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Official CommentsQSI Posts on the Discussion Boards — Part One

Updated April 10, 2001:

Alan Emrich, Lead Designer

Sensors and scanners: We'll have SENSORS and SCANNERS. Two separate technologies to do two different jobs. Essentially, one's primary job is to watch the strategic map and keep an eye at things at that scale. The other handles tactical combat detection.

Stealth: The Great Master of Orion III "Submarine" Compromise

1. Any ship with a "cloaking" device shall be deemed a "stealth" ship. Thus, you could have stealth carriers, stealth transports, etc. (every other ship type/class could also be a "stealth" ship).

2. When a ship is designed or a Task Force is created, there will be a checkbox available to make it also a "stealth" ship or Task Force. (This is in addition to its other function, such as being a carrier or ECM ship, or being either a Short Range Space Superiority, or Bombardment, or other Task Force designation.) For a Task Force, when this box is 'checked,' only stealth-type ships will be permitted in it. If a player tries to manually add ships to that Task Force, non-stealth-type ships will be grayed out. If a grayed-out ship is selected for inclusion into a stealth Task Force, a warning message will tell the player that, if that ship is added to the Task Force, it will lose its stealth status and special capabilities.

3. A Task Force that enjoys stealth status will have that status taken into account in the tactical combat AI. (In particular, for getting in close to a target, according to RTCombat designer Kevin Dill.)

4. In combat, when a Task Force's name is listed (either with or without its Flag icon), its name will end in an asterisk (*) if it is also a stealth Task Force. For example, if the Task Force dubbed Glorious Mates were a stealth Task Force, it would be listed everywhere at Glorious Mates* to indicate its stealth status.

Over-population: We sort of have that covered in MOO3. There's an "optimal" population level for a planet, after which its growth rate will decline. That limit is also a "push" factor for people to leave there. We also factor in things like unemployment, quality of life, and lots of other jazz to help people "vote" correctly with their feet.

But, when the viceroy of a planet sees there's a problem, like starvation, unemployment, unrest, pollution, underdevelopment, etc. -- he knows his job is to "fix it." We've been working very hard on the AI to make sure that the Leaders will RECOGNIZE problems and then go through the list of all the possible tools in their toolbox available to solve them. It's very clever (and thorough).

Forced relocation: There is something akin to "forced relocation" in MOO3. It's not instantaneous for large population groups, but should get the job done over time.

Moons: Moons are their own "worlds," so yes, they have their own gravity, temperature, etc.

 

David "Stormhound" Craft, Assistant Designer

Controlling Dissent: Players will most definitely have to deal with portions of their empire that do NOT like what's being done, and will take actions to oppose it. The success of those actions, and the ability of the player to maintain tight control, are what will be seen. It's all a part of playing the game.

Senate starting members and voting: >>Does this mean that some races will start already members of the senate and that some(like harvesters) will not start as members?

Yes.

>>Also what kind of bills will you be able to pass?(assuming you have enough votes)

You'll see. :-) Matters of importance to the entire area of Orion space will be subjects of discussion at the Senate. Of course, electing a new Senate President (a victory condition) takes place there, as does the search for a legitimate heir to the throne of Orion (another victory condition).

More on starting members: Certain members CAN start in the Senate. Others cannot.

Ships having lower upkeep when not being used: Basically, new ships and those that leave Task Forces go into the Imperial Reserve, where they live a very inexpensive existence until mobilized and put into a Task Force (i.e., on "active duty.")

While there, the crews train and practice (within budgetary constraints). Green crews will improve, Crack crews will degrade.

Call to help with race picks: Okay, here's is where we begin our discussion on Race Picks in MOO3. A subset of hard data follows (as much of the listing as I can give you at this time). Note that none of the listing provide their game effect details. Most of these have already been worked out and, while they "do what they say," they might be doing it in a different manner than in MOO2. "Tolerant," for example, is far more tame.

The point is, think "concept," not so much "game effect." It doesn't hurt your case to describe the game effect (although you shouldn't really have to elaborate much; see #1, below), but let us sweat the particulars (because a lot of underlying systems in MOO3 are based on new paradigms).

What You Need to Know and Do to Help Us:

Now, here are the "victory conditions" for a proper Race Picks Screen. In other words, these are the design goals that your suggestions and comments will be applied to. If you stick within them, we may be able to use your suggestions; if not we won't. It's that simple.

