See .zip attached at bottom of post.
social engineering choices in version 1.30
social engineering choices in version 1.30
From the included readme_mod.txt:
SMACX AI Growth mod
Copyright 2018..2019 by Brandon Van Every
Version 1.30, April 18, 2019
see CHANGELOG at end of this file
I began this mod in mid-April of 2018. Its design, and all the playtesting needed to improve it, have taken 6 PERSON MONTHS of full time work to produce. It has been a YEAR of psychological engagement that held my undivided attention. I've been unable to work on any other game projects, and although I'm pleased with the results, it's time to move on. In some other universe where I made money, this could have been half a year's salary, or at least the start of a commercially viable title of my own. Now it's time to make it so. Funny thing is, every time I've said I'm done with this mod, someone has come along to say "What about this?" I hope this is actually the final cut!
This mod aspires to professionalism, to be substantially better than the original game. I hope people will try and enjoy it, as that validates the effort spent. Please let me know if you find any bugs or omissions. Thanks to playtesters Vidsek and Esper for finding important bugs! And to modders Tim Nevolin, JNM444, vonbach, PvtHudson, and Mart for ideas borrowed from their own work.
- Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri with Alien Crossfire expansion is required.
- This mod contains alphax.txt, the 14 faction *.txt files, and this readme_mod.txt
- Unzip the files and drop them on top of your SMAC installation, overwriting ANY existing files that have the same name.
- ALWAYS use the alphax.txt and faction *.txt files I have provided. No one else's. You are not playing my mod if you are not using my files!
- This mod will work with unofficial binary patches, if they do not REQUIRE changes to alphax.txt.
- Some unofficial binary patches did a bad job messing with alphax.txt. For instance, Yitzi's patch is probably broken.
- Some unofficial binary patches did a good job NOT messing with alphax.txt. For instance, Scient's patch is known to work. The PRACX graphics patch doesn't affect gameplay or use alphax.txt at all.
- Some unofficial binary patches are in active development and what they will do is unknown. YMMV.
- I SUPPORT and PLAYTEST the official game binary.
- I don't SUPPORT unofficial binary patches. Things may or may not work. It's not my job to make sure it works. Talk to the unofficial binary patch author if you have a probem specific to their patch. All of the things I do in the *.txt files work just fine with the official game binary. It's a very simple system, there's really nothing for me to break.
- I may or may not have PLAYTESTED unofficial binary patches. I definitely don't do it regularly. I don't track their development or try to keep up.
- You can have many installations of SMAC on your computer. They're small and won't interfere with each other.
- If you try out multiple combos of binary patches and various mods, I suggest you install the game separately for each of them, in distinctly named directories, to keep them all straight.
- I've tried to make the AI play better. That's really important.
- Factions are better rounded, and most don't have penalties. This helps the AI.
- Aliens are no longer overpowered. They are no better than normal factions.
- The world generator is tweaked to give the AI factions more land to grow in.
- Enormous 80x160 and Giant 128x256 maps are defined.
- Choosing 30%..50% land mass yields substantial continents, but still plenty of ocean for the Pirates.
- This mod is designed for a Huge map with 30%..50% land mass.
- On a Standard map, 2 factions on average will not have room to grow. That can be you!
- Techs, facilities, units, and abilities are completely reordered, for what I consider to be good pacing.
- Armor has been strengthened to match weapons at the same tech level.
- Sensors give more defense. Infantry isn't special against bases.
- Secret Projects come later in the game and cost at least 300 minerals.
- Overpowered Secret Projects come MUCH later.
- Social Engineering choices are more realistic.
- Future Society choices become available in late midgame and are not overpowered.
- Completing the entire tech tree is required to Transcend.
- Facilities, abilities, and units are assigned to Explore, Discover, Build, or Conquer according to what they actually do.
- "Explore" really means "colonization and growth" to the AI. It doesn't mean exploring.
- The AI uses Foil and Cruiser Probe Teams now. Watch your sea bases!
- The AI uses armored Probe Teams now. Better have a weapon when they come!
- Planet Busters and Conventional Missiles can hit anywhere on Planet.
Firaxis made a statement in each of the modified *.txt files, that permission is granted to modify their work. So, this work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA. That means, if you make substantial use of this work, you must credit me as the author. And you can't make money from it.
Some people release complete, if trivial, commercial games in the time I've spent on this. Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is a decidedly non-trivial game, one whose complexities have kept me occupied for nearly 20 years. So it takes much longer to mod it, in any substantive way. I am at times amazed, when various game developers do "game jams" and claim to produce quality in a short amount of time. It has never happened with any mod I've worked on. Adjusting all the variables of a complex wargame, requires LOTS of design iteration and playtesting.
"Explore" techs, I decided, are fundamentally misnamed. Internally, the game files actually talk about "colonization and growth". Consequently, anything that makes citizens happy, or raises population limits, or increases GROWTH rate, is now considered an "Explore" tech. In my opinion the "Explore" category should really be called EXPAND. But if I could rename it, I wouldn't, as it's unnecessarily confusing to veteran SMAC players.
