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Official CommentsQSI Posts on the Discussion Boards — Part One

Updated October 10th, 2001:

Alan Emrich, Designer

Looking at information costs no IFPs: >> Unless QS has changed things since their last announcement on the subject, you can check all the data you want, for free (watching battles is the exception, and that's mostly because the developers are worried about multiplayer games bogging down). Only if you want to change things do you need to expend IFPs. <<

That's still correct and still the paradigm. Remember, when you "look things over," all of the decisions will be in place. If things are going along okay, you'll only look at this stuff to satisfy your curiosity and "rubber stamp" things anyway. IFPs, as I see them, are for putting out fires and intervening to put your mark on your civilization as you try to "steer" the ship of state toward victory.

Do IFP rations per turn increase during the game? The short answer is that IFP rations per turn won't increase during the game. Oh, they might fluctuate a little with changes in government types and leadership, but figure in the 6-9 range per game turn (subject to playtesting) for now. This is very deliberate. A smaller civilization should be able to use those IFPs to micromanage much more easily than a larger one, giving it a bit of a competitive edge in that regard.

And you don't have to do everything every turn. What you didn't get to this turn, you can always try to get around to next turn. There's always another turn...

Making scenarios easy to run: >> I'm looking for the 'Civ II Ultimate Classic Collection' approach, where it was easy to run any of the scenarios without having to mess about too much. <<

I'm not saying that I wouldn't like the features that you guys are asking for, too. But your citing an example of a game (Civ2 UCC) that had been out for years and in many iterations. When MOO3 reaches that level of publishing maturity, I'm sure those of the kinds of things you'll see for it, too.

Choosing battles: >> I'm hoping that when a number of battles occur on the same turn, we will get a list of them, along with some broad details of each one, so that we can make an informed decision as to which battles to spend our IFPs on. <<

Of course you will get a list. It will even be prioritized for you by how much is "at risk" in these battles in descending order. (So you'll probably choose something from at or near the top of the list.)

Situation Report accuracy: >> Every turn in the MOO3 we'll receive an Imperial Report. I wonder if all information in this report is completely correct, or if this report contains all really important information. <<

Of course not! Look, "correct" is a matter of filters ("disinformation" on the enemy's end, if it's about them, and "interpretation" on your Leaders' end when they hand the story up to your SitRep (Situation Report)).

"All" important information, to paraphrase the famous quote, "depends on what the word 'important' is." Individual Leaders pass information along up the command chain. Whether it rises to the top or not to make it to the SitRep is subject to their opinions. Now, generally, of course, certain very large matters will invariably make it. War, Peace, Rebellion... the stuff that you couldn't really sweep under the rug if you wanted to. But other stuff, like teething problems in the new Anti-Missile Cruiser design or that the Viceroy of Lundie VIe has been found to be highly corrupt... well, that news may get up to your desk, or it may not. It depends on what the under-Leaders think about it.

So, what we have here is a paradigm and the above are the effects of it. The paradigm is that each subcomponent aspect of MOO3 that a player might particularly enjoy can be delved into as a "game within the game." Well, one of the rewards a player garners for "playing deep" in a given area is, naturally, access to all of the information there, even the mundane, filtered, and low-level stuff that the Big Cheeze is not even bothered with. That tends to be a bunch of "micro" stuff. And when you're playing at the highest level, you will tend to only see the "macro" stuff.

Now, for example, let's say I want to make a macro-level decision to prepare for war with your civilization. One of the things I might wish to do is to go to my Intelligence Chief and delve deep into the files about your civilization. That way, I can satisfy myself as to the reliability of the information I do receive and pick up some low level stuff that I don't receive and make up my own mind about it. (Hmmm... our SigIng -- Signal Intelligence -- indicates that your military communications traffic in areas of concern to us is down a bit over the past 10 turn. I might interpret that as "you're asleep." A good time to hit you, perhaps?)

Now, this is one of those things where a human player will have an edge over an AI player. (It's hard to design the subtle interpretation of every bit of information, though we try.) But that's okay. The AI players will have their advantages over sentient players, too, I'm sure. :-)

Punishing disobedient leaders: >> Will I be able to "yell" at my leaders if they do something I expected them to do, but they didn't? <<

"Yell?" No, not exactly. Remember, those Leaders have their own Clout that will insulate them from such "yelling" anyway. What you can do it put the Imperial Eye on them and hinder their career. However, the Peter Principle still applies. Leaders will rise to their level of incompetence.