1. Each pick's general function must be intuitively obvious based on its name. You should not have to go reaching for the manual to look something up in order to get through the Race Picks screen. Think about it. "Superior Manufacturing" evokes an image that you can easily base a pre-game decision on. Any Pick that requires a level of specialized game knowledge in order to make a remotely intelligent choice will not be accepted. This is why you can't pick your starting Ethos' Dogma(s); each would require exhaustive explanation before a reasonable selection could be made.

2. We have to keep the list tight. We will not have players scrolling through page after page of Race Pick Screens before they start the game. Instead, we're going to make it all work on a single screen. (Leave the user interface issues to us, we've already got many solutions worked out.) So, lots of interesting/wacky Picks for their own sake is not going to fly. Make sure that anything you suggest is very relevant to the core (5X) aspects of this game. Stay out of left field; don't go running off in the weeds. We don't want those Pick suggestions

3. In addition to adding a little bit of stuff to the general list that races will shop from, what we really need are specific things that only apply to certain species or races (see the end sections of this post for examples). So, think on three levels: A) what to add (or remove, change, etc.) from the Main List; B) what to give/prohibit to specific species; and C) what to give/prohibit to specific races. (Not that you know a lot about them right now, and probably won't until after E3 in mid-May; sorry. For that reason, I think you can stick to A and B and be on very firm ground.)

So, at the end of the day, we're looking for a few important tweaks to the General List, and some ideas about species- and race-specific "hard wiring." These latter items should be only enough to "logically" define that species/race. We need to use a light touch here, and give players plenty of freedom to customize. But, if you see any race of the Insectoid species you should know (for certain and at the very least) that it's has "Social Order" (low unrest). All them bugs got that. If it's the Klackon race of the Insectoid species, then... what? Maybe Klackons can't select poor Mining and can purchase better Mining and Manufacturing cheaper than other species? Well, that's what we hope you'll be discussing here.

So, without further ado, here's some "facts." Read 'em and comment. Thanks!

Race picks (long post with richly formatted text runs until "End race picks", for clarity):

Creating a Civilization's Race

There are three types of attributes that define a species and race. They are Standard, Special, and Unique. The Standard Attributes are general things that affect every race and species (broken down into subcategories such as Economic, Military, Political and so forth) and can be selected in "degrees" ranging from Superior to Good, to Average, to Inferior. Special Attributes might be more restrictive and are either "on" or "off" (there are no "degrees" of a Special Attribute). Unique Attributes are ones assigned to a particular species only and cannot be selected (or deselected) when customizing a race.

Designer's Note: When customizing a race via "picks," some non-unique attribute selections may be prohibited for certain species. This is intentionally designed into the system to quantify certain natural limitations of each species.

Choosing a Race or Species

Players may select from an existing (pre-made) race or select species and create a custom race based on that species. Either selection will take them to the Picks Screen where they may spend their available Pick Points (PPs) to enhance their races' ability (or degrade their race's abilities in exchange for a Victory Point multiplier).

Race Pick Categories and Selection Options

Race Picks fall into one of the categories below with the selections options for each as listed:

Economic

Bioharvesting [Superior, Good, Average, Poor]

Mining [Superior, Good, Average, Poor]

Manufacturing [Superior, Good, Average, Poor]

Research [Superior, Good, Average, Poor]

Natural Engineers

Trade [Superior, Good, Average, Poor]

Fantastic Traders

Environmental [Superior, Good, Average, Poor]

Tolerant

Economics [Superior, Good, Average, Poor]

Military

Accuracy [Superior, Good, Average, Poor]

Aptitude [Superior, Good, Average, Poor]

Reflexes [Superior, Good, Average, Poor]

Toughness [Superior, Good, Average, Poor]

Military Traditions

Political

Diplomacy [Superior, Good, Average, Poor]

Empathic

Governmental

Series [Collectivist, Absolutist, Representative, Transitional, Tribalistic, Unique]

Agenda [Survival of the Civilization, Military Strength, Scientific Knowledge, Pursuit of Wealth, Individual Self-fulfilment, The "Common Good," Striving for Utopia, Be Green]

Level of Government Centralization [Local Autonomy, Decentralized, Federated, Centralized, L'etat? C'est moi.]

