Author Topic: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod  (Read 10975 times)

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Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #555 on: June 29, 2020, 03:48:36 PM »
I agree that Thinker-WTP are designed for better human vs. AI experience. However, I'd say vanilla is also slow game from the mid game on. So either way it'll be a 400 turns bouncing back and forth.

We should probably design a specialized fast game mod for multiplayer. Everything is cheap. Terraforming is short. Units move far. Total probable 50-100 turns whole game.
Although it will be a challenge to balance it. With far moving units one can bite a big piece of neighbor before they can retaliate.

Wait a minute. I know such fast paced game - chess!
🤣
Tim

Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #556 on: June 29, 2020, 04:08:31 PM »
# Version 70

Update

I renamed it to version "techtree" as it is not yet tested by myself. Any help in finalizing it is greatly appreciated. Also I started another topic on some more tree revamping and stripping toward purer lore.
http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=21485.0

* Large technology tree redo for more sensible dependencies.
* Research Hospital: 8/2. Decreased cost/maint a little bit more to aid with drone quellying.
* Aquafarm: 16/4. Also moved later as it is a most OP out of aqua facilities.
* The Citizens' Defense Force cost is 60.

Not backward compatible due to technology tree change!

Here is the big tech tree revamp in response to it being not sensible in lore way. In this version I tried to link technologies in a more or less understandable way. I also tried to keep topic progressions like centauri, industry, economics, nanotech, genetics, etc. I also tried to associate features to more or less matching tech. I hope it now looks more sensible way. Please check it out and let me know. I planned it to be a first draft. Then I planned to tune it according to player comments.

Keep in mind, though, that it is physically impossible to make every technology connection and every association perfect. Technology topics should cross pollinate each other to avoid silos of completely separated topics. Therefore, every now and then some Photon Mechanics would depend on Social Psychology. I tried to minimize such cases but there is no complete avoiding them. There are too many topics and sometimes they stretch thin in some level so I had to play with what I have.

Some changes I found better matching than in vanilla.

Probe teams         Optical Computers
Faster and more compact computers allow mobile probe teams.

Heavy artillery         High Energy Chemistry
Vanilla software->artillery didn't make any sense. Now artillery depends on advanced chemistry to send projectiles farther.

Comm jammer         Applied Physics
First, it appears quite early to counter fast units. Second, radio communication technology now depends on banal physics. That makes more sense than Advanced Subatomic Theory.

Amphibious pods         Adaptive Doctrine
The Maritime Control Center   Adaptive Doctrine
Adaptive Doctrine seems to be an enhanced version of Doctrine: Initiative and makes The Maritime Control Center to appear later than corresponding replaced facility.

The Space Elevator         Advanced Spaceflight
Makes perfect sense, not like in vanilla.

Polymorphic encryption         Polymorphic Software
Just cool name matching. I always wondered why they didn't in vanilla. Two different designers came up with same adjective and didn't tell each other?

« Last Edit: June 30, 2020, 03:09:23 AM by tnevolin »
Tim

Offline Tayta Malikai

Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #557 on: June 29, 2020, 04:17:54 PM »
I agree that Thinker-WTP are designed for better human vs. AI experience. However, I'd say vanilla is also slow game from the mid game on. So either way it'll be a 400 turns bouncing back and forth.

We should probably design a specialized fast game mod for multiplayer. Everything is cheap. Terraforming is short. Units move far. Total probable 50-100 turns whole game.
Although it will be a challenge to balance it. With far moving units one can bite a big piece of neighbor before they can retaliate.

Wait a minute. I know such fast paced game - chess!
🤣
Eh, not really. From what I've seen, most multiplayer games end well before 2300. Once you unlock cruisers and air units, you can really seize the initiative and start rolling over people. The challenge lies in getting to that point without being rolled over yourself.

A fast game mod would still be an interesting project, mind. I wonder how it would work in terms of game flow. The key phases in a game I'd say are early game, where things are chaotic and anything can happen; the middle game, where you've pretty much built most if not all of your key bases and facilities; and the late game, where either you're trashing your opponents' key bases and facilities, or they're trashing yours.

Nevill wrote a nice mod that was more geared towards multiplayer, which I found reasonably balanced. Part of the reason we started playing WtP was actually to see if we could combine the two somehow. Maybe he'd have something to say about such a project.

