly higher %'s on the Object. This could lead to some nice tid-bits of partial information being given to the player such as "Our scientist belive their may additionl un-identified Starlanes in this system" of "Long rannge Sensors indicate an unknow fleet of Medium Size in this general area of Space"

==============================

Using the Results

Each turn each Empire compares the new Discover point values with a table of all the Objects it knows about. The client machine only keeps a Table of what the Player should know and each turn the Server looks at the Master Discover Point list its keeping and asks if the Players new values are differnt from the old ones. The possible combinations are.


Object is not on the Players known list and its value is high enough for Discover >> Generate "We Discoverd a new XYZ your Magesty" Sit Rep and add an entry for this object to the players known object list with all the apropriate stuff they should know about it.

Object is not on the Players know list and its value is insufficent for Discovery >> Obvously do nothing

Object is on the Players know list and its value is Sufficient for Discovery >> Again obvously no changes here

Object is on the Players know list and its value is Insufficient for Discovery OR Object no longer exists in game but is on Players know list>> Check the value of Discovery Points on the Players List and compare with new values (objects no longer in existence have a value of 0)

If less then >> Generate "We lost contact with Object XYZ at last know cordinates.." Sit Rep and set the "This information is out of date by X turns" to 1 to label this information as a "ghoest" aka old sensor contact that can no longer be picked up

If greater then or equal too >> Increment the out of date count by 1
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Geoff the Medio
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#44 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Some thoughts on exploration and starlanes:

Making all starlanes not immediately visible to all players might have some good consequences.

One thing we might do is make the base / default visibility for starlanes inversely proportional to their length.

This would be good for several reasons...

For one thing, it would automatically implement, in an interesting way, the apparently desired situation where lanes between arms of spiral galaxies are nonexistant... Or in this case, nondetectable and thus nontraversible, and effectively nonexistant at the start of the game. This issue arose of out discussions about how to remove these types of lanes (between spiral arms, clusters) completely, but perhaps we'd be better off leaving them in, but making them really hard to detect at the start of the game. Much later, they would become visible, but at the start you'd be constrained to movement by the shape of the galaxy, which is generally considered to be fun / a good thing.

Additionally, if we have a cluster shaped galaxy, initially have invisible long lanes would make the galactic geography somewhat like a bunch of continents or islands that you initially can't travel between. This would make wormholes extra important at the start of the game, as they'd let you reach continents / clusters of stars you couldn't otherwise get to.

This would also be a good way to add a different sort of strategy or specialized race, which would involving researching how to, or being innately able to, detect starlanes faster and better than other races. You don't need as good ships if you can use starlanes to get past them that other empires don't know about.

A problem might be if your homeworld has only one connection to other systems, which is a really long lane. If this long lane was invisible, you'd be unable to move out of your home system, which would kinda suck. Thus we could make the first few lanes radiating away from each empire's home system more easily detected by that empire. The further away, the smaller the bonus would be.

Along a similar vein, we could make lanes near other empires' homeworld harder to detect. This would prevent an empire from being wiped out at the start of the game with a rush, until you can get some sensor ships out to find the hard-to-see lane to their homeworld.

We'd have to be careful in cases where two empires' homeworlds are near eachother though, so that the penalty to see lanes near another empire's homeworld doesn't end up counteracting your bonus to see lanes near your's, thus trapping you at your homeworld again...

Alternatively, instead of or in addition to making lanes near other races homeworld's harder to detect, we could have buildings or techs that make lanes harder to detect for other empires (either near the building, or near all systems you've colonized).

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#45 Post by Impaler »

I realy like thats last idea Geoff, a "Lane Cloak" Device, it remends me a lot of the the accelerator/deaccelerators that were planed for Moo3 but never got implemented. The idea of an "Exploration" Race also sounds wonderfull

I think this discovery system realy shines in its ability to overcome the "Strategic Bottleneck" problem a I call it which is the ability to estentaly wall off ones territory and place a single massive fleet in the key bottleneck. If a player tries this tactic under your system they will very likly risk missing the "back door" to their own territory which a clever oponent can exploit to get around their defences and into their "chewy center". On need only look to all the great battles in history that were won by attacking from a direction that the enemy did not simply think was unlikly or risky but were infact entirly unknown to them! This makes knowlage a very valuable asset in war and the ability to gain knowlage that your oponent dosen't have is essential to making knowlage based attacks fun and rewarding.
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