Themed tech categories (Help wanted)

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

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#16 Post by Oberlus » Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:31 am

I agree with Ophiuchus.

FreeOrion values simplicity. You know: KISS.
And FreeOrion does not value realism. And most of the techs are anyway utterly unrealistic (WTF is that Void stuff we've got? falls in the realm of fantasy more than sci-fi), so it is a bit of a contradiction to criticise the lack of realism (and complexity).

Plus, you can always try to see it in a different way to keep enjoying your taste for realism/complexity despite everything else. Eg:
EricF wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 7:19 am
A rocket for example is the product of many different branches of science. Physics, Chemistry, Metallurgy, Electronics and I probably missed some
In fact, Physics comprehends Chemistry, Metallurgy, Electronics and several others. So Physics would be the way to go. But! We can expect that those basic technologies (Chemistry, Metallurgy, Electronics) are already studied enough to allow for the missile stuff if your empire starts with working interstellar ships. So the techs you need here are more about applied engineering and its improvement more than theoretical developments.

As long as the tech tree is not counter-intuitive (confusing), I'll be more than happy.

Nevertheless, I expect some of the techs will have one, or even more, prerequisites from different categories (but carefully decided to allow for viable One-Category-Focused strategies).

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#17 Post by Oberlus » Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:41 am

Ophiuchus wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:20 am
One thing I (we?) lack is how the strategy story for the categories works. How are you supposed to progress through the tiers? Is everybody supposed to research from every category, mainly deciding what you skip? Or would one usually try to advance a low number of categories to reap the high level benefits? So for example if we say one for each of the high level strategies it would be important/mainly ok to focus on two categories we would need to put these techs there. So e.g. for wide empire growth PHYSICS and BIOTECH. For tall empire MECHANICAL and BIOTECH. For peaceful hidden expansion CYBERNETICS and XENO. Early rush PHYSICS and MECHANICAL. Or would the wide/tall choices be mostly inside of the e.g. BIOTECH category, so that you would skip the tech which does . This thinking in strategies would also help in deciding e.g. where weapon tech needs to go. If we expect that the player needs to advance at least two categories, it will be ok if some of the categories do not contain easily reachable weapon tech.
My intention is, at least for now, to allow for viable single-category strategies. At least for early-mid game. I assume it would be almost impossible to balance al techs and categories so that no two/three categories strategies is definitively better than a single category strategy in late game.
But right now I think it is doable at least for early game:
- Mech gets the current mass drivers.
- Physics/Energy gets laser very soon (maybe a cheaper version than current one, and it will have different characteristics than mass drivers, not just different damage).
- Biotech gets some simple organic weapons.
- Robotic/Cybernetic gets the drones (fighters), but this will require some changes to combat mechanics in order to allow for drones attacking planets and planetary defense taking down drones.

And for mid game it would be possible to stick to a single category (weapon wise):
- Mech gets gauss cannons, that could be on par with current laser or plasma weapons.
- Energy gets plasma.
- Biotech gets more powerful organic weapons.
- Robotic gets better drones.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#18 Post by Vezzra » Fri Mar 01, 2019 11:43 am

EricF wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 7:19 am
I see you are going the straight Master of Orion tech tree with this, but in reality (there's that word again) wouldn't many techs/weapons be dependent on research from more than one category? A rocket for example is the product of many different branches of science. Physics, Chemistry, Metallurgy, Electronics and I probably missed some.
Sure, and the current tech tree tries to model this - only to a very rudimentary degree of course. And we all can see quite clearly how well even such a rudimentary modelling of things depending on multiple other things works. The end result speaks for itself...
How would you handle this?
By cheerfully sacrificing any notion of realism to the gods of fun gameplay. :mrgreen:

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#19 Post by Vezzra » Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:01 pm

Ophiuchus wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:20 am
Is everybody supposed to research from every category, mainly deciding what you skip? Or would one usually try to advance a low number of categories to reap the high level benefits? So for example if we say one for each of the high level strategies it would be important/mainly ok to focus on two categories we would need to put these techs there.
IMO the idea should be that within certain boundaries several approaches should be viable. Either going for only a very few trunks/categories and research them completely or almost completely, or research more trunks, and only "cherry pick" certain techs from them.

What IMO should not be viable is the extremes: going only for one trunk or trying to get into every one.
If we expect that the player needs to advance at least two categories, it will be ok if some of the categories do not contain easily reachable weapon tech.
That is what I'd strongly recommend we do. Because I think it's more fun and it will make designing and properly balancing the tech tree a lot easier if not every trunk/category needs to contain everything essential (like weapons).

