Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

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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Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#1 Post by Oberlus » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:13 am

So lets try to go from the 5-6 big themes (Mechanical, Energy, etc.) to many more small themes.

I again need your help to get started. I'll compile a set of candidate "small themes" with the corresponding functions they could have, and post it here, but feel free to post your own ideas meanwhile.

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Re: Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#2 Post by Oberlus » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:10 am

First I need to figure out all the functional categories (that will be spread out among the soon-to-be atomic thematic categories).
Not sure the following is the best functional taxonomy, but I guess it's a start:
  • Ship hulls.
  • Ship armour: anything to up base HPs of a ship (hull).
  • Ship weapons: currently just "guns" and drones, but also anything else that can be mounted on a ship and used to damage, disable or take control of enemy ships or planets.
  • Ship defences: shields, point-defence (flak, interceptors), cannon fodder (decoys and drones in general).
  • Ship stealth: parts or techs that could increase the base stealth of ship hulls.
  • Ship targetting: parts or techs to modify how targetting is done in combat.
  • Bombardment: ship weapons to reduce population and/or defending troops of a planet.
  • Troop pods: anything to increase the efficiency of invading troops.
  • Fleet repair after combat: techs to automatically repair ships after combat without going to a drydock.
  • Planetary offence: anything that increases the damage a planet (or system) can inflict on attacking fleets. I'm unsure whether to put mines here or on a dedicated "function".
  • Planetary shields: anything that increases the "HPs" of a planet against ship's weaponry.
  • Planetary troops: anything that increases the number of defending troops in a planet (or just that "makes harder to be invaded by enemy troops").
  • Planetary stealth.
  • Detection.
  • Supply range: anything to increase supply range from owned planets.
  • Fuel: techs or parts to increase autonomy of ships out of supply.
  • Production: pop-based, flat or any kind of bonus to the empire's production (PPs).
  • Research: bonuses for RPs.
  • Influence: bonuses for IPs.
  • Habitability improvement: anything that increases the population a species can have in a given environment.
  • Environment improvement: terraforming (change planet's environment).
  • Espionage: anything to get intel from enemies, including military info and techs, as well as anything related to sabotage (assassination, social unrest, destruction of military or any other kind of assets... on enemy planets), and also anything related to counter-measures against espionage and sabotage.
  • Social control: anything related to the management of your own population (happiness, counter-espionage
  • Diplomacy: anything related to "pacific" interaction with other empires, including trade (of techs, PPs or whatever) and cooperation (supply sharing, buildings sharing, etc.). This category makes much sense against AIs, but not so much against human players, unless the same mechanics for trade are forced upon players the same than upon AIs.
  • Space engineering: anything related to creation or destruction of planets, stars and starlanes, as well as the star gate.
  • Species engineering: anything that changes species traits. This would be a new function in FreeOrion (I like it).
  • Stockpile: anything related to the out-of-supply PP stockpiling and distribution.
  • Monsters: anything related to taming, breeding or killing space monsters. This could be or not related to organic hulls.
Notes: shields could be seen as a form of armour.

Edits: adding missing categories that Krikkitone and em3 spotted.

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Re: Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#3 Post by Krikkitone » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:20 am

More functions

-Monsters (bonus in combat, taming, breeding,etc.)

-Species Engineering (changing bonuses/penalties)

-Stockpiles

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Re: Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#4 Post by labgnome » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:37 am

It's been discussed to separate the habitability boosts between the different metabolisms, so: organic habitability, lithic habitability, robotic habitability, phototrophic habitability and self-sustaining habitability.
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Re: Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#5 Post by The Silent One » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:48 am

So lets try to go from the 5-6 big themes (Mechanical, Energy, etc.) to many more small themes.
Love your energy, but not so fast pls. I, for one, like the current set of themes and I don't think we've come to the point where we have finished deciding how the themes should work.