Starting Member of Orion Senate? [Yes / No]

Social / Ethics

Citizenship [Loyalty, Duty, Association, Liberty]

Home World Ethos [None, Single Benevolent, Single Random, Multiple Random, Single Unique]

State Ethos? [Yes / No]

Population Characteristics

Cunning (Espionage) [Dangerous, Quick, Sharp, Slow]

Creativity [Original, Adaptive, Normal, Imitative]

Lucky [Vis-à-vis Events]

Antaran Background [formerly Omniscient]

Customization Limitations

No custom race begins with a wholly blank slate. A species or pre-made race must be selected as one point of departure for race customization. Whatever species or race is selected, it will come with its own unique attributes and a varying amount of PPs to spend and its own set of PP prices for various picks. These are detailed below.

The Species Unique List

Lithovore [Geodic species]

Cybernetic [Cybernetik species]

Environmental Adaptability: [Saurian species]

Social Order [Insectoid species]

Ruthless Efficiency [Etherean species]

Ingenuity [Humanoid species]

Heightened Awareness [Ichthytosian species]

"The Need" [Harvester species]

Racial "Hardwiring"

Certain species and races have additional pick limitations or other special rules (higher/lower pick costs in some areas). An example is given below:

Humanoid: Cannot select Poor Diplomacy.

Humans: Cheaper Diplomacy picks, cannot select Antaran Background.

End race picks.

Replying to race pick related comments and suggestions: >> more than one preferred set of planet "optimums" as far as temperature.

That's hardwired to the Saurian species. That's their unique ability. So, the game design rule is, "no encroaching." Their unique ability has to be protected as uniquely theirs.

>> I would expect to see variables to allow you to get +1/-1 to IFP and the average leader's ability.

Consider them under advisement (though potentially dangerous to balance). What would you call those Picks?

>> faster/slower population growth

Population growth rates are hard-wired by particular species. Sorry, that's one of those categories we needed tight control over. (You guys haven't see the population movement model yet.)

>> location of home world (near galactic rim or right smack bang in the middle)...maybe even a wormhole...

Well, the location of the home world is factored into whether you want to start as a member of the Orion Senate or not. If you do, you'll be nearer the middle of the board. If you don't, you'll be further from the center away from the "civilized core" of the map. So, what I'm saying is, that's already factored in via the storyline.

As for wormholes, we'll take that under advisement, too.

>> Will factors such as life span have been considered yet? Or is it assumed that medical technology has extended life spans to unheard of lengths already?

Again, it's not LIFEspan that we care about. It's CAREERspan. And, yes, it's already factored into a the population growth rates and Leader "exit" rates.

>> Cybernetic life forms. If a life form was cybernetic could it not actually connect itself to the ship and interface with it. Perhaps added to offensive, defensive stats during a battle? Would that classify as a special?

So special that it's a unique attribute of the Cybernetik species. That makes it a prohibited "pick" to others.

>> Transdimensional

That one we had to shelve. It's storyline related to unravelling the Antaran Mystery.:-)

>> NBC Tolerant: Maybe this would be covered under Tolerant, but I'd think that a hardy race like the Saurians would also be resistant to radiation, biological weapons, and chemical weapons. Maybe this could be a race pick which was only available to the Saurians.

This one I particularly like. That's going on the design discussion list for sure.

>> How about "Open Minded"?

Open Minded / Close Minded as a general modifier to all of that races' Ethoi "Conviction Strengths." That's got possibilities. I'll add that to the designer discussion list.

>> As an engineer, I definitely agree with the separation of engineering and research."

Guys, save your breath. We DEFINATELY have these two aspects separated in MOO3. It's in there. Got it covered. Don't panic (etc.).

>> I don't understand Military Aptitude. Wouldn't that be covered by the Attack/Defense skills?

Right

>> [Planet pick]

Regarding initial planet and system sizes, that's a delicate issue. Each species has its own preferences for where they like to live, and large/small worlds are intrinsically part of that preference. Thus, we really need to start them in their "natural" state and balance the difference between species by the quality of the REST of the stuff in their starting system. What I'm saying here is that, unlike MOO2 where everybody likes the SAME worlds, we already have "different strokes for different folks" and need to leave that one pretty much to natural selection. In other words, no one is going to start on a "freakish" size world for their species that just HAPPENS to be terraformed to their ideal.