The assignment of various techs to Explore, Discover, Build, or Conquer has been completely gutted, with no respect paid to the original divisions of the game. Weapons, armor, and military abilities are strictly for conquering, and they comprise the vast majority of techs in the tree. Firaxis actually wrote a game with a lot of conquering gewgaws, regardless of any narrative or marketing spin they put on top of it. For instance, Secret Projects that award 2x votes are now considered tools of Conquest, as in practice, Diplomatic Victory is merely an abbreviated form of Conquest Victory. Discover techs attempt to be "pure", awarding either new lab facilities, Secret Projects that double lab output in a city, or a free tech to the 1st discoverer. Build techs increase either energy or minerals output. Notably, they do not make people happy; in the future you can be happy and poor.
Because Explore, Discover, Build, and Conquer now reflect the realities of what's actually in the tech tree, the research priorities of many factions have changed. Explore and Conquer is a common pairing, for instance. Explore also seems to change the way the AI plays, making a faction focus more on colonizing and growing at the beginning of the game. Consequently, nearly all factions have Explore as part of their research foci, to get the AI improvement that comes with it.
A few factions have changed their social engineering choices substantially. The Cult of Planet is now Fundamentalist. The Believers are not; in fact, they are the one faction in the game that has no compulsion to be anything at all. They can pursue Knowledge just fine, but cannot be Cybernetic, as Miriam objects to nanorobots and cyborgs in the Secret Project videos over and over again. The Pirates now want Wealth, because that's what pirates actually want. They have this enormous energy rich, minerals rich defensive moat around them called the ocean. They can do whatever they want in that, they don't need to conquer anybody. The Usurpers now want Power. They are conquerors, it's what they should be doing, and why should their social engineering choices agree with the Caretakers in any way?
To facilitate the AI's chances against humans, an ENORMOUS map size of 80x160, and a GIANT map size of 128x256 are included. The world generator options have been tweaked so that an ENORMOUS map with 30%..50% land mass, will produce plenty of room for AI factions to grow in, plenty of ocean if the Pirates are in the game, and will not bottleneck the factions on degenerate 1x1 islands. The same cannot be said of GIANT maps; you may have problems, or not. The faction placement algorithm starts showing bugs when going past ENORMOUS size and I can't change it. I determined this crossover point empirically, trying many sizes of maps. Strictly speaking you could get away with a 160x160 map but the aspect ratio looks terrible in the minimap. I recommend ENORMOUS maps if you want the largest, yet trouble free playing experience.
This mod started as an attempt to model "realistic" growth in the social engineering choices. Unfortunately the "realism" didn't survive the cold, harsh reality of game mechanics, nor the AI's fixation on GROWTH as a choice. For instance Green used to have a GROWTH penalty, but the AI would not choose it, even in the original unmodded game! Only if the AI had learned how to make Locusts of Chiron would it finally accept the penalties of Green, and that was way too late in the game to be acceptable for an AI faction. To work around this, I made Green not have any penalties. To try to balance this "free luinch", I minimized the number of bonuses it gets.
Population booming is possible by several methods. +4 GROWTH can be achieved with social engineering choices using Socialist (aka Planned) economics, and Eudaimonia. Some factions can't choose those options, or won't when the AI is playing them. It's possible to make citizens so happy that they enter a Golden Age, giving +2 GROWTH. A Children's Creche gives +2 GROWTH in a particular city. +6 GROWTH is needed in total to trigger a population boom. Alternately, players can wait until nearly the end of the game to build the Cloning Vats.
Fundamentalist is now simliar to the original game, although the PROBE bonus is not as powerful. I think probe teams in general are overpowered, especially the outright buying of cities full of military units. Removing PROBE bonuses seems to calm the AI down about trying to use quite so many of them.
The Free Market POLICE penalty was egregious and didn't make any sense at all. For instance, consider that the USA has the highest number of incarcerated persons per capita of anywhere on Earth, and it has no problems whatsoever being the world's policeman with the world's largest military.
Free Market has been renamed to Capitalist, as the diplomatic dialogue has always referred to it that way. POLICE penalties have been moved to Democratic, Knowledge, and Cybernetic, where an antipathy to police repression and anti-war sentiments are far more reasonable. Half of the ECONOMY bonus has been moved to Democratic as well, as the evidence is that modern industrial democracies do actually make more money than other governmental structures. I found in playtesting that once all the severe penalties were removed, Free Market was giving way too much money for nothing.
Planned has been renamed to Socialist. In addition, EFFICIENCY has been renamed to JUSTICE. Stopping corruption by building a Courthouse was the original play mechanic in Civ II, and that's what SMAC is based on. I dislike the term efficiency because it begs the question, efficient at what? Wage slavery? Automating jobs out of existence? Globlization and offshoring? Social welfare programs? Corporate welfare? Magically ending corruption in politics?
