Author Topic: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested  (Read 16833 times)

Offline lordpalandus

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Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« on: August 12, 2015, 01:00:29 PM »
Hi,

I don't want to get people's hopes up, but I've been working hard over the past year to learn how to build a computer game, learning C++, Blender, UE4 and UE4's Blueprint Scripting. There is still a fair bit of learning to go, but I'm at the stage where I'm ready to Design a game's mechanics and story at the same time. I've found that games that design both mechanics and story at the same time tend to be the best games around, as neither feels tacked on. Truthfully, I had wanted to get started on building a game sooner, but such is life eh? But, I've found the past year to be highly fruitful and informative in getting me prepared for game development and the hurdles that come with it. I'm aware that it may take a while, and that there is costs involved in it, but I'm willing to get there.

I had originally wanted to do an RPG, but after the past three months of thinking on things, playing a wide variety of RPGs and observing my own reactions to specific stimuli, and weighing the benefits and minuses of various systems, I've realized I'm not interested in RPGs as much as I thought I was. I've found that most progression systems in RPGs give artificial progression or that many RPGs give the player the "illusion of control" rather than actual control.

However, the one genre that I never fail to grow bored of, is the RTS genre; I can always find joy in it. I really enjoyed playing the Outpost 2 a lot in my younger days (and later years as well) and I feel that only an Indie developer will be able to build a game like Outpost 2 due to lack of "market". I say "like" Outpost 2 because it won't be in the Outpost Universe; I don't care to have to deal with Bobby Kotick, and would like to do a fresh start. I am curious as to everyone's thoughts on these five questions:

1) I was wondering what kind of features would people here like in a game "based" on Outpost 2 as inspiration?
2) Are there specific things that irritated you with Outpost 2, that if you could you'd want fixed in a game like Outpost 2?
3) Are there specific things that you feel made Outpost 2 unique and without them it wouldn't feel the same?
4) Are there any things that particularly interested you with Outpost 1, that you wish Outpost 2 had?
5) I'm aware that a previous Indie Development Team had attempted a game similar to Outpost 1 (Terminus I believe it was called) and failed to achieve kickstarter funding. Do you perhaps know why it failed, so that I could avoid whatever problems they had?

I feel that this community has a lot of valuable experience with Outpost 2 and as I've been a part of this community for a number of years, I know that as fact. I'm just curious as to what people here have to say regarding these questions AND any other concerns they may have. Thus, community input would be much appreciated. Even, if you guys feel that this is just another attempt, in a long line of failures, I'd appreciate it still if you would give me the benefit of the doubt. I feel that it is important to get your opinions and thoughts NOW rather than later as it is much easier to modify a Design Document than it is to modify code already in a game (not to mention having to fix all the code if you had to remove something from it).

Cheers!

EDIT: This is also on the New Terran Command Site at this link = http://newterrancommandsite.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=153 (mentioning it as Leeor pointed out on NTSC that he didn't know about its existence, so putting it here as well)

EDIT2: Link to the Design Document, a WIP = https://docs.google.com/document/d/14gyJIIFiPd3nLKRqhVE-t7376VqwSdjoh0ActRrywyA/edit?usp=sharing
EDIT3: Link to the Redesigned Design Document = https://docs.google.com/document/d/11uDn9Oc2JOYWZBCtYKGwpLUz9ZTYVg3sevX3WWLkQDY/edit?usp=sharing
« Last Edit: October 17, 2015, 11:36:05 PM by lordpalandus »
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Offline Highlander

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2015, 01:50:55 PM »
1) Stick to the over all feeling if OP2. I've always liked the extensive tech tree's of the game, the multitude of buildings and the setting on a desolate planet. Back in the earlier days I always dreamed of a more extensive tech tree, more weapons and more factions. An easier way to make maps and missions would also be great.

2) Various bugs, lack of balance between the two factions, lack of balance to multiplayer maps, poor AI, more single player scenarios, easier to make maps/missions. Probably a bunch more.. I also wish that the research was a bit more important and that several routes might lead to success to a larger degree than it currently does.

3) The storyline I think was pretty unique, I always felt it provided a solid background for what happened in the game. I also liked reading the novella as I went along the missions - though, honestly, my English at that time probably wasnt so good, so I didnt understand all of it (But it was a good read years later). Like previously mentioned, the extensive tech tree and multitude of buildings all add to the realistic feel of the game - and also the research seems more or less bound by science not just free imagination (No super weapons which seem a bit far fetched). I also like that building one building doesnt automatically unlock another building which in turn unlocks 2-4 new weapons - you actually have to research them (and the research has little explanations of what can be expected and also what actually was researched when it was done). I also like that you have to balance both colony and weapons management (and research) - neglect either and you might be in trouble. Also I always felt the music was pretty good, and I always enjoyed the little sounds and animations of the buildings.

4) I havent actually played Outpost 1 o_0

5) -
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Offline lordpalandus

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2015, 04:56:42 PM »
Thanks for the reply, Highlander.

Some additional comments for brainstorming:

1a] For the extensive tech tree, did you find that the short blurb of text accompanying the research topic helped to create the overall feel for the game, or do you think it was an effort that was wasted? Additionally, did you find the extra blurb of text that accompanied the finished research topic (available for perusal if a person wanted to read it) helped or was a wasted effort?

1b] For each building, they had several static animations that played for each structure, with each structure having unique animations. Did you feel that these added to the overall feel or were simply a nice novelty or added touch... or possibly all of the above?

1c] Which structures did you like the most, and why? Any structures you felt were useless and any idea of how to make them useful? (I don't know about you, but for me I found the Light Tower to be basically useless)

1d] If there was more that you had wanted the tech tree to do, what would you have wanted to add to it? For example, something simple like additional numerical upgrades (+HP, +Armor, +Speed, +Damage) to specific units, or something more complex?

1e] Well with UE4's Cascade Particle Creator and Editor, creating new and interesting effects shouldn't be too difficult. Were there any particular kinds of weapons that you wished the game had, and lacked?

1f] For easier map making, would having simply a Procedural Map Generator, that creates maps based on mathematical algorithms be sufficient, or is direct manipulation of terrain and objects preferred?

1g] I'm not aware of the difficulties of creating missions in Outpost 2. What are some of the hurdles facing mission creation?

---

2a] Can you list of some specific bugs, that for example the unofficial patches haven't fixed yet?

2b] As for the balance issues, I had considered (still a bit WIP on the numbers but...) that Penetration Damage fully penetrates armor, while Concussion damage deals extra damage to None or Light Armored targets, while very little damage against Heavy Armor targets. Do you think that this is a good way to manage the two damage types. Thus in early game, Concussion would deal more damage, but mid-late game, Penetration would deal more damage. Do you think this would be an amicable solution for the disparity between these two damage types? Or perhaps, having only two Damage Types is the problem? Thoughts?

2c] Besides Weapon Balance, was there other balance issues between the two factions, Plymouth and Eden?

2d] Do you think mirroring a map would solve multiplayer imbalances, or could you elaborate further on this point as to multiplayer's issues?

2e] The AI is definitely a sore issue of Outpost 2, being that if I recall, the AI wasn't really an AI but just a preset set of tasks that it always implemented in the same order. The AI system for UE4 is fairly extensive, especially if one uses the Environmental Query System (EQS) for the AI. Is there any specific things that you wish the enemy AI could do?

2f] On the same note, is there anything you wish that as a player you could do to improve your  own unit's AI. Or do you feel that the only problem with player controlled units is there pathfinding ability?

2g] For the research tree, would you have preferred a research tree where you could choose several paths that could lead you to the same destination (so Dual Weapon Systems could be unlocked for researching by researching any of the three techs = Reinforced Vehicle Construction, Reinforced Turret Construction or Advanced Vehicle Plant), or did you prefer the research tree in Outpost 2 where you had to research specific prerequisite techs before unlocking the ability to research more techs? (I might have explained this poorly, so I'll clarify when a larger example if it isn't understood)

2h] Quote "I also wish that the research was a bit more important and that several routes might lead to success to a larger degree than it currently does." I don't quite understand this. Could you elaborate further please?

----

3a] The storyline was definitely unique as this is the only game I've played that has done a story in such a manner. It wasn't forced on the player, but it provided a lot of insight into the background game by reading it. Do you feel that having all the story concentrated in the Novellas was a good thing, or would you have also enjoyed it more if there was more story in the actual campaigns as well?

3b] The fact that the research did seem to be ground in realistic fact I would say helped a lot to add to the game's realism for me. The only issue I have is how would someone such as myself find the appropriate information on technologies ground in realism? Read extensive scientific journals? I personally don't know where to begin on this point or how I would go about researching that kind of information. Thoughts?

3c] Yes, I agree the whole C&C way of unlocking techs and buildings by creating a building always confused me too. However, are there any structures that you can think of that would work well using this kind of system (ie You build a building and it unlocks other buildings to be built or possibly a building that unlocks additional research that could be researched)

3d] Did you feel that the balance of combat and colony management made Outpost 2 the game it is? Or did you feel that one or the other felt tacked on? Or perhaps that one or the other didn't feel as deep as it could be, without being needlessly complex (ie Air/Oxygen Management might have been a pointless complexity, but what about Water Management... especially for Hydroponic Food growth in Agridomes?)

---

4] No worries. Neither have I, but from my brief reading of a few reviews of it, it seemed to have some interesting ideas to it, such as getting to choose your own planet, rather than being forced to choose New Terra.

5] Also no worries. Nothing has been heard from that development team in months since the kickstarter failed and the only two reasons I heard that they might have failed was because the developer was arrogant (though I couldn't figure out how he was arrogant) or that they barely posted on the kickstarter, which also doesn't bode well for a kickstarter (but is easily remedied; post more often and be more active).
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Offline Highlander

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2015, 01:49:00 PM »
1a) I think it added a bit of realism. Often the research text add's a little something to where the technology is coming from, rather than being just a topic to research with a resulting new & unexplained technology when it's done.

1b) I think it adds to the overall feel - your colony becomes more than just static structures on the map. It probably isn't necessary for the game, but it's one of those things, that for me, makes OP2 a nice game..

1c) Spaceports! They just looks cool. Otherwise, Im a Eden fan, more than Plymouth. Plymouth GORF, Forum and the MHD Generator looks good though. Eden structures that I think looks good/cool are the Observatory, Meteor Defense, University (looks like a normal uni), EMP/Acid/Rail Guard Posts.
Recreational facility/Forum's are pretty useless - if you dont research them, they dont screw up your morale.. Plymouth Solar array is pretty useless.
Light towers are also fairly useless, unless your aim is to create a nice looking base..

1d) I dont have anything specific I guess.. It always feels a bit empty when you complete all research options. I guess one could add more structures and units to the game that could be researched, but eventually you would always run out of options for things to research I suppose. I think it would perhaps be more interesting if the tech tree provided several routes to success (Right now on the weapons front you either rush for advanced weapons or you go with increased armor and ore improvement and fight with initial weaponry).

1e) I once had a list with many weapons imported from other games - which I thought would have looked nice, but I've forgotten most of these im afraid - only one i can remember is some sort of artillery (very long range weapons), which would come in handy if you need to break open a well defended position.

1f) When considering map-making I always found the map maker that went along with 'Heroes of Might and Magic 3' very simple and userfriendly.

1g) Like maps, they require some coding I believe - I lack knowledge here and someone else can probably describe the process better.


2a) Bugs is perhaps the wrong word - weak features of the game is perhaps a better term. From top of my mind: If you in a campaign or scenario blow up all your weapon units, the AI will only send a tiny force against your base. Differences in ore in multiplayer maps - a 2 bar is not always the same.

2b) My approach would perhaps be differences in research to the two - like upgrades or duration of each research topic, or different cost of units. Though a more careful balance of the two damage types might also work well.

2c) Eden can have near perfect morale with the Consumer Factory.

2d) Precise mirroring is not necessary, but placement of base vs placement of ore on the default maps could be really horrible. The same could be said about random ore placement - like 1 base area on say La Corrida could in 1 corner hold several 3 bars, while in another corner there was 1 guy who had to live off a 1-bar rare ore. Another thing with the default maps, is that many of them has 1 really good base area, while leaving the rest of the map less defended (Around the World - fortress in south below the "arena"). This could be solved by playing Landrush, but starting points and availability of well defended bases agains comes into play quickly.

2e) React to the human player(s) - not just run off a script i guess. I also much prefer to fight against a physical enemy (base) rather than only having raiding parties coming in from set points on the map. And maybe not have the AI cheat in the same way - unlimited ore and what not. Possibly a lot more to add here

2f) Pathfinding seems to be main weakness. Though with a RCC, much is improved. Just avoid locking up Cargo Trucks on mines/smelters.

2g) I think I understand, and I'm not sure. I think it could work somehow, but some lines of tech should be sort of specific I think. Depends on the topics - in real life people might arrive at conclusions following different paths, but the research should be logically connected somehow.

