Long term viability through Technology, Economy, and Limitations


#1

@joe

I have been thinking about this quite a bit, and I have come to a specific conclusion that I think will need to be addressed.

Technology tree, as you know its really fast to get through everything, you can blast through the tree in 30-40 days depending on the resources you are willing to spend on labs. Even with the current change in population, this is still very very possible.

So, we know that the tech tree is going to need to be much larger, and that is something that a lot of people have been saying over and over again. Its a common theme that people want a really robust system in place for long term research, however there is a single problem that will need to be addressed.

Disparity in technological levels:
This is the big issue, and the way the research is currently setup, at least the ratios of time, it doesn’t favor anyone coming into the game after 30 days. Even if there was four times the research, it would only stretch that number out to 45 days by my estimation. Meaning that anyone in the KNOW will not enter a server after 45 days, because its just not playable, they will be so far behind that its going to be very hard to catch up.

What we need are plateaus within the tech tree.

Creating Technological Plateaus:
I would say that it should take on average 2 to 3 weeks to get through everything that is considered Tech level 1, so all the small/regular stuff, advanced power plants, labs, T1 ships, Free Warp 2 Engines, basic small/medium weapons, etc.

We then need a plateau here, where there are tech levels that enhance T1 techs, without openly T2 techs, and that are pre-reqs for T2. This should last 1.5x longer than it takes to actually get through T1, so 3-4 weeks.

Then once T2 opens up fully, it should take roughly 3 times as long, so we are looking at 6 to 9 weeks to make it through all of the basic T2 research, then another plateau, with enhances taking another 2x longer than it takes to get through T2, putting that at 12-18 weeks.

Finally, we meet T3, T3 should take 5 times as long, sitting at 30 to 45 weeks to finish all the base T3 technology. with it takes 2.5x longer to finish out all the specialty endgame tech and enhancements at 45 to 60 weeks.

So, this means -

T1 takes roughly 5 to 7 weeks to finish everything
T2 takes roughly 18 to 27 weeks to finish everything
T3 takes roughly 75 to 105 weeks to finish everything

Now, this is predicated on having at least 250-300 techs to research, minimum, as well as techs being tossed in here for new ways to play the game, new mechanics, new features etc.

People can still specialize heavily and reduce times to certain tech levels.

T1 ships vs T2, you are going to lose, but its much more manageable than T1 vs T3 off the bat. If I came into the game after 2 months, people would just be getting into T2 stuff, and I wouldn’t feel behind. IF I came in after 4 months, I know that people are playing T2, and I can catch up to T2, before they start pumping out T3 stuff. If I come in at 6 Months, I know that only the most hardcore players that specialize are at T3 (and maybe just a couple techs), and that before they can do much more, I can make it to T2.

This way of setting up the tech levels will increase the viability of larger servers and healthier servers for around 6 months, before you might start seeing a large player decline. This also extends long term servers play out for a couple years, which I think a lot of people are looking for.

Making it work:
To make this work, like I stated above, we are going to need a lot more technology, at least 4 times what we currently have. To make this work people have to feel like they are able to get a lot of technology fast, and slowly acclimate them to a slow down in how fast they gain new technology.

As it stands, if this server had started off with these things in mind, we would be right in the middle of Tier 2, and we would be having a lot more activity on the server.

Considering current population growth levels, economy, and how fast it takes to get to deep mines:

  • We need to dial back the prices of T1 ships by 25-50% of their current costs.
  • We need to make density matter for deep mines, keep deep mines how they currently work, but just on planets with a density for them, and then make it take longer to get to those mines than currently on the board.
  • We need to increase prices of current T2 ships to that of 1.5x the cost of T3 ships.
  • We need to increase the prices of T3 ships to that of about 5-7x their current prices.
  • We need to create a dodge, defense, and retreat mechanics to make battles last longer, and every battle doesn’t end in the entire suicide of one side.
  • We need an ability to mine asteroids, as well as planets from orbit.
  • The current Orbital Defense systems for homeworlds will need to be scaled down (maybe what the current medium version is, and having a 10%, 20%, and 40% versions implemented as tech).

These changes will allow specialist races/playstyles to really come into their own, it allows for an explosion of expansion during the early game, consolidation during the mid game, and heavily focused economy based late game (Since everything dramatically increases in price, after the initial load of resources saved from mid game are expended, things take a turn, and those that focused on farming to this point will really shine).

Limitations
To combat 2 problems that the game does suffer from, I recommend putting in tech that limits fleets and planets. This will help regulate game play towards the average time it takes to get to each plateau, it will help with too much expansion, it will help with people being able to play the game without pushing the servers/their computers past their limits, and it helps with coalition/alliance mechanics, as well as individuals getting too powerful (unless they are willing to specialize in expansion based technologies, then they won’t be as technologically advanced as others, but can have larger fleets and planets, potentially outnumbering someone, and having a better economy).