Just one more turn…: There's always another turn…

>> Now Alan, isn't one-more-turn syndrome bad enough in a good game without you guys deliberately trying to make it worse? :P <<

Well, let me put it this way. A lot of games end up having that great one-more-turn syndrome feature. I think we're the first to actually incorporate that feature as a conscious part of the design! :-)

Will we be able to view our colonies from ground level? While Rantz could better answer that question, like everything else in MOO3, this feature "up scale" from MOO2. So, instead of a "down on the ground" view of buildings, you'll get more of a space/aerial view of things. Like individual ships in a battle, individual buildings are not really your level of focus.

Chat rooms: FYI, everyone, I tend to eat lunch at my desk and open up a chat room here at the same time. That's usually in the 12 noon to 2pm timeframe Pacific Time (i.e., GMT -8, I believe). So, if you ever want to chat, that might be a good time to check and see if I've opened a chat room.

Secret senate dealings: >> However, deals made between empires for "purchasing" votes should be kept secret - the senate shouldn't know the Sakkra voted for the humans because the humans gave them a planet, or some tech. They should just know the Sakkra voted for the humans. <<

Right, that's how I see it, too. With spies possibly informing you that there was a deal in place (to confirm your likely suspicions).

Release date: The company line on the release date is (and remains):

"The first quarter of 2002 (or three months after Civ3 ships, whichever comes last)."

The foolishness of a multi-front war: >> To quote Londo from B5, "Only an idiot would fight a war on 2 fronts. Only the supreme master of all idiots (words to that effect) would fight a war on 12 fronts. <<

Your quote hits the nail on the head. If you're in a 12-front war, you'd be better off spending IFPs to make some unconditional surrenders on a lot of those fronts and improve you chances for survival. I don't see that happening very often, by the way, but some players are reckless and Harvesters will not have an easy road to hoe politically speaking (so they'd best be ready to fight).

Ownership of planets and moons: A "moon" works like another planet. You can own the planet and I can own the moon.

A.I. ability: Here's a news flash guys: I don't want the AI to be brilliant in Master of Orion III . It is not the AI's job to calculate the perfect thing to build or policy to set given the circumstances and them implementing it. That's exactly what I don't want it to do.

Instead, these low-level decisions will be made by the AI simulating the Leaders making those decisions. Their abilities, their biases, their political points of view, their agendas, etc. That's what the AI needs to accomplish in these regards. If it does that, then you'll have a heckuva great game nursing your IFPs each turn to interject your will and push your civilization toward victory.

More on the same: >> Please Alan, say that this is not a excuse for making a bad AI!!! <<


>> No matter how dumb a leader you have, the AI should not start building Autolabs, when the planet is nearly out of food, and needs subterranean farms badly, it is this kind of AI flaws I am worried about. And if it has these kind of flaws then it would ruin the game. <<

So much panic around here...

The AI will do exactly what it's designed to do, I expect, which makes it a "good" AI from a game design standpoint.

How it "thinks" is fairly simple. Each Leader examines all of the circumstances within his preview and makes a judgement. This judgement will provoke the Leader to take action to address unmet needs or unfulfilled desires. Obviously, needs tend to be higher priority than desires. If a need can't be met by that leader on the spot, he will issue an "I need" to other Leaders who can help.

So, in the above example, some Planet Viceroy whose population is starving will have an "I need food here" mojo going. If he can't come up with a local answer (more farmland or improving the parts of the planet already under the plough, maybe migrating some people out of there -- there's usually more than one way to solve a problem), he'll go whining to others who can help. In this case, probably buying food on the open market (if he's got the coin). Or maybe they're starving because the system's blockaded -- then he'll tap the military to break the blockade. That sort of thing.

Now, it might take some leaders longer than others to figure out that starvation is the "big priority" there. That's because even in the midst of starvation, there are still other needs that require attention. There might be local unrest or rebellion. There might be a pressing need to build an urgently required space ship there or finish a colony ship under construction. Perhaps the sun is going nova. Perhaps there's a pressing new Imperial Edict or his boss has a burr up his butt about something that overrides local needs. There could be a lot of demands. So, what that leader does is check each turn to prioritize and organize them then "makes the tough calls." As far as I, the game designer am concerned, this will be the "correct" decision and the one I want made in the game.

Now, they might not be the decision you'd make, but you'll be able to tell why this guy made that decision and know what the primary influence was. And that's what you have IFPs for, to shepherd the flock. Of course, the bigger your Empire, the more flocking problems you'll just have to live with (giving an innate advantage on this count to the little guys).

So, bottom line, the AI will think "right" (i.e., as it was designed), even though you certainly won't always agree with the decisions it will make. That's an intentional part of the design, and part of what you must manage as best your able as a player.

