Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

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Haussmann
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Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#1 Post by Haussmann »

Anyone this adding Von Neumann ships would be a good idea?

Von Neumann machines are mechanical life, that is, machines capable of self-replication.
The idea is, that you enter a system with one ship, ships finds a suitable asteroid, an egg that's a universal constructor with a fusion reactor attached dismantles the asteroid and makes another ship.... Crewmen wouldn't be a problem. Mind uploading is quite possible probably, so making a squadron of ships and that many robotic copies of crewmen is not a really far fetched concept..

I think there is a place for them in ground combat. In the Moving Mars books, that kind of robots was used. Earth seeded remote places of Mars with nano-factories that then produced a zillion war robots that wreaked serious havoc. Could be that after, say ,ten turns after a successful deployment against a planet you could get loads of war robots down there, awaiting assignments..


Of course, it's a game. I know that universal constructors would be kind of game breaking.. the ability to build huge kilometer-sized ones in the asteroid belt, into which asteroids would enter from one side and robot starships fly out from the other would kind of unbalance the game, especially if someone did not have the capability..

I have an idea of how to add this into the game..
If you've read Iain M.Banks's books, his galaxy is filled with civilizations in all kinds of eras.. from primitive, to spacefaring, involved(top players) to sublimed(very advanced ones those that went off to god knows where to engage in some navel gazing, but still keep an eye on the things). What about putting in these kinds of machines, but their extensive use would run the risk of angering some elder, godlike civilization, which could then decide to mount a punitive expedition, that would, say, conquer all your worlds except homeworld and give them to enemy empire.. and so on.

Kind of like Age of Wonders II, where it was possible to piss off the Mother Nature (she was a real bitch in that game)

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eleazar
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Re: Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#2 Post by eleazar »

Haussmann wrote:Of course, it's a game. I know that universal constructors would be kind of game breaking...
Yes, they would be. The crux of the game is that you have a limited amount of resources, and you need to make decisions how much into ships, new colonies, wonders, etc. Making ships virtually unlimited would ruin the dynamic and turn combat into something of a constant, meaningless melee.

Haussmann wrote:I have an idea of how to add this into the game..
...What about putting in these kinds of machines, but their extensive use would run the risk of angering some elder, godlike civilization, which could then decide to mount a punitive expedition, that would, say, conquer all your worlds except homeworld and give them to enemy empire.. and so on.
Doesn't seem to solve the problem. It just make things more luck based. Using Von Newman ships would likely be the only practical way to win. Whoever happens to do so without angering the elder beings wins. Or on the other hand you might win because everyone else uses the Machines, and the elder beings wipe everyone else out, so you win by default.
Either way it doesn't sound very satisfying.

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Krikkitone
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Re: Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#3 Post by Krikkitone »

Von Neuman Machines would basically be

1. Improve the Construction Meter Max
2. Improve the Mining/Industry Meter Max

VN based industry would still be limited by population, (for oversight type purposes) If no "population" is used as oversight, then the VN machines themselves are intelligent enough to count as population units.

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Uber-Noob
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Re: Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#4 Post by Uber-Noob »

I don't think they would un-balance the game, as long as they appeared late. Here are some Ideas to keep them in balance:

--Maybe they crank out a ship per turn (or a ship every few turns, like one turn per size class of the hull) but after a certain number of turns they would consume whatever they were placed on (planet, asteroid belt, etc). Short-term military boost at the expense of long-term colonizing prospects. By late in the game, a strong colony will be able to out produce it.

--Maybe they could take a little while to "tool up" like say, 4-5 turns, they might also be pre-programmed, so you have to decide what kind of ship it will crank out several turns before it starts building, possibly making the ship obsolete before it even starts producing.

I have a few other ways to balance them, but I will have to post those later.

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Tortanick
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Re: Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#5 Post by Tortanick »

Uber-Noob wrote:--Maybe they crank out a ship per turn (or a ship every few turns, like one turn per size class of the hull) but after a certain number of turns they would consume whatever they were placed on (planet, asteroid belt, etc). Short-term military boost at the expense of long-term colonizing prospects. By late in the game, a strong colony will be able to out produce it.
Just What do you think they're doing? You could make millions of ships out of an entire planet, how on earth will they manage to destroy it, a sideline in dada art :?
Uber-Noob wrote:--Maybe they could take a little while to "tool up" like say, 4-5 turns, they might also be pre-programmed, so you have to decide what kind of ship it will crank out several turns before it starts building, possibly making the ship obsolete before it even starts producing.
Unless this game plays a lot faster than any older 4x that isn't much of a disadvantage.

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eleazar
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Re: Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#6 Post by eleazar »

Krikkitone wrote:Von Neuman Machines would basically be

1. Improve the Construction Meter Max
2. Improve the Mining/Industry Meter Max

VN based industry would still be limited by population, (for oversight type purposes) If no "population" is used as oversight, then the VN machines themselves are intelligent enough to count as population units.
Well, yes that would make them fit within the parameters of the game, but the whole point of the Von Neumann Machine is to be able to expand (reproduce) without human agency, indefinitely, so i don't know why we would call a simple bonus to the construction, mining and/or industry meter(s) a Von Neumann Machine.

