Author Topic: No release today (3/19).  (Read 1109 times)

Offline x4000

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No release today (3/19).
« on: March 19, 2014, 05:09:17 PM »
Whaaaat? ;)

Just a heads up for anyone watching the release notes that the new stuff won't be ready today.  I'm elbow-deep in big revisions to the planetary tech stuff, and Keith is even deeper into the dispatch mission stuff.  These things in tandem are super exciting for the solar map, I think, but it's not ready yet.  At least some of it will be by tomorrow night, and more on Friday.

I think you'll really like the turn-based stuff, as it brings an almost turn-based approach to certain parts of the game.  Where you basically exchange game-time (NOT realtime) for BP, state changes, etc.  There's risk and reward in that, of course.  And some of the things that you can do with this involve really substantial new powers, such as the ability to directly mine the tech tree, etc, which was never possible before.

All in all, the dispatch changes actually are making this into more of a 4x than ever, while still retaining the simulation nature of the game.  You have more ways to touch the simulation, but still not remotely complete control.  Still, right from the get-go, your options with the solar map will be hugely higher.  To the point where actually fast-forwarding in anything other than observer mode would be kind of a stupid thing, really... in almost all circumstances.  If you want to jump forward in time without just sitting there, do a dispatch mission and accomplish something, rather than just holding G or F.

Anyway.  I have also been working on many, many, many different iterations on paper of models for when combat is not involved.  I am settling on something simple, I think, overall.  And flexible.  So if you are like Cyborg and can't stand the combat, my hope is that by the end of next week that will be a thing of the past for you.  Meanwhile, for those of us who love it, there's more excellent things coming there, too.  And on the solar map.

My goal is basically to be into polish mode after next Friday, but we'll see how we do.  So far I am encouraged, based on what I am seeing happen in my own testing, and in the designs that I'm putting together.  We'll just have to see how the pudding turns out! ;)
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Offline Teal_Blue

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Re: No release today (3/19).
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2014, 05:58:36 PM »
I'm really hopeful for the new changes, and really looking forward to seeing how things come together.  :)


Offline PokerChen

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Re: No release today (3/19).
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2014, 06:36:20 PM »
Just checking on the polishing list, will there be more options to dialogue with the races in order to uncover their future intentions, and perhaps influence their intentions with respect to each other? (Rather than purchasing informants and spies, that is.)

I think, if you have nice AI models underneath the simulation, it wouldn't hurt to let the players see a little more of it in action. Haven't gone far enough to see how players can suss out who's more amenable to forming alliances/Federate beyond their current feelings. If I could find out, e.g., that a couple of races are trying to mend relationships (whether the AI does that, instead of a Drox-like mindless race to the bottom,) then it helps me decide what to do.

In the simplest application, a +/- or up/down arrow next to their current relationships will tell me if a race is willing to/actively engage in diplomacy or sabotage.

I've otherwise found the Andors suddenly giving Acutians a -100 out of nowhere (act of terrorism, it claims, and they never suspect the Evucks?). Could be a bug. :P
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 06:38:20 PM by zharmad »

Offline x4000

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Re: No release today (3/19).
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2014, 07:27:37 PM »
The races don't really make long-term plans, any more than the AI in AI War does.  That's part of what makes it emergent -- every moment, it's reacting to increasing amounts of data and making new decisions.  I wrote a huge thing up about that sort of AI in AI War, and while it's not entirely the same here, the same theory holds true.  Actually the same is very likely true of most simulation games, such as the underlying logic in SimCity 2000, for instance.

You definitely already have the tools to sort of suss out who is amenable to forming alliances based on how they are feeling in the moment, and you can do things to make them more amenable, and then capitalize on that in the moment when they are ready.  I should also note that, unlike your description of Drox (I've not played it, but Keith has), this is definitely not a race to the bottom.  There were some aspects of that in prior builds in particular, but that was more a balance thing than anything else.  The upcoming .809 in particular has some ways that fences in particular get mended.

Not sure about the Andors and the Acutians there, I'd have to see a save of recent chatter and actions to really know.

All that said, doing dialogue-tree style stuff is something I've really wanted to do from the start, but that's hard for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, it takes a lot of writing, and thus a lot of time.  Secondly, even if you take a lot of time, players can figure out the patterns and kind of game the trees, so it doesn't really retain as much of a real feel.  Unless it is done either a) particularly well, where you have to intuit things; or b) with frustrating randomization added in; or c) with things like "charisma costs" or whatever, like a lot of RPGs have.

