Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

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labgnome
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Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#1 Post by labgnome » Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:32 pm

So from the discussion over there about themed tech categories I have put some thought into different expansion strategies for the different themes. Basically how, and which themes should play "wide", by grabbing up as many planets as possible. So in this vein I would like to propose the following:
  • The Cybernetic Theme gets Exobots, with the following changes: Exobots now get ALL regular planet types as adequate.
  • The Mechanical Theme gets terraforming and artificial planets.
  • The Biotechnology Theme gets growth boosts that unlock poor and hostile planets, allowing species to colonize on all regular planet types.
  • The Crystalline Theme gets a new artificial species: Astroliths, which have a lithic metabolism, get asteroids as good but cannot colonize regular planets.
The idea here is that the Cybernetic, Mechanical and Biotechnology Themes will have be geared towards a "wide" play-style, while the Energy and Crystalline Themes will be geared towards a "tall" play-style. However each of the wide playstyles will be very different. The Cybernetic Theme will use exobots to colonize poor and hostile planets. The Mechanical Theme will use terraforming and artificial planets to convert planets into suitable colonies. The Biotechnology Theme will focus and modifying your population to live on poor and hostile planet types, making all planet types available for colonization. As the Crystalline Theme will use the asteroid hull-line, they should get to colonize asteroid belts, as they cannot be guaranteed a suitable planet to be able to build a shipyard on in the same system. This will basically split the current exobot functionality from hostile planet colonization and asteroid colonization, and make astroliths the asteroid colonizers.

Each Theme should get a growth technology to unlock adequate planets in the early game:
  • Biotechnology Theme: Planetary Ecology, +1 population on good and adequate planets.
  • Crystalline Theme: Subterranean Habitation, +2 population on good and adequate planets. (a change from the existing tech)
  • Cybernetic Theme: Adaptive Implants, +2 population on good and adequate planets.
  • Energy Theme: Environmental Shielding, +1 population on good and +3 population on adequate planets.
  • Mechanical Theme: Habitation Domes, +4 population on adequate planets.
The idea is that this should balance out as the biotechnology theme will get further population boosting technologies to unlock even better populations on even less habitable planets, while the other themes will only get access the adequate planets.

Anyway these are my ideas about theme-based colonization strategies, looking for some feedback.
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Re: Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#2 Post by Ophiuchus » Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:49 pm

labgnome wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:32 pm
Each Theme should get a growth technology to unlock adequate planets in the early game:
  • Biotechnology Theme: Planetary Ecology, +1 population on good and adequate planets.
  • Crystalline Theme: Subterranean Habitation, +2 population on good and adequate planets. (a change from the existing tech)
  • Cybernetic Theme: Adaptive Implants, +2 population on good and adequate planets.
  • Energy Theme: Environmental Shielding, +1 population on good and +3 population on adequate planets.
  • Mechanical Theme: Habitation Domes, +4 population on adequate planets.
So i would research first Habitation Domes, then Subterranean Habitation and Adaptive Implants :)
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Re: Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#3 Post by labgnome » Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:30 pm

Ophiuchus wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:49 pm
labgnome wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:32 pm
Each Theme should get a growth technology to unlock adequate planets in the early game:
  • Biotechnology Theme: Planetary Ecology, +1 population on good and adequate planets.
  • Crystalline Theme: Subterranean Habitation, +2 population on good and adequate planets. (a change from the existing tech)
  • Cybernetic Theme: Adaptive Implants, +2 population on good and adequate planets.
  • Energy Theme: Environmental Shielding, +1 population on good and +3 population on adequate planets.
  • Mechanical Theme: Habitation Domes, +4 population on adequate planets.
So i would research first Habitation Domes, then Subterranean Habitation and Adaptive Implants :)
Provided you are willing to foot the cost of a multi-theme strategy. As there may be increasing cost per theme. I think the general consensus is that a one theme strategy should be the easiest, a two themed strategy should be possible but harder and a three or more themed strategy should be next-to-impossible. As part of what I understand is the idea is to move away from a strategy of everyone researches everything.

This is also provided that boosts will stack across themes. I am thinking that maybe they shouldn't. Which if that is the case, would definitely make your choices more strategic. It might be that all of them except Planetary Ecology should be +2 population for good and adequate, but I wanted to make the themes more distinct and the theme choice more strategic.
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Re: Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#4 Post by Oberlus » Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:52 am

labgnome wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:30 pm
I think the general consensus is that a one theme strategy should be the easiest, a two themed strategy should be possible but harder and a three or more themed strategy should be next-to-impossible.
I would say there is no such consensus. IIRC, Vezzra thought 2-themes should be the easiest (because only one should be a bit crippled or because getting next tier should be much difficult than getting many techs in different themes, or something like that), some think that plenty of options should be equally possible, and some think that single theme should be the easiest.

