Tech tree - other dimension (probability)

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Prokonsul Piotrus
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Tech tree - other dimension (probability)

#1 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Sat Nov 13, 2004 3:52 pm

Disclaimer: I don't want to change anything we have already agreed on (like HoI'queness of tree tech or specific category types), just expand on few things - or show them in diffrent dimension.

I am trying to reanimate part of this not-so-dead horse (tech tree) - or at the very least, start a discussion about a problem I don't think was raised before: 'predictability of science inventions'.

Consider how tech inventing (not the tech tree layout but the process of inventing it) was done in known 4X games:
a) in Stars! or Space Empires series, each tech cost was fixed. You paid the price, you got the tech, end of story
b) in MOOs 1-2 (I forgot how it was done in 3), while tech cost was fixed, after you paid the required amount you didn't automatically get the tech - you get the increasing chance of getting the tech. Also, in MOO, you didn't have the any guarantee you were to ever to be given even the possibilty of researching the given tech (in MOO2 it was a bit similar to playing uncreative race).
c) in SMAC you could chose a more difficult (and realistic option) that you had no choice over what tech was researched, you could only broadly specifiy if you preffered miliatry/economy/science/growth areas
d) note on HoI: while it added a great 'time is not same as cost' feature (and very nice UI), please remember that it was designed to RECREATE a KNOWN technology development over 10-year period - a scale entirely unlike FO (or any other 4X game).

I presonally always liked the idea that tech research is unpredictable. We don't know what types of inventions future will bring, and even when something makes it as far as laboratory, engeneering desing and such take a varying amount of time.

I'd like FO research system to resemble this. How? Here is how I see it:

The technologies are divided into 3 categories (but in other dimension that military/economy/stuff, remember, I am not changing anything agreed on, but adding another dimension):
a) theoretical
b) applied
c) engeneering

In game terms: player research points are divided into those 3 areas. Theoretical is the main concept here (discussed below), applied is our HoI concept (more or less), and enegeneering is what I call improvements on already developed components (again, mostly covered by our previous discussions). Let me explain how it all works in more detail:

[center]Theoretical techs[/center]

Theoretical is the revolutionary change I'd like to advocate. It represents 'ideas'. Think of it like that: before wheel was invented, nobody imagined a car or a wheelchair. Befere eletricity was harness for powering devices, nobody even thought of power stations, nor was instant global communication (telegraph..) possible. Before planes were invented, nobody thought of carriers or bombers. Before Einstein work on relativity theory, atomic bomb was not imaginable. Before quantum mechanics...need I say more? Sounds nice, but you ask - how to put it into the game? It took me half a year to put it down from some vague notions I head into this game idea :)

Some major techs (defines as stuff that would unlock many other techs to research) would be classified as theoretical. The more points player puts into theoretical research, the bigger chance he would actually invent *something* - but he should not be able to decide exactly what (since before it is researched - read: before some scientist publishes a revolutionary paper illustrating the entirely new field theory, or some inventor creates a working invention previously deemed impossible (Wright brothers, anyone?), the given civilisation should not be aware it is possible to resarch at all). Of course, there would be some tree of those theories based 'on this theortical stuff requires other' so we can have early/mid/late game techs, obviously.

Theoretical techs should be classified in a similar terms as SMACs, allowing a player to increase the chance of developing a given cathegory over other (for example, Space Figher idea unlocking various HoI'sque doctrines and components would be miliatry, Subspace Field unlocking better engines and communications would be science, Artificial Gene Creation allowing various changes to population unit efficiency would be economy or growth, etc.).

After you make contact with other species, you should have a chance to get their teoretical ideas not only from intelligence or exchange, but even from scanning (game terms: seeing on map) some of their planets or ships using that tech practical derivates (think cultural influence - hey, if they can do 'THAT', so can we, right?).

Also, I think that invention of some technologies should preclude others (like in HoI) or perhaps better - make them much less probable to develop (for example, Subspace Theory does not prevent the development of Overspace Theory, but makes it much less probable).

