Dev Diary #1: Starmap and Exploration

Discussion in 'Development Updates' started by Adam Solo, Oct 28, 2016.

  1. Adam Solo

    Adam Solo Developer Administrator Lieutenant

    Sep 9, 2016
    Hi everyone!

    Today we kick off a series of dev diaries for Project Space Sector, which we intend to be releasing in a 2-week or monthly fashion. In case you missed the announcement, Space Sector is developing a turn-based space 4X strategy game, which will be a spiritual successor to Master of Orion 2.

    We start with the game's starmap and exploration mechanics.

    Motivation and Rationale

    We believe that exploration is probably one of the best parts of a 4X game, and at the heart of what makes these games extremely fun to play, especially at the beginning.

    And this is the issue: it’s usually good... “at the beginning”. The exploration experience, the curiosity feeling and the surprises that go along with it, usually end too soon. The exploration needed more meat and to stay relevant, and interesting, throughout the game’s later stages.

    We also believe that Master of Orion 2 offered a great basis for what a starmap should be like in a game like this. One that is easy to understand, navigate, and that, ideally, can fit in the screen without the need to be doing constant zooming-in and out to get to places.

    Ultimately, it’s all about offering the player the feeling that the starmap, the world state, is easy to grasp, totally under the player control and that many surprises, and wonderful feelings of discovery, await.

    Realism meets interesting and approachable gameplay was also at the heart of what we wanted to offer with respect to the starmap and exploration. So, a lot of what is currently known, and unknown (but speculated), by science was used to the extent that we think was appropriate for the game’s scope and that would help with immersion and fun.

    With this in mind, let’s present what we’ve come up with.

    The Galaxy

    The universe is full of wonder, with lots of exotic places to explore and exploit.

    We believe that everything we needed to make exploration more fun is already out there, mysteries to be resolved in so many different celestial objects already known to science that offer plenty of fertile ground for us to use in the game.

    So, on top of Master of Orion 2 star systems, which could have planets or not, and other objects, we have the following types of systems and celestial objects, most of which will not be visible when the game starts:

    • Main sequence star: the classic star system with planets, asteroid belts and gas giants. These are all visible at game start (of course, they need to be explored for the details to be revealed). There are blue, white, yellow, orange and red main sequence stars, each with their own advantages and disadvantages in terms of possible events, planet number, planet richness, the amount of asteroid belts and gas giants present as for other factors like ancient ruins presence likelihood, tidal lock probability, ecologic maturity, certain types of planet specials presence, among others.

    • Brown dwarf: due to the unusual properties of the these failed stars, planets orbiting them tend to have more specials and of a specific more unique kind. Sector basic scan may reveal brown dwarf systems; only sure to reveal at “advanced scanning” level (more details on exploration/scan levels will be presented in the “Types of exploration” section below).

    • White dwarf: planets orbiting these dead stars will have seen their cores stripped, those which have survived the red giant phase of their star, that is. These will tend to be very old systems, which makes them likely places to find ancient ruins and certain types of planet specials. White dwarfs may be revealed at basic scan level; only sure to reveal at advanced level.

    • Rogue planet: these are planets that don’t orbit any known star but orbit the galaxy directly. They can be of any type, tend to have a special due to the planet’s uniqueness and are only revealed at full scan. Think hidden bases for late game :)

    • Black hole: these are stellar remnants of stars that went supernova and had more mass than our Sun. They don’t have planets orbiting them but they may have asteroid belts for mining exploitation. Black holes can be further exploited for production (usually more than in other stellar remnants), research and tourism bonuses. They are also the source of antimatter, one of the game’s strategic resources, which will be important for the mid/late game (strategic resources will be detailed in the research dev diary). Black holes are revealed at advanced scan (low chance at basic).

    • Neutron star: a neutron star is also a stellar remnant, which star was bigger than our sun when it exploded in a supernova but smaller than the mass required for it to become a black hole. They also don’t have planets orbiting them but may contain asteroid belts. Like black holes, the accretion disks that form around neutron stars can be exploited for production, research (usually more) and tourism bonuses. Neutron stars are the source of neutronium, which is another strategic resource. Neutron stars are revealed at advanced scanning level (low chance at basic).

