A Game of WTF


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Continuing the discussion from PHP meets GTK, want to meet WTF:

    @Arantor said:

    I will talk about the game plans in another thread where I can talk about what I had in mind to prototype that @royal_poet is not so subtly kicking my arse to work on...

    Fucking hell Discourse, why is it so hard for you to let me pick a fucking category when on iPad? I guess using the keyboard at the bottom in landscape mode is :doing_it_wrong: and I should use split keyboard mode.

    y u do dis?

    Anyway. So yeah, I had an idea for a strategy game a while ago, about this time in 2002. Been sat on it for a long time due to the usual reasons - not good enough idea, not good enough programmer, idea needs more work, not enough of an artist. I could go on. But doing it in a language I already know will let me prototype mechanics even when it ends up ugly as fuck because GTK.

    wut?

    So let me explain the game. Tentatively titled "A Game of Stars", it is a space 4X, but with two differences to most of the mainstream 4X games.

    1. A focus on macro, not micromanagement
    2. A focus on storytelling and characterisation

    I hope I don't really need to explain the 4X part - Endless Space, Galactic Civilizations etc - but I think my issues with the other two need some explaining, I'll try to keep it brief.

    Micromanagement sucks, for me

    There are two issues I have with micro-optimisation like you see in Sid Meier's Civilization.

    Thematically, it doesn't make sense. I mean, you're cast as the eternal emperor of your species. Maybe while you're just getting yourself off your home planet, a level of micro management might make sense. Though by that point you're already ruler of your planet, you're already going to have a horde of administrators under you to abstract a lot of that shit away.

    Do you see Palpatine on his throne, surveying his empire's status on the iPad you know he really has, and spends time reassigning food to starving planets? Apart from the fact that he's an evil master manipulator, he has sufficient levels of bureaucracy to handle it for him.

    To me, if I can't imagine Palpatine doing it, or being involved in doing it, it's the wrong scale of game. Now I know that a ton of people :heart: the Civ series and that's great for them. It just doesn't work for me and I suspect for other people. I'm sure there's a market for people who want something more thematic and less fucking hardcore to play than Civ.

    Secondly, it actually flies in the face of Meier's own professed design mentality. He has said on multiple occasions that, to him, a game is a series of meaningful choices. What I find with micromanagement is that I run into having a million knobs to twiddle and no ability to understand how any one knob will affect the rest of the game, even though it clearly does. No single choice feels meaningful even though any one wrong choice will have consequences.

    I want something that doesn't drown in that level of detail. Something akin to
    the first Master of Orion game, really. It doesn't drown you in detail but you feel like your choices make a difference, though I have no doubt for a lot of people, especially the strategy buffs, it will feel too simplistic. Possibly too much of the market will feel that way to be a viable product though this is kind of what I always wanted to do with it.

    A lack of character

    Most games in this arena have portraits of characters but they inevitably feel like pictures and stats. I liked Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri for this, the different faction leaders actually feel like realised, rounded characters rather than just portraits and stats even if they are still just that. There's different dialogue for the leaders, there's back story for the factions. You get the feeling it mattered to care about this.

    Master of Orion did something kind of neat with this, too, in a way I haven't seen many other games do. If you research a new tech, you get a portrait of a scientist from your race showing it to you on the view screen. If a spy steals new tech, you get a picture of a spy in disguise and the view screen. If you conquer a planet, again, a picture of your race. Time and energy went into building the feeling that you're part of something more than just stats and status screens.

    Even diplomacy tried to do this. You got a huge projection of the other leader and the sense that you were "talking" to them since their expression would change based on mood.

    Which was all fantastic until the dialogue. It's all the same phrases from all the races. "Shudder emperor Arantor, we come for you." Whether it's the Human Emperor or the Meklon (cybernetic) Emperor.

    So, first up, I'd have unique dialogue between races, where it actually has some sense of authenticity. I see absolutely no problem with a mechanical race that doesn't communicate verbally amongst itself using Engrish. Declaration of war? "All your base are belong to us. You have no chance to survive make your time." Run it through Google Translate a couple of times, ending up in Japanese then translating back to English. Make it feel like it's come from a machine that doesn't really get the language but doesn't care enough to really learn it anyway.

    And then, have some story arcs. That there are paths through the game towards a victory condition, where you make choices in the branching story that affect later outcomes. Maybe you decide that you disagree with cloning technologies. But this rules out certain choices of tech later on - generational ships, maybe - which might rule out the "crossing to another galaxy" winning condition for you.

