Alpha Centauri 2

Other Games => Civilization Beyond Earth General Discussions => Topic started by: MercantileInterest on February 23, 2015, 08:12:40 PM

Title: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: MercantileInterest on February 23, 2015, 08:12:40 PM
Quite a lot of us looked forward to Beyond Earth as an Alpha Centauri II but, apparently, it's not. I haven't bought a new 4x Firaxis game since Civ III but I still play old AC every now and then. (Am currently involved in a six player multiplayer game. The Hive is amassing a few troops on our border. Hopefully, they come in peace.) What follows is a sketch on how to mod Beyond Earth into version of Alpha Centauri that extends the original gameplay and retains the character.

I. The Map

This shouldn't need that much change. The graphics already depict an alien planet. After adding fungus and tinting the palette reddish-brown, everything will look perfect. The map won't have elevations but we can tolerate that. The hexes are gorgeous too.

II. Units and Combat

From the look of it, BE has this down ace: one unit per hex and actual battlefield tactics. All the units already come in sci-fi flavors - no need to make new models other than mind worms.

III. Factions

Include all the original fourteen factions, with the possibility of using them all in a single game. Every AC player has longed to wipe out all thirteen of his competitors. Give each faction distinct positives and negatives so everyone not only has a unique play style but also natural friends and enemies.

Set the Planet Cult and the Data Angels as city states rather than full out factions. Add a few new city states to such as the factions from the Smaniac mod. Give the Consciousness and Free Drones a late start. Set the Progenitor rules to reflect their alien traits. (For example, they could have semi-random population booms about every 50 years instead of normal steady growth).

Note: The (presumably) advanced AI of BE is one of the big justifications to make this mod. Can't stand how the original AC AI has no concept of how to wage war.

IV. Game Mechanics

Nothing to note here. Health, orbital layer and terraforming all look good. Use them as are.

Only worry is the quest system. Is it any good at all? Looks rather silly.

V. Social Engineering

This is the hard part. The virtue system doesn't look so thrilling. Will chairman Lal really get upset over someone's use of frontier survivalism? Would very much enjoy a system that opens up all the possibilities of politics, social systems, ecologies and economies.

We could have choose between a militaristic culture, a conservative family based structure or a civilization that fabricates people like the state in Brave New World. In the same way, we could choose between an egalitarian democracy, an oppressive police state or a highly stable feudal system. Imagine this as a hybrid between the BE's virtues and Civ5's civics. Suppose the player chooses a militaristic culture. Afterwards, he can select accompanying perks (or policies) to further customize his society. For example, the military officers could have direct control over day-to-day decisions or civilian officials could handle some matters. The Brave New World could start by factory producing children but later choose the perk which allows direct manufacture of adults, thereby saving resources.

However, the player could switch systems. If CEO Morgan changes from a Militaristic to a Conservative society, he transfers all his perks. Naturally, this comes at a cost. Such a system would allow us to build any future we want with greater detail than ever before.

VI. Religion

Religion would operate differently than previous Civ games. Various denominations would naturally crop up and influence citizens without any player choice. In great enough numbers, the religious portions of the population would oppose or support wars, slow or speed the transition to other forms of government or even secede with their bases. Similar religious groups also facilitate trade. Religious influence would spread in a manner similar to culture.

Players would interact with religion through social engineering perks. Options would include establishing a denomination as state church, encouraging missionaries, minor accommodations,  restricting religious expression to home life or attempting to ban it all together. Obviously, none of these measure will result in total uniformity. They will only encourage or discourage.

In the future, I suspect all religions will be forms of Christianity because of its focus on conversion. Islam and Hinduism only increase by population growth (sweeping generalization but generally true). This doesn't mean all the denominations will be orthodox traditional Christianity. Outfielders like LDS (Mormons) are a possibility. While denominations do have their differences, we'd never be able to agree on what they are. So, I suggest a single small positive bonus for each one, achieved in a base if converts reach higher than 50% of the population. The motive for discouraging religion would be to curb the random events it generates.

The Denominations would be Reformed, Pentecostal, Apostolic, Syncretistic and the Planet Cult. Google the first two if not already familiar. Apostolic would be an Anglican-Catholic church with a rigid top-down structure. Syncretistic beliefs alter Christian monotheism to a pagan pantheon. The Planet Cult isn't related to Christianity (despite the earlier statement) but the extraordinary circumstances of colonization could allow its formation.

The Denominations would not become noticeable (in game terms, although we know they've been there all along) until fifty or so turns after planetfall. The Believers are the exception.

VII. Victory

The later turns of the game should turn into an all out war with planet as the mind worms rise. It's not Alpha Centauri without transcendence but wouldn't it be great to also have the option to terraform the entire planet? To walk, without a rebreather, under a sun that is no longer alien? All fungus must be purged!