More: >> I mean will the AI both build the fleet and civilian stuff? I want FULL control over the fleet, both building it and commanding it. The AI should STAY away from building spaceships etc. <<

The AI will do both military and civilian stuff. It will do everything, in fact, but "play to win." That's your job. If you want to do that by keeping a tight control on the military, then go for it! If you want to focus on the diplomatic aspects of space empire management, the door's wide open. The "Great Game" of intelligence is your thing? We've got you covered.

That is... as long as your IFPs hold out each turn. You may have to do some multi-turn planning in MOO3, unlike a lot of other games of this genre.

But whatever you're not overseeing personally, the AI will manage.

Using IFP to guide your empire in unnatural directions: >> So, the challenge to you, as the game designers, is to somehow craft the AI in all facets of the game such that you don't take away the decision making of the player on where to spend IFPs to make up for bad programming in one area relative to other areas. <<

Right. But you know... you might want to steer things in a way that is very "unnatural" and "wrong" for the civilization you chose to lead. Which means that, from your point of view, all their decisions are "wrong." But to their desires, instincts, and tendencies... the bulk of their decisions seem "right" to them. So, you might be thinking "more military" and they might be thinking "more social" and you'll have to manage the conflict there with IFPs.

So, with the caveat that you would be happier playing a species/race that has your same game-play style tendencies (or that you're adaptable to their style), this shouldn't be a problem. If you take the Harvesters, however, and hope to win peacefully by never firing a shot and then setting yourself up to be the legitimate heir of the Orion Throne, you'll find it a frustrating experience (although I'll be laughing when you send me an email complaining about it!).

Post-release support: Quicksilver has always been good in the past about supporting their products. I expect will continue in that tradition.

Personally, I fully expect that the feedback we get when there are tens of thousands of you playing MOO3 and trying to weasel advantages every way you can instead of merely a couple score of us doing "official playtesting," that you'll find some values in the spreadsheets that we'll need to adjust. If that happens, no doubt we'll release those better balanced numbers as an update. I mean, maybe you'll show us that the maintenance multiplier should be .6 instead of .5... stuff like that. We'll try to catch everything we can in playtesting, of course, but your consumer feedback will be important, too.

Hey, it's your game too!

Releasing games: Look, everyone, I've been in the game business for over 25 years now, and I can lay a very simple truth on you that should help you as gamers. It was told to me by Jim Dunnigan, the Dean of board wargaming back in the 70s:

"Games are never finished, only published."

A designer/developer could keep perfecting a game forever if allowed to -- thus, they're never "finished," only published. There comes a time in every game's life where it is ripped from the bosom that's nurtured it and shoved out the door. That's just the way it is...

So, if you remember that games are never finished, only published, you'll have a lot better understanding of any shortcomings you may find in the box.

Will the Race Bible be released on the website? No, you won't be seeing more from the Race Bible on the web site soon, I'm afraid. Much of that will have to wait until the game's release.

That said, I still want to get the RACE PICKS information out for your feedback, and you'll be able to conjecture a fair amount from that information...

Economic Model preview: Although Tom Hughes is still laboring mightily in putting the finishing touches on the economic model (it is very rich), I thought it was about time to lay a couple highlights on you. With everyone discussing "buildings" and whatnot, here's a brief overview. (And this is only the tip of the iceberg, people.)

Planets (including moons and asteroids) will have 1 to 12 REGIONS based on the size of the planet. If you think of a single region as equating to a single colony in MOO2, you wouldn't be too far off the mark.

We use the number of regions as a "stacking limit" for certain things like ground units, missile and fighter bases, number of orbital ships around that planet, etc. Currently, for example, you can build one direct fire and one beam missile base on a planet for each region it has.

Okay, now regions are also used in slicing up a planet's "economic pie." That is, up to two DEAs (Dominant Economic Activities) can be built on each region. You can think of a DEA as "zoning," if you like. If you build a Mining DEA in a region, that half of it will produce minerals. If you set up a Bioharvesting (i.e., "farming") DEA, you'll get food from that half of the region, and like that. Now you can put two of the same DEA in a region (fertile and mineral rich regions will naturally attract farms and mines, for example), but it's also nice to diversify too.

