Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

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MGyver
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Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

#1 Post by MGyver » Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:16 am

Hey Everyone,

This afternoon I re-installed Sword of the Stars and gave it another go. After a few hours I was bored, and even considered re-installing MOO2 for some kicks. Instead, I took a look around to see what was happening in the world of space-based 4x games. Lo and behold, there was FreeOrion at the bottom of Wikipedia's listings. I excitedly downloaded the game and got to playing for a few hours. I have a few thoughts; my apologies if these have already been brought up.

TECH TREE

Looks awesome! I really liked being able to customize the colors; known techs remained default, with available techs in green and unavailable in red. It would be nice if the tech category color could be an option for the border or background fill.

I found it overwhelming to see the entire tech tree at once. I suggest that a player be able to see only one or two steps ahead of whatever is currently available for research. Man didn't invent fire because he thought that a Zippo would be a nifty stocking stuffer.

I noticed that there aren't all that many actual rewards in the tech tree yet , especially in the lower levels. Research could be conducted as research and development, whereas completing research in a tech gives the opportunity to develop a few types of building for a few research points each. EG: after completing research in the Encapsulated Structures tech for 50RP? you may spend 10 RP to develop the capacity to build [Biodomes] for a population boost, 20 RP for the ability to put an [Outpost] in an uninhabitable location, etc etc...

SHIP MOVEMENT

I noticed is that a ship given a course that passes through an unexplored system will not report that it has explored the system when it passes by...?

Something graphical needs to be added to the list of ships in a fleet to discern their types; I accidentally sent a colony ship on a scouting mission.

STARLANES

I understand the need for starlanes in terms of regular gameplay, but adding off-lane travel allows the creation of islands, voids, multi-galaxy maps, etc etc. Off-lane travel could be severely limited in terms of travel time and necessary tech, and a slow-moving object travelling in 4-D space may easily be detected and intercepted. Perhaps sub-light colony ships after research in Biodomes or Suspended Animation? Of course, the Biodomes colony ship may develop its own splinter society... and the suspended animation crew could be a bit behind in the times by the time they arrive... What about deep-space probes or missiles? Please reconsider.

RESOURCES

The concept of planet focus is important, but the execution is restrictive. Sliders for each resource would be excellent.

I don't see the point in using decimals in measuring resources.


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Re: Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

#2 Post by MGyver » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:35 am

I understand now about the AI issue with open travel through space, but limiting effectiveness could still make it a viable option for probes and colonists heading to uninhabited zones

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Re: Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

#3 Post by MGyver » Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:10 am

ADMIN please move this to the Suggestions forum

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Re: Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

#4 Post by Bigjoe5 » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:21 pm

Welcome.
MGyver wrote:Research could be conducted as research and development, whereas completing research in a tech gives the opportunity to develop a few types of building for a few research points each. EG: after completing research in the Encapsulated Structures tech for 50RP? you may spend 10 RP to develop the capacity to build [Biodomes] for a population boost, 20 RP for the ability to put an [Outpost] in an uninhabitable location, etc etc...
This is already how it works to a certain extent (and I'm not actually that fond of it). Theories are techs that do nothing, but serve as prerequisites for applications, which are the techs that actually do stuff.
MGyver wrote:I noticed is that a ship given a course that passes through an unexplored system will not report that it has explored the system when it passes by...?
I think this is known and will be fixed, or perhaps has already been fixed in SVN.
MGyver wrote:Something graphical needs to be added to the list of ships in a fleet to discern their types; I accidentally sent a colony ship on a scouting mission.
There already is. Scout icons are small and pointy, warships are big and pointy, and colony ships are big and curvy.
MGyver wrote:I understand the need for starlanes in terms of regular gameplay, but adding off-lane travel allows the creation of islands, voids, multi-galaxy maps, etc etc. Off-lane travel could be severely limited in terms of travel time and necessary tech, and a slow-moving object travelling in 4-D space may easily be detected and intercepted. Perhaps sub-light colony ships after research in Biodomes or Suspended Animation? Of course, the Biodomes colony ship may develop its own splinter society... and the suspended animation crew could be a bit behind in the times by the time they arrive... What about deep-space probes or missiles? Please reconsider.
That's exceedingly unlikely unless somebody provides an extremely compelling gameplay reason. IMO, travel purely limited to starlanes is good for gameplay, and that's pretty much been the result of multiple discussions on the topic.
MGyver wrote:The concept of planet focus is important, but the execution is restrictive. Sliders for each resource would be excellent.
The FO Design Philosophy wrote:Sliders suck.
The current system is designed so that each planet is one decision in terms of resource production, and hopefully a decision that a player will never have to remake. There are much more fun things for him to do than manipulate sliders in an attempt to optimize resource production.
MGyver wrote:I don't see the point in using decimals in measuring resources.
Well, it would be silly to randomly lose part of a unit of food every turn due to rounding. Or do you mean you don't see the point in actually displaying food with decimals? In that case, I'm also not sure what the reasoning is there.
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Re: Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

