Author Topic: SMAX technology tree improvement  (Read 191 times)

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Offline Trenacker

Re: SMAX technology tree improvement
« Reply #30 on: Yesterday at 10:24:21 PM »
Quote from: bvanevery
Well you have the luxury of hand picking your crew of ~15 players for the extended wargame you're running.  And personally answering any questions anyone has about what they're vague on.  And we established, unfortunately on the Discord, that your game designing isn't mass audience facing.  You are neither concerned with how it will be narrated to someone who is not playing, nor whether anyone else would adopt your gaming system as a standard.  And finally, I believe you're saying that you haven't actually run the game with the "Choose" category in it yet. 

If you're not personally going to tell people what's going on, there's a reason to come up with a better category name.

It’s as simple as adding a note to the menu of research options that reads, “Here’s what the Choose Focus is about.” Just like, “Monopole Magnets unlock the Mag-Lev.” Once they’d seen that, nobody had lingering confusion.

Quote from: bvanevery
That's false.  It's Industrial Base, not Industrial Everything.  Listen to what Morgan actually tells you when you get that tech.  You gotta start somewhere, and the Former is the most basic piece of industrial equipment to the whole game.

I mean, this whole tree isn't in a vacuum of "words, categories, and player preconceptions".  There's extensive narrative guidance, voice acted.  This is why we're still playing the game 21 years later, and why nobody has equaled this thing.

Morgan talks abstractly about his philosophy regarding consumption in the Industrial Base quotation. In “Paean to SMAC,” the author makes the compelling point that this is really a meditation about whether or not civilization on Earth “failed” in a meaningful sense. Morgan says, no—they simply reached a new stage of their relationship with nature.

The logic that says, “Formers are the basic building blocks of a faction’s economy” is no more or less ambitious than the logic that says, “In order to form, you have to first understand the medium.”

Quote from: bvanevery
No, and it's out of character.  The problem is, why is Deirdre using a quantum tank to plow through a wrecked Sparta Command?  Deidre fought totally conventional war, and won against the Spartans?  FFS why?  We're being given a narrative reversal, that "Gaians, despite being pacifist, can actually kick some ass."  And we'd be right to question the writing here.  If Deidre had mindwormed and locusted everyone to death, we'd get it.  We might even expect it.  But quantum tanks?  Well I guess Gaian research is pretty darned spiffy over the long haul.  And what's the secret in "Our Secret War" ?  It's supposed to be mindworms; Buster's Uncle got me wise to one of the most obscure commands of the game, "Release mindworms into the wild."  There is a secret war.  What's up with this quantum tank stuff?  Deidre amassed a sizable legion of quantum tanks secretly, despite the preponderance of probe teams in this gaming universe, and did some kind of fooled ya sucker punch invasion?

Not buying it.  I'm a modder; I know the game did some things wrong.  But redoing voice acting is expensive and not low hanging fruit.  "...as our mindworm boil slithered over the rubble... there were few screams of human life."  That's how you take out Spartans when you're 'pacifist'.

Deidre is an eco-Nazi anyways.  She never fooled me.  Must be all that cartooney one-dimensional faction diplomatic dialogue, in the cookie cutter template that doesn't allow for anything else.

I disagree that these were miscast. I think it’s part of the essential genius of the story that leaders are commenting on topics outside their ostensible areas of scientific expertise. One of the two major SMAC blogs pointed out that the faction leaders are unique because they are all intellectuals. Even Morgan and Santiago wax poetical in ways that most people don’t.

There’s nothing wrong with Miriam building quantum tanks. I still drew the same conclusion you did: that the wider war was probably won by virtue of the Gaian’s reliance on native lifeforms to overcome the Spartan advantage in built weapons.

Quote from: bvanevery
Or maybe they just didn't have the writing chops to make Santiago into a credible military leader.  It clearly should have been her area.  She's the weakest of the original lineup.  She never invades anything, shoots anything, gives an order... she does the "philosophical" thing like everyone else, and that's not a convincing portrayal of a military leader.  Warlords kill and bomb stuff.  They also execute the insubordinate on the spot.

Santiago is a warlord only if subverted. Played straight, she’s more akin to a Founding Father.

I think you’re seeking stereotypes, and that’s just not interesting to me. It was refreshing to see Alpha Centauri do some judo with our expectations—culturally, racially, genderwise, and in regard to the topics on which we get insights from each leader.

SMAC is all about subversion. Skye is either a hippie eco-terrorist or a pacifistic conservationist, and maybe both. Santiago is either a prudent prepper who understands intuitively from whence our liberty comes, or else she is a maniac on the order of David Koresh, and maybe both. Zakharov is either a brilliant scientist who will lead us out of a dark age of scientific illiteracy, or an ethical monster who puts his desire to know ahead of every human impulse, and maybe both.

Quote from: bvanevery
It is if you know you're getting mag tubes and have ever seen a monorail.  Monorail monomagnet monopole monowhatever.  Mono mono mono mono mono.  If Yang had started talking about monotheism in all of this, I might be worried, but he talked about Yin without Yang, North without South, Pleasure without Pain.  This is a very Enlightened way to travel.  It's hardcore application of indoctrinal woo.

Except monorails aren’t uniformly driven by magnets. Magnets are merely one potential means of propelling monorails.

Quote from: bvanevery
They tell you what it makes, so you shouldn't have any problem figuring it out.  It's not like this is a game of "guess the application" and "enter it into a text parser to solve a puzzle".

Just like I tell players what the “Choose” line of research means in the rule booklet and game aids.

You go back and forth repeatedly between, "Immediate clarity is the main thing--shouldn't have to explain," and, "If you tell them, the confusion is gone."

Quote from: bvanevery
I don't think you like your own design biases laid bare.

If that is true, I certainly spend a lot of time talking about them.

 

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