DEAs will include the "big four" of Mining, Bioharvesting, Industry, and Research. In addition, there are Government/Social, Military, and Recreation DEAs. Each of these has one or two very straightforward affects on the game (plus numerous subtle affects that I won't go into here). Mines make minerals, Bioharvesting makes food, Industry converts minerals (and, possibly, food -- we're still working on that one) into "cement" which is a regulator as to how much stuff you can build and Industry also allows ships to be built at that planet, Research makes "test tubes" spent on theoretical and applied research, Government/Social improves things like tax collecting while lowering unrest and corruption (I know that may sound oxymoronic, but think "local government" which is "a good thing" and you'll see what I mean; besides, it give us the right game effect), Military increases the size of the planet for military stacking limits among other things (allowing you to cram more missile bases there, etc.), and Recreation reduces unrest over an ever-widening area as it grows into a tourist mecca.

Working as sort of a "3rd DEA" you can build in each region is a "Space Port," which puts that region into the game making income from interplanetary trade. There's some high minimums to meet and they're expensive, but Space Ports can make some serious coin when you pop enough of them. (The principle is like that of a fax machine. If you've got the only one in existence, it isn't worth anything. But the more there are, the more each is worth as they connect to each other along trade routes.)

Now, think of each DEA and Space Port as a "drawer" into which you put "buildings" or other improvements. We've also got drawers for regions (where you put in the infrastructure for that region) and for the planet as a whole (where we assign the military units -- we never nail them down to a specific regional location; those guys are considered mobile). As you put an improvement in a drawer, the drawer does its thing better. So, if you put in a Bioharevesting DEA ("drawer"), you can fill it with Bioharvesting buildings to either increase its CAPACITY (i.e., make it more "extensive") or its EFFICIENCY (i.e., make it more "intensive"). Generally, one building does not replace another. They are all kept and are all cumulative in their effects.

Okay, that's the overview. Again, it's the tip of the iceberg, but it should be enough to sustain your discussions.

Our job, naturally, is balancing out the numbers and figuring out what kinds of buildings should have what type(s) of effects and at what distance these effects should radiate for each "drawer" on a planet. And, of course, what types of research/prerequisites/etc. each such building should require to be discovered, how much it should cost to build/maintain, how durable it is when suffering collateral damage, etc... you get the idea.

Answering questions and comments on the Economic Model preview: >> I can see how natural features in each region (fertility and mineral richness) make them more or less 'idea' for Bioharvesting or Mining DEAs -- are there any such factors affecting how efficient a region would be for Industry, Research, and "SpacePort" DEAs? I say that thinking the answer is 'no' ... <<

That's correct. The answer is, essentially, "no."

>> Larger planets have more zones, right? This means they can have more defensive structures. My question is: Are all of these going to be able to fire at attackers at once? If they can, think about how easy it would be to take over a tiny planet compared to a large one. 12 missle bases vs. 1 missle base is quite a large disparity... <<

Yes, it is. But look at the size of the potential loss of a larger world versus a smaller one. Benefits vs. risks will tend to COW (come out in the wash). Besides, if you really want to defend any world, that's what the fleet is for, right?

>> Also, a question about factories and moon: I know you can only build ships of a certain size depending on how many factories you have on your planet and all of its moons. Can you only have one factory per zone? Also, if a moon's factories count toward your factory total, shouldn't they be considered zones as well? <<

You can have two of the same DEAs in a single region, including Industry.

The ship building limitation you reference reflects the old paradigm then under discussion. There's a "new paradigm in town" now. Presently, our thinking is that you can build hull sizes 1 to 4 (of 14) on any planet with an Industry DEA. Each additional size requires another unique "building" (there are 10 different types) in that planet's "drawer," each of which extends the capabilities of the "space yard" there by +1 ship hull size allowed to be built.

>> There is both a weather and a climate model for each zone, correct? What if a zone has a tendency for really bad storms? Could that possibly reduce its usefulness as a spaceport? Or is that going into a bit too much detail? <<

I think that's below our radar.

>> Does all of this apply to gas giants as well? <<


>> Ok, I understand...but if you put these special buildings on a moon, will it still count? Or do they have to be built on the planet? <<

Gas Giants, Moons, Asteroids… they're all "planets" in MOO3. You can develop them individually.

>> Also, does the planet get a different building queue (sp?) for each zone, or are they just added together into one, big, cumulative queue? <<

Good question. One big cumulative set of build queues is the answer.

>> It seems like population density might be good to base Industry zones off. Planting your industry in a low-pop desert wouldn't be as productive as placing it in a region with lots of available workers. <<

Again, I said this was the tip of the iceberg. Each DEA and new building "employs" a certain number of people. So, yes, you'll need a certain population base for efficient production. And one might wish to be mindful of underemployment and unemployment as well. They have negative social consequences.