Finally, some points during race creation could be allocated to getting few technologies you want from the start (or just want :). Some bonus points here could be gained from high research apptitude/pics (think Master of Magic -> books -> spells). This would allow a player who loves fighers to chose fighers, drone lover to chose drone, capital ships to chose sth else., ect.

Finally 2. If somebody really hates the 'random reseach' idea, it is very easy game wise to give them a choice during new game creation: in your new game, should theoretical reseach be random or chosable (just like in SMAC)?

[center]Applied techs[/center]

Basically, here goes most of the tech tree stuff. After you unlock some theoretical fluff, you can now research them in a HoI-like manner (although I'd like for them to use 'MOO1/2 treshold idea - i.e. after you spend x points for y turns, you dont get the tech, but each turn you get a rising chance for getting it).

Examples:

Space Figher would unlock:
* carrier - specifc slots (and/or figher bays)
* Battleline Carrier Doctrine - carriers would have less room for fighers, but more room/bonuses to armor/weapons, so they can hold their own against smaller combat ship
* Support Carrier Doctrine - carriers would have more room for figherts but be close to defencless if enemy ship closes range to them (prevents researching Battleline Carrier Doctrine ormakes it more expesnive)
* Short Training Regime - faster figher construction/minuses to figher fight/some effect on Cadet Pool?
* Extended Training Regime - reverse of Short Training Regime
* Unifom Figher Doctrine - one figher for space superiority, anti-ship combat, atmoshpere and space fight - hull with space bonuses for everything, but less efficient then special hulls from
* Specialistic Figher Doctrne - many diffrent figher hull types, each very good at something and very poor at other stuff
* various figher components to reasearch (hulls, weapons, ECMs, engines, stuff)

But if you don't get Space Fighter from theory first, tough luck - you can't chose to reasearch them, since your civilisation doesn't think space figher are possible/useful.

[center]Engeneering techs[/center]

After you research a given tech - let's say a Laser Beam - you have three choices.
1) is to develop sth entirely new (Tachyon Beam) if you unlocked relevant, better theory
2) develop a much advanced laser beam using Applied tech - like Gatling Laser or Super-Heated Laser
3) work on improving the exisitng Laser Beam

The logic in creating this distinction is that improving something should be more cost-effective in the short term, but less efficient in the long term. In our example, you can develop Laser Beam Mk. II (or III, IV...) much faster then the Gatling or SH variant - and perhaps those MK IV would be even better (stronger, smaller, etc.) then new prototypes. But the more you refine a given piece, the more expensive it gets, at some point forcing you to abandon it completly and develop sth new. This would have the effect of giving player a choice: do I want a small improvement now (ready for combat) or can I afford to wait longer while new tech is developed?

This distinction could come in handy with recently raised ship reffiting dilelmas - refitting enegeering improvements could be cheap/automatic, diffent applied science but same teory more expensive/cumbersome, and entirely new theory based the least efficient and most expensive.

This should also be applied on the big scale: how much do you put in theoretical resrearch (which should be very expensive and very unpredictable both in time needed for getting them and in the area you get it (doh, I got an economic stuff when I needed miliatry...) in desire to 'invent something radically new', and how much do you spend on developing things you are now how will work and can be pretty sure with estimates when they will be developed (to a few turns, at least)?
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#2 Post by solartrix » Sun Nov 14, 2004 10:07 am

I like this idea a lot. The way tech works in most of these games has always kinda bugged me. You know, "hey, 4 more turns to gravity drives, cool, let's hold off on that battleship redesign..."

Here's how I see this working (only slightly diff from what Piotrus laid out):

Split between Theory, Applied and Engineering, just like above, with sliders to distribute research points between them. However, there aren't really that many major theorectical breakthroughs in the game, and you really don't get too much visibility on them. When you do get one, then you get options on how to apply it to your civilization. For example:

Your scientists discover Gravity Waves, so now you can add grav stardrives, grav impulse drives, gav cannons, grav lifts (production or mining boost), sensors range 10, fighter grav drives, or kinetic shields to your applied tech que. You don't have to, but you can, and you can put them on the bottom or right at the top, depending on what's going on. And once you have grav stardrives, you can put your engineers to work make them smaller, faster, more effective, etc.