IMO that's pointless anyway - if going for only one trunk is supposed to be a viable option, those trunks need to offer enough techs to suck up all your RP until at least far into midgame, and at the same time offer enough affordable techs in the same timeframe (which would inflate each trunk enormously). Otherwise you'd have to go for other trunks, and all that effort spent to make sure every trunk contains everything essential would be basically pointless.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#20 Post by Vezzra » Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:05 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:41 am
My intention is, at least for now, to allow for viable single-category strategies. At least for early-mid game. I assume it would be almost impossible to balance al techs and categories so that no two/three categories strategies is definitively better than a single category strategy in late game.
Then way aim for that? For the reasons cited in my post above, I'd suggest not trying to make sure every trunk has everything (essential). I think it will make things easier and less complicated...

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#21 Post by Oberlus » Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:41 pm

Vezzra wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:05 pm
Then way aim for that? For the reasons cited in my post above, I'd suggest not trying to make sure every trunk has everything (essential). I think it will make things easier and less complicated...
Suggestion appreciated. I'll only make sure that for early game one of the Bio/Energy/Mech/Robotic categories have the basics for invading another planet.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#22 Post by Vezzra » Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:02 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:41 pm
I'll only make sure that for early game one of the Bio/Energy/Mech/Robotic categories have the basics for invading another planet.
Sure, certain essentially important elements like means to capture planets need to be present in at least several trunks/categories, one of which you have to pick in order to get those essential things.

It certainly will not be possible to make each and every possible combination of trunks viable. And it will also be impossible to make each trunk equally important. The basic requirements are that no trunk must be mandatory (that is, you just have to pick it in order to pursue a viable strategy), that no trunk offers all you need to pursue a viable strategy = you always need several trunks to be able to pursue a viable strategy, and that no trunk is too worthless to be ever considered.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#23 Post by EricF » Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:21 pm

Like the Civ Game's obviouslly. The Civ tech tree is way more realistic. Each tech is very dependent on each more less advanced tech.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#24 Post by Ophiuchus » Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:02 pm

EricF wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:21 pm
Like the Civ Game's obviouslly. The Civ tech tree is way more realistic. Each tech is very dependent on each more less advanced tech.
Thats the way it is right now. But why you think that structure is more fun/superior than the block structure like MoO? (Better UI is definitly more valuable than realism)
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#25 Post by Ophiuchus » Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:06 pm

Vezzra wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:02 pm
you always need several trunks to be able to pursue a viable strategy
Why you think so? I do not see that is inherently a necessity. While i personally prefer working with "basic trunks" which in combination enable strategies, think Oberlus should choose the way. He is doing the work.
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#26 Post by Vezzra » Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:36 pm

Ophiuchus wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:06 pm
Why you think so? I do not see that is inherently a necessity.
To quote myself:
Vezzra wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:01 pm
Because I think it's more fun and it will make designing and properly balancing the tech tree a lot easier if not every trunk/category needs to contain everything essential (like weapons).

IMO that's pointless anyway - if going for only one trunk is supposed to be a viable option, those trunks need to offer enough techs to suck up all your RP until at least far into midgame, and at the same time offer enough affordable techs in the same timeframe (which would inflate each trunk enormously). Otherwise you'd have to go for other trunks, and all that effort spent to make sure every trunk contains everything essential would be basically pointless.
---
Ophiuchus wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:06 pm
While i personally prefer working with "basic trunks" which in combination enable strategies, think Oberlus should choose the way. He is doing the work.
First, he asked for our feedback, and I gave my opinion.

Second, that not how this project works. "Ultimate authority" on the decisions about how things are designed/should work belong to the project leads (currently Geoff, Dilvish and me), the Design Lead (which is Geoff, who currently is the Project Lead, as well as Design Lead and Programming Lead, because we lack other people who could fill those positions) in particular. In practice we try to make design decisions by trying to reach general consensus, which is how it happens in the majority of cases. However, the Design Lead can always overrule general consensus or anyone else (happens only very rarely, but there have been occasions when Geoff put his foot down and outright said to some ideas that they won't happen).

