Social Meters

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drek
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Social Meters

#1 Post by drek » Tue May 18, 2004 2:20 pm

I've been thinking of ways of implementing the effects of technology, buildings, racial picks, leaders, planet specials, government picks etc. If every effect is special cased in the code, the code bloat might end up unwieldly.

Possible solution:
I'd like to see a mechanism that records the status and defines the effects of various "social meters". Certain buildings, technologies, and conidtions would effect these social meters, the meters in turn defining the effect on the empire.

There'd be an overall set of meters for the entire empire. In addition, each planet would have a set a of meters, visually buried somewhere on the planet screen.

The benefit is that the effects of various technologies (and other game objects such as leaders, buildings, and government picks) are normalized: instead of inventing an effect for each building, tech, leader, etc., we'd define effects for each level of the meter.

I think it'll make for a much cleaner tech tree: easier to design and implement.

For example, a Trade meter helps define how much Money is made per planet. Trade techs increment the meter, as do trade agreements with other empires. Trade sanctions imposed by other empires reduce the meter. Certain trade buildings and planet specials increment the meter on the local level.

The Health meter would govern population growth and would be effected by techs, food surplus/famine. On the local level random plagues events might degrade the meter.

The trick would be to think up enough meters to catch the effects of most technologies (etc etc), but not so many as to make the design unwieldy.

In particular, I'd like to hear from any coders thinking about how to implement the tech/building effects for v.3. This would make things alot easier, yes/no?

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Impaler
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#2 Post by Impaler » Tue May 18, 2004 5:30 pm

Sounds much like the aproatch used in SMAC (so ofcorse I support it).

Buildings/Facilites give Bases/Planets a bost on particular Social Enginierning scales, goverment Choices are the most important thouigh as they realy define your whole "meta" strategy, they ofcorse have trade offs. Buildings tend to have small but always positive effects.

A ways ago I was threw out an idea for fusing the SMAC system with the Moo3 Opressometer. Basicaly it boiled down to having a range on the metter that your races default "Social Range" and you can slide the meter around within that window. Goverments and other Social Changes just move the window up or down.

Inorder for their to be any point to that though we would need to have a downside to every metter. In the Opressometer you have a trade off between security and happyness. On the otherhand in SMAC is ALWAYS better to have +5 Econ then +4 and way better to have +10! because their is only one Effect naimly more money.

So we have a basic choice to make regarding social meters.

1 - Single effect metters like that in SMAC, higher is always better.

2 - Trade off double effect metters like the Opressometer, balance 2 inversly proportional benefits for your society, situation determines what the best settings are.
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Krikkitone
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#3 Post by Krikkitone » Tue May 18, 2004 6:24 pm

I'd propose single effect Factors

Governemtal/Policy type choices should involve some type of Trade off though.

So an 'Oppressometer' would have two effects Security v. Happiness wheras buildings and technologies would have effects directly on Security OR Happiness (some Could allow greater ranges of the Oppressometer).

so you would have two things
1. Your Social Meters (you don't change them, they show you the effect of your decisions)

2. Policy 'Sliders' That have double effects with increasing levels. (one positive one negative)

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Ragnar
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#4 Post by Ragnar » Tue May 18, 2004 6:37 pm

Sounds good to me. I agree with Krikkitone. (I find myself saying that a lot, we must think alike :) )

drek
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#5 Post by drek » Tue May 18, 2004 11:30 pm

Instead of sliders, I was thinking certain buildings would improve one meter at the expense of another.

For example, a wonder-sized Gulag would improve security empire-wide, at the expense of happiness (plus an extra happiness hit to whatever system you place the Gulag in).

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noelte
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#6 Post by noelte » Wed May 19, 2004 7:23 am

I also wondered about how those effects could stack. some might be kind of +1 from trade and others 10% from trade. In those cases a order is required. or we use somewhat smilar how moo2 did stacking of research buildings.

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Krikkitone
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#7 Post by Krikkitone » Wed May 19, 2004 3:19 pm

drek wrote:Instead of sliders, I was thinking certain buildings would improve one meter at the expense of another.

