Wheel of EP Thoughts

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

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Impaler
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Wheel of EP Thoughts

#1 Post by Impaler » Fri Sep 17, 2004 5:27 pm

I was doing some thinking about the Wheel of Environmental Preference and wanted to bring up some ideas for Terraforming which so far has not been adressed much.

First off their are currently 9 Environments on the wheel and this # is unlikly to change, also the current Optimal/Adiquite/Terrible set up is currently calculating population capacity at Full/Half/Quarter respectivly. Assuming an equal distribution of planet in the Galaxy each race will have 1/9 of Planets Optimal, 2/9 Adiquite, 2/9 Terrible and 4/9 worse then terrible.

It seems a bit ambigus to me if this statment

# If the planet’s environment is two or more away from the race’s EP, then environmental conditions are Terrible.

would indicate that Terrible is infact the lowest level of Habatability and that all planets will be colonizable from the start of the game?

I would hope that this is some kind of oversite and that their will be an outright "Uninhabitable" setting for thouse 4 out of 9 planets. This is for 2 reasons. 1 Reduce competition for planets and alow races with differnt Environmental preferences to co-mingle and share systems in the early game. 2 Give greater incentive for terraforming later in the game.

This brings me to the second half of the article, terraforming. We have already concluded that Terraforming is based off the EP wheel and consists of changing a planets type obviosly towards what your race preferse. The question is how much should be alowed and how to do it.

My initial though was to have a planet always "remember" its original type and base the difficulty of all terraforming jobs off the distance that has already been moved from that original value. With 9 positions on the Wheel any type of planet could be turned to your races Optimal with 4 hops in the proper direction.

So we have 4 Hops in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction for a total of 8 tecnologies that would be the basis of terraforming. Terraforming would be considered as a structure which gets replaced when a more advanced project is completed. So for example (some potential Tecnobable inspired by the Red Mars Trilogy)

Clockwise Terraforming 1 - Albido Manipulation
Clockwise Terraforming 2 - Volitile Chemical Release
Clockwise Terraforming 3 - Atmospheric Synthisis
Clockwise Terraforming 4 - Thermal Dis-Equilibrium Pumps

Counterclockwise Terraforming 1 - Ice Cap Ablasion
Counterclockwise Terraforming 2 - Crustal BoreHole Venting
Counterclockwise Terraforming 3 - Atmospheric Vitrification
Counterclockwise Terraforming 4 - Photonic Refractors

The Clockwise and CounterClockwise sets each occour in parrell branches of the tec tree to encourage tech trading. At any one time your level would likly be the same in both with the 4th stage being reached only in the late game.

This has the advantage of being completly intuitive, for any 2 possible combinations of Current condition and Environmental Preference their is an obvious building to build and the player simply needs to deside how much is Budjeted to terraforming each turn.

Terraforming is a "building" which also requires maintance, without maintance the building decays to a lower state and the planet condition moves back a notch to its original location. If a planet is concoured and the new owners start to terraform in the reverse direction their spending will first be used to more rapidly breakdown and remove the prior terraforming untill the planet returns to its base state from which point the process continues as normal.

Final though, I think it would be apropriate if the Construction metter was negativly affected by Environment in a similar manor to how the Growth and Health metters are effected, this would represent the cost of Domes and underground habitats that are being used. Naturaly the cost of maintaining all this artificial habitat is going to slow down the growth of the Colony.
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Re: Wheel of EP Thoughts

#2 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Sep 17, 2004 8:11 pm

Re: Additional rating for planets other than Superb, Optimal, Adequate and Terrible, see: viewtopic.php?p=14280#14280

Re: Techs to terraform in a particular direction around the wheel. I don't think the same tech or building should be required / used to terraform Terran->Ocean as Tundra->Desert or Inferno->Radiated

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#3 Post by drek » Fri Sep 17, 2004 8:14 pm

Still have no objection to the change being made.

Probably up to Aq to decide.

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#4 Post by Aquitaine » Fri Sep 17, 2004 9:22 pm

It does seem like you shouldn't be able to colonize things X slots away from your base preference (barring racial traits geared towards this, but that won't come until we do races).

Can we come up with a 'degree of uninhabitability' such that we can throw in some tech tree stuff that lets you colonize things previously uninhabitable by one degree, and then by two, and so on?
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#5 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Sep 18, 2004 4:15 am

viewtopic.php?p=14301#14301

The terms Superb, Optimal, Adequate, Poor and Hostile are good enough for me... If we wanted another level of habitability, we could add "Good", so:

Code: Select all

           tny sml med lrg hge    dist
Superb     10  20  25  30  35    (gaia)
Optimal    8   16  20  25  30    on-EP
Good       4   8   12  16  20    1-away
Adequate   2   4   6   8   10    2-away
Poor       1   2   3   4   5     3-away
Hostile    0   0   0   0   0     4-away
And various techs would alter those numbers...

