Author Topic: SMAX The Will to Power mod  (Read 195 times)

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Offline tnevolin

SMAX The Will to Power mod
« on: December 02, 2019, 07:49:12 PM »
This is a continuation of Fission Armor mod. I've decided to rename it and start a new thread because of few drastic changes.
I forked Induktio's Thinker mod with his generous permission and embedded it into my mod. Now I can tap into exe patching and fix some things previously not fixable by text patching. The most important one is unit cost calculation formula. I cannot express how happy I am to remove this pain in the ass that poisoned all my modding efforts until now! As a consequence, I've returned back all reactors as I can now correctly price them without breaking the game. Hence "Fission Armor" name is no longer relevant. I've renamed it to "Doer" without much thinking (no pun intended) as it compliments Thinker mod in my mind. Namely, Thinker mod teaches AI to think better. Whereas my mod adds more things for human player to do. I was also thought about "Thinker-Doer" combo, but "Doer" seems to be shorter and simpler. Let me know if you like new name.

This is Doer-20 version. I've play tested it a little and it is quite playable and satisfies me. There are few things on my TODO list. However, I believe there is no point to wait for perfection. Instead, I'll be releasing new version as long as I have time and will to do it. At the same time I hope to solicit user input to add or update my future releases based on it.

There is quite extensive README in the package that explains my reasons and modding ideas. However, it is worth reiterating once more that I want to highlight maximum number of game features already in the game. Most of them are extremely underpowered in vanilla and not appealing. This mod strives to make them appealing and must have in some strategies. Thus increasing play style variability = even greater replayability = even more fun!
I plan to do minimal changes for that purpose and do not plan to create completely new experience or new strategies. It should still feel like old good SMAX just better.
:)
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 04:31:46 AM by tnevolin »
Tim

Offline tnevolin

Re: Doer mod
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2019, 08:25:17 PM »
Weapon and armor progression for reference.
Tim

Offline bvanevery

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Re: Doer mod
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2019, 09:14:47 PM »
Interesting project idea.  I'm sure it will keep you busy!

Induktio licensed Thinker Mod under the GPL 2.0.  You don't need his permission to use his work.  You just have to abide by the terms of the license.  It's basically a "you must make source code available and license it the same way to others" license.  Perhaps by "generous permission" you meant that he chose to license it under the GPL.

Also note that strictly speaking, his and your distribution of new game binaries is illegal.   :D  His use and your subsequent use of the GPL may not hold up in court in practice.  He has the right to the existence of his own source code (I think? not sure about reverse engineering laws), but no right to compile binaries or distribute them.

You also don't need my permission to utilize substantial portions of my .txt modding work.  You just have to abide by the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  That means you have to credit me somewhere 'reasonable' as the author of my own work (not as the author of your derived work), and you can't make money off of your derived work.

Since I'm not messing with binaries, and Firaxis did give explicit permission to change the files I've changed, I'm on a better legal footing than you guys are.   :D  However EA could try to claim a right to distribute my work without compensating me, according to the license that comes with recent versions of the game.  I don't know whether that would hold up in court or not.  I haven't looked up any modder legal precedents in that regard.  It's a nice theoretical issue.  I have a hard time seeing it ever mattering in the real world, unless I become rich and famous, and well known for distributing my mod.

As for names: "Doer" suffers from a problem that it doesn't mean anything to most people.  "Thinker" refers to a level of difficulty in the game itself, and it does sound like something having to do with AI.  "Doer" doesn't sound like anything.  Some people might infer that it's a follow-on from Thinker Mod.  Most people have no idea that Thinker Mod exists, let alone any mod derived from it.  Most people have never played SMAC at all.   Getting people interested in SMAC in the 1st place, is mostly about telling people on /r/4Xgaming that it goes on sale at GOG at least 4 times a year for $1.49.  It's the best bang for the buck in 4X, so slowly, people come into the fold.  I get noobs asking me if they should try my mod as they learn to play SMAC.  Unfortunately I keep having to say no, go learn the original game first.  I don't have any kind of "noob mode" for my mod, and my changes really don't mean much to someone who hasn't played before.

So, on to the wordsmithing:

Whereas my mod adds more things for human player to do.

What does it add for the human player to do?  Not compared to Thinker Mod.  Compared to the stock game.  This is important as far as coming up with any short way of explaining it.





