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General Category => Stars Beyond Reach... This World Is Mine => Topic started by: x4000 on February 28, 2015, 12:24:17 AM

Title: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: x4000 on February 28, 2015, 12:24:17 AM
The actual implementation won't be finished until about Thursday most likely, but I'm going to be shifting majorly into more full-testing mode even prior to then.  As well as working on the attack animations and getting those wired up so that I'll be comfortable doing a video of the game, heh.

This is a very exciting milestone, because it means that now -- once Keith finishes his implementation, which of course logically always lags after specs being written (it's a pipeline, after all) -- we'll be able to shift into refinement, refactoring, bugfixing, enhancing, balancing, testing, etc.  We've been doing some of that the whole way, of course, but this will really let us go into that full-out.

I want to have about two weeks of time with just myself on that sort of testing so that we can get all the main things nailed down, and then we'll start bringing in alpha players.  Then about two months, give or take slightly, of testing with more players.

We might add a feature here or there, particularly small stuff that fits into the existing framework, and we will certainly add some more pure-content things like disease names (which require very little data and absolutely no art or programming), but in terms of the main structure of the game the goal was to get that complete so that it can actually be played as it was intended.

All in all at the moment we have:
- 104 technologies on the main tech tree
- 17 unique social progress categories
- 8 different categories of procedurally-generated "market items," which are kind of a tech tree of their own.
- 118 underground buildings, most of which are AI-only alien-specific (only 3 are not).
- 200 surface city buildings overall, with 107 of those being human-only and 93 being AI-only.
- A further 6 "multi-racial" buildings that are used for 11 of the races in AI-only circumstances, and skinned to match the race's theme.
- 42 leaders overall, split across the 14 races (3 each).
- A semi-procedural disease model.
- Diplomacy
- Translations of 14 alien races.
- 5 ways to "dominate" a race other than militarily (those being diplomacy, economy, intellectual, entertainment, and espionage).
- Thieves, spies, blockades, and a variety of other things.
- Straightforward air, sea, land, and ranged combat -- but no units!
- 11 overall "wonders" that are unrelated to special victory conditions, and then a further 7 wonders that are exclusively for specific victory conditions (the other 11 wonders may be required for various victory conditions but also have functions outside of those victory conditions).
- 9 different "natural wonders" for you to encounter in the world via exploration.  These we likely will add more of, but probably late in the process.
- 17 different "underground monsters."
- Oh yeah, there are 49 different special things you can get various races to do.  We called the system "superpowers" under the hood, but some of them are mundane and some of them are definitely superpowers.  Some of these are shared by many races, others are limited to just a single race.
- The AI is a really extensible system (internally, by us) that is also multi-threaded per AI race, all running in parallel.
- Pollution is modeled.
- Also crime, woundings in battle, accidents, taxes, waste disposal, body disposal or burial, food/water/meal production, power production, etc.  Most of those systems are very simple, but there are a lot of them all intermingling so that's really good!
- 33 unique resources are in the game, and have a variety of special effects, as well as resource-user buildings that let you augment adjacent buildings.  Or you can sell the resources.
- The terraforming thing is in there, with 3 unique terrain types per race except for the flying and underwater ones (which have none), and the Acutians, which happen to have 4.  This is the method for managing climatology, aka the atmospheric composition.

Art-wise:
- All of the terrain art is 100% complete.
- Some of the particle effects are complete.
- All of the soldier art for combat animations is complete, but the animations themselves are not.
- The various vehicle art is a mixture of levels of complete, but all of it is modeled.
- 96 out of the 104 tech tree icons are complete.
- 75 out of the 118 underground building images are complete.
- None of the underground monsters have official art yet, but the stand-in stuff is clear for now (just not too pretty).
- 87 out of 107 human buildings are completely done (although 3 more are almost done except for some last tuning).
- 18 out of the 66 surface multi-racial buildings are done.
- 26 out of the 94 surface alien buildings are done.
- 35 out of 42 of the alien leader portraits are done.
- 6 out of the 17 social progress images are complete.
- the gui for the tech tree and social progress screens are pretty much complete.
- the gui for the other subscreens are semi-done, but have a lot of visual touching-up that is needed in various parts.
- the gui for the top of the main screen is pretty much done, pending any last shifts.
- the gui for the bottom of the main screen is about 70% done, and still needs some shifts that we just haven't made a priority yet.
- the lobby gui is really kind of a joke right now, because we just implemented it as roughly as we could for our own testing.  so that's one more thing prior to larger-scale testing, not that it's a big part of the game (but it's an important first impression).