Stormhound following up: You don't HAVE to deal with unemployment.

You can always just let it grow unchecked until your people start burning you in effigy, or something. ;-)

Back to Alan on the Economic Model: >> As for research, maybe the `Ancient Artifacts' bonus (if there is such a thing in MOO3) is region specific rather then planet specific. Thus if you find artifacts in a region that also has lots of mineral resources you have to make a choice on if you want to build mines or research labs. <<

There are regional, planetary, and system-level "specials" in MOO3.

>> There will probably be some sort of specials (natural `wonders') which make certain regions more appealing to recreational zones, right? <<


>> Will in-supply and repair capabilities be governed by structures as well? As in, will a planet be able to extend an "in supply" radius if and only if some minimal structure is built, and will additional structures/upgrades expand that supply range? <<

Let me say this about that (to paraphrase Richard Nixon), our current thinking is that you need an unbesieged planet with a Military DEA to be a fleet supply source. Supply, when checked, is traced from a fleet to a supply source (that's important). It cannot be traced through blockaded systems.

Now, again, what I posted was the tip of the iceberg. Military buildings are currently being reviewed for their supply CAPACITY (i.e., the limits of their repair capabilities) and their supply EFFICIENCY (i.e., how cheaply they can do it vis-a-vis the distance from the force being supplied to that supply source). Tom Hughes, who has taken the point for the game's economic model, is divining all this right now.

>> Is there a limit to the number of buildings that can be built on a planet? <<

It's limited by the "drawers."

>> If you have one of each type of "drawers" on a planet would it be possible to build every building? <<

Yes, in theory. Now, some buildings require that planet to be a System Seat of Government, or a Sector Seat, or the Imperial Seat as a pre-requisite. Some buildings require an Event as a pre-requisite (or perhaps Orion Senate permission) to allow their construction... but basically, for your standard set of buildings that you'll be building most of the time, yes.

>> there anything to prevent a player from building all ten buildings required for a size 14 ship on every planet? <<

Not sure on that one yet. You might need a Military DEA for some of those 10 buildings, a Government DEA for others, and an Industry DEA the rest. We're still kicking that one around.

>> I recommend that shipbuilding and supply sources be orbital, in the form of a Naval Base. <<

That's not exactly what we did. The compromise is that they're stuffed in a "ground-based drawer" when built but are highly susceptible to collateral damage when a planet is attacked, making them in effect "like they were orbital."

>> If building a size 14 hull requires that 14 industrial DEA's be present on a planet and its moons... <<

It doesn't . A single Industrial DEA can hold all of those buildings (that go in Industrial DEAs).

>> I imagine the game will be tuned such that it's impractical though not impossible to build a class-14 hull ship at a 2-region planet; but that's just speculation on my part. <<

Exactly. Do the math. Each of those 10 buildings, when built, has a slightly geometrically increasing cost than the previous one (regardless of what order you build them in), including maintenance. Now, add that overhead burden to a small world's economy and how fast to you think it will be cranking out huge ships?

So, what you will tend to do (to keep your expenses down) is only enlarge these facilities on an "as needed" basis so that you're not paying maintenance for a lot of shipbuilding capacity that you're not constantly using. There's an efficiency there. And even then, you'll probably want the big ship yards on the big economy worlds who can get the big ships squeezed off of them fastest when they are most urgently needed. That natural tension between cost and desire should keep things in check.

>> As for a reference scale, how many zones would the Earth have? Mercury? Jupiter? <<

Actually, we have an answer for that, but Tom's not in the office at the moment. Let me give you my best recollection and Tom can reply with the straight.

I think Earth is in the 5-6 range. Our moon is, like, a 2.

Mercury is also a 2, I think, with Jupiter at about 11.

Again, somewhere, those astrogeeks who designed the planet generation system have our whole Solar System mapped out like that, but I don't have those facts and figs at my fingers.

>> Are DEA's permanent or can they be changed. That is, if I have a region with an industrial DEA and a mining DEA could I later change one of them to a research DEA? If I am able to make this change would there be a disincentive for changing? <<

Excellent questions!

The short answer is "yes." You'll be able to rip out a DEA (and all the contents of its "drawer") and even get some scrap value back out of it (maybe half your cash investment). This is also the "scorched Earth" rate that you can destroy a planet's economy that is under an active enemy threat.

>> If transport was cheap enough. <<

Well, again, you've only got the tip of the iceberg. Non-military Transports, for instance, (and probably to no one's surprise) work differently in MOO3 than MOO2 . For one thing, you don't "buy" them. They belong to the "civilian economy" and their availability is calculated each turn based on a formula (beware of pirates!). That number is then depleted to move minerals and food around, with the leftovers going to move migrants. (If you have more migrants than transports, you get social pressure.)