... The compilation of tech functions is great, though, thanks.
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Re: Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#6 Post by Oberlus » Tue Apr 23, 2019 12:14 pm

The Silent One wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:48 am
Love your energy, but not so fast pls. I, for one, like the current set of themes and I don't think we've come to the point where we have finished deciding how the themes should work.
I'm on the same page, brother. This is to help me clear up my thoughts, not because I've decided to move to 10-20 themes.
I do like current 5-6 themes. I think they could give us very nice gameplay. But I won't be sure that it is really better than Vezzra's idea of 10-20 themes until I can make an actual comparison of pros and cons. If I had to vote right now, I would choose 5-6, but only because I "know" it would work nice, not because I'm sure it would be better than 10-20.
So I need to at least come up with a few examples of such atomic themes (with the actual techs they would encompass) to really grok the idea and be able to compare it with the current proposal of 5-6 themes.

As a side note, I also regret this is going to be much more design work than the 5-6 themes, but won't be sure if "too much" or just "more" until later in the design process.

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Re: Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#7 Post by Oberlus » Tue Apr 23, 2019 12:16 pm

labgnome wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:37 am
It's been discussed to separate the habitability boosts between the different metabolisms, so: organic habitability, lithic habitability, robotic habitability, phototrophic habitability and self-sustaining habitability.
Noted. But do you think they should be categorised as different functions then?
If yes, maybe we should also separate weapons and defences on their subtypes...
I'd say at least for now it's enough to divide into broad functions.

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Re: Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#8 Post by Oberlus » Tue Apr 23, 2019 12:17 pm

Krikkitone wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:20 am
More functions

-Monsters (bonus in combat, taming, breeding,etc.)

-Species Engineering (changing bonuses/penalties)

-Stockpiles
Editing the list to add these.

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Re: Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#9 Post by em3 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 1:43 pm

Bombs
Troop ships
Fleet support other than repair (fuel modules, drone factories, flagship bonuses etc.)

I would conflate some of these categories, for example shields and armor (they are essentially different ways to improve ship defence).
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Re: Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#10 Post by Ophiuchus » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:14 pm

In order for a distributed empire strategy one needs a way to come up with meaningful PPs and hidden colonies.
Ship stealth and (re)fuel tech are also helpful.

So you need at least the first two of the following micro-themes
  • distributed resources (mainly stockpile, far rare resource mining (policy to apply growth bonus of growth specials also to your empire's root's supply group))
  • hideouts (planet/outpost stealth/unleash space monster influence project to slow down enemy expansion a bit)
  • deep space (fuel parts, scout techs, fuel refill techs, border refill service policy (+2 "supply" for refuel only else -1 supply))
  • evasive/sneaky (ship stealth, Galaxy tiptoe policy (passive ships get stealth bonus but half of starlane speed), influence projects to create distractions to lure fleets away, influence projects to create specials or temporarily increase ship stealth)
  • tall production (good PP from large and huge planets, maybe star dependent) (dubious alternative to distributed resources; i.e. have multiple small resource groups in which you produce ships, the other colonies put on research)
  • supply boost (as alternative or supplement to fuel tech)
  • planet-to-space armament (mines, ways to attack fleets from planets)
For an aggressive expansion strategy you could take from the list distributed resources, deep space (to be able to strike the enemy behind the border) and some fleet/invasion themes.

A strategy for disrupting an enemies supply network one could choose hideouts, supply boost and planet-to-space armament (sneaky and deep space also help). Place your hidden weapon outposts/colonies in enemy space. A high supply cuts supply networks. Planet-to-space armament ensures that the enemy will have to dedicate fleets to plug the holes. Add some pirates or space monsters using influence projects for more chaos.
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: Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#11 Post by labgnome » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:00 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 12:16 pm
labgnome wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:37 am
It's been discussed to separate the habitability boosts between the different metabolisms, so: organic habitability, lithic habitability, robotic habitability, phototrophic habitability and self-sustaining habitability.
Noted. But do you think they should be categorised as different functions then?
If yes, maybe we should also separate weapons and defences on their subtypes...
I'd say at least for now it's enough to divide into broad functions.
Maybe not as different functions but something to keep in mind when thinking about how many themes to create.
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Re: Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#12 Post by Oberlus » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:27 pm

A framework for micro-theme proposals:

Name.
Fluff description.
Brief list of functions it could cover. No need yet to specify if it will require a building, a project or whatnot.
Some thoughts on how this theme could combine with others (for the future, when there are more micro-themes suggestions to work with).
Optionally, a full description of each app it could include.