Offline tnevolin

Re: Doer mod
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2019, 09:23:15 PM »
I agree the name is too generic but cannot come up with something else. My mod is generic too. It doesn't offer any specific distinct new feature. Just rearranges what is in game already.
Picking name from game lexicon is a good idea. I'll try few.
Tim

Offline bvanevery

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Re: Doer mod
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2019, 09:34:04 PM »
Let's say you have no particularly clear vision that can be communicated in a few words.  I mean heck, my own mod did end up with a lot more things than just AI improvements.

Your goal would be to make something memorable.  To people on /r/4Xgaming, because that's the only large source of new 4X TBS players that I've run into on the internet.  The historical Civ-oriented forums like Apolyton etc. do not count.  They do not have enough volume of new people to matter.  I don't even announce on those other forums anymore.  Got tired of crickets chirping when I'd make my mod releases.  On Reddit, specifically /r/4Xgaming, I actually get response, interest, upvotes, and people trying out my mod.  Nowadays I even get people giving me playtester feedback.  They mostly don't bother to come here!  Don't kid yourself, people aren't going to sign up for a new web forum for a new game unless they really end up loving the game.  Some do, it does happen.  But the point is, you need to be on /r/4Xgaming.  That's the audience, the demographic, that you're trying to reach.

So, what's memorable over there?  I'm not sure.  But I've been recently advised, acronyms such as SMAC and SMACX are not memorable.  I tend to assume that everyone in 4X gaming knows what they mean, and I'm wrong.  They don't.  Recently, I finally changed my ad copy for my mod releases.  I spell out "Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri with Alien Crossfire expansion" at least once, at the top of the post.

So, "SMACX AI Growth mod" is only half good.  Because people don't know what SMACX is.  Then again, people have to figure that out to even use a mod, so it's not entirely bad either.  If I were to do it all over again, using Alpha Centauri as part of the name might be smart.




Offline tnevolin

Re: Doer mod
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2019, 09:47:23 PM »
Wow, thanks, great pointers!

Alpha Centauri feature highlight mod
Alpha Centauri enriched mod
Alpha Centauri breathtaking development mod
Alpha Centauri blazing expansion mod
Alpha Centauri intense rivalry mod
Alpha Centauri flexible strategy mod
Alpha Centauri deep blue mod
Alpha Centauri lightspeed evolution mod
Alpha Centauri advantage race mod
Alpha Centauri strategical mastermind mod
Alpha Centauri dare ruler mod
Alpha Centauri mission control mod
Alpha Centauri Sentient conquest mod or probably even plain "Alpha Centauri Sentient Econometrics mod"
Alpha Centauri 4X Transcendence mod
Alpha Centauri The Will To Power mod - sounds cool
Alpha Centauri Stairway to Transcendence mod - another variation
Alpha Centauri the art of Social Engineering mod
Alpha Centauri elusive Power mod
Alpha Centauri Thought Control mod
Alpha Centauri Adaptive Doctrine mod
Alpha Centauri Controlled Biomachinery mod
Alpha Centauri Digital Sentience mod
Alpha Centauri Industrial conquest mod
Alpha Centauri Mind/Machine Interface mod - that has some sense in it
Alpha Centauri Neural Grafting mod
Alpha Centauri Nonlinear expansion mod
Alpha Centauri Polymorphic strategy mod - that does too
Alpha Centauri Sentient opposition mod - that does too
Alpha Centauri escape Singularity mod - that does too
Alpha Centauri Threshold of insanity mod - that does too
« Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 10:26:52 PM by tnevolin »
Tim

Offline bvanevery

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Re: Doer mod
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2019, 11:49:24 PM »
Alpha Centauri Thought Control mod

This one.  If it suits you.  It is memorable.  It's also good enough to have become part of my avatar in this forum.

Offline tnevolin

Re: Doer mod
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2019, 12:23:24 AM »
Alpha Centauri Thought Control mod

This one.  If it suits you.  It is memorable.  It's also good enough to have become part of my avatar in this forum.

Interesting. I was thinking about "Alpha Centauri The Will To Power mod". Sounds powerful and highlights the never ending competition process. And The Will To Power unlocks Thought Control.

Do you still favor Thought Control over The Will To Power?
;)
Tim

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Re: Doer mod
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2019, 08:12:24 AM »
I think more people are familiar with the dystopian / Orwellian (?) overtones of "Thought Control", than the Nietzschean overtones of "The Will To Power".  But there may yet be something more recognizable and memorable than either, so I wouldn't dissuade you from continuing to brainstorm.