    The tech tree will be visible in full, and will work in a similar fashion to Civ V's Virtues system, branches in parallel where there are synergy bonuses to be had as you go across or down the tree. I did originally want to pursue a setup where you could conceivably research multiple things at once because an entire race of people would research multiple things at once, but sadly from a gameplay perspective that's not entirely viable.

    wut next

    I don't know where to start right now, there are generations of notes for this project, and half of them conflict with each other in terms of races, back stories, cultures, story arcs and so on.

    I think I need to sit down and work out which races I want to go with and the overarching major stuff that can't really be changed once dev is really on the go.

    My last iteration of notes on the races, that notepad is at home right now so that will have to wait until I get home before I post any of that.

    This is a big and scary thing for me to talk about because there is a part of me quite scared that I'm going to mess it up and it's going to be terrible, especially after all this time. But it is about time, one way or another...



  • As far as micromanagement, I like it but it gets very unwieldy by the mid-game of most strategy games. I wish these games had a way of splitting up the empire's management through cooperative multiplayer. Though not a turn-based strategy, some friends and I often would play Age of Empires like this since it allows multiple players to control the same faction. One person in charge of overall strategy, another in charge of base management, another in charge of defense, another in charge of resource collection, another in charge of scouting/intelligence, potentially a couple other players each in charge of a task force or two, etc.

    For 4X, you could have regional governors, players that deal with a certain area of the empire and manage its cities and infrastructure. And that takes care of a huge amount of micromanagement.



  • You realize that Sid Meier wasn't involved with designing the Civilization games that went micro-management-crazy? He just plopped his name on the cover.



  • @Arantor said:

    What I find with micromanagement is that I run into having a million knobs to twiddle and no ability to understand how any one knob will affect the rest of the game, even though it clearly does.

    Welcome to Economics 101! That's how it works in real life too.

    Overall I enjoy the idea of a more abstracted game, but my first impression is that you'll really need to give the gameplay more thought. Sure, Mr. President of the Universe might not be concerned about anything smaller than a thousand-year plan for his civilization, but the player behind Mr. President will quickly get bored if the whole gameplay ends up boiled down to "pick one of the two branches of development once in a while". After all, you're making a strategy game, not a visual novel.

    And I'm really not sure how you plan to escape the knob-twiddling in a 4x game, which is basically all about knob twiddling. Even if you abstract the whole micro-gameplay into some sort of resource allocation system for the whole empire, you're pretty much literally twiddling knobs.

    Like the robot race idea, but I'd do something a bit different than Google Translate. Maybe feed them the whole corpus of English literature and have them occasionally fail to figure out what's diplomatic language and what's Sesame Street?



  • Paradox Interactive is taking on 4X in space. From what I've read, they want to reduce micromanagement as much as possible, while focusing on diplomacy and exploration (with metric shittons of random events that shape the history - just like in all their other games). Sounds kinda, sorta like the game you want.



  • @Arantor said:

    This is a big and scary thing for me to talk about because there is a part of me quite scared that I'm going to mess it up and it's going to be terrible, especially after all this time.

    And what if you mess up? just fix it.

    It's your project, don't be scared and remember that if something does not end up quite right you can go back and change it.

    if you really want to release it, do early access, get feedback, etc. Just remember that it's YOUR project and YOU are the one who needs to like it.

    @Arantor said:

    I did originally want to pursue a setup where you could conceivably research multiple things at once because an entire race of people would research multiple things at once, but sadly from a gameplay perspective that's not entirely viable.

    You can have a number of scientists to allocate to research each tech, make it so the more scientists you have researching a tech, the faster it goes, but make it have diminishing returns, so you can split them on various techs.



  • @Sentenryu said:

    You can have a number of scientists to allocate to research each tech, make it so the more scientists you have researching a tech, the faster it goes, but make it have diminishing returns, so you can split them on various techs.

    I could also envision it linking into per-planet research - diminishing returns if planets far from each other are researching the same item, because of unavoidable double work.



  • @Sentenryu said:

    Just remember that it's YOUR project and YOU are the one who needs to like it.

    inb4 blakeyrant on Git



  • @Arantor said:

    even when it ends up ugly as fuck because GTK.