Overall the specs that I wrote up are currently 215 pages, or 85,135 words.  That's not really including much in the way of data definitions, which fills many code files and spreadsheets and xml files and flat files, as the case warrants.  The code itself is large and robust, and though it's not fully optimized yet it already runs very pleasingly smoothly.  So far we have managed to keep between-turn times sub-second on my machine, although that won't always be the case I imagine.  Still, substantial late-game slowdown is not something we expect to be a huge thing given the way this is design.  We hate that slowdown as much as you.  In fact, I might hate it more than you, depending on how you are. ;)


Ah... yeah.  So, it's coming along very well, and I'm super pleased to be at this point.  It's a huge game, and there is still a lot for us to do in terms of bringing it to 1.0 status, but it's looking really good so far. :)
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Captain Jack on February 28, 2015, 12:34:26 AM
Congratulations!  :) Love to see how much you're into the soft-power interactions. So many games forget how powerful--and immersive--that can be. Art imitating life maybe?

Got any more terrain art you're willing to share? That's always fun to look at.
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Aklyon on February 28, 2015, 10:54:34 AM
Huzzah for progress :)
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: chemical_art on February 28, 2015, 11:09:35 AM
Sounds great!

I volunteer to be the last wave of testers, to give a "experienced but unlearned" view of the game from someone who only has a hint of what to do.
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: mrhanman on February 28, 2015, 12:34:12 PM
Woohoo! It's finally happening!  :D

Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: x4000 on February 28, 2015, 12:56:10 PM
Thanks all! :)  I'm really excited, too.  And yep, I like things being a bit more subtle with the relationships between the races, etc.

chemical_art: I have you added down.

Watashiwa: Here's some more art for you, just some bits I had lying around.  Those are some of the "multi-racial" tiles that are the same buildings, but reskinned for different races.  First skylaxians and then boarines.

(http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=17124.0;attach=9238)

(http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=17124.0;attach=9240)
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Aklyon on February 28, 2015, 01:16:51 PM
Neo Neodor?
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: x4000 on February 28, 2015, 02:20:02 PM
Neo Neodor?

Heh, that reference whooshed over my head and google fails me. What is it?
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: x4000 on February 28, 2015, 02:21:28 PM
Oh! The screenshot, got it. Necdor. Hence my confusion. It's just the name of that particular city.
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Captain Jack on February 28, 2015, 03:04:14 PM
Thanks Chris! I love how thematic the buildings are.

You mentioned in places that you have separate cities. Since you're building the cities straight on the map, the world is several times larger than most 4X games, right? How computer intensive is SBR? My desktop is future proof, but my laptop much less so.
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: x4000 on February 28, 2015, 03:26:58 PM
I think I had a thread about this somewhere else, but the map sizes are definitely larger than, say, Civilization.  The smallest map here is I think 2x larger than the largest Civ map?  Something like that.

The AI empires are much smaller, visually, than yours.  You can build up to around 6 cities, but honestly beyond 2-3 is probably going to be a pain unless you're doing something really specific.  Having 2 is really good, 3 is often a good idea.  4 and up is something that is a more esoteric strategy most of the time, is what I mean.

Also, if you're having 4+ cities then you are probably either terraforming away the oceans (or playing with very little water to start with), or you're destroying several other races to make room.

You can "have" more cities than that in some respects, though, in that you can subjugate foes that you have on the ropes so to speak, and then they will keep doing their own thing on their own, but never attack you and instead lend you some of their power and all of their production.  So you can get little puppet states if you so desire, but you don't get to manage those directly like you do your own cities.

All of the AI races just have one city each, mainly because that turned out to be easier to code.  But they can use special buildings to have remote locations that then build outwards.  A city does not have to be geographically continuous -- it's more of an organizational thing.  If you wanted to get really confusing and build yourself a patchwork pair of cities where literally you made a checkerboard out of which tiles belonged to which of your cities that were on top of one another... well, you could do that I suppose.  You could also have one city in the east, another in the west, and then some more pieces of the west city even further east than the east city.  But just some little parts, etc.  There are pros and cons to doing that versus having an actual third city, or keeping all your pieces together.

For the first while in each game, you just get one city, period.  You have to get to social level 7 at minimum before you can even consider adding a second city, so by that point you've gotten your capitol up and going to the point where your strategy for the middle game is at least probably pretty clear.