We need diplomatic and economic victory as well, if at all possible. Always wanted to build a spaceship and return to earth. We could also use an option to spread your religion to a certain percentage of the global populace and a technological singularity victory condition (mechanical intelligence replaces humanity). Finally, we retain the privilege of crushing all who oppose us.

VIII. Sea Cities

Right, must have sea cities and the ability to terraform the oceans. Love the Pirates, but its a bit of a stretch they'd start with the ability to build on the water. Is there a way to guarantee they start on an island?

Haven't any ability to mod myself but hopefully you all like the sound of these ideas. We would all love to play Alpha Centauri with improved graphics and programming, along with the best concepts from the later Civ games. The Planetfall mod looks good but so do many improvements in Civ5 and BE. (Must have hexes.)

Have fun, everybody.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: BlaneckW on February 23, 2015, 08:23:20 PM
You agree with one unit per hex?  It isn't a malus on the ability of the AI?

Regarding the expansions factions, even from the perspective of the SMAX I think they would have to be reworked.  They weren't made by the same team as the original and I don't care about them as much, but that aside, I don't think they are as playable versus the originals, the exception maybe being the Svensgard option (mostly because they aren't retarded). 

The Cybernetics actually have a growth malus, and I don't think the research makes up for it.  But then, after having tried them I would never play them, so you can all do what you like, and I can just set my factions to ones that aren't push-overs.  I would personally just have made socialism and cybernetics their own expanded customization options (like Moo2 or something), but people are attached even to the expansion's characters, and there's always more modding.

Religion
Totalitarian factions like Hive, and maybe to a lesser extent Santiago, would not be subject to religious movements unless they liberalized or Hive decided there was some advantage in propagating some particular doctrine other than Legalism.  The Party today is talking about trying to develop a universalistic spiritual philosophy, and spirituality has always been integral to Chinese and Asian culture - and this was reflected in their interpretations of Communism.  Though Yang might be atheist, I imagine the Hive does have some particular spiritual function since the RPG read that it's people do meditation as one activity, and I don't really consider atheist states a viable option given most peoples have some degree of spirituality anyway.  I guess Santiago's survivalist might be Christian to begin with, though.  Survivalists often are. 

I don't know your background in history or religions, but in my opinion Buddhism is more viable than you seem to think.  It spread to the middle-east to Europe multiple times, and effected religions.  China, Indochina and Indonessia essentially incorporated Buddhism.  Buddhism has effectively had internationalist organizations throughout history.  The Middle East might be plenty Buddhist today, except that the Mongols in the middle-east adopted Islam to cut themselves off from the Yuan, and the Sufis filled in.  And Sufism, with it's value in dance and poetry, and incorporation of meditation, might become more viable as fear of the middle-east dies down.  I can also imagine the development of a meditative Christianity.

Secondly, you are right that this accounts only for modern religious conceptions.  Remember that Christianity itself is essentially a syncretic religion.  The same is true for Buddhism and Hinduism (it can be argued that some Hindu movements are also becoming more universalist and developing as an alternative religion, but more slowly.)  Zen is a syncretic religion(probably won't become popular).  If you look far enough into the future, I see many strange options.  But then, I'm not even that familiar with Buddhism.  Regarding Pagan Christianity, this exists already in the form of Zoroastrianism.  So if nothing else, you can have a Christian denomination incorporating the Zoroastrian tradition.  This seems plausible to me.  And Mahayana already incorporates Paganism.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: BlaneckW on February 23, 2015, 09:00:36 PM
You should watch the original Solaris.  It's one of the things that inspired the fungus, along with some other book series.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 23, 2015, 09:27:45 PM
Malus?
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: MercantileInterest on February 23, 2015, 10:18:50 PM
When you look above, you'll notice that I haven't actually played a modern civ game. One unit per hex sounds good from a tactical and management perspective but I can't tell you how well it actually works.

You're quite right that the Crossfire factions need modification. I currently use the Smaniac mod but in any case, the rules could change quite a lot, judging by the faction mods for BE that have already arrived.

As for religion, it's important not to get sidetracked because no one will agree on exactly how it works. It would work well as an independent game mechanic that can be dealt with not dictated, as outlined above.

Totalitarian nations on earth still have religion. Christianity survived in the Soviet Union, it does quite well in China and refuses to disappear in North Korea despite all the efforts of the larded dictator. State repression decreases religion but it doesn't eradicate it, which could make for an interesting game choice.

The majority of Buddhists simply use it as an expansion on existing polytheism. There aren't that many actual 'high' Buddhists. It has always been an elite religion. Without a widespread polytheistic base, it's unlikely to occur in any significant numbers.

You sure about many strange religious options in the future? Religion has an innate tendency to reform and return to its simpler roots. Look at the Protestant Reformation. The wildest cults today aren't crazier than those of the past.

