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  #1  
Old July 4th, 2010, 05:17 AM
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Default High level design thoughts

How do people want this game to work?

Do you want vast empires spanning dozens or hundreds of stars? Do you want smaller empires, with planet-by-planet control of every part of a solar system?

Should battles be mostly small actions (~10 vessels per side?) or large ones, with fleets of cruisers and hordes of fighters?

For that matter, have the developers already made any of these decisions? I for one would like to know.
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Old July 4th, 2010, 07:32 AM
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Default Re: High level design thoughts

Hi Greg!

I would like to see smaller empires with the option to control a lot of things and grand space battles with vast amounts of ships.

Both extremes of the options you gave really.
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Last edited by Timstone; July 4th, 2010 at 07:32 AM.. Reason: Typo's!
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Old July 7th, 2010, 12:25 PM

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Default Re: High level design thoughts

Personally I would prefer smaller empires of no more than a dozen to 20 or so star systems each (total amount per galaxy maybe less than 200 or upto 150) with many planets and detailed variety of star systems (ie binary stars, blue supergiants or red dwarfs each reflecting the kind of planets it would support. Ie red drawfs would harbour a scarce amount of planets whereas Yellow Orange type G stars would be abundant in resources and planets being that they have a higher metallicity. And please a realistic variety of moons for gas giants).

The problem with having 100s of stars controlled by computers or human players is that it becomes wholly repetitive and forgettable. I say this because I have played so many 4X Space conquest games and the latest I saw being Lost Empire Immortals and Armada 2526. I prefer each star system has their own unique feel and character with localised (outside immediate star system) anomolies like comets, kuipers belts, nebulas or black holes. Making planet conquest a completely immersive experience.

At the moment there are so few games that balance all the above out. I never saw the appeal of a strategy game featuring near infinite star systems, because the ones that tackle this rarely come on top, like Lost Empire Immortals, and Spores space stage really got tedious as well. Apparently Distant Worlds is the only one out there that tried the big numbers star system approach and claims to manage it ok. But I am yet to play it and give my honest opinion. They say its automated, but who knows if this works well.

Otherwise the only other 4X Space Strategy game that has my attention is Sword of the Stars II, I never completely gave the 1st one a chance to grow on me. But the sequel promises to introduce complex many planet star systems, with detailed terrain and points of interest (comets to name a few as mentioned in the official game interview)... and that got my attention. But its a wait and see for now.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 02:29 PM
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Default Re: High level design thoughts

SotS 2? Hmm, have to keep an eye on that one
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Old July 8th, 2010, 10:06 PM
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Default Re: High level design thoughts

I've become rather enamored of mobile facilities. I'd like to see those in this game.
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Old July 22nd, 2010, 07:10 AM

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Default Re: High level design thoughts

1. I want to be able to chose whether i want to have great galaxy or small. What i often miss lately, is that the Explore part is too most of the time too short. I want to be able to have up to 50 turns without meeting an alien species (at least a major actor) and having to focus on exploration with events on planets.

2. Same. I would like to see most battles with around 10 Large Battleships (with up to 30 escorts and hundreds of fighters). In a game, battles with more than 10 large Battleships should be really rare. Also the bigger the map, the more important are Battleships so the decision on where to send them should be very strategic.
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Old July 22nd, 2010, 07:23 PM

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Default Re: High level design thoughts

I would like to see a flexible, mod-able game engine. Most of the discussions I've seen in the SL forums have been about things that mods could cover. I'd rather have the game developers focus on developing the game engine instead of a mod to play on it, so I'll focus on basic engine points.

I want a sensible learning curve. If it's too shallow, the game isn't much fun, and will have little replay value. The other extreme would be Dwarven Fortress, where you literally have no idea what you're doing unless you can get someone who knows the game to guide you through the first 1000 hours of gameplay. The learning curve will be heavily affected by...

1. A sensible UI. SE4 is a decent, but not exemplar, example of a good UI. It has it's weak points (getting your ships to do what you wanted them to, in particular), but it got the job done with a minimum of hassles. I really hope the developers learned a lesson from SE5's UI in what NOT to do. Click-fests are not welcome, and 10 layer deep menus are not fun. (note that some exaggeration was used here. :P ) Commands and game information needs to be easily accessible, no more than 3 clicks away for all but the most obscure reports. If it takes me more than 2 seconds to get to any but the most trivial report or command, then the UI is a failure in my eyes.

Oh, and by the way, Hot Keys are no substitute for a mouse. For reference, turn your mother loose on Dwarven Fortress. She won't get anywhere, most likely. Point and click is a must. Without it, most people who try the game will find it to difficult, and SL will never target a core audience larger than the Spreadsheets-In-Space crowd. Now, I'm not saying that Hot Keys are bad; in fact they should definitely be included. They are far faster than the 2 seconds per command a mouse can make. I'm just saying that WITHOUT a good implentation of the I/O method 99.9999999% of your market is comfortable with, this game will never be the true successor to SE4 it can be.

2. Subtly deep, WELL DOCUMENTED game mechanics capable of supporting user defined variables. The beginning player stumbling through their first game should be able to discern, for example, the basics of how combat functions. As the player becomes more skilled, subtleties in strategy will develop, and the mechanics need to be deep enough to let the player stretch down into them. They will, however, need to know how the game mechanics work for them to do this effectively. To make an exceptional mod, the modder will need to understand EXACTLY how the game goes through it's mechanics, step by step. All the knowledge that had to be experimentally derived from SE4, like the steps in a combat turn, how movement was executed, etc. should be provided to the player.