    Let me tell you about [url=http://aurora2.pentarch.org/]Aurora[/url], a 4X equivalent of Dwarf Fortress. Written in VB6, uses Access database for game data and saves, requires you to change system locale settings to work properly (because decimal or thousand separator matters) and outdoes EVE in "spreadsheets in space" department. And still a lot of people love it, and it spawned one of the longest-running LPs on SA (it's been like 3+ years and it's still going).

    You really have nothing to worry about.

    Re: micromanagment, one approach that might be worth considering is what (I think) Distant Worlds does: it has all the little knobs, but also an AI that manages them all for you if you want, so you can decide whether you want to control absolutely everything or focus on specific things.



  • @CatPlusPlus said:

    Let me tell you about Aurora

    I tried to find a screenshot of it. Their gallery contains exactly one image:



  • @blakeyrat said:

    I tried to find a screenshot of it.

    Imagine what a game would look like if it ran on top of Excel. It's probably worse.

    They use [url=http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php?board=20.0]a subforum[/url] for screenshots instead of the gallery module.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Aurora.

    My white whale project is a reimplementation and expansion of Aurora in .net with real backend tech.

    It goes just as deep (and in places, deeper) with the knob twiddling and spreadsheeting but my goal is to make all of the depth optional and make it entirely possible to just be Palpatine and make the grand decisions, but dive all the way in if the fancy takes you.

    Because what's the point of being a demigod emperor if you can't force a shipping line to adjust their schedule or take a keen interest in some random private soldier's career and arrange for him to meet a particular diplomat's daughter on leave.

    I'm due to restart this project. I've learned a lot of better ways to do things.



  • @CatPlusPlus said:

    Imagine what a game would look like if it ran on top of Excel. It's probably worse.

    Which one was it with the flight simulator easter egg?



  • @Arantor said:

    I think I need to sit down and work out which races I want to go with and the overarching major stuff that can't really be changed once dev is really on the go.

    If you are doing species flavor to make them different from each other, but don't concentrate on interaction between them (or only mildly; something like "A is like this, B is like this" rather than "A and B will be like this to each other") then you could pick a few for your base set and then once you have structure of the rest of the game more worked out later on add in C, D, E, and so on.

    It could help you manage scale of what you are looking to deal in. Or at least you have a few to test things out with, but are leaving things expandable for when you need a break from whichever sub section you are working on (Combat, Research, Exploring..) you can say "time to do another species".



  • @CatPlusPlus said:

    Imagine what a game would look like if it ran on top of Excel. It's probably worse.

    Interesting one-box. It's just the topmost image in the article. URL for the record is: http://technabob.com/blog/2008/04/05/classic-game-excel-spreadsheets/

    ... then when I hit "post" the one-box which in the preview window looks just like an image disappeared and was replaced by a quoted link. Lovely. But it still leaves enough space for the image.



  • Screenshotted for posterity, since in the new system, if we have oneboxing, it will probably show up:



  • @PleegWat said:

    diminishing returns if planets far from each other are researching the same item

    That sounds really good, you could base the overall research speed on the distance between planets as seen by you current communications tech: if you've some form of quantum entanglement communications, I would expect distance to not be much of a factor, but if you are still at conventional radio level, even adjacent planets should not contribute too much to research speed.

    @Weng said:

    I'm due to restart this project. I've learned a lot of better ways to do things.

    That's the downfall of all my projects.


  • mod

    @Sentenryu said:

    if you are still at conventional radio level, even adjacent planets should not contribute too much to research speed.

    Planets in the same start system, however …


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    My initial attempt at this involved tracking the light speed propagation of all events. It was.... Hairy.



  • @abarker said:

    Planets in the same start system, however …

    It takes 20 minutes for a radio signal to get to mars, so even those aren't that helpful.

    When I said adjacent planets I meant planets that are next to each other on the solar system, like earth and mars, as those are most likely the nearest ones.

    I don't have much experience with 4x games, so I may be saying bollocks

    @Weng said:

    My initial attempt at this involved tracking the light speed propagation of all events. It was.... Hairy.

    That sounds like too much work for too little reward...


  • mod

    @Sentenryu said:

    It takes 20 minutes for a radio signal to get to mars, so even those aren't that helpful.

    When I said adjacent planets I meant planets that are next to each other on the solar system, like earth and mars, as those are most likely the nearest ones.

