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Official CommentsQSI Posts on the Discussion Boards — Part One

Updated July 31st, 2001:

Alan Emrich, Designer

Rebellion: >> Planets rebel in PARTS. That is, you can own a planet that is partially in rebellion. This is a HUGE red flag. Upon seeing this, one must consider your options for dealing with it (from a laundry list of possibilities between lessez-faire, to the leaving it up to the locals, to crushing Imperial military intervention). If your solutions don't work and the entirety of that planet goes in rebellion — they're out. (Out of your empire, that is.) <<

FYI, we've modified our thinking on that. Essentially, the Rebels "win" and take over a planet when they've either: 1) taken over every region with a Government DEA on that planet or, 2) if there are no Government DEAs on that planet, when they take over the entirety of that planet. So, players who build a single Government DEA on a planet and that's the first place that rebels — it's a coup d'etat ; the rebels just hit a hole-in-one and you just lost a planet. [NOTE: all this is subject to playtesting, of course.]

Possible April Fool's Easter egg: I still like the AI suddenly reloading a saved game from a couple turns ago with the message, "If you can do this all the time to help you win, so can I! Those last few turns could have gone better for me, so I'm reloading a saved game." [Just kidding!]

Mobilization Centers: >> First, will you be able to set up a sector "Mobilization Point" not located at the Sector government? <<

Currently, the answer is "no." Sector Seat "buildings" (like Mobilization Centers) can only be built at the planet where the Sector Seat is located.

>> Second, will making a surprise attack upon a Sector Government planet, and wiping it out, become an invaluable strategy because it will delay mobilization from reserve until a new Sector Government is set up, or worse, force mobilization in an adjacent sector so that defence fleets have to travel a longer distance? <<

We shall see.

>> Third, will there be a technology/race/ethos/achievement that grants/has the ability to de-centralize the sector government (i.e. mobilize anywhere in the sector, build sector-wide buildings from any location in the sector, etc.)? <<

None are planned.

Secret Associate categories: All right. Think "space opera," think "broad categories." Now, what categories are missing from this list of the Secret Associates a civilization's Big Leader might have? Remember I'm looking for categories here. Not specific characters!

SECRET ASSOCIATE TYPES:

Criminal

Crime Leader

Mercenary Leader 

Contraband Dealer 

Enemy Personage (Personal or Enemy of the State)

Consort

Partner in Vice

Opposition Member

New Orion

Antaran

Harvester

Social Outcasts (Cult Leader, revolutionaries, secret conspiratorial society, #### relations, unseemly celebrities, etc.)

Blackmailer / Blackmail Victim

Revised Secret Associate categories: Okay, a lot of your suggestions fall more into the "Entourage" category rather than "Secret Associates," but I have revised the list a bit based on the preceding suggestions. Thanks! I'm not saying they'll all make it, but this is the list I'll be starting from. :-)

Why is "Harvester" on the Secret Associates list? Ah, if only I could say. They're on the list, though. You'll have to draw your own conclusions about the Harvesters. Sorry.

More on the same: These are personal relationships. Unless you are a Harvester it's rather looked down upon as having an association with them. They're not generally well regarded.

IFP in battle: All right, I'm going to post a Poll on this thread. Here's the proposition for your consideration before I nail it down (prior to playtesting -- naturally every value is subject to change during playtesting, but this is going to be the point of departure on this subject).

The player(s) will be presented with a list of their pending potential battles. They will then select which one(s) to join. After selecting and confirming with a click of the DONE button, they're off to the next step (either battles, if they've selected any, or back to planning while others conduct their battles).

Reminder: Players will receive their fresh ration of approximately 6-9 IFPs just prior to making this decision.

The IFP costs for Watching / Participating in a Battle, and the quantity that can be participated in per turn will vary as follows:

  • To watch a battle costs 1 IFP.
  • To command a battle costs 2 IFPs. (Hopefully, we can add a mechanism to that allows you to "upgrade" your ticket from "watch" to "command" in case you just can't stand to sit back and watch anymore, but no promises.)
  • The first battle selected each turn cost 1 less IFP (in other words, 0 to watch and 1 to command).

The maximum number of battles that you can participate in during a single game turn will be unlimited for solitaire play (as long as your IFPs hold out), and per-game user definable (0 to 3 with a default setting of '1') for multi-player. (This, like the timer setting for the Planning Phase, will be something important that players must know before entering into a game.)