2h) With this Im trying to say I wish there were more ways to victory. As it stands, it pretty much pays off to follow 1 path of research (For both colonies, but particularly Plymouth) -> Get advanced weapons asap. Only available alternative is to get ore processing and advanced armor and spam micro lynx instead of costly advanced weapons. I would like to see more alternative routes in this setting.
As Eden you pick either Acid Cloud or Thors hammer - another division point in the research which require time and alters the play style used. (If you have a 3 bar rare easily available, it pays off to go down the Thors Hammer route, if rare is a 1 bar then Acid Cloud might be a better option)
I guess if Research had a few more steps involved and took more time, this type of strategy would come more into play. Right now one can see a bit of this, but it takes only a short time to cover all weapons. I think it would add more to strategy if you had to spend more time and effort getting to the endline technology/weapons and getting each would be more of an investment. Then adapting your strategy to your position in the game/map/resources/opponent would have more depth to it.
- If this makes it any clearer ? (This also goes for civilian research/technology, where for instance Medical Centers and Consumer Factories can really pay off in some gametypes/setting)


3a) Retrospectively, I would have loved to have the gameplay more tied in with the novella - though without making it locked too hard in place. Maybe have a 2-3 places in the story line - where the players choices or scenario outcome sort of dictated the future novella/storyline. That could perhaps add a bit to replay value - so that you would check all options sort of ?
That being said, not everyone has been into the storyline, so perhaps keep it a bit in the back ground.
I would also have loved to see a short intro/exit video specific for each mission in the campaign - perhaps even a brief something for the differen scenarios ?

3b) The realism of the research certainly adds to realism of the game. Where to find it though ? One would have to look into papers or research articles maybe ? Interview some experts ? Probably quite extensive work either way hehe.

3c) The Basic Lab / Standard Lab / Advanced Lab system seems to work ok - maybe add some more interactions between the 3 ? Where one research in one lab would spark new topics in the others - not just standard lab -> Advanced lab. Maybe some "test facility" would be necessary for some research just to give an extra example..

3d) I think here is the beauty of the game - that it allows you to play with steady morale, which makes it alot easier for action hungry players to duke it out in a matter of minutes. While if you turn morale on and add in Day and Night, then suddenly there is some extra depth to the game.
I think both O2 and H2O management (And possibly other systems) might have it's place in a game such as this, but I think it would be good to have options to automate these, so that the players that looks for the RTS action might find that, while those that prefer a slower pace and more depth of strategy might find that as well if they wish.
(As it stand, if morale is turned on, then rushing weapons is still a viable strategy. But if maps are large and a position is easily defended, then rushing for weapons will leave you with lower pop, and if the other player instead focuses of pop growth and colony management, then suddenly weapons rushing is not a winning strategy any more)
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Offline lordpalandus

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2015, 05:44:07 PM »
A major reason why I am looking for community feedback is because I know from lessons learned over the past several months that just because I've played a game for a long time doesn't mean I will be able to notice every single detail. As an example, back in April-May of 2015, I had been designing an RTS using Majesty (A base-building sim, with indirectly controlled heroes) 1 as inspiration. I had thought that since players lacked a lot of ways of managing their heroes, I felt that if the base-building aspects were removed so that the player could focus entirely on managing the heroes (as managing heroes and trying to motivate your heroes to defend your base could be troublesome). So I had designed out basically every feature for that game idea by the start of June 2015. However, a few days after I had finished the Design, I ran across an old forum post discussing Majesty 1 and made a startling discovery. Apparently, the aspects that players loved the most about Majesty 1, was the base building aspects and absolutely hated the indirectly controlled heroes, many wishing they could have directly controlled the heroes instead of indirect control. It was mentioned that they don't like having the illusion of control and that if they had to deal with indirectly controlled heroes without the base building aspects, the game would have been a boring game rather than a cult classic. Thus I realized at that point, the game I had designed would unlikely sell and discarded that game idea. I learned much from that mistake, and at the time after learning this I switched gears to go for a RPG instead (which was most of June, all of July and part of August, with in August realizing that I don't really enjoy the RPG genre as much as I had thought).

This is why I want to engage the community NOW, rather than put a lot of effort into the design and then ask.

Now as for the game idea itself, the game will be designed into 4 tiers (tier 0 - tier 3). At each tier, the player can play the game basically like Outpost 2 is played; you control the aspects of a colony on a single map, managing resources, morale, people, disasters and likely (I haven't yet figured out the enemy yet) combat as well. (Bit pressed for time, but I'll explain these in greater detail later) So the tiers:

Tier 0: (Planetfall) = Here you take your colony ship and pick a planet (or one is picked for you; undecided at this point). Then you pick a landing zone to land your colonization convoy. You then, take your convoy to any point on the map (each landing zone is a separate map) and you deploy the convoy into temporary structures.

Tier 1: (Colony) = Here you have a colony with all fixed structures, just like in Outpost 2. This tier plays almost identically to Outpost 2.

Tier 2: (Planetary) = Here you have multiple colonies throughout the entire planet. You can leave a Local Mayor AI in charge of each Colony, which each Colony being in separate Zones on the Planet. You can of course go out and create a new colony yourself, or leave the AI to do this kind of work and instead doing the tasks of the Planetary Governor, that oversees the entire planet.

Tier 3: (Empire) = Here you likely have multiple planets, with a Planetary Governor for each Planet, with Many Local Mayors for the various Colonies. You can take on the role of A Governor, Mayor, or the Empire President, while AI handles all the others (The AI will be designed to handle each role).

Now, I don't intend to build all of these at once, but, I did intend to get a prototype put together dealing with Tier 0, and part of Tier 1 and then going to look for Funding, to fund the rest of the development of the game.

=================

1a -> 1b) Thanks!

1c) I found that to be the case with basically all of the Morale-based structures; if you didn't research them, they didn't screw with your Morale. Though, the structure that always made me curious morale wise, was the GORF. Without one, you get a Morale Penalty, but with one you get neither penalty nor benefit. Here is a question though, did you find Morale was easier to maintain once you had recreational facilities / forums than if you didn't have them researched at all?

1d) I felt that way with the Tech Tree as well; once you finished all the topics, it did feel empty. However, at the same time, I've seen some games like Alpha Centauri try to get around this by having a research topic that could basically be researched as many times as you wanted, but none of the times it was researched provided any benefit. Preferably, I'd prefer a research topic like that to provide some kind of benefit, but I'm not entirely sure what. Maybe "a leaf" could be taken from what online browser-based games do (like O-Game) where you have topics like Energy Research which provides a benefit of +10% power production, and it could be researched as much as you like, but takes progressively longer to complete with each iteration completed.

Would you prefer to simply have a longer tech tree, or an infinite research topic like in Alpha Centauri with no benefits, or an infinite research topic like in O-Game, or preferably a bit of all of them?

As for sticking for low-end firepower over more powerful weapons, I think part of that problem comes with the fact that Microwave and Laser are both immensely cheaper to produce, and the more powerful weapons often requires a lot of Rare Ore, even at Lynx Level, and thus you could produce 2-3 Laser Lynx for the price of one Thor's Hammer Lynx. The Thor's Hammer might deal more damage per target, but it is more likely the 2-3 laser lynx will destroy the Thor's Hammer Lynx faster, and thus are more economical. I think there are a few ways one could balance out these kinds of weapons, but I doubt it would be possible in Outpost 2. As an example, for Thor's Hammer, the Lightning Arcs, and hits additional foes near the initial foe, for say 50% of the damage dealt to the first foe. Or Railgun could penetrate a target completely and hit a target directly behind it for the same damage. Or Supernova could knockback any foes not destroyed by the explosion quite a distance (and thus break up a vehicle formation, in addition to damaging vehicles).

If weapons did more than just damage, and had after effects, that the initial weapons didn't have, then people might prefer the advanced weapons over the less advanced ones. Though, a Laser Lynx rush at the early game when you lack defenses could still be effective.

1e) Well, I've created a long list of various weapons from many different games myself, and I'll readily admit that there is a lot of interesting ideas from other games that I too wouldn't remember offhand. If any do come to mind definitely mention them. Now as for the artillery weapon, I think that could be possible if it had a minimum range and thus faster units could get close to it and destroy it (much like a Howitzer)

1f and 1g) Thanks!

2a) I didn't know about the fact that destroying all your turrets and vehicles with weapons caused the enemy to send a smaller attack force. That is a very interesting point. A design oversight perhaps where the calculation to determine what size of attack force was based on how many turrets and vehicles you had. Personally, I'd have the attack force size designed based on how many resources you have stored up, more so than how many attack-ready units you had. Though... that would require coding in stealing mechanics as if they were raiding you based on your stored resources, then they'd want to grab those resources in said raid. Hmm...

As for the Yield, if you look in I believe the Mines.txt (in Sheets.vol) you'll notice that each yield has 3 different possible outcomes for the 1 bar, 2 bar and 3 bar. As for getting around that issue, I had considered using a system like in Earth 2140, where you could put a mine wherever you wanted, but based on where you put it determined if you got resources or not, and how quickly you got those resources. I had wanted to create a system where you could set a mine anywhere, and based on where you put it would determine your resource yield. I also considered having the Surveyor and Scout unit merged into a single unit and use it to determine where resource rich areas were. Still a WIP on how the player would know what areas are better or not (ie color-coding specific areas) and if the yield was variable like in Outpost 2 (where it initially goes up, reaches a peak, drops, until levelling out)

2b) Well I had considered having multiple labs all working in tandem to research a specific topic... which would be more frequent in Tier 2 and Tier 3 (as mentioned above), though it could be done in Tier 1 if you had the scientists and the labs.

I had also considered for the two damage types to expand them further; concussion damage applies a slowing effect on the target based on damage dealt compared to their maximum health in a slowing percentage for a few seconds (ie if dealt 100 damage to 200 max hp, would be 50% slowing effect) and penetration damage causes the projectile to penetrate the target and hit any targets in a line, dealing damage based on 50% of the previous target in damage (ie so if you dealt 40 damage to the first target, the second target would take 20 damage, and the third 10 damage, etc). Does that sound like a good idea, or more likely needless complexity? Or perhaps the complexity would be best suited to individual weapons over giving that advantage to all weapons doing that damage type?

2c) Good point well made. Its funny, because I thought Plymouth should have had that factory as they were the ones better at managing morale. Though, as Eden was the more technologically advanced group, I would have also thought that they would have utilized Arachnids moreso that Plymouth would have as the Arachnids seem pretty technologically advanced compared to wheeled units. Hmm...

2d) Fair Enough.

2e) Yes, I'd also want to be sure that any rules the player must abide by, such as storage of resources and research times, the AI should abide to as well. So the only way they'd be able to build a building is if they had it researched already and had the resources.

2f) Would it be even better if pathfinding wasn't locked until having the RCC or do you feel the RCC should remain (ie it's pathfinding improvement should be kept)?

I'm assuming by locking cargo trucks on Mines and Smelters, you mean that if you have too many in a route then they have a major traffic jam resulting in no one getting out of the smelter and none getting in?

2g) Fair Enough.

2h) Alternative victory conditions are always nice to have.

I also agree that if you need to spend a lot of time getting to something, that something should provide a return on your investment. Overpowered weapons can be a nice return on investment, as long as they aren't too overpowered. Or weapons with additional features that lower-tech weapons don't have.

Part of the reason I wanted to break the game into 4 tiers, is because I want specific research to take longer, and to address the added length, you need many labs all working jointly towards a goal. Like in today's world where many labs all over the planet are working on a cure for cancer. And of course, if you have multiple labs, you'll need multiple colonies to support those labs and such forth. The farther in the Tiers you go, the more rewarding each new Technology is, but each takes more time than the last.

Yes thanks for clarifying your points. Much clearer now. If I missed something though, do mention it.

3a) That might be hard to do if the player was forced to read the Novella to be able to make those decisions.

However, the player could be given specific choices during the campaign that would affect which parts of the Novella are readily accessible to the player. As an example, say you have two choices in Mission 3. Each choice unlocks a different Novella for perusal after the mission is completed. Thus if you chose the first choice, Novella 3a would be available. If you chose the second choice, Novella 3b would be available. Then, at Mission 6 you again have two choices. This would mean that there would now be 4 different Novellas (since there are two choices in Mission 3 you have to account for those paths as well) so: ac, ad, bc, bd (where a and b are the choice paths for mission 3 and c and d are the choice paths for mission 6).

After you complete the Campaign, all the remaining paths could be unlocked, so that the player could find out what would have happened in the Novella if they had chosen a different path OR like in many Visual Novels, those Novella paths could remain hidden until you redid those missions and chose the different path. Thoughts?

3b) Yeah, I'll definitely think hard on that. If I can't figure out how to find that kind of information or if it might take too long to research it, I might do what most developers do and try to make it sound realistic when in fact you likely have no idea what you are talking about.

3c) Well, as for this, I had considered three ways of continuing to use these labs:

1] The Lab could be used to work in conjunction with the University to reduce training time, as some practical experience in a lab would likely be a greater learning experience than just classroom work.