Don't worry if the idea seems too small for a micro-theme, it could be used by others for inspiration or be merged with other too-small micro-themes.


Some ideas.

Smugglers
A virtually inexistent faction, not belonging to any empire (or species) that travels the galaxy... smuggling stuff.
  • Boosts (via policy) to max. stockpile extraction.
  • Stealth parts.
  • Fuel regeneration.
  • Fleet repair out of supply.
  • System blockade override: targetted influence project to remove or reduce the bad effects on the population of a blockaded system (it's been talked that blockades should reduce happiness, this project would mitigate that), including supply blockade (via a big boost to stockpile extraction). To avoid exploitation, it should not work on planets not blockaded and it should not give any more stockpile extraction bonus than a percentage of the PPs "wasted" in the targetted system.
Most of this effects should come at an influence cost (active influence project or policy with influence upkeep to get the effect) an require few RPs to unlock. It makes sense since you are getting "favours" from a virtual collaborator more than getting technologies.
Regarding that last point, things like stealth parts could be seen as an actual transfer of technology (again, requiring not many RPs). But don't get confused, in the end this is researching apps that unlocks parts and policies, the same than any other tech branch. The rest is fluff.


Psionics
The control of the mind powers (and blabla, I'm not good at this).
  • Psionic damage weapons: I see them as direct damage weapons, like beams, that ignore shields (but not Psionic shields), but with current combat engine only drones can ignore shields, dunno how disruptive would be to code that up.
  • Psionic shields: a different kind of shields (not force-fields) which Psionic weapons can't ignore. Unsupported by combat engine, and a bad idea (more meters to show in the fleets, a lot of code changes). Regular shields with different names and stats?
  • Psionic control weapons: ship parts that allow to disable or take control of enemy ships. Unsupported by combat engine.
  • Something about planetary defence and planetary shields.
  • Psionic influence projects: both Propaganda-like, to keep own population under control (high happiness) and for peaceful conquering of foreign colonies, and Espionage-like (would be more powerful than other kinds of influence projects but have more requirements and greater research cost).
  • Something related to technology victory / transcendence.
  • Enables Collective-Mind government/social structure (1).
A species with telepathy should be a soft requirement for some of these (if you don't have it, research cost is huge) and a hard requirement for the others.


Computing
...
  • Boosts to research (algorithms, processors).
  • Targetting computer.
  • Stockpile prediction (algorithms).
  • Boosts to detection (algorithms to analyse sensor data).
  • Social control and counter-espionage (huge databases of citizens).

Artificial Intelligence
...
  • Drones.
  • Boosts to research (Nacent AI).
  • Boosts to production (Adaptive Automation).
  • Exobots.
  • Boosts to happiness? (virtual companions, therapists, automation of boring processes).
Drones and exobots together? This micro-theme would be a must unless Exobots are nerfed alot.


Robotics and Nanotech
...
  • Robotic hulls
  • Boosts to production
  • Boosts to offensive and defensive troops
  • Fleet repair.
Exobots seem to fit here as well. Making Exobots require both themes seems awkward to me. It's annoying to separate certain things to make themes micro.
Maybe we could have two kinds of Exobots, the ones in this theme being less intelligent, more robotic and automatic (i.e. less adaptive) than AI theme's Exobots. The ones here could have NO_RESEARCH. Also, the ones here could be just a boost to production on outposts (no population) instead of an actual species.


Force-fields
...
  • Ship weapons (particle rays, but not lasers).
  • Shields.
  • Boosts to production (high efficiency fusion generators, solar generation...).
  • Energy hulls.
  • Detection?
Another candidate for a must-have.