Okay, knowing that, now take the poll. It will close in 30 days [from July 5, 2001] and you can change your mind until then. Thanks!

More on the same: >> The reason for it costing an IFP to watch a battle is because the after battle report is important in the game. Depending on how experienced your commanders and such are, you will get better information and recommendations... The after battle report is all part of the "Fifth X" and if it was free to watch battles, the entire after battle report system would be almost totally useless. <<

That's true. And remember, the first "watch" is free each turn (-1 IFP), if that's your fancy.

>> If in fact what MoffPiett said is true, I think that those who argue for unlimited viewing are missing an integral concept of this game's strategic design. <<

Yes, they are. And we can't just "do them at the expense of your time for planning." There's a sequence of play to follow here. It's not a real-time game where everything happens at once. MOO3 is a turn-based game where there is structure.

More: >> If Leo and I want to play a game with just the two of us and some AI empires, we shouldn't be hit with the same IFP per battle costs as a game with 5-6 real players. <<

Yes, you should. Remember, the AI players are similarly restricted.

>> Likewise the current proposal isn't adjusted for galaxy size. <<

It doesn't need to be. Neither do the size of your turnly IFP ration. It has nothing to do with the size of the playing area, Tom. Your day and mine both have 24 hours in them; that's roughly the same number of IFPs no matter how great or small our daily chores are.

More: >> Just to add support to the current setup. I believe that its been said that you will get a list of all the battles that will happen that turn. <<

Absolutely. I'm designing those listing screens this very day. We'll sort them out by "risk priority" so the juiciest potential conflicts will be listed first. Don't worry, we'll make it easy for you. :-)

More: >> My major issue with increased battle IFP costs in multiplayer games is that this affects only warlord type players. <<

Exactly!

>> Builders aren't charged more IFP's for managing their economies. Diplomat players aren't charged more IFP's for massaging diplomatic affairs. Spy players aren't charged more IFP's for fine-tuning their intelligence networks. But warlords are charged more IFP's for fighting. This places warlords at a competitive disadvantage in multiplayer games, and reduces their fun. <<

Brilliant observations all, though wrong on every count. If you want to MICROmanage those things, the cost is 1 IFP for each such act, Tom. If I want to pop the hood on two specific planets, for example, and dink with their respective build queues, that's 2 IFPs. So, the builder (in this example) carries the same burden as the warlord if he has to "do everything himself." And this paradigm applies throughout.

If you're a Warlord, spend your IFPs managing your STRATEGY and don't sweat the tactics of individual battles. That's the same paradigm as MACROmanaging your economy or diplomacy with government policies.

>> I have no problem with the proposed IFP changes for viewing battles — none for the first viewed battle in a multiplayer game and one IFP for each additional battle viewed.

But charging 1 IFP for the first battle and 2 for each additional bothers me. What about the builder, diplomat and spy type players? Are they to be given competitive multiplayer advantages over us warlords? <<

Tom, in every other 4X game, I'd venture to say that those players have always been at a grave disadvantage to you warlord player types. Well, I'm levelling the playing field a bit and am not surprised to find the previously privileged complaining about more equality. You can still play and win as a warlord, trust me. But now that's only one viable approach among several where all are more equal. That's my design goal. We'll know soon enough if I nailed it or not.

More: >> Now, if I'm not mistaken, the current system of 2 to control, 1 to watch, 1 cheaper for the first battle, is intended for both types of play, [single-player and multi-player,] and that sounds good to me. <<

That's exactly right. And it's -1 IFP for the first battle selected — not -1 IFP for the first "watch" and -1 IFP for the first "command."

Possible future Computer Gaming World preview: Okay, the editor of Computer Gaming World pinged me today via email. Apparently, you guys have been burning up his email box so now they're ready to "do their thing" with MOO3. Now let's give Infogrames and QSI a chance to coordinate schedules and we'll see what happens.

Diplomatic complexity: >> My only doubt is that we'll be able to make such specific deals as: "I'll give you 500 AUs if you help me recover System X". I suspect it'll be more along the lines of "I'll give you 500 AUs for military aid against the Sakkras" (maybe with the rider "for the next n turns"). But ultimately, I don't know... I might be underestimating the complexity of the Diplomacy engine. <<

That sounds pretty accurate. You can't easily make AI designed to enact "future promises" some of the time and betray you the rest of the time. However, if I retake one of your colonies I can probably sell it back to you for a nice price (or cheap, if I want to earn some smiles from your direction).

