Pre-Order the Game!

Desura Digital Distribution

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Starlanes or no Starlanes, that is the question...

I finished the last tweaking of resources in the economy system so that those used in projects are separated from those that aren't.  The reasoning for this is that the game don't handle stacked production well if I don't do this.  Stacked production meaning making more than 1 of an item (maybe 3x scouts or something) in one turn.  The reason for this is that the game adds up consumption of all planets, upkeep, etc, then if there's a shortage, the "efficiency" of stuff using that resource are reduced by the amount of shortage.  This don't work well for projects, because even at optimal consumption, it'd only factor in one item.  If I try and add more items, it'd think the consumption is larger, and if there's a shortage, everything else suffers.

So I separated those two, and will make it so that project resources are "use it or lose it".  If you have an excess production but no projects, you're wasting production.  So now I can feed in the "Project Manager" saying "I have 600 industry, what do you give me?" and it can calculate that it'd make 3 scouts.

I plan to use the same Project Manager class across the three entities (Planet, Star System, and Empire) and same UI, but Planet will be a queue-based production while Star System and Empire will be a list-based production with sliders to indicate how much you're dividing up the resources between the projects.

Since there's no new screenshots for like forever, I decided to do a quick feature, the ability to turn on or off starlanes.  Personally, I love starlanes, it creates chokepoints and strategic locations.  But some despise it, so I added this feature.  This is a screenshot showing starlanes off and on:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Micromanagement Part Two

In the past week, I played a few different games, some board, some video, and I think I may have hit on a sweet idea for reducing end-game tedium and micromanagement.

First, the games that I played?  Castle Risk (board game), Eador: Genesis, and Heroes of Might and Magic 2.

In Castle Risk, each player has a Castle that he must protect at all cost.  If he lose the territory that contains his Castle, he's out of the game, and his army is removed from the game, leaving the now unoccupied territories open for free invasions.

In Eador: Genesis, you start with a hero and a stronghold.  The map is divided into Shards that is further divided into provinces (spelling?).  A Shard is basically a whole game in itself as you don't transfer armies between shards.  You can move units only with your hero, and you can capture provinces.  However, even if you are in a province with an army (including hero), it is not fully explored at first.  Maybe 5% or 10%, but sufficient to "claim" the province and its output.

In HoMM 2 (and all other games in the series), there are resources and stuff scattered across the map.  There's lumber mills, gold mines, and so forth.  There are few castles in relation to the map size.  You can develop each castle by building stuff which adds new types of units that you can gather into your hero's army.

So here's my proposal.  If I were to combine those elements, it will enhance the "Explore" and "Exploit" aspects of the 4X label for my game.

First, starting with exploration aspect.  Let's say that you have a "FTL Carrier" which is an equivalent of heroes in HoMM and Eador, that can transport other ships with it, but it is not involved in battles (it will retreat immediately if you lose the battle).  You can't explore other systems without a FTL Carrier.  However, a FTL carrier will be very expensive to build, and pricey to maintain, so you won't have too many of them.  They will have a limited capacity in the number and size of ships that they can transport, so over the game you will upgrade your FTL carriers to be bigger and faster.

When you arrive at a star system, there is a chance that you may encounter something guarding the system (Guardian, Space Monsters, etc), or not.  If you choose to battle and is successful, or if there's no guardians, you claim the system, otherwise you retreat.  Once claimed, you don't see all the planets and other stuff at once.  You'll need to send some ships to explore (if you have at least one ship in the system idling, it will automatically explore).  Some planets on discovery may require you to attack defensive satellites, baby eels, natives, or some other stuff before you can claim the planet.  Once claimed, it is now open to development.  People will automatically move to it, so that's how the "Colonization" will work in the game.  There will be other stuff that you may discover, such as derelict ships that you can add to your fleet, ancient artifacts, stockpiled resources, etc.

Your home system will be your "Castle", and will have a planet that is unique to your race that can support a full "home".  This means that most of other planets are really just outposts with some people on them, mainly for mining and production.  If you lose your home system, you lose the game.  So in late-game, you don't need to wipe out all the enemy's systems, just his home system.

If you own a system, and an enemy attacks it, the battle is for the whole system, not on per-planet basis.  You will use all of your ships in the system, and it's only two sides in the battle (if two enemies attacks, you deal with each one individually).  If  you lose, the enemy now claims the system, but he will still need to explore it.  If you added defenses to your owned planets, he will need to wipe them out before he can claim the planets, buying you time to get reinforcements and attempt to take the system back.