    • Boson star: these are exotic stars, which like their black hole and neutron star cousins are also stellar remnants (dead stars). The stars from which they originate were bigger than the ones who originate neutron stars, but their star precursors were not dense enough to form a black hole and an event horizon. Boson stars’ unique properties attract lots of tourism, and they can be further exploited for production and research bonuses. Boson stars are the place to find dark matter, another important strategic resource, especially for the late game. Bosons are only revealed at full scan (low chance at advanced).

    • Wormhole: wormholes will work like they did in Master of Orion 2 at its core. Basically, you can travel between systems with a wormhole connecting them in just 1 turn. On top we added the following: when sufficient exploration has been done, we discover if the wormhole is open or closed (can be re-opened/stabilized with a late tech and access to a strategic resource), and with more exploration/scanning level we’ll know if they’re stable or unstable (closes in a number of turns); the destination of the wormhole is unknown at basic scan; ships can only travel through wormholes if the destination is known. Wormholes are bidirectional and can be present in any system, apart from rogues.

    • Planetary Nebula: a planetary nebula consists of an expanding glowing shell of ionized gas ejected from old stars late in their lives. These are remnants of stars that collapsed as white dwarfs. Travelling through planetary nebulae is slower (1 parsec/turn). Shields will not function while inside them (some other tactical systems may also be inoperative TBD). Star systems inside nebulae tend to have richer planets. Exploration tip: white dwarfs are likely to be found inside planetary nebulae.

    • Supernova Remnant: a supernova remnant is what results from the explosion of a star in a supernova. It expands as a shock wave, and consists of ejected material from the explosion as for all other interstellar material it bumps into along the way. Travelling through these will also result in fleet travel slow down (until hyperdrive is discovered). Shields will not function while inside them (some other tactical systems may also be inoperative). Star systems within them will also tend to have richer planets. Exploration tip: lookout for the possibility of finding black holes, neutron stars and boson stars inside these, as they may have been what’s left from the massive star which exploded as a supernova.

    • Dark Nebula: these are the densest of interstellar nebulae. The birthplaces of stars. Internal motions governed by cold, magnetized gas, cause turbulent motions that are highly supersonic. Dark nebulae blocks FTL movement, at least before the hyperdrive is discovered. These dark patches in the galaxy can be very big (dozens of light years across) and can take very irregular shapes. Exploration tip: Brown dwarfs are more likely to be found near dark nebulae, which being dense star-forming regions make brown dwarf detection easier, since they’re brighter when younger, almost as bright as a main sequence star.
    It’s possible to rename systems and individual planets (already implemented). It’s also possible to rename ships, by the way.


    In Master of Orion 2, fleets could travel freely between star systems (obeying fuel restrictions), as long as there were no black holes in the middle. In our game, fleets can also travel freely between star systems, as long as there are no dark nebulae in the middle. The dark nebulae travel restriction is lifted when the hyperdrive is researched.

    Like in Master of Orion 2, fleets in our game will also have limits to where they can travel to. The range to where fleets can travel to (supply range) will be increased further upon new tech unlocks.

    More advanced drives will enable faster starmap movement.

    Like in Master of Orion 2, when the fleets are travelling (already departed and not yet reached the destination), they cannot be ordered back or reassigned to another system. This can be reversed with a later tech.

    As said above, planetary and supernova remnant nebulas will slow down travel speed to only 1 parsec/turn. This limitation will be lifted upon researching the hyperdrive.

    Dark nebulae block fleet travel until the hyperdrive is researched.

    Stargates, a late tech, will allow for instant travel (1 turn) between all systems which have a stargate built.

    Political Borders

    We’ll have political borders, which extend from colonies. The more developed the colony is, the more influence it will project.

    Empires can’t colonize or create outposts in systems inside each other’s territory, unless they are at war.

    The only non-war exceptions to colonization and outpost creation in other’s territory will be when the empires have certain kinds of treaties between them (to be explained in the diplomacy dev diary).

    In addition to political borders we have supply range and sensor range layers in the UI (all togglable) which show till where your fleets can travel to and how far they can detect rival fleets.

    Types of exploration

    Remote exploration

    While taking ships to star systems can be a more direct and fast way to conduct exploration, in our game the player may also make discoveries at a distance.

    It may take more time, but using remote exploration is a way for the player to discover what’s around without effectively needing to go there physically. This opens new ways to play which don’t require the need to expand too much or too quickly in order to find out what’s out there. And, it can also be done silently without alerting your rivals to your presence.

    Remote exploration is also the only effective way to reveal new objects in the vast sea of space (e.g. reveals Black holes, White dwarfs, Rogue planets, among other celestial objects as described in the Galaxy section above).