It's something I really want to do, but I think it has to be done right.  Potentially it's something for either an expansion, or post-1.0, depending on how this thing takes off.
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Offline Cyborg

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Re: No release today (3/19).
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2014, 07:39:36 PM »
Looking forward to it.
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Offline Professor Paul1290

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Re: No release today (3/19).
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2014, 11:32:17 PM »
I definitely think there should be an effort to make stuff happening in the background clear to the player whenever possible and where it makes sense.
It can be important "expose" and "explain" how the underlying system works to some extent so the players know how to influence it. Sure maybe you don't want to hold them by the hand too much, but if the player doesn't understand how system works they tend to assume that it is random or they use very inefficient ways to influence it then get frustrated when it doesn't work out very well.

This might be a very odd analogy but I'll use it anyway. A lot of gamers will continue trying to drive a nail into wood with another piece of wood if the other piece of wood is the most obvious object for the job, and they'll continue to do so despite a hammer being present if they don't see the hammer right away. Heck, they won't even bother stopping to look for the hammer if you don't come out and tell them the hammer exists. They'll probably say the nail is frustrating to drive into the wood and say it must be broken or something.


I guess as an example, there are a lot of players who go around sinking cash into spamming rumors to get Diplomatic Wins to work in Drox Operative even though rumors by themselves are a horribly inefficient and painfully slow way to get that done. They do it because it's the most "obvious" way to do it and it doesn't occur to them to investigate the system any further.

Offline PokerChen

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Re: No release today (3/19).
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2014, 02:11:07 AM »
 Case in point, in Drox you are somewhat unlikely to get Shadows into a Diplomatic Win situation because they tend to backstab friends by sabotage. In my relatively shallow experience, their current relationship value with a third player means relatively little except as a priority queue as to who to screw with next. After exploiting the hammer, so to speak, you can find them secretly bombing their most hopeful alliance partners. Drox is far more pre-World War I in that intial insults tend to spiral out of control and everyone polarises.

 On a deeper level, this is about immersion. Since they are pretending to be sentient lifeforms, at release I would like the majority of AI factions to pretend that they are able to plan, or have emotions. For human societies at least, democratic leaders have to answer to their feel-good public, which also applies to weaker oligarchies/dictatorships. So I would like, in the end, to be able to get more empathy out of Peltians, Skylaxians, and Andors - who strike me as familiar communist/republic/democratic-like factions. Boarines descriptions also read as if one could suss out their intentions. Evuck and Acutians, if anything, would fall under the description "there are no friends in politics".

 I highlighted intentions apart from immediate relations, because your goals are intrinsically political in TLF. However, I admit that politics ~= not meaning what you say, and AIs are generally coded to be perfect players with perfect information and don't care what you think. So I'm approaching this as one of the way in which AIs could feel more life-like. There are other ways to hang a sentient face on them, such as running incidents on twitter to describe otherwise inexplicable shifts in relations. U2 crashes, whales, emission treaties, EEZs around nameless islands... this you're probably planning to do.
 
 In the end, I think a lot of us politically-aware people have sat around wondering Putin's next move. It's fine to not have a dialogue tree with him, although I think mature players get kicks from obtaining signs of foreboding doom from a political informant - I'd definitely spend BP to spy on the senate, - and (de)-escalating verbal barrages on twitter space.

(BTW, the feed should keep scrolling if you pause, because their events are usually lagging behind the actual simulation).

Re: Andors/Acutians. I don't have a recent save pre-incident on that -100 shift, but you sound like there are other ways to guarantee -100 relations other than launching a planetary body. *narrows eyes*

There's no chatter between them on twitter and nothing that I can particularly point to. The test808-4 save in the various bugs issue on Mantis is the same game, post incident.

Offline Professor Paul1290

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Re: No release today (3/19).
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2014, 03:16:39 AM »
Somewhat related to this, I'm starting to wonder whether there should be a BP cap.

I guess gameplay-wise BP could be capped to discourage stockpiling it too much, but I think it would make sense thematically as well.

I would think there would be only so much you would tolerate owing favors to or respecting the opinion of someone who is essentially an unpredictable mercenary with little obvious stake in the health of your empire.

Offline PokerChen

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Re: No release today (3/19).
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2014, 04:45:40 AM »
Although, the amount of BPs required for Skylaxian and Acutian specials makes me think that the ceiling needs to be fairlly high on top of reductions.