>> [Starting development pick]

Starting development level is really an "across the board" preference; like galaxy age or shape. In other words, everyone would be affected by it, not just a single civilization. So, by definition, it's not really a "Race Pick."

>> [Wormhole pick]

Wormholes scare me a little because what if we have to create a dozen "artificial" new worm holes because that's what players opted for? And what if they got one that was only one way (and that way was "in" not "out?"). Like I said, the stuff around a player's Home System is something we're keeping control of to help ensure at start play balance. If you start on a tiny rock (because you're a tiny rock species), you're Home System is likely to have other tiny rocks nearby (and maybe a wormhole). At least, that's the principle we're working from until we have a working version of the game going and can see if there's balancing issues to be addressed here. Erring on the side of caution, therefore, making these elements player definable as Race Picks doesn't seem like a good idea at this time.

>> Population Characteristics: Productivity (Superior, Good, Average, Poor)

I think this is adequately covered by all the particular AREAS of productivity already included.

>> Population Characteristics: Unlucky.

Events don't work the way they used to, but this one COULD work. However, who in their right mind would select it?

>> Political: Tolerance

This is based on your Diplomacy rating and State/dominant Ethoi.

>> Military: Perceptive. Races that are Perceptive would receive an accuracy and scouting bonus.

This is covered in one of the other Military Picks already. :-)

>> How about a special under Military called 'Logistics'.
-- slightly lower maintenance/upkeep costs for ground and space forces whether in reserve or deployed due to logistical efficiency.

That's an aspect of Military Traditions.

>> or perhaps something along the same line for building maintenance but under a different category, though I don't know which or what to call it.

That one's interesting. I'll list it as "Craftsmanship" and put it on our "kick it around" list. Thanks.

>> 'Racism': (Accepting, Normal, Insular, Xenophobic)

>> The ability of a race to interact with beings drastically different from themselves. A very WIDE variety of possible effects. Diplomacy, the ability to easily integrate a multi-species empire, even how well technology gained from other races can be understood/used.

Man, those elements are covered by a lot of factors in the game already, but I can see some potential here. Let me put that on the list and see where the design discussion goes. Thanks.

>> Bio-Diversity

>> I'm assuming that each leader in the empire conforms to certain ranges for what is "normal" for that race. This pick would alter those ranges with either as a plus or minus race pick.

Good instinct. We've saved that one for the "hard wired" nature of some of the species' "uniques" so we're not making it a General Selection choice.

>> How about Wanderlust [Provincial, Cosmopolitan, Jet Setter, Gypsy]

>> This would modify the population model. Provincial races wouldn't want to leave their homeworld and gypsy races wouldn't want to stay. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Provincial races will fill a planet but Gypsy races will always have low population worlds.

Interesting idea, but it seems a bit like "piling on." Remember, we only have ONE screen for all this stuff. If I were looking at all the good ideas we COULD use, this would be on that list. If I were looking at which to cut to make it all fit on one screen, this would on that list, too.

Good idea; a little limited compared to the stuff that will make the cut.

>> Etherian: Xenophobic, cannot research "Geo-forming technology"

>> Etherian: Cheaper Cunning (Espionage) picks.

Interesting. I'll add that to the list of stuff to kick around among the design group.

>> Nomadic: faster building ships, increased trading efficiency, but suffer from unstable government.

Let me add some "wanderlust" to the population groups of that race, and add it to the list of ideas to discuss among the designers.

>> As for the military picks, do they apply to both ground and space combat?

Yes, where appropriate. Toughness, for example, is not only a characteristic of the individual but a ship design philosophy as well.

>> Perhaps a special attribute that allows your ships to move faster?

That's already in my pile of good fan suggestions for us to discuss. :-)

>> How about a category Evolutionary Background? This would probably have several sub-traits, such as Organization, Feeding, and Habitat.

That's very clever, but all that's hard-wired into the story of each species, really. Remember, we're starting you with a species and all of its "evolutionary background."

>> Will we be able to change or pick the form of Government?

Yes, to some extent at least.

>> [Price of pick being dependent on certain factors]

That's a very good point about varying the pick costs by the nature of the general starting situation. We'd already plan to vary the pick point costs between species and races for certain things (some "natural" things are a little cheaper, some really "unnatural" things, if you can select them at all, are more expensive). So, the concept of variable pricing has long been on our minds.