Planets as task forces: Think of a planet as an immobile "Task Force." It would include Orbitals in the "escort ring" and each region of the planet as another ship in the "core." Those core "ships" would have a shield rating equal to the planet's shield; an armor rating equal to the density of targets on the ground; weapons like missile bases, etc.; and take damage in "systems" like DEAs and the buildings in them, infrastructure, etc.

No purely PC or Mac versions: Yeah, just so you guys know, we have no "PC Build" or "Mac Build" of MOO3. We have only the one "Build" and it runs on both platforms. :-)

Bill Fisher following up: Same source code, both platforms.

Obviously, there are Mac-specific and Windows-specific sections, but we're making a unified build with CodeWarrior that can pop out standard plus debug versions of both Windows and MacOS executables one right after another. All of the assets (data tables, graphics, sounds, movies) will be the same for both platforms. And we're currently using OpenPlay 2 for the networking layer, which is designed to be cross-platform.

We're not officially slated to do a simultaneous release, since our first obligation contractually is to Infogrames for the PC. But, since we're doing simultaneous development of the game on both platforms and will be testing cross-platform play throughout, one could realistically assume that the release dates will be fairly close together.

Answering some fan reservations: I'm not a waiter, but I'll take your reservations...

>> I've been wondering why everyone's been giving so much praise no matter what QS does with this title. <<

I suspect that they know enough about what we're trying to do and who we are to have a little faith.

>> From what I hear from QS (and I've been following for a while) is that this game will be RIGID. <<

Oh, you mean like baseball is "rigid" because there are real rules in it that apply to everyone. Yes, I can see your point. Imagine... a game with rules! How rigid!!

>> For example, the IFPs, the Star Lanes... <<

My point exactly. Those are rules. They work the same for everyone and are part of the game.

>> The lack of completely customizable races (i.e. you have to 'tweak' existing formats unlike in MoO2 where you could do whatever) <<

Yep, that's right. You choose a SPECIES with its innate attributes and modify it from there to create a custom RACE. That's the rule, and it's the same for everyone. There is no "laboratory" from which you're starting with a completely blank slate. You select a slate for what it is and then fill it in. Now, you guys haven't seen the RACE PICKS stuff yet, although I'm eager to show it to you, because we have some more "fill in" work to do to complete the first pass, but we're working on it and I expect to get a lot of feedback from you people in shaping up the final draft. (Oh, wait... I'm supposed to be inflexible. Sorry.)

>> Tell me QS, can we name our races? Do you decide our color as well (a' la Call to Power)? <<

The answer to both of those should be "yes." I think in multi-player, though, you might be assigned a color. Can't have everyone picking "red" now, can we?

>> It seems that a design team with a lot of good intentions has gotten hold of a classic license and feels it is their divine right to do whatever they please. <<

Divine right? Look, we're just trying to deliver the game that the publisher said they wanted. Within that constraint, we're adding our own style and creativity and, I dare say, the fans' as well. As I designer, I'm not one to "shoo" people out of the kitchen while I cook. You're welcome to come in (even if you do rampage through my pots and pans).

>> You guys at QS seem to think that if it ain't new its through. <<

Oh, piffle! What a crock. We have old, new, borrowed, blue (well, except the Elerians) — the works. MOO3 started with a blank slate, not the last games' code, that's all.

>> Granted, sequels that are clones are incredibly disappointing and boring, as you have mastered them the day you buy them, however, sequels that stray too far from the trail blazed by its predecessor ultimately have no chance either. <<

Well, we'll see what the critics have to say about CIV3 and MOO3. The former doesn't seem to stray too far from the trail blazed, while the latter certainly does. Guess we'll all find out together which is best. My guess is that we'll like them both!

>> I get the impression that QS is tossing this stuff in almost haphazardly, without thinking it all the way through as a big picture. <<

You know, I don't know how many times I've mentioned "the big picture." I don't know where you got this "haphazard" stuff. I'm a bit insulted, but let's suffice it to say that on this point, you are completely off-base.