Again, want to emphasize that we're not all going to agree on exactly how it works but we could agree that religion could be represented by independent growth that can be dealt with but not entirely controlled by player fiat. Also, we have good reason to keep to more common historically recurring denominations. Most everyone here agrees that the original historically grounded SMAC factions are more plausible than the far out zany SMAX set.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: BlaneckW on February 23, 2015, 10:53:05 PM
When you look above, you'll notice that I haven't actually played a modern civ game. One unit per hex sounds good from a tactical and management perspective but I can't tell you how well it actually works.
I'm given to understand that the AI is not able to use it very effectively.

You're quite right that the Crossfire factions need modification. I currently use the Smaniac mod but in any case, the rules could change quite a lot, judging by the faction mods for BE that have already arrived.
If you give the cybernetics a growth malus, they'll suck.  Similarly, a covert operations bonus just isn't significant.

As for religion, it's important not to get sidetracked because no one will agree on exactly how it works. It would work well as an independent game mechanic that can be dealt with not dictated, as outlined above.
I would agree with you, except that if you want to go there, it's a major part of the sci-fi genre.  And ideally, in the end, it shouldn't be done the way it's been done before, but in the same depth as the rest of SMAC's philosophical considerations.  But I agree that it shouldn't be your primary consideration as a game developer.

Totalitarian nations on earth still have religion. Christianity survived in the Soviet Union, it does quite well in China and refuses to disappear in North Korea despite all the efforts of the larded dictator. State repression decreases religion but it doesn't eradicate it, which could make for an interesting game choice.
You misunderstand.  I simply suggested that they wouldn't have the same problems.  The Hive isn't going to have cult outbreaks except in remote areas under poor conditions, or if the whole faction is experiencing problems.  Just consider it an additional control modifier.  Though I guess other factions might have means of accomplishing the same, if they aren't liberty-obsessed.  You'd also be better off comparing Hive with Ch'in, except regarding it's planned economy.

The majority of Buddhists simply use it as an expansion on existing polytheism. There aren't that many actual 'high' Buddhists. It has always been an elite religion. Without a widespread polytheistic base, it's unlikely to occur in any significant numbers.
The latter might be true on Earth, but I can tell you that it isn't for lack of trying on the part of the Lamas.  They're here, in the United States, trying to establish a base to continue the tradition.  Admittedly, some of the people they're training right now aren't much good at it, but there's a few larger centres right here in Albuquerque.  The less esoteric of them are just a "get rid of your suffering with meditation" for the masses.

You sure about many strange religious options in the future? Religion has an innate tendency to reform and return to its simpler roots. Look at the Protestant Reformation. The wildest cults today aren't crazier than those of the past.
Does Protestant really mean anything these days?  My point was that religion, at it's roots, is syncretic.  Zen-Sufism isn't as far off as you may think.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 23, 2015, 10:55:40 PM
Oh.  Malus is the opposite of bonus.  I finally got it.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Yitzi on February 24, 2015, 03:31:16 AM
III. Factions

IV. Game Mechanics

Nothing to note here. Health, orbital layer and terraforming all look good. Use them as are.

Only worry is the quest system. Is it any good at all? Looks rather silly.

The quest system, as a fundamental system, could actually contribute substantially to SMAC, but it would need a serious rework in terms of both the actual content (including a lot of faction-specific content; the difficult choices for  ;yang; and the difficult choices for   ;deidre; are extremely different, and the effects need to reflect that) and the way it's presented (minor quests can use just dialog boxes, but major ones should come with movies.)

Quote
V. Social Engineering

This is the hard part. The virtue system doesn't look so thrilling. Will chairman Lal really get upset over someone's use of frontier survivalism? Would very much enjoy a system that opens up all the possibilities of politics, social systems, ecologies and economies.

We could have choose between a militaristic culture, a conservative family based structure or a civilization that fabricates people like the state in Brave New World. In the same way, we could choose between an egalitarian democracy, an oppressive police state or a highly stable feudal system. Imagine this as a hybrid between the BE's virtues and Civ5's civics. Suppose the player chooses a militaristic culture. Afterwards, he can select accompanying perks (or policies) to further customize his society. For example, the military officers could have direct control over day-to-day decisions or civilian officials could handle some matters. The Brave New World could start by factory producing children but later choose the perk which allows direct manufacture of adults, thereby saving resources.

However, the player could switch systems. If CEO Morgan changes from a Militaristic to a Conservative society, he transfers all his perks. Naturally, this comes at a cost. Such a system would allow us to build any future we want with greater detail than ever before.

The virtue system does not fit SMAC at all, unless it's made faction-specific.  If that cannot be dealt with in some manner, the project is dead in the water.

Quote
VI. Religion

Religion would operate differently than previous Civ games. Various denominations would naturally crop up and influence citizens without any player choice. In great enough numbers, the religious portions of the population would oppose or support wars, slow or speed the transition to other forms of government or even secede with their bases. Similar religious groups also facilitate trade. Religious influence would spread in a manner similar to culture.

Players would interact with religion through social engineering perks. Options would include establishing a denomination as state church, encouraging missionaries, minor accommodations,  restricting religious expression to home life or attempting to ban it all together. Obviously, none of these measure will result in total uniformity. They will only encourage or discourage.