So I'm not taking any of those for sure, and I'm focusing on getting the general idea of all themes with no strong assumptions regarding how will be that kind of balance.
But my impression is that even 1-3 themes should be similarly possible, so that we get 32 possible combinations (more than double than allowing only 1 and 2 themes)
As part of what I understand is the idea is to move away from a strategy of everyone researches everything.
That particular issue can be seen from different perspectives.
If 32 different strategies (with different gameplay, strengths and weaknesses) get you to the same point, "I've survived long enough to research the whole tree", that's not necessarily bad. In fact, I think it is impossible to avoid.
What is bad for certain is that once you get all the tech tree, there is only one or two best strategies. That's what we have now: spam titanic hulls with 1 shield, 1 engine and rest fighter hangars for internal slots, and launch bays, death rays and armour in the external slots, optionally seasoned with a few swarm asteroid and logistic facilitators. And forget about the rest of the tech tree, obsolete everything on the design window as soon as you get the next-tier version.
So my main objective or design principle is to allow for different strategies from early to eng game even if you have them all, rather than forbidding having many techs.
This is also provided that boosts will stack across themes. I am thinking that maybe they shouldn't. Which if that is the case, would definitely make your choices more strategic.
Indeed. I will make them so that stackable boosts are moderate enough, and that good boosts should require policies in place that will prevent the benefits from other boosts.

Regarding your suggestions in the OP, they are inline with my own. The only difference is that I have envisioned Cybernetics and Biotec more or less interchanged, and that I see Mech as able to do both wide and tall (they're like cancer, they do both metastasis and unsustainable growth).

Like you (I think), I see the population boosts as belonging to three broad categories: space enlargement (that should not change the colonisable status of a planet), environment improvement (terraforming), and environment resistance (improve the species instead of the place).
I give Cybernetics the environment resistance techs. They are the only theme to get a colony on a hostile planet (certain species, like self-sustaining, could bypass that outside of Cybertec theme). Then, only Biotec and Crystal are able to colonise poor planets (mid-late game), and Mech and Energy can only colonise good and adequate.
Mech and Biotec gets two different terraforming techs. Mech's is player-driven, high-cost, fast terraforming tech, to terraform hostile or poor planets before colonisation (will require backend changes to be able to terraform a planet without species, probably by introducing one building per each target environment), while Biotec's is automatic, low-cost and slow, and only happens on already colonised planets (so no way to terraform a hostile planet i the Biotec way unless getting some Cybertec support).
All themes get space enlargement techs. Energy is relatively bad on that until late game (N-Dimensional habitation), Cybernetic is relatively bad (period), Crystal is average, and Biotec and Mech have the maximum population values for good and adequate planets but they get them in different ways (Mech's will require certain megastructures and policies in place to get the tallest systems, Biotecs is more automatic, but also the maximum values will require certain policies in place).

Nothing is set in stone, anyway.

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Re: Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#5 Post by Oberlus » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:25 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:52 am
So I'm not taking any of those for sure, and I'm focusing on getting the general idea of all themes with no strong assumptions regarding how will be that kind of balance.
But my impression is that even 1-3 themes should be similarly possible, so that we get 32 possible combinations (more than double than allowing only 1 and 2 themes)
Extending on this: if, relying on policies and any other form of exclusive choices when necessary, I can make that focusing on 1 theme, tall-research, grants you similar amount of boosts (for the same RPs) than going for 3 themes, wide research, then I think that will be the best option.
Because I'm wary that an increasing cost for second and further themes can be seen as an artificial and awkward form to control players' choices. IIRC, some player stated that he would hate any kind of imposition on its strategic choices (can't remember the specific context or the thread I read this). And also I'm wary that it won't necessarily be easier to balance the cost factors for extra themes than the cost factors for upper tiers. I mean, I believe the same kind of balancing players' choices would be possible by ajusting the benefits and costs of the different boosts on each theme and tier. I'll find out once I get to that point, I'm planing to make simulations of empire's statistics depending on research choices and "standard" expansion rates, so that changing the values of the boosts I can see the effect on empire's growth. Whenever a boost is appearing in most of the best performing strategies, it shall be nerfed or changed somehow, and vice versa.