Or things could start a bit worse, so maybe at the start:

Code: Select all

           tny sml med lrg hge    dist
Superb     10  20  25  30  35    (gaia)
Optimal    4   8   12  16  20    on-EP
Good       2   4   6   8   10    1-away
Adequate   1   2   3   4   5     2-away
Poor       0   0   0   0   0     3-away
Hostile    0   0   0   0   0     4-away
And various techs could increase the populations on tiny worlds by 1, and all larger worlds would grow proportionally. So after +1 population capacity for poor or better worlds, you'd have:

Code: Select all

           tny sml med lrg hge    dist
Superb     10  20  25  30  35    (gaia)
Optimal    5   10  15  20  25    on-EP
Good       3   6   9   12  15    1-away
Adequate   2   4   6   8   10    2-away
Poor       1   2   3   4   5     3-away
Hostile    0   0   0   0   0     4-away
Then maybe you'd get a tech to improve good or better by +2:

Code: Select all

           tny sml med lrg hge    dist
Superb     10  20  25  30  35    (gaia)
Optimal    7   14  21  28  35    on-EP
Good       5   10  15  20  25    1-away
Adequate   2   4   6   8   10    2-away
Poor       1   2   3   4   5     3-away
Hostile    0   0   0   0   0     4-away
Then one just to improve hostile through adequate:

Code: Select all

           tny sml med lrg hge    dist
Superb     10  20  25  30  35    (gaia)
Optimal    7   14  21  28  35    on-EP
Good       5   10  15  20  25    1-away
Adequate   3   6   9   12  15    2-away
Poor       2   4   6   8   10    3-away
Hostile    1   2   3   4   5     4-away
Gaia have always had populations that didn't fit with the trends of lower sizes proportionally, but it could be treated the same way as well, so Gaia would always have:

Code: Select all

           tny sml med lrg hge    dist
Superb     10  20  30  40  50    (gaia)

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#6 Post by drek » Sat Sep 18, 2004 5:17 am

Let's look at what we are calling good and adequate from a terrian perspective:

A: Orginal:

Superb: Gaian
Optimal: Terran
Adequate: Desert, Ocean
Terrible: Swamp, Tundra, Toxic,Inferno, Barren, Raidated: Terrible

B: The revised version from the public review:

Superb: Gaian
Optimal: Terran
Adequate: Ocean, Desert
Poor: Swamp, Tundra
Hostile: Toxic, Inferno, Barren, Radiated

Geoff version above:

Superb: Gaian
Optimal: Terran
Good: Ocean, Desert
Adequate: Swamp, Tundra
Poor: Toxic, Barren
Hostile: Inferno, Radiated

---------
Any version works. Option B looks best to me.

Now from the perspective of Swamp-dweller, recalling that our Swamps are not like Yoda's Dagoba. They are toxic hellholes with lots of water and acid dripping plants.

A: Orginal:

Superb: Gaian
Optimal: Swamp
Adequate: Ocean, Toxic
Terrible: Terran, Desert, Tundra, Inferno, Radiated, Barren

B: The revised version from the public review:

Superb: Gaian
Optimal: Swamp
Adequate: Ocean, Toxic
Poor: Terran, Inferno
Hostile: Radiated, Barren, Tundra, Desert

Geoff version above:

Superb: Gaian
Optimal: Swamp
Good: Ocean, Toxic
Adequate: Terran, Inferno
Poor: Desert, Radiated
Hostile: Barren, Tundra

----------
No real problems. Inferno at Adequate in Geoff's version would seem odd, except that it fits into the theme of swamps being hellholes. Desert being better than Tundra also seems a little odd to me.

But now look at Inferno, where I'm guessing we'll see some real problems:

A: Orginal:

Superb: Gaian
Optimal: Inferno
Adequate: Radiated, Toxic
Terrible: Barren, Swamp, Tundra, Desert, Ocean, Terran

B: The revised version from the public review:

Superb: Gaian
Optimal: Inferno
Adequate: Radiated, Toxic
Poor: Barren, Swamp
Hostile: Tundra, Desert, Ocean, Terran

Geoff version above:

Superb: Gaian
Optimal: Inferno
Good: Radiated, Toxic
Adequate: Barren, Swamp
Poor: Ocean, Tundra
Hostile: Terran, Desert

In Geoff's version above, Oceans are better than deserts for infernal dwellers. Not a good thing, imho.

The wheel was designed only to make sense for up to a couple of steps (Optimal-->Adequate-->Terrible)--and then only if you strech your imagination. Adding one more step (Poor) doesn't seem too bad; I think adding more starts to break the wheel.