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Krikkitone
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Re: Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#7 Post by Krikkitone »

eleazar wrote:
Krikkitone wrote:Von Neuman Machines would basically be

1. Improve the Construction Meter Max
2. Improve the Mining/Industry Meter Max

VN based industry would still be limited by population, (for oversight type purposes) If no "population" is used as oversight, then the VN machines themselves are intelligent enough to count as population units.
Well, yes that would make them fit within the parameters of the game, but the whole point of the Von Neumann Machine is to be able to expand (reproduce) without human agency, indefinitely, so i don't know why we would call a simple bonus to the construction, mining and/or industry meter(s) a Von Neumann Machine.
Well they can produce themselves without human direction [hence a construction meter bonus], but can they produce something usefull without "human" direction?

If they can decide "for themselves" what to produce, then they are a race not a tech. Otherwise they need someone to "tell" them what tye of ship to build.


A simple tech idea would be to allow a planet to be colonized by a "Robotic Population"
Robotic population grows based on the Construction meter, does not consume Food, and all environments give the same Max pop. That would be a VonNeuman machine
Loyalty has no effect... the planet would produce for the owner based on the tech they had (since you need to reprogram the machines)

Early levels would have penalties to certain meters, and the penalties would slowly lift (ie capped at 0, -X, eventually same as for a human world)

The fact is we have "Von Neumann machines" ie things that reproduce themselves indefinitely without human interference already... they are called living organisms... humans are needed to make them useful.

You could therefore have 'biogenetic' von neumann machines as well, when you can reprogram crops to be self harvesting (cows with opposable thumbs that use those thumbs to instinctively slaughter and ship each other to the starport for offworld consumption) [the only difference there is they would grow based on health and consume food, and be based on a certain environment, they would basically just be genetically programmed slave workers.. only difference would be the no Loyalty effect]

marhawkman
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Re: Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#8 Post by marhawkman »

If you apply this to a ship... It might work acceptably well if you made the device take up around 3/4 of the ship or so. IE the ships can replicate, but it's not a quick process or an efficient one, as the replication equipment prevents the ship from being formidable in combat.

Actually, now that I think about it, this sort of technology is a staple of the Space Empires series. The more recent games have a slower construction rate, but the tech has been in virtually every incarnation of SE. Technically it's not quite a Von Neumann machine as you still have to PAY for the construction, but the cost paid isn't terribly high.
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Uber-Noob
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Re: Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#9 Post by Uber-Noob »

Tortanick wrote:
Uber-Noob wrote:--Maybe they crank out a ship per turn (or a ship every few turns, like one turn per size class of the hull) but after a certain number of turns they would consume whatever they were placed on (planet, asteroid belt, etc). Short-term military boost at the expense of long-term colonizing prospects. By late in the game, a strong colony will be able to out produce it.
Just What do you think they're doing? You could make millions of ships out of an entire planet, how on earth will they manage to destroy it, a sideline in dada art :?
Sure, why not? Robots love dada :mrgreen:

Seriously though, you could say that they have a built in safety feature that shuts them down after x turns otherwise they could take over the galaxy :oops: . Besides, I am going for game balance, not strict realisim. You might also explain it away as (enormous) inefficiencies in the matter :arrow: energy :arrow: matter conversion, 2nd law of thermodynamics, etc. It's science fiction, as long as I can suspend my disbelief I am OK :D .

Edit: The point about 4 turns being a small price to pay is valid. But small penalties can add up if you think up enough of them. You might also crank it up to 10 or 20. It would depend on play testing.

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Yeeha
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Re: Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#10 Post by Yeeha »

its good idea for "space monster" but not for player technology imho.

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General_Zaber
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Re: Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#11 Post by General_Zaber »

How about just making the things really hard to research and produce. After all, the concept would imply they're capable of everything but you hve to build them first. And as a further penalty VN constructors would consume whatever planet/ asteroid belt they're working from very quickly with only a few ships/things produced because they would burn the majority of the matter used as fuel.

Just a thought.
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Re: Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#12 Post by marhawkman »

Hmm... that doesn't sound good, it'd make scorched earth far more effective.

Temporarily take over solar system, useup all the planets, etc... to make more ships, repeat.

I think a better way to do it would be to use pseudo-VNMs that cost resources to replicate.
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Re: Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#13 Post by Kharagh »

To balance this tech we could add a chance for a rebellion of the von neumann machines.

The more and the longer you use the tech, the higher the chance of loosing control over the machines. You would either face an AI rebellion like in the terminater series where an AI really tries to take over your empire or a wave of aimlessly replicating machines like the replicaters in Stargate.

The "rebellion" would have a very high chance of turning against you, rather than one of your enemies, as the machines would have all available info about your empires location, resources, etc. They would be plain stupid not to attack their maker first.

Basically there WILL be a rebellion sooner of later, so you would have to be very careful with the tech, always having a containment fleet at hand or being ready to blow the machines apart using the build in self-destruct devices (and hoping the machines have not managed to disable it)

It might also be possible for an enemy to get the command keys for your machines using espionage and turning them against you.

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Krikkitone
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Re: Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#14 Post by Krikkitone »

Exactly either the machines
1. require the intervention of population units to operate (in which case they are just a tech to improve Industry/Minerals)
OR
2. they ARE population units.

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Re: Von Neumann machines.../ universal constructors..

#15 Post by marhawkman »

Hmm... Population unit? that sounds interesting. :)
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