I would offer that everyone can expand to 10 systems without tech, as well as maintain 20 fleets. This will push people to make better decisions with how they want to expand, as well as fleet management. However to make this work too, a few changes will need to be met:

  • Scouts and Clippers don’t count towards the Fleet Total, they get a separate limit that is 1/4 that of the Fleet Total.
  • Minesweeper Module also confers a flagship level, allowing a Clipper to have have access to a small fleet. This helps with mine warfare, making it more interesting, and so that you can have multiple clippers in a single fleet sweeping mines faster, or able to transport smaller fleets through mines without dealing with damage (this also allows for smuggler like play styles).

I would offer 5 techs each:
15 systems, 20 systems, 30 systems, 50 systems, 100 systems
25 fleets, 40 fleets, 80 fleets, 128 fleets, 256 fleets

Limiting fleets doesn’t mean limiting ships being built, it means limiting ships deployed. You can have built 100 Valks sitting back at one of your planets, and can deploy them once you have had some ships destroyed. You are just limited to how many ships you can deploy on your screen at any given time.

With more technology, these limits in place, it means for a faster/fun early game (ships are super cheap, and you can mine astroids/fight pirates/missions), a longer mid game (ships are much more expensive, off setting the costs of tons of deepmines, you are limited by expansion, and fleets, and there is so much technology you have to slowly move through it all, or specialize within a coalition/alliance), and finally a robust end game (your economy is established, you have access to many more fleets/systems to expand to, you can be extremely specialized to the point that you are a major asset for a coalition/alliance, or well balanced).


Technology Tree Example, plus feedback
#2

I don’t know if the current tech tree is as small is it is so we could go through it this fast because the devs wanted us to test everything and report bugs, but I will mirror what Cheatle wrote.

While I am not keen too on waiting for tech to finish like in EVE for example, I am more keen on having to wait for tech because there is a lot more tech to go through. We could take a page from something like Stellaris on how this could work, there is a lot of tech there but a lot of it involves boosting your economy and existing tech.

Lets take Energy weapons for example. We start off with small weapons that any ship with the correct hardpoint can carry and we do a straight jump (currently) to medium weapons. How about instead of doing a straight jump we have a few techs in between that either boost the % of damage the weapon does, or improves the rate of fire, or consumption. You wouldn’t have to research everything in between small and medium energy to unlock the next level so we as the players would have to choose which tech line we want to go through first if we really want the medium weapons as soon as possible. This might also make combat a bit more interesting. Rather than picking the correct loadout to fight against a specific race, you would also have to take into consideration what kind of the tech the other player has. Maybe his weapons fire faster than yours, or maybe they pack a bigger punch. I can see this being a nightmare to balance, but in my opinion it is something worth considering.

The same thing could be done for the economic side of the tech tree. And once more, taking a page out of another game, why not have tech that improves the % of mined resources from a planet? (not deep, but surface mined). Or maybe a tech that would reduce the amount of happiness penatly inflicted on the pop with the detriment that you would get smaller yield per hour. Or maybe a tech that can increase how many home guard you can have on the planet, how well equipped they are, how good the defensive army is, so on and so forth. Just a few ideas.

I would also advocate for adding more ship types into the game, specialized ship types. Cheatle said in his post that we need the ability to mine asteroids or planets from orbit. I agree, but for that I’d suggest having specialized ships we need to research. Just like scouts however we could start with a level 1 tech asteroid miner that we could use at the start of the game, boosting our economy. However, for this to work right it would be best to have automatation introduced in the game, I think I saw a post about this somewhere about it and its need.


#3

TL;DR agree techs need to be more expensive and each tier needs vastly fleshing out… adding dodge and accuracy is vital (computational and thruster/stabilisation techs are the route for this maybe). Limitations should be like life, money is a general limiter… so upkeep penalties need to go up a lot in conjunction with distance penalties (slow expansion). Maybe empire upkeep, based on number of colonies owned and alleviated with techs base on logistics. Each tier adding a bonus…

Hopefully the roadmap will lay out how many tech levels we will have… hopefully its 10. Each tech level needs to be an order or two of magnitudes more difficult to achieve than the one before (I think this is what you mean since as time goes on people get more planets and can make many more research, and there for 3 times longer to get from t2 than t1 is not just 3 times longer per research but 10-20 times longer per item)

Also each branch of the tech tree needs to be balanced, so if your strategy is to go 50% military techs and creep up the rest then within that “rest” needs to have some gems in it that offset the military by allowing better mining techs or defensive techs.