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#7 Post by BreadMan » Sat Sep 18, 2004 5:27 am

I vote for option B

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#8 Post by Impaler » Sat Sep 18, 2004 7:35 am

As long as the majority of planets will be unihabitable to you for a significant portion of the game then I think the system will work, the revised or Geoff plans look ok to me. Having Poor as a setting that initialy alows 0 population and is pasicaly the same as Hostile might seem repetative to some people though, only later in the tec tree would tecnology differentiate them.

In response to Geoffs concern

"Techs to terraform in a particular direction around the wheel. I don't think the same tech or building should be required / used to terraform Terran->Ocean as Tundra->Desert or Inferno->Radiated"

I realize that may seem illogical so I made the Tecnobable very vague on purpose, Also I cant think of any good alternatives to making terraforming based on the "wheel clicks from natural" concept. If we have a seperate tech for each of the 9 combinations we would have 9 equally powerfull Techs that alow changing one type of planet say a Desert <-> Terran or an Ocean <-> Swamp. Each race would need to get ones that were usefull to it, it dosent do any good for a Terran dweller to change Radiated to Inferno if its all still going to be Hostile. Thus all 9 of thouse tecs need to become avalible at roughly the same point in the game to keep a balance between races with different Environmental preferences. With a little trading and espionage you could possibly aquire the ability to terraform everything in the Galaxy to optimum in the very early game. With rotation from base the tecnologies can be spread out through the tec tree to slowdown terraforming to a more reasonable pace.
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#9 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Sep 18, 2004 7:58 am

drek wrote:The wheel was designed only to make sense for up to a couple of steps (Optimal-->Adequate-->Terrible)--and then only if you strech your imagination.
I've never been a fan of the wheel as it is anyway, though figured there was no point in whining since it was deciding at the dawn of time.

In particular though, why is Swamp right next to Ocean, why is Radiated right next to Inferno and why is Tundra next to Desert?

The problem is that the available selection of environments doesn't really work in wheel form... To avoid oddities, it should "really" be something like:

Code: Select all

            Swamp - Toxic - Inferno
            /
Ocean - Terran - Desert - Radiated
            \        \    /
            Tundra - Barren
Which avoids things like hotter-colder changing in different directions depending on which side of the wheel you're on, which leads to the inconsistencies drek pointed out above.

That said, the whole "Environment Preference Wheel" concept somewhat depends on there being a "wheel"... so it'll have to do, I guess.

THAT said, there are a few omissions from the EP wheel / system, IMO...

In particular, there could/should be environments to represent planets like Saturn's moon Titan, which has a dense nitrogen-methane atmosphere (unlike the breathable atmosphere of tundra), but is colder than tundra (but not as cold as barren). Could go between tundra and barren perhaps... No idea what to call it though.

I'm not sure if inferno would apply to a rocky planet that's still molten (newly formed and not yet had time to cool and solidify), or if inferno implies a hotter version of toxic (hot and chemically toxic) Presumably the atmosphere of a molten rock planet wouldn't be particularily nice, but I'm not sure if it'd be up to "toxic" standards or not...

To deal with this and the (IMO) oddness of having inferno (hot, molten, chemically toxic) next to radiated (cold, solid, radiation covered), inferno could become explicitly radioative, and toxic could be described as a bit hotter, and radiated explicitly "warm":

Toxic: Tremendous crushing atmospheric pressure, corrosive acidic rains, hot enough to melt some rock and metal.

Inferno: Covered in volcanoes and lava flows, corrosive acidic rains, moderately radioative surface

Radiated: Thin to Earth-pressure atmosphere, rocky barren surface, bathed in high intensity radiation from within or externally, warmed by radioactive decay or heavy solar radiation

I'd also like it if there was a distinction between gas giants (eg. jupiter, saturn) and ice giants (neptune, uranus), which really are quite different in composition and size.

And something should be done about swamp being next to ocean... It doesn't make much sense to me, though I'm not sure what can be done...

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#10 Post by Impaler » Sat Sep 18, 2004 9:32 am

The Titan style "Methane" planet dose sound interesting, I would go for it IF Obiwan can make another sceen for it. Also we might want to wait untill the Cassini Space Probe is droped onto Titan, for all we know it might bring back amazing pictures that we can use!! (just kidding)

The adsact locations of planet types on the wheel and the order thet come in is realy just a fluff matter, the number of different types is also not that important as the wheel nature can very easily acomadate a planet type being inserted or removed or scrambled around. Having 10 or even 12 planet types would still be fine by me, more then that would start to be a consern though as I think we should keep it small enough to recall off the top of your head much like the color wheel of Magic the Gathering (which brings up and intersting idea, should Species that have Optimal Environments on the oposite sides of the Wheel experience diplomatic reprocusions/combat bonuses ect ect?)