#5 Post by eleazar » Wed Jan 26, 2011 4:35 pm

Thanks for the feedback.
MGyver wrote:I found it overwhelming to see the entire tech tree at once. I suggest that a player be able to see only one or two steps ahead of whatever is currently available for research. Man didn't invent fire because he thought that a Zippo would be a nifty stocking stuffer.
1) you can hide any techs not currently researchable.
2) We're going for "game" not "simulation". "How things really would work" carries little weight.

MGyver wrote:I noticed that there aren't all that many actual rewards in the tech tree yet , especially in the lower levels.
I believe the work of actually coding the various effects that technologies can have is still ongoing too. Some are just placeholders.
MGyver wrote:I don't see the point in using decimals in measuring resources.
I don't either. It's visual clutter. I don't think you can do anything with 0.1 minerals.

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Re: Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

#6 Post by MGyver » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:12 pm

MGyver wrote:I noticed that there aren't all that many actual rewards in the tech tree yet , especially in the lower levels.
I believe the work of actually coding the various effects that technologies can have is still ongoing too. Some are just placeholders.
My suggestion would mean that everything in the tech tree would be theory, with practical applications coming from sub-trees (roots?) that stem from each item on the tech tree. The track of theoretical prerequisites may still be followed.
MGyver wrote:I don't see the point in using decimals in measuring resources.
I don't either. It's visual clutter. I don't think you can do anything with 0.1 minerals.
I'm suggesting changing 2.34 minerals to 234 minerals, rather than rounding to 2.
The current system is designed so that each planet is one decision in terms of resource production, and hopefully a decision that a player will never have to remake. There are much more fun things for him to do than manipulate sliders in an attempt to optimize resource production.
I appreciate the simplicity in this, as micromanagement can be a pain when you control a few dozen planets. However, it seems too extreme; after focusing on minerals, my homeworld's food production dropped from 45/turn to 15/turn and an adjacent planet starved quickly (a warning message would be a good call). It would be nice to be able to spread that focus around a little bit, and also to lose that focus. I would have liked to do 2/3 minerals and 1/3 food on that homeworld of mine.

STOCKPILES

I just read the thread on this. I see how it is going to be a nasty, complicated topic. If I may make a suggestion:

The simplicity of a central stockpile seems necessary for ease of programming and gameplay. Some sort of visual aid along starlines would be very useful for seeing what is connected and what is not (elezar's example seemed good). This means that a central distribution point may be an essential building for sharing resources, and could establish the range of the initial resource sharing network. Distribution outposts could extend this range through uninhabited systems, and warehouses could extend the network on occupied planets. New techs could allow distant planets to connect to the network, or could allow limited resource sharing with allies. Blockades would simply put a break in the network. Planets that have been cut off from the network function as individual entities rather than sub-networks.

Sorry if I'm flogging a dead horse on this one...