EDIT: There is also the question of distribution of techs. In most games, you're very unlikely to see anything past level 9. Granted, this is an issue in singleplayer too; dunno yet whether WtP addresses this. The other question here is how much a faster base and territory development will contribute to faster techs.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 04:35:52 PM by Tayta Malikai »

Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #558 on: June 29, 2020, 04:58:01 PM »
Eh, not really. From what I've seen, most multiplayer games end well before 2300. Once you unlock cruisers and air units, you can really seize the initiative and start rolling over people. The challenge lies in getting to that point without being rolled over yourself.

Yes. 400 turns is an exaggeration even for single player. I just meant that WTP or not the number of turns is about the same. Although faster expansion makes game faster, I agree.

Nevill wrote a nice mod that was more geared towards multiplayer, which I found reasonably balanced. Part of the reason we started playing WtP was actually to see if we could combine the two somehow. Maybe he'd have something to say about such a project.

Definitely. Direct me to this mod and we'll see about it.

EDIT: There is also the question of distribution of techs. In most games, you're very unlikely to see anything past level 9. Granted, this is an issue in singleplayer too; dunno yet whether WtP addresses this. The other question here is how much a faster base and territory development will contribute to faster techs.

That is a problem of all strategic games regardless of vanilla/mod. The development is exponential. It is immensely difficult to balance it such that no one can overcome any one until all techs are discovered. Usually it happens earlier. I'm opening a new thread on tech tree redesign. One of the topic it to cut it significantly.
Tim

Offline Hagen0

Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #559 on: June 29, 2020, 06:30:32 PM »
I'm playing Civ4 as my other 4x game and it has fairly efficient mechanics for avoiding snowballing. One is a (very) roughly quadratic increase in city maintenance, the other is an enormous defenders advantage in warfare.

As for vanilla Smac multiplayer, the only serious MP game with reasonable settings I played ended by resignation of all other factions in turn 121 due to overwhlming military and economic dominance of the leading facction (he was Morgan with Cloning Vats, Helicopters, Monopole Magnets, probably also Satellites (would have to look that one up)). The serious MP game with unreasonable settings ended by resignation in turn 67. I would be very surprised if MP games between competent players last past 150-170 turns. WTP probably increases turn count by delaying the broken stuff way deep in the tech tree.

Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #560 on: June 29, 2020, 07:12:41 PM »
I'm playing Civ4 as my other 4x game and it has fairly efficient mechanics for avoiding snowballing. One is a (very) roughly quadratic increase in city maintenance, the other is an enormous defenders advantage in warfare.

"an enormous defenders advantage" - that should effectively prevent invasion efficiency. However, it plays toward snowballing, not against. There is no invasion stopping once assailant crossed threshold to efficiently overcome resistance. That what snowballing is. It is not that the conquest is easy. It is that the conquest becomes easier as it goes.

The second one probably does work against snowballing. However, I cannot understand how this is mathematically done. Does the city/empire has overall maintenance which is not the sum for each facility?

Did you actually feel it prevents it? There are a lot of constraining factors in all Civ/SMACX games specially designed to prevent snowballing but they fail.

As for vanilla Smac multiplayer, the only serious MP game with reasonable settings I played ended by resignation of all other factions in turn 121 due to overwhlming military and economic dominance of the leading facction (he was Morgan with Cloning Vats, Helicopters, Monopole Magnets, probably also Satellites (would have to look that one up)). The serious MP game with unreasonable settings ended by resignation in turn 67. I would be very surprised if MP games between competent players last past 150-170 turns. WTP probably increases turn count by delaying the broken stuff way deep in the tech tree.

I believe so with all the anti snowballing fixes it has.

Although Civ like games were not designed with multiplier in mind. Starcraft is much better in it as it is dedicated multiplayer game. I believe these two niches do not intersect well. SMACX multiplayer will always be far from perfect experience.
Tim

Offline Hagen0

Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #561 on: June 29, 2020, 07:37:50 PM »
Smac MP is quite a lot of fun. It is an enormous time commitment though.