Has anyone else tried to take over the WIP outposts to find that the underlying ownership does not change, they can't defend them from attack, and gifting them makes the enemies of the original faction dislike you? :P Outsourcing is a nice touch once it's implemented.

Offline Billick

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Re: No release today (3/19).
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2014, 08:22:30 AM »
That's weird, I was just thinking yesterday about how making the solar map stuff be turn based, because right now there's not really an opportunity cost for taking any particular mission.  This sounds really interesting to me.

Offline x4000

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Re: No release today (3/19).
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2014, 08:38:25 AM »
Lots of interesting thoughts, folks. :)

I very much agree about the need for essentially "stage magic" to make characters that are not alive seem alive.  That is the entire nature of game AI, really, which is also something I've written about.  Every FPS game enemy ever could heatshot you instantly as soon as they see you.  They don't need to move around or whatever.  That's not the challenge of good FPS game AI.  The challenge is making them seem to believably be human or aliens or animals or whatever they are.

I don't think at BP cap is warranted at the moment, because as noted there are some things with extremely high costs.  And in general, if you stockpile for too long, you will lose.  Without your intervention, after about 6 hours the game is extremely likely to continue because someone is liable to win.  Usually it's faster than that, even.  But some new super technologies start getting broken out around 6 hours in (of relative solar map time, I mean), for games that go that long, and without you there pulling some strings, you're going to be losing badly by that point.

We'll see if it is a problem, anyway, is my main thought.

The other comment about there not being opportunity costs to the combat missions is a really interesting one -- I had not really registered that, but it is totally true.  All of the non-combat missions DO have an opportunity cost, incidentally.  Not in terms of time, but in terms of some resource or another.  But the combat ones are currently free, which makes them grind-able.  I will put in some notes about that.  Thanks!
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Offline Mick

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Re: No release today (3/19).
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2014, 08:43:42 AM »

The other comment about there not being opportunity costs to the combat missions is a really interesting one -- I had not really registered that, but it is totally true.  All of the non-combat missions DO have an opportunity cost, incidentally.  Not in terms of time, but in terms of some resource or another.  But the combat ones are currently free, which makes them grind-able.  I will put in some notes about that.  Thanks!

This really makes me happy that this is getting addressed, because it's the negative vibe I've been having about all the combat stuff, but I wasn't able to really put into words why.

Offline x4000

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Re: No release today (3/19).
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2014, 08:45:07 AM »

The other comment about there not being opportunity costs to the combat missions is a really interesting one -- I had not really registered that, but it is totally true.  All of the non-combat missions DO have an opportunity cost, incidentally.  Not in terms of time, but in terms of some resource or another.  But the combat ones are currently free, which makes them grind-able.  I will put in some notes about that.  Thanks!

This really makes me happy that this is getting addressed, because it's the negative vibe I've been having about all the combat stuff, but I wasn't able to really put into words why.

Me too, actually, although I had not really bubbled it up consciously.  But basically I realized there was a way to grind there that was making me unhappy, and I wasn't really fully thinking about it, even.  I've got a killer solution, and am implementing it right now, actually.  Very simple and effective. :)
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Offline PokerChen

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Re: No release today (3/19).
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2014, 03:08:12 PM »
 Oh no, did you actually place limits on the number of pirate convoys that actually exist? :O

 On the farming side, I've been noting that my Thoraxians are constantly going for the Burlusts with their poor start and complete loss of space-assets. Started popping them every now and then once I bit the bullet and accepted that they're not going to my friends. I reckon both sides should sue for peace when they are both exhausted, especially with the Thoraxians feeling the blunt end of my protection. This is one of the AI things that Civ did right, accounting for likely player interference.

 On the other hand, I did slay their starting expedition of 7 armadas trying to help the Burlust's 2... the queen responsible may never forgive, but I... assassinated... her to see if that will change their minds. (Nope, her successor was still Warlike, thankyou RNG.)

 I do like the technology trading brokership, but I feel like this should be an option right at the beginning. Perhaps each race can be allowed semi-randomised starting set depending on their conditions (possibly extending the tech tree a little bit backwards to allow for larger differences). Would definitely like to trade those Burlusts, stuck on an ice-dwarf, something to keep themselves warm rather than have them resort to their enemies' blood...

Offline Histidine

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Re: No release today (3/19).
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2014, 08:20:16 AM »
The stuff in the upcoming changelog about missions taking up solar map time is good, but entire months? Seems a wee bit long too me... I can only assume our Hydral always takes the scenic route to and from the mission location.