Author Topic: About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.  (Read 2079 times)

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,259
About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.
« on: September 06, 2016, 10:47:45 AM »
I figure I'd better make a post about this centrally.  There have been two overall sentiments that prompted this:

1. "I'd really like more consideration for my [insert very complicated or very far-reaching-effects idea]."
2. "I'm really surprised that Chris gave up on his idea for [insert idea that turned out to be more complex or far-reaching than he anticipated]."

Why are we being so conservative?
Overall some folks may be at the same time going "why are you being so radical?" with other changes of ours, so we're honestly trying to hit a good middle-ground.  We don't want to just give you the same game again as AI War Classic but prettier, but at the same time we don't want to lose the core of what makes AI War actually AI War -- so there's a middle-ground required there.

The ideas that ultimately get rejected (for v1.0 purposes) fast and have no real chance for discussion in a short-term sense requires are those that have  too many risky changes to the overall design of the game, and thus risk having a lot of wrong designs before something that is fun can be arrived at. 

It's more or less what happened with Stars Beyond Reach if we're not careful.  A big part of why TLF went over budget, and why SBR went over budget and never finished, was because there were a lot of untested and semi-concrete designs (of mine) that turned out to need months and months of revision.  With AI War having such strong source material to pull from, and a general sense of people wanting that source material to not be violated, I have a triple incentive to stick to that source material except when there's a good reason not to.

In other words: we risk making AI War II notably inferior to AI War Classic, OR we risk having an incredible amount of scope creep, or some awful mix of the two.

Given that AI War itself has a lot of people who are passionate about what the first game is, really going hardcore away from what it was is 100% not in my game plan.  I feel like it's a big risk of going from Supreme Commander 1 (yay!) to Supreme Commander 2 (hey, where'd the stuff go??), or the same between Civ IV (vanilla) and Civ V (vanilla).

What does a core change to the game need to have?
Any sort of core changes to the game as a whole need to have the following traits:

1. Easy to test and implement.
2. Easy for new folks to understand at a surface level.
3. A strong and clear motivation for why this would diverge from the original in the first place.
4. Something I can formulate a concrete design from.
5. Not so different from the base game in terms of the "x factor" that we risk this not feeling like AI War anymore.

A number of ideas that I've wanted to explore (very much so) of my own have had to be put on hold or halted because they don't meet all of the criteria above. 

Summing Up
Hope that makes sense.  We're not trying to stomp on anyone's ideas, and who knows what will come in v2.0 of this game.  But Chris has often been too lax when wearing his project manager hat in the past, and this time he's trying to be more draconian with himself and everyone. 

What I think we all want most is a solid new AI War II that is a great jumping-off-point for more things.  There are a ton of things that we can do after that point, but to get to the point where any of that is possible we have to get through the other pieces first.  There are only so many changes that the core of the game can withstand at once while still being recognizable or having any hope of capturing the same fun, etc.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline chemical_art

  • Core Member Mark IV
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,952
  • Fabulous
Re: About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2016, 10:58:36 AM »
All very reasonable.

I would like to add that a key aspect of doing this is that the game will come out much, much faster and more polished due to following through with this idea. With the game coming out faster there is less pressure for it to be an absolute hit and also more likely to get expansions.
Life is short. Have fun.

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,259
Re: About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2016, 11:19:17 AM »
Yes, yes, and also yes.

Your big post on the main section about key things that possibly went wrong in past projects is also very much in line with this philosophy as a whole.  I won't pretend that wasn't in the back of my mind when writing this. :)
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Pumpkin

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,201
  • Neinzul Gardener Enclave
Re: About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2016, 01:12:44 AM »
Hope that makes sense.
That perfectly makes sense (at least to me). That's the kind of talk about "what kind of ideas we're looking for right now" I wanted to see. I was a bit confuse, since now, about were AIW2 v1.0 would be between conservatism and experimentation.

Now that's very clear and I appreciate that.
I'll pass my ideas/suggestions through these five "traits"; that should be a good exercise.  :)
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,259
Re: About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2016, 03:50:07 PM »
Thank you for understanding!  And I hope we can get wild and crazy in expansions and whatnot after this 1.0 build. :)
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Pumpkin

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,201
  • Neinzul Gardener Enclave
Re: About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2016, 02:44:41 AM »
And I hope we can get wild and crazy in expansions and whatnot after this 1.0 build. :)
Sure. 8)
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.

Offline zharmad

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,075
Re: About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2016, 01:55:01 PM »
Oh, I'm going to paraphrase Wingflier's sentiment in the forcefield thread here as a part of caution against over-caution. "If it ends up being a graphics upgrade, will people buy it over the original?" In other words, I'd like to be able to find something that isn't just, "oh that's a good upgrade from the way you used to do things."