In the future, I suspect all religions will be forms of Christianity because of its focus on conversion. Islam and Hinduism only increase by population growth (sweeping generalization but generally true). This doesn't mean all the denominations will be orthodox traditional Christianity. Outfielders like LDS (Mormons) are a possibility. While denominations do have their differences, we'd never be able to agree on what they are. So, I suggest a single small positive bonus for each one, achieved in a base if converts reach higher than 50% of the population. The motive for discouraging religion would be to curb the random events it generates.

The Denominations would be Reformed, Pentecostal, Apostolic, Syncretistic and the Planet Cult. Google the first two if not already familiar. Apostolic would be an Anglican-Catholic church with a rigid top-down structure. Syncretistic beliefs alter Christian monotheism to a pagan pantheon. The Planet Cult isn't related to Christianity (despite the earlier statement) but the extraordinary circumstances of colonization could allow its formation.

The Denominations would not become noticeable (in game terms, although we know they've been there all along) until fifty or so turns after planetfall. The Believers are the exception.

Rather than religion, why not use the percentage of people who subscribe to another faction's ideology?

Quote
VII. Victory

The later turns of the game should turn into an all out war with planet as the mind worms rise. It's not Alpha Centauri without transcendence but wouldn't it be great to also have the option to terraform the entire planet? To walk, without a rebreather, under a sun that is no longer alien? All fungus must be purged!

I think adding such an option is definitely beneficial...however, even in terms of Transcendence, it needs to be a proper SMAC-style Transcendence with an impressive movie and epilogue, not just a small dialog box about a gradual change.

There's also the "tech web" concept; while interesting, I don't think it would work well with SMAC's overall themes.  And affinities would have to be completely reworked.

I think the changes needed would be so big that "design a worthy SMAC successor from the ground up" might be a more viable project, provided we can find quality writers/videomakers.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 24, 2015, 03:33:14 AM
I don't think writing would be a problem at all.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Yitzi on February 24, 2015, 03:44:50 AM
I don't think writing would be a problem at all.

Well, that's good to hear, as I'm fairly sure we've got the necessary programming and game-design skills available here...

Still, it's probably on the list behind a SMAC RPG*, which is probably behind the decompilation project, which is currently waiting on either hearing from Scient or giving up and going on without him.  (Of course, I'm willing to follow the general opinion of the board regarding these priorities.)

*Which is a particularly interesting challenge to design, as naturally a mixed-faction party will be more effective due to specialization, but of course SMAC's focus on ideology means that such a faction will need some way to handle/model intraparty ideological conflict...
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Buster's Uncle on February 24, 2015, 03:48:02 AM
Mylochka is a Poser artist who knows a lot of Poser artists, so some CGI might be possible, too...
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Flux on February 24, 2015, 01:26:22 PM
As for religion, it's important not to get sidetracked because no one will agree on exactly how it works. It would work well as an independent game mechanic that can be dealt with not dictated, as outlined above.

Totalitarian nations on earth still have religion. Christianity survived in the Soviet Union, it does quite well in China and refuses to disappear in North Korea despite all the efforts of the larded dictator. State repression decreases religion but it doesn't eradicate it, which could make for an interesting game choice.
"Even in our dark times, God is still there."
As you've found its impossible to break true Christians. Probably why they just kill us in some places.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Yitzi on February 24, 2015, 02:54:02 PM
As for religion, it's important not to get sidetracked because no one will agree on exactly how it works. It would work well as an independent game mechanic that can be dealt with not dictated, as outlined above.

Totalitarian nations on earth still have religion. Christianity survived in the Soviet Union, it does quite well in China and refuses to disappear in North Korea despite all the efforts of the larded dictator. State repression decreases religion but it doesn't eradicate it, which could make for an interesting game choice.
"Even in our dark times, God is still there."
As you've found its impossible to break true Christians. Probably why they just kill us in some places.

Which also tends not to work that well, with the martyrdom phenomenon and so on.

Pretty much the only thing that can truly end a religion is another religion...and even then it usually takes multiple generations.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: BlaneckW on February 24, 2015, 03:19:10 PM
Rather than religion, why not use the percentage of people who subscribe to another faction's ideology?
I agree with you on a greater ideological consideration for gameplay if a mod got far enough along in development.

There's also the "tech web" concept; while interesting, I don't think it would work well with SMAC's overall themes.  And affinities would have to be completely reworked.
I consider the original's tech tree integral to the game, in terms of it's balance or perfection, and I would agree with trying to create a tree closer to the original, though that doesn't mean it couldn't be developed at some point see to if anything couldn't be added or better off modified. 

Pretty much the only thing that can truly end a religion is another religion...and even then it usually takes multiple generations.
They say that even Islam incorporated more Zoroastrianism than it set out to.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: lilgamefreek on March 03, 2015, 09:12:56 PM
Would it be wrong if I plugged my ongoing modding effort here?

