Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

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

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Oberlus
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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#31 Post by Oberlus » Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:57 pm

labgnome wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:12 pm
I am willing to bring back discussion of the TAR system, over the proposed tier system.
Ophiuchus wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:42 pm
I think you are the only one. And I guess the reason is that very detailed dependencies between technologies are not really interesting (?).
labgnome, if you haven't done it yet, you could read this thread. There (mostly in the first page and from the third one onwards), the tiered system "imposed" itself over the TAR system while we were talking about how to implement your TAR system, and pretty much everyone liked it more, and the rest was fine with either one. See for example this post from Vezzra.

Also, keep in mind that the tiered system is almost identical to a TAR system:
- Themes are TAR main branches.
- Tier theories are the keys to new tiers the same way that TAR theories unlock new apps.

... With a slightly more restricted structure, namely:
- It favours (but not enforces) similar number of apps unlocked per theory.
- It favours (but not enforces) minimum crossover between branches.
- Tiers (in the sense of what comes after what, like laser is tier 2 and mass driver tier 1 in current FO implementation) are explicit and visually clear, while they are not in a TAR system.

... And with some simplification (or better said "with more versatility") regarding app requirements, both setting them and visualising them:
- In the TAR system you represent restrictions (what unlocks what) with arrows that most often must be explicit and are fine-grained: this tech(s) unlock(s) this other tech, and keeping it tidy depends on the designers not introducing too many crossover between branches, implicit tiers, etc.
- In the tiered system all apps in a tier are good to unlock next tier so you don't need all the arrows (just special icons for external dependencies, that shall be kept to a minimum, if ever used). This not only allows for easier visualisation, it also implies more diversity of choices in the research (which could be bad or good for strategic diversity, but usually it will be good, and whenever it could be bad because of an inadequate balancing of tech's effects and costs, it would be worse for TAR system with its more restricted unlocking relations).

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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#32 Post by Oberlus » Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:58 pm

Vezzra wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:32 pm
Oberlus wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 1:14 am
I can say I can't figure out more than 6 themes right now (if we add psionics to the mix).
I see two reasons for that: first, very obviously, we still lack several core mechanics, and with that all the techs that will come with them.
Then we need to at least sketch the missing mechanics. I assume you are not only referring to influence and diplomatics, and I'm eager to know anything else that could be introduced into FreeOrion in the future.
A trunk for the social stuff would be, as I understand it now, quite "functional"
Of course, which is why I don't advocate one "social" themed trunk, but have multiple themes where "social" or "civic" stuff makes sense. Psionics would be an example for a theme that focuses more on these kind of things, and less on weapons, shields, armor, carriers and fighters, or mining/industry.

Although I admit coming up with multiple "social"/"civics" friendly themes poses a challenge.
I understand you now. And now I think it wouldn't be that hard, because you don't need multiple social/civics themes, just multiple themes in which it makes sense to have (many or few) social/civics applications. So a theme at first sight rather non-social, like biochemistry, could have interesting civil control applications like the soma in Brave New World. Another example, a theme very focused on weapons could be seen as militaristic and hence make use of (e.g.) totalitarian measures, so it makes sense to have a Concentration Camps in a theme alike to the Mechanical.
that's probably the biggest disadvantage of my approach: coming up with reasonable themes that can work and distributing all the techs in a way that things are properly balanced and actually work as we want them to is going to be difficult. Not to speak of having to invent a lot more techs, many of them kind of redundant.

But the last two things are going to be an issue with the 5-6 complete tech trees model too. Total number of techs will be even higher, and you need to come up with enough ideas to cover that.
I don't think that is necessarily true, that the 5-6 model would require more techs. I read your estimations of 500-1000 techs and I think we can do better than that (I mean, way less than that).
Discarding app improvements, I think each theme can have less than 100 apps: 10-15 for weapons and hulls, and between 0 and 6 apps for each function. We have around 25 functions, less than 10 them 10 of them really essential, so that if each theme has, apart from the weapons and hulls, 6-8 essential and around 6-8 non-essential functions (3-6 apps each), that would sum up to 80 apps per theme (plus theories, one per tier). Being 6 themes, this means around 40 non-essential functions, that is a quite an overlapping of non-essential functions, so much that most non-essential functions could be covered with only 2 themes. So we could put even less non-essential functions per theme (say 5-6) and require at least three themes to cover all functions in FreeOrion.