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Re: Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#6 Post by labgnome » Thu Apr 18, 2019 11:24 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:52 am
That particular issue can be seen from different perspectives.
If 32 different strategies (with different gameplay, strengths and weaknesses) get you to the same point, "I've survived long enough to research the whole tree", that's not necessarily bad. In fact, I think it is impossible to avoid.
What is bad for certain is that once you get all the tech tree, there is only one or two best strategies. That's what we have now: spam titanic hulls with 1 shield, 1 engine and rest fighter hangars for internal slots, and launch bays, death rays and armour in the external slots, optionally seasoned with a few swarm asteroid and logistic facilitators. And forget about the rest of the tech tree, obsolete everything on the design window as soon as you get the next-tier version.
So my main objective or design principle is to allow for different strategies from early to eng game even if you have them all, rather than forbidding having many techs.
I mean don't see any way to prevent that happening again, or something similar just with new parts, without discouraging taking all of the technologies in some way. Especially if each theme's weapons are different, some will just wind up being more optimal than others. Likewise some themes will wind-up being better for defense, or colonization or whatever. However if we guide the players into more specific strategic it can make different games very different experiences. Also keep in mind I'm not opposed to multi-theme strategies, in fact I have already stated my ideas about how I see that working. Namely tech-trade or espionage. Now I also don't want it to be impossible to spec into multiple themes, just more challenging. That's what I mean by discouraging.
Oberlus wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:52 am
Regarding your suggestions in the OP, they are inline with my own. The only difference is that I have envisioned Cybernetics and Biotec more or less interchanged, and that I see Mech as able to do both wide and tall (they're like cancer, they do both metastasis and unsustainable growth).
I would be hesitant about letting any theme go both wide and tall and wide, as that will make it too much of a "must-have". Right now there is nothing that keeps players from going tall and wide, thus making just doing one or the other pointless. Again there is nothing that makes the decision strategic.
Oberlus wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:52 am
Like you (I think), I see the population boosts as belonging to three broad categories: space enlargement (that should not change the colonisable status of a planet), environment improvement (terraforming), and environment resistance (improve the species instead of the place).
I give Cybernetics the environment resistance techs. They are the only theme to get a colony on a hostile planet (certain species, like self-sustaining, could bypass that outside of Cybertec theme). Then, only Biotec and Crystal are able to colonise poor planets (mid-late game), and Mech and Energy can only colonise good and adequate.
Mech and Biotec gets two different terraforming techs. Mech's is player-driven, high-cost, fast terraforming tech, to terraform hostile or poor planets before colonisation (will require backend changes to be able to terraform a planet without species, probably by introducing one building per each target environment), while Biotec's is automatic, low-cost and slow, and only happens on already colonised planets (so no way to terraform a hostile planet i the Biotec way unless getting some Cybertec support).
All themes get space enlargement techs. Energy is relatively bad on that until late game (N-Dimensional habitation), Cybernetic is relatively bad (period), Crystal is average, and Biotec and Mech have the maximum population values for good and adequate planets but they get them in different ways (Mech's will require certain megastructures and policies in place to get the tallest systems, Biotecs is more automatic, but also the maximum values will require certain policies in place).
The terraforming at outposts has already been discussed previously, and I will say part of my motivation is that I want that to be the new terraforming mechanic, as it will also open up the game to the possibility to add in new planet types. Something I am very interested in from several angles. So I actually want to current system replaced. So this is why I see the Mechanical Theme as the sole terraformers.

Part of the strategy I envision is that Cybernetic Theme will get poor and hostile planets primarily though exobots. Which will now be changed to have all regular planet types as adequate. I don't know how you feel about this, but I think it would make them feel very different from the other themes.

Lastly this leaves Biotechnology as the most likely choice for self-modification for environmental adaptation.

I would say that tall-focused Themes should only get adequate planets, and not get poor planets. I would also give most of the "space-expanding" technologies to them, so that they can up the populations on the fewer planets that they do have. Maybe give more flat bonuses to whichever theme gets less population boosts.

Something else to keep in mind is that you can conquer planets, and will probably be able to get them to come over to your side through an influence project. So getting more then one planet type available should be possible. Heck, in a lucky enough starting spot you should be able to gt species across all of the regular planet types.
Oberlus wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:25 pm
And also I'm wary that it won't necessarily be easier to balance the cost factors for extra themes than the cost factors for upper tiers. I mean, I believe the same kind of balancing players' choices would be possible by ajusting the benefits and costs of the different boosts on each theme and tier.
I think I see the dilemma here. Namely one way to do this is to decide ahead of time what the cost range of each tier is, make the rate of increase constant and then make the cost range of each additional tier the same.

For example: lets say the increase between tiers is +100% RP cost. So say Tier 2 costs are 2x Tier 1, then the extra cost of a second theme should also be 2x; if Tier 3 costs 3x Tier 1, then a third Theme should up the cost by 3x, and so on. The numbers can of course be adjusted. It could also be helpful to have an idea what kinds of technologies generally have what kind of cost.