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=366626684 (http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=366626684)

I've been browsing this community as a guest for a while, for the purposes of research. I saw this topic and thought I'd make an account and maybe gather actual opinions from it. I'm focusing on the human factions for now.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Buster's Uncle on March 03, 2015, 09:39:55 PM
I love your avatar - did you make that?
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: lilgamefreek on March 03, 2015, 10:05:56 PM
Yup! I was trying to design something that evoked a mission patch for the Unity Mission. The patch for STS-131 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STS-131) ended up being a fantastic sample. I needed the logo for the civilopedia pages that come with my mod. This community was a big source of help in designing a matching leaderhead for John Garland as well!
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: BlaneckW on March 04, 2015, 03:06:11 AM
Do you have a page with a more in-depth accounting of the in-game design?

Also, consider changing Hive ideology to Legalism as per the GURPS RPG detail (unless this is made a civic or given homage elsewhere).  And to help advance my conspiracy to advance education and sinolize politics.  Of course, I guess asceticism might be more descriptive for some people. 
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: lilgamefreek on March 04, 2015, 04:17:28 AM
You can click on the images to go to pages with more info on individual factions! I'm considering changing the names on most of the -isms. They started as a thing that I ended up not sticking with and I feel they could be given more character with more descriptive titles.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: BlaneckW on March 04, 2015, 07:00:24 AM
OK, so no changes yet other than factions.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: lilgamefreek on March 04, 2015, 11:11:49 AM
Just the human factions for now. My core interest in Alpha Centauri has always been the social commentary tied into the game's systems. Most of this was driven by the diverse cast and abilities of the original factions. I figured it would be good to start where my interests lie and play be ear from there. I can't promise I'm planning a total conversion. Once I'm done with the factions, next would probably be the social engineering system.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Geo on March 04, 2015, 02:55:29 PM
You should link your steam workshop page in your signature here. :)
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: lilgamefreek on March 05, 2015, 03:35:00 AM
No one else really seems to put things in their signature. I always try not to stick out too much when I'm somewhere new.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Buster's Uncle on March 05, 2015, 03:45:53 AM
He's right; go ahead and link your steam workshop. ;nod
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: MercantileInterest on March 05, 2015, 08:46:57 PM
One of the main benefits of modding from Beyond Earth is that the technology, units and infrastructure would not need much alteration. It's already a science fiction setting. Factions and social engineering would be the first concern. Lilgamefreek's custom factions look like they capture the AC gameplay styles quite well.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: MercantileInterest on March 05, 2015, 08:51:35 PM
Doubt this is at all easy, but any chance of setting up sea bases? See you've done the Nautilus Pirates.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Geo on March 05, 2015, 09:37:09 PM
Looks like lilgamefreak already answered that one on his steampage: something along the lines sea cities should be a stand alone mod first before anything else is build/added around this core.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: lilgamefreek on March 05, 2015, 09:41:56 PM
Yes, though to answer the question here more directly, I think it's certainly possible. There is an existing Civ5 mod that adds sea colonies and from my experience modding BE is not significantly different. It is something I might tackle once I'm done with the factions and social engineering system. I'm planning to save any special interaction between the systems until then.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: lilgamefreek on April 14, 2015, 08:41:51 PM
Hey everyone. I've been slowly working at a couple of things over the past month and am excited to share and get feedback on what I've been doing!

In terms of releases, all of the human factions from SMAC and SMAX are out and playable. You can check them out here: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=366626684 (http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=366626684)

Alongside that, I have an Ocean City mod that I had mostly developed alongside the Pirates but chose to polish and release separately:
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=417114784 (http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=417114784)

But what I'm most excited about is Social Engineering, which I've been grinding out the UI and code for a couple weeks at this point. It's still very early (nearly an entirely blank slate), but I'm just starting to flesh out the gameplay and am really looking for feedback and ideas on it!

Here's the current look of the screen:
(http://i.imgur.com/zrvXiSb.png)

All art assets are temporary, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't share your ideas and opinions. The big changes to note are that the depth-kickers (the bonuses you earn for investing heavily in a tree) are being changed to "shortcomings" and I've changed some of the names of the choices based on feedback. I've renamed Democratic to Pluralist, Power to Dominance, and Knowledge to Progress.

(http://i.imgur.com/dyY0g3n.png)

As you can see here, player's can still select virtues in competing trees with an appropriate warning in the tooltip. The AI currently obeys these exclusions, but since it cannot intelligently switch between them, it is forbidden to do so.

(http://i.imgur.com/gTugIni.png)

Popup when the player tries to switch trees. Largely adapted from Civ5 though I have a large amount of control to change it. When the player selects yes, they lose all the policies in the competing tree but don't earn any free ones. I'm getting a weird bug where, when I give the player many free policies, only 1 of those policies will increase the culture cost of the next virtue, affording the player a strange "double-jeapordy" scenario. I am still investigating a fix as well as exploring alternatives such as designing the system and its virtues so that it might be worth it for player's to give up 4-5 virtues to switch a tree.