What would be cool about this is that you could "steal" a tech from another race, but have no clue as to the underlying theory. Say you stole grav stardrives from somebody, you would get a bonus applied toward the "gravity wave" breakthrough, but you wouldn't be able to build grav cannons or grav lifts (or any of the others) until you got the theory. But you could put your engineers to work right away making your grav drives smaller and lighter. And they could tell you that they'll probably have the "improved grav drives mark II" ready in a few turns.

Or, you might trade someone something for the "Gravity Waves" theory and then start developing grav cannons, while the species you got the theory from has never developed it into a weapon system (they're too busy developing grav impulse drives). You could then come back in X turns and pound them with your grav cannons (unless they all run away from you using their new grav drives). Would make the art of negotiation VERY interesting...

I'll try to work up a graphic for how this could lay out on a UI screen. Later.

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#3 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Sun Nov 14, 2004 6:00 pm

solartrix wrote: What would be cool about this is that you could "steal" a tech from another race, but have no clue as to the underlying theory. Say you stole grav stardrives from somebody, you would get a bonus applied toward the "gravity wave" breakthrough, but you wouldn't be able to build grav cannons or grav lifts (or any of the others) until you got the theory. But you could put your engineers to work right away making your grav drives smaller and lighter. And they could tell you that they'll probably have the "improved grav drives mark II" ready in a few turns.
Reverse engineering is a nifty idea, but I think that if you would like to build the tech you stole but don't understand underlying theort, you should have some penalties (to efficiency or size or sth).
I'll try to work up a graphic for how this could lay out on a UI screen. Later.
Three sliders for point distribution. Simple HoI layout for the Applied. Expanded layout (list of what can be improved and how) for the Engineering. Theoretical is very simple: you just see what you have and set priority (military/science/economy/etc.) for what you'd like to get next
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#4 Post by iamrobk » Sun Nov 14, 2004 7:16 pm

Very interesting idea. I think that it would be cool if all techs you haven't researched yet are hidden. Like, you have no clue what'll happen next. Also, scientists shouldn't just move instantly from one tech to the next. Also, what tech they DO research next should depend on what has already been researched. Lastly, I think there should be no tech "levels" (except in neccesary places, like ships, engines, weapons, etc....you don't just research a frigate, then a battleship), but more random, varied research,

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Re: Tech tree - other dimension (probability)

#5 Post by utilae » Sun Nov 14, 2004 9:16 pm

Prokonsul Piotrus wrote: The technologies are divided into 3 categories (but in other dimension that military/economy/stuff, remember, I am not changing anything agreed on, but adding another dimension):
a) theoretical
b) applied
c) engeneering
I don't like the term engineering, I'd rather refinements, it sounds so much better.
Prokonsul Piotrus wrote: In game terms: player research points are divided into those 3 areas. Theoretical is the main concept here (discussed below), applied is our HoI concept (more or less), and enegeneering is what I call improvements on already developed components (again, mostly covered by our previous discussions). Let me explain how it all works in more detail:
Hmmm, I do like dividing research into these three areas. I'm not sure if that is what has already been planned.
Prokonsul Piotrus wrote: [center]Theoretical techs[/center]
Some major techs (defines as stuff that would unlock many other techs to research) would be classified as theoretical. The more points player puts into theoretical research, the bigger chance he would actually invent *something* - but he should not be able to decide exactly what (since before it is researched.
I'd rather that if you didn't put enough points into theory, then you can't see what applied tech to choose, so you pick from three blank ones for example. if you put enough research points into theory, then based on the theory requirements for each applied tech, that tech becomes visible.