2] Scientists in a lesser lab could research safer components of a more advanced topic in their own lab and add research data points to the primary lab researching it, or help out in other ways such as data recording, or performing statistical research on the data to help the other lab out. So this could provide any scientist working in the lesser lab could provide 50% the research data as a single scientist in the primary lab (ie The Advanced Lab is researching Dual Weapon Systems, which I believe requires up to 18 scientists; The standard lab, could host another 18 scientists that works with the Advanced lab, where each scientist in the standard lab provides 50% the benefit of a single scientist working in the advanced lab, so effectively, there would be 27 scientists working on the project (18 * 50% = 9 effective scientists)).

3] My tiers would have labs of the same kind working on the same project together. So say three Advanced Labs could jointly work on Dual Weapon Systems, while two standard labs are working on Reinforced Turret Construction.

3d) One poster from a while back (I can't remember which or which post it was on) felt that the game is best played as a game where you micromanage things and felt that automation would turn the game into a macromanagement type of game and thus defeat the core mechanics of the game and turn it into something it is not. Thoughts?

Personally, I'd think with automation, it would allow the player to micromanage the things they wish to micromanage, while the things they don't want to micromanage could be handled by the AI. As an example, if people loved micromanagement so much, then they shouldn't use the cargo truck mining route. If a player had to manually send the truck to the mine and back to the smelter and back to the mine always, they'd have no time to micromanage anything else. Thus, I do feel that automation is necessary... but how much automation is too much... or is there too much?

To elaborate further on this point, there is a game called Tzar: The Burden of the Crown. It has a unique feature called AI Assistance. AI Assistance has 4 options: Off, Economy Only, Military Only, or Both. When it is turned on, you can always still grab any unit and have it do whatever you specific want it to do. However, the assistance provided allows you to say run an economy, while the AI builds up a military and sends it off, allowing the player to focus entirely on the economy without fear of being attacked because they aren't working on the military. Alternatively, the AI could be left in charge of the economy, while the player goes out and attacks the enemy. I feel that a similar feature would work well here in this game as well.

Because, lets be serious, if an enemy is attacking your front door, you aren't going to be able to micromanage your economy, building more units, repairing structures and attacking the enemy with any semblance of tactics all in real-time without some amount of AI Assistance. Thoughts?
« Last Edit: August 14, 2015, 11:59:15 PM by lordpalandus »
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Offline Hooman

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2015, 08:54:19 AM »
Wow, that's a lot of writing.

Best of luck with this.

I always liked the sombre mood of being at the edge of extinction. It was almost comical in a way, like the victory message "You have done well, our colony is surviving". It wasn't quite Marvin the manic depressed robot kind of comical, but it was good.

A few things sometimes annoyed me about Outpost 2. One was the excessive amount of management required. Having to set mining routes took too many clicks, and never seemed to provide any real benefit for doing things that way. Factories and labs had no queueing system. There is no point having scientists do nothing once they finish a research topic, so why not have them automatically start on the next? And why is research progress discarded if you switch research topics? Why not just put the progress aside for when you continue on it. It's not like scientists would burn their work if they had to switch topics to work on something new. Similarly keeping factories producing was near impossible if you had something else taking up your attention, like a battle going on on the far side of the map.

A few things in the game seemed to serve no real purpose. It probably would have been better to not have them. Like supernova and starflare guard posts. Light towers were also pretty useless. Robo surveyors were useless once mines were surveyed. Scouts had little purpose other than self destructing. If you could steal research or something it might have been cool, but likely that would have upset game balance, and doesn't always make sense when your opponent is a different colony with a different research tree. Panthers were too middle of the road to see much use. They didn't do anything unique, they weren't the best at anything, nor did they provide substantially better value than the alternatives. Forums and recreational facilities were a largely pointless distraction. Don't research them and you don't need them. It was easier to manage morale when you had one less factor that could affect it.

The arbitrary mixing and matching of chassis and turrets didn't seem to work out that well. Maybe restrict the mixing so it made more sense. Self destruct options for Lynx only, heavy weapons for Tiger or Panther only. And do you really need Laser Tigers?

I liked the comment about merging the Robo Surveyor with the Scout. That makes a lot of sense. It's still a bit of a useless unit though, that is likely to just sit around doing nothing most of the time.

Robo Dozers seemed a bit pointless, especially since a Convec would auto doze any area it built on. They weren't completely useless, and I guess I did sometimes enjoy using them. The Earthworkers took too much effort to manage. They could only be told to deploy relatively short lines of tubes or walls. They also only let you build in a straight line. It would have been nice to specify an outline for a wall, and they'd just go build it, and possibly maintain it.

The cliff hugging path finding sucked. Having the RCC was a neat idea, but I think removing the pain altogether might provide a better player experience. I'm not completely certain on this one. I think pain is not synonymous with challenge.

Having to manually load Convecs, and then once they were finished loading tell them where to go and deploy a kit was a slow process. You sort of had time to do something meanwhile, but then you might forget to come back, or you might be delayed completing a build command. I didn't mind the process so much as the user interface for directing the behaviour.

Running out of tech to research kind of sucks. I liked how in Civilization you could research future techs that would add to your score. It didn't really do anything, but it at least kept that aspect of the game alive indefinitely.

The novellas were fun to read, but they didn't seem to integrate with the game very well. Switching from playing to reading then back to playing was a bit strange. I sometimes felt impatient trying to read through the novellas between missions. I was eager to play, not read. Or if I was reading, I didn't want to interrupt my reading to go play. Also, the story didn't much affect how you played, or necessarily tie in all that closely. I enjoyed the novellas, it was just a little strange how they integrated into the game.

I guess my thoughts are, every aspect of the game should have a purpose. In the case of Outpost 2 there were many things that didn't seem to have much of a purpose, or at least didn't tie in very well with the rest.

Offline lordpalandus

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2015, 12:35:42 PM »
Thanks for the reply Hooman.

And yes thanks for the wishing for luck; I know it is a huge undertaking, but I've been preparing for the long haul and that it will likely take me at least a year to fully complete... with funding and hired help; longer without. Thus why I intend to build a prototype and use it to look for funding. If that prototype fails to acquire funding, then work on it quite a bit more, learn from the funding drive mistakes, and try it again later; why try again later? Sometimes a funding drive fails because you neglected one or more details, or the word didn't get out as well as you hoped and thus it didn't get enough people coming to see it, and thus invest in it. Or they might think it looks too crappy and thus you need to spend more time on the visuals. Generally, there is reasons for a Kickstarter, or Indiegogo failure and thus learning them and learning from them will increase the likeliness of success. Though, I think the biggest hurdle in a funding drive would be to prove to possible investors that you aren't like so many other developers with great ideas but cannot implement them or developers that have an idea that isn't well thought out. Some ideas might be very good on paper, but not really all that fun in game and all games need to be fun to play them; some games like Dark Souls are fun because the challenge and overcoming the challenge is fun as an example of a game that some might not think is fun.

Some comments:

You know, I also liked that comment at the end of a mission too, and I totally forgot about it. It does add a really nice touch, and it adds a bit of urgency to the game as you know that taking too long could mean a Volcanic eruption going through your base, or the Blight catching up to you. Ah, good old Marvin, the manic robot; I think I preferred him in the original movies, rather than that more recent remake (I've not had the chance to read the books yet though... though I also can't find them either).

Yes, the excessive amount of micromanagement is something I do want to address in the game. Some micromanagement is good, but realistically a player can only micromanage one thing at a time well, and not micromanage anything else while they are busy; the AI on the other hand isn't hampered by this and thus has a massive advantage on the player. Even the easiest AI will be able to manage multiple bases, units, and constructions while the player is stuck micromanaging one thing.

For the mining route, something similar could be done here like in C&C games. When the Smelter is built, cargo trucks could head to the nearest mine, grab resources, and bring them back to the nearest Smelter. Any cargo trucks that are idle at the time of the Smelter construction, would have to be ordered to a Mine, but after that would go to the nearest available mine. Or just simplify it down to two clicks (one to mine and one to smelter).

A queuing system is definitely desired for both factories and labs; having to micromanage these is a real pain, as I found for myself that I would forget to reassign them to a new task. I liked how in games like Alpha Centauri and Civilization that would prompt you to change the project the moment it was done, but I don't think a system like that would work too well in a RTS (as the popup or whatever it is would likely break immersion and your concentration). But, maybe have a "tick" report that tells the player when their queued job has been completed, or the Savant AI telling the player when research queue or production queue is completed.

That is a good point about scientists throwing away good research if you switch topics. I didn't remember that. Thanks for bringing that up. I see no reason why people would throw away good research, unless of course the notes took up several TB of information on their harddrives and they ran out of space. Though, even in that case, why not use things like storage discs to store it in that case as Backups.

I concur that supernova and starflare guardposts severed no real purpose, other than to discourage foes getting too close to them; it might have been different if they had a mechanism that could be used to fling their explosive device on say a catapult mechanism as a one-use guard post and then the guard post is heavily damaged afterwards (repairing it give it a new explosive device). Though, this would be needlessly complex.

I also found Robo Surveyors and Scouts to be useless. Especially the Robo Surveyors once you built an EDWARD satellite (I always wondered what that acronym stood for). Scouts might have been more useful if they had twice as much vision range or that the minimap radar didn't make them basically useless as you could see all enemy movement on it.

I also concur that Panthers didn't get much use from me either. The added Rare Metal cost, coupled with their lack of mobility compared to Lynx, and their lack of firepower compared to Tiger, made them a fairly useless unit. I've been thinking of some preliminary ways of making them more ideal to use, but many of them are still WIP. Also, I don't know if it is a coincidence, but the naming scheme for Tanks in this game followed the same naming convention the Nazis used to name their tanks. The Panzers, are roughly translated as Panthers, and the Panzer VI and VII, were known as the Tiger Tanks.

Good point on the Recreational facilities and Forums. I had thought that with them active they made things easier, but it seems that the reverse is true; if you don't research them then they have no effect whatsoever. Would a good way to make them useful would be to cause them to have a larger effect on morale and thus justify their value to the player? (ie You'd think that recreational activities would make people happier than no activities)

I personally found the Self-Destruct option fairly lackluster. I'd think that the higher the maximum HP of the unit, the more damage and the larger the radius of the damage effect when self-destructing. And then add in the starflare or supernova that could have their blast radius and damage increased based on this formula. Thus even though a Tiger Supernova is really slow, it's regular self-destruct might have the blast range of a Starflare and the damage on one, but coupled with the Supernova effect, it's blast radius could be as large as an EMP missile's radius of effect. I also found it was fairly lackluster because if you destroyed a unit, you'd expect it to cause the same damage effect as if it had self-destructed (thus destroying a Tiger in a tightly packed Tiger assault column, might heavily damage all the Tigers if one is destroyed). Thoughts on this? (The idea for this is from a game called Dark Reign 2, where the Sprawlers basically had a Nuclear Bomb on Treads, and had about the same blast radius of the one I just described)

Interesting point with having Lynxes with less powerful weapons, and the Panther/Tiger with only more powerful weapons. That would keep Lynxes as a good early game unit, or stopgap for an enemy assault, but prevent you from spamming Thor's Hammer or Acid Cloud Lynxes. While at the same time, avoiding weak weapons on Tigers and Panthers. For me, I actually loved Laser Tigers, as one with the Firing Speed upgrade could obliterate an RPG Tiger or a damaged Microwave Tiger.

Well, for my idea for the Scout change, they would have the highest visual range of any unit, and they would have stealth detection as well. In Outpost 2, if you had your units turn off their lights, they became effectively invisible on the Minimap; you could still scroll over to them and see the targets moving, but if you didn't look you wouldn't find them. With the Scout, they can detect units with their lights off, and display them onto the Minimap. Plus, if they are the only unit / structure in the game that could do that, you could find a use for them no matter what stage of the game you are in. Plus, there might be research that allows those Lynxes to "see in the dark" and thus be completely unaffected by having their lights out and thus move at full speed.

For Bulldozers, I had considered having them have several features: 1) Level Ground, 2) Push Soil into Soil Piles, 3) Push Junk into Junk Piles, 4) Dig Trench and 5) Fill Hole. 1) is self-explanatory. 2) I had considered that for the early game, you need Soil to create Food (at least until Hydroponics is researched), and you can use Soil to create an early resource could Concrete. Concrete would be used to construct early buildings and defenses, at least until you could acquire enough Common Metal (or just Metal) to construct structures out of Metal instead of Concrete. Junk is created from destroyed units and buildings (yes I would like units to leave a corpse), meteors, and garbage piles (created outside of each structure indicating waste products). Junk can then be "mined" by cargo trucks later and delivered to a GORF or similar recycling facility; once you have a GORF, those garbage piles wouldn't be created anymore and instead be automatically converted back into useful resources. A dug out trench, can be used to divert Lava and thus create an impassable fiery moat at the same time or the trench just slows down units that are forced to enter it or decide to find a different way circumventing the trench. Fill Hole is simply to fill those ugly meteor holes on cleared ground, or fill a dug out trench.

