Planet climates

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

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herbert_vaucanson
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Planet climates

#1 Post by herbert_vaucanson » Mon Mar 21, 2005 12:37 pm

Uh, I know I might be late for this, but I wanted to raise (once again?) the issue of planet climates.

Granted that a scientifically adherent system would be too complex (heat, pressure, chemistry, magnetic field, rotation axis...), I am nonetheless unconfortable with the proposed "wheel". It lacks even bidimensionality, and misses some of the most common planets in our own systems: iceballs. Pluto is one, Europa is one, Titan is one... Then I really hate this "Gaia" environment type... it does not make sense for it to be an enviroment "slot", rather a condition.

So I propose a three-dimensional solution. First think of a bidimensional grid like:

Inferno Toxic Primordial
Barren Desert Terran
Iceball Tundra Ocean

Where the top three are the chemically strange, the bottom three the watery ones, the left three the extreme conditions ones and the right three the, uh, right three :P
Then add the third dimension with a "ecosystem" scale:

Dead
Unhospitable
Life-bearing

So the missing "radiated" becomes a "Dead Barren", "arid" becomes "Unhospitable Desert", "swamp" a "Life-bearing Primordial".
Of course, some combination should be rare (Unhospitable Barren) or impossible (Life-Bearing Inferno). Ideally, the strenght of the ecosystem should increase left-to-right. Moreover, left planets should be more frequent in young stars' entourages, right ones in old stars'.

There could be two kinds of terraforming, the physical (thermo-chemical) one and the biological one. The first shifts planets in the above bidimensional grid, while the second on the ecosystem scale. Of course, if somebody is really so dumb to develop an ecosystem on a barren planet, it will cost him A LOT and the chance to kill off this breed of life in case of a phisical terraforming should be hefty.

Finally, the "Gaia" class should be an ecosystem class beyond life-bearing, which becomes achievable only LATE in the game.

Ah, we could save the art developed so far, maybe integrating it a bit. I really like it!!!
- Well, what about this: a lot of empty space, colored balls spinning around, the occasional nifty exlosion, and some infestation here and there to give it the "lived in" feel?
- It shouldn't take more than a week... ok, I am in.

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Geoff the Medio
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#2 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Mar 21, 2005 12:47 pm

The EP wheel has been passed and implemented. It's not going to fundamentally change.

At most, another environment or a slight reorganizing of the present environments might happen. Less likely, adding smaller gradations between environments to make terraforming more workable might happen, though I don't know if Aquitaine ever commented on that idea...

Your suggestion is also based on ratings on a scale from good to bad in particular properties (at least on two of the axes). This presumably means that to a large degree, a planet that's good for one race will be equally good for other races, wheres the EP wheel has the arguably better condition of allowing a race to have a preference anywhere on the wheel, such that an environment for one race could be superb, while for another race it would be terrible.

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#3 Post by herbert_vaucanson » Mon Mar 21, 2005 4:45 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:The EP wheel has been passed and implemented. It's not going to fundamentally change. [...]

This presumably means that to a large degree, a planet that's good for one race will be equally good for other races [...]
The modifications I proposed would not require massive rewriting, I think, but only a tweak in the data structure dedicated to the terraforming class. A finite set against a finite set, with an only slightly more sophisticated topological structure.

And yes, I believe that, to some extent, good planets for spontaneous life are correlated. I imagine the lizards to thrive on Primordial, as well as acquatic beings being happy in Ocean worlds. I could see crystals to dig up Deserts...
- Well, what about this: a lot of empty space, colored balls spinning around, the occasional nifty exlosion, and some infestation here and there to give it the "lived in" feel?
- It shouldn't take more than a week... ok, I am in.

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how I'd do it

#4 Post by Ray K » Mon Mar 21, 2005 5:10 pm

The MOO clone I am currently working on uses the one-dimensional model of MOO1, but this is how I'd like to do it once I start expanding the game...

Three conditions affect planet condition:

1. Distance from star: Hot, Temperate, Cold
2. Atmosphere: None, Terran, Toxic
3. Water: None, Minimal, Plentiful

"Control Environment" techs would need to provide the ability to deal with all five hazardous conditions (Hot, Cold, No Atmo, Toxic Atmo & No Water). You might require 3 colony techs to colonize a particularly hazardous planet. Other planets could require just one. Keep in mind that the presence of water will be affected by temperature and atmosphere; it is not an independent variable.

To terraform a planet, you'd have to stabilize the Atmosphere FIRST, then add Water. Some cold planets would become temperate once an atmosphere was in place. Temperate planets, with a proper atmosphere & water, could then be terraformed to develop an ecosystem and improve the population potential. If a planet cannot be terraformed to Temperate with water, you cannot build an ecosystem on it.

This keeps the variables simple (only 5 adverse conditions to consider) but allows for a nice variety of rocky planets...