Strategy wise, with this system, would it be better to research the theory properly and choose the tech you want (its faster to get the 1 tech you want out of the 3 that are there, when you can choose) or research theory improperly and take a random tech, ooh its the wrong one, that tech you would have liked you will have to research next.
Prokonsul Piotrus wrote: Finally 2. If somebody really hates the 'random reseach' idea, it is very easy game wise to give them a choice during new game creation: in your new game, should theoretical reseach be random or chosable (just like in SMAC)?
Go with my idea above, it gives the best of both worlds.
Prokonsul Piotrus wrote: [center]Applied techs[/center]
(although I'd like for them to use 'MOO1/2 treshold idea - i.e. after you spend x points for y turns, you dont get the tech, but each turn you get a rising chance for getting it).
Me too.
Prokonsul Piotrus wrote: [center]Engeneering techs[/center]
After you research a given tech - let's say a Laser Beam - you have three choices.
1) is to develop sth entirely new (Tachyon Beam) if you unlocked relevant, better theory
So really its just like laser, but a green color and has a slight improvement on stats. I would rather have a new applied tech that is a totally unique weapon. Eg. a wave/nova/expanding ring of energy weapon is uniquely different to a laser. The thing I would like to stay away from is what Moo2 and Moo3 did. They has laser. Then fusion cannon, exactly the same, just a different color, slightly higher stats. It should have been a refinement really. Then you had like 5 more weapons that were all like the laser, different color, slightly higher stats, etc. Missiles had the same problem. So did torpedo's. I would have liked more unique weapons to have been in the tech tree, eg the Black Hole generator.
Prokonsul Piotrus wrote: 2) develop a much advanced laser beam using Applied tech - like Gatling Laser or Super-Heated Laser
Develop mods for weapons. Like we have discussed in another thread.
Prokonsul Piotrus wrote: 3) work on improving the exisitng Laser Beam
Same as option 1. Your just aiming for laser Mk2 or Mk3, etc.
Prokonsul Piotrus wrote: The logic in creating this distinction is that improving something should be more cost-effective in the short term, but less efficient in the long term.
Maybe. But if each weapon application is as uniquely different as a laser and a wave/nova/expanding ring of energy weapon, then each unique weapon should be useful throughout the game. Refinements keeping them up to date, while normal applied reserach leads to more unique weapons.

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#6 Post by Bastian-Bux » Sun Nov 14, 2004 10:14 pm

We had/have that 3 groups (theory, application and refinement), though I aint sure if refinement was cut or not. Ask Aquitaine :).

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#7 Post by utilae » Mon Nov 15, 2004 12:07 am

Bastian-Bux wrote:We had/have that 3 groups (theory, application and refinement), though I aint sure if refinement was cut or not. Ask Aquitaine :).
Refinements aren't cut. It was stated that Refinements would be a seperate system to teh rest of research and that that system is undecided.

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#8 Post by solartrix » Mon Nov 15, 2004 10:27 pm

Ok, my tech UI "screenshots" are up at http://www.pbase.com/solartrix/inbox - lemme know what you think....

You start in the main screen, then pull up the overlay menus by clicking on the theory / applied / refine words on the desktop PC screen. It's all pretty basic, but I think it gets the ideas across.

There's not much you can do on the theory screen, just set priorties of high / normal / low and wait for a breakthrough.

The applied screen lets you drag and drop new tech projects into a ranked order that your researchers then work on accordingly. Your research points given to applied are distributed across multiple projects, and you can stop work on a project just by substituting something else in its slot.

The refinements screen is similar to the applied, but you don't get to chose exactly what refinement is taking place. You just get better cannons or lighter armor or something. But you do get to pick what you're engineers should be refining.

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#9 Post by Ranos » Tue Nov 16, 2004 2:00 am

Refinements should work in the same manner as applied techs. Just like with applied techs, somebody thinks they can make this certain item work in a better way.
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#10 Post by utilae » Tue Nov 16, 2004 7:29 am

Ranos wrote:Refinements should work in the same manner as applied techs. Just like with applied techs, somebody thinks they can make this certain item work in a better way.
I would like to see refinements being to applied techs as level ups are to a character in an RPG game.

