information available to players

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

Moderators: Oberlus, Oberlus

Post Reply
Space Krill
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2004 2:36 pm

information available to players

#1 Post by spiff » Sat Apr 10, 2004 3:25 pm

I have just downloaded the 0.1 release and i must say i am pretty impressed, so decided i'd contribute what i could.

i think this particular topic draws both from the "espionage" and "thoughts on diplomacy" threads, but from a different angle.

here's my 2cents:

on games of this type i have found that it can be a little difficult formulating strategies and tactics because players have so little information on what opponents are up to. for example, how do i decide what type of ships to build in moo3? should i go for long range weapons, or might carriers do better against this opponent's forces?

this type of decision can only be made reliebly if i know certain specifics, e.g. what is the opponent's tech level, what armamnents are deployed in their fleet and where are these ships deployed? also, its no good if i have to click through endless menus to put the information together - a leader needs this info at his fingertips, for all decisions ;)

so here's the proposal:

-> the roles of spies (and perhaps diplomats/diplomacy) should be increased from the usual steal-tech/sabotage type stuff to include detailed reports on an opponent's capability

- inteligence should be a constant and pervasive process, with data constantly changing as opponents change their ways. players can invest a constant percentage into their inteligence agencies much as it is done in research in moo3, perhaps being able to choose what areas/empires to spy on much as you'd invest in different fields of technologies.

- inteligence should have a fog-of-war concept. no inteligence should be 100% correct, and should always be accompanied by %certanties. better (relatively) spy tech and more money means better data on opponents, and worse data they have on you. The %certainty is important so you know how your spying measures up and how far you should trust it.

- the information must be presented in an easy to understand and usefull way. for example, a report on an opponents military may be a single page contrasting the number of ships they have vs your ships, firepower vs firepower, hull size vs hull size, % of ships near borders and any other usefull info. a map of their empire may show ship distribution (subject to appropriate "hazyness" due to FoW). another report may show their production capabilites per planet, location of important infrastructure and production capacity vs yours.

to summarise,

- pervasive spies constantly updating summary reports of opponents data
- data subject to your tech/investment vis-a-vis an opponents'
- data available in a clear standard page usefull for making tactic and strategic decisions
- info should be contrasted with your own wherever possible to give players an idea of where they stand against this opponent.

i appreciate it is much too early in the development phase to worry much about this, but i did think this is something missing from many good games, maybe all of them - it could be a decent innovation for freeorion...? for example, haravikk says:

"What the hell is going on?
A big problem I have is trying to work out why a certain empire hates my guts and won't seem to like me no matter how much shiny stuff I throw at them. A much more concise method of keeping track of this is needed, more on that later."

or this:

"How should I act?
A big one in MOO3 is that there seems to be no clear way of deciding if you should be nice or pleading to an empire ... From looking at the race and learning things about them your advisors should be able to give you SOME indication about how to act. "

a report on their diplomatic inclinations should tell us - maybe they're amassing a large armada just off your borders... :wink: . A quick and dirty way to implementing this could be showing (view only) what another player can see using their client interface, subject to appropriate hazyness. as for the reports, only testing can tell us what is the best information to include and in what way.

User avatar
Programming Lead Emeritus
Posts: 1092
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2003 1:33 pm

#2 Post by tzlaine » Sat Apr 10, 2004 5:36 pm

I'd like to see something like this as well. The great failing of all 4X games imo is that they are too shallow. I'd like to see a much richer espionage/intel system, and a much richer diplomacy system than other games have had. I also really hate how easily other empires seem to steal techs from me in other 4X games, and how difficult it seems to be for me to do the same to them.

What I end up doing is spending whatever spying resources required to make the theft stop, while never using my spying resources for any offense, since they're all busy on defense. This gives most espionage systems a "cost of doing business" feel, instead of being another challenging game aspect involving give-and-take.

The same can be said for most diplo systems. It become very obvious that no matter what your relationship is (in most games anyway), the AI will only accept a deal if it is in their favor by a certain factor, which discourages me from ever suggesting a deal. Usually I end up waiting for another empire to propose peace, nonagression, alliance, trade, etc.

This is directly related to the issue with the lack of military intel. "Why the hell are they so friendly/angry?" is the most common question in the diplomacy system of any game. I'd like ours to have a reasonable model for why nations do or do not get along; that way, we can have info available as to why we are or are not getting along with other nations. Check an old post of mine regarding one such model:

User avatar
Dyson Forest
Posts: 243
Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2003 11:50 pm
Location: South Carolina, USA

#3 Post by Sandlapper » Sat Apr 10, 2004 6:15 pm

In regards to intel about empires yet to meet yours. How about your spies occassionally finding info through another empire, friendly or unfriendly.
In an unfriendly scenario, perhaps while scouting the unfriendly empire, your spies find a wrecked ship with battle damage. Then while inspectng, find video footage of the battle with an unknown race. Even though the video is damaged and in poor condition, you are able to ascertain that the attacker likes to employ a carrier tactic of battle. You can now make adjustments to your battle plans accordingly, if you feel you need to.

User avatar
Space Squid
Posts: 78
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2004 11:22 pm
Location: McKinney, Texas

#4 Post by Ragnar » Mon Apr 12, 2004 7:04 pm

I would also like to see a much richer intel system. I agree with the previous ideas here. You should be able to have your defensive spys feed bad intel to your enemies, as well. And of course, they can do the same to you! Intel emphasis races/empires could have the advantage that enemies would be prepared for the wrong tactic and they would be prepared properly, instead of merely being able to steal all the tech. Current games still work on the best tech wins principle, the intel types just get it a different way. As long as the tactical combat is sufficeintly diverse and balanced so that no one design is superior, a lower tech race with better intel could still win.

Post Reply