For example, these combinations map to real planets & moons:
Hot, No Atmo - Mercury
Hot, Toxic - Venus
Cold, No Atmo, No Water - Moon, Ceres (and many others)
Cold, No Atmo, Minimal Water - Mars
Cold, No Atmo, Plentiful Water - an iceball like Pluto?
Cold, Toxic - Titan

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Geoff the Medio
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#5 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Mar 21, 2005 6:13 pm

herbert_vaucanson wrote:The modifications I proposed would not require massive rewriting, I think, but only a tweak in the data structure dedicated to the terraforming class. A finite set against a finite set, with an only slightly more sophisticated topological structure.
The amount of coding is not the major issue. The EP wheel system has been passed and written into the design and implemented, and is not going to change to a fundamentally differently organized (eg. grid or multidimensional cube-based) system. There's really no point in advocating it further, as it's just not going to happen.

Everyone can't have everything they want unfortunately... decisions have to be made, and are made that don't agree with everyone (which is impossible), and decisions can't be constantly re-evaluated or changed months or years afterwards. That doesn't mean you can't discuss impossible or already-decided things, but it should be kept in mind while doing so. It's much more useful and productive to make suggestions that work within or refine the current designs anyway, or to suggest things for systems that haven't yet been designed.

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#6 Post by Ray K » Mon Mar 21, 2005 7:29 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:decisions can't be constantly re-evaluated or changed months or years afterwards.
what happens if someone comes up with a genuinely better idea?

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#7 Post by Krikkitone » Mon Mar 21, 2005 8:31 pm

That would probably happen if it was (and here is the important part) an Indisputably better idea that didn't impact too much change on Other parts of the game.

a Dimensionality model is easy to dispute because it prevents all environments from being equal (you may contend they shouldn't be but there are some who would like to avoid too many balance issues wth different environmental preferences (so a Life-bearing Inferno should be just as likely as a Life-bearing Terran..and nothing should be intrinsically more extreme or moderate (which requires a wheel type system...or a 'surface of the sphere' to incorporate multidimensionality..and that is probably too complex)

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#8 Post by Ray K » Mon Mar 21, 2005 9:11 pm

Krikkitone wrote:That would probably happen if it was (and here is the important part) an Indisputably better idea that didn't impact too much change on Other parts of the game.
Fair enough. However, this seems like a pretty rigid process to follow. I've been developing software for years (hell, almost decades... groan :shock: ) and have never been on a project where a re-write of code wasn't possible except in the final phase of the project. Obviously, that is not the case for FO.

But enough about that. FO's development process is what it is. I wish you guys the best of luck with it! 8)
a Dimensionality model is easy to dispute because it prevents all environments from being equal (you may contend they shouldn't be but there are some who would like to avoid too many balance issues wth different environmental preferences (so a Life-bearing Inferno should be just as likely as a Life-bearing Terran..and nothing should be intrinsically more extreme or moderate (which requires a wheel type system...or a 'surface of the sphere' to incorporate multidimensionality..and that is probably too complex)


I think that's a perfectly reasonable contention.. that not all environments are equally conducive to life. If they were, then you'd have to explain why every planet is not already occupied by some form of indigenous life; a difficult task since we know conclusively that this is not true.

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#9 Post by Krikkitone » Mon Mar 21, 2005 11:14 pm

It is perfectly reasonable, as is the idea that FTL travel is impossible BUT

1. It would probably not improve gameplay (some races adapted to sub optimal environments)
2. It would probably not be fun (a player may want to play 'lava men' without getting penalized)

3. In a sci fi scenario, which should be the most favored environment??


BTW don't worry there are still a Vast number of things up in the air, it was just decided that given the nature of this type of community, things should be set in stone at certain points (essentially it does reach final code v 0.1 code, v 0.2 code, etc.)

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#10 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue Mar 22, 2005 3:12 am

Ray K wrote:
Krikkitone wrote:That would probably happen if it was (and here is the important part) an Indisputably better idea that didn't impact too much change on Other parts of the game.
Fair enough. However, this seems like a pretty rigid process to follow. I've been developing software for years (hell, almost decades... groan :shock: ) and have never been on a project where a re-write of code wasn't possible except in the final phase of the project. Obviously, that is not the case for FO.
Again, the issue is not about rewriting code. Code can be and has been rewritten.

The issue is with significantly changing the design of an already passed game system. The design will not change, other than refinement or clarification or tweaking, unless a significant problem or, as Krikkitone put it, "an Indisputably better idea" is found. Switching from the wheel to independent planet characteristics is not indisputably better. Further, the idea is sufficiently obvious that it was probably already considered and debated at length back when the original decision to use the EP wheel was made. It's already been discussed, a decision has been made, and we can't be constantly changing and rewriting old parts of the design in perpetuity, and in this case there is insufficient reason to make an exception.

Again, this is not some arbitrary and/or rigid rule about the already written code being sacred and unchangable, nor is it even that the written design is immutable. It's a general guideline that, in this case, does not warrant being changed.

