Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Hi All,

Sorry for the lack of information lately I've been having a little break for dev work and had a Hawaiian holiday during that :). I was finding it hard to be motiviated for dev work outside of my full time IT job but every time I went to play a 4x game I just find myself thinking about what it do\don't like and would add or avoid in my game...

One thing that keeps bugging me in games I'm playing are the combat mechanics, using Gal Civ III as the latest example are complete combat rounds. The fact that if you attack it's either a total loss or victory (perhaps with some loss). I'm my game its more like Civ V (not one unit per hex though) in that you can attack, do a little damage each way then wait to next turn. I like how this allows harassing or testing the enemy strength, without having to commit to a total loss if you estimated strengths wrong (or the GUI estimate isn't detailed enough). So I get a bit more motivation for mine when I keep seeing this or similar in turn based games, I just want to have some starship skirmishes! :)

On another front I've done some design work especially toward research and tech systems in the game. Current system is looking a little complicated but very dynamic and interesting... I will start adding the features and test to see if too complicated or hopefully works well.

The process might look something like this:

1. Design the customized module you want. Pick using the amount of points researched in the stats you want. i.e 3 pts dmg, 2 pts accuracy, 5 pts cost reduction, etc. These modifiers have diminishing returns shared across all stats so it will be adifferent result if you pick dmg then accuracy second compared to if accuracy is first then dmg.

2. Once design complete you order a prototype from a research corp(s). This will lock in the stats you have chosen but each corp will produce a prototype with stats chosen and also a random modifier based on corp stats (some corps could be more reliable and consistent results or others more random but have chance to produce higher quality prototype)

3. Pick the prototype you like (can discard ones that didn't work out as well) for a ship you are designing. Ships can go through the same prototyping stage allowing variation from ship builders (you could still keep all the prototypes produced to use in your fleet if you want but only mass produce one variant)

4. Now comes the interesting part... Once you have a module up to a certain modified level you can research the next tier, lets say you have fission reactor up to required level then you can research Fusion reactor based on the last (or best) completed fission module. This will inherit the improvements from the fission reactor and add it to the base stats of the fusion reactor.

4a. So here you have a choice to research the next tier module so you get the base boost offered from the next tier or continue to refine the fission reactor for small increments but those improvements will add good bonuses to the next tier fusion reactor. The base bonuses are stacking so if fission reactor has a 40% boost researched and fusion has a base of 100 it's base will be 140 and then if you research 40% for the fusion reactor you get 196 instead of just 140, which will continue to stack throughout the tiers this can accumulate to large differences in the later tiers

4b. You can always start a new branch at any time, you could even simultaneously research a high output reactor and a low cost, high reliability one, and continue these through each tier. This will very quickly provide you with 2 quite different variants from the same base module

Now Corps will always have their versions of modules and pursue their own research so first you don't always have to design the modules if a corp has one you want already. They also might have higher tech available then you would want to pay for, so you could have an expensive high tech fleet or a cheap larger one. Corps could also have their own ships for escort\defense of their property (research stations, freighters, etc) and will probably be using cutting edge tech as they don't have to pay for licensing costs for their own stuff. All this to be balanced of course with lots of trial and probably AI games to watch how easily a change give a team an advantage.

One way I plan to avoid it been to much to micromanage is by having module modifier research take a decent amount of time and not much can be done to decrease the time, research capacity will expand parallel as empires expand so more projects simultaneously not increase research speed. We don't want to be redesigning modules\ships every 10 turns... and because prototypes will cost a decent amount it's not economical to research a new prototype every tech that you complete.

I'll leave it there so this post doesn't get any bigger, it's a bit of a brain dump so if I missed explaining a critical point just ask and I'll hopefully explain it, once I have the framework in I'll try to provide some screenshots to show it better hopefully :)