General Category > Stars Beyond Reach... This World Is Mine

Tiny tease screenshot (okay, several, plus a small info dump, turns out).

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--- Quote from: relmz32 on October 27, 2014, 02:56:07 pm ---
--- Quote from: x4000 on October 27, 2014, 10:58:42 am ---...
4. Hexes are by nature abstract.  I feel like the more people try to hide that abstractness, the less the hexes have a point in general.  My direction to the artists for our own upcoming hex game was "let's not hide the hexes, let's flaunt them."  I feel like having tiles that are merging things like coastline plus ocean are inherently messy and confusing both visually and conceptually (as a player), and so I prefer to have something that is inherently a little more abstract, but proud of it.  Hexes can be done in a really gorgeous way, and personally I get excited just seeing them...

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Point 4 makes me really excited to see what you guys do with SE.

Also, I have a question regarding how the planet is mapped in SE, how do you guys handle wrapping? The reason why i ask is that cylendrical wrapping, while popular and pretty easy to implement, doesn't actaully do a good job of representing an actual spherical planet.

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I'm responding to this one here, to avoid dragging the other thread off-topic.

Basically, we originally had both x and y wrapping, and it was something that worked well, except it was pretty confusing.  If you went north, you'd pass a pole, then temperate, then tropical, then temperate, then another pole, then temperate, then tropical... wait, was that the north pole or south pole?  Etc.

Plus you'd get kind of odd things where you were looking at the "top of the globe" so to speak, but it felt like an island of ice rather than the actual polar ice cap because it's all being projected onto a flat plane.

Those things were... annoying, but realistically the player would not spend that much time zoomed out and panning like crazy to where that would be a frequent issue of confusion.  And adding the minimap would solve the issue of "where am I."

Well... we added the minimap, and that just compounded the problems.  Being able to zoom out crazy far was limited heavily by the need to not have the same tiles repeating on both sides of the screen, and the inherent difficulties of doing that in an orthographic projection rather than a literal top-down view.  I'm not aware of any other hex games that are in an iso view, but as Keith will attest it complicates things enormously from a basic viewport math point of view.

Anyway, so the zoom was a problem, but the minimap was absolutely the end of things.  Because of the nature of how the hexes fit together, we couldn't make a square or a rectangle out of the minimap without repeating tiles.  We'd always have a gap at the top and/or bottom because of the way the things project.  So... yeah, that was a problem.

Adding up all of the problems, the wrapping simply wasn't a good mechanic.  It caused confusion and troubles at every level, so late last week we decided it had to go.  Instead we are now using a hex-shaped world, where the internal angles are 120 degrees (as opposed to the sharper 90 degree corners of a rectangular map), and it lets us handle things far more gracefully.  It's an unusual shape to have the world be, for sure, but it works out surprisingly well.  And the game immediately felt way more intuitive and so forth.

My big concern, and why I'd wanted wrapping, was to avoid the ability to "hide in corners" or "be stuck in a corner."  But having 120 degree internal angles instead of 90 degree ones really does solve that pretty neatly.  The corners really aren't too much of a corner.  And with the way the game has evolved, trying to turtle isn't really a relevant thing, anyway.

AND, incidentally, not having wrapping lets us have greater distances between points on the far ends of the map than wrapping would.  With wrapping, half a world away is as far as anything is.  Without wrapping, it can be a full world away.  So you get a greater feeling of space without the wrapping, which was a complete surprise to me.

We're going to be doing a variety of map types, not all of which depict all the zones in the first place.  Some just tropical or just polar or whatever other slices we want.  So what you're normally seeing is a slice of the vertical axis of the planet, theoretically.

Things that I'm curious about: The significance of the red spiky crystals, 1 building per hex hinted by the first screenshot. What sort of resources will there be to gather/find/fight over?
(I can picture the Spire needing crystals... or spreading crystals).

14 races is a lot... considering that how are you planning them to look different?
will they share building artwork (sane) or do they get there own (Good but expensive, 14x the work is a painfully large multiplier) Or will the buildings be coloured with your race colour (cheap but effective) or something else to differentiate them? (Like red spiky crystals/forests surrounding cities of different races)

I am so psyched about this game.  Those screens look excellent.


