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  #1  
Old 07-24-2012, 01:41 PM
Bluddy Bluddy is offline
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Default Issues with the 4x and race ships

It seems to me like the 4x gameplay suffers from being too deterministic. I've mentioned this in my other thread as well. The relation system is now great -- alliances and counter-alliances are formed and broken and things are interesting in general. But I've noticed issues with the 4x and with player interaction with enemy fleets:

1. If a race is leading, it's too easy for it to overwhelm the other races. In other words, there is a feedback loop where having an advantage gives you an even bigger advantage, and races that are behind have a lot of trouble catching up.
2. It's very hard for the player to contribute to the gameplay when race ships are so strong and plentiful.

The first item is a result of the simulation not including several variables. Each planet produces food, population, tech and minerals, and minerals + credits are used to build ships. However, there's apparently no variation of costs between ship types. In fact, it doesn't seem like races even use different ship types (other than basic things like colony and diplomat ships. I would expect the races to create many cheap, light ships; a few bigger ships; and one or two armada-class ships, and this doesn't seem to happen. This would also alleviate point number 2: the player can't stand up to many destroyers (or other big ships), which seem to surround every planet. But if most ships were small, and many didn't have shields (like monsters), then the player could take on several of them. In fact, this would also allow monsters to have an impact -- currently it's very hard for monsters to have much impact beyond the beginning of the sector (unless the player set the monster level to be very high).

So ship variety is one problem, but there are others. It would be really nice if some planets had special importance -- they could be the seat of local government, or a military base. Taking out key planets would throw many other planets into chaos, or would cause an entire sub-fleet to go offline temporarily. This would really help with making a dent in a huge race that's taken over the galaxy. Essentially it would be putting weak points in said huge race's defenses so that you don't have to take out every one of their planets -- something that's just not doable.

Another thing that doesn't seem to be tracked by the simulation is planet happiness level. It appears that planting propaganda stimulates an unrest quest, but that kind of thing should perhaps be tracked, so that if the planet is fairly unhappy, you can push it further and further to the edge. Unrest quests on their own have minimal impact on a planet's productivity and are therefore a disappointing result of spending a lot of money on good propaganda. Unhappiness could result from races not spending enough money on luxury because they're going into war. A race like the Hive could have a real advantage here, because its citizens would require very few luxuries and it could therefore marshall most of its resources in times of war. A race like the Dryad could suffer during war, with its citizens becoming unhappy and rebellious.

One of the results of having more variety (and in general weaker) race ships is that you could actually have a chance going up against them. Race ships seem to have no slot limits (or perhaps there's some hardcoded weak limits -- it's hard to say from the data files) and have the same components more or less as your ship. So each ship is basically the equivalent of your ship, except they often have more shields and armor. Fighting a clone of yourself is hard, but fighting several clones of yourself (as they usually bunch together) is *extremely* hard, and makes it feel like despite being a badass against monsters, you can't put up a fight against the race ships. For example, killing just 4 ships for the new war quests that now pop up is a very difficult task. I didn't find any way to play around with this stuff as it seems mostly hard-coded, or perhaps the items are just based on the races' tech levels. In any case, I would like to see most race ships be weaker than they are, with some super-ships slowly being sent to where the action is.

One other thing that would be nice would be to have fleet maintenance costs. These would compete with luxury spending, and would make it hard for even large races to field huge fleets -- large races have populations hungry for luxuries. Take out a few key money-making planets, and the race will have a hard time keeping its fleet going.

As I mentioned in the other thread, if all the simulation stuff sounds like too much, there's always the option of simplifying it and abstracting it into control points or some such concept, similar to what board games do. Planets would then not directly correspond to bigger fleets -- having more planets would only contribute a certain amount of control points (with diminishing returns), which would be used to build fleets globally. The abstract notion of control points would already take into account things like bureaucracy, inefficiency, the difficulty of coordinating a huge empire etc by having diminishing returns. Quests could then directly affect control points, which would really make it feel like quests have an impact of the game rather than doing things like decreasing a planet's production by 10%, which has minimal impact. The advantage of this method is that you'd get much more dynamic games and much more player control.
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Old 07-24-2012, 03:51 PM
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Axegrinder Axegrinder is offline
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I agree with your point about large empires that keep growing unchallenged. In other empire building games like EU3 they have a bad boy algorithm built in. If a faction grows too rapidly or starts a lot of wars the other countries would gang up on him. There would also be a greater risk of civil unrest and rebels spawning. This could add much to the dynamic game play.

Last edited by Axegrinder : 07-24-2012 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 07-24-2012, 04:06 PM
Chumpy Chumpy is offline
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Seems like rebellions can result in a rebel faction emerging, which is interesting, but it takes too long to actually happen in a normal game.

I think the player will be able to pit race ships against each other once we get rally beacons, but they're still a little too strong.

Quote:
So ship variety is one problem, but there are others. It would be really nice if some planets had special importance -- they could be the seat of local government, or a military base. Taking out key planets would throw many other planets into chaos, or would cause an entire sub-fleet to go offline temporarily. This would really help with making a dent in a huge race that's taken over the galaxy. Essentially it would be putting weak points in said huge race's defenses so that you don't have to take out every one of their planets -- something that's just not doable.
A thousand times this, for even more reasons. Special planets would not only make fighting a race a more interesting story, it would do the same for defending them. Right now, every planet feels basically interchangeable, whereas in Din's Curse you had a reason to care who died.
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Old 07-24-2012, 04:23 PM
Bluddy Bluddy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chumpy View Post
Seems like rebellions can result in a rebel faction emerging, which is interesting, but it takes too long to actually happen in a normal game.
The reason for this is that AFAIK, rebellious sentiments aren't tracked by the game. Instead, there's a chain of quests, like any other chain. It starts with unrest, and then there's a small chance that it'll proceed to rebellion after a while. Then, after a while, there's a small chance of a rebel faction emerging. It doesn't depend on the happiness of the planet -- it's just random chances. That's not a good enough payoff for planting propaganda, and it can't serve as a counterbalance for an over-expanding or an overly-militaristic race.
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Old 07-24-2012, 04:58 PM
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Axegrinder Axegrinder is offline
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The chances for rebel factions emerging could increase the longer an empire is at war. It would be less if you are not the aggressor. Like war weariness works in other games. After peace there is a short cool down period in which rebels could still spawn.
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:08 PM
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RoboAV RoboAV is offline
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I think that artifact idea could tie in nicely with this. The artifacts are items that allow- or remove some or all of the negative consequences from- expansion. A race looking to expand past 5, 10, etc... planets would really want one of these artifacts. Steal an artifact from a race that is already well expanded and get ready for some internal collapse.

If one of the races is turning into a juggernaut, the artifact would present a striking point to weaken them and, in turn, presenting that artifact to another race would really swing the balance of power.

Different artifacts could have different effects on the races.
Components for empires.

Last edited by RoboAV : 07-24-2012 at 07:06 PM.
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  #7  
Old 07-24-2012, 06:17 PM
Chumpy Chumpy is offline
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The artifact thread, in case people were wondering.
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