So a fully developed system will take quite some time for an enemy to fully conquer as opposed to a newly settled system.  In real life, f you were to invade a country and topple its government, it don't mean that its people are now immediately under your control.  You'll have to go to each city and battle it out, unless the country decided to surrender.  However, if the government is totally toppled, it makes it much more easier to capture cities, so that's how it will be in the game.  If you managed to capture a home system, it means that the player is out of the game, but all of his previously owned planets will still have defenses and such that he developed.

I believe that another part of micromanagement tedium is waiting for stuff to be built.  In Eador, you can go to your stronghold and build a new building in a turn, paying the cost to build it though.  In Beyond Beyaan, each turn is a year, so I assume that it shouldn't take more than a year to build a farm? :)  So you can go to planet management screen, and filter out planets, then add buildings and regions to the selected planets' queue, and they will be built.  However, the price will be deducted immediately when you assign a planet to build, even if it's not for a few turns.  Every building and region will only take one turn to build.

As for ships, I think the idea is to have few small ships to defend and explore systems that they are in.  You can upgrade a system to build larger ships, but those upgrades will be expensive, so most likely only a few systems will support that.  Then you send FTL carriers to pick up those large ships and replace the lost or obsolete ships.  If you see planets in your systems that are not claimed yet due to being heavily defended, you can wait until you build ships,

You design ships, then you can "buy" them (they will be built in a turn).  However, ships will be expensive and high maintenance, so you won't have too many of them, and making it more of a incentive to retreat if a battle is going badly, getting rid of the "disposable ships" idea.

All in all, it will be similar to HoMM/Eador system, with a lot less fleet moving around, but emphasizing exploration and focusing on fun aspects that I mentioned in last post.

What are your thoughts?  It maintains the strategic aspect of moving ships around and conquering, but with added emphasis on exploration and exploiting resources, and reduced tedium in waiting for stuff to be built.  If you want more resource output, you have to decide between building ships, or developing planets, or buying technologies so you can improve your ship's designs, and few other things.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Code Commit Feed

Just a quick post.  I added a code commit feed thingy on bottom of this blog.  You can see 5 most recent code commits to Beyond Beyaan.  I tried to put it in the side of this blog, or on top below the "buy" button, but this stupid blog won't let me.  So for now, if you want to see the most recent changes, scroll to bottom and check out the commits.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Sorry, no screenshots in this post, because I saw something on SpaceSector that caught my eye.  The author discussed micromanagement in terms of managing colonies (, and while I made some comments there, I thought of another micromanagement issue: the end-game "final war" where you're either winning or losing, and the tedious task of going to each star system and ensuring that it's eradicated of your enemy.

Let's say that you're playing in a 200-star galaxy, with every star being inhabited by either you or your enemy, with about 50/50 distribution.  And each star averages 4 planets each, that'd be about 400 planets to invade/bomb!  This got me to thinking, what if that isn't the problem, but is actually how fleets are portrayed/managed in the game?  It gets tedious sending a fleet to a planet, then attacking, then ordering it to attack another planet, or moving to next system.

I think the most fun aspects of a space 4X game are colony development/colonizing, research, ship designing, and space combat.  Others are just fluff to help move the game along.  What if the fleet management were minimized or even eliminated, thereby focusing on those fun aspects of the 4X game?

At this point, I realized that nearly all 4X space games have basically the same fleet management.  No matter how they move, they're always represented in the galaxy view, and you have to issue orders one way or another for them to move to or attack a star system.

If we were to eliminate traditional fleet management, what are our alternatives that can perform the same tasks but are less tedious?  Consider the fact that we want to support colonizing, exploring, transporting population/troops, attacking, and defending of planets.

Note, this is just speculation!  I want to make the end game about as equally enjoyable as early game and mid game!

Perhaps we could try the idea inspired by Castles series (Castles 2: Siege and Conquest in particular) where instead of having army icons, the land is divided up into territories, and you select a territory then select an action (spy, attack, etc).  You have a limited list of actions that you can perform at the same time.  Would this work for this kind of game?  Let me illustrate what it would look like:

Exploring would be done by "hiring" people to explore it for you.  You select a star system, and click on "Explore".  The price and time taken for this action will be based on distance from nearest owned system, and you confirm by clicking on "OK".  This is then added to in-progress actions (actions are not arbitarily limited, it is limited by amount of resources that you have).  If starlanes are enabled, then you can only explore systems that are connected to an explored system, and is not blocked by an hostile empire (blocked in the sense that they occupy a star system that connects your empire to the unexplored system.)