(http://i.imgur.com/8pN2fAs.png)

Finally, the aversion system is in play. Leaders with an aversion cannot select virtues from that tree, both player and AI. The vanilla sponsors each have an in-character aversion to a particular social choice. The system is extendable to modded-sponsors as well. Sponsors can have no or even multiple aversions. The AI will not select virtues from their aversion. I am currently at an impasse for having aversions and its partner preference system affect diplomacy and opinions, and have been exploring whether there are any dummied out civ5 diplo modifiers to be taken advantage of.

Because I've reached a block on the diplomacy modifiers and have otherwise accomplished everything else, I'm starting to flesh out each tree and it's playstyle. Here are my current guiding thoughts for each category and each tree that I am using as a guiding theme as I figure out the virtues.

Politics helps manage the will of your citizens and cities.

Economics develops your state’s resources, infrastructure, and economy.

Values guide the heart of your people, determining where their priorities lie.

Diplomacy informs your interactions with the rest of the world.

Your thoughts on the usefulness, appropriateness, and accuracy of any of these is super appreciated as always!
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: BlaneckW on April 14, 2015, 10:22:02 PM
I appreciate the work, but why work within the context of monolithic sets?  China doesn't use a pure planned economy or pure free-market, and a closer examination of Miriam reveals a pluralism within the context of the Theocracy itself.  The "web" idea really should have been applied more to civics than technology.  One could meander farther than that into more detailed ideological questions than simply systemic representations, but that seems fairly basic.  Of course I suppose it's ultimately question of stats.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: BlaneckW on April 14, 2015, 10:48:53 PM
The Values section in general is flawed.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: lilgamefreek on April 15, 2015, 12:41:26 AM
Sticking with "policy trees" is simply because that is what the game system currently supports. The AI is designed to work with branching virtue trees. While Civilizations is quite flexible with customizing these systems and I could get really creative with things, if the AI can't intelligently make decisions, all the mod does is turn the game into a building set like legos. It's why I don't allow the AI the option to switch trees and I decided to forgo things like research or affinity requirements for the different virtues, because the AI can't make effective decisions around those.

The trees are mutually exclusive because Social Engineering has always been about having players make interesting decisions, including the decision to change their mind. Believe me when I say I would like the ability to "hybridize" the choices, but I was at a loss on how to do so while keeping the "dominant" choice meaningful, allowing players to switch their dominant choice at some expense, and communicating all of these mechanics to the player. The other goal was to have players spread their virtues out among the categories so that they wouldn't focus only on politics or only on economics.

Taking my current designs for politics as an example, as it is probably the category I am most confident about in gameplay design. Players through out the game have their choice of three trees:
In a perfect world the player would get all three, but they have to choose which is most beneficial to them and adapt their strategies for the others. It is not my intention to allow players to be able to have it all and the situation I want to avoid is players grabbing pluralism, growing big, but not having to deal with the consequences of growing big by also having Police State and being rewarded extra for it by additionally having Fundamentalism. Players can choose to switch if the situation suits them, but they'll need to forfeit long standing bonuses they've invested in to do it. It is not the most realistic system, but it is more realistic than a player winning the game with 90% virtues invested in politics and 10% virtues everywhere else.

Ideally I wouldn't force players into a route like this to overcome such a problem. It's why I even allow player's to fully invest in one tree freely without making them put virtues into others, just like the original game. However, it's been a tough nut to crack on how to allow for hybrid choices while still encouraging players into putting their virtues across the 4 categories.

As for the values section, if you're saying it's flawed from a thematic stance, then I somewhat agree. I always felt they were the weakest social engineering category in SMAC with regards to social commentary, but their role in the game was important as they touched parts of the game where it wouldn't make sense for the other choices to touch. The renames came from feedback saying that the values should be changed to cover a larger domain as the choices of power/knowledge/wealth felt arbitrary. I went with what I felt are desires often seen in society: the need to acquire more wealth for oneself; the need to create, innovate, and help others; and the need to be better than those around you. Choosing a value is not forcing your citizenry to fall into it in the same way choosing knowledge in SMAC doesn't turn your entire population into nerdy scientists and choosing wealth doesn't turn them into greedy scrooges. It's social engineering, which means your government is attempting to artfully build a social climate to suit its needs within the natural laws and restrictions of social behavior.

If you're saying it's flawed from a gameplay perspective, then I'd love you to clarify. The gameplay is not something I'm set on and confident about yet and would love to collect feedback on it before it all gets set in stone.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: BlaneckW on April 15, 2015, 01:40:29 AM
Ok, I don't really consider it necessary too... innovate on the fact of policy trees themselves.  It's less important. 