Earthworkers are getting a complete overhaul, and are basically going to become units capable of laying down all defenses, including turrets, as well as a variety of other things. Once I figure out exactly what I want them to do, I'll mention them. Of course, if you guys think that making them capable of doing this isn't a good idea, please mention that as well. Some things I had thought of was: Bridge (over the dug out trench; can be raised/lowered), Gate (Open/Close, Automatic/Manual), Walls, Guard Towers (attaches to walls or Gates), Detection Tower (Spotlight and Sensors), and Pavement (Increases building's resistance to disasters, increases build speed and increases vehicle movement speed). You could also queue up as many details as you'd want, much like in Supreme Commander.

I actually never understood why they did cliff hugging. I also never understood why they would lava hug either... especially when the lava is still expanding. I've been thinking also that crippling the units with bad pathfinding to make a RCC like structure useful isn't a good idea either. However, what I did consider is that the RCC like structure doesn't improve their pathfinding directly, but gives the player added ways of pathing, such as Waypoint Paths (Travels to Waypoint 1, then 2 then 3, etc), attack move, or multiple patrol routes. Or possibly gives access to other AI based abilities, such as Seek and Destroy (which causes units to wander around, looking for targets, and then once finding one chasing it until it is destroyed)

For ConVecs, I had considered having an option that causes them to return to the Structure Factory that they got a Structure Kit from after building it. Additionally, I had also considered having a way to specific the construction zone that you want, when you click to build the structure kit in the first place. Thus, once a ConVec grabs it, then they go to the place where it was supposed to be built, builds it and then returns. I also considered that any free ConVecs will head to the Structure Factory and grab a structure in storage and go to build it. If the structure lacks a designated construction zone, then the Savant computer could state that a ConVec is waiting for construction site. This does sound quite complex to me, so I'll need to think about a way to do this. Because, I find that the ConVecs and Structure Kits are one of the most unique things in Outpost 2 and thus I would want to keep them. Its just that they require a lot of micromanaging and thus the player needs ways of automating them.

I agree, that running out of Tech is fairly bad, especially as the player gets used to it and that research provides such a large morale boost as well. I had considered at one point (though haven't thought too much on it since) of having "blind research". Blind research would involve scientists researching and the blind research would result in some kind of small bonus to something. So, they could do Blind research, and make a discovery that increases laser damage by 5%. It is small, but it would give Blind Research some benefit other than just doing research for points. Thoughts?

Good point on the Novellas. I had realized this as well. Unfortunately, I don't know currently of any way of tying them into the game without forcing the player to read them OR doing something cheesy like C&C does and having dialogue between people you really don't care about forcing the player to wonder why they had to listen to it in the first place.

Were there other things in Outpost 2 that you felt lacked purpose? For example, in Multiplayer games did the Trade Center get much use? Or did Evacuation Transports have some use in Multiplayer? Or were Scorpions used much by Plymouth players in Multiplayer? Or was attempts at stealing vehicles with Spiders used in Multiplayer? I ask, because it seems like strategies involving multiplayer simply revolved around either clashes of early units or tank columns of powerful units.

Another two points:
1) Did playing as humans affect gameplay as much as it did? If you played as some weird alien race, would it have had the same impact, if they were on the brink of extinction?
2) Did you feel that during multiplayer or colony games, the sense of urgency or the feeling of coming doom was as noticeable as it was in the Campaign? By this I mean, in the Campaign, you are constantly reminded that extinction is chasing you constantly during the campaign, and making the wrong moves could spell complete disaster for your colony... especially if you took too long, or didn't anticipate an enemy assault at the last moment (ie having units come out of a Garage was a nice touch that surprised me during the Campaign). I ask because the theme of the campaign is one of survival, and was wondering if the same applied to Colony and Multiplayer games... or a better question, should that theme be present in those other two modes?

Keep the comments coming guys, this is very helpful for me!
« Last Edit: August 16, 2015, 12:42:33 PM by lordpalandus »
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Online Arklon

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2015, 02:03:30 PM »
A few things sometimes annoyed me about Outpost 2. One was the excessive amount of management required. Having to set mining routes took too many clicks, and never seemed to provide any real benefit for doing things that way. Factories and labs had no queuing system. There is no point having scientists do nothing once they finish a research topic, so why not have them automatically start on the next? And why is research progress discarded if you switch research topics? Why not just put the progress aside for when you continue on it. It's not like scientists would burn their work if they had to switch topics to work on something new. Similarly keeping factories producing was near impossible if you had something else taking up your attention, like a battle going on on the far side of the map.
Well, keep in mind a lot of conventions you'd expect from more modern RTSes, especially anything to do with automation/queueing, didn't really exist so much back then. For example, StarCraft (which came out ~6 months after OP2) had no factory queues either, and unit command queueing was primitive (but maybe a tad bit better than OP2's). Total Annihilation (which came out a couple weeks after OP2) was the game that revolutionized the genre with automated factories, robust command queuing, etc.
Some people argue in favor of minimal automation simply for the added difficulty, but really it's artificial difficulty. Adding factory queues, etc. lets the player focus on actually substantial things, like microing units in a battle, which can still have a quite high skill ceiling.

Quote
The cliff hugging path finding sucked. Having the RCC was a neat idea, but I think removing the pain altogether might provide a better player experience. I'm not completely certain on this one. I think pain is not synonymous with challenge.
Funnily enough, OP2's pathfinding is quite good compared to StarCraft's... even though it sucks. But really, pathfinding is computationally expensive, and you're talking about a pathfinding solution designed to run on really old hardware. You can't expect any miracles.

Quote
Having to manually load Convecs, and then once they were finished loading tell them where to go and deploy a kit was a slow process. You sort of had time to do something meanwhile, but then you might forget to come back, or you might be delayed completing a build command. I didn't mind the process so much as the user interface for directing the behaviour.
Yes, I think it should work more like, you assign ConVecs to a Structure Factory, and when you build a kit you also select where the actual structure will be built; when the kit's done, an assigned ConVec picks it up and builds it where you selected earlier.

Offline Highlander

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2015, 02:22:37 PM »
1c) No After you research those extra buildings that will impact your morale and take up some workers, it becomes harder to deal with morale.

1d) I'd prefer the diminished returns version I think. Gradually smaller improvements, while taking longer and longer time to have them researched.

The thing with advanced weaponry, it yes, they have higher damage output, but that is not the big benefit - Range is the important factor. Sure, 2-3 lasers/Micro's can take out that Thor's hammer lynx any time, but unless they can corner it, they are never gonna get near enough to fire. Add in weapons combo's and this become more evident - Like Sticky/RPG. Get the opponents vehicles stuck, then take them out with with the long range of the RPG. Suddenly it doesn't matter that the upgraded lynx can almost go head to head with the RPG, because again, the Micro will not get close.
When you add in area damage from ESG and Acid (Hide those behind a wall for defense), then it doesn't really matter how many Laser/Micro lynx the enemy have, you can take out their entire army.

Extra features of the weapons might be an interesting idea, just make sure it's not over the top..


2a) I'd prefer to keep Scouts and Surveyors separate, as they both fill their niche roles - more later in my post.

2b) The damage types seems somewhat excessive. Why should concussion damage slow a vehicle ? And to successfully shoot through several targets, you'd need pretty strong materials in the missiles ?

2f) The wall hugging is annoying and we can probably do without that even without the RCC. However, I like the idea of the RCC, so maybe it could provide some other benefits somehow ?
And yes, I was thinking about the traffic jam :)

3a) I would keep the different paths of the story hidden, so that the player had to replay and chose the other direction to figure out what would happen. Add's a little to replay value i think. Probably it wont matter as someone will post the difference at some point anyways, and people will just chose accordingly :P

3d) Probably there is a healthy mix of what can be micromanaged and what can be left to automation.


===============================================================================================================================================


In response to Hooman

Lots of good points there Hooman :)

I) I like the mining routes, without them, getting resources would be a full time job. Trust me, I played the game like this for a long time before I figured out about how to set the cargo trucks to automatically go to the mine.

II) Queueing systems would be nice - especially for the factories. With research, you often want to follow up on the new topics you unlocked from a completed research topic though - so Im not sure if queueing would work as well for the labs ?

III) Useless things:
Yes, Supernova and Starflare GP's are quite useless. People have often suggested they work like mines instead and be hidden, but not sure how to do this practically, though I like the idea.
Robo-Surveyors are ok I think, they sample and determine ore value and in that way serve a purpose - until of course you have every beacon surveyed or send up an Edward Satellite.
Scouts also have a purpose - a pretty important one actually. Firstly they can steal some info from the enemy, which can come in handy, but which is rarely useful. However they also give a warning when enemy units approaches your base - and that is perhaps their most important function - to give early warning of an enemy attack and give you time to react to it.

However, I do like the purpose of scouts we had in "Survival" game mode - where mining beacons where not immediately available, but had to be found by scouts first, then surveyed by the robo surveyor.

Panthers - agreed. Never saw much use - either you wanted the speed from Lynx and the Armor/double turret of Tigers.

Robo-Dozer - again yes, a bit useless. But not because what they did was that useless, more because they did it so slowly. If you set it do bulldozing the ground where you want your base, then construction is faster.. Not by that much, but it helps. Unfortunately the bulldozing itself took loads of time. I would like to see this unit getting some additional work/roles though.

Earthworkers - I like Hooman's idea's where you could outline what you wanted built instead of having to do 10 squares at a time.


Another comment on Scouts - once you turn on Day/Night cycle or start enganging your opponent(s), then you wont have time to watch all entrances to your base or the minimap - and it can be quite easy to sneak a few units past your defenses and into your base. A lot of games have ended with a Flare taking out an Adv. Lab.
The scouts give off a verbal warning, so you have 1 more way of detecting a sneak attack at night or through your back door (or both).

Germans had Panzer tanks and Panther/Tiger tanks. Panther and Tiger tanks were advancements made throughout the war.

Convecs - A bit slow to use, but i think they are fine. It gives the player the option to chose what to build when and where and i what order. Suddenly you need a Guard post buildt or an agridome or a tokamak. Would not be so good if the convec just went to get some other useless structure in that case.

Trade Center is fine I think - it serves it's purpose.

Evacuation Transports have generally been useless - but in Flashy's scenario, they could be used to transfer colonists from your base, traded via Trade Center, then released at the receivers Command Center. Which I think is the best use for the Evac Transport - being able to pass colonists between two players in multiplayer.


Garage - Another pretty useless building. It just takes too much time to load and unload vehicles into it. The building makes perfect sense I think, but it needs some automation to it.


With Multiplayer, I dont think the game matches the description or the feel of the description of the game - there is simply too much ore in many cases. One one hand it says that it is a desolate world and hard to live there, while in Multiplayer you can build massive armies several times over without any problems..
(As a sidenote to this, how about mines running out of ore eventually ?)
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Offline Hooman

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2015, 07:53:43 PM »
I would prefer C&C or StarCraft style mining. Being able to specify waypoints is a feature you almost never need. It shouldn't be the default way of interacting with the game. Way too many clicks for something that should be simple. It should be one click to set your trucks auto mining.

I liked the research system in Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain. Research was divided into different categories, such as Weapons, or Colonial. You could specify what kind of tech was your priority. When research finished on one tech, it would automatically start researching the next. It would choose the cheapest next tech for that research topic, as the cost to research each tech increased exponentially with research level. It also wouldn't forget progress if you switched research goals. Granted the percentage of research points going to each category is probably a bit too much control in many cases. I usually set one category to 100%. You might as well focus on one tech until you get it, rather than divide your efforts and end up with two half finished techs.

The math behind morale calculations is a bit stupid. That's what makes the rec centers useless. It calculates your total morale effects points and divides by the total possible, based on what techs you've researched. I believe it does this so it won't kill you for morale early game when you have nothing researched. I think a better approach would be to simply increase that denominator for the number of possible morale points over time. That way it forces the player to eventually research those techs if they want to have decent morale. Basically slowly raise the standards over time, based on the elapsed game time, rather than what the player has chosen to research.

I agree with the building placement, and auto-deploy with a ConVec. That might be a feature enabled by an RCC. Increased interface automation. Instead of building a kit, docking a ConVec, loading a kit, moving a ConVec, building the kit, you can just specify a structure type, and where you want it, and have the game built the kit, find the ConVec, load the kit, and go deploy it.

For end of game scientist use, perhaps have a number of special techs that temporarily increase something while the scientists are working on it. Like increase power output by 5% while scientists are working on an energy project. If you move the scientists to a new task, you lose the older temporary benefit.

I loved the C&C cut scenes. The Red Alert ones were also pretty good.
"When you kill one, it is a tragedy. When you kill ten million, it is a statistic."

The garage definitely needed some automation. I think an auto load, just by moving a unit or group of units onto the dock should work. A button to unload all, having each unit clear the dock after coming out would also be nice.

Offline lordpalandus

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2015, 11:16:23 PM »
Here is a thought I've been toying around with: Raid Sirens. Basically when a Sensor Tower or Scout close to the base detects an enemy unit, it relays a response to the raid sirens to turn on. So, think of it like standard air raid siren; loud, obnoxious, maybe even with flashing lights, alerting a player that might be far away from their base of an imminent threat. Maybe even with a Savant comment when it happens incase you are too far away. And if you found that annoying, you could turn off the sound and/or light effects for the siren and stick to the Savant comment only. Thoughts?