>> The game isn't open ended. <<

Wrong again. Civilization isn't open-ended. It's a race game. On turn X, the game ends and you score your points. End of story. Master of Orion III is a space opera. There is no set end-game turn. It ends when a Climax (Victory Condition) is achieved whenever that is . You want "open ended?" I got your open ended right here [visual deleted]. :-) (That's a joke, people!!!)

>> If I remember correctly Alan has said you cant even turn the backstory off in MoO3... I'm sorry but if that's true (please let me be wrong) that is one HORRIBLE design blunder. <<

There you go again. The backstory is the backstory . It sets up the game. Once you start playing, the game is like any other of this genre, i.e., what you make of it . It will not always happen on Turn 100 that X happens because the designer's dictated "that's the story." After turn 1, the story isn't written! That's your job!! Here, take my pen — go, write!

>> I don't care how many variations of the 5th X there are, I don't want a #### story forced on me every time I play. <<

Good, because you won't have one. (Where do you people get this stuff?)

>> Give me some reassurances QS, just how experienced are you guys? <<

You want to know about me? Go here:

http://www.consimworld.com/newsroom/story/0701/070401emrich.html
http://www.quicksilver.com/~aemrich/tk-hp.htm
http://members.aol.com/aemrich111/aemrich11/default.htm

Heck, read the Designer Diaries up on the MOO3 web site. Yeah, I've been doing this stuff since '75.

>> Besides the strategy guides you mention in every post, what have you done in the industry? <<

Magazine and game publisher, game import/export, whole game sales, game retailer, writer, editor, designer, developer, playtester, auctioneer, convention manager, producer, plus a generally helpful guy to my fellow gamer.

>> Please, I'd really like to know this game is in capable hands, because these are a lot of risky changes to make, and I hope they're done right. <<

Me, too. That's what I've been dedicating my life to for the past couple years. It won't be long before you can tell me "it was a complete waste of time," or maybe even "thanks." Stay tuned...

Race restrictions and "Unity": >> Why is Race selection "restricted" and not totally free form? <<

Actually, that's a very fair question, and one I'll answer. Brace yourself everyone... it goes back to the backstory! And it also goes ahead to the victory conditions (but since all the stone throwers will want an early start, I thought I'd mention the backstory bit first).

By the backstory, I mean that certain species just "naturally" don't get along. They also eat / reproduce / manufacturer / value money / look at things in different ways. That's just how they are. I wish I could cite the Harvesters as my example (they're an extreme case), but you know I can't.

Remember MOO1? You picked the Birds or the Bears or the Bots or the Brains and guess what? Some naturally HATED each other. (I'd reference the page in my MOO Strategy Guide at this point with the Base Relations Table, but Floyd snagged my copy.) [Table 11-3, page 227]

All that was lost in MOO2, and in this designer's opinion, that was shame. Those "natural tensions" added a lot of character, a lot of motivation for things. So, by letting you select a SPECIES (and all its inherent abilities / foibles) and then color it in as a custom RACE of that species any way you like (within a few limitations so that they don't defy their "natural logic"), we're going for the best of both MOO and MOO2. It is also a way that the backstory projects itself into the Turn 1 Setup aspect of the game. Old kinships and hatreds (from MOO) are still simmering, and new ones have evolved since then.

Now, as for the Victory Conditions, this is one of those "the designer makes a rule" things. That's because we've designed "Team" victory conditions (which I hope we have time to implement — it's a big challenge). There are two types of teams, "Factions" and "Unity." Anyone who qualifies can join a mere Faction, but to achieve Unity, I wanted players to be thinking "we're going to be teammates this game" before they ever play the first turn. It's a serious 3-legged race kind of commitment. So, if you and your loved one want to go around as a Unity, fine, but you'd better have that planned out before you create your respective races, or it ain't likely to happen.

Here. Here's a snippet from the Design Doc:

Unity

"All people like us are We, and everyone else is They." — Rudyard Kipling

Unity and Factions work the same with these important exceptions:

  • It only requires a minimum of 2 civilizations to achieve Unity, but has a maximum of 8.
  • They must be of the same race and have governments in the same Political Ideology Series. (Note they must still achieve and maintain at least a Defensive Military Alliance in order to establish/keep Unity.)
  • AI players will not form or join in Unity; only sentient players may do so.
  • Players in Unity share all information (technologies, intelligence reports, scouting reports, planet surveys, etc.).
  • Players in Unity do not suffer the Imperial Focus penalty of Factions but instead they have their....