Your role, representing government policies, is how you manage civilian transports as an institution: Subsidy, Lessez-Faire , or Regulate it. Naturally, none of these is really "right" and each as its own consequences. (Hehehehe.)

Well, there's a lot to it. Again, that's the tip of the iceberg.

>> Do I understand it right, that 24 DEAs are the max possible (12 regions maximum, 2 DEA/region max)? <<

Yes. That's exactly right.

Now, once upon a time I wanted a late-game technology to allow you to build "orbital" DEAs (i.e., "DEAs in space"), but that was deemed "too tricky" and is on our " MOO4 list." (Where we warehouse cool ideas that don't make it into MOO3 .)

>> How, though, can we deliberately create colonies (I assume we still can)? Is it as simple as spending an IFP to create a "I need a colony on this planet in this system" Need? Or do you actually need to (if your subordinates aren't doing it for you already) design/build/dispatch a non-abstract colony ship? <<

In addition to migration (which occurs on its own by a complex AI routine moving around migrants, immigrants, and pioneers), physical colony (and outpost) ships are built, put in Task Forces, and moved to specific systems in an effort to fill a specific need (and are guided by general policies or specific mandates).

Now, "geographically building up your empire" is not something you do with fine-point pencil as it is in most 4X games. It's way more chaotic than that in MOO3. You're using more of a blunt crayon held by a palsy'd hand to fill and color in your empire. Guys will be bumping into each other here and there all the time throughout the part of the game where the borders start to take shape.

>> Really good point Cather9. That is a problem with most games IMHO. Usually it is too easy to just click the "Sell" button and scrap our stuff without any real big repercussions.

I am with you that there should be some real stiff penalty to scrap stuff. Not just a penalty in money but maybe also social unrest as well as maybe population protests and the such. <<

Okay, the fact that you'll get some of your money back when you scrap a DEA and its contents is hardly radical. We're just quibbling over the amount.

I'm not even concerned about the rate of "destruction." One DEA/turn should work fine with the "strategic speed" of the game. (Yes, we've factored in how fast ships move, how long armies should take to conquer worlds, how long it takes to build them up, etc. to get the games "strategic speed" or "pacing.")

And as for unrest, you're only knocking out buildings, not people. What you've almost certainly done is create massive unemployment by wiping out all the jobs that DEA created. You don't think that will cause social problems? How long do you think it will take to replace those jobs and achieve employment equilibrium again? Think it through, people... MOO3 is chock full of "no right answers," only different trade-offs. :-)

>> Hmm, that begs a question -- to blockade/besiege a planet, do you have to be simply an uncontested fleet in system, or can you only besiege a planet by having task forces AT that planet -- possibly leaving other planets unblockaded, defending fleets, etc...? <<

Great. A can of worms...

In short, if you have a Task Force in a system on Garrison Duty (or is it now Blockade duty? We might have changed that) then that system is "blockaded" to all non-allied civilization's planets there. If you win a space battle at an orbit that has non-allied civilization's planets there, they are Besieged as long as you maintain TFs in that system or those guys turn around and win a battle in that orbit on a future turn.

>> Where do the slider bars come in? OR is this more iceberg that is still underwater? <<

Resources are allocated on planets via slider bars. In effect, each is a sort of "departmental build queue" on a planet.

>> Will the AI seeks a balanced approach to allocating DEAs, or will it favor specialization? Does this depend per leader? <<

It depends on the General Colony Development policies you push + local conditions + local leadership. I mean, at the end of the day, every planet would like to have its denizens eat, have jobs, etc. These are basics. But there are also quality of life issues that must be addressed. It's all in there.

>> Just a few points on the economic model: is there international trade? In Moo2 you could SELL excess food for cash, but your poor starving mining colonies couldn't BUY any food. Couldn't you also buy minerals? <<

Believe me, we've got that way covered.

>> Leaders… <<

Leaders are rated in the same basic categories: Ambition (more is bad), Ability (more is good), Clout (can help a good leader, will be a problem in a bad leader), and Loyalty (more is better). Oh, yes, and Luck (it's used as a personal "saving throw," diminishing in value each turn, and when it runs out, that Leader is out of the game). In addition to this, they have their preferences, agendas, and skills.

AI being critically important to the game's success: We know! We know!

That's why all of the design principles behind the AI are fairly simple and straight-forward. We in design are working very closely with those coding the AI to make it do the "games things" that we envision it must do and in the manner they're designed to do them.