@Arklon:

My memory might be a bit fuzzy, but didn't Warcraft 2 come out before Outpost 2, and didn't it have unit queues? However, you are definitely correct that we are kind of judging Outpost 2 poorly for its lack of automation because most games didn't have that yet. I also agree that using units properly in Outpost 2 took quite a bit of skill. Do you think units should require that level of skill or should it be better documented / a tutorial given explaining how to use them properly?

Pathfinding is definitely one of the most computational expensive things there is for AI to work with. However, I do wonder if there are ways of reducing that computational cost, without making the AI dumber or less able to properly path.

Finally, that sounds like a pretty good idea.

====

@Highlander;

1c) I almost feel like Morale is made too simplified in Outpost 2. What I mean is that instead of each event only providing a one-time bonus, what if some had a bonus/loss that was distributed over a period of time. As an example, take a Child Born; the initial event would provide a morale bonus, but you'd also think that over a short period of time, there would be additional morale bonus provided over a few ticks. Similiarly, take a Child's Death; the initial event would provide a morale loss, but you'd also think that over a short period of time grieving would take place and thus lose more morale over a period of time. If certain morale events occurred in this manner, having simple and steady morale such as from a Recreational Facility would be a way to combat the extreme lows and extreme highs of morale over time. However, I also agree that the loss of Workers to the Recreational Facility would be annoying still. Hmm...

1d) I didn't think of that for weapons. Good point; range is extremely important as well as the utility provided by stickyfoam.

2a) The only issue I have with Scouts and Surveyors being a separate unit is that Surveyors have very limited usefulness, while a Scout would have a greater usefulness even into late game. I had considered though, that a player could build a special "refitting" building that could swap the Surveyor's equipment with a Scout's equipment once you didn't need the Surveyor for that purpose anymore. Or have that option for other vehicles as well, such as converting one vehicle into another if you are desperate for them.

2b) My thought behind concussion damage is that it is applied force against an object moving in a specific direction. Take a Modern Tank firing a cannon at another tank. If the other tank survives, and was moving forward at the time, getting hit would cause it to recoil backwards from the blow or cause them to lose forward momentum instead. The slowing effect is supposed to emulate that rather than having a more complex effect that is a knockback effect which would likely require physics to determine how it affects the units velocity. Thus I took a simpler approach by saying it applies a slowing effect instead. However, I'm not completely happy with my idea either, so I'd welcome more input on it.

As for penetration, it is less to do with the materials in the missile, rather how fast it is going. A penny accelerated to Mach 5, would slice right through a Modern Tank; doesn't matter that the penny is made of inferior materials, it is going so fast that the kinetic energy is enough to cause it to keep going despite colliding with solid material. However, penetration damage in this manner would only really make sense for a Railgun, rather than as a damage type all of it's own, because your logical argument is quite sound; most weapons wouldn't be able to penetrate armor in the manner that I was thinking of.

2f) I've not noticed (mostly because I've never tried moving a massive army of units around) but do your combat units suffer from traffic jams as well, when travelling / fighting like other units?

3a) Sounds good.

3d) Indeed. Now the trouble is figuring out what that healthy balance is.

II: I believe I remember playing a game where (believe it was StarLords) once you finish a research topic, it would automatically start up a new one. However, when it completed the project, it would provide the player a chance to change the topic before it continued. Would something like that work, where it would continue to research if you let it, but could choose to follow up with the next project? Or, alternatively, what if in the Research Description, it told the player what tech would be unlocked, allowing the player to state that the next topic to research should be one of the topics that will be unlocked?

III: How does one hide a guardpost sized mine? I'd personally prefer just having a minefield type construction with different kinds of mines depending on the minefield.
What if the surveying equipment was also onboard a Scout? Would that then make the Surveyor as a separate unit obsolete?
Can Scouts steal data in Multiplayer? I know in the Campaign they were used for that purpose, but it never worked for me in Colony/Starship missions.

Another feature that scouts had in the campaign on Medium or Hard, was that they were used to find the Wreckage locations. I wonder if one could utilize scouts in a similar manner where they can be used to look for "treasures" in the ground for other units to recover and process.

Earthworkers, so something like that in Ludeon Studios, Rimworld, where you can put down construction outlines so that you can design the base without necessarily having the resources? Or something more like in Supreme Commander where you Shift+Click locations, and it shows a transparent facsimile of the building that will be built there with a blue outline of the location of the structure that will be built there (so that you can't build there and screw with the building queue)?

Mines that run out of ore, would force a player to realize that they'd have to keep building mines and surveying. I like the idea, as it would likely prevent turtling a base.

========

@Hooman

The only problem with the one-click system is what happens if you have two smelters, and you have many cargo trucks, and you want both smelters to be used. If one-click is used, they'd likely only go to the closest smelter and cause a traffic jam. If it was two-clicks, then you could specific the smelter. Unless, you can think of a way to allow one-clicking to be better. StarCraft isn't a good example, as at close range near the dropoff point, SCVs, Drones, or Probes can technically occupy the same space and thus no traffic jams occur. C&C also isn't a good example, as I've actually never tried having 6 or more Harvesters to one Refinery, so I don't know if you could or couldn't have traffic jams there either.

Actually, I do think of one way: What if instead of the cargo truck's back being removed underground, it instead dumped its ore into a pile, and multiple trucks could dump at the pile at the same time? This way, there would less likely be traffic jams, and you could pile up raw material faster. Then the smelter just sucks resources off of this pile and processes them. Thoughts?

However, if you could clarify in greater detail how you think a one-click system could work, I'd love to hear it... as it sounds like it could be far less complex than the two or three click system.

A very interesting and unique way of doing research in a game. Thanks for mentioning that one. I believe Alpha Centauri had a sort of similar system, but not as indepth as Pax Imperia. Was there anything else in Pax Imperia (as I've never played it... or heard of it before) that struck you as interesting and might be could in an Outpost 2 like game?

Also a very interesting way of doing morale; having the game require specific morale-based techs later into the game when you could spare the colonists. Unless I'm misunderstanding that?

Also an interesting way of doing ConVecs and structure kits. However, by structure type, what do you mean by that? If you meant say, Guard Post type, how would you ensure that it built the correct Guard Post that you wanted? Basically, what happens when there is multiple possible structures in a type and you want a specific structure to be built.

That is also an interesting endgame tech usage. However, how many scientists would you need to get that bonus? (ie you Have 10 standard labs, with 1 scientist per lab, each doing a separate topic) And could you have multiple bonuses, or have multiple labs researching the same topic, to get cumulative / multiplicative bonuses?

I agree that C&C cutscenes were good. Though Red Alert 3 started getting a bit too corny for my liking.

For the Garage, what about some AI complexity? What I mean is say once you have a Garage built, you can put in an AI control, that forces a unit to go to a Garage when it is at a certain percentage of HP or less (say 30% or less) and when the vehicle arrives, it automatically gets loaded in and then also automatically is pushed back out, when repairs are complete. Or too complex AI wise?

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Offline Hooman

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2015, 04:24:35 AM »
Raid sirens can be bloody annoying. If you include them, you *have* to have a way to turn them off. It could be neat though, and would add a sense of urgency. It might also be the most despised feature of your game.

Starcraft had build queues, Warcraft 2 did not.

Morale in Outpost 2 has two components. One is colony state, which is instantaneous, the other is events, and provides a lasting effect. Indeed, children being born or people dying falls into the event category. Each event has an amount it contributes (or subtracts) from morale. The total event modifier slowly decays to 0 over time. I think it halves every few ticks or so.

Use of things like rec centers are not particularly useful in the morale system because of the way the two are combined. The colony state aspect is basically from 0%-100%. (colonyStateMorale = currentMetDemand/totalDemand). The denominator only increases as you unlock more techs. Thus the two ways of keeping morale high are to keep the met demand high (by building morale buildings), or to keep the total demand low (by not researching morale techs). If instead the denominator slowly increased over time, regardless of research, that would provide more incentive to increase the total points you could accumulate for the numerator, and also remove the penalty from doing the research. Thus you'd have incentive to research and build morale structures. You'd have to cap the increase though, or it'd be impossible to maintain morale late game if demand increased without bound.

Colony state morale is also scaled depending on difficulty setting, so at harder settings having everything met might scale down to say 87.5% morale, thus requiring positive events to push it up towards 100% (temporarily).

Some of the morale penalties for sacking your enemy's base are very high, depending on the structures you destroy. If you destroy a lot of civilian structures, expect your morale to plummet to 0 and stay there for a very long time. Adding a very large negative bonus of a few hundred or a few thousand takes a while to wear off, and completely obliterates your colony state morale, which is capped between 0-100.

Why would you build a whole new building just to refit units? That would rarely ever be used. Especially if you're just trying to refit a single robo surveyor to become a scout. And a scout only costs what, 250 ore? Just self destruct and built a new unit. It'd be cheaper than building a new building. I suppose if you wanted to add a feature to an existing building, like a garage, it might make some sense, but I have a feeling this just adds needless complexity without any real benefit. Increase efficiency by reducing waste in the game's design and selection of units, not by refitting them.

If mines run out of ore, then perhaps meteor mining could be implemented. Every time a meteor impacts the ground, you could send a truck over to collect the debris. I think the idea might be popular in theory, but you'd have to be very careful about the implementation or it'd be a major pain for players to obtain ore this way. It'd also only be viable if mines ran out and there was no higher income alternative. You'd need to find some way of automating the procedure though.

I'd also thought of just having trucks dump their load in a pile. Maybe have robo dozers push it into the refinery. Or just have a pit down into the refinery, which the cargo truck just dumps things into without stopping to detach and have the tail end enter the refinery. Why did they ever do that? It was silly. Besides, have you tried dumping a cargo truck's contents on the ground? Look at the animation. That would be a much better way to drop off the ore at the refinery. Less time consuming, and fewer traffic jams.

As for C&C, you can get traffic jams with the harvesters, but if a refinery is busy unloading a truck, the next truck will just find the next closest refinery. They sort themselves out. That would be a nice way of handling it. There isn't really any pressing need for more than one-click to start harvesting. Especially not if you have a basic AI that distributes trucks between smelters, or possibly even between mines.

Pax2 was a very different game from Outpost 2. I'm not sure how you can relate much of it, but I always liked their research tree. It was more of a galactic empire building RTS game. As you grew, your power increased exponentially, which meant things like techs also needed an exponentially increasing amount of work to complete them. That aspect might not carry over so well to a game like Outpost 2.

Pax2 also had fully customizable ships. As you researched new techs, you could design your own ships. Each hull type had a certain number of hit points, and a certain amount of space for systems. You could load up each hull with any of the systems you choose, up until the space was filled. As you researched more techs, the space requirements for older techs shrunk. It was a very fun aspect of the game, but I'm afraid it wasn't entirely well suited for a RTS game. Indeed, I often paused the game while designing new ships, which Pax2 actually let you do.

I have a feeling my base building idea is pretty much the same as Arklon.

I suppose what you could do is have the older style base deployment always be an option, but once you build an RCC, it could enable a user interface where you can plan your base with semi-transparent overlays. As you design your base plan, the structure factory can start building the kits automatically, and ConVecs could pick up the kits and deploy them automatically. Basically having an RCC would allow you to issue higher levels commands, and it would take care of the individual unit orders to carry them out. There may need to be some resource allocation though to handle priorities between building a base and say, keeping a factory producing combat units.

In Dune 2000, there was a wrench icon to repair buildings (which repair themselves when told to, at a cost). If you clicked a vehicle with the wrench, it would drive off to the nearest repair pad. Units would queue up next to the repair pads and repair themselves one at a time. Something like that might be useful. Allow the user to click on units while having all their health bars highlighted could help. It could be an RCC enabled feature.

I haven't given much thought to endgame research. It might be you need a full complement of scientists at a lab to get the benefit. I'm not sure allowing multiple labs to work on the same benefit is a good idea, since having unbounded bonuses could really mess with game mechanics. Maybe just provide lots of different possible bonuses, so it's unlikely you'd ever have enough scientists to research them all at once, even if you had a ton of labs.

Offline lordpalandus

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2015, 10:45:04 AM »
That is a good point about raid sirens. I had also just realized that another player in a multiplayer game could cheese your raid sirens, by bringing a fast-moving scout to your front door, then leaving, then coming back, and leaving, and such forth to cause the sirens to go on, then off, then on, then off. It could definitely be an annoying feature.

Thanks for clarifying the Warcraft and starcraft point. I clearly was mis-remembering.

Oh that is quite different from how I had considered doing Morale. I had considered Morale to be calculated by: Net Morale Change (+/-) = Total Positive Morale Events - Total Negative Morale Events. Thus in my formula, you'd want Recreational Centers as it would give you more Positive Morale Events, to counter Negative Morale Events, and thus when the Morale Checking Tick came by, there would be a higher likeliness that Morale would increase. I hadn't considered doing a division-based formula to calculate Morale, and didn't know that Outpost 2 did use that kind of system. The reason I wanted to go for a simpler addition and subtraction system (addition because you add up each Positive Morale Events and Negative Morale Events first) was because I wanted to make Morale easier for a player to understand, know how to control, and know what problem areas there is that they could improve upon to make things better. I had also considered having a "Morale Report" where after the Morale Checking Tick it would provide an interface for showing the net-change in each area (Positives and Negatives) compared to last Morale Report, and how many one-off events occurred.