Also, you are concerned with the idea of going a single theme being the best viable strategy if all themes are roughly complete. That could happen, but I believe we have the tools to avoid it, by adequate balancing of tier costs. If a tier costs 3x previous tier, you can have four T1s instead on one T1 and one T2. That could mean considerably better production/research/influence bonus for wide research. Another example, getting straight to T3 of a theme (so you have one T1, one T2 and one T3) could give you the edge on weaponry against adversaries that go for two themes (so they have three T1s and three T2s), unless they went precisely for the two themes that have the best counters against your single theme weapons and defences, plus they could have better meter boosts from two themes.


Vezzra wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 3:40 pm
and they are doing most of the work on the project.
Well, "most" is probably a bit much, but he is certainly one of the most productive contributors.
Irrelevant for the subject, but just in case, I must note: I'm sure labgnome, with that "project", was referring to the tech tree rework and not FreeOrion in general.
Plus I think I am not more of a contributor than most regular users of this forum, until anything I talk about becomes a PR in GitHub. As Vezzra said, giving ideas requires less effort than making them real.

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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#33 Post by Krikkitone » Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:17 am

Some thoughts on options

1. Functional "thin" trees
Laser1-Laser2-Laser3
Industry 1-Industry2-Industry3
etc.



2. Functional "thick" trees (take a subsection of techs from each level)

laser1/missile1->laser2/missile2

popgood1/poppoor1/terraform1->popgood2/pophostile2/popgrowth2



3. Themed "Thin" trees (12-20, each with 1-3 techs per level..probably 1 core with branches)

Laser1->Diplomacy2->Popgood3

Diplomacy1->Industry2->Diplomacy3


4. Themed "Thick" Trees (4-7, each with 5-10 techs per level)

Laser 1/ Diplomacy1/ Ind1->Diplomacy2/Res2/PopGood2

Shield1/Spy1/Supply1->Missile2/Spy2/Diplomacy2



Thoughts on pros/cons

-If we go with "Thick" trees, there needs to be choices within trees as well as which trees you are using (so Mech should have more than Just Oppressive social control)

-Functional trees are more straightforward as to what goes where, but have less of a "story feel"

I think they should either be

Functional Thin (go for maximum straightforwardness)
OR
Thematic "Thick"


For a thematic thick theme, I agree with the general idea

...at least 1, probably 2 or even 3 options for Crucial functions...(ie defense v. other empires/taking other empire's planets/internal social control)

...1-3 "optional" functions that are only in 1 or 2 other themes at most

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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#34 Post by labgnome » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:20 am

Krikkitone wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:17 am
Thoughts on pros/cons

-If we go with "Thick" trees, there needs to be choices within trees as well as which trees you are using (so Mech should have more than Just Oppressive social control)
Maybe work on what kind of dichotomies the theme plays with, while maintaining a common over-arching focus that aligns with the theme.

Some I could see:
  • Biotechnology: biological engineering vs. environmentalism, both having a "control" focus.
  • Crystalline: meritocracy vs. egalitarianism, both having a "utopian" focus.
  • Cybernetic: free and open networks vs. strict computer-driven control, both having an "integration" focus.
  • Energy: technocracy vs. psionics/spiritualism, both having an "enlightenment" focus.
  • Mechanical: capitalism vs. communism, both having a "extraction" focus.
Krikkitone wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:17 am
I think they should either be

Functional Thin (go for maximum straightforwardness)
OR
Thematic "Thick"
I feel mostly the same way. I like the story potential of the thematic thick. I like the story potential for thick themes. I am also concerned that a thin theme mix-and-match system might wind up with several arbitrary categories that don't make much sense.
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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#35 Post by LienRag » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:41 pm

labgnome wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:20 am
Maybe work on what kind of dichotomies the theme plays with, while maintaining a common over-arching focus that aligns with the theme.

Some I could see:
  • Biotechnology: biological engineering vs. environmentalism, both having a "control" focus.
  • Crystalline: meritocracy vs. egalitarianism, both having a "utopian" focus.
  • Cybernetic: free and open networks vs. strict computer-driven control, both having an "integration" focus.
  • Energy: technocracy vs. psionics/spiritualism, both having an "enlightenment" focus.
  • Mechanical: capitalism vs. communism, both having a "extraction" focus.
I really like these Theme Dichotomies, I've never seen them mentioned before?