I am also skeptical that the boosts can be balanced between themes, even with tying them to policies.
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Re: Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#7 Post by Krikkitone » Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:03 am

I think the simplest way to balance the cost is to have a

Total tier # cost boost, on top of the base costs of techs

So each tech has a base cost that is roughly proportional to its benefits

Then you have a cost increase for Any research based on your total number of tiers in all themes....

so level 5 Bio + level 3 Cyber+ level 2 Mech, means you have a +300% cost increase for any tech (whether level 6 Bio or level 3 mech or level 1 Energy)
If you have level 10 Crystal, you also have a +300% cost increase (whether for level 1 Energy or level 1 Bio)

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Re: Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#8 Post by labgnome » Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:39 am

Krikkitone wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:03 am
I think the simplest way to balance the cost is to have a

Total tier # cost boost, on top of the base costs of techs

So each tech has a base cost that is roughly proportional to its benefits

Then you have a cost increase for Any research based on your total number of tiers in all themes....

so level 5 Bio + level 3 Cyber+ level 2 Mech, means you have a +300% cost increase for any tech (whether level 6 Bio or level 3 mech or level 1 Energy)
If you have level 10 Crystal, you also have a +300% cost increase (whether for level 1 Energy or level 1 Bio)
I think we are mostly on the same page, but I am thinking +100% for each additional theme. So say Crystalline and Biotechnology would be +100%, Crystalline, Biotechnology and Energy would be +200%, and going for all themes would be +400% cost.

I do like this as it makes a multi-theme strategy challenging but not impossible, especially later in the game.
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Re: Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#9 Post by Krikkitone » Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:07 am

I think that adding a theme should impose a cost based on how deep you go into that theme,

So that If I do

Bio 6 and Cyber 6

That will cost me the same as

Bio 6 Cyber 2 Mec 2 Crystaline 2

So someone could go
Energy 10
and have the same Penalties as someone that goes level 2 in everything (although the base costs for level 2 will probably be lower, so that would be easier...but the benefits would also be less...and some might be duplicative)

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Re: Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#10 Post by labgnome » Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:37 am

Krikkitone wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:07 am
I think that adding a theme should impose a cost based on how deep you go into that theme,

So that If I do

Bio 6 and Cyber 6

That will cost me the same as

Bio 6 Cyber 2 Mec 2 Crystaline 2
So something like +100% for each additional theme and +100% for each level in a theme?

Say I was at Tier 1 in Crystalline, and I wanted to spec into Tier 1 Biotechnology it would cost an additional +100% cost, but if I was at Tier 2 Crystalline and I wanted to spec into Biotechnology it would be a cost increase of +200%? I'm just trying to get a handle on what sort of idea you have. I think we are most on the same page.
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Re: Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#11 Post by The Silent One » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:15 am

Oberlus wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:25 pm
Because I'm wary that an increasing cost for second and further themes can be seen as an artificial and awkward form to control players' choices.
Just what I think exactly.
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Re: Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#12 Post by Ophiuchus » Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:14 pm

labgnome wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:39 am
Krikkitone wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:03 am
I think the simplest way to balance the cost is to have a

Total tier # cost boost, on top of the base costs of techs

So each tech has a base cost that is roughly proportional to its benefits

Then you have a cost increase for Any research based on your total number of tiers in all themes....

so level 5 Bio + level 3 Cyber+ level 2 Mech, means you have a +300% cost increase for any tech (whether level 6 Bio or level 3 mech or level 1 Energy)
If you have level 10 Crystal, you also have a +300% cost increase (whether for level 1 Energy or level 1 Bio)
I think we are mostly on the same page, but I am thinking +100% for each additional theme. So say Crystalline and Biotechnology would be +100%, Crystalline, Biotechnology and Energy would be +200%, and going for all themes would be +400% cost.

I do like this as it makes a multi-theme strategy challenging but not impossible, especially later in the game.
The multiplier labgnome puts forth was also my first favorite for doing such. Plus that if you put a lot research e.g. in your "second theme", it will move up and become "first theme". For balancing i think the multiplier is not so helpful though. Better assume a certain base cost of a tier (e.g. first tier 100, second tier 200, third tier 500, fourth tier 1000), and shift the research cost of second theme by e.g. one tier, third tier by two tiers and so on. So if you would research a second tier tech in your third theme it would cost 1000RP instead of the regular 200RP.
Why I think so? Because RP production grows exponential a fixed multiplier does not suffice.
The Silent One wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:15 am
Oberlus wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:25 pm
Because I'm wary that an increasing cost for second and further themes can be seen as an artificial and awkward form to control players' choices.
Just what I think exactly.
Yes I understand that. But putting the "same tech" (like a +1 supply bonus) on many themes and artificially restrict the way the bonus add up could also be seen an artificial and awkward form to control players' choices.