You seem to have some consideration for the depth of the system, with an emphasis of it's importance in effecting playstyle.  I suppose any internal subsystem of political/economic hybridization or other considerations would be a feature having less effect on gameplay, the question being whether such an addition might eventually be meaningful or just remain an excess.  But that's a question of the engine, not your fault.

I could also question involving the quest system for this and/or politics in general, but I am not given to understand that it was utilized effectively in the original game and whether this itself is yet resolved.  I don't know if you've ever played Kaiserreich. 
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: lilgamefreek on April 15, 2015, 07:33:51 PM
I haven't played that before. Any particular reason you ask?

Believe me, I would really like "hybrid" choices, and I've thought of a few schemes such as being able to adopt virtues freely up to the level below your dominant, and adopting a virtue from the same level will switch your dominant and cause you to lose policies within the same level. It is something I still might try to implement, as there are some fun thematic consideration I can think of (such as categories never really starting from scratch and becoming smaller). However, giving players the ability to change their mind, switch between trees, and being able to forfeit the penalties they've acquired when it is critical at the cost of their bonuses, is more important to me design-wise.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: BlaneckW on April 15, 2015, 08:16:54 PM
I haven't played that before. Any particular reason you ask?
Has a political system and elections for flavour through little more than popups effecting the native system of stats, sliders and "advisors" (faces with stats).  Something BE tried to do for affinities with the guest system.  In the original HOI slider alignment might only effect alliances, but Kaisserreich expanded it to be the difference between Syndicalist Russia and Imperialist Russia.  On a more subtle level, the internal politics of Syndicalist France would allow you to select

A. a party with better war doctrine focusing on mech and ramp up production, but damages manpower
B. a subtle policy alternative forgoing A. that increases manpower enough turn the tide of the war with Germany though not being as great at production. 
C. an otherwise poor party that nonetheless subtly allows you to make more alliances and intervene in a second U.S. civil war. 

subtle differences, large effects

Giving players the ability to change their mind, switch between trees, and being able to forfeit the penalties they've acquired when it is critical at the cost of their bonuses, is more important to me design-wise.
Ultimately it may just be that the engine does not much lend itself to emergence through subtle effects.  But I haven't actually played BE.  I can tell you in real life that the planned economy as it was could not go on forever, and the Soviet economy tried to reform unsuccessfully more than once.  The limits of reality is something that ought at some point be incorporated into the "ideology war" schemata, which itself has yet to be represented in all that much depth.  I suppose, though, if your players find the need to switch systems, that lends itself to said exploration.  But China certainly reformed successfully to large degree and refers to itself as "two systems" though I would consider it's market system exterior to it's planned system.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: BlaneckW on April 15, 2015, 09:06:05 PM
It may not effect stats or game, but I'd nonetheless like to try to improve your political understanding.  I read a lotta junk like "An Essay on Economic Theory" (early free-market document distributed by Mises), "The Despot of Tuscany" the Federal Research Division on the Soviet Union and write the Chinese Legalist page on wikipedia.  The most important thing in understanding economics or politics is political realism.

Just the opposite.  The Soviet Union went through the great depression unphased.  Compared with the planned economy, the free market might sell more goods, and thus develop industry slower, but it's prime would last longer.  Or at least it did historically.  This is because, though now corrupt from it's excessive allowances, in general it takes or took in more new blood than the Soviet Union, allows more innovation, etc.  This is especially important where free goods are concerned.  Not just anyone is creative enough to sell nonsense.  The European and Asian economies both will probably outlast the Union's economy.

However, it's advantages tail off at the end, both it's economic and political system (pluralism) becoming corrupt plutocracies unless it has a political system to root this out.  China does.  This may not be a permanent feature of the United States, however.  The less pathological and more intelligent of the rich see the need for reform.  Or maybe the system will outmode itself from below. 

The free-market system is not as consciously directly as it could be and carries out absurdities like burning goods to increase their value.  During the Great Depression the Soviet Union continued along, taking no notice of the so-called economic laws that the free-market follows.  So to say that "the free-market is unrivalled in it's ability to adapt to economic changes" is an obscene simplification.  It just isn't, the Soviet Union was just lead by incompetents who couldn't adapt politically to allow entrepreneurship.   

Both the Soviet System and U.S. might be said to have been politically defective, one too closed, the other too open.   The free-market is unrivaled in it's allowances of innovation. The difference is that in a planned economies officials have to consciously engage entrepreneurship, while the free-market simply leaves the door open.  The Soviet Union not only didn't engage entrepreneurship, but it warded it off, not simply for questions of corruption and structural integrity, which China does do, but to protect it's ideologically pure incompetents.  China did adapt, and engages entrepreneurship in both systems.  Cuba, which is more planned-economy, now support cooperatives.  But even a planned economy by itself need not necessarily be anti-entrepreneurial if it's leadership chooses not to be (China had a phrase, "red and technical" or somesuch, and leaving the door open is not the same thing as being able to weather the storm, as the free-market amply demonstrates; as you have already stated in Pluralism, organized action is not possible without organization. 