The main player visible effect upon the game, is people becoming unhappy due to the Bureaucracy penalty as one's empire gets bigger. In addition to stopping graft, why not have this also be about social justice, about providing essentials for a burgeoning population? SMAC's Planned economy clearly refers to socialism in the diplomatic dialogues, but it insists on a kind of Revolutionary Socialism found in historical totalitarian Communist regimes, that is not allowed to work. It completely ignores the experience of Social Democracy in Western countries when a socialist party comes to power. I have modeled Socialist economy as something that doesn't give you anything 'except' more, happier people, and it costs money.
The Values choices have all changed. They are available with Level 4 techs, which tend to appear in early midgame. Advanced Societies are available with Level 6 techs, which tend to appear in the late midgame, and are not overpowered. They too have changed; full details are available in the HELP entries.
In general there is really no point in attaining "advanced" capabilities at the very end of the game, where one only spends a few turns experiencing the benefit. "Interesting" gewgaws like cloaking devices and hovertanks are moved earlier in the tech tree, and "boring" gewgas like bigger guns and armor are moved later.
All factions have been adjusted to be better rounded, i.e. Morgan is no longer a crippled weakling runt. Factions previously considered weak, are plenty strong now. The Aliens have been stripped of various bonuses and don't get any free armor. They are no stronger than anyone else. To help the AI, faction penalties have been removed. Except for the Aliens, whose directed research ability is so powerful, that they have to keep 1 penalty to balance it out.
The theme that "Christians are zealots who can't do research" has been removed from the game. Frankly, Isaac Newton was a devout Christian, and at least one strongly Christian playtester pointed out the various cartoonish, anti-Christian biases of the game. The Believers now suffer no inherent research penalty at all, and references in their dialogue to extremism and fanaticism have been removed. Their -1 PLANET penalty was dispensed with as well, as there's no other part of the story that talks about Miriam being hostile to Planet or deluded about its nature. They can pursue Knowledge just fine, but they can't go Cybernetic. This is true to the lore of the game, where Miriam complains endlessly about cyborgs and nanorobots. These Christians aren't rabid, unless they go Fundamentalist, in which case they suffer a RESEARCH penalty like anyone else. The AI is not required to go Fundamentalist, in fact it's the only faction that has no particular social engineering compulsion at all. You might see a Democratic Miriam or a Police State Miriam in your game, and you'll get to think about what it means to be Christian in such cases. Religion is not the problem, it's what you do with religion that's the problem. That's the new theme.
The tech tree has been majorly reshuffled. Any given technology or facility, you cannot count on it being where you expect, or following a sequence you're used to. I tried to make various guns come later, in sequence, and not be so pointless. I packed the tree quite densely, so that for instance, a Level 5 technology is always preceded by 2 Level 4 technologies. All technologies lead to another technology, and completing the entire tree is required to Transcend.
Misnamed "Explore" techs are for colonization and growth. They either make citizens happy, increase population limits, increase GROWTH rate, or help colonists get to their destinations faster. Notably, Doctrine: Flexibility is now an E1 level tech with no prerequisites. I've played too many games getting stuck on a darned island, falling behind everyone else technologically as I struggle to free myself from the trap. There's nothing about human history that justifies ships coming AFTER land vehicles. Historically, ships came first, and so will you. Also important, mag tubes are available fairly early in the game. This is not Civilization II, these are spacefarers who already know how to build some kind of railroad. Hovertanks come earlier in the game, because it's annoying to wait so long for them. My hovertanks are based on GREASE, sliding a mere inch above the ground!
Early Secret Projects now cost 300 minerals to build and they are all moved later in the tech tree. Some projects that some people consider overpowered, like the Empath Guild, The Planetary Energy Grid, and the Cloudbase Academy, are moved substantially later. Some projects have been made substantially more expensive, in accord with the great benefits they give. Nobody starts the game with the ability to build a Secret Project. Most factions don't start with bonus technologies either. This is to discourage early and rapid tech trading between the factions.
Missiles can now hit anywhere on the planet. They no longer use fuel, so their range is unlimited, long as they take enough turns to move. There is no safety from a Planet Buster in the early days of orbital spaceflight. Anti-missile technologies come earlier, but it's hard to obtain them quickly, because so many other Conquer techs are available. Food, energy, and minerals satellites come much later, as these are extensive orbital and logistical facilities compared to shooting down a missile. Conventional Missiles can also hit anywhere on Planet, and so their cost increases accordingly. Unfortunately there's no way to add a new Chassis type to create missiles with different ranges. The AI can't spam them now though, because they cost too much, and frankly that's a relief.
The AI gains the use of Foil Probe Teams. It's never been fair that I can grief the AI by sea, and it can't return the favor. Expect the AI to probe your sea bases a lot. It really likes to use these things, even crossing Enormous maps just to bother you. The AI also uses armored Probe Teams, which can be a real pain to get rid of, because they defend like regular combat troops.
If you made it this far in my design notes, I hope it helps!
- Brandon Van Every
CHANGELOG - it is posted at the end of this thread whenever I make a new release. However over time, it gets buried by subsequent discussion. If you want ready access to all the gory details, the complete CHANGELOG of everything I ever did is in readme_mod.txt.