Training limits: "Training" has a ceiling. Experience doesn't.

Leaders: >> Now I could be totally misreading everything Alan says, but I don't think so. He seems to say that leaders will constantly be changing in the game.

There will be a steady parade of Leaders coming and going. Some will rise up (not always the best), others will fall by the wayside (not always the worst). It's all about "career span," as has been previously mentioned.

The trick is to create a SOCIETY that engenders better Leaders (on average). Of course, that MIGHT be a society prone to unrest or enemy infiltration or any of a number of other things. It's all a trade-off, you see.

But if Society lurches in a particular direction, it will be some time before the "generation of Leaders that are a product of that society" rise up to positions of power (i.e., the one's you'd notice in MOO3). These things take time before you reap what is sowed.

Wonders: Okay, time to stop "wondering," people.

Here's the current vision for Wonders:

IF we have them, and I think we should, like everything else in MOO3, it won't exactly work like what you're thinking.

There's only one "game winning" wonder, and that's discovery of the Antaran Mystery. You get all five pieces to that baby, and that's it. You know the secret of Imperium Galactum and can simply "take over."

But I also envision "lesser" wonders. Not on everybody's research tree or build list. Nah, too predictable; too mundane.

Instead, the OPPORTUNITY to build a given "lesser wonder" would be granted by the Senate or through Events. You can give it a pass, or start a very long term construction project. If you go with the project and manage to complete it, it will matter. Presumably, you'll get more than your AUs' worth of Victory Points than its construction cost (at the very least). It may also improve things like the legitimacy of your government and/or your fabric of civilization. It might attract (or repel) cults. I mean, ANYTHING could happen -- but nothing too decisive.

All of this will gel when we list out all of the Events we want in MOO3 (which is near the end of the design stage). So, don't hold your breath hoping to nail us down on this one, we're simply not there yet. And when we DO get there, you can bet we'll be soliciting for your feedback.

"Off-road" speeds: We've been doing some revising of raw numbers from the data dump, including raising speeds sufficiently that even the slowest "off-road" speed is still FTL.

In fact, it will be possible for "off-road" speeds to exceed the fastest warp speeds available in prior MOOs. Star lanes will still be quite a bit faster, but we're keeping an eye on all of this.

Troops suppressing unrest: Having troops on-planet CAN help suppress unrest, but only to a point (i.e. the effect is limited). The government policy toward unrest is a primary factor, though.

Economy: I think the main point that people need to keep in mind here is that the scope of things changes in MOO3...players no longer run the detailed economy in quite the same way as they appeared to do in MOO1/2. Instead, they're trying to manage at a government level, and the government gets ITS funds by taxation, and then has to transfer them where it wants them (with the attendant problems this brings, as Tom mentions).

So, to answer someone else's question, it isn't a matter of converting goods to cash. The government never had the goods to begin with...just the cash from taxation.

From that point, it becomes a matter of things being abstracted into the design. The government takes cash from "here", puts it "there", and gets more stuff (ships, buildings, whatever). One can just as easily assume that part of the money "lost" in the move represents having to ship purchased components from "here" to "there" for final assembly. The model loses nothing for your having made such an assumption, and gains the simplicity of not forcing the players to deal with all the fiddly detail. You just push the cash where you want it, and the system handles it from there.

More on moving money: So far as levels of government get involved, it will (generally) be more efficient to siphon money within a single system than it will from system to system, yes. "Negligible" is a relative term in this context, so players will have to decide for themselves which penalties are too high, and which aren't.

It's worth remembering that on the interstellar travel scales we're talking about, there is no such thing as a negligible time lag until you get very late in the game. Travel times will remain a significant factor, especially given the turn scale. If it takes 2-3 years...or more...to haul something from point A to point B, it becomes considerably less efficient to produce things at points A and B that have to be combined before use.

No Hotseat: The game, as it's being designed, simply won't work at all well with the "hotseat" concept. There are reasons for this that I can't get into at this time, but it has to do with more than just the combat. I believe that if you dig back in this thread, you'll see that Alan would've liked to have included it, but in order to make it work from the ground up with multiplayer, certain decisions had to be made that precluded hotseat.

So it's far from being a matter of a simple "patch", authorized or not.

 

[ VIEW COMPLILATION FROM MARCH 28, 2001 ]

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