Also, in practice the one doing the work usually has quite a lot influence on how things are done, because, well, doing the work which usually means having to make a lot of those decisions along the way.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#27 Post by Oberlus » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:12 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:41 pm
I'll only make sure that for early game one of the Bio/Energy/Mech/Robotic categories have the basics for invading another planet.
Here I meant "for early game each one of the Bio/Energy/Mech/Robotic...".
I guess that is fine for everyone, except maybe for suggestion about adding or modifying one kind of fighter(drone) to attack (and be attacked) by planets. But we can vote about that later and hear Lead Design final decisions.
Ophiuchus wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:06 pm
He is doing the work.
:D
Well, up to know it is just a project with much noise but little results. And I'm absorbing many others ideas (apart from being over giants shoulders).
Also, although I'm motivated by doing things the way I like, I don't have strong opinions on many subjects (so I really need consensus or even impositions), and more important I'm more motivated by contributing to the project, since I feel myself in debt for the hours of amusement I've got from FreeOrion, and so I want to do the things however most people like them (and certainly however Lead Design and Geoff prefer them).

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#28 Post by Krikkitone » Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:47 pm

Vezzra wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:01 pm
Ophiuchus wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:20 am
Is everybody supposed to research from every category, mainly deciding what you skip? Or would one usually try to advance a low number of categories to reap the high level benefits? So for example if we say one for each of the high level strategies it would be important/mainly ok to focus on two categories we would need to put these techs there.
IMO the idea should be that within certain boundaries several approaches should be viable. Either going for only a very few trunks/categories and research them completely or almost completely, or research more trunks, and only "cherry pick" certain techs from them.

What IMO should not be viable is the extremes: going only for one trunk or trying to get into every one.
If we expect that the player needs to advance at least two categories, it will be ok if some of the categories do not contain easily reachable weapon tech.
That is what I'd strongly recommend we do. Because I think it's more fun and it will make designing and properly balancing the tech tree a lot easier if not every trunk/category needs to contain everything essential (like weapons).

IMO that's pointless anyway - if going for only one trunk is supposed to be a viable option, those trunks need to offer enough techs to suck up all your RP until at least far into midgame, and at the same time offer enough affordable techs in the same timeframe (which would inflate each trunk enormously). Otherwise you'd have to go for other trunks, and all that effort spent to make sure every trunk contains everything essential would be basically pointless.


I think the RP costs get into another issue.

Tech has a multiplicative effect, as opposed to Industry

Industry, I invest X pps and I get a fixed output boost (1 more planet or 1 extra population)
Research, I invest X rps and I get an output boost that depends on how many planets/population I already have

So for a tech that gives 0.1 pp per population unit, the value of the Tech depends on how big my empire is

So A few things to consider

1. Cost benefit ratio between different techs

You will go for the techs with the best cost benefit ratio,
-if higher level techs have the best cost benefit ratio then you try to climb to the smallest number of trees
-if low level techs have the best ratio, then you always want to go broad
-if techs all have basically the same ratio, then you can either go broad or focused or anywhere in between (This is be ideal for most strategic choice)


2. Cost benefit ratio throughout the game
Since you gain resources throughout the game, and techs benefit multiplies by that ratio, techs later in the game should have a Worse cost benefit ratio

Basically a Tech that gives you 0.1 pp/pop late in the game should cost More than a tech that gives you 0.1 pp/pop early in the game (because later in the game you have more pop)

However.... if you go broad, you could be working at the middle of trees in the late game, and if you go focused you could be working at the top of a Tree in the mid game, so the "high tier" tech =/= "late game" tech

So my suggestion is

-All techs should have about the same Base Cost;benefit ratio (basically if one tech gives 0.1 pp per pop to industrial focused worlds it should cost 2x as much as one that gives 0.05 pp per pop to industry focused worlds)
Because both of those techs could be available at the same time

-As you research techs, The cost of researching future techs increases

this way if I am at level 3 in 4 trees, I am working with the same basic costs + benefits as if I am at level 6 in 2 trees, and both are viable strategies

*** of course exact cost:benefit ratios aren't easy to calculate because how 0.1 pp/pop compares to +5 detection is a more complicated process

Vezzra wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:02 pm
Oberlus wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:41 pm
I'll only make sure that for early game one of the Bio/Energy/Mech/Robotic categories have the basics for invading another planet.
Sure, certain essentially important elements like means to capture planets need to be present in at least several trunks/categories, one of which you have to pick in order to get those essential things.