The Silent One wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:43 am
The actual question, I think, is about number and content of the themes. I would favor a combination of large, exhaustive themes (= Oberlus current model of 4-5) and unlockable, more specific side-themes (=Vezzra's suggestions of psionics, dark matter, ...; maybe another 5?) that will not necessairly be available from the start, but may be unlock as "side-arms" of the main themes or by special conditions (say, the dark matter resource). In short, a "main theme" and "side theme" model.
I really like the "main theme/side theme" model too...

labgnome wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:30 pm
If you want a run-down of how the themes currently work, form what I can tell it's something like this (someone correct me if I'm wrong):
ThemeInspirationAestheticHullsWeaponsPoliticsOther
BiotechnologyZergLiving TechOrganicMonster PartsHiveBio-Modification
CrystallineKryptonian/Minbari"Crystal Spires and Togas"AsteroidLasersUtopianSubterranean
CyberneticBorgCyberpunkRoboticDrones/FightersCybernetic CollectiveRobots
EnergyProtosAlien/High-techEnergyBeam???Psionics
MechanicalTerranSteampunk/IndustrialMassiveRailgunsOppressiveMegastructures
If I may have a say about that: Biotech is NOT Zerg! Please don't make the Organic Hull line a Zerg copypasta...
I'm not opposed to the idea of being a Zerg-like hull line in FreeOrion (I do think that like in Starcraft it would be better if reserved to some species? Definitely not Humans for example), but the Organic Hulls imho refers to a wide corpus of bio-oriented Space Opera (like in Sylvain Runberg's Orbital) and I really wouldn't want these symbiosis-based ships (i.e. organic hulls but non-organic weapons) oblitared by a Zerg-like line (that are not symbiotic but beasts of their kind, all-in-one hull, armor, weapons, and engine).

Ophiuchus wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:54 pm

I think the current self-sufficient theme suggestion from Oberlus is less than 300 techs organized in 6 tiers in 5 themes (I think 300 techs is too much).
WHAT? Of course the more techs there are to research (as long as they both make sense and are not necessary to win the game) the best it is!


More generally, have you tackled the question of "low-tier techs of any theme prone to a research-it-all strategy when middle game arrives"?
I may have an idea towards that, make all Research Points left after paying the cost of the first Tech in the Queue go to the next Tech of the same Theme, bypassing any Tech in the Queue between them that belong to another Theme (or go to waste if there are none, but in no case go towards researching a Tech of another Theme). Or in other words, make only one Theme researchable at a time: this way it's still possible to combine Themes (which is necessary for an enjoyable gameplay, even if only because 5 mono-themes give 5 strategies while 5 Themes combinable two per two give 20 different possible strategies at least) but it comes at a cost since one will have to entirely stop researching one's main Theme when one will want to pick a Tech or two from another one, and have to wait until it is completed to go back to advancing one's main Theme. This will make cheap-but-with-long-research-time Techs particularly difficult to research outside their main Theme (so it's a way to balance which Techs should be easily picked by combination strategies and which ones should be picked only in specialization strategies).
Of course it'll be still possible to research multiple low-cost-long-time Techs of any alternate Theme simultaneously, but playing with their dependencies it's possible to decide when to allow that or not.

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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#36 Post by labgnome » Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:43 am

LienRag wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:41 pm
I really like these Theme Dichotomies, I've never seen them mentioned before?
I assume you mean here, most of them are known as dichotomies. I just kind of thought them up in response to the problem of being "stuck" into a single government per theme.
If I may have a say about that: Biotech is NOT Zerg! Please don't make the Organic Hull line a Zerg copypasta...
I'm not opposed to the idea of being a Zerg-like hull line in FreeOrion (I do think that like in Starcraft it would be better if reserved to some species? Definitely not Humans for example), but the Organic Hulls imho refers to a wide corpus of bio-oriented Space Opera (like in Sylvain Runberg's Orbital) and I really wouldn't want these symbiosis-based ships (i.e. organic hulls but non-organic weapons) oblitared by a Zerg-like line (that are not symbiotic but beasts of their kind, all-in-one hull, armor, weapons, and engine).
That is mostly supposed to be an aesthetic reference. Feel free to role-play the hull-line however you like. Feel free to see them as more Vorlon-like if you wish.
WHAT? Of course the more techs there are to research (as long as they both make sense and are not necessary to win the game) the best it is!
I think we are on the same page here.
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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#37 Post by Ophiuchus » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:46 am

labgnome wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:43 am
LienRag wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:41 pm
WHAT? Of course the more techs there are to research (as long as they both make sense and are not necessary to win the game) the best it is!
I think we are on the same page here.
Count me out on this one. To me it sounds like you say that chess OF COURSE would be better if there were 32 different kinds of pieces on the board.
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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 Tree Fundamentals