I think the best model for refinements can be taken from Diablo 2, the skills could be increased up to level 20.

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#11 Post by Ranos » Tue Nov 16, 2004 8:19 am

I meant that you would be able to choose what refinements you researched instead of refinements just occurring randomly.
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#12 Post by utilae » Tue Nov 16, 2004 9:24 am

Ranos wrote:I meant that you would be able to choose what refinements you researched instead of refinements just occurring randomly.
oh ok. Refinements shouldn't be random.

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#13 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Tue Nov 16, 2004 11:29 am

solartrix wrote:Ok, my tech UI "screenshots" are up at http://www.pbase.com/solartrix/inbox - lemme know what you think....
Great job. You should mention it in the Graphic setion of FO board as well, perhaps not all graphers read this thread.
You start in the main screen, then pull up the overlay menus by clicking on the theory / applied / refine words on the desktop PC screen. It's all pretty basic, but I think it gets the ideas across.
The screen on #1 could be bigger - too much screen wasted on art, I think.
There's not much you can do on the theory screen, just set priorties of high / normal / low and wait for a breakthrough.
As it should be. The exact names of the areas could be same as Tech Category List that we agreed on (I just love it when such things come together): Growth, Production, Learning, Economics, Construction and Military (although personally I am not happy with this division, way to much similarity betwen Growth/ Production/ Economics/ Construction - is there any place to discuss them again/further?) or we could create new ones (possibly same as in SMAC - Science, Economy, Growth (think Ecology), Military).
The applied screen lets you drag and drop new tech projects into a ranked order that your researchers then work on accordingly. Your research points given to applied are distributed across multiple projects, and you can stop work on a project just by substituting something else in its slot.
Idea is correct, but for UI I'd like more HoI-look. For starters, instead of visual progress bar (or in addition to it), there should be an information for cost/time (23 turns at 10RP cost remaining), and for techs near breakthrough, an estimated % chance of it happening (like in MOO1 - 17% for example). Second, some techs would be dependable on another (as in HoI) and by clicking on a tech you should get a nice fluffy description and a picture, and more importantly an explanaton what it exactly does (like in HoI but more detailed :D). I don't think we need priorities at that screen.
The refinements screen is similar to the applied, but you don't get to chose exactly what refinement is taking place. You just get better cannons or lighter armor or something. But you do get to pick what you're engineers should be refining.
Same as applied, although no tree view is necessary here. Perhaps we should have a choice (in a separate window), what exactly we would like to improve in a given component - make it more powerful, smaller, durable, etc.
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#14 Post by Ranos » Tue Nov 16, 2004 1:56 pm

The other option instead of having a separate refinement window is to overlap refinements and applied techs. All you do is select the applied tech again and it gets refined.
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#15 Post by solartrix » Tue Nov 16, 2004 11:42 pm

Idea is correct, but for UI I'd like more HoI-look. For starters, instead of visual progress bar (or in addition to it), there should be an information for cost/time (23 turns at 10RP cost remaining), and for techs near breakthrough, an estimated % chance of it happening (like in MOO1 - 17% for example). Second, some techs would be dependable on another (as in HoI) and by clicking on a tech you should get a nice fluffy description and a picture, and more importantly an explanaton what it exactly does (like in HoI but more detailed :D). I don't think we need priorities at that screen.
Thanks for the feedback, but you're gonna have to help me out, what's HoI ? :)
Same as applied, although no tree view is necessary here. Perhaps we should have a choice (in a separate window), what exactly we would like to improve in a given component - make it more powerful, smaller, durable, etc.
Yeah, I was ont the fence about that myself. Perhaps we could have a check box or 2nd pull-down menu that has options like "Effectiveness, Cost, Size" or some such. But on the other hand, and improvement in any of these areas is pretty much the same thing. If laser cannons get smaller, then you can put more on your ship. If they get more effective, then you can get more bang for the same weight. Kinda the same thing.

Tell me more about HoI or send me a link or something and I'll see what I can do...

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