I can definitely see now why researching Rec Centers in Outpost 2 would be disadvantageous, as the increase to the denominator would make it harder to control, rather than easier. Thanks for clarifying that.

I had also completely forgotten that colony difficulty also affected Morale. Thanks for bring that up.

Yes, you are right it is a stupid idea. I was just trying to get around the whole issue of discarding the resources. An alternative idea would be to allow the GORF or recycling facility to recycle a unit into resources based on its current health * it's construction cost, as a way of getting something back.

Well, the way I intended mining was to have it possible to mine literally anywhere, but the amount of resources you might get depends entirely on where you set the mine up. Thus, if you continually choose to mine low-yield areas, then of course you will be needing to set up mines on a constant basis. However, I also feel that high-yield minable areas should last longer than low-yield minable areas. As for meteor mining, I had considered that as a meteor lands, it leaves behind junk. And a Bulldozer or Cargo truck can grab it and haul it over to a junk pile or recycling facility (respectively).

An interesting idea with Cargo Trucks and Robo Dozers. The only negative is that if some disaster occurred and you lost your only robodozer and had no vehicle factory would be a loss, as you couldn't get any additional resources anymore. Unless there was a way to get resources without Robodozers. Personally, I do like the dumping into a pile idea, but I'd prefer the smelter to have a feeder-type system that sucks in resources from the pile, rather than being pushed in by a bulldozer. Thoughts?

Good point with C&C I did forget that harvesters would often seek out another refinery if one was busy. I say often because occasionally they'd be stubborn and refuse to go to a different refinery. Maybe it was because it does a scan for nearby free refineries and no other refineries are within range of that scan. If there was a system that could ensure that trucks would be able to handle themselves and go to the nearest free Smelter, then your one-click system would work... likely flawlessly.

I generally prefer to avoid exponentially increasing anything, simply because it either involves huge pointless grind, or in the case of damage / defense numbers, it involves massive uncontrollable power creep.

The unit design system in Pax2, I've encountered in other 4x games as well, but also in Earth 2150. And yes, it is often not a useful feature, as it can take several minutes, inside of the game to create a unit. Yes it pauses the game, but it really breaks the immersion and more often than not, the stock vehicles made for you are not useful to the player, forcing them to do that unit customization. If unit customization was simpler, and could be done in-game and required less time and effort for it, then I could see it working nicely. Otherwise no.

Two very interesting ways of making the RCC much more useful. I like the ideas.

I also agree that unbound bonuses likely wouldn't end well either... as it would be uncontrolled power creep. Hmm.

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Offline Hooman

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2015, 01:01:37 PM »
I think cargo truck only mining would be better than also involving a robo dozer. If the structure is built into the ground, just have the trucks drive over a pit, which is narrower than the wheel base, and have them dump the contents. If the structure isn't built into the ground, perhaps there could be a ramp area that trucks drive up so they can dump their load into an above ground storage container. It should be a drive through structure to ensure an efficient traffic flow.

I think C&C checked if a harvester was heading back to the refinery, not just if one was already docked. Thus if a harvester which was far out into the fields suddenly decided to return home to a specific refinery, then it could block a harvester already in the base from docking at that same refinery. It was silly really, and sometimes annoying. It should probably have only checked if a harvester was already docked, not if one was heading back that way. If they wanted to be more clever, then perhaps they could implemented some sort of estimated queue time for each refinery, and account for holes in the schedule from trucks on their way, but not back yet. Hmm, I believe this might be a classic Dynamic Programming scheduling problem.


Slightly off topic, but...
I don't think the exponentially increasing thing really makes sense for a game like Outpost 2. If makes more sense for empire building games or RPGs.

In an empire building game you might start off with a single city or a single planet, and at the end of the game you might control 100 cities or planets. That should give you 100 times the rate of advance if they all contribute to something like research. Even more when you consider those games generally have upgrades, such as libraries or research labs. The improvements might increase the rate of a single city or planet by 5x, while the number of cities or planets increases by 100x, so you end up with an overall rate increase of 500x between early game and late game. If you didn't have an exponential increase in research costs there then you've have very non-uniform research times which would make for not a lot of fun. Generally you should expect research times to be roughly linear through game play so it's a constant aspect of playing. You want the rewards of completing research to be roughly evenly spaced out.

Similarly with RPG games you can't have someone level their character all the way on level 1 monsters. You need to force them to progress to more difficult areas if they want to maintain a decent rate of progress. Earned experience might increase 100x between early game and late game monsters.

You may have noticed the power increase rates between the genres differ, as do the typical cost increase rates. For a game like Pax2, research costs often increase 5x for each level (1000 points => 5000 points => 25000 points). For a game like Runescape, experience requirements double about every 7 levels (2^(level/7) + someLinearTerm). These values need to be set to give a reasonably stable rate of progress throughout normal game play.


I don't think the unit customization from Pax2 would work well for Outpost 2. It's a cool concept, but not well suited for a game like Outpost 2, or any game that doesn't tolerate pausing or offline play where designs can be made outside of normal play time.

Offline lordpalandus

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2015, 03:02:34 PM »
Driving over a pit and dumping the cargo into the pit sounds like a good idea. The only issue with an above ground silo, is that you'd likely have to calculate the velocity required by the cargo truck to get up the ramp to the silo and back down. Seems simplest to me for both efficiency and beauty of the solution to drive over a pit, dump into pit and be on merry way.

Oh... so that's why I'd occasionally see a harvester waiting at a refinery even though it was empty, and if I manually ordered the one in the field to go elsewhere, the one at the refinery suddenly decides to use the refinery.

Well, um, I kind of did want to do an empire building game. At any stage during that empire building, the player can assume the role of a singular colony leader. However, if they didn't want to do that, and instead allow the AI to control those colonies, then the player could take on the role of Planetary Governor, or later on Empire President.

The best way I could describe it, is an older game by Maxis called SimAnt. In SimAnt, you could take control of any single Ant, including the Queen. You could also have automatic mating and automatic colonization with those mated queens. Or you could do a manual forced attempt to colonize an area, or you could go personally and colonize the area. The yard is broken up into individual sections, where you can have a colony in each, with the goal to overrun the entire house and yard, and kill off the red colonies. Similiarly with what I had in mind was that the player could go in and control any one of their colonies, manually go in and create new ones, or leave it to the AI to do so, while the player handles the higher level strategic stuff. However, the option is also there to just stick with building colonies, and letting the AI run the Governor and President positions.

Well, there is a way of overcoming the exponential increase of research costs; you could instead have the contribution for each scientist be less, but keep the same goal for research points required. Thus, as the player has more scientists and labs, the higher-end technologies may have the same costs, but it takes longer to reach them as each scientist provides fewer points. And as they would provide fewer points, it would take more scientists and labs working together to produce the same points per second that you might have had when you were in the earlier game with only a single scientist. If you did it like this, then you could still have regular research discoveries at the same speed as you did at earlier gameplay but you'd need more scientists and labs to achieve those same speeds in research times. Thoughts?

The problem with most RPGs though, is that your rate of progress decreases the higher the level you get and most games have it so that you cannot gain experience from lower level monsters after gaining enough levels. Take World of Warcraft. At LV 1, it requires 600 XP to go to LV 2, and LV 1 monsters provide about 60 XP per kill. Once you get to LV 6, LV 1 monsters provide no more XP (I believe it is 4 LV below = Green XP, 5+ LVs = 0 XP). So that is about 10 kills to gain a level up. By LV 59, it would take well over 1,000 monster kills of the same level to gain a level; the monsters might grant 6000 XP per kill, but the amount of XP required is several magnitudes larger. The only RPG I can think of that doesn't follow this trend is D&D tabletop, where it is always approximately 10 encounters to gain a level up.

EDIT: While reading through the Robot Command Center on the Wiki (I'm looking at each structure/vehicle, to get an idea of what kind of technologies existed at the time when the events of Outpost 2 took place), I noticed it said that the RCC has specific computers that have built in Hardware Encryption and Anti-Jamming Circuitry to aid it's ability in making vehicles smarter. A way to make the RCC useful, is that as long as vehicles are within a certain radius of a RCC, they are more resistant to EMP and are immune to Spiders attempting to hack into them. Reading the Spider notes on the Wiki, it appears that the EMP causes the vehicle's harddrive to reboot and the Spider interfaces with the harddrive during the reboot process and hacks the vehicle onto Plymouth's side. However, as the RCC is designed to counter jamming and hacking, it would make sense to me that Spiders and EMPs would be less effective while a RCC existed within a certain range of your vehicles. It would have limited range to prevent those same vehicles from being resistant no matter where they were on the map, such as attacking the enemy's base. Thoughts?
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 11:11:33 PM by lordpalandus »
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Offline Hooman

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2015, 05:53:48 AM »
Having scientists contribute less over time seems counter intuitive. It also presents one issue when dealing with the matter of research choice. You might expect certain basic techs to be easy to research, and to remain so if you chose to put off researching them until later. If instead you focused on some other components of the tech tree early game, and later returned to some of the easy but perhaps less important techs, they would now require much more effort to obtain then if they'd been researched early game. This isn't necessarily a problem though, as this would have the same effect as how Civilization works, it's just a weird way to implement it. In Civilization the difficulty of researching the next tech depends on how many techs you've researched so far. So although each scientist still contributes the same amount, there is a slow exponential growth in research costs, based only on how many techs have been obtained, and not tied to what the tech actually is.

How are you planning to reduce the usefulness of each scientist? If you did something simple like divide by how many you have, then you would remove all incentive to build up an army of scientists for faster research. There needs to be some ability for a player to improve their research position, even if it's only a temporary rate increase due to increasing difficulty. I think the exponential increase in research costs is a good working model.

If you start dividing the scientist productivity figures, you also enter into the territory of rounding errors, and possibly the law of small numbers. The later is probably the most relevant, and comes into play if dividing produces small numbers. Consider the difference between 4 increasing to 5 (a 25% increase) versus 10 increasing to 11 (a 10% increase). If you're dealing with small numbers, then you're generally dealing with large percentage differences. Random chance can have a much bigger impact on outcomes with small numbers. (I'm assuming integers here).

Depending on how calculations are done, seemingly small differences might accumulate across the empire, which can produce quite a strong difference in results for fairly minor changes in the input. Depending on your perspective this could be a good or a bad thing. Indeed, the tax rate in Civilization functions this way. The division of trade into income, science, and luxury are done per city. A small change in rates, set at the empire level, can produce a large change for cities with lots of trade, and no change for cities with little trade (the differences lost in the rounding). Depending on your cities, this could mean a small change in rate produces a big change in total output, or possibly no change at all. Of course, as your empire grows and the number of cities increases, you might expect the distribution of your cities properties to vary in such a way that large differences and small differences mostly even out across all cities. It's never quite true, but perhaps close enough. The mechanics of Civilization is interesting because of the small numbers used in that game.

I guess one of the questions you'll want to consider, is if you want large sudden changes between progression points, or if you want slow gradual change that builds up over time. Some games use small numbers where any increase represents a large percentage gain, while others use larger numbers and have a more gradual sense of growth. Consider a game like Pool of Radiance (a D&D game), where level caps are between 6-8, with hit points ranging from about 1-100, vs. a games like the Final Fantasy series where levels range from 1-99, with hit points ranging from low tens to 9999. The later produces a much more gradual sense of progress. I should also point out that both games have an exponential increase in experience per level. In Pool of Radiance the experience requirements double every level. In Final Fantasy it doubles at a much slower rate of every few levels.

There's also a reason why RPGs tend to have a slower rate of growth for higher levels. The quicker initial levelling provides feedback that encourages people to get into the game and play, while the slower late game levelling adds challenge and makes obtaining a high level character more rewarding. If it takes more effort, it tends to be more satisfying to achieve. I don't think much about levelling to 99 in Final Fantasy, where it's almost a matter of course. I've done it a few times over in the various games I've played. But in Runescape where it can take months to get a single skill to 99, it feels like much more of an achievement worth being proud of. (Or embarrassed for spending so much time on the game, take your pick). It also affects the life of the game. If progress slows as you get closer to the top, it can make the game fun for a much longer period of time. Consider this, experience earned grows linearly in Runescape as you work with higher level materials, by maybe about 5x, but experience requirements double every 7 levels, which means it doubles over 14 times between level 1 and level 99, which means you need about 2^14 = 16384 times the experience to achieve the last level as opposed to the first level. A considerable effort.

Of course Runescape is an RPG that people play for months or years. An Outpost skirmish can't last more than a few hours.

Offline lordpalandus

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2015, 03:35:14 PM »
EDIT2: Actually it appears you did understand me. It is I that didn't read your post clearly enough. My apologies again.