#38 Post by Ophiuchus » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:53 am

LienRag wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:41 pm
More generally, have you tackled the question of "low-tier techs of any theme prone to a research-it-all strategy when middle game arrives"?
Ideas mentioned were factoring in researched tiers by: shifting tier cost; counting the total number of tiers with researched tech; counting the total number of researched techs.
LienRag wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:41 pm
Or in other words, make only one Theme researchable at a time
With the current tech tree that would not make too much difference I guess. While this would probably ease the visualisation of tech queue, I do not get how that is supposed to work. Waste the overflown resources invested in secondary tech after finishing your primary tech because you want to switch themes?
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 Tree Fundamentals

#39 Post by Oberlus » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:51 am

I don't like the idea of limiting simultaneous research to one single tech tree (or one single tech). That means less research strategies available to good-research empires and I don't see it has any sizeable advantage.
I do like way more current research system of FreeOrion (with a queue of techs to research, the same you have a queue of structures/ships to build, compared to other games like MoO where you can have only one single tech at a time (although as fast as you can, no minimum turns required; which itself is harder to balance).

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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#40 Post by LienRag » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:03 pm

Ophiuchus wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:53 am

With the current tech tree that would not make too much difference I guess. While this would probably ease the visualisation of tech queue, I do not get how that is supposed to work. Waste the overflown resources invested in secondary tech after finishing your primary tech because you want to switch themes?
It's supposed to work the way I described it in my post; there would be no overflown resources since it would have gone to other Techs in the same Theme. Wanting to complete the research of Techs in Theme B after finishing researching a tech in it or preferring to go back to the more important Theme A would be up to the player.

The only advantage of this (I too like the way Tech works now, I'm not the one proposing to change it) would be making research out of the main Theme quite costly (without counter-intuitive or difficult to balance, but rather in a KISS way) without preventing it either.

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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#41 Post by LienRag » Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:07 pm

LienRag wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:03 pm
Ophiuchus wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:53 am

With the current tech tree that would not make too much difference I guess. While this would probably ease the visualisation of tech queue, I do not get how that is supposed to work. Waste the overflown resources invested in secondary tech after finishing your primary tech because you want to switch themes?

It's supposed to work the way I described it in my post; there would be no overflown resources since it would have gone to other Techs in the same Theme. Wanting to complete the research of Techs in Theme B after finishing researching a tech in it or preferring to go back to the more important Theme A would be up to the player.

The only advantage of this (I too like the way Tech works now, I'm not the one proposing to change it) would be making research out of the main Theme quite costly (without counter-intuitive or difficult to balance new mechanisms, but rather in a KISS way) without preventing it either.


labgnome wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:43 am
LienRag wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:41 pm
I really like these Theme Dichotomies, I've never seen them mentioned before?
I assume you mean here, most of them are known as dichotomies. I just kind of thought them up in response to the problem of being "stuck" into a single government per theme.
(...)
That is mostly supposed to be an aesthetic reference. Feel free to role-play the hull-line however you like. Feel free to see them as more Vorlon-like if you wish.
I'm not sure about that, there have been talks of having bio-weapons (like tentacles and so on) for Organic Hulls, that is definitely Zerg-like.
I'm not opposed to that, but please don't take away my laser-bearing living hulls!

(and indeed I've never seen these dichotomies mentioned in Theme discussions, and I think that they are a very good idea)

Ophiuchus wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:46 am
Count me out on this one. To me it sounds like you say that chess OF COURSE would be better if there were 32 different kinds of pieces on the board.
That's called Fairy Chess, by the way.
And I would dare say that FreeOrion is not directly modelled after chess, and though you are right to stick to quite strict design principles, I do not consider wikepedia-style deletionnism on the tech tree to be one of them.
A no-nonsense attitude towards tech trees yes, not considering that the more the merrier (as long as they make sense as already stated) no.
Good (even if they are wacky) techs, however numerous they are, are not a hindrance to the gameplay, and they greatly add to the immersion and the joy of the game. So indeed, the more the merrier.