Well, you get the idea. Unity won't be easy to achieve, but it will be a big deal if you do. So, for that, from a design, playtest, and balance standpoint, I want Races to be as different as you like and Species to bear similarities between its subset of Races. There's a lot to manage in making this game, both going backward (i.e., the backstory) and forward (i.e., winning it). Again, in this designer's opinion, the method we'll use to outline a Species while letting players design their own races among them is, I believe, a very workable compromise very much in the spirit of achieving the 5th X (the eXperience).

More on the same: >> Confirm for me, they must be of the same pre-designed RACE as sub-members of the same species. This would rule out custom races as being able to be members of Unity Alliances. Human cannot have Unity with Psilons. Raas cannot have Unity Sakkra. Only Human/Human Sakkra/Sakkra alliances are capable of Unity? <<

You got it right. Race. So if you make a custom race, the two will need to be identical (I expect; it's more coding to check for "very close," and that could be a problem). Again, unity is something very special. I expect factions to occur every now and then as a natural phenomenon, but unity is a pre-game level decision.

More: Factions are fairly loose. Unity is very tight. And before you people go off on a tirade about how wonderful Unity is, you will want to know what follows that snipped of the design doc I posted. That defines the "downside" for you. (Muhuhahaha.)

 

IFP usage in war: >> IFP-cost should not prevent me from waging multi-front war. That should be as resource issue, not a mechanics issue. <<

That's the design goal. You can wage a multi-front war without ever spending a single IFP (I wouldn't, but you certainly can do it.) However, you can't be at every battlefield personally on every turn and still see to all of the affairs of state. It's a trade-off. (Ask Napoleon what it was like sitting in Moscow when there are threats of a coup in Paris.)

Expansion pack: >> We effectively know that there will be an expansion pack. <<

No, you don't. Even we don't know that. Even Infogrames doesn't know that. That decision will be based on MOO3 sales (as if anyone ever doubted that). All we can do is leave a huge trail of bread crumbs in the Design Doc for whoever follows our work (be it us or... I don't know who). That means there's a lot of "over designing" in the game so that all the stuff that doesn't make it in is standing by ready for assimilation into any expansion / sequels. We're ready, once the decision is made. If that decision is made...

Can multiplayer games have no AI empires? Games with no AI players? Not likely to happen in MOO3 . We emerge new civilizations during the course of the game, and they're AI players.

The Orion Senate: I don't have all this fleshed out in the design yet, but here's where my thoughts are about the Senate Fleets.

The game begins with the Senate fairly well armed and the voting stacked heavily in favor of the New Orion masters. You can influence their votes, however, with bribes. Since these guys were once Antarans, stuff that adds POWER to them is most attractive when bribing these guys. This would include Ships, Armies, and developed Planets. The "maintenance costs" for all these we don't worry about. There's no Senate "player" per se, and it's agenda of preserving disorder in the Orion Sector (with pragmatic exceptions relating to their own greed) hardwired into the game.

But over time, the Senate won't be the biggest, baddest thing out there. Perhaps you'll change the voting structure (a Senate Bill that "changes the rules"). Perhaps you'll chip away at their fleet or empire (and live). Maybe you'll get everyone to gang up on the New Orions and go conquer Orion itself. (That'll teach 'em.)

But as long as even one player seeks the New Orion's favor in the Senate and bribes them with stuff, they'll only get stronger... When and where you draw the line... well, that's the game now, isn't it? :-)

IFP usage in moving ships: >> I have a question. Will IFPs be involved in ship movement to and from different star systems, i.e. will I have to spend an IFP to move my scout to that star over there. Also if IFPs are used in ship movement will there be a cost per group moved or just "unlocking" of the "move multiple fleets" box. <<

Good questions. Ironically, I just wrote that up in the design doc this AM. I need to kick it around with the design team, but here's what I'm thinking...