    That would be plenty good for EOD reports and coordinating what avenue of investigation each planet would explore. Even distances measured in 1-2 light hours would have negligible impact on such a collaboration effort when you exchange updates during nightly downtime, and such distances should cover the habitable planets within a star system.

    The problem with communications limited to light speed between star systems is that they can't share EOD reports and plans for next steps in a timely manner. Our closest neighbor is about 4 light years away, so by the time we could even propose a joint research project and get a response, we could have about 8 years of research completed.



  • @Sentenryu said:

    It takes 20 minutes for a radio signal to get to mars, so even those aren't that helpful.

    About as useful as a EU team and a US team cooperating. Your main loss in comparison is that you can't have conference calls even if you have working hour overlap.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @PleegWat said:

    Your main loss in comparison is that you can't have conference calls

    No conference calls? Sounds great!



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Classic Arcade Games Excel in Spreadsheets

    Now I'm tempted to create a NES emulator in VBA.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Arantor said:

    I liked Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri for this, the different faction leaders actually feel like realised, rounded characters rather than just portraits and stats even if they are still just that. There's different dialogue for the leaders, there's back story for the factions. You get the feeling it mattered to care about this.

    I never quite understood why Firaxis managed to learn so many of the wrong lessons from this when making Civ3.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Right, time to sit down and tackle this now that my moving escapades are basically done.

    Micro management vs AIs

    First up, on the subject of building the game with micromanagement wired in and giving them AIs, this strikes me as a bad idea.

    On the one hand, if the helper AIs are too good, there's no reason to micro manage since the computer could do the job for you, and do it at least as well as you if not better, meaning that human micro management will either weaken you or at least, not hurt you too drastically if you want to do something very specific.

    On the other hand, nerf the AIs too much and there's no point using them.

    In the event of multiplayer, any player that's using the AI is going to be disjointed against any player that isn't - you'd almost have to declare 'AI-helping game' vs 'AI not helping'.

    I don't know - I did think about it for a while but I figured that you can't please everyone, just picking any one path and sticking with it. However... I'm not trying to build another Sid Meier's Starships. I want some depth, just not a vast amount of it!

    (And yes, I know Sid Meier wasn't as significantly involved in the later Civ games as the senior or lead designer. For example, Brian Reynolds was the lead on Civ II and SMAC before leaving for Zynga.)

    And if Paradox is taking it on, the odds are it's going to end up with more micromanagement than I want, if say Europa Universalis or Hearts of Iron are anything to go by. But I'll keep an eye on it since it might get the balance closer to what I want. Pirates of Black Cove worked well enough as a knock-off Sid Meier's Pirates but the humour was trying.

    Strategy vs Story

    Though I will go back to @Maciejasjmj's point: am I making a visual novel or a strategy game? It's a strategy game with story elements. The pretentious part of me would actually attempt to create a new classification of game - 5X: Exposition, Exploration, Expansion, Exploitation, Extermination.

    There are elements I haven't mentioned in the outline thus far, namely that there is an additional NPC in the game. You have NPCs for each of the races not being covered by the player, but there is an eighth 'race' in the game as such, but it's not one you meet directly. More that the additional race functions in a capacity to help or hinder the different races. Other games have random events, I have a player whose job it is to not be quite so random but to manipulate events - in response to story lines.

    Essentially, consider the role of Q in the TNG/DS9/VOY universe. His function is to be a sort of MacGuffin - to spur on discussion or events, e.g. throwing the Enterprise into the Delta Quadrant to meet the Borg.

    My original work-up for a story for the different races had him be the reason for the races to exist in the universe. It always bugged me that the races in Trek were, for all practical intents and purposes, approximately at the same level of technology. Everyone has warp, everyone has transporters, the 'good guys' only don't have a cloaking device (at least by TNG) because they agreed not to. So, I figured there was an external factor causing this, in this case the Q race or similar, putting them all in a conveniently sized pocket universe to explore and work out what's going on and see whether they're dangerous/successful/whatever. But it's actually rather limiting, so the Q race or whatever they end up being called are story elements rather than core back story.

    On messing it up

    It's one of the weirdest things for me. I iterate heavily at work and in other places, but this is one of those places I've been oddly scared of doing just that. I wish I knew what was actually causing it!

    I know I don't exactly take feedback well and I guess I'm afraid that this is a game with a market of one and I don't want to go and build it when that's the case.