--- Quote from: DrFranknfurter on October 27, 2014, 04:20:21 pm ---Things that I'm curious about: The significance of the red spiky crystals,
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These tend to be rich mining spots for various resources.  There are minerals all over, but they are most dense in these areas, so they can be hotspots to acquire or defend.

--- Quote from: DrFranknfurter on October 27, 2014, 04:20:21 pm ---1 building per hex hinted by the first screenshot.
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It's not always one building per hex.  Or rather, one hex per building.  Each hex has at most one building on it, let's put it that way.  But sometimes buildings have footprints that are 2 or more typically 3, and one has a footprint of 7.  Most buildings are 1 hex, though, to keep things manageable.

--- Quote from: DrFranknfurter on October 27, 2014, 04:20:21 pm ---What sort of resources will there be to gather/find/fight over?
(I can picture the Spire needing crystals... or spreading crystals).
--- End quote ---

As with Civilization, there are kind of two levels of resources.  One is the more direct stuff that you manage at a high level.  Those are things like money, energy, morale, and so forth.  But then there are resources like oil and minerals.

Unlike Civilization, those oil/mineral type resources are not hard gates to things (you can't have chariots if you don't have horses), but rather are pathways to greater efficiency.  This is one of the key tenets of the design of this game for me: make it so that players have a limited number of steps to do something in kind of the basic way, but so that the optimal way is a matter of debate as well as being more involved.  Keeping the civ example, you would not be blocked in building chariots without a source of horses, but when you got horses that would be a "large supply of horses" not "any horses at all," and having those horses would either make the chariots stronger, or produced faster, or some other effect.

There are also some other "resources" of a sort, mainly involving making the atmosphere more to your liking, or spreading the sort of terrain of your home world.  The terrain that you see here is all the "vanilla" terrain that is native to the planet itself.  Each race will have 3 different kinds of terrain unique to themselves, though, and there are various benefits to them to surrounding themselves with their kind of terrain.  The early game will look very different than the late game, terrain-wise.

Although, I take that back: the Neinzul and the Spire are both flying races, and so they don't have terrain.  Their "buildings" are actually floating living beings.

--- Quote from: DrFranknfurter on October 27, 2014, 04:20:21 pm ---14 races is a lot... considering that how are you planning them to look different?
will they share building artwork (sane) or do they get there own (Good but expensive, 14x the work is a painfully large multiplier) Or will the buildings be coloured with your race colour (cheap but effective) or something else to differentiate them? (Like red spiky crystals/forests surrounding cities of different races)

--- End quote ---

Some of each thing.

There are 6 races that are not-ever-human-playable out of those 14.  Those are the Acutians, the Andors, the Thoraxians, the Spire, the Neinzul, and the Yali.  All of these races work entirely differently from all the human-playable races.  Each of these races has something like 5-6 unique buildings for themselves, and they use their entirely own economic mechanics, AI, and everything.  They aren't playing the same game as you at all.

The other 8 races are all human playable, and they share possibly all of their buildings, maybe with one or two unique per race.  Not sure on that yet.  There are some buildings that will be AI-only though (aka only used by AI players for these races), and some that are player-only.  Remember that the story is that the players are new to the planet, while everyone else is established.  So there are some differences there, and yet more asymmetry.

All of the races that are not flying have their three unique terrain types, which will tend to spread out from their cities.  So that kind of informs you that you're coming in to Burlust territory, when you start seeing their red angry sort of plants and lava pools, etc.

Each race also has a specific two-tone border color associated with them, too.  You can see the one surrounding the territory of the buildings in that first screenshot up there.  We'll see if more than that is needed, but at the moment I don't feel like it will be in terms of identifying which race a city belongs to.