    Basically, you select areas in the map to explore further, remotely. You have a sector grid layer on top of the starmap, where you choose what sector to explore next (or further), and then you wait a set of turns.

    Some information about some objects may be revealed with “basic scan” level. Example: a main sequence star systems at “basic scan” level will reveal the planet type, size and gravity. Planet richness and ancient ruins will only be revealed with an “advanced scan”, while a “full scan” may reveal a planet special, a space monster, or the amount of Helium-3 that can be extracted from a gas giant (helium-3 is another strategic resource of the game that unlocks a faster drive, among other economic benefits). So, all this info can be obtained without even going there.

    Of course, remote exploration takes time, but it can be a very good complement to fleet-based exploration activities and it is the only way, apart from info found on ancient ruins (more on that in a moment), to reveal new systems in the starmap.

    With this, we think that the exploration and the feeling of discovery will continue, revealing new objects on the map throughout the mid and late game. Objects which, will tend to have the best and more unique planet specials (brown dwarfs and rogue planets), a better chance to find ruins (white dwarfs) and strategic resources that will be key for the mid and late game (blackholes, neutron stars and boson stars).

    Certain cultures/social engineering options help speed up remote exploration and even allow more than one sector to be explored remotely at a time.

    Survey ship exploration

    Any ship can explore systems and reveal some of its secrets, but a special type of ship called survey ship is required to uncover full information about the objects they visit.

    These are very expensive ships, which require special surveying equipment and personnel, so they will not be available right way, or so easily.

    Survey ships also help speed up remote exploration activities in the sector they’re in.

    All systems visited by a survey ship will be set to “full scan” (all information is revealed about them).

    Regular ship exploration

    Regular ships, i.e. non-survey, civilian and military ships can explore system objects that are already visible in the map.

    Regular ships can only explore a system to “basic scan” level, so they only reveal partial information about planets and stellar remnants’ (e.g. black hole) economic potential.

    Planet Specials

    Some planets may have specials, which provide bonuses or make the planet unique in some way. By the way, we used MoO2's attributes for planets as the baseline (planet size, gravity and planet richness). However, we expanded the "system specials" concept (other planet attributes will be revealed and detailed in later dev diaries).

    Planet specials are only revealed at full scan (either by means of remote exploration or a visit by a survey ship), or when a colony or outpost are settled on a planet (automatic full exploration on the planet).

    Examples of planet specials are: natural wonders, unique biota, an ancient device (e.g. planetary shield), diamond crust, hostile fauna, friendly natives, large caves, exceptional fossils, runaway greenhouse, ice age, violent tectonics, meteor showers, tidal lock.

    Most of these are already implemented.

    Let us know your ideas for further planet specials you would want to see in the game!

    Ancient Ruins

    Some planets may have ancient ruins. These will be more likely to find in very old systems (e.g. red main sequence stars, or white dwarf systems).

    These derelicts are all that is left by ancient races from times gone by. For ancient ruins to be revealed, a system needs to have been explored to at least “advanced scan” level, either through remote exploration, or through the use of a survey ship (a non-survey ship can only explore an object at “basic scan” level).

    Exploring ruins can result in one of the following possibilities: - nothing, a powerful ship, a legendary leader, a unique super tech, an artifact (more on that when we publish the research dev diary), money or info (e.g. nearby systems’ info or other ruins’ locations).

    Tell us what else you think could be found of interest in ruins belonging to ancient civilizations!

    Ruins can only be searched by each empire once, but expert explorer leaders (more on leaders when we publish the leaders dev diary) allows empires to search ruins twice for another chance to find something there, or something else. Leaders with the explorer skill also improve the chances of finding something in ruins.

    Several things can be obtained from the same ruins for different raider parties belonging to different empires, so keeping an eye on these locations will be vital. If you're the first to search a site, you have a big chance to find something there, but if you come out late to the party you'll have fewer chances to make a discovery. And, the more parties have investigated the site before you, the least your chances to find something there will be.

    Just lookout for space monsters, as these tend to like to be guarding interesting systems! :)

    Now please let us know your impressions, and what your ideas and suggestions for improvement may be.
    • Agree Agree x 2
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  2. Matthias

    Matthias Ensign

    Oct 14, 2016
    Very cool! I am so looking forward to this! I like the multiple stages of scanning approach. To not have this become too tedious, it might be worthwile to consider giving the player the option to automate exploration to a degree. Will trading of maps with other empires become a thing then? I also like the Dark Nebulae idea.