I think flavoring makes this better but it is still not good. Adding dedication (get the bonus only if policy/focus implementation) and specialisation (bonus only applies in a subset of cases) help in balancing mostly not against the awkwardness of the tech tree itself. I probably will put up a thread for a composite content cooking book to collect recipes for content balancing.

Maybe we can find for all relevant types of effects/parts solutions without the bad parts. E.g. fuel parts are only useful for a few situations/strategies so they could be in a single theme on a early tier, so it is not redundant and always possible to cherry-pick.
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Re: Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#13 Post by labgnome » Fri Apr 19, 2019 7:25 pm

Ophiuchus wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:14 pm
The Silent One wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:15 am
Oberlus wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:25 pm
Because I'm wary that an increasing cost for second and further themes can be seen as an artificial and awkward form to control players' choices.
Just what I think exactly.
Yes I understand that. But putting the "same tech" (like a +1 supply bonus) on many themes and artificially restrict the way the bonus add up could also be seen an artificial and awkward form to control players' choices.
I think I am on the same page here. I think that a simple technology cost increase is the simplest way to make a multi-theme strategy challenging enough that a single-theme strategy is viable,while a multi-theme strategy is not impossible for someone who wants to try it.
Ophiuchus wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:14 pm
Maybe we can find for all relevant types of effects/parts solutions without the bad parts. E.g. fuel parts are only useful for a few situations/strategies so they could be in a single theme on a early tier, so it is not redundant and always possible to cherry-pick.
I also want to avoid players being able to cherry-pick technologies and to have to make more strategic choices.

I do think that this topic has gotten a little de-railed by the discussion of weather or not (and just how to) have a cost increase for a multi-theme strategy.
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Re: Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#14 Post by Oberlus » Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:29 pm

labgnome wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 11:24 pm
I mean don't see any way to prevent that happening again, or something similar just with new parts, without discouraging taking all of the technologies in some way. Especially if each theme's weapons are different, some will just wind up being more optimal than others. Likewise some themes will wind-up being better for defense, or colonization or whatever.
Unless we allow for some kind of rock-paper-scissor mechanics. And I think that is the case if we have drones, big-single-shot guns, small-multi-shot guns and close range+stealth as offensive tactics and shields, decoy, point defence and chaff/big hulls (as well as stealth) as defensive tactics. So, Mech weapons (big single-shot) won't be always the best strategy, nor will it be Energy weapons (small multi-shot) or Cybertec (drones) or Biotec (close range + stealth), because any enemy could abuse right the best defence tactic against that.
What I think it will happen in late game is that a few, different combinations of 2 or 3 themes will give overall-good tactics, while early/mid game will be more varied. As long as that late-game overall-good strategy is just one, we'll be fine. I'll figure that out before implementation.
My main concern about correct balance of research costs is to avoid that one of wide and tall research strategy is always better than the other.


Krikkitone wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:03 am
I think the simplest way to balance the cost is to have a

Total tier # cost boost, on top of the base costs of techs

So each tech has a base cost that is roughly proportional to its benefits

Then you have a cost increase for Any research based on your total number of tiers in all themes....

so level 5 Bio + level 3 Cyber+ level 2 Mech, means you have a +300% cost increase for any tech (whether level 6 Bio or level 3 mech or level 1 Energy)
If you have level 10 Crystal, you also have a +300% cost increase (whether for level 1 Energy or level 1 Bio)
This.
I'll work with this idea. If it's not good enough and there are balancing problems regarding wide/tall research strategies, we can add on top of it the extra cost per extra theme proposed by labgnome.

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Re: Tech Themes: Exobot Rework, Terraforming and Growth Boosts

#15 Post by Oberlus » Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:35 pm

Ophiuchus wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:14 pm
Because RP production grows exponential a fixed multiplier does not suffice.
Right. The extra cost shall be somehow similar in magnitude to the extra RPs you'll get by "then". I'll see if I can do it.
putting the "same tech" (like a +1 supply bonus) on many themes and artificially restrict the way the bonus add up could also be seen an artificial and awkward form to control players' choices.
Yes. That's why I won't put the "same tech" on many themes. Different versions of the same effect (e.g. an industry boost, and armour, etc.) shall have actual differences for gameplay. Up to now that is being possible, but I haven't got to all the ships parts, boosts, etc. so we'll see is the story ends well.

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