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#11 Post by herbert_vaucanson » Tue Mar 22, 2005 8:05 am

Krikkitone wrote:That would probably happen if it was (and here is the important part) an Indisputably better idea that didn't impact too much change on Other parts of the game.

a Dimensionality model is easy to dispute because it prevents all environments from being equal [...]
First of all, I did not want to dispute the development strategy but also to point out what, for me, is an indisputably better idea :D Of course, if the majority of people (or a very powerful minority :P) does not share my "englihtened" point of view, I will shelve it.

About the environments not being equal: they should not be... nevertheless, in my grid system there are at least three optimal ones (the right ones), which would be optimal to a race and suboptimal to another. Think lizards loving Primordial but finding Terran a bit lacking... And they are "optimal" not because all the species would love to settle there, but because they are more likely to have rich ecosystems. What if there is a race that does not care about ecosystems? Like a crystalline race (yes you could play lavamen without being penalised), a machine race... Furthermore, I imagined that when physically terraforming a planet (moving it in the grid) there should be a chance to damage the ecosystem, so that if we have a Gaian Desert (think of Arrakis) you do not automatically decide to go for Terran.
All of these points (and other) made me decide to post my view.

As a final word: I certainly do not dhate the wheel system, I just wanted to check my idea against the consensus. As you can see, I discoveder the forum only lately. Even if this idea of mine does not or can not clear the stone, I would appreciate comments :D
- Well, what about this: a lot of empty space, colored balls spinning around, the occasional nifty exlosion, and some infestation here and there to give it the "lived in" feel?
- It shouldn't take more than a week... ok, I am in.

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#12 Post by Daveybaby » Tue Mar 22, 2005 9:28 am

I have to say i have some problems with the wheel system, i do think it is a bit too simplistic. However it should provide some good gameplay mechanisms. Herberts idea has its upsides and its downsides - and what these are may in some cases depend very much on personal preference.

Personally i would have gone with a concentric cricle system rather than a single ring - non-life sustaining in the centre ring, life bearing on the next, and 'gaia' versions of each of the base life bearing types on the outer ring). But there has to come a point where an idea becomes set in stone, because otherwise further progress becomes virtually impossible.

As Geoff mentioned, this has nothing to do with coding effort, and everything to do with building a solid foundation for the rest of the game design to be built on. A lot of other stuff in the game will be balanced/derived from the planetary environment system (race designs, galaxy generation algorithms, buildings, planetary art, etc) and if things get changed every time somebody has a marginally better idea then nothing will ever progress.

As with *everything* else in this game, if you feel your way is that much better, then wait for the game to be finished and 'just' mod it in (although i suspect that the amount of work you would have to do would be large, and will kinda prove my point).
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#13 Post by Ray K » Tue Mar 22, 2005 2:34 pm

Daveybaby wrote:As with *everything* else in this game, if you feel your way is that much better, then wait for the game to be finished and 'just' mod it in (although i suspect that the amount of work you would have to do would be large, and will kinda prove my point).
That all depends on how loosely or tightly coupled the planet model is to the rest of the game. Unless it is developed with an eye towards future modding (unlikely because it requires more effort that may not be justified), it will be too tightly coupled to replace.

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An issue to debate

#14 Post by guiguibaah » Tue Mar 22, 2005 5:24 pm

Although the wheel system is set in stone and is not going to change, what should be noted is that this wheel system is for solid / rock based planets.

A long time ago the developers mused about an alternate system for gas giants. Due to their nature they would be outside the terraforming wheel. As to what to do with them? Well, some suggestions were floated around, such as they may only be used for gas giant mining, or that their primary or secondary focuses could be fixed depending on the planet's colour. Nothing has really been set in stone about asteroids or comets either (as far as I know). Perhaps once races are determined these issues will be brought to the forefront, I don't know.

My recommendation is to propose ideas (such as an alternate to the wheel system) to areas that haven't been settled so the developers have a greater pool of ideas to fish from.
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#15 Post by Dreamer » Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:09 pm

I think the moment for changes or new ideas like this one is after version 1.0 is out. For now I agree that the idea is to move further and get things done instead of arguing again and again. After all, this is an open-source proyect, it doesn't have to end at version 1.0.

As with *everything* else in this game, if you feel your way is that much better, then wait for the game to be finished and 'just' mod it in (although i suspect that the amount of work you would have to do would be large, and will kinda prove my point).
I have always thought that since 4x games are composed of very different aspects they should be very modular. Want to writte a new space combat module? Just do that!

Eventually if modularization is extremelly good you can choose a game composed of Galaxy map and movement + Planet enviroments system + space combat + diplomacy + ship design + tech... etc. Every one of them the way you like it. The goal should be in making the right interfaces.

When I mention diferent modules I mean them for some aspect of the game. Space combat for example can be real time or turn based or automatically calculated. It's probably a lot of work but the only way that everyone will be happy with the game. For now having 1 simple component for each par of the game is enough but this "modding future" could be kept in mind.

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