For example, a wonder-sized Gulag would improve security empire-wide, at the expense of happiness (plus an extra happiness hit to whatever system you place the Gulag in).
Well some buildings should do that... but I'd rather model Gulags by just selecting a meter in my policy bar..It shouldn't be a Building unless it takes a significant infrastructure to make it actually work. (Like say a 'Planetary Mind Control Broadcast Tower')

Also for stacking, I'd say they should have two types of effects
1. Multiplicative (with Stacking effect ie two things that give a x1.1 give a total of 1.21 not 1.2 so that early effects aren't just swamped)
2. Additive (adds to base value..ie before multiplication.. these Will get swamped out so it is favored for technologies that go "obsolete".. ie a +1 to base is nearly irrelevant when you have +20)

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Impaler
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#8 Post by Impaler » Wed May 19, 2004 7:48 pm

Ok so it seems theirs a consensus forming around social meters that have a trade off effect much like the opressometer. And their would be interactions with goverment types as well I imagine.

So lets say for example we have the basic Economic Meter (this is mostly ripped off from SMAC and is just an example of the kinds of things that might be affected)

+4 +4 Cash each Space Port, +20% Cash each Space Port, +2 Trade
+3 +2 Cash each Space Port, +15% Cash each Space Port, +1 Trade
+2 +1 Cash each Space Port, +10% Cash each Space Port
+1 +1 Cash each Space Port
0 Normal Economy
-1 -10% Cash each space port
-2 -15% Cash each space port
-3 -20% Cash each space port


Likly catagories are

Economy, Industry, Morale, Population Growth, Security (Espionage Defence), Espionage (offensive), Military support costs, Research speed (perhaps by catagory), Efficiency (if we have waste that is), areas for each focus, Population happyness, martial law alowed.
Fear is the Mind Killer - Frank Herbert -Dune

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Ragnar
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#9 Post by Ragnar » Wed May 19, 2004 10:00 pm

Sounds good to me. You can dovetail in: racial bonuses, tech effects, government picks, building effects, and effects from various 'policy sliders' that work to balance two or more of these 'empire factors'. All things just effect the same 'empire factors' - quick way to see how you are doing overall.

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#10 Post by drek » Wed May 19, 2004 10:17 pm

Impaler:
You are assigning effects to buildings...it should be the other way around, otherwise the idea is pointless.

Buildings, infrastructure, government types, leaders, technologies, enviromental preferences, events, racial picks, planet specials, and other misc. factors define the meters. The meters in turn influence the actual production of resources, population, and such.

The idea is to normalize interactions, so that the code doesn't end up bloated and the design doesn't become overly difficult to balance.

For example, in Civ/SMAC "Cure for Cancer" technology might add +25% directly to population growth and make one citizen in each city happy. Under the meter system, a "Cure for Cancer" would instead add points to Health and Happiness.

Normally, objects should only add or subtract points to the meters. There really shouldn't be any percentile increases/decreases--with a few critical exceptions. For example, having no Nutrients should lower Health all the way down to 0, regardless of other factors.

Ragnar:

Exactly.

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Krikkitone
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#11 Post by Krikkitone » Thu May 20, 2004 3:35 am

Actually, I think ALL effects should be multiplicative (or the 'Meters' should have an exponential effect)

That prevents 'swamping'

For example, +2 production race pick is really good in the beginning of MOO2, toward the end, its value has fallen from a ~60% boost down to a ~20% boost

BUT if instead of +2 you have x1.50 (+50%)
Then it is Always just as significant at the beginning as the end of the game
Or you could say +2 but the effect is something like
Level Bonus
5........32 output
4........16 output
3........8 output
2........4 output
1.......2 output
0.......1 output
-1 (or some sufficiently low number).....0 output

[Values exaggerated for effect]

This is why I think some things should affect it additively
ie the 'total working infrastructures' ie all the infrastructures that are available to work.
and others multiplicatively
The 'Efficiency' of those infrastructures,
ie Mineral Output is
[Active Mining Infrastructure] * Mineral Efficiency

Mineral Efficiency being a 'Meter' affected by Environment, Race picks, Technologies, Government, Events, Special Buildings...etc.

So Just looking at One Foci (Minerals), you would have the following Meters

Mineral Efficiency
Mining Labor Efficiency (How many mining Infrastructures a population unit can make active)

Mining Infrastructure Cost [Probably NOT changing in game but for a few Special circumstances..or for the modders]
Mining Maintenance Cost [Probably NOT changing in game but for a few Special circumstances..or for the modders]

The last two might be a General Infrastructure Cost/General Maintenance Cost or just eliminated



And of course there would be 'Meters' involving Combat/Diplomacy/Spying/'Population Management'

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#12 Post by drek » Thu May 20, 2004 12:20 pm

That's too many meters, imho. You are thinking of directly effecting each variable in the economy engine via various bonuses, which is what I'm trying to avoid.