    But you did not answer one potentially important question: is the star-map going to be 2D or 3D? From your description of the sector "grid" I would suppose 2D... (which is fine for me - it worked perfectly in MoO1 and 2) And are there going to be Moons?

    One special of a planet I could imagine are natural reactors (like the one in Oklo, Gabun), perhaps only in young systems, providing either a source of plutonium (if that is desirable?) or a danger to would-be settlers...

    And since you have tidal lock, what about large axial tilt - I don't know what it would do (yet ;) ), but at an inclination >60° it would put the ice caps around the equator while the poles would be the tropics!

    And what about large volcanic eruptions? (inspired by the large igneous provinces on the Earth's surface) There would be a certain chance of an eruption on that type of planet, which would turn the planet uninhabitable for a few turns...

    Regarding ancient ruins, wouldn't it be cool if one could accedentially re-awaken a dormant mini-civilization (a la Star Trek Voyager: Dragon's Teeth) which might then turn against the player (or help him)? Perhaps only a few turns, before either falling apart, be beaten by the player or joining the players empire...

    Another ancient ruin feature, perhaps a deserted ultra-deep mine which gives the player who settles the planet access to a wealth of resources?

    Finally: looking forward to the first screenshots! :)
    • Helpful Helpful x 1
  3. schascha

    schascha Cadet

    Oct 18, 2016
    Thx for this dev diary, I follow your project with a great interest
  4. Bigmo

    Bigmo Ensign

    Oct 14, 2016
    For very unusual stellar objects:
    • Dyson Spheres
    • Godstar (sentient star)
    For planet types and specials
    • The ususal suspects (Iceballs, tundra, dead rock, desert, toxic, volcanic, greenhouse or jungle, gas, ocean, garden)
      • Here are some suggestions for modifiers or planetary characteristics
        • Biosphere (Fully of living stuff, sparsly populated, no life)
        • Atmospheric activity (Violent, active, regular, mild, none)
        • Tectonic activity (Violent, active, regular, mild, none)
    • Artifical world
      • Previously terraformed planet then abandonned
      • Synthetic worlds (like Cybertron)
      • Big ass structure (Death Star, the space station in Mass Effect, etc...)
      • Could provide artefacts, various bonuses or disastrous blight
    • Sentient world
      • Could be hostile or beneficial or indifferent providing bonuses or not
    • Dead world
      • ruins with no tech value, but high cultural value?
    • Unique resource world
    • Ringworld
      • Like halo, provides tech bonuses or discoveries or even disastrous blight
    • Orbital specials
      • Rings provide mining or tech bonus depending on ring composition
      • Moons, mining,tech or pop bonus
    • Asteroid field/orbit
      • Could contain valuable resources
      • Could have specials such as hidden treasures, bases (abandonned or not), tech cache, cultural cache
    • Natives
      • Provides different bonuses depending if they are advanced or not
      • Could be hostile or not to colonizing empire depending on "alignement", hampering or helping development
    Have a good day!
    • Helpful Helpful x 2
  5. Adam Solo

    Adam Solo Developer Administrator Lieutenant

    Sep 9, 2016
    Great stuff Bigmo!

    I especially liked the Dead world, the idea that ruins could also boost culture. The orbital specials is also a very nice one, to abstract the moons idea. Tech/culture/money cache is also something to consider.

    The Artificial world suggestion is also very interesting, although that may be covered by the ancient ruins / derelict concept a bit. However, there's some nice ideas for ruins outcomes. I love the thought of a synthetic world out there.

    The Biosphere concept is already modeled into our system. The tectonic activity suggestion is covered by the "violent tectonics" special to a good extent.

    The "Unique resource world", even if it doesn't hold a unique resource, will, at very minimum be covered via a "key world" feature of sorts, as we have to have one of those :)

    Thanks, and please keep the ideas coming Bigmo and all, as we'll be processing and categorizing them for their viability for inclusion in the game (as new additions or improvements), to be later presented in the Community Feedback List.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2016
  6. Neil

    Neil Ensign

    Oct 20, 2016
    This looks awesome!!

    A sci-fi 4X game needs to capture that sense of exploring the mysteries (and dangers) of outer space. If the galaxy feels abstract and empty, then the player will just wonder why the game is even set in space.