Some games have defined boundaries for each tier, we should do that also, so if you have not done 80% of a tier you cant progress to the tier above… I stands to reason that technology cant progress in one field wihout supporting tech in other fields… for instance without computing advances should you be able to have accurage weapons. Or at least without getting 80% done you get a 30% premium on all techs in the tier above and if you progress through 2 tiers above that 30% stacks so 60% premium for 2 tiers above… and 240% for 8 tiers…

I dont disagree however I would like to see a diminishing return also where when you get 40% “coverage” for the first one and then the second one gives you 40%/2(squared) so 50% and 2 gives 40/2(cubed) so 55% coverage… so you never get close to high levels but you do get additional “coverage”… where coverage is the chance to shoot down a dropship. Currently they dont add for each one, so this makes sense to drop the coverage all the way down to 40% max but allow each one to add something to the total… Though I would like it to go much further and add tech for 10 levels of dropship… or even end tech to beam troops down for minimal losses…

I would prefer two approaches…

Fleet upkeep based on distance from a shipyard or intergalacti starbase as well as costing way more (some ratio of farsu spent to make the ship)

See the sections I added on that, I even wrote the code they can adapt to implement that.

The second is a similar limitation on colonies… but no hard limit, just a penalty for managing a number of planets.

Each tier gives 25 planets with no upkeep… each planet thereafter pays 80% of their credits to the empire management fund. So most earning 25 planets get no penalty but everything after is at 80% penalty… so should be tough going… As each tech tier is completed 100% then player gains 25 more planets… this promotes players to complete a tech tier and not go hell for leather after T10 singularity missiles…

Currently a planet can generate around 6000 credits… if that can only support 10 battleships and 20 frigates then we are kind of imposing a ship limit… as long as credits can only ever be generated by planets…

Side thought…

I would like to be able to set upto 3 techs with a percentage to you can do tech 1 with 50% focus and 2 more techs not in the same line at 25%… a more holistic approach…


#4

I disagree with hard limits. @DeicidE is right that the way to limit fleets is via costs of upkeep and distance (I’d even prefer we had to run upkeep by manually routing maintenance supplies and workers to wayward fleets).

To help new arrivals and reset players compete, perhaps it’d be ideal to apply a discount on research based upon how popular that tech is on the server. If the cosmos are loaded with players who’ve researched KatSpamBeam 7:9 then those who are new to researching it will likely already know something about it. If you’re the first player to research BigRedButton there’s no discount.


#5

I like the concept of logistics. That has a potential to really make deploying fleets and being a bully very costly.


#6

@DeicidE I have to 100% disagree with upkeep be the limitation here. It completely screws up the ability to actually help allies. If I have a guy that is X distance away, I might have to trash half my fleet just to help him with a few ships, I don’t find this realistic at all, or fun, or even within the confines of this being a war game and having wars that are mostly going to be far away.

However, your idea about Tiers and planets sounds like it could be an alternative.

I also like how you would have to complete a certain % of research points in each Tier to move on to anything in the next tier. However I am not so sure we are going to get 10 tiers, I am actually not so sure is feasible either.


#7

@SlayMoreDragons again, for the reasons posted above, I can’t agree with upkeep based on distance being a limitation.

I however do agree with the longer we continue the cheaper the research gets for the lowest level Tiers as a way to catch up, in fact I really like that.


#8

I agree that the tech tree can be done too quickly, hope they expand on the tech tree by making future tech longer which therefore would require more labs if you want it done quicker.
What I’d say is we expand the tech tree with more stuff to do, which is longer to research, so right now the longest thing with 10 labs is 30 days, so if you maintain those 10 labs for future research (like my 5x Laser Tech linked here: 5x Laser Technology Research Ideas), to the research tree, you can expect at least 16 months to do all 5 of what I suggest whilst maintaining 10 labs.


#9

Allies shipyards would count as your own would be my thinking… not sure what it was established what 1 hour is in game time but if its a month then a ship would need some level of upkeep, replenish food/components etc which cost more the further you have to travel (from a shipyard) to the fleet to upkeep it…

EDIT: potentially just higher fleet upkeep could be enough… to support fleet penalty at range I would allow hulk/titans to be an effective shipyard point so you can project power into a region, similar to aircraft carriers do now in modern military.


#10

We found based on growth rates, and a couple other facts that its around 4-6 months per hour.

That is based on current technological standards.

We will have much better CO2 filters and Oxygen production on ships, better waste/recycle mechanism, etc. Also currently, carrier/frigates have the ability to sustain themselves (when nuclear powered) with waste systems, air filtration, and basic operations for 15-20 years without resupply. The two main factors for today’s technology is food and jet fuel, which is about 70-90 days for food, and 1-2 weeks on fuel (though we can meet up with tankers)

I think have upkeep heavily increase the further out you get just doesn’t make too much since, especially at those technology levels.