Anyway, I realized that there was no benefit to the individual AI players having more than one city, because they could just build geographically-disjointed single cities and that keeps the management layer for their AI simpler.  And it's all the same to you as the player, really.  Either way the rules on things like transport and so forth apply, whether it's founding a new city or establishing a new... let's say "suburb" of an existing city.
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Cinth on February 28, 2015, 03:30:30 PM
!!!

~posting obligatory excitement building meme~
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: x4000 on February 28, 2015, 03:35:35 PM
 ;D
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Captain Jack on February 28, 2015, 04:31:47 PM
And I said wow. How did you come up with this?
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Aklyon on February 28, 2015, 04:44:07 PM
Oh! The screenshot, got it. Necdor. Hence my confusion. It's just the name of that particular city.
Ah. Neo Neodor just sounded silly, Neo Necdor not so much. :)
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: x4000 on February 28, 2015, 09:30:46 PM
You mentioned in places that you have separate cities. Since you're building the cities straight on the map, the world is several times larger than most 4X games, right? How computer intensive is SBR? My desktop is future proof, but my laptop much less so.

Ah!  Sorry, I forgot to answer this part of it.  In terms of its computational intensity, that's hard for us to say with certainty at this point because we haven't really done a huge job of optimizing everything that can be optimized.  That said, I get better performance out of it than I have out of Civs 4 or 5 on the same computer.

Every so often we'll hit a trouble spot where we just have to optimize or else it gets crazy lag like 10 seconds between turns or something.  Then Keith finds the issue and we're back to like half-second turns again.

Mostly this is accomplished by having designed the game in such a way that the AI factions are designed to be played by AIs.  The structure of their economies is similar to yours, but different in such a manner that the AIs don't have to weigh certain options as much because they can work on things in parallel. 

Aka, for instance, the AI doesn't have to prioritize working on the military or working on beefing up its citizenry.  That is very computationally complex to figure out what is best.  Instead, it is able to actively pursue both, and the two things come out of different pools.  Instead, pursuing more citizenry is having to be prioritized against food, water, and so forth -- all of which are actually related things in some manner, so it's saying "what kind of fruit do you want in your salad," not "what kind of meal do you want out of all the meal possibilities in the world."  Meantime, on the military construction side it is saying "how do you want your steak cooked, or would you rather have pork," not "you have $50 to spend on all your activities for today, what would you like to do?"

Basically what I did was find several related contexts into which the AI activities could be grouped, and then made those parallel rather than contentious.  Then things within those contexts are contentious for the most part, although in a few cases not.  That lets us have AIs that act quite intelligently, without cheating, and without having such computational and design complexity on the AI systems themselves.  It's very much a case like AI War, though, where the AI players are playing one game while you are playing another.

Except here, each of the AIs is playing a game independent of each other, too.  What they are doing is being free actors in a world with which they are already comfortable, and they are being simulated as societies that are reacting to what is going on around them.  Some of them do want conquest, others seek wealth, others seek philosophy or simply to be left alone.  Some want territory, but not to wipe others out unless they have to.  Etc.

It's actually not possible for another race to "win the game" in the sense that they win before you do.  Again like AI War, where the AI can't go "I win!" all of a sudden and you're out of the game.  I mean, the way they do that is by killing you.  Same here, except that you might be killed by the world itself, or your own citybuilding internal issues, rather than purely outside forces.

Anyway, so that's some insight into how the AI works and why it's able to be so vastly more efficient than other strategy games of this general sort.  Same as with AI War, the gameplay design makes the AI design possible.  The AI here is very different from in AI War, though, as the flocking stuff and emergent behavior isn't possible.  However, we get emergent behavior in entirely different ways thanks to having what amounts to multi-agent governments with the different construction and action contexts I mentioned. 

Internally we call these "governors" in the code.  Each AI has a bunch of governors that kick off in a series of phases, and each governor says what it wants to do, or nothing if it sees no need to do anything.  It also says if it thinks its thing is a really high priority or a low one, and it also says if its thing is non-contentious and should happen outside of any other contentious governors in that same phase for that AI.  Within the decision making of a governor is some fuzzification of the data like in AI War, so that the governors don't always make the 100% best choice (which is predictable in a bad way), and there is then further fuzzification as to which governor wins out if two are contentious and can't agree.