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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#42 Post by Ophiuchus » Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:02 am

LienRag wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:07 pm
Ophiuchus wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:53 am
I do not get how that is supposed to work
It's supposed to work the way I described it in my post;
In what way is that an adequate answer? I took time to read your post. I did not understand what you meant. Please take care.
LienRag wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:07 pm
there would be no overflown resources since it would have gone to other Techs in the same Theme. Wanting to complete the research of Techs in Theme B after finishing researching a tech in it or preferring to go back to the more important Theme A would be up to the player.
So you can switch any time the current theme you research, right? So the only thing which changes - is not allowed to research tech from multiple themes. Also huge research production (more RP than you can spend on the current tier in parallel) leads to wasting research (lets call that over-overflowing)?
So the cost to researching multiple themes here is that you can't progress in another theme using overflowing RP. Compared to now you would probably waste time and RP on tech you do not want. I think we wanted less of this. Also the over-overflowing of RP is a step backward.
LienRag wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:07 pm
though you are right to stick to quite strict design principles, I do not consider wikepedia-style deletionnism on the tech tree to be one of them.
"wikepedia-style deletionnism" - What? I am not sure what you are talking about. I am talking about that I do not like an artificial inflation from 100 to 300 techs. And that I prefer a e.g. 50 tech tree to an 100 tech tree if it leads to a comparable playing depth/experience. Half the number the techs means a quarter of required maintenance. I do not oppose "good" tech, i do not care about "wacky". But even in the current tree there is a lot of uninteresting tech. And many suggestions for new techs i read about are on that level.

Note that you locally can add as many techs etc as you like using FOCS.
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 Tree Fundamentals

#43 Post by labgnome » Thu Jun 20, 2019 2:44 am

LienRag wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:07 pm
I'm not sure about that, there have been talks of having bio-weapons (like tentacles and so on) for Organic Hulls, that is definitely Zerg-like.
I'm not opposed to that, but please don't take away my laser-bearing living hulls!
Well then I suppose you will need to go for multiple themes to get the kinds of ships you want.
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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#44 Post by Oberlus » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:31 am

LienRag wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:07 pm
please don't take away my laser-bearing living hulls!
You'll have to beg for that on your knees :twisted:

Nah, it's a joke. My idea is to allow for organic living hulls to mount some non-organic weapons, but only once you get enough cybernetic techs, you know, to blend organic and inorganic tissues.
Also, the solar concentrator will go to Crystal theme, so organic hulls won't get any special advantage from lasers.

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Re: Themed Tech Tree Fundamentals

#45 Post by Oberlus » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:46 am

LienRag wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:41 pm
If I may have a say about that: Biotech is NOT Zerg! Please don't make the Organic Hull line a Zerg copypasta...
I'm not opposed to the idea of being a Zerg-like hull line in FreeOrion (I do think that like in Starcraft it would be better if reserved to some species? Definitely not Humans for example), but the Organic Hulls imho refers to a wide corpus of bio-oriented Space Opera (like in Sylvain Runberg's Orbital) and I really wouldn't want these symbiosis-based ships (i.e. organic hulls but non-organic weapons) oblitared by a Zerg-like line (that are not symbiotic but beasts of their kind, all-in-one hull, armor, weapons, and engine).
My feelings are different.
The fact that current living hulls are just the same as any other hull with the label "living" is boredome. I don't know how can you call that "a wide corpus of bio-oriented space opera". Make them actual living beings instead of organic machines is what gives them flavour. So praise Zergs/Tyranids!
But yeah, zergs and tyranids can be cybernetic too.
LienRag wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:41 pm
that are not symbiotic but beasts of their kind, all-in-one hull, armor, weapons, and engine
Dunno what are you talking about. Organic hulls will mount whatever they want (among available options) the same way other hulls do. It won't be all-in-one ships as in closed designs. If I use the word "hull" I mean that, and not "monster".
LienRag wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:41 pm
Copypasta
:evil:
I am having serious trouble to not feel insulted. I acknowledge that is my own problem. But anyway, you could try to have more tact. Putting an H within the IMO does not fix that.
LienRag wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:41 pm
I do think that like in Starcraft it would be better if reserved to some species?
Do you? Anyway, there won't be hull or weapon lines reserved to certain species, at least that is what I perceive as the general preference among developers and players.

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