I think the limitation should be applied else where. Also, with the current population decrease, credits are already becoming an issue in generation, and with adding something like this in, well it will make it that much harder on people to explore/expand/help others.

Also, take into consideration that with your idea, and the limitations put on planets specifically (not systems like I was suggesting), that you would have to leap frog covering larger areas and building shipyards to operate. I don’t this this is practical.


#11

Yeah agreed credits is huge pinch point… pop growth is now slowed massively in real terms IMO and so by extension is credits… I think we’re very distorted in the current galaxy… From what I achieved at in Alpha 2 prior to reset, Its exceptionally difficult to follow that progress even with the extra I’ve learnt over the last 5 months… New galaxy is needed IMO so that views are more realistic…


#12

Yes, setting out mobile and extended supply depots works well. These themselves would need supplied.

@Cheatle the upkeep soft limit is exactly what we need for the very reasons you seem opposed. If you want a turtled defensive fleet you can ride your limit of resource production/accrual (note here’s where it’s good to know a farmer, aye?) If you want a fleet extended out for aggressive actions you’d better work out your logistics to arrange it whether this limits your fleet or forces you to find, steal, trade, borrow, or have stockpiled the resources to boost your limit.

Don’t set a glass wall in front of us that says no matter how great our resources we can’t launch eleven fleets because we have only the tech to launch ten. No. It’s great to add techs that adjust the upkeep costs up or down or implement mechanics to sabotage or reroute a supply chain, but don’t throw a glass wall in the name of fairness. Install soft limits through sensible mechanics that encourage coordinated innovation.


#13

Also, the increased expense supposes there’s an imaginary supply line funded. I’m cool with dropping the additional expense if we have supply ships actually running the maintenance supplies. These would be automated but destructable 8)


#14

@SlayMoreDragons honestly, if we had to do supply lines, I would probably not play the game. I don’t want to have to micro manage each individual ship like it needed resources.

I understand your point about not wanting artificial walls, but they are much better when designing around coding limitations, which is what i was focusing on. If they know that they can have 2000-3000 fleets on your screen at once and that is the limit, then they can balance other long term features around that.

Also, again, if its going to be a soft limit based on interactive mechanics, it doesn’t need to be credits, or something that requires more micromanagement.


#15

Range based upkeep would be difficult for a player to easily work out why they are suddenly in credits deficit. Adding to micro management isn’t making it better.

A warning when colonising your n plus 1 planet detailing the empire tax should be sufficient warning.

Keep it simple is my preference for sure


#16

I think having too many research things would be overwhelming and really discouraging. People will be like, “I’ll never get that…” But like you said there people will not see the t2 tech tree until the t1 is done. But if you’re saying we will have to wait that long to get even the t1 tech tree done, then they need to make things balanced. Let’s say having a t1 ship will let you have a 5-8 ship fleet, because no one wants to be stuck with like a 3-5 ship fleet for months. It would just let people see the cool in things. And weapons and ships need to be better. Im not talking 200 health 100 shields, 7 dps. No they need to be alot better and capable of defending their stuff. Right now a mankind fleet of 4 t1 frigates and a t1 destroyer is just a joke. Anyone could beat it, easily. But syntis is pretty good right now having their t1 fleets pretty decent. But I mean mankind and ripchee t1 ships need to alot stronger if you’re saying we will have to wait that long for t2 stuff. It just needs to be balanced. And I trust they will do it right.


#17

I wouldnt have a problem if all hulls or at least all we see now are available in the same timeframe as now. I get the discouragement problem.

However I would then expect a battleship to have several more versions whereby the hull is increased 20% each time, or slot numbers increase… Weapons to get cheaper or more destructive… you could always refine a technology.

I would also not show them everything… only whats next in the tree… its not possible to predict what techs we will have…

Each race should be balanced as much as possible while being very different. Not all races will be strong militarily in the first part of the game but might have resource efficiencies that means they can churn out more ships… Players game style will decide their race, or the role they want to play in an alliance, not everyone will be attackers… some may never kill a ship but will still be vital to the alliance…


#18

Tonight I should be able to type up a more agreeable set of supply mechanics. We’re derailing your thread 8P

I’ll illustrate how hard limits turn us from beyond dark to another level grind and I’ll explain how this level grind encourages unwanted behaviors in our greatest players.


#19

It has been proven that more technology is a good thing, worlds over, by at least 10 major MMOs. Technology = the carrot for everyone, no matter your play style.


#20

I already understand that, however we are working within the confines of technology limiting some of the mechanics in the game. I am saying that certain mechanics might be simpler and easier in the long run to implement, regardless of the behavior it creates.