And thus we wind up with AIs that are highly adaptable in a variety of ways.  If we decide that we want to have the AIs respond better to when X sort of situation arises, then one way of having that happen is to make a new contentious governor that is in the appropriate phase for the AIs and which checks for that condition and then reports back its suggestion and its suggested priority.  The core AI process might or might not take that suggestion depending on how urgent the suggestion is seen as.  And thus the AI has a new skill, but it's not 100% guaranteed to happen right away, or even at all, if we don't want it to be.  Or if it's urgent, we have easy ways of making sure that it always responds to that circumstance _for sure_, as well.

How did we come up with this...?  Well, it's been over 6 years now since I first started working on AI War, and we've learned a lot since then.  And then we've been working like crazy on this since Octoberish.  The most challenging aspect of this, for me, has been keeping all of the individual simulations simple enough that they can be easily understood and played by players in a fun way.  There are so many systems that if any are too complicated then the game becomes impenetrable, very slow, and un-fun. 

I spent some substantial time playing the game, noting when my blood would start to boil, and figuring out how to calm myself down with a chance.  I also have so far been expending as little mental energy as possible at trying to become truly good at the game.  It's inevitable that I have a certain amount of skill because I know the game quite well.  But I'm not really putting much thought into long-term planning, and in some respects playing "as stupidly as possible" without actively doing dumb things.  This has been really revealing for me in terms of what feels intuitive and what I can accomplish with my brain sort of on autopilot for the default difficulty (which, with someone with my skill level and level of knowledge for the game, should indeed be a kind of semi-autopilot circumstance), and it's made it so that the blood-boiling situations go away and a lot of the GUI kinks get worked out.  I actually have taken a lot of cues out of chemical_art's book in terms of stopping when I get frustrated and then assessing and making changes.

What is going to be different for me in the coming weeks, and even moreso beyond that, is that I will intentionally be upping my game and trying to get as good as possible with it.  That then changes my focus from fluidity and fun into making sure that the game presents an adequate challenge and adequate counters for any strategies I can come up with.  There will be holes and chinks in the armor for a while, hence a couple of months of testing with a lot of very smart folks here.  For us, having the game react to those holes and chinks will involve new governors in some cases, rebalanced mechanics in others, and so forth.  But that's about fine-tuning the game for expert players, not about making it baseline fun and interesting from day 1, which is what I've been focused on so far.

This division of labor between Keith and I, where he takes up 99% of the programming work, has been really paying off so far with this project.  I couldn't have done this without him, and it's been a really amazing experience.  He's been able to handle a lot of code architecture stuff that I don't have to think about, and has done an excellent job designing systems under the hood to make everything perform well and be extensible and easy to maintain.  I've been able to focus more on the gameplay, while at the same time of course having the programming knowledge to design the gameplay in a way that is conducive to appropriate CPU loads.  And in the case of AIs, sometimes I write out things very specifically in terms of what I want, or even fully code a "black box" algorithm that I maintain and Keith only calls into and gets the result from (and then deals with that in the rest of the simulation), and in other cases I just give a brief description of what I want and Keith goes and does it, absolving me from further thought about that specific governor or algorithm or what have you.

It's made for a really good partnership on that sort of thing.  And then of course with the artists, Blue and Cath most of all, we're in emails many times a day and always showing work and critiquing and figuring out new and better ways to handle things, and just generally all making sure that everything comes through as great as possible.  So again, just lots and lots of teamwork.
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Cyborg on February 28, 2015, 09:46:55 PM
Neodorous - After you pollute the planet, so no one else wants it anymore!
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Teal_Blue on February 28, 2015, 11:08:38 PM
Really cool to see the game is feature complete  :)

Just waiting to dive in.  :)

-Teal

Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: nas1m on March 01, 2015, 03:13:57 AM
Cool stuff!
Still possible to sign up ;)?

I have been awfully busy of late - but for this?
I will *have* to make room...

Cheers!
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: ElOhTeeBee on March 01, 2015, 11:10:33 AM
You keep waving shiny things in front of me when I can't grab them quite yet.
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Teal_Blue on March 01, 2015, 03:07:50 PM
:) 
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: x4000 on March 01, 2015, 07:16:32 PM
Cool stuff!
Still possible to sign up ;)?

I have been awfully busy of late - but for this?
I will *have* to make room...

Cheers!

I have added you to the list!  Definitely we are still open for signup.  We may go the route of TLF and keep everything closed prior to 1.0, we're not sure.  If that is the case, then it would be based on a larger pool of volunteer testers.  Thus far we have 26 people who have volunteered without us really asking for volunteers, heh. ;)  With TLF I think we had around 160 total testers after soliciting for testers, so I'm not worried about our ability to find testers when we need to at various stages of the refinement process.