I must admit that the Wheel has grown on me after I was initialy in favor of seperate Tempurature/Atmosphere type clasifications. Its got an elegant simplicity that will provide a good foundation for game play (which as we know is the most important factor :wink: )


Also as far I as I know All the Gass Giants have similar Atmospheres with a similar layering of Amonia, Ice and other molicules forming cloud layers. The differences are the tempurature gradiant and the thickness of cloud layers. Internal Compositions (Metalic Hydrogen vs Ice) dont realy have much effect on the upper layers. Ofcorse their could be Planet Specials which do all these things and also effect Habitability for particular races. If a Planet Special effects one race differently then another race then we have the potential to produce very complex effects.
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#11 Post by muxec » Sat Sep 18, 2004 10:23 am

I vote for A. If Any race can live on almost any planet there would be fight for all planets, not only for home-like planets. A special race pick extends the living range and makes it like from B-model

Remember, in MoO2 terran planets were rare and unguarded (at least by space eel) terran planets almost unexistant. We must not give too much good planets. It would not only keep the game balance good but also make the galaxy more peaceful and OPC (One Planet Challenge) possible provided high cost of colony ships.

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#12 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Sep 18, 2004 11:09 am

Impaler wrote:The adsact locations of planet types on the wheel and the order thet come in is realy just a fluff matter
It's somewhat important if it gives rise to contradictory situations such as the one drek described as a flaw with optimal-good-adequate-poor-hostile on the current ordering, and if such a contradictory situation is the reason to make another non-fluff design choice, which it seems to be in this case.
Also as far I as I know All the Gass Giants have similar Atmospheres with a similar layering of Amonia, Ice and other molicules forming cloud layers.
For give the hyper-realism, but from wikipedia:
Jupiter has a thick atmosphere composed of mostly hydrogen gas and helium, with trace amounts of other chemicals such as ammonia. [...] Uranus and Neptune have more water, ammonia, and methane. (Indeed, this difference between Jupiter/Saturn and Uranus/Neptune has led to a recent shift in nomenclature, with 'gas giant' being increasingly reserved for the former planets and 'ice giant' for the latter.)
And just look at them. Jupiter and Saturn are brownish reddish orange, whereas Neptune and Uranus are blue or blue-green.

IMO the difference between ice giants and gas giants could be as significant as the difference between Earth (terran) and Mars (tundra) or Venus (toxic).

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#13 Post by Impaler » Sat Sep 18, 2004 11:20 am

Interesting I will have to look into this, Admitadly I was refering to books printed in the 70's when I said they were similar.

Perhaps we want to create a "Giant Wheel" for these planets. Probably 4 types would suffice and be enough for the Gassious Races to have some interesting "Gassiforming" for their worlds.
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#14 Post by muxec » Sat Sep 18, 2004 11:36 am

I guess that Radiated and Inferno must be switched places on EP wheel

And maybe even Tundra<->Desert

Here is it:

Code: Select all

Terran --- Ocean
   |         |
Tundra     Swamp
   |         |
   |       Toxic
   |         |
Desert     Radiated
   |         |
Barren --- Inferno
The idea is opposites:

To terran opposites are Inferno and radiated (as originally) but for Desert swamp and toxic match better than original toxic and radiated.

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#15 Post by drek » Sat Sep 18, 2004 2:18 pm

Let's not mess with the wheel. It was a massive massive debate to get it into the state it's in. FO's a space opera. Things don't have to make 100% sense.

"why is Swamp right next to Ocean" -- Because we needed a transition between Ocean and Toxic. If an Ocean planet had a baby with Venus, what would the results look like? A really nasty swamp.
In particular, there could/should be environments to represent planets like Saturn's moon Titan, which has a dense nitrogen-methane atmosphere (unlike the breathable atmosphere of tundra), but is colder than tundra (but not as cold as barren).
Who said Tundra's atmosphere was breathable?

anyway, there was once a planet type between tundra and barren to represent Titan/Europa/Pluto type icy hell worlds. I can't remember why it was ditched, probably something to do with keeping the wheel structure intact, or redundancy with Tundra.
To deal with this and the (IMO) oddness of having inferno (hot, molten, chemically toxic) next to radiated (cold, solid, radiation covered), inferno could become explicitly radioative, and toxic could be described as a bit hotter, and radiated explicitly "warm":
That is the orginal intention; the reason why these worlds are placed close to each other. Radiaition is in fact hot.
I'd also like it if there was a distinction between gas giants (eg. jupiter, saturn) and ice giants (neptune, uranus), which really are quite different in composition and size.
Gas giants might have there own wheel. It was determined "not important" until the race version of FO, since in v.2 (and now v3 I guess) humans can't colonized gas giants.

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