Based on your responses, I failed to explain my point clearly enough. Apologies. I'll explain it now though:

In most games, research cost increases while research provided remains static. So a LV 1 Tech could require 500 research, while a LV 10 Tech could require 250,000,000 research.

What I'm proposing is that the research cost remain relatively constant, but at different tech levels, research produced by scientists decreases. This doesn't mean that if multiple labs research a topic of a much lower level that they won't be able to contribute as much as a player might have done with only a single lab. So, research cost at LV 1 could require 500 research, while LV 10 Tech could require only 4000 cost.

The change would be that instead of research per scientist is +100 every 5 seconds, as a constant variable irrespective of the tech level, here the change would be that the higher the tech level, the less scientists provide every 5 seconds. So at LV 1 Tech, Each scientist provides say +100 research data every 5 seconds, while at LV 10 Tech, they'd only provide say +3 research data every 5 seconds. Thus, this would encourage at Planetary and Empire tiers, that in order to accomplish research at the same speed as you did in Planetfall or Colony Tier, you'd need more scientists and thus more labs working in unison. If you decided however to do a Tech Level 1 research at Planetary or Empire Tier, it would get researched nearly instantly. However, for higher tech levels, you'd need more scientists working together to achieve the same results.

In theory it should do the same as exponential increases, without the exponential increases. I'll provide an edit, when I can figure out the math correctly to show an example of it (I tried, and managed to get the same amount of time it would take to complete a project, but I didn't choose my data per second numbers correctly and thus the resulting answer was 20,000 seconds or about 5.5 hrs to complete a project... an obscenely long research time).

Basically, each tech level would have different data per second provided per scientist, so if you used a large number of labs to research low-level technology, it would happen nearly instantly.

Well, what I'd prefer is to avoid rounding errors by doing integer division where it drops the remainder (true it does round down); I'd prefer whole numbers as it is easier to do a lot of things without decimals.

Otherwise lots of very thought provoking stuff Hooman (so thought provoking that I'm going to need to digest the rest of it for a bit while I think of a reply as I feel the rest of it does deserve a reply). I'll edit this again later with further responses. (or just add them to another reply if someone else joins in)

Edit 1: Math Support for Research:

Tech Level 10, 500 Scientists Each, Data Measured per Second

System 1 (Exponential Research Costs) = 200,000,000 Cost / 500 Scientists * 1000 Data/s = 400 Seconds to Research Topic
System 2 (Reduced Research per Second) = 20,000 Cost / 500 Scientists * 0.1 Data/s = 400 Seconds to Research Topic

In both cases, it would take 400 seconds to research a Tech LV 10 research topic. In the first system, the research cost increases, while in the second system the research per second decreases with higher tech level.

Then again, after looking at the numbers, you are likely right that it does seem counter intuitive, and exponential research costs does now sound like the better idea, over reducing scientist data per second.

Edit 3:
Yes, I can see now why having division to calculate scientist data per second is a bad idea, and that exponential research costs does sound much more logical and reasonable. So, thank you for posting your reasoning against it. I appreciate it. Now for the rest of the post; comments:

As for the Empire side of things, what I had considered was to have specialized colonies. Instead of ordering all colonies to adapt to a specific broad planetary policy change, you'd have different colonies working to produce various things based on their location on the planet; empire tier you could enact policy change to overcome shortfalls by having non-specific regions change their specialization. The AI would naturally work to create specialization based on specific regions and on overall need of something, and the player as the Governor could force a specific colony to a specific specialization.

However, I had thought at the Empire level, if you noticed shortfalls in something, you could create a broad policy change requesting that Governors convert as many possible colonies within reason to a specified type. Keeping in mind that some areas are naturally better than others for something, a colony in an area where it is naturally better to be one specialization, will stay that specialization at all times, unless the player forces it to change; the AI will leave it alone. As an example, if a colony is in a metal rich zone, with lots of volcanoes, and a lot of work to manage those volcanoes, then it will be specialized for mining and operations in volcanic regions. Thus, the AI wouldn't attempt to change it into a research, or food production specialized area as it is naturally better to keep it specialized for mining than it is to convert to something else. The player of course can order it to change despite the fact that the region wouldn't be ideal for a different specialization. Thus I also wish to create specific zones on a planet, where they are naturally better at being specialized to a specific thing. Thoughts?

That is a good question. I haven't actually decided upon how progression in numbers will occur. For some things, particularly units it will likely be with smaller numbers. But with research, or Planetary/Empire level construction it would likely be with larger numbers. The exact numbers could be addressed during the actual development during balancing passes. Though, figuring out in general which things falls into which category before development phase would be a good idea.

There is a bit of an issue though with RPGs; the maximum level is definitely something that feels like an accomplishment worth it when reaching it. However, each level they gain along the way doesn't really offer them much in the way of in rewards for working towards that level. In WoW, going from LV 58 to 59, doesn't usually feel like an accomplishment; it more feels like... "I wish I was 60 so I didn't have to grind anymore." Going from 59 to 60, however does feel like an accomplishment, but was all that time spent to get there worth it? Getting to 60 was worth it, and feels rewarding, but your trek from LV 50 to 59? Did that feel worth it? Did you feel that each level made you significantly more powerful, or that the loot gained was worth it? Most people I don't think would say that going from 50 to 59 would feel the same way as reaching 60, even though they accomplished more levels or accumulated far more experience in total than was necessary to get to 60 (I'm talking from a player who played Vanilla, and some of BC). When I finally reached 60, it felt great for a time. But during the grind from 50 to 59, it felt like total and utter drudgery, many times asking myself why I was doing it and if 60 was really worth it to achieve? If each level felt valuable, then I guess the end goal of 60 would mean less, but at least then you'd feel like you enjoyed your time getting to 60, rather than trying to rush to 60 as quickly as possible as the game only really begins at that point with raids, PVP loot, and epic loot. However, after I reached 60, and realized that the true grinding only happened at 60, I felt cheated. I had thought things would get so much better at maximum level, but instead it was worse because grinding was needed about 10x more at 60, than it was during 50 to 59 as loot rates are atrocious, and that the cool end game content was only available to those who got lucky with rolls and had the weeks to spend doing it. Course I think this whole discussion on my part about WoW is a rabbit trail. I guess for me, if there is going to be serious grinding at LV 60, then why not make it easy for players and start at 60 so that they can do meaningful grinding towards actual endgame content, rather than spending months gaining basically pointless levels. Anywho...

However on your point of a skill taking forever to level up to 99. Did each skill up feel rewarding, as if the effort spent to gain any level of that skill was worth the time investment, or was most of it a grind where the 99 skill level was where things got good, but all skill levels up to that point felt like meaningless bumps in the road.

Maybe MMOs are just not for me.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 08:53:12 PM by lordpalandus »
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Offline Hooman

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2015, 03:59:48 AM »
Yes, it sounds like what you'd proposed for reducing research contribution for each level was mathematically equivalent to increasing research costs for each level. Instead of dividing the contribution by a certain amount, multiply the cost by the same amount to get an equivalent system where research contribution remains fixed, but research costs grow (exponentially, or not, depending on the sequence of numbers you choose). Well, equivalent aside from rounding error.

Regarding integer math, avoid division whenever possible. There are two main reasons:
1) Division is much slower than other basic mathematical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication).
2) Division introduces rounding errors.

For instance, instead of checking if ((x / 10) < y), you could check if (x < y * 10).


A slightly related topic, avoid floating point whenever possible. You really need to know what you're doing to work with floating point properly. There are many commonly assumed mathematical properties that people assume hold which actually fail for floating point. You can also often do equivalent things with integer math. Here are some common issues:
1) The spacing between consecutive floating point numbers is not fixed. For large numbers, the minimum distance between numbers can be greater than one. For a 32-bit floating point value I believe that threshold is at 2^24. For 64-bit float point I believe that threshold is at 2^53. This of course means rounding errors greater than 1. Try it:
Code: [Select]
float f = 16777216; // 2^24
f++;  // No change (rounded down)
2) Floating point addition is not necessarily associative.
  Associative means ((A + B) + C) == (A + (B + C))
See the above point. If one of those values is large, say 2^24, and the other two values are 1, then ((2^24 + 1) + 1) rounds down to ((2^24) + 1), which leaves you at 2^24. If you add the small numbers first so they get bigger (2^24 + (1 + 1)) = (2^24 + (2)) = 2^24 + 2, with no rounding errors.
3) Common decimal values are not exactly represented by floating point values. Like say, "0.1". Powers of 2 work well, (including negative powers which produce fractions less than 1), hence 0.5 = 2^(-1) is not a problem, much like how 0.25 = 2^(-2) is not a problem. Sums of powers of 2 also work, such as 0.75 = 0.5 + 0.25. When working base 10, remember that 10 = 2*5, and that factor of 5 throws things off. It's like when you divide by 3 or 7 and get a repeating decimal answer. The same thing happens in a binary system when you divide by 5. That 5 is not a factor of the base of a binary system, and so the representation will be a repeating sequence of bits, representing an infinite sequence of additions of (negative) powers of 2. Since registers store values in a fixed number of bits, there will be truncation of repeating values.
4) Exact value comparisons often fail. This can be due to rounding errors in calculations, or rounding errors in converting decimal numbers in source code to actual floating point values (see above). Instead a close enough approach if often needed.
Code: [Select]
if (x == y) { /*Code not likely to execute when expected*/ }
if (abs(x - y) < epsilon) { /*This should work for appropriate small epsilon value*/ }
5) Conversion between floating point and integers can be slow
6) Different processors implement floating point to different precision, which means results often differ when the same algorithm is run on different CPU families. On x86 you have a choice of 4 byte floats (32-bit), 8 byte floats (64-bit) and 10 byte floats (80-bit). I'm not aware of other processors that offer the last option.

Not surprisingly many code optimizers won't touch floating point code. Consider what reordering operations could do considering they are not associative, and with rounding errors which can build up over operations, and will almost certainly be different if operations are reordered.

It often makes sense to avoid floating point when possible. Consider this, to calculate a Cartesian distance, you can use Pythagoras theorem along with a square root.
Code: [Select]
dx = x1 - x2;
dy = y1 - y2;
distance = sqrt(dx*dx + dy*dy);
The stock square root function uses floating point, so even if distances were integer, you'd convert to floating point, perform the square root, and then possibly convert back to integer. You could use a custom integer square root routine, but it's still going to be a bit slow.

But if you're only checking a distance against a threshold, like say a proximity check for enemy units, or a range check for firing a weapon, this is a different problem. You only need a yes/no type answer, not the exact distance. Hence, square both sides of the equation.
Code: [Select]
dx = x1 - x2;
dy = y1 - y2;
if (dx*dx + dy*dy <= distance*distance) { /*Within range*/}
The above uses only integer math, and avoids a slow square root calculation. Note that it never actually calculates the distance between two objects. It only determines if two objects are within a certain distance. Also, if many objects are being tested for proximity, the square of the distance threshold does not change, so that multiplication can be lifted out of the loop.

But that was a bit of a side tracked rant.


As for Runescape, depending on the skill, most levels unlock a new ability. Smithing had a whole set of weapons and armour, and for I think 6 different materials. It got crowded near level 99, in that the last level unlocked a whole bunch of things. There weren't enough levels to evenly distribute all of it. Skills like fletching had fewer abilities to unlock, so they were spaced out more. That unlocking of new abilities made each level more rewarding.


Edit: Meant "associative", not "commutative".
« Last Edit: August 27, 2015, 07:38:55 AM by Hooman »

Offline lordpalandus

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2015, 02:32:18 PM »
I didn't know that division actually took longer for the computer to do than multiplication, addition or subtraction. Good to know.

I also didn't know about the complexities regarding floating point numbers (including Double or Float, in C++). I would have assumed that they would work essentially like integers except with decimals, but I didn't realize that including the decimal adds in rounding errors (if I'm understanding that correctly). I also didn't know that floating point numbers were not commutative. I learned C++ from an older textbook, and it glazed over details concerning floating point numbers, much to my discomfort now.

Few questions regarding floating point numbers:

1) If I typecast a variable of type Integer (short int, long int, etc) to Double, would the typecasted variable suffer from rounding errors as well?
2) If I stored 2^24 in an integer variable, due to the size of the variable would it still suffer rounding errors, or is 2^24 too large a number to fit in an Integer variable (as I know there is numerical limits for integers)?
3) So rounding errors also occur for floating point numbers even if an integer value is stored in it (ie 2^24 is an Integer value, as it is whole numbers)?
4) Since pointers point to a memory address, if they pointed to a memory address containing a Floating-Point number, would the pointer also suffer from rounding errors?
5) What if a constant is used? Not a constant, as the constant added to a variable to make it fixed in a program, but the other kind of constant. ie Y = X + 2.2; where 2.2 is the constant. Does the constant also suffer from floating point numbers, even though it isn't attached to a variable of type float or double?

Can many mathematical calculations be simplified down to addition, subtraction, and multiplication, or only specific common ones such as Square Root, or Exponents? ie Could more complex mathematical calculations such as Calculus Derivative or Anti-Derivative be simplified down into less complex calculations (I think maybe possible having done Calculus in University, if you used the simpler calculation that has as X approaches a specific number; can't remember what the introductory formula is called that introduces people to calculus at the moment)?