You keep waving shiny things in front of me when I can't grab them quite yet.

Sorry about that. ;)  To some extent that is a tricky thing about the pre-release period for us with this.  For one, if we did an open beta then we get people to sign up early and we have more people who know how to play the game and a better community at launch.  On the other hand, we lose that excitement and momentum, at least to some extent.  Keeping things in a private alpha would let the people who are desperate to play it be the ones who get it early and help us finish it off, while hopefully keeping other people more excited for when it actually hits storefronts at 1.0.

I don't know.  I hate having to "play games" with stuff like this, but it's one of the realities of the business, particularly lately.  Up until about two weeks from now, though, of course it's a matter of me being Smeagol going "not yet, my precious, not yet, let me polish you more," etc. ;)
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Tridus on March 02, 2015, 04:41:50 PM
Sweet, been looking forward to this one!

Sign me up too, please. :)
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Sounds on March 02, 2015, 11:27:03 PM
Oh! The screenshot, got it. Necdor. Hence my confusion. It's just the name of that particular city.
Ah. Neo Neodor just sounded silly, Neo Necdor not so much. :)

Isn't Neo Neodor the plural term?  :P

Such awesomeness of names. :D
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Billick on March 04, 2015, 01:58:36 PM
I'd be interested in alpha/beta testing when the time rolls around.  I love me some 4x, and this one looks super promising.
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Captain Jack on March 04, 2015, 09:59:42 PM
Well Chris, looks like you're in an open field as far as city building is concerned--EA just closed Maxis. Oh sure, Sims studio will last until judgment day, but the California headquarters is gone. After SC2013 they might have deserved it, but this still isn't a good feeling.

Please please please never sell out to EA.  :'(
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Greywolf22 on March 04, 2015, 10:30:54 PM
I'm definitely up for testing as well when the time rolls around.
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Aklyon on March 05, 2015, 04:44:54 PM
Well Chris, looks like you're in an open field as far as city building is concerned--EA just closed Maxis. Oh sure, Sims studio will last until judgment day, but the California headquarters is gone. After SC2013 they might have deserved it, but this still isn't a good feeling.

Please please please never sell out to EA.  :'(
Not quite an open field, considering Cities: Skylines (by the guys who made Cities in Motion, published by Paradox) comes out in a bit less than a week from now.
The Maxis thing was still pretty sad though, although from what I read it was only one part of Maxis, and not the sims one.
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: ElOhTeeBee on March 05, 2015, 04:46:07 PM
Well Chris, looks like you're in an open field as far as city building is concerned--EA just closed Maxis. Oh sure, Sims studio will last until judgment day, but the California headquarters is gone. After SC2013 they might have deserved it, but this still isn't a good feeling.

Please please please never sell out to EA.  :'(
Be at peace, for Cities: Skylines is almost out, and from what I've heard so far it's a great game that just happens to share its name with some terrible ones.
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: DevildogFF on March 05, 2015, 05:40:12 PM
I need to see gameplay of this SO. BADLY.

Hope I make it in to your Alpha!
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Tridus on March 05, 2015, 06:30:18 PM
I would love it if Cities: Skylines lives up to the hype. The last city builder I really liked was Banished, which was well done but just not "big" enough to really scratch the itch.

It's sad that Maxis is gone, but it was really a shell of its former self anyway.
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Misery on March 06, 2015, 11:07:35 AM
I would love it if Cities: Skylines lives up to the hype. The last city builder I really liked was Banished, which was well done but just not "big" enough to really scratch the itch.

It's sad that Maxis is gone, but it was really a shell of its former self anyway.

Yeah, there just wasnt really anything left of the old Maxis.  Far as I'm concerned, the last "true" Maxis game was Simcity 4 (and it's expansion).   Well, Spore was decent enough, but I got the impression they didn't entirely know what to do with that concept.  But yeah... it was SC4 and everything before it that had me entranced.  I still remember getting SimEarth way back when; that game was the reason to upgrade finally to a computer with a hard drive, as up till then we'd never had one, just used discs all the time, but THAT game needed installing! It came on like 5 seperate disks!  Over FIVE megabytes!  My mind was blown!  And it turned out quite worth it.  I still have the bloated manual/guide/something that came with it.  I miss those, they dont do that any more...

But yeah, what was closed down was... unfortunately irrelevant.  Particularly with EA at the helm. 
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: Teal_Blue on March 06, 2015, 12:26:34 PM
Snip.   

Contentious,  or Contiguous ??

Sometimes it seemed you meant one, and then other times the other.