    On multi-research

    This is certainly a tough one. Conceptually I was planning on the game starting with the player having just built their first viable colonisation ship, whether they want to use that to colonise a local planet or venture further forward. There will also be scouts available from the off, each of which with interstellar travel capability, but not necessarily travel in a fast fashion. It could still take 2-3 turns to reach the nearest neighbour, at least at the start.

    This doesn't require faster than light communication to pull off, but the scouts would likely have some sort of communication technology to make that viable, if only because it would suck to have to spend 3 turns sending a scout to a far flung system and 3 turns coming back to just to learn what's there.

    Whether it's subspace or ansibles, it doesn't exactly matter, but some function of it needs to exist for galactic management to exist, even if ships themselves can't go FTL to start with, which implies that there is no barrier for multiple systems - even ones light years apart - to simultaneously participate in research in apparent real-time which would also go some way to fixing the timezone issues as brought up.

    So we're back to the mechanics of multi research without story elements, as such. It still makes no sense to me that a complete race of people might research only one thing at a time, when we don't even do that today, but for the stuff that the Emperor might see is probably only the biggest of the big fruit. Spending vast amounts of resources to researching a way to build ships faster or get them from A to B faster is a big thing and would be a multi-planetary affair, conceivably.

    In which case I'm probably more comfortable with the idea of 'single research' when it's framed in the context of being that big a deal... because there's always going to be minor improvements being carried out, there's always going to be a more efficient power coupling, or a stronger metal here or there, but the big stuff could easily be a joint project.

    And interestingly enough the Civ series does actually play it the way as mentioned, I don't know if that was intentionally being referenced, but as your empire grows, tech costs go up. In their case each tech has a base cost and each city raises the cost by 5%, which I presume is the mechanical explanation for wastage, imprecise communication and duplicated efforts.

    On the other hand, I wonder if a certain amount of historical influence is creeping in. MoO 1 (one of the more obvious inspirations) did it a particularly unusual way: their tech tree has 6 branches, and you pick one thing per branch to research. The choice you get to pick from in the branch is randomised, but for the most part this isn't tragic since there are multiple copies of every tech in the tree, just improved versions. For example, the base ship armour grants x hit points for a given size of ship, the next armour tech up grants x+50%, then after that the next armour is x+100% and so on up to x+300% hit points. Having the random element is interesting but after a lot of thought I realised I didn't want it since it was actually bad for strategising, though it did force a number of interesting strategy tactics like pushing for espionage and tech trading.

    I'm still mentally thinking of having 6 or 7 branches of tech, with synergies between them a la Civ:BE's Virtues - but both wider and longer since it's more the centrepiece of tech. In my head it's not infeasible to allocate research to multiple projects but recognising that the cost of such is delaying others - so you could allocate points to each branch if you wanted, but split them in all kinds of ways. Again, you're the grand poobah, you don't really care how it's done as long as it's done, and I don't have a problem with treating it as a pool of research points per turn that come in to be spent between the different techs.

    OK, I think I'm good with this - but the discussion has been very interesting to get some back and forth on it.

    Species flavour

    I hate to say it but my 7 core species are both trope-fest and even a little culturally balanced. There's a lot of back and forth in my notes as to which races like/dislike each other; every race dislikes two others and has a preference for one other.

    There is even a graph in my notes for the dislikes where I redrew it over and over until none of the lines crossed over each other. No, I don't have CDO. Much.

    Let me give you the brief run down on my magnificent 7. This is just a distillation of the notes.

    Humans (I so wanted to write Hu-mongs kind of like how the Ferengi pronounce it) - the diplomats, the traders

    Mettaxians - cybernetic race, hardly diplomatic (cannot access diplomatic victory). There is an element of the Borg to them, but they're less 'perfect unity of organic and mechanical' and more Cyberman-ish. Upgrade, replace the weak flesh with something stronger.

    Ieri - underwater researcher race. Not exactly immoral but the research comes first - very Asura-ish. Very rounded edges to their buildings. Think Rata Sum with a circular motif rather than the angular rhomboid look.

    Chani - feline warrior race, very honourable. Bonuses in combat, both ship-to-ship and ground combat. Bonus to offence, smaller bonus to defence.

    Yeliani - birdman people. Best pilots in the galaxy.

    Horta - plant people, who are this universe's fundamentalist race; they seek to take over every planet to worship the suns. Even the ships are organic.

    Banoch - bear people, the great engineers/builders of the galaxy. What the Ieri might have in technological superiority, the Banochs have in the ability to build. Spiritual race, though not outright 'religious'. Might have an Aztec-ish theme to their buildings.