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Re: Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

#7 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:36 pm

MGyver wrote:I appreciate the simplicity in this, as micromanagement can be a pain when you control a few dozen planets. However, it seems too extreme; after focusing on minerals, my homeworld's food production dropped from 45/turn to 15/turn and an adjacent planet starved quickly (a warning message would be a good call). It would be nice to be able to spread that focus around a little bit, and also to lose that focus. I would have liked to do 2/3 minerals and 1/3 food on that homeworld of mine.
There used to be a primary and secondary focus for each planet, but this didn't work well as it was difficult to make useful different meanings for each, and content creators tended to just ignored the secondary focus setting. And as noted earlier, with dozens or more planets, having multiple focus selections or multiple degrees of focus selection isn't going to be worth the extra time and (various forms of) complexity.

Rather than being annoyed that you can't change focus and support other planets, the idea with the current design is that you have to pick just one of expansion (which requires producing food), research, or production (minerals), and can't do more than one at first. So, if you want to expand and support other planets initial growth with homeworld food surplus, that means you can't also start producing or researching lots of stuff in the short term.

An alternative solution we should consider is actually removing any other focus option besides food at the start of the game. This would effectively force players to expand (or stockpile their extra food), which isn't very interesting.... But, this would also make the gameplay situation obvious from the UI, and make it less of a "problem" in the eyes of players and more of a "cool ability to unlock"; to get extra focus options, players would need to research or produce appropriate buildings, which would reduce the expectation that switching the homeworld focus should always be a viable choice, and slightly delay the ability to make that choice until other planets are more likely to be self-sufficient.

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Re: Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

#8 Post by eleazar » Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:21 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:An alternative solution we should consider is actually removing any other focus option besides food at the start of the game. This would effectively force players to expand (or stockpile their extra food), which isn't very interesting.... But, this would also make the gameplay situation obvious from the UI, and make it less of a "problem" in the eyes of players and more of a "cool ability to unlock"; to get extra focus options, players would need to research or produce appropriate buildings, which would reduce the expectation that switching the homeworld focus should always be a viable choice, and slightly delay the ability to make that choice until other planets are more likely to be self-sufficient.
That sounds interesting on it's own. I've come to like how CivIV allows you to research to add new options to the interface (such as trade map, or emphasize culture)

It might be too complicated however if combined with the other idea that different species would get different focus settings options. Though i don't see any harm in having certain species start with the option (for instance) to focus on research, granted that it was the same research focus other species would have to research for.

Also i'm a little out of touch with this focus rejiggering. Was it intended that "balanced" focus be removed?

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Re: Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

#9 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:47 am

eleazar wrote:That sounds interesting on it's own. I've come to like how CivIV allows you to research to add new options to the interface (such as trade map, or emphasize culture)
This is already possible with FreeOrion, as focus settings have a location condition that could check whether the owner has a particular tech or a special or building is nearby, or whatever other condition is desired.
It might be too complicated however if combined with the other idea that different species would get different focus settings options.
The ability to have different species get different focus options doesn't mean we have to use it.

Also, it could be that every species gets the same set of focus options, but has different effects associated with those options, thereby making one species better than another at some focus-dependent things.

Or, as you suggest, some species might start with or get access to some focus options at different times than other species.
Also i'm a little out of touch with this focus rejiggering. Was it intended that "balanced" focus be removed?
Yes; just like secondary focus (and especially secondary balanced), balanced focus was difficult to make meaningful content for, and wasn't really "balanced" anyway, since what it did depended on what was researched in (potentially) many different techs (or buildings were in effect, etc.)

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Re: Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

#10 Post by MGyver » Thu Jan 27, 2011 3:13 am

I found that the results of focusing were pretty extreme. It increased production a LOT in the area of focus.

Perhaps this could be looked at as a tech tree branch, something down a Society/Organization branch. One or more forms of focus (food, minerals, etc) could be gained by researching one point on the branch, and could be improved further by researching the 'tech roots' and improving upon existing knowledge.