    Excited to read this post, as this is defintely heading in the direction I like for space 4X.

    Now one thing to mention, that appeals to me anyway, is that there should be dangers as well as benefits. Exploration should carry a risk to it!

    Will post any ideas I have for specials, when I have the time.
  7. Bigmo

    Bigmo Ensign

    Oct 14, 2016
    Happy to help! Just don't let "feature creep" swallow all of your efforts for the initial launch, keep your eyes on a specific target. Additionnal features can always be added later as DLC. As long as you keep everything modular and moddable, you should be able to do that. I work at a development firm, if you guys need a hand, let me know. I know a few guys...
  8. Adam Solo

    Adam Solo Developer Administrator Lieutenant

    Sep 9, 2016
    I'm glad you liked it! Being you a planetary scientist that is great news, I'd say :)

    Nice ideas in there. Exchanging maps/scanning info with others via diplomacy is something that didn't occur to us, but it's probably welcome, and doable. We'll see.

    I'm intrigued by the Oklo natural fission reactor you mention, I didn't know about it. Could work as a planet special, like a double edge sword, or a choice you need to make on how you decide to exploit that or not. Yes, we want to implement moral decisions when discovering/colonizing somehow.

    Large axial tilt, yeah. But, how could we make it work exactly? Perhaps the modders can come up with something ;)

    Large volcanic eruptions are somewhat covered by the planet type and ecological maturity concepts.

    Like in Master of Orion 2, the starmap is also set on a 2D plane. It does contain 3D objects in our case, but essentially it is a "2D map", yes.

    As for the screenshots, they will come :) The main reason for not including any so far is because we want to have things a bit more polished before showing them. If we post early screenshots now, there's a risk that that's what the game will be judged by, and we want to focus on the gameplay now, not the looks. Also, those early shots would get indexed on google at the top, etc. There are other areas like Ship Design and the Colony Development where the UI is more final, so there's a good chance that those dev diaries will probably have screenshots.

    Thanks for the suggestions!
  9. Adam Solo

    Adam Solo Developer Administrator Lieutenant

    Sep 9, 2016
    Yeah, we'll do our best not to fall into the "feature creep" trap, and we know that's a serious risk, especially when there are so many great ideas being thrown at us.

    So, some things that people will suggest will be in the final release, but others will have to come only after as DLC, as you say (or on a meaty expansion). Others still will not be feasible and will simply not be in. We hope that everybody understands that when they don't see their favorite ideas in the game. That is the only way.

    Thanks for the offer! We're good in terms of programming efforts (for now), but we'll surely need help on the art department (for raster images, animation, 3D models, cut-scenes, music, sounds).

    We're refining the art requirements for the game at the moment. The idea is that in the weeks ahead, the art needs will be more clear and it would be great to start building a fanbase of highly skilled and enthusiastic individuals.

    So, if you're an artist and would want to be involved and help, just contact us (link in the footer).
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. Jeff Graw

    Jeff Graw Cadet

    Oct 30, 2016
    Congrats on kicking off the project, Adam and crew.

    Figured I should finally make an account around here, and hopefully it's not too impolite of me to poke my nose into another developer's game.

    It sounds like you guys have put a decent amount of thought into these mechanics, and I want to see more space 4Xes with meaningful terrain, but I have a question regarding how you intend to handle the situation where one might be tracking a hostile fleet that then arrives at an undiscovered location:

    • Does the fleet disappear?
    • Does the fleet appear to be hovering over nothing or "unknown"?
    • Or, would the previously undiscovered location become known by tracking the enemy fleet there?

    I don't think any of these are perfect answers, but I'd err towards one of the last two options myself, or maybe you've already thought of a better solution. Regardless of this wrinkle, I think the concept of hidden systems is interesting.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2016
  11. Adam Solo

    Adam Solo Developer Administrator Lieutenant

    Sep 9, 2016
    Thanks @Jeff Graw, and welcome.

    We'll go with the second option. When you're tracking a rival fleet and you witness its arrival at an undiscovered location, the object's location, but not its type, is revealed to the player and it becomes a "question mark" in the map. Later on, you can use remote exploration or send a ship to investigate what type of object the rival's fleet was stationed at.
  12. Bigmo

    Bigmo Ensign

    Oct 14, 2016
    Just had an idea with the whole ancient ruins system. Along with providing potential cultural and research bonuses, you guys could create random conditions in each games that, once reunited, provides the key to the initial finding or accessing Orion (or whatever you will name it). For instance, in order to find orion you would need to find 2 to 5 ancient artefacts and hold 1 to 3 location under your control (or under the control of an ally or subject empire (or just under military control).