The items on the design-doc that have passed so far include:
  • units -> squads
  • AI blobs -> ship-bays (probably carriers too)
  • Modular ships -> Multipart ships
  • Power -> Power/Fuel
  • one-layer map -> two-tiered map using solar-systems (likely to pass)
  • too many classic unit types -> upgrade tech apart from Mark level
  • Complex Relationships (which many will read as Diplomacy) (new!)
  • reprisal -> activity speed-up
  • various terminology changes like "Core" -> "V"
  • EDIT 1000s of ships -> 10000s of ships (visual scale! chemical_art's response is worth including here.)

All of the arrow items are iterative design improvements. There is one new thing that might really excite people, but at the moment not me. This isn't a bad thing, but I still feel the need for a spark. The kind of spark that says:
"The revolution of the second AI War from the first, is as groundbreaking as World War II is to to World War I."

EDIT2: Well, admittedly I'm not an excitable person. :P What are people exciting about so far?
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 02:18:34 PM by zharmad »

Offline chemical_art

  • Core Member Mark IV
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,952
  • Fabulous
Re: About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2016, 02:01:20 PM »
I already see the scale increase being worthy of that spark. Ship counts are able to increase exponentially. The scale of territory from going to solar system fighting. Tech trees are expanding greatly.
Life is short. Have fun.

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,259
Re: About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2016, 02:35:30 PM »
I don't know, it's hard to say with what excites people.  There is a fine line there, for sure.

Overall the goal of AI War 2 is to make it a notable incremental improvement, not a complete overhaul.  In other words, iPhone 4 from 3GS.  Civ 3 from Civ 2.  Etc.

Making a complete overhaul is really dangerous for a whole lot of reasons, and it's something a lot of people really don't want from what we can tell.  There were a lot of barriers to entry on AI War Classic, and focusing on removing all those is a worthy enough goal in and of itself, I think.

I'm also definitely trying to push beyond that and do other new and exciting things with it, but there's a limit to what can be done while also doing that many other upgrades.  Too many changes of substance all at once and it all falls apart; so picking the most meaningful changes that fit most easily with the existing design is what I'm attempting to do.

There is basically zero hope of me pleasing everybody, but I'm trying to hit the largest number of people with what they want.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,259
Re: About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2016, 02:39:08 PM »
Oh!  The other thing I want to point out, which I haven't really communicated yet, is:

1. I don't really plan on doing the existing plots or minor factions or whatnot too faithfully.
2. All new and more interesting stuff there, ideally.

Don't hold me to that, but that's the general idea right now.  I still have a lot of work to do.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Captain Jack

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 808
  • Just lucky
Re: About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2016, 04:18:50 PM »
Oh!  The other thing I want to point out, which I haven't really communicated yet, is:

1. I don't really plan on doing the existing plots or minor factions or whatnot too faithfully.
2. All new and more interesting stuff there, ideally.

Don't hold me to that, but that's the general idea right now.  I still have a lot of work to do.
You've mentioned AI plots would be changed or folded into the primary AI behaviors, minor factions getting changed is new (and necessary). Looking forward to seeing what that turns into.

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,259
Re: About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2016, 12:25:50 PM »
Me too!  Right now I feel like there are too many discrete systems there that popped up specifically because earlier systems were not flexible enough to handle the new requirements, etc.  I'd rather have One System To Rule Them All that is flexible enough to do all of those sorts of things, mixes of them, and new stuff.  That way we're not seeing it grow ridiculously over time in terms of the types of things again.

It's a lot easier to have a single category of "stuff the AI might do" that you can enable or disable in some fashion, and let that be really flexible.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Cyborg

  • Master Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,931
Re: About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2016, 11:30:35 AM »
Oh!  The other thing I want to point out, which I haven't really communicated yet, is:

1. I don't really plan on doing the existing plots or minor factions or whatnot too faithfully.
2. All new and more interesting stuff there, ideally.

Don't hold me to that, but that's the general idea right now.  I still have a lot of work to do.

Not even the planet cracker? Or the spire?

I can see why you don't want to port over some of the stuff in version 1.0, but I hope there are future expansions where you are open to considering it. These are some of my favorite features.
Kahuna strategy guide:
http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,13369.0.html

Suggestions, bugs? Don't be lazy, give back:
http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/

Planetcracker. Believe it.

The stigma of hunger. http://wayw.re/Vi12BK

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,259
Re: About conservatism in AI War II v1.0 designs.
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2016, 03:25:37 PM »
Sorry, I was very unclear in that prior message.  Things like the spire and whatnot will still be there; that's not what I really meant.

Overall races and whatnot like the Zenith and Spire and so forth would still very much be there.  But the details of their specific mechanics and plots are things I'd like to make fresh.  Aka, different sub-factions and all that sort of thing.  Certain ones should come back by popular request, absolutely, too.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!