A well worth sidetrack rant, Hooman. Very informative.

Okay, so then each level did feel valuable. Good to know. I just watched an Extra Credits episode that explained that most progression systems in games are Skinner boxes, and I'd have to say that World of Warcraft or Diablo 3 would definitely fit into that definition. Runescape, maybe not.

On a side note, having gone through the wiki to learn about the technology that was available to the colonists in Outpost 2, I kinda feel that the game we played didn't adequately show how high tech they were. As an example, aerial drones are commonplace and are often used as couriers to deliver objects to people or assist in construction. Or perhaps that the Spider was designed to do all the same tasks as the ConVec including constructing structures and each leg on the Spider could perform a separate task, so they could if next to several vehicles at once, could repair them all at the same time. Or that they had Mag-Lev vehicles inside the tubes for transferring cargo and people from one end of the colony to the other quickly. Or that they had access to virtual reality technology that would make the Holodecks on Star Trek look low-tech. Or that they had highly sophisticated computer systems that would make the UCS in Earth 2140 look like dumb-witted AIs in comparisons (and yet the UCS had a wide range of combat androids, assault mechs, and flying units).

I guess, it didn't seem as high tech to me because most of the units used tracks or wheels, when it would appear that the technology was available to have aerial drone units, hover technology, or in the very least Mag-Lev support to allow vehicles to be transported from one end of the base to the other quickly. Or that, with the boptronic technology in place, I doubt why colonists were needed at all in the first place (much like with the UCS in Earth 2140) as basically everything was automated, or had automated machines repairing / upgrading everything, such that the colonists could exist in a Virtual Reality environment for their entire lives (like in the Matrix). Or that their Agridomes were so sophisticated and well-run that they would be many times more efficient than a farm 5x the size of the Agridome, and thus I don't see why Eden wanted to Terraform the planet.

Thoughts?
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Offline Sirbomber

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2015, 02:44:53 PM »
Guys, can we maybe keep it a little concise around here?  Does everyone have to have a 5 page long wall of text for every post?  :P
"As usual, colonist opinion is split between those who think the plague is a good idea, and those who are dying from it." - Outpost Evening Star

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Offline lordpalandus

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2015, 05:30:35 PM »
@Sirbomber; Lol, true enough. I'll try and work on my brevity.

======

I'm working on various ways behind the scenes to figure out a way to reduce complexity by combining similar structures into one, and increase depth by giving those combined structures added features. The negative with a large structure list is that the AI becomes more complex with it's build order when there are more structures, especially if multiple structures appear to serve a similar purpose. I do want a good variety of structures, but having too many structures will likely also confuse a player on which they should or shouldn't build and in what order.

For example, (you can also still disagree with anything I post, as I'd like to hear input on my changes as well) take the Defense Tower. I've decided to combine the features of a Sensor Tower (Basically detection radius outside of Sight Range), a Light Tower (Utilizes a spotlight on the target it is currently shooting at to illuminate the area), and the Component Tower from Tiberium Sun, to create the Defense Tower. It can be built into a wall, has a spotlight, detection radius, and is mounted with any of the weapons you currently have researched. Additional research unlocks more features that are optional (they cost resources to upgrade) but provide some unique benefit if you install them.

In the meantime, if others would like to give their own input to the first 5 questions (reposted below), I'd also appreciate that:
1) I was wondering what kind of features would people here like in a game "based" on Outpost 2 as inspiration?
2) Are there specific things that irritated you with Outpost 2, that if you could you'd want fixed in a game like Outpost 2?
3) Are there specific things that you feel made Outpost 2 unique and without them it wouldn't feel the same?
4) Are there any things that particularly interested you with Outpost 1, that you wish Outpost 2 had?
5) I'm aware that a previous Indie Development Team had attempted a game similar to Outpost 1 (Terminus I believe it was called) and failed to achieve kickstarter funding. Do you perhaps know why it failed, so that I could avoid whatever problems they had?

EDIT: As an additional point, I've decided to again separate the scout back into two units: Surveyor and Scout.

-> Scouts are used to detect hidden units, find things in the environment, and have greater sight range than other units.
-> Surveyors are used to determine how rich an area is in each resource, and determines which parts of a cooled lava flow are safe for mining and travelling over. (Yes, lava is planned to be able to cool, and then be mined. However, if only a small layer has cooled, sufficiently heavy units can break through and burn to a crisp)
« Last Edit: August 21, 2015, 03:44:44 PM by lordpalandus »
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Offline Sirbomber

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2015, 07:05:16 PM »
Just my two cents, but I would figure out the general idea and theme of your game a bit better before you start porting units in wholesale from OP2.  If you're talking about playing on a galactic scale, why would you need a stupid robot with a stick to poke at the dirt and tell you whether there's gold in them thar hills?  You'd probably have orbital sensors to do that, assuming you weren't just blowing up the planet and picking out the good parts from the debris.

Really this applies to anything, but I don't want to waste a good pun: don't add a Surveyor unless it surves a purpose.  ;)
"As usual, colonist opinion is split between those who think the plague is a good idea, and those who are dying from it." - Outpost Evening Star

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"Outpost 2: The Campaigns Are Okay, But The Novella Just Flames Everyone" progress:
Campaign 1 - 40%
Campaign 2 - 0%
Etc. - (insert arbitrary value here)%

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Offline lordpalandus

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2015, 09:18:11 PM »
Well, to put it into Outpost 2 terms, why would you build a Surveyor if you had an EDWARD satellite? You wouldn't. But, if you didn't have an EDWARD satellite, would you build a surveyor?

That is where the Tiers of gameplay come in. In tier 0, it would the equivalent of you being the commander of the initial settlers of the Conestengo (did I spell that right?) to build the first colony, likely made from ramshackle buildings and scrapped starship parts. Most of your settlement would likely be man-operated and very manually oriented. Thus, you would start to work towards automated facilities, and more permanent structures. Thus, you'd need a steady supply of resources, and to do that you'd need a surveyor. It is true, that by Tier 2, you might have orbital satellites doing the surveying for you, but you need to work your way there.

I also don't wish to lift units wholesale from OP2 either. Some units, like the Surveyor makes logical sense; you don't know where the rich resources are unless you have a way to find them, thus the Surveyor in the early game makes sense. In the late game, it will become obsolete, but the same can be said of in OP2 when you get an EDWARD satellite.

How I had envisioned the game was to start the player off simple, and introduce complexity to the player as they played longer, rather than have a huge information dump on them at the start, or force them to go through a large series of tutorials to begin playing. The intent is to allow people to pick up the early game quickly, while still having a lot of complexity to learn later on in the game. At any point in the game, I'd like the player to be able to remain the bold explorer, colonizing new places. However, I'd also like to allow the player to have a more strategic role in their civilization that they are building/rebuilding (haven't decided which yet), than simply a single leader of a single colony.

Thus complexity wise, tier 0 requires little set up and is fairly straight forward. Choose a base location, deploy your mobile structures, work towards making a more permanent colony with a fixed learning path, as specific structures would be required in a specific order. Not saying I wouldn't include a tutorial, just saying that I want the game to be easy enough to pickup and start learning immediately rather than do a specific tutorial first.

Tier 1, will play much like most of Outpost 2... to a point. A lot of the more advanced technologies, such as Spaceports, are in Tier 2. In tier 1, it will teach you how to manage the affairs of a single colony, balancing colonists, morale, food, mining, and defense. Tier 2, moves towards multiple colonies and thus the logistics and coordination of multiple colonies, whether working towards a similar goal or working on individual goals.

Tier 3, which is many hours into the game is where the empire strategic gameplay comes in when you have the resources and the people to develop starships to colonize new worlds. Tier 3 is very WIP right now. (Mostly because Tier 3 is likely going to be designed and developed later on [1 or more years from now]; since the early game builds into the late game, the late game only deals with managing multiple worlds, starship fleets, and other stuff, which could be separately designed and made modular and thus easily added into the game, particularly if I design the other tiers to allow for Tier 3 to be added in later)

And I have thought a fair bit of the theme of the game, before I came looking for input here. Its just that its fairly hard to explain that theme in only a few sentences, and as you've pointed out walls of text are not good options either, so I find it very hard for me to explain the theme without some kind of visual aid, such as a partially completed prototype, to express my point on the them. However, once I have a prototype, it is generally very hard to make changes either additions to it or subtractions from it that weren't originally planned to be there, or were planned to be there and had foundation code for future mechanics which will then cause problems when you remove something without realizing the repercussions.

Hope that explains some things without getting too wordy, or defensive (as I appreciate the input, but I feel that I'm just not able to explain the theme as well as I like to, and thus it is causing confusion) as neither are my intent.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2015, 09:23:31 PM by lordpalandus »
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Online Vagabond

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #23 on: August 24, 2015, 05:28:02 AM »
Lordpalandus,

I've been a big fan of Outpost 2, but never really posted in the forum. It is great to see everyone still excited about the game and trying to remake it.

I think designing a real time strategy game will be very challenging by itself. It would be a lot of work to design a another empire game on-top of the strategy game.

Maybe it would be worthwhile to break down the game from a technical standpoint first. What I mean is, look at the more challenging coding aspects first and solve those issues individually. Then circle back and make the game when you have a good understanding of the building blocks.

Navigating on a large 2D map with lots of objects
Efficient Path-finding
Unit Combat AI
City-Building AI

After you have mastered each of the skills, you could come back and build the full game. Otherwise, if you try all at once, it will be very difficult to keep from getting discouraged.

Best of luck moving forward with the project.

Offline lordpalandus

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Re: Outpost 2-LIKE game - Community Input requested
« Reply #24 on: August 24, 2015, 12:17:20 PM »
That is the general intent, Vagabond.

I intend to work out the design of the game first, then determine how the various subsystems work, and then look towards building something.

The reason I intend to do the design first, is so that I can use top-down design on what I want, and break it down into simpler methods of solution. I had learned in my C++ book, that you should first design your code in plain English, ensuring that you create a step in the process for everything that you'd need, and then use that to design your code with. Then I can figure out exactly what kinds of things I will be looking for and thus learn how UE4 would do them or, determine how to go about building them. Since UE4 is technically designed for first-person games, it will take me a fair bit of time to determine how to utilize it to create a strategy game. But the quickest way to figure out what I need to learn is to figure out what I intend for the game to do.

Thus, I'm doing the design right now, and then use it to figure out exactly what things I need to learn to succeed.

As to the specific issues you've raised:

1) Map Navigation = Do you mean the minimap, the main view, or both? I have read up on various ways of navigating UI with edge screen scrolling, or holding mouse button and dragging in the direction you want to go. I've also done some reading on common conventions for assigning functions to the LMB and RMB. I've read up on selecting, de-selecting, and group selecting conventions. But I'm sure there is plenty of other things too.

2) Efficient Path-finding = One thing I have noticed with pathfinding is that the pathfinding available to the AI and the pathfinding available to the player are different. The AI's pathfinding is often far superior to the pathfinding available to the player as the AI doesn't suffer from units trying to occupy the same space, as it determines specifically where each unit will go. I have read up somewhat on how UE4 handles it's pathfinding; it requires navmeshing the map and often requires Environmental Query System (EQS) to properly pathfind. There is however, still a lot for me to read up on this topic as well.

3) The AI in General = One of the major problems with the AI is that it suffers from none of the problems the player does, and thus is often unfair and far superior to the player. It can micromanage everything at the same time, often flawlessly, while the player can only focus on one thing at a time... even with multiple monitors. So, one of the tasks I wish to address, is to see if it would be possible to "tone down" the AI so that it suffers from the same problems that the player does and thus feels like a fair opponent. As an example, the AI would have to gather resources like the player, and wouldn't be able to produce a structure unless it had those resources; or the AI wouldn't automatically know where the player was and thus couldn't just blindly fire off super weapons at the player (huge problem in C&C) without ever seeing where their base was. Again, there is a lot for me to learn on this topic.

However, the problem of trying to learn these things FIRST before designing the game is that you'd have to learn absolutely everything on the topic. If you have your design in hand, you can narrow down on specific topics and reduce the amount of learning you must do before able to get anywhere. My hope is that by doing the design first, I can reduce my overall learning down from about 1-2 year's worth of information down to 1-3 months of learning instead; still a lot of learning, but it beats a full year of learning (or more) and not much else. Same applies to designing the sounds and visuals as well; knowing what you intend to do, will help you to reduce the amount of learning in other programs that is needed before getting anywhere.

I have no intention of jumping straight into development with just the design in hand. I need to first determine if I can do all the things in my design before I start creating code or assets (most structures or units could be done as placeholder assets such as a simple cube, or something). If something doesn't work then I need to go back to the drawing board and try and figure out a solution. That solution might be to redesign the design, or it might be taking time to consider the problem in detail and trying to see if my understanding of how something works is actually the incorrect thing, rather than the bit of code I'm looking at. Hope that clarifies some things.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2015, 12:31:29 PM by lordpalandus »
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