    And let us not forget...

    Diegessi - the omnipotent watchers of the universe. And sometimes misanthropes and miscreants. Act as the foil for some of the story segments.

    There are some natural enemies in there - the humans being all for freedom of the galaxy and the Mettaxians being bent on upgrading the universe. The Horta being largely anti-tech and the Ieri being very pro-tech and so on. I don't have my diagram handy but there is one mapping out the relations and noting the reasons why for flavour.

    And of course, when the Mettaxians communicate with you for any reason - should they even bother to, they generally won't be diplomatic - it's Engrish to the rescue. 'All your base are belong to us. You have no chance to survive make your time.' is the war declaration.

    There is also a list I have of minor races that don't do the space thing themselves; they're never major players, certainly never playable, but exist to make the universe feel less empty. Mechanically they amount to Civ style city-states but are one-planet races. Right now they're just a collection of possible names for things rather than anything useful.

    Ways to rule the galaxy

    There are 5 principle ways the game can be won. Not all races have all options, and some of the options might go away mid game if you pick certain story choices. Can't, for example, make a decision about being pro-peace with your people and then proceed to claim the universe by conquest as such.

    • Military victory: exterminate everyone
    • Diplomatic victory: be voted in as the supreme chancellor of the universe
    • Domination victory: own 2/3 the population of the universe (or maybe 2/3 the planets, not sure which is more viable because it would be possible to terraform the shit out of planets and expand the possible population at a huge rate, thus having 2/3 the population of the galaxy in distinctly fewer than half of the planets)
    • Science victory: travel to the next galaxy
    • Production victory: not quite sure how this is a thematically viable win condition but the usual Civ-esque ones don't work (cultural victory doesn't fit into my notions of how this universe works)

    Certain races will not have access to certain win conditions and have advantages to others. Mettaxians don't get the diplo victory but have an production advantage - hive mind gotta be useful for something.

    Though I just realised this doesn't exactly help the Horta any with their plant fundi-ism. Hmm. Might just have to suck it as the hardest race to win as since science isn't their strongest point, neither is production.

    -yawn- It's late here, and I did a lot of typing. I won't be offended if no-one reads this post or replies to it, it was nice just to ramble on and brain dump... but the feedback is very interesting and useful. :smile:

    Now to try to get PHP-GTK to actually do something, this should be interesting.


  • mod

    @Arantor said:

    Production victory: not quite sure how this is a thematically viable win condition but the usual Civ-esque ones don't work (cultural victory doesn't fit into my notions of how this universe works)

    If you have some sort of economy side to the game, this could involve dominanting the galactic economy so that the other races rely on your production; without your race's production, everything would just fall as part.


  • area_pol

    @Arantor said:

    Micro management vs AIs

    I see the following solutions:

    • The available choices are equally strong / efficient, but they change the playstyle, ex: build trade ships or war ships, not better ships or worse ones.
      The choices should be meaningful and interesting, not "+5% speed vs +5% attack".
      OR
    • Explore the idea of AI management. Have a set of different NPCs who have different traits, and you as the emperor assign them to rule over various aspects (minister of research, general of army group 1, etc). Can also involve some internal politics.

    @Arantor said:

    Strategy vs Story

    Another direction is "strategy + worldbuilding". For example FTL has no coherent plot, but you feel as if you are in a very rich and interesting world.
    @Arantor said:
    faster than light communication

    Confidently discard compatibility with our physics, it is not worth it.
    The core elements of standard space opera setting are not compatible with out physics.
    Apart from the light speed:

    • any ships using realistic physics and realistic energy sources would take years to travel between planets in even one solar system, and interstellar travel is so much more infeasible. And you can't solve that with "better energy sources" - even having such tech, it is still cheaper to produce something on the planet instead of transporting it in space.
    • sending biological organisms in space is extremely inefficient (need to keep their environment stable, limit on acceleration, radiation), you would only see robot ships
    • combat: no need to make those very expensive battleships. Send 100 nuke rockets to destroy the enemy planet. Given high enough velocity and that for the most of the journey these will be passive, its impossible to defend against such attack.

    If you try to be realistic in our physics, you will find countless more of such problems, this is a losing battle.
    Make your own physics which fit your view of the world. Just keep it consistent.
    Test of consistency: if X is possible, imagine the efficient usages of X, check if they are implemented in your civilizations.
    Example: Harry Potter has paintings which implement a full AI. If so, why there are no datacenters which use those paintings to perform data analysis?