Military Movement & Combat Actions

When it comes to matters of personally directing military forces, the IFP costs are as follows:

  • 1 IFP: Designate a single solar system and order an unlimited number of TFs to it. A "concentrate our forces here" order.
  • 1 IFP: Designate a single solar system and order an unlimited number of TFs from it. A "move or disperse our forces here" order
  • 1 IFP: Set a Military or Political Objective with a special "We Need" order to the Big Leader and the head of the War Department. (War, Peace, a particular planet, to raid another civilization, etc.). May want to back these things up with extra IFPs spent backing it up via The Speech to make sure this objective is implemented over Opposition objections.
  • 1 IFP*: to watch a single space and land battle at a system.
  • 2 IFPs*: to command a single space and land battle at a system

* = The first battle watched/commanded at a single system each turn costs one less IFP (i.e., it has a —1 IFP cost). That's one total, one —1 for the first battle watched and another —1 for the first battle commanded that turn.

Why the Reserve System? >> You produce ships/TF's at one system, after which they automatically go active and travel to another system... <<

That's just what I wanted to avoid and hence, the use of the Reserve System. I don't want to have to account for a zillion ships on the map that are just "men on the flying trapeze" moving back and forth like little "sims." I want players to be able to focus on the salient forces on the map (i.e., real, live, combat-ready fighting Task Forces). Not every Tom, Dick, and Harry ship chugging along mindlessly like some piece of space flotsam.

There's going to be a bazillion potential ships in this game. It's not fair for players (much less the processor) to have to sweat moving or even accounting for the movement of every little one.

Taking control of a battle you've elected to watch: >> Well, here's my question: What if you start watching a fight, and you realize that your commander must have had a fifth of Vodka right before the fight? In other words, the guy's being a complete idiot and he's losing because of it. Maybe there could be an option to take command of a battle you're currently only watching? <<

Very astute. I'm negotiating with the Producer and the engineers to try to get a user interface feature added (sort of a "panic button") that lets you pay the 1 IFP difference and start commanding. Don't hold your breath, but it's still under discussion as an unlikely "maybe."

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!!! <<

And

>> 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? <<

And

>> 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? <<

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.

>> ...is 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.

 

David "Stormhound" Craft, Assistant Designer

Moving in Star Lanes: The pseudo-science explanation for Star Lanes is that they are artificially induced wormholes. So you can't enter or exit one "part way".

Difference between Star Lanes and wormholes: As I said, Star Lanes are artificially induced wormholes.

This distinguishes them from natural wormholes, which cannot be improved. Different qualities, different names. Natural wormholes are considerably better than the artificial ones.

More on Star Lanes: The "artificially induced" part is to make it more plausible that Star Lane travel was only much more recently discovered (i.e. wasn't in the first two MOOs), and that improved technology could affect the process. BTW, someone made an observation above that no longer holds true; it should be apparent even from a casual glance at the numbers (which have been changed since, to speed off-road travel more) that off-road speed can be quite significantly improved.

It still won't measure up to Star Lanes, and there are certain other benefits from Star Lanes, but it can certainly be improved to an acceptable speed.

This will also be clearer once the official material is updated; we refer to the "Star Drives" as Jump Drives now, and to the "System Drives" as Hyperdrives.

More: The primary benefit of Star Lanes is economic. Since it takes a lot of money to fuel a war machine, there'll be good reason to develop them. Further, since they provide the quickest means of movement in most situations, you'll be able to get your forces where you want them more easily if you have a well-developed network of Star Lanes.

Putting the Jump Drive engines in the ship to make use of them is merely a cost of doing business. If you're planning on playing on the defensive, you might well choose to make more of your ships without them. That's a decision players will have to make...and rethink...throughout the course of the game.

More: >> I suppose Star Lanes (and their relative Quality) will also have economic impact in terms of how much trade a system can support and attract, separate from War Machine Costs, right? <<

Yep. And the more Star Lanes a system has, the more of a trade crossroads it'll be.

Of course, that same factor makes it more vulnerable to attack from multiple vectors, more desirable as a target, and more expensive both to develop and defend

Not that we'd ever try to put such a thing into the game on purpose, mind you. ;)

More: Let's see if I can be precise here...

They *are* artificially induced, because they exist in areas of space which are susceptible to such inducement (this is why they can only appear in certain places). As such, the conditions that allow them to be created can change.

Thus, there is a maintenance cost. This cost applies both to the area in which the Star Lane opening is created (call it "maintaining optimal spacetime conditions") and to any technological hardware used to further enhance it (like Jump Amplifiers). If this maintenance is not paid, both conditions and hardware will degrade.

Such maintenance is NOT a COW; it is an expense of promoting trade. If you don't develop the trade enough to pay the maintenance, you're shooting yourself in the foot/paw/tentacle. If you develop the trade well beyond the maintenance requirements, you make yourself that much richer.