-Teal

Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: tbrass on March 06, 2015, 08:25:09 PM
Definitely we are still open for signup.  We may go the route of TLF and keep everything closed prior to 1.0, we're not sure.  If that is the case, then it would be based on a larger pool of volunteer testers.  Thus far we have 26 people who have volunteered without us really asking for volunteers, heh. ;) 

Chris, I'd love to volunteer my time for testing on a lower-spec machine (low-end amd quad core, integrated radeon gfx). I've enjoyed learning about your dev process (as always) and look forward to your 4x!
Title: Re: Specs are finally feature-complete. :)
Post by: x4000 on March 10, 2015, 08:08:39 PM
Somehow the forums (once again) stopped emailing me notifications of new posts.  Sigh.

I'd be interested in alpha/beta testing when the time rolls around.  I love me some 4x, and this one looks super promising.

Added you to the list!

Well Chris, looks like you're in an open field as far as city building is concerned--EA just closed Maxis. Oh sure, Sims studio will last until judgment day, but the California headquarters is gone. After SC2013 they might have deserved it, but this still isn't a good feeling.

Please please please never sell out to EA.  :'(

Augh!  Jeez, I missed that news.  And no, I never plan to sell to EA.  Or anyone, really.

I'm definitely up for testing as well when the time rolls around.

Added you to the list!

Not quite an open field, considering Cities: Skylines (by the guys who made Cities in Motion, published by Paradox) comes out in a bit less than a week from now.
The Maxis thing was still pretty sad though, although from what I read it was only one part of Maxis, and not the sims one.

Be at peace, for Cities: Skylines is almost out, and from what I've heard so far it's a great game that just happens to share its name with some terrible ones.

I am hoping that one turns out well, despite whatever it would mean for us.  It's much more true citybuilder anyhow, and people who want this are going to need to be of the 4X bent.  This one definitely borrows heavily from the citybuilder genre, but it's still at core a 4X by far.  So I'm not exactly rooting for other citybuilders to fail or anything. ;)

I need to see gameplay of this SO. BADLY.

Hope I make it in to your Alpha!

I had hoped to get a gameplay video out this week or last week, but it's just not in the cards yet.  We're actually going to need to push the release into June from the look of things, because there's just so much polishing I want to do before I even give this to testers.  I'm being really anal about things and want to be uber good at the game and really fluid with how I play it and enjoy it before I start handing it out to other folks.  Right now there are still some interface things that are tripping me up, and we're going through those one at a time and smashing them with a hammer until the tasty goo comes out.  I think I mixed some metaphors there. ;)

Snip.   

Contentious,  or Contiguous ??

Sometimes it seemed you meant one, and then other times the other.

-Teal

Contentious, in the resources sense.  In other words, they aren't competing with one another for resources. 

If there is a door that is very narrow, and both you and I want to go through it at the same time, then we have some contention between us.  Somehow we have to decide who goes first through the door.  If it's just a matter of politeness, it doesn't matter.  If there's a gunman on the other side, it matters a lot.  It also matters a lot if one of us is late to a critical meeting and the other one is just going to a lazy lunch, etc.  That can get pretty complicated when the differences are more subtle: what if I need to catch the elevator that might close, but you need to beat out another person to the queue for a newspaper?  Etc.  There are a lot of problems that can come up there.

In a non-contentious design, there are two doors and your going through and my going through don't matter.  Instead if I'm trying to catch the elevator, the math that goes on is how fast I walk to it, or if I run, or if maybe I take the stairs, etc.  I don't have to factor in you at all.  And the same thing with you for getting your newspaper or lunch or whatever the scenario is there; you don't have to factor in me.

A lot of strategy games, particularly turn-based ones, funnel everything through "one door" so to speak.  Chess and Checkers and similar where you get one move per turn are the best examples of this.  In this case, all of my pieces are in contention with all of my other pieces every turn.  And ditto with yours.  Having a more parallelized system allows this to work slightly more like an RTS AI in some ways, because it puts less importance on each individual decision, which is very good for AIs.  And it can make things less agonizing for players, too, since one mistake isn't the end of all things.  Missing a bishop that can sneak over and grab your queen just feels So. Terrible.

Chris, I'd love to volunteer my time for testing on a lower-spec machine (low-end amd quad core, integrated radeon gfx). I've enjoyed learning about your dev process (as always) and look forward to your 4x!

Awesome, thanks!  That would be extremely useful to know your full specs when the time comes and get some metrics from you in terms of how things handle, etc.