    @Arantor said:

    cybernetic race, hardly diplomatic

    I am interested in their internal structure. Lack of diplomacy means incompetence, inability to understand the world and choose optimal strategy. And a big cybernetic being should be more intelligent.
    Or maybe its like our internet? Many individuals who mostly say stupid things?

    @Arantor said:

    Though I just realised this doesn't exactly help the Horta any with their plant fundi-ism.

    They can have very high population growth and terraforming of planets, and high production of non-tech things like food, so they could also go with the trade-victory route. (if space travel is cheap and you have a colony in a hostile-but-valuable planet, you have to buy food)
    Or things like medical tech, which should be easy for organic-tech-race but difficult for all others.
    And the conflict: "according to our religion, aliens and their tech are evil, but trading with them is the only option for us to be relevant" is an interesting one. It breaks the stereotype. Hypocrisy-for-practical purposes is often a part of many existing belief systems. In the hands of a skillful ruler, ideology can be bent to serve any purpose.



  • Diplomatic Victory is my least-favorite in Civilization. You can be 3 turns from getting a conquest victory, then suddenly there's a UN vote and you lose. Well guess what would happen in the real world? You'd say fuck the UN and keep the tanks rolling.

    (Ok not QUITE true, because by the time you're even close to a conquest victory you probably own enough of the UN to decide for them, or at least prevent someone else from winning. But still. I don't see how it's a "win".)

    Related to that is the concept of a cultural victory-- that one makes a heck of a lot more sense to me.



  • @Adynathos said:

    Send 100 nuke rockets to destroy the enemy planet. Given high enough velocity and that for the most of the journey these will be passive, its impossible to defend against such attack.

    Why even use nukes? A large rock is dangerous enough at speed.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    My game also features a foil race, for similar reasons. However, they're quite concrete - they exist and actively participate through direct and indirect action.

    They are a step up the Kardashev scale, and for whatever reason, your corner of the universe is their playground. Every once in awhile some of them will decide they want to have some fun and fight a war against you, using "Period" starships they construct specifically for the purpose. Or they'll slip somebody some tech. Or trade goods. Or information about another player's secret plans. Or, if they don't feel like you're walking the path they want you to walk, one of their sentinel ships will show up and eradicate your battle fleet. Or your fleet base. Or your home planet.

    There are the traditional wincons, except I threw out diplomatic victory, because the nature of diplomacy is that it is ever changing. You might be top dog today, but that ain't permanent - though diplomacy does exist and you absolutely can form council bodies like the UN.

    That said, if you want to REALLY win, there's another set of wincons centering around your betters recognizing you (or a coalition of players) as an equal. Fight them. Convince them to engage in diplomacy with you. Convince them to trade with you on equal footing. Use your science to step up the Kardashev scale yourself (For example - complete a near-100% efficient dyson structure.)


  • mod

    @Adynathos said:

    I am interested in their internal structure. Lack of diplomacy means incompetence, inability to understand the world and choose optimal strategy. And a big cybernetic being should be more intelligent.Or maybe its like our internet? Many individuals who mostly say stupid things?

    Classic cybernetic bad-guys, such as the Borg and Cybermen, see every other race as inferior. As a result, conquest (in some form) is the only option, and diplomacy is unnecessary. Any alliances they form are short lived and for purely tactical purposes. Non-diplomatic cybernetic lifeforms are nothing new.



  • @abarker said:

    such as the Borg and Cybermen


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    I don't get how a cultural victory works on a galactic scale.

    Diplo victory on the other hand, is actually quite solvable even to fix the one issue you have.

    Assume the presence of a galactic senate, and there is a vote for supreme chancellor, the vote is split between the two front runners, typically the two most powerful races.

    If you win, job done.

    If you lose, what is stopping you rejecting the ruling? If you are significant enough a power to be able to rule the Galaxy, and only don't have the diplomatic support, reject the ruling and declare war on the lot of them.

    Heck, even if you win, you could reject the ruling and battle until the end, potentially.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    This. This is pretty much what I had in mind for the Diegessi, a race that will stir things up just to see what happens, though I haven't figured out if they explicitly have a set of win conditions that they themselves are fighting for, or merely just try to subtly rebalance the game as they go along.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    While it's true that non-diplo mechanical races are a trope, I specifically want to provide options so the race isn't a one trick pony. Diplo will be out for the Mettaxians, but a production related victory is definitely a thing they need to have because that's their strong point.