In Civ4 the primary means of snowballing is conquering additional territory with a lead in military techs. The defenders advantage enables to fight a technologically superior force to a certain extent and thus slows leading civs down. In Smac you can grow very quickly without increasing your territory with certain key techs. Of course, powerful economic techs also exist in Civ4 but they are not anywhere near in power to advanced terraforming/pop-booming/satellites. Moreover, there is far more available space on a Smac map (with sea bases, raise land and the ability to make use of marginal land).

The maintenance system in Civ4 works like as follows: each city pays a maintenance cost in Gold which scales with total population, numbers of cities and distance to the capital. Settling into financial ruin is a real possibility. At some point expansion must be curtailed until key economic techs are researched. On higher difficulties this point comes quickly (4-10 cities depending on a range of factors). Smaller empires can keep up with bigger ones in research due to lower costs for a while. Eventually they will have to expand though. Facilities/buildings do not have any maintenance cost.

Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #562 on: June 30, 2020, 02:53:56 AM »
Thank you all participant of this topic I now have two new mod ideas.
http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=21481.0

Redo base growth rate

Vanilla rule requires 10 * (pop + 1) nutrients to grow another worker. Due to this the growth rate decelerates with base size rapidly. That naturally discourages growing bases. If it would accelerate or, at least, stay constant faction would have incentive to invest into bigger bases. The nutrient surplus per worker is a function of terraforming era. In the beginning it is from -1 (arid farm) to +1 (rainy farm) which is zero in average. So nutrient surplus per base stays more or less constant. Therefore it does not make sense for early, new, or undeveloped bases to increase nutrient box size proportional to population. From the other hand, the late game (condensers and enrichers) surplus per worker is about 2 and later 3 with satellites. Then it does make sense to increase box proportionally to population size.

From the experience, small bases in early game grow quick then stagnate exhausting all nutrient rich spots then skyrocket in late game again to to advanced terraforming.

I propose to keep nutrient box constant until certain base size then start adding rows.
4 until size 7 then +1 per population

Another option is to just grow it much slower than population size for small bases.
4 for size 1 then add 1 row per 2 population until size 7 then +1 per population

Another option is to increase box size faster with population.
4 for size 1 to 7 then +1/pop to size 13 then +2/pop

PTS fix

Planetary transit system is supposed to easily transit people across globe. So that people from older bases can travel to new bases to populate them quickly. So let them! 😉
Each founded base attracts up to 2 more citizens from other bases (could be home base or just most populated bases). That helps to establish new colonies for the cost of existing ones. This project will still be quite beneficial helping to distribute population to empire outskirts and supporting expansion. However, in this case more citizens in new bases are actually born somewhere before get there and not magically created from thin air as in vanilla.
Tim

Offline Hagen0

Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #563 on: June 30, 2020, 07:06:26 PM »
I need to reiterate this. The best strategy with most factions is to found a moderate amount of bases early and then pop-boom. (Probably followed by more expansion -> boom cycles). As long as this is the case the nutrient requirements for growing are irrelevant except for those at levels 1 and maybe 2. You need to first decide whether you want pop-booming in the game or not. This changes everything.

My take on the nutrient requirements for growth is that your numbers are still way to high. I would revert growth to level 2 to 2 rows of nutrients and keep it at 2 rows until size 3 or 4 and then increase it to 3 rows for the next 3 (or 4) levels of growth , then 4 rows and so on. The decrease in early development speed your mod introduces is fundamentally a bad idea. It bogs down the early game without addressing the real causes of snowballing which is not early expansion speed but rather a bunch of broken mechanics (pop-booming, Satellites, +2 Eco kinda) and secret projects (Weather Paradigm, Planetary Transit System, Cloning Vats).

To change the balance of horizontal growth vs vertical growth it is sufficient to increase the efficiency of facilities, especially drone control facilities.

I guess my ideas are fairly fundamentally opposed to what you have been doing.


Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #564 on: June 30, 2020, 09:19:50 PM »
The decrease in early development speed your mod introduces is fundamentally a bad idea.

You seriously feel my mod is slower than vanilla??? I don't even know how to respond. 😲
Check the readme. Almost every modification is there for faster and smoother game progression, removing stagnation and hindrances. Faster technology progression, removed resource limits, earlier and cheaper facilities, less maintenance, etc. You probably didn't play vanilla for long time and forgot how painfully it stagnates between turns 50-100 with all resource restrictions still there and 40 turns per research breakthrough.