Government DEAs: Think of a Government DEA as "local government" which, in MOO3 terms, is always a "good thing." However, its influences are not that far-reaching. However , if that Government DEA also houses a System Seat, the System Seat buildings will have a greater reach; likewise if that DEA is also housing a Sector Seat or even the Imperial Seat. The buildings for those government seats do tend to reach out farther than simple local government, as you would expect.

Antaran Fleet mentioned in Victory Point data dump: >> In the newly released victory point section there is a SEPERATE area for points gained from battles with new Orions and Antarans!! Looks like the Antarans will be coming back to teach the rebellious new Orions and the rest of us a lesson... unless we can teach them some trick or two. They've avoided answering the question of weather or not the Antarans will be coming back... but it looks like we know now. <<

Well, no actually, you don't know. Honestly, that's still a "placeholder" in anticipation of getting the Antarans in there. Frankly, that's something I hope to get in "at the end." No promises, but I've got some interesting ideas that we should be able to get in there if we're not crushed at the end.

Harvesters mentioned in Victory Point data dump: >> Also there seems to be many special rules for harvesters. QS seems to have really planned something special for the gameplay of the harvesters. They don't seem to follow the same rules as the rest of the races. Can't wait to find out about them. <<

Well, the Harvesters are a tad bit asymmetrical in gameplay to the other races in a few distinct ways. Just enough to "make them interesting," of course.

Nomads mentioned in Victory Point data dump: >> In regards to the Late starters thing. If you look at the part about who can be the Orion Heir, you'll notice it makes a mention of Nomads... <<

"Nomadic Entry" is the exact phrase. It's another "hook" for something I want to add into the game later on. Basically, a civilization that enters from the edge of the map with a caravan of colony and war ships and simply establishes itself (kerplunk) from nothing (well... it will have a lot of bucks and be tech-averaged, but you probably guessed that).

Guarding star lanes: >> I'm pretty sure you will be able to deploy these "orbitals" at star lane transit points, as well as orbiting planets and moons. <<

That's the plan. Along with minefields. And Task Forces on Garrison Duty. So, yes, those Space Lane "doors" could be fairly well guarded.

Borders: We're planning on having borders and other such features in MOO3, but there are coding issues there yet to be solved.

Strategy Guide authors: Although there is nothing in writing yet, Petra Schlunk along with Tom Hughes and myself (the team that did the MASTER OF MAGIC strategy guide for Prima) should be doing the MOO3 strategy guide.

Victory Points formula halving no. of civs then rounding up: >> Did the designers intend that or was it something that wasn't noticed? If it is supposed do be this way, could you explain why you took that decision, please? <<

Yes, we intended it.

We did so because we feel that's the right value. (Why else would we?)

You seemed to be locked into a mindset where you select the number of civilizations in the game at the beginning and that's the number you'll have at the end. You couldn't be more wrong. They come and go during play. We're only concerned about how many there currently are.

War Department Leader: >> Will there be a specific AI in charge of planning the movement of ships on the main map (as well as pre-battle plans, I presume) or is that the job of the top-level AI? <<

Yes. The Leader who is the head of your War Department.

>> If there is such an AI, will there be plans we can approve (or disprove) or will the military run its own ship unless we give specific (punctual) orders? <<

Like everything else in the game, you'll be able to review "the current plan" and make alterations using IFPs. Also like everything else in the game, you'll be able to "macro" and "micro" manage things with both general orders and policies as well as setting specific objectives or commanding in battle.

>> Will we be able to steal main map/pre-battle plans, draft fake ones for the enemy to find, etc.? <<

Yes. The former comes from your espionage network, the latter from the Military Disinformation you're currently putting out.

Department Leaders: >> So is it safe to assume that each government would have a "cabinet" of sorts. War, Foreign affairs, Economy, Etc.? If so, that is quite cool. <<

That's right. The administration of your government goes in four different departmental directions.

First there is Territorial Administration (or "The Empire"), which is all about geography. It is here that your planets are managed by their Viceroys and organized by systems (lead by Administrators) and sectors (lead by Governors). At the top of that division is the Head of Territorial Administration whom all of the Governors answer to and who answers directly to THE Leader at the top of the heap.

Second there is the head of the Civil Service or Government Administration or something (I forget what his job title is off hand) who is the focal point of the Halls of Power. Above him is THE Leader, while underneath him are the various departmental bureaucrats, such as your Spy Master, head of the Secret Police, Societal Relations, Bureau of Statistics, Research & Development, and a bunch of other offices like that. You can drop in on any of these office to meet their respective Leader and oversee (and manage) his decisions and learn what information he's keeping to himself and not passing upstairs (to your Situation Reports).