The meters themselves prevent swamping:

I was thinking that each meter would range from 0.00-10.00, producing a higher bonus in steps of one. A meter of 5.00 is the default: an empire of average ability.

Each turn, a base number is computed for the meter. For example, in the case of Health, the base would be determined by the ratio of food vs. population, producing a number 0-5. Then, additional bonuses are added by buildings, technologies, and racial picks. Any bonus that would drag the total above 10.00 is ignored. Generally, we'd design the total tech tree etc. so that a player with every bonus would have just over 10 points total in a meter.

As per Impaler's example, the bonus would be defined for each step of the meter, along with a descriptive label:
For Health:

0: Unmitigated Diaster -300% Growth, -3 Happiness
1: Very Sickly -100% Growth, -2 Happiness
2: Sickly -50% Growth, -1 Happiness
3: Poor Health -25% Growth
4: Inadequate Health -5% Growth
5: Normal 0% Growth
6: Adequate Health 5% bonus
7: Good 25% bonus
8: Great 50% bonus, +.25 Happiness
9: Incredible 75%, +.50 Happiness
10: Immortality 100% +1 Happiness

The game engine can then use Health as a lookup table. The Population Growth formula would reference Health, for example, as might the a random event like Plague--roll 1d10, if greater than Health, then start Plague event.

Of course, different parts of the empire might have a different Health values. A wonder-sized health care buildings might, for example, add +1 Health to every planet in the system and systems connected by starlanes. A plague might cause -3 Health to the afflicted world. (important to note that all actions effect meters: for example, bombing a world reduces it's population's Health for a turn)

Another quick thought: occurs to me that Powercrazy's Infrastructure would be our first meter, though it would operate via slightly different rules than the others.

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#13 Post by Impaler » Thu May 20, 2004 1:14 pm

Using 0 as the default point on the metter is better I belive, Positive numbers for bonuses and negatives for penalties, the scales need not be adsactly 10 either. (yours for example actualy contains 11 positions)

For one this will make it easier to add to or trim from the ends of the meter in the design/balancing process without renumbering every position on it.

I dont personaly feel that things like current food supplies shoud be changing your meters, rather the meter determines base growth and THEN food avalibility modifies that. In general all such meters are the Base from which other things are calculated not a view of the planets situation.

In SMAC when a base has no food we dont say that it has -4 growth, or if it has no mineral income that is has -10 Industry. The meters are determined by Goverments, Race Bonuses and Facilites. Avalibility of materials/labor ect is a completly seperate matter not adressed by the meter.

That said I do like the idea of actions like bombarding a planet (or any other major conflic to effect meters detrimentaly, perhaps the effect is perminent untill their is some kind of active "clean up" or "rebuilding" much like removing negative Specials in Moo3 so basicaly you gave the planet a negative special called "war ravaged")
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#14 Post by drek » Thu May 20, 2004 1:49 pm

I gave it 11 positions intentionally, so that there'd be the same number of positions on either side of average (5). It could be that -5 to +5 would be eaiser for the player to parse. (or -10 to +10 for that matter, I see your point re: numbering).
In SMAC when a base has no food we dont say that it has -4 growth, or if it has no mineral income that is has -10 Industry. The meters are determined by Goverments, Race Bonuses and Facilites. Avalibility of materials/labor ect is a completly seperate matter not adressed by the meter.
I agree with this statement in every case that I can think of, except for Nutrients/food and Minerals. Dividing population/food stockpile to get a base for a meter is a much easier mechanic than trying to actually dole out food to each population unit, because we are left with no ambiguity. In the case of shortfall, which population units don't get food? With the Health meter being based off this ratio, this question never arises.

The same arguement applies for Minerals feeding Industry.

I'm 100% in favor of specials being added to worlds (and possibly systems) to reflect events. War Ravaged, Plagued, Unrest, etc.

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#15 Post by Krikkitone » Thu May 20, 2004 3:47 pm

I thought the idea was to incorporate Every effect into the Meters...so that every effect that we want seperated from other effects would be a Meter.

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