Offline tnevolin

Re: Doer mod
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2019, 02:43:16 PM »
I doubt I'll find anything catchier than that. Maybe equally catchy but I'm lazy to keep brainstorming. Most specific name from the game (like Transcendence) ring a bell for seasoned player but not to generic audience. Whereas these two we are discussing do both. And out of these two the latter seems to match ultimate game goal and the mod idea better. Former may match my personality but it is only a mean to the end among many. It doesn't cover whole idea. Besides, newcomers do not need to know me to play the mod. I try to leave as less imprints of me in it as possible, even though it is not possible to achieve 100%.
Tim

Offline tnevolin

Re: SMAX The Will to Power mod
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2019, 06:24:11 PM »
More playtesting for next version.
Research seems to be rushing ahead too fast. Especially when faction get connected and start exchanging technologies. On default settings (100% research rate) I often end up with Fusion Laser having only 5 bases size 3-4 each. That is not enough production power to keep up with new discoveries. I set it to 50% in version 20 and this seems to deliver smoother technology progress. At least everybody have some time to develop before acquiring more expensive items.
Of course, it varies across different games and used factions. I believe slower research doesn't break the game as exponentially evolving factions will catch up with it pretty quick even if they experience slow down at some point. Whereas faster research is unfixable. There is in game mechanism to slow down research. Whole competition idea is to develop faster by all means.

This being said the acceptable enough discovery rate starts after acquiring terraforming and connecting with other players. Before that at the very very beginning when some don't even know terraforming yet, the discovery rate is noticeably slow. Many faction may struggle to get critical knowledge. To cope with that I decided to give 2-3 initial technologies to all factions. That should let them start quicker, build some facilities and units, overcome -2 POLICE hurdle, ignite early technology trading between players. In other words, give them some free stuff to start with - the rest they have to earn.
Tim

Offline bvanevery

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Re: SMAX The Will to Power mod
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2019, 01:26:47 AM »
Some possibility of old timers confusing Will To Power with Call To Power, an old Civ-style title by Activision.  Won't be a problem for younger audiences as it was before their time.

In my mod, I have the play mechanic that aggressive research is for the Discover oriented factions.  I've put weighted barriers in the tech tree to prevent non-Discover factions from going up the Discover learning curve.  Recently I also accelerated the number of advanced research facilities available, because the University was clearly getting its ass whipped most of the time.  The acceleration has made a noticeable difference in Discover faction viability.  For some reason the Cyborgs in my current game are doing piles of research, even as I eviscerate their empire with chemical attacks.  They got Nanohospital technology and it seems they weren't afraid to use it.  I've seen various games where the AI didn't seem much into building advanced research facilities, even when they were available.  In particular, some combo Thinker Mod + my mod stuff earlier this year.  So I'm pleased to see an AI faction actually building the advanced research facilities.  I don't think I've seen an Industrial Lab get built yet though.  Seems to be Research Hospitals and Nanohospitals, which give happiness and more resistance to genetic warfare.

If focusing on Discover isn't actually an advantage in your mod, then you need to think about how a faction like the University is supposed to survive and thrive.

Almost forgot, I use Secret Projects heavily to obstruct factions from trading techs to anyone.

My version of "free stuff" is that there are no Secret Projects on Tiers 1 and 2.  AIs will trade the early techs readily.  Tiers 1 and 2 have turned out to be "broad" though, so it's not certain you're going to get everything without focusing on it.

I don't give factions any free techs unless they're essential to a faction's initial operations, i.e. the Pirates get E1 Doctrine: Flexibility. 

Offline tnevolin

Re: SMAX The Will to Power mod
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2019, 04:49:19 PM »
I don't get it. Research advantage is always an advantage to some extent.
Tim

Offline bvanevery

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Re: SMAX The Will to Power mod
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2019, 07:54:08 PM »
In my AI vs. AI playtesting, Discover based research has never been enough of an advantage, compared to other advantages given to other factions.  Until rather recently when I seriously sped things up for the University.  Previously they were always getting their asses kicked.  They were wimps.  Even giving them free Biology Labs in addition to their free Network Nodes didn't make them powerful.

Offline tnevolin

Re: SMAX The Will to Power mod
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2019, 08:03:51 PM »
That's right. Any advantage could be not enough advantageous in some cases. Are you playing unpatched AI engine? I am playing mine on top of Thinker mod and it does a great job. I see that all faction are competing more or less equally.
Tim

 

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