L1 - "Global Division of Labor" - Gain basic focus skills for all types, eg: +50% for Mineral focus, -25% for all others
L2 - "Super-duper Mining" - Mineral focus now gains 60% and penalizes only -20% to others
L3 - "Ultra-sweet Mining" - Mineral focus now gains 75% and penalizes only -15% to others

I think that "Balanced" or simply "Default" still needs to be an option.

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Re: Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

#11 Post by eleazar » Thu Jan 27, 2011 4:12 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:
Also i'm a little out of touch with this focus rejiggering. Was it intended that "balanced" focus be removed?
Yes; just like secondary focus (and especially secondary balanced), balanced focus was difficult to make meaningful content for, and wasn't really "balanced" anyway, since what it did depended on what was researched in (potentially) many different techs (or buildings were in effect, etc.)
Maybe if we reconsider it as "Focus: None", or as MGyver says "Default", that will remove some of the conceptual awkwardness. The idea would be that the planet puts equal effort into everything, but due to techs, bonuses, etc the outcome might not be equal.
I haven't play-tested since this change except to check on graphics, but it does seem likely to me -- especially with a small number of planets -- that an option less extreme than focus on one of those 4 resources would be very convenient. Especially:
1) Since for single planet empires or minor species, where it might otherwise be too hard to make anything without starving or frequently shifting focus.
2) Since Minerals and Industrial production are both needed in equal amount to produce anything, if you only have 1 planet to devote to either of these, you'll have to switch back and forth or else a) stockpile more a lot more minerals than needed, or b) waste industrial capacity due to insufficient minerals.

A lack of buildings that give bonuses for "No Focus" doesn't bother me. It seems reasonable that there should be no real advantage to being unfocused, except you get a more equal supply of resources. It is an unspecialized state, not one you ultimately want to have planets in.

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Re: Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

#12 Post by PL_Andrev » Thu Jan 27, 2011 6:37 pm

MGyver wrote:The simplicity of a central stockpile seems necessary for ease of programming and gameplay. Some sort of visual aid along starlines would be very useful for seeing what is connected and what is not (elezar's example seemed good). This means that a central distribution point may be an essential building for sharing resources, and could establish the range of the initial resource sharing network. Distribution outposts could extend this range through uninhabited systems, and warehouses could extend the network on occupied planets. New techs could allow distant planets to connect to the network, or could allow limited resource sharing with allies. Blockades would simply put a break in the network. Planets that have been cut off from the network function as individual entities rather than sub-networks.
Blockade and resource network is not good idea. Its too complicated. As second side if your planet is locked by enemies you cannot build many ships fast or is impossible to send a fleet to protect your world. It is the same result as lack of minerals or broken 'resources network'.

But... what happens with 'central distributed', collected food / minerals when a planet is captured ???

This is critical question because many wars are began for resources but not for destroying other race. At any side, the mineral rich planets are war reason. For races who attacks rich empires (high number of minerals collected by mines or trade) these 'collected' minerals are more interesting than other goods.

I thought about proportional values of planet's mineral production or planetary population to empire's total, but these values can be changed by ground combat or destroying planetary infrastructure/population from orbit...

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Re: Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

#13 Post by PL_Andrev » Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:33 am

Each planet is food and minerals producer/collector. So, if empire is destroyed all collected goods are disappear?
eleazar wrote:I'm confused about why you mention planetary population in this context. When you take a planet you get all the surviving population added to your empire.
Where is a source of this information?
This is part of ground combat at nowhere information about it.

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Re: Newbie: First Play (v0.3.15) and First Thoughts

#14 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Jan 28, 2011 4:15 pm

PL_Andrev wrote:
eleazar wrote:When you take a planet you get all the surviving population added to your empire.
Where is a source of this information?
This is part of ground combat at nowhere information about it.
There is no ground combat in FreeOrion (yet). eleazar is (I assume) talking about taking planets through ship-planet combat. This can be verified by capturing a planet in any version of FreeOrion where doing so is working.

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