    Ancient artefacts, of orion or other, origin could also be moved, stealed, selled. Along with your aforementionned scaled scanning system, we could maybe implement an archeological/cultural system similar to Civ5.

    You could also still keep the Super-Monster guarding Orion, or not, or both! Speaking of the Super-Monster, why not making it even more interesting by letting it reconstruct ships from failed attack with upgraded tech. If you send 10 destroyers against it, and fail the attack, then the auto-repair system would take over the ships remnant and add them to the orion defense fleet. Even more interesting! Make any destroyed ship during battle, come back "to life" at reduced capacity to fight for Orion.
    • Agree Agree x 1
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  13. rebel

    rebel Cadet

    Oct 31, 2016

    Just a few bits to add or discuss.

    presuming it takes longer to travel at the start between stars and gets faster the better tech you get ?

    Ancient Ruins.....
    In keeping with your theme - current science etc.
    a) Not keen on the idea of ancient ruins giving you a legendary leader - that civs been dead a thousand years - how is a leader still around.
    Would be better to get a leader from a NPC world you find.
    b) Yes a dead civ world can give heaps of tech - even something not in game tech tree - cause the ancient civ went down a different tech path.
    c) Query - I dont understand the treatment of an ancient ruin in most games these days - i mean its possibly a city or whole world of ruins - not just one building thats been found.
    d) so why cant an ancient ruin be treated like a sector - invest some scanning or scientists or colony in it and it keeps giving techs - not just science points or something abstract - but every 10 or 20 years scientists either find or decode more of the ruins to give another advancement - be it either bio, power generation, weapons, or even a brand new tech line not normally in the game.
    e) to expand further - different ruins could be of different ancient races - so one race could have been great at food - another at power generation - another at ships, another at travel - and so on.
    f) or you could just find a pyramid of stone.

    If we want to keep exploring - I would love to think there are ancient worlds out there that we get to explore fully - rather than just visit once.
    It sure would make me want to fight for it - to keep exploring it.
    • Helpful Helpful x 1
  14. TericDragon

    TericDragon Cadet

    Oct 14, 2016
    I really like this idea! An ancient civilization may have a range of discoveries available, depending on how intact the ruins are. Examples:

    --In the game 'Homeworld', the ancient ruins took the form of a gigantic starship. The inhabitants of that world exploited the discovery to develop FTL travel, advanced weaponry, research capabilities, and (most importantly) found a map to a key star/planet (Higara).

    --In the game 'Mass Effect 1', the ancient ruins contained the collected history of the extinct Promethean race, which revealed critical information regarding the Reapers--a super-advanced synthetic race that had wiped out the Prometheans and would soon come to wipe out all sentient life in the galaxy.

    I also like the idea that an ancient ruins planet with rich discovery potential would become a key research resource, and could be the focus of diplomacy or even war in order to maintain control of these advancements.
  15. ChrisKonstantine

    ChrisKonstantine Commander

    Oct 19, 2016
    Very impressive and a solid start Mr. Solo.
    In reading through the dev diary I could see the originating influence of some of the mechanics you listed and the experience of a game reviewer behind your vision.
    Your proposals are very solid and interesting, perhaps it would be best to flesh out the mechanics you wrote rather than adding more as you know the risks involved. Right now what you propose sounds like a lot of fun and it sounds clean, (meaning I don't spend hours just figuring the map out)
    If you were to then fine tune the pace of exploration and retain your "basic scan, full scan" mechanics it should allow for the explore section of the game to persist to level that few 4Xs do.