The elevated cost of colony pod is there for reason to add economical development as expansion prerequisite as well and don't fuel it by mean of sole nutrient intake. And even that elevated cost is practically just correction on accelerated development. Bases grow fast in size and mineral output with immediately available rainy farms and rocky mines. Minimally terraformed WTP base builds 60 cost colony as fast as pathetic vanilla one builds 30 cost one.

My take on the nutrient requirements for growth is that your numbers are still way to high. I would revert growth to level 2 to 2 rows of nutrients and keep it at 2 rows until size 3 or 4 and then increase it to 3 rows for the next 3 (or 4) levels of growth , then 4 rows and so on.

Could be. This is still idea in discussion. We need to try it out and see.

without addressing the real causes of snowballing which is not early expansion speed but rather a bunch of broken mechanics (pop-booming, Satellites, +2 Eco kinda) and secret projects (Weather Paradigm, Planetary Transit System, Cloning Vats).

We will fix everything. One thing at a time. With community help everything is possible. Stay on channel and contribute ideas and play testing feedback! 😎

To change the balance of horizontal growth vs vertical growth it is sufficient to increase the efficiency of facilities, especially drone control facilities.

There are more factors to it. Keep in mind I don't want to force anybody to grow vertically or horizontally. Let them if they like to. I am just fixing some OP aspects so they do not shadow other interesting aspects of the game.

Early facility cost/bonus is not a show stopper for base growth. You can build Scout Patrol, Recycling Tanks, Recreation Commons, and Hologram Theater in 40 turns. That is pretty much everything young base needs to grow up to size 6. Yet, this alone does not make it a size 6 base. And it also does not turn it into production center. Terraforming does. It beats everything. With WTP terraforming bases do not have problems building their facilities in between units.
Tim

Offline Hagen0

Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #565 on: July 01, 2020, 12:08:17 AM »
Yes your mod is slower than vanilla Smac. A lot. Among the speed ups you mentioned only the early restriction lifting matters. I really like that feature of your mod but it does not make up for +100% nutrient and mineral costs of colony pods. Moreover, you nerfed the most efficient early terraforming option into the ground which leads to lower energy intake and higher terraforming times  (a rocky mine + road is 12 turns with movement, a vanilla forest 5 turns with movement).

There is no turn 50-100 stagnation in vanilla Smac if you can follow a builder beeline. If you get attacked and need particle weapons and/or plasma armor you get delayed substantially but resource lifting techs should still be done before turn 80.

Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #566 on: July 01, 2020, 01:51:09 AM »
Hmm. Would it help to revert colony cost back? Do you think it'll make it more interesting to play?

I need to recall my arguments due to probably wrong wording. There is no point to discuss how fast anything happens in a game. It it would be the ultimate point then we should resort to dice/crap/roulette one turn games.

Let me rephrase it.
Which mod features you find interesting and which not?
Tim

Offline Hagen0

Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #567 on: July 01, 2020, 02:29:54 AM »
The starting phase is needlessly slow. Even in vanilla it can be consist of moving 2 units and clicking end turn a good deal. This is annoying in Pbem, less so in SP.

What I personally would like from your mod is balancing out some of the overpowered options. It's what I had hoped to find here. Interesting trade offs between a variety of options in terms of base development and social engineering would be even better. Sorry for being so vague. Some of your solutions for unblanced vanilla items are good (like Fusion, resource restrictions). I don't like how some options are just delayed until the end of the game. That is not fun.

Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #568 on: July 01, 2020, 03:35:35 AM »
You didn't answer about colony cost. 😊

There are a lot of OP things delayed to the end of game until they are fixed. One thing at a time. Feel free to propose a next one to fix.
Tim

Offline Tayta Malikai

Re: SMAX - The Will to Power - mod
« Reply #569 on: July 01, 2020, 04:09:21 AM »
I'm not sure that early lifting of resources caps even has that big of an effect. How much terraforming are you doing in the first 50 turns? That early in the game, one mostly relies on bonus tiles to fuel their growth. And with how expensive colony pods are now, one has to choose their base sites more carefully - and there are usually enough bonuses to go around.

Will get back to you later RE: Nevill's mod and multiplayer balance, it's been a busy work week.

 

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