Speaking of races, there are a variety of languages spoken by them, and you have to learn them before you can speak with races that speak that language.  Overall there are 8 languages, and which race you start as determines which language you know from the start, versus which ones you have to learn.  Starting as one of the races from TLF gives you a bit of an advantage because they all speak Solar Common.  Except for the Thoraxians, which are an older group that never visited the solar system in TLF.  These Thoraxians still speak Proto-Thoraxian.  The other languages are Zenian, Spirian, Neinric, Yalven, Fain, and Kronish.

And again speaking of factions, there are three possible leaders for each faction.  Each of these leaders has different bonuses, but also a different personality.  Taking the Civ analogy, basically Gandhi would not always be the leader of India.  Sometimes he would, and he'd act like the nuke-happy guy that people are used to.  Other times you'd encounter India under other rulers.  Overall that gives you 42 different leaders in the game, 24 of which you can directly play as.  This helps us to have differentiated sub-factions, only one of which is present in any given game.  So the Burlusts act one way in Game A because they are under Leader 1, and a different way in game B because they are under Leader 3.  Etc.

--- Quote from: Castruccio on October 27, 2014, 05:41:03 pm ---I am so psyched about this game.  Those screens look excellent.

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Thank you!  :D

You said it was a little premature to be talking... but I can sense the excitement brimming over. It sounds very interesting. I'm trying to boil it down to key points. So far I have:
"The short:
4x, hexes, hex-shaped map, 14 races planned (8 playable), 3 leader options per race, no units (think SimCity), futuristic but planet based and with co-op multiplayer."

(Feel free to suggest more accurate summary words, I'd like to keep working on the preview draft, updating for now based on your teaser posts. Until I can get my hands on the game that is... *steeples fingers*)

I'm still wondering about the multiplicative maths there... 3x terrain 12x land-locked species is 36 unique terrain types... Which I can imagine getting a little crazy both in terms of art assets and struggling to tell them apart. Although if the 3 represent farms/forests/city backgrounds I'm sure it wouldn't be too difficult to tell who's who. Or if they represent arctic/lava/crystal fields you'd see slowly spreading terraforming... some races share preferred climates?

The resource mechanics sound interesting. Will you be trading things with the AI? (assuming you know their language). I can imagine not knowing the other players languages could slow down diplomacy (5 turns to unlock breathing, 5 more to unlock grunting, 5 more to unlock talking) and push you towards ignoring it entirely in favour of conquest. Especially if the other players are actively damaging your terrain through hostile terraforming. That said, it would be interesting to have the diplomacy text be more and more detailed/unambiguous as you understand their language better, much like the spire conversations do in AI War. But perhaps having a little bit of diplomacy available at all times would be enough to prevent that worry from becoming an issue. (firing a warning shot is a solid form of non-verbal communication, giving a gift shouldn't require anything more than dumping valuable gems near their border etc.)

Also... I'm a little sad that the player doesn't get his hands on giant spire floating cities... But as both the Spire and Neinzul weren't the main races in AI War either (by dint of their awesome power) I'm not completely surprised. I'd love the ability to get a few of their terrifying toys either during the game or in an expansion though.

Also... (I know I'm full of questions, obviously I hope you'll answer but feel free to say 'ask me again later, it's a WIP' and I'll understand.) Will there be any orbital stuff? I'm assuming there's a reason they're all stuck on the planet together... perhaps a reason that interferes with satellites/spaceflight. Are the flying spire and neinzul the orbital equivalent - how high do they float? I'm assuming it's just an artistic representation of their buildings... is there any mechanical differences from them floating? (can they move, build over oceans, float over your cities?)

I know I repay each post with a dozen more questions, thanks again for spilling a few more beans. I'm just excited, your excitement is rubbing off on me. Good luck with it all.

[edit. Added eXplorminate feedback]
Hmm, that an interesting Q/A. I see the similarities to Simcity, which I like, but for me, I would want distinct buildings sets for each race (human played or not) and whatever overlap there is in building/tech to be explained in lore. Even though, a 4x sandbox game works because we, the players, create our own narrative as we play the game, there has to be some base. This base is provided by the developers. A good studio set the tone of the game and lets the player run wild with it. This tone is important for new 4x entrants because they often feel very lost and don't "get" the genre.


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