Electromagnetism and superconductors
...
  • Rail/Coil guns, mass-drivers.
  • Supply boost (orbital elevator)
  • Production boosts (EM is so basic for many industrial applications that I can't name one that makes sense in a sci-fi context)
  • Detection boosts (sensors).
EM and superconductors are probably one of the basic technologies that any spacefaring civilisation should have way before they are travelling the space. The overlapping with many technologies that we can place in other micro-themes is overwhelming. E.g., efficient fusion generation most probably requires superconductors and force-fields. So, if we get enough micro-themes, some of these should be merged to make easier the life of players and designers concerned with realism/preconceptions (I know, I know, realism doesn't matter, but it does not harm to consider it just less relevant than anything else instead of completely neglecting it).


Xenogenetics
Modification of the species characteristics.
  • Boosts to population on adequate and poor environments (enough to make such environments colonisable without population boosts from other micro-themes).
  • Hybridisation of species to get access to new environments? Or just more boosts to population on hostile.
  • Boosts espionage.
  • Boosts to defence and offence troops.
  • Boosts to research.
  • Boosts to influence and/or influence-related projects (espionage).

Bioengineering/Bioevolution
Biological processes, creation of new forms of life
  • Living hulls.
  • Organic weapons and armour.
  • Monster breeding (I would remove current breedable monsters and merge this into living hulls with no pilots, using monster nests as requisites for certain hulls or weapons).
  • Life-driven terraforming (slow, automatic, only on inhabited colonies, target environment is the good environment of present species).
  • Boosts to production (biological industry)
  • Boosts to planetary defence (orbital monsters).
  • Boosts to defence and offence troops (biological weapons, monster soldiers)
  • Enables Over-Mind government/social structure (1).

Cybernetics
Flesh and machine blending, implants, body enhancement, mind networking.
  • Boosts to population on poor and hostile environments.
  • Boosts to defence and offence troops.
  • Boosts to research.
  • Boosts to production.
  • Enables Collective-Mind and Hive-Mind government/social structure (1).
I notice that boosts to production or research seem to fit in many micro-themes. Don't worry, once we have a complete set of micro-themes for an overall view we can remove or reallocate apps.


Megastructures
Huge ships, machinery and planetary structures.
  • Huge mechanical ship hulls (like self-grav. and titanic).
  • Industrial terraforming (expensive building to change environment, can be built in outposts, requires to set the target environment, maybe with 9 versions of the building).
  • Boosts to population on good and adequate planets (domes, arcologies, megalith).
  • Boosts to supply.
  • Boosts to influence (megalith).
  • Boosts to planetary defence (megacannons).
  • Boosts to defence troops (megabunkers).
  • Boosts to offence troops (megatanks).

Crystals
...
  • Laser weapons.
  • Crystal combat parts.
  • Subterranean habitation.
  • Boosts to production (energy crystals).
  • Crystal-based engines.
This one seems weak, needs more love to not make lasers forgettable.


Microgravity and asteroids
...
  • Asteroid hulls.
  • Asteroid armour.
  • Special asteroid parts (if any).
  • Boosts to production (microgravity industry, asteroid mining).
  • Boosts to system-wide defence (defensive weaponry camouflaged in the asteroid belts).
  • Boosts to population on good and adequate environments (orbital habitation).
  • Boosts to population on systems with asteroid belts.

Physics and Materials
...
  • Main line of armour parts (not applicable to living hulls).
  • Boosts to ship's base structure.
  • Base line of engines.
  • Detection.