It certainly will not be possible to make each and every possible combination of trunks viable. And it will also be impossible to make each trunk equally important. The basic requirements are that no trunk must be mandatory (that is, you just have to pick it in order to pursue a viable strategy), that no trunk offers all you need to pursue a viable strategy = you always need several trunks to be able to pursue a viable strategy, and that no trunk is too worthless to be ever considered.
I think the second point is important in getting some variety. If there are 5 trunks, then there are only 5 single trunk strategies, but 10 two trunk strategies, and 10 3 trunk strategies
(not counting the "cherry picking")


So in terms of distribution of techs for a particular function, what that would tend to mean

-All functions (weapons, invasion, terraforming, ship, industry, research) should have techs in at least 2 trunks, but not all*

-Every trunk should have at least one function that it lacks

-In general trunks should not duplicate each other (if mech and bio both have terraforming, and hulls, and missiles, and industry, and etc. then likely one will be the "always take this instead of that")

*anything so important that every tree must have it (ie ability to build ANY ships), should probably be not in a trunk at all, just some 'default techs that have no prerequisites/you start with'

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#29 Post by Unnamed » Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:59 pm

I like the idea, sounds interesting. I think it will be fun to try out various one/two trunk strategies or other experiments. The categories should make clear what their strengths and weaknesses are so new players can get an idea what their strategy will be like when choosing a certain category.
Krikkitone wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:47 pm
-All functions (weapons, invasion, terraforming, ship, industry, research) should have techs in at least 2 trunks, but not all*

-Every trunk should have at least one function that it lacks

-In general trunks should not duplicate each other (if mech and bio both have terraforming, and hulls, and missiles, and industry, and etc. then likely one will be the "always take this instead of that")

*anything so important that every tree must have it (ie ability to build ANY ships), should probably be not in a trunk at all, just some 'default techs that have no prerequisites/you start with'
I agree. A good way to make sure more than one trunk is chosen is to make sure every trunk is missing one certain aspect.
In order to reduce "cherry picking" there shouldn't be any single tech that is clearly the best. Make instead two techs in two different trunks that are similarly usefull: two similarly strong ships hulls, ship weapons, etc (but never exactly the same). There will be at least one trunk that is not worth being researched because from two or three other trunks you already have techs that are similar, just slightly worse.

Physics/Energy
Quality over quantity. Gain advantages by technological advance.
Strengths:
  • Shields
  • Stealth
  • Research
Weakness:
  • Lower population bonus
  • Expensive ship hulls
Mechanical
Brute force, military strength, strong economy.
Strengths:
  • Armour
  • Large, sturdy ships
  • Industry
Weakness:
  • Weapons are good against single targets but bad against fighters/many small ships, some weapons bad against shields as well.
Biotech
Growth. Outnumber the other empires.
Strengths:
  • High population
  • Cheap ship hulls
  • Fuel boost/regeneration
Weakness:
  • Fragile ship hulls
Robotic/Cybernetic
Automation, adaptation.
Strength:
  • Detection
  • Self-repairing ships
  • Fighters/drones
  • Some rather extraordinary ship parts would fit here, like disabling enemy ships in combat or hijacking them making hostile ships attack their own fleets.
  • Exobots
Weakness:
  • Fighters and drones require supply for reloading.
Note that while armour is one of the strengths of Mechanical, other trunks also have armour part unlocks. For instance Physics/Energy will contain Neutronium Plating which is the strongest armour, but it is late in the tech tree and difficult to obtain.

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Re: Themed tech cateogries (Help wanted)

#30 Post by Oberlus » Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:39 pm

Krikkitone wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:47 pm
So in terms of distribution of techs for a particular function, what that would tend to mean

[1] All functions (weapons, invasion, terraforming, ship, industry, research) should have techs in at least 2 trunks, but not all*

[2] Every trunk should have at least one function that it lacks

[3] In general trunks should not duplicate each other (if mech and bio both have terraforming, and hulls, and missiles, and industry, and etc. then likely one will be the "always take this instead of that")

*anything so important that every tree must have it (ie ability to build ANY ships), should probably be not in a trunk at all, just some 'default techs that have no prerequisites/you start with'
I'm not following this principles strictly:

[1] I've put weapons on every trunk, but not the same kind of weapons (waiting for feedback)
Basic capabilities (initial levels) of any must-have function (hulls, invasion, colonisation, production, research, influence, population) will be granted from start. But I think for most of these capabilities we can put improvements in every trunk [2], just making some trunks good at some functions, bad at others, and average on the rest, [3] making sure no one is the perfect match, the opposite, of another (e.g., if Energy is best at research and ship defences and worst at production and ship weapons, then there should be no other trunk that is best at production and ship weapons and worst at research and ship defences). That, I think, would allow for more diverse strategies. Otherwise, I think the trunks that have no improvements to certain basic capability will never be chosen as the primary tech trunk ([2]).

So I'm planning to make one trunk excel (have more improvements) at boosting one resource (Growth [population], Production, Influence and Research) and be the worst at another. But that is proving hard. I'll post again when I can sum up my doubts in a pair of paragraphs.

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