    As far as planet specials go, why not throw some more nasty specials in as well. Things such as
    Unique virus. (Colony is quarantined until either a cure is researched or the planetary population perishes)
    Hostile natives. (Similar to an invasion, win and keep the colony, lose and get a new minor power on the map)
    Lost outpost. (You stumble upon and activate a lost outpost that calls for help, small group of ships en-route to relieve the outpost)

    In any case, I am very pleased so far with the direction this project is taking.
    • Helpful Helpful x 1
  16. salvo

    salvo Cadet

    Nov 1, 2016
    great stuff. Since I consider exploration to be the most important aspect of a 4x game, I really like the focus you set on your approach. The problem most 4x games have is in fact that exploration is limited to the early/mid game but tends to disappear as a gameplay element as the game advances. I think an additional way to keep it as a gameplay element even in later stages of the game might be to detach exploration from the galaxy level to which it is typically limited and to add it to the planetary level, too. So, planets, or generally objects, discovered, scanned and possibly colonized during the exploration phase on the galaxy level, don't become just dead assets as soon as you discover and categorize them, to be exploited and developped only, just a management concern, but continue to be something alien, to evolve independently from player actions, to keep mysteries (resources, dangers, life forms), which can only be revealed and accessed by additional efforts (resources applied to research, engineering, planetary level exploration projects). In some games such as stellaris events are introduced to make the planetary involvement a bit dynamic, but I think a more radical approach is needed to keep exploration interesting throughout the game, an object discovered on the galaxy level should only be gradually discovered on the planetary level, and the more resources you apply to planetary exploration the greater the chances to reveal one of its mysteries.
  17. csebal

    csebal Cadet

    Oct 21, 2016
    Ah, the good old star map topic. It depends on so many factors:
    - The map size?
    Some say they cannot enjoy a game, if it is played in a galaxy "this >< small", when real galaxies are "yea > < big". Others cannot play in huge galaxies as the inability to oversee it all intimidates them and makes them feel out of control.
    There aren't good compromises here, as it depends on the person you ask. The best thing you can do is to make this a largely parameterized part of your game, that can cater to a wide audience.

    - Distance both in space and also in time is something we rarely see reflected in designs of 4X games.
    Stellar travel takes long, as established by the fact that your starting ship will likely take several turns to get to the neighboring system. Now if you want that ship to go somewhere, how would you tell them? Unless there is some sort of miraculous communication method that allows you to communicate instantaneously irrespective of distance, your best bet would be sending messengers, as all other methods will likely only travel at the speed of light, thus be slower than "Ye Olde Postal Service". If that is so and if travel is inherently a slow thing, then what about command delays? Sure I would want that colony on the fringe of my empire to build a spaceship, but if it takes my fleet 10 turns to get there, then so does my command.

    - How about exploration?
    If there is anything Stellaris has taught us, then it is that exploration in itself can almost carry an otherwise mediocre game on its back. Sure there are things you can improve on their formula, but I believe they did manage to get it right in that aspect and there is little more you could add that would make it better, while a lot you could take away that would make it worse. Sure you could think, that the shape of a wheel is in essence a polygon with its many corners laid out in a circular fashion, but trust me.. streamlining that polygon into a hexagon, square or even a triangle will not improve your wheel's performance. If anything, it will be degraded exponentially the more points you remove.

    What I am trying to say in my extremely convoluted fashion: stick to well known recipes and do not try to reinvent the wheel just because you can, unless you are 100% certain that you truly can, in which case be ready to drop your solution in favor of a proper "wheel" on a moment's notice. Don't stick with it just because its yours.
    • Helpful Helpful x 1
  18. starklife

    starklife Cadet

    Nov 11, 2016
    Got signed up a bit late, but I've been reading space sector for a long time, and this news just blew me away I'm so happy! Really excited about the project and more than willing to pay for something that really brings back all the fun I have had with MOO2 over the years. TURN BASED PLEASE.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  19. chanty

    chanty Cadet

    Nov 13, 2016
    Is the game going to have real elements like real life?

    Things like totally open-ended (or sandbox) game play, a mechanic as your empire develops over yrs, new research tech and developments become available above the standard ones.

    new empires emerge after centuries, they enter space travel, have there own agendas and research/tech. The game could continually grow the longer you play it, more research, tech, empires, diplomacy etc etc

    Planets go supernova, others age and can be colonized, the universe is a living evolving and dying thing.

    I think you get where im going, I just wonder if it's possible? There has not been a game with a truly evolving universe, tech, empires etc that never ends, just grows / dies in time/years/centuries.
    • Helpful Helpful x 1
  20. Adam Solo

    Adam Solo Developer Administrator Lieutenant

    Sep 9, 2016
    We plan to have supernova events. Now that I think about it, new stellar remnants (e.g. black holes) could be formed from those, and create new opportunities from the demise. We'll give that a thought.

    Everything that can help make the universe feel more alive is welcome, as long as it fits with the game's core mechanics and scope.

    Let me know if you have any other ideas on how to make the universe more dynamic and feel more alive.

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