Third, there is the Military. The head of the War Department is in charge of everything military, from strategy to building programs. Beneath him are the Army and Navy departments and their various officers and commands.

Finally, there is the Diplomatic Corps, in charge of Embassy Row and all of the inter-civilization politics and the shenanigans at the Orion Senate.

Game length: Let me say this about game length...

It will vary.

Map size will play a huge role. A Tiny map will invariably see resolution faster than a "My, God! It's full of Stars!" size map.

Also, which Victory Conditions are toggled on or off matters. If they're all on, someone is more likely to achieve one sooner rather than later.

There are other variables, too. But it you want, you could certainly have a days - even weeks - long gaming experience, I would venture to guess, with MOO3 .

Can a civilization survive without a fleet? I'm afraid that the Galaxy is ruled by the violent use of force (and the threat thereof). You might find "peace through strength" a more viable policy in the long run.


Floyd Grubb, Designer

Cloaking technology: There are multiple Cloaking Technologies. As you get better at them, they become less restrictive and harder to detect. Fortunately, Scanner Technology also improves in stages and helps offset Cloaking.

At this point, all races have equal access to cloaking tech, but that may not be the case in the final release.

Weapon mounts: There are a bunch of weapon mounts available. They break down into Spinal Mounts and Standard (Turreted) Mounts.

You begin play with knowledge of only a few of these technologies and find more as you progress through the game.


David "Stormhound" Craft, Assistant Designer

After-battle report: >> But if you get to watch for free, then the after action report is either worthless or superfluous. <<

Actually, that's an erroneous conclusion (as regards the after-battle report).

There will be information in the after-battle report that you could not possibly pick up (accurately) just from watching the battle unfold, particularly if it's a large battle. You might get a feel for some of it, but you certainly won't get the hard numbers.

Moving population off "full" planets: >> Will there be some feature that moves population between colonies automatically? Preferably not until the colony was half full, but always when it's completely full? <<

Well...not in the fashion I think you mean, no. But there is a model in the game for natural population movement, and when a planet starts getting "push" factors (things that tend to make people leave, such as overcrowding) then people will naturally start leaving. You'll only have a limited amount of influence over where they go, however.

Choosing the same race as your opponent: >> But it's never been that way; if you choose your race, no one else can choose it. <<

Well, it ain't supposed to be that way in MOO3. Your choice of race shouldn't affect anyone else's.

Rantz following up: >> Well, yes - there can be several humanOID empires, but you can't have a galaxy populated by 8 human empires or 8 Etherian empires (that would be interesting), ..........can you? <<

Yes, you can. It's very possible to have a game where everyone chooses human, or Etherean, or Evon, etc, etc etc.

Then you *really* see who's got skills.

Gaia planets: There is no such thing as a "Gaia" planet in MOO3. Each species has its unique preferences for planetary conditions, so your heaven might be my hell.

And no, living conditions do not affect the number of regions. Size does.

Terraforming: You'll be able to terraform to your preferences, but you need to get rid of the "scale" concept from your thinking. There is no linear "scale" as was in the previous games, instead there's a two-dimensional area. Each race prefers a specific point within that area, and their terraforming will move the planet closer to that point. BTW, someone else was asking somewhere, Tom Hughes has balanced the system creation to a fine point, so no race will have a particular advantage in finding worlds that it likes.

Will MOO3 be released on any consoles? Not unless someone pays us to port it to those platforms, and even then I suspect you'd have some compatibility problems...any of those that don't have a mouse would be awfully difficult to make work.

Rantz following up: Any 'port' of MOO to a console would require a complete reworking of the UI from a functionality stance, which would add a good 6-9 months. Not saying it's impossible, just that the time, vs the benefit is prohibitive.

Scrapping DEAs for cash on besieged planets: Keep in mind that each government level (right down to planet) will have its own bank, so I'd think it'd be possible that you'd get some money out of it. Perhaps not as much, but some.

Do "Monsters" have a logical place in MOO3? If you were playing a game of exploration of the North American continent, wouldn't you expect to have to deal with natural predators? There's your logic.

"Monsters" is a bad tag. Think of them as non-player life forms that you simply have to deal with in one way or another. They aren't part of (or interested in) the "galactic politics", for whatever reason, but in the natural course of their life they might hinder (or even accidentally help) your progress. They're not just the "shoot 'em and make 'em go away" thingie of MOO2.



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