How is trade developed? You develop trade by creating buildings and infrastructure to promote trade, just as you might expect. It's not quite that simple, but that's the crux of it. More details will have to wait.

(Fighting piracy does help, though.)

Can a star to have no Star Lane or wormhole? So far as I know, yes, it is. How likely an event it may be, I can't tell you.

If we have movement points remaining once we reach a battle, will we be able to continue moving after the battle? Nope. If you attack someplace, that's where you end your turn.

Why does only the Big Leader have Secret Associates? Think about how *many* leaders there are in the government. If each of them could have Secret Associates attached...well, that'd be an awfully lot of them. It's a simplification.

Value of controlling battles: >> What are the odds that being personally involved in a battle will make you win, when you would have lost instead? <<

Probably a lot lower than most people think. After all, everyone's used to the MOO2 "move every ship just so, and tweak this like that" model, which bears virtually no resemblance to the model of MOO3.

Now, if you happen to be a genius of grand tactics, and can wrap your brain easily around the concept of using task forces composed of a variety of ships to accomplish general missions, then I'd say your odds of being able to pull victory from the jaws of defeat would be considerably better.

Sector Seats: >> When the first three systems of a Sector are colonized, we can get designated as a Sector Seat.

Is this automatic (as soon as we have 3 systems we Must have a Sector Seat?) or could you colonize an entire sector and not Have to build a Sector Seat. <<

No, but there are benefits to doing so, including the fact that certain things can only be built at the Sector level.

>> Can the Sector Seat be Rebuilt if destroyed/captured? <<

Yes.

>> Can it be Relocated? <<

Yes by simply building another Sector Seat building elsewhere in that same Sector that, when completed, "closes" the old one and sells it off.

>> Do these processes (Building, Rebuilding, or Relocating a Sector Seat) cost resources? <<

Most assuredly.

Why was hyperspace travel speed doubled? I was more concerned with facing a rebellion of players when it took forever to get to your first other star if you hadn't discovered a star lane. (g) (Someone was asking about playing pre-warp? Yeesh.)

Actually, I did also want things set so that the maximum per-turn hyperspace speed WOULD be faster in MOO3 than MOO2, to imply that the technology could be improved even in the face of the adverse hyperspace conditions which I believe are mentioned in the backstory.

Real-time combat: I'm going to add a comment or two here...

I'm not exactly what you'd call a big fan of real-time combat games; I'm about 20 years past my prime when it comes to twitch reflexes, and the computer can pretty much stomp me when it comes to pure speed. So a year ago, when I first came here (and back then I was not on the design team, or even employed by QS), I was a bit concerned as well. I've played PI2, and wasn't enthralled. I've avoided games like Warcraft and Starcraft, and while I've tried AoE I'm not a huge fan.

It took some convincing before I believed in the real-time concept, but now I do. Three things are going to save real-time combat in MOO3:

1) Slower pace. It'll still move, but people over the age of 21 will be able to keep up with it and have some time to think. ;-)

2) Task forces. You won't have to control every single ship. Indeed, unless your fleet is so small that each ship is a task force, you won't be ABLE to control every ship individually. Instead, you make task forces to do certain jobs, and you turn them loose to do those jobs with some overall guidance.

3) AI. An AI that can make use of task forces and strategy is necessary, because it's also used for your subcommanders. It's been a primary concern, and has been worked on by QS for a good while now (and so far as I know, still is...everyone knows how much is riding on it).

The scale of MOO3 is bigger than MOO2 in many ways, and requires a different approach. The approach being taken was enough to sell me on the design, and ultimately get me onto the design team.

In general, I've noted that the more people actually take the time to think through and investigate what we've shown of the design, the more they tend to like it. It's not universally true, and some people like some things and dislike others (heck, so do I), but on the balance I genuinely like the game I'm working on.

Leaders from different races: >> I don't know if it has been covered yet.

Will it be possible when you have planets with multiracial populations that some of your leaders be of other races.

And if it is possible, will some races have some advantages, disadvantages in some fields. Will it be possible to have restrictive laws (Ex. No Silicoid leaders) <<

In order:

Yes, yes, yes/yes, and to an extent.

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.

 

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.

 

[ VIEW COMPLILATION FROM JULY 3, 2001 ]

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