Colonization again would be done by "hiring" people to build a colony base on a planet.  The cost and time will be based on distance and hospitality of the planet.  Technologies can reduce either factors.

Attacking would be done by selecting a planet then clicking on "Attack".  It will then prompt you asking which ships to send for the attack, then the cost will be calculated by the fleet's upkeep cost and time taken to arrive.  After a successful attack, it asks you for three options (depending on what equipment your ships have): Bombard Planet (kill off all people, this have diplomatic repercussions, you'll be branded as participating in xenocide), Destroy Planet (same as Bombard, but more severe repercussions), or Invade Planet (no diplomatic repercussions, but more involved).

Transporting population can be partially eliminated by having people automatically migrate from crowded planets to less crowded/more hospitable planets.  But for invasion, maybe you need to build up an ground army similar to Castles, then clicking on a planet and selecting "Invade".  Invade would be similar to Attack, in that you select ships to escort your troops, and you select troops to attack.

Defending will be done by displaying list of planets being attacked, and which ships are attacking.  You then select which ships to defend which planet, then resolve each battle.  In this case, you have "home field advantage".

Spies can be used to find out the enemy's actions and see if they're planning an attack on you, or to find out intel such as explored systems, fleet strength, etc.

Your list of actions will be displayed in top right of the galaxy view, to remind you what you're doing.

Pros of this system:
A lot less management of your fleets, you don't have to worry about splitting fleets, moving them to defend a system, or attacking, or adding troops to a ship, etc.
More streamlined management of your empire.  You're an emperor, you say "I want to attack this system", and it is done, you don't worry about supply lines or fleet formation, those are left to your underlings.
It scales with your empire size.  More resources means that you can explore more systems at once, instead of having to build scout ships and sending them out.
It will be a lot simpler to program, meaning the game will be finished sooner.
It focuses on the fun features of 4X games - Exploration, Colonization, Battles, Researching, and Development.
Ships are now built at empire-wide level, because they're managed in an empire-wide level, which further reduces micromanagement.  You can order up 10 battleships, and don't have to care about where they're built.

Cons of this system:
Less tactical decisions in the galaxy level.  You'll feel a lack of micromanagement if you're a micromanagement freak.  This is not a problem for me personally.
May be a bit imbalanced being able to attack one system on one end of galaxy, then attacking another system on the other end of galaxy shortly afterwards with the same ships.  But this is offset with the ability to defend systems in the same manner.  Again, not really a problem for me.

What are your thoughts?  Personally, I find this to be very alluring, both in terms of simplicity for me to program, and in reduced management in general.  If there are no major issues, then I will go ahead and attempt this venture.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Glasses and Economy

First, things are still busy at work, so I've only been able to put in 15 or 30 minutes worth of work at a time here and there.  Hopefully in a month, everything will settle down, and I'll have more time to work on the game.

Now, how is glasses related to the game?  Well, at about the same time that our second daughter was born, my first daughter broke my regular glasses (Pro-tip, don't go for those half-frame glasses, the strings holding the bottom part of lenses break easily, and repeatedly breaking those weaken the frame itself).  So I ordered a new one from the internet.  For the past 5 months I've been experiencing vertigo, anxiety, dizziness, headaches, etc.  I went to doctors, but they couldn't find out anything.  Then finally a week ago, at work I took off my glasses to rub my eyes, and I suddenly felt better!  Turns out that my left lenses were made incorrectly, the prescription was flipped 90 degrees!  That was the cause of all that pain!  So I've ordered replacement lenses...  This has negatively affected my efforts because often I didn't feel well enough to work on my game.

Now for some good news.  The economy system is now finally done!  You can specify starting resources on a race's planets.  Races' food/resource consumption are calculated as a part of economy system (before it was separate).  Racial bonuses/disadvantages are now finally used!  Planets sharing resources are also implemented!  The only things missing are projects and UI for displaying resources.  Projects includes research, ship building, building regions, and regional improvements.

So the next post will finally have a new screenshot! :)