The mechanics should be very deep, though. Take Dwarven Fortress or Dominions 3, for example. There are all sorts of things going on under the surface, things that the player has no direct control over, but can sometimes indirectly affect. For example, in Dominions each unit had, what, 15 or 20 individual stats, affecting everything from movement speed to stamina to damage dealt. Lots of variables interacting with each other under the surface creates a realistic world feel. Mods would be responsible for shaping how that world feels, likely using variables that the Modder creates, but the engine needs to be capable of supporting all those different variables.

3. A powerful, sane scripting language. See SE5 for the powerful aspect but look elsewhere for the sanity (or so I've heard). A videogame is just another way to tell a story, and if you want that story to be an interesting one, you'll need plot points. These could be anything from "your ship entered a forbidden area, unleashing a horde of space monsters into your core systems", to "every system has been seen by at least one race, so now the Warp Points shall start opening and closing at random intervals". If the modder isn't able to change the environment in interesting ways mid-game, then gameplay will become somewhat linear, which isn't nearly as fun.

Ok, I think that's enough to chew on for now.
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Old July 23rd, 2010, 09:12 AM
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Default Re: High level design thoughts

Yes, I would like to keep battles on a small to moderate scale too - not sure where the other developers stand on this, but that's my preference! Fleets of 100 dreadnoughts are just silly... If you need 100 of 'em to make a fleet, they're not really dreadnoughts, are they? :P

With that in mind, I think we'll be going for a mechanic where you can design a ship of any arbitrary size, so if your opponent has 100 so-called "dreadnoughts" in his fleet, there's nothing stopping you from upping the ante with a fleet of ten super-dreadnoughts!

We are definitely learning from SE5... the game is completely 2D (apart from perhaps some parallax scrolling backgrounds, but hey, they had those in the Sega Genesis days!), and when we get to implementing a ship design screen, we are NOT going to use slots - just lists of components like SE3 or SE4! So adding 100 of the same component would probably be as simple as picking a component, clicking "add", and adjusting the quantity installed!

Not sure what exactly you mean by "user defined variables", but we are using a reasonably sane scripting language, namely IronPython. Right now the galaxy generation is done by a script, so it would be very simple to adjust in any way! Also, it's looking like achievements (e.g. technology) will be at least partly script-based, so I imagine that would fit in to your "space monster" scenario - instead of an achievement which triggers when you reach 100 research accumulated in Physics and causes you to gain Physics Tech Level 1, have an "achievement" which triggers when your ship enters the forbidden nebula, and causes a bunch of monsters to spawn!

Speaking of tech, we've got some interesting ideas on how to do research... think of "research points" and "engineering points", where the former is used to discover new techs, and the latter is used to improve old techs (though you might be able to funnel your RP into engineering if you really want to improve that one old tech!) RP would be produced primarily by research labs, but EP would be produced by building and maintaining things. So you build a laser cannon, that might earn you 5 EP toward lasers, and each turn your laser remains in working condition, you gain another 1 EP toward lasers. Then these EP might be spent toward new laser prototypes (say, a laser with 20% more damage). if you have RP, though, you can spend them toward laser theory (which would reduce the EP cost of any future laser prototypes). This last part isn't quite so certain yet, but if it works the way I'm hoping, you'll be able to create new laser components up to a certain level (say, 2 attributes improved by 1 level each, or 1 attribute improved 2 levels) cheaper than investing in laser theory, but if you want the really fancy stuff, it would be more economical (assuming you have RP to spare) to invest in theory first before building the prototype! (Keep in mind this tech stuff is still up in the air at the moment - I just thought I'd post it here to see what folks think before we go down any particular path with it!)

So yes, that does mean you could potentially create your own variants of components in-game... create a laser with +2 on the damage slider and call it a High Energy Laser, create a laser with +2 on miniaturization and -2 on damage and call it a Point Defense Laser I hope this doesn't seem too confusing... that's part of the reason for the Engineering Points being required to create new variants - it's not just for realism, but also for keeping a player's choices on the ship design screen within reason! If you could create new variants of components for every single ship design willy-nilly, then that would make ship design take FOREVER!
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Old July 23rd, 2010, 10:45 PM

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Default Re: High level design thoughts

I really like the Engineering Points idea. It fits in very well with the "lots of things going on under the surface; things that can only be affected indirectly". It also sounds like it will mix well with the directly affected Research Points. Basic stuff should be directly affected, but the under the surface stuff shouldn't be.

Ships of any arbitrary size, eh? That sounds difficult to balance. I'm assuming there will be maintenance/supply/other penalties against bigger ships, that research can reduce/eliminate...
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Old July 27th, 2010, 11:06 AM

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Default Re: High level design thoughts

Hi guys, I just found out about this game and I'm looking forward to it.

A few things I'd like to see:

1. Huge galaxy with tons of planets as long as there are tools to automate things like building and population migration. I like games that can go on for weeks!

2. Limited range on ships, getting into deep space should be expensive and time consuming.

3. A feature I know I've always wanted was the ability to divide my empire up into named regions of stars and be able to set certain regions to focus on research, ship building, etc.... It might also be useful if a war is going badly to be able to easily order the population of 20 planets to evacuate alpha region and move to the gamma region to avoid getting slaughtered.

4. Near unlimited ship sizes, but costs, upkeep, and build time should increase exponentially to size. I like the idea of big battle ships and carriers being very valuable and strategic assets that are very time consuming and expensive to replace.

5. A setting to drastically increase research and ship construction time. I like a long slow build up to a massive confrontation. In most 4x games, it just seems like by the time you have designed and deployed a couple ships with the latest tech, you have already developed 2 or 3 more tech levels or components. Then you are back designing and refitting ships that are just a few turns old. I'd just like the age of lasers to last for a good long time before the next major weapons development.

6. Ship crews gaining experience in battle


Those are the major items I would like to see and I can't wait to see how this game turns out.
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