I don't entirely know what people are talking about when they talk about the inefficienies of the Soviet System, one would have to be more specific.  The inefficiencies of the Soviet Union would have been it's preference against meritocracy, fearing capitalism or some such or trying to protect an ideologically pure party not competent enough for it's station.  The Chinese Community Party is not so incompetent, and no longer seems to suffer from state-wide purges.  On the other hand Legalism was never bothered by a low-level private sphere.  It simply changes successful private people over into public administrators. 

The planned economies were suitable to fast-developing heavy-industry and military.  But to a certain extent this isn't necessarily mandatory, it was chosen to expand the industrial capacity at the expense of other goods.  This is an advantage.  The Soviet Union even developed a space program before the United States before ultimately falling behind.  The problem is changing over when the system is no longer useful, something China did, though it indulged in more ideological insanity than the Soviet Union, probably because it was less developed.

Their agricultural policy was premodern though still superior to what they built upon.  However, Yang is not Stalinist (though he may give consideration to it) but Legalist, which emphasizes agricultural/manpower growth to develop the undeveloped land, rewarding those who do so without the prejudices of Stalinism.  Generally speaking, a preference for heavy industry does not make a great deal of sense on landing without much in the way of mining or population available.  Domai would probably select a cooperative economic system for agriculture whiles Yang's would be more hierarchy driven (but not always or necessarily).

Modern green economics, as far as I understand, are simply things like decentralized co-ops and organic farms.  In many ways, structurally, it simply represents a slight change in prioties from Domai's Democratic Socialism.  But then, the expansion, which Domai is from, was not as ideologically well pronounced or considered.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Kolbeg on April 20, 2015, 03:16:00 PM
This project is truly promising.
I agree that Social Engineering should be the priority here as that is such a fundamental characteristic of SMAC, and also most different game mechanic from what needs to be changed from BE.

I think that your definitions/descriptions on the SE are fairly sufficient, and should not stand in the way of actually moving this project forward.  Interesting as political realism may sound, reality should come first.  ;)

Make it playable/testable and then we can continue to improve it.  Advancing the AC SE system should be done at a later.

I think religion(as is in Civ5) should not be in AC or AC mod.

BE has some good qualities over AC that should/could be used; 1 unit per tile, graphics, quest system, units and upgrades, different planet types... just to name a few from the top of my head.

Ocean cities and improvement are interesting and should hopefully be implemented.

Will be paying close attention to this project.  Good luck with it.

Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: BlaneckW on April 21, 2015, 06:02:22 PM
I don't see any reason for one unit per tile.  Doom stacks are solved by artillery.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: MercantileInterest on April 23, 2015, 12:51:48 AM
Wow. Very impressive.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Mart on December 01, 2016, 09:01:04 PM
I haven't played that before. Any particular reason you ask?

Believe me, I would really like "hybrid" choices, and I've thought of a few schemes such as being able to adopt virtues freely up to the level below your dominant, and adopting a virtue from the same level will switch your dominant and cause you to lose policies within the same level. It is something I still might try to implement, as there are some fun thematic consideration I can think of (such as categories never really starting from scratch and becoming smaller). However, giving players the ability to change their mind, switch between trees, and being able to forfeit the penalties they've acquired when it is critical at the cost of their bonuses, is more important to me design-wise.
Any chance to continue with the modding in Rising Tide?
The additions in BERT are well fitting to SMACX mod.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Buster's Uncle on December 01, 2016, 09:38:01 PM
I'd be game to pitch in on visuals, within the limits of file formats and what I know how to do...
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Mart on December 04, 2016, 08:02:33 PM
After playing some time BERT with lilgamefreek's modifications and few more and of course Peacekeepers in BERT !!!, I think there is potential to get something enjoyable/similar/sufficient to SMACX. ... Very much tempted to start doing something, and actually I got SDK for Civ BERT installed.

So I think about working on integrated mod, that would have everything in it, all the additional factions, changes to mechanics and so on. Starting point would be excellent Social Engineering mod by lilgamefreek. I think about similar mechanics, but a bit different, maybe having the names similar, like Values: Power, Knowledge, Wealth. And having Future Society in it.

Later factions would be made, etc. For sure, 3 units per tile too. That's a must for me.
Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Mart on December 17, 2016, 10:10:12 AM
Working on getting a faction into RT. Using lilgamefreek's Stepdaughters to make Gaians. Modbuddy is quite decent, similar to IDE for software development, though a lot of details one need to know: what to put into civilization mod to make it working.
I wonder if that "integrated" mod would work, like having everything in it, all factions, soc eng changes, new/changed techs, etc.

Title: Re: Modding Beyond Earth to Alpha Centauri
Post by: Mart on December 18, 2016, 03:19:00 PM
Modding Civ BERT is not very easy. Already got issues, that are somewhat explained on forums, but not everything is clear.
I could start a separate thread to describe it. Making a single new sponsor is already difficult task.