Sociology, Sociobiology, Xenosociology, Psicohistory...
...
  • Influence production boosts
  • Happiness boosts
  • Propaganda projects
  • Counter-Espionage policies
  • Species integration boosts

Void
...
  • Trans-spatial hulls
  • Trans-spatial engines
  • N-Dim habitation
  • Space manipulation
  • Star system destruction
  • Planetary stealth
  • Ship stealth


(1) Government / Social structure.
This is a rather complex subject.
I wanted to consider government stuff when creating these themes. For this I've been reading many threads on the subjects of government, ideology, allegiances, diplomacy, species and empires relationships, etc. Apart from "this is a rather complex subject", the main conclusion is that my brain is going to implode.
I can quote Eleazar:
Eleazar wrote:As much as i love some of these ideas, and have poured countless hours into trying to develop and explain the ideas, i think we missed the mark, and developed something that will be much harder to create, balance and play than it should be. The extreme size of many of the posts, and how easily confusion and misunderstanding thrived, and the difficulty in figuring out the implications should all have been signs that we had passed beyond the realm of KISS.

These kind of experimental and difficult to define mechanics shouldn't be part of a 1.0. As much as it was hard to explain and define these mechanics in a general way, it will should be many times harder --if even possible-- to implement, balance, and make them fun. Save it for post 1.0.

I would really love to play a game with allegiance and alignments, but i'l willing to chuck them to play FreeOrion 1.0.


On the plus side, designing something that's really KISS should be much easier than this thread was.
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2075&start=360#p48311

My mentions to (Collective/Hive/Over)-Mind government/social structure comes from here.

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Re: Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#13 Post by Oberlus » Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:26 am

I've been working in the above post for the last week. Bumping it up for discussion.

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Re: Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#14 Post by em3 » Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:41 am

I think psionics could also have detection boosts, stealth boosts (hypnotic), and logistic boosts (better communication).

Do you consider including clairvoyance and telekinesis, it just telepathy?

You guys keep calling fighters drones, while I imagine them as manned craft (without FTL capabilities), with drones being a specialization, which ignores species modifiers.
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Re: Ideas for small/atomic theme categories

#15 Post by Oberlus » Tue Apr 30, 2019 9:08 am

em3 wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:41 am
I think psionics could also have detection boosts, stealth boosts (hypnotic), and logistic boosts (better communication).
Indeed. We'd need to make each theme more or less balanced in "size". So I'd say that as long as Psionics (or any other) is not the biggest micro-theme, it can accept more apps.
Do you consider including clairvoyance and telekinesis, it just telepathy?
Sure, why not? :D As long as we figure out in-game effects for those.
You guys keep calling fighters drones
I'm the only one calling "drones" to the fighters. It's my own personal jesuscrusade, cause I hate the ambiguity fighters (class) vs fighters (instance).
while I imagine them as manned craft (without FTL capabilities), with drones being a specialization, which ignores species modifiers.
I have my battery of fluff arguments against that:
- Imagine an Egassem into a "tiny" fighter.
- Fighters move at incredible accelerations compared to regular ships (so that fighters can get to melee distance to ignore shields), most living organisms would be torn apart by the sheer forces or just fall unconscious.
- Fighters need incredible accelerations (as per above), so you need to get rid of anything that increases the mass of the fighters, and a life support system is a lot of mass.
- Pilots will NEVER be as good as specialised computers/AIs in a space combat scenario when it comes to targetting enemies or evading enemy shots.
- Can you resupply pilots (and not just lost drones) after a combat at the borders of your empire but you can't build ships with Misiorla in your Sun III's orbital drydock even if you have Misiorla inhabiting Sun IV? Unfair and nonsensical.
- The concept of manned fighters in Sci-Fi is a long burden of the gender brought in only because of sensationalism. Quoting an interesting site:
When he was making his first "Star Wars" movie George Lucas thought it would be cute to add scenes inspired by old World War 2 dogfighting movies. And ever since then sci-fi fans have lost their freaking minds.
... real world combat spacecraft based on one-man fighter planes is just about the greatest military invention since the rubber spear.
___

Mostly Space Fighters fight each other, which is logical enough in itself but doesn't explain why they are used in the first place. Only two other missions can be identified for them:
  1. To destroy gargantuan BATTLE STATIONS, which are vulnerable only to attack by Space Fighters.
  2. To give prominent roles to young males in their early twenties, so they can display their swagger, coolness, and fast moves on any attractive female of an Interbreedable species.

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