  • @Arantor said:

    Assume the presence of a galactic senate, and there is a vote for supreme chancellor, the vote is split between the two front runners, typically the two most powerful races.

    I'm not sure how the civ games handled this one, but I don't feel there should be a 'who will be supreme chancellor vote'. It should really need a grand majority for 'Do we accept X as our supreme chancellor'.

    The result of this should probably be an alliance between the races who accept the ruling. As long as any races remain who do not submit to the ruling, it is not a win. If the non-accepting races end up being exterminated, you have a joint diplomatic/military victory.



  • Hm, could terrorism in some form be a basis for a victory?


  • area_pol

    @abarker said:

    Classic cybernetic bad-guys, such as the Borg and Cybermen, see every other race as inferior. As a result, conquest (in some form) is the only option, and diplomacy is unnecessary.

    But that is a naive view, which can be clearly refuted by data. If it is behind on tech or loses battles, a good AI will see that and calculate that the best strategy for survival is to ally with the other power.
    For me, the idea of stubbornly sticking with one's ideas despite facts is typical for humans not machines.

    On the other hand, a program does what is was designed to do. This system may be a kind of Skynet, built to protect its (now extinct) creators from the other races through war. It is unable to change the core objective and will always want to exterminate the other races.

    Actually, this race (and its no-diplomany design) fits better with the "religious zealots" type than the biotech race. The collective AI is built in the image of their god, but because of the flawed ideology, it wants to destroy everyone.



  • @Adynathos said:

    If it is behind on tech or loses battles, a good AI will see that and calculate that the best strategy for survival is to ally with the other power.

    True, but that may not extend as far as accepting it as a permanent solution.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Arantor said:

    On the one hand, if the helper AIs are too good, [...]
    On the other hand, nerf the AIs too much

    You are looking at this from the wrong perspective.

    Obviously the start AIs need to be super bad. But for the low price of $9.99 [spoiler]price subjected to change[/spoiler] you can improve your AI for an hour so it does all the stuff for you! :trollface:

    Filed Under: Ask EA to finace your game. :trollface:²



  • @Arantor said:

    I don't get how a cultural victory works on a galactic scale.

    Same way it works on the Civilization scale: every other country/planet adopts so many of your habits, cultural artifacts, morals, etc that basically there's no real difference between them and you. You win. The US is engaged in sealing-up that victory condition right now, considering you can go to any random country (except Japan and India) and see their local TV broadcasting nothing but American shows.

    I don't like the concept of diplomatic victory because leaders ignore diplomacy frequently. Look at what Hitler did in the run-up to WWII. Or Japan for that matter. Both countries had ample changes to make peace and even get some of what they wanted diplomatically, but both didn't bother because they actually wanted war. Making it worse is that it doesn't feel like there's a build up to it. One turn you're a loser, next turn bam you win diplomatically.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Sure, it works mechanically, but not thematically.

    It's not like you're talking about different branches of humanity that are separated by culture and mild changes of genetics, but entirely different species.

    A diplomatic victory including the humans, Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians...? They're just too different to align, at least in my head.



  • @Arantor said:

    A diplomatic victory including the humans, Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians...? They're just too different to align, at least in my head.

    They all allied against the Dominion in Deep Space 9, although it was a long-ass road to get there.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Yes, I realise that, but that still wasn't a unity of the kind that cultural victory implies. Unless we're :moving_goal_post: again.

    I dunno, I'm not seeing it fit in but it's something that I can put off for a bit until more fundamental parts are in place.



  • Well my argument wasn't really FOR cultural victory, but AGAINST diplomatic victory. Which is dumb.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Arantor said:

    A diplomatic victory including the humans, Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians...? They're just too different to align, at least in my head.

    Right, because the Federation isn't a thing? :smile:


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    The Romulans are part of the Federation now?

    But I assume you realise it was an explanatory metaphor?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Arantor said:

    The Romulans are part of the Federation now?

    Maybe in the future. But the point was the Federations a bunch of species, including 3 of the 5 you listed. (Well, Ok, the Klingons are allies, not part of the Federation. Nonetheless, there's a ton of other minor species.)


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    :whoosh:


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to What the Daily WTF? was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.