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Suggestions on Narrative, Inflation and Friction Messages in this topic - RSS

RadCavalier
RadCavalier
Posts: 24


6/7/2018
RadCavalier
RadCavalier
Posts: 24
As ever, these are merely suggestions. I'm certain DrDread has his own vision for the game and I want to start by thanking him for creating something we all enjoy so much.

This game has an excellent foundation, but there have been concerns over end-game inflation and stagnancy. With that in mind, I've decided to compile the notes from a discussion in Discord along with a few of my own thoughts. I'll be breaking down the post into several sections, starting with the design/theory and ending with practical suggestions for solutions. If you just want to get right to the suggestions, skip this first bit, because it's all about why we need what we need.

From a design perspective, I personally think the solution to a lot of our outstanding problems can be summarized into two big categories, Money Sinks and Context/Narrative.

In reference to Money Sinks, players don't have enough reasons to spend their money. For a healthy economy (especially in a game all about economy) there needs to be a balance between money being generated by the playerbase vs. money exiting the ecosystem of the game. This prevents inflation and the stagnancy of "having all the things."

This balance is actually achieved very well during the early-mid game as upgrades and infrastructure costs burn up a great deal of money generated. It creates a really good sense of progression, but it's a temporary state, as once you hit your logistics/military cap and upgrade your structures to Level 10, you run out of things to burn your money on. This is where I think we should implement more "running costs" rather than "lump costs" to coin some phrases.

I define a "running cost" as a continual "cost of doing business" that recurs over and over, a good example of this would be the cost of using a Warp Gate to accelerate your fleet. Every time you want to use the gate, it will cost to make that happen. But, importantly, you can choose to forego the cost for the slower alternative. A "lump cost" would be something like upgrading your Corp HQ from level 9 to 10. It is a one-time obstacle that is meant to be a tall hurdle, but once cleared, you've progressed beyond it and don't face it again.

Because of this distinction, asking for higher levels in buildings, or higher logistics/military is good for the sense of progression, but it won't solve the inflation issue. That will only be solved by "running costs" that create continual, dynamic choices that force the player to choose between the more efficient/more expensive option, and the less efficient/less expensive option.

The second thing I mentioned was Context/Narrative, it's all well and good to get bigger numbers, but there needs to be a reason to care about those numbers. So far, the community has done a great deal to try to provide their own narrative, but it struggles against the design of the game, rather than acting in concert with it. An example of this would be the Lunar Accords and the conflicts leading up to it when the game first started. That was an excellent piece of player-driven emergent narrative that gave a context to the struggles around Sol's ONLY artifact node. The reason I bring this up at all roots back to Eve Online. Eve's core gameplay tends to be very dry, it's often joked about as "Spreadsheets Online" and yet it has high appeal to new players. Why? Because of the stories that veteran players have in the sandbox environment of the game. Even if the gameplay itself isn't pulse-pounding, the context surrounding the gameplay makes it riveting all the same. As such, I personally believe we, both DrDread and the community as a whole, need to come together to flesh out the world of BotG in an effort to give it more character and personality in the hopes of making memorable stories not only for ourselves, but as a point of appeal to those we'd like to invite to the game.

Now, stories can't exist without conflict, as we've seen in the game's past. And conflict typically doesn't occur without reason, especially in a game where war quite literally doesn't pay. The huge expansions of space caused by Weyland-Yutani meant that everyone got much-needed breathing room and more to spare, but it also meant that conflicts died down because everyone had plenty of space to expand in their own corner of the world. While this presents a problem, I believe it can be mitigated by adding content that gives each star or region of space a character or identity all its own. When I left, there was some discussion about creating "planetary quirks" that would give each planet mechanically-relevant changes to industries and units on their surface (think like, a "Fertile" planet increasing production of Crops/Meat industries while also lowering demand for both). I think this is an excellent idea that creates varied appeal and prompts meaningful decisions on where and how to expand your operations. Even negative quirks could have an upside. A planet might be more hostile to commercialization, but it also means if you're willing to put up with the maluses you'd have the planet to yourself. Another possible option is an Artifact-esque addition of "strategic resources" (a concept seen in Stellaris to great effect). Specific resources which could be harvested to increase production speeds, or provide additional artifact-like bonuses to units, but are only found with great rarity. These would be a point of contention amongst corporations and prompt the politicking and intrigue I feel many of us feel is lacking in the gameplay. Perhaps this is what DrDread has in mind with the "Artifact Fragment" update, though I'd like to see Artifacts become even less abundant and more useful.

At any rate, that concludes my musings on the game design. Here are some concrete suggestions both by myself and others in the BotG Discord:

- A tax percentage option that directly impacts population growth in a town, adjustable by rulers. This tax would act exactly how the current tax system does, but with the added choice of balancing profits over city growth.

-In-city events that would have to be mitigated by investment from players (disease, crime sprees, riots, etc.). These could factor into the prestige system as well, where we, as corporations, either ignore, mitigate (say, 50% expense for a partial success) or resolve (100% expense, total success) the issue at hand. These events would be in the style of fads and such.

-The ability for rulers to create tariffs on specific guilds or corps. Both inclusive and exclusive. Basically, setting a tariff rate, and who it targets. This could be used to generate non-combat friction and possibly even prompt embargos and trade wars between players without the destruction of their property.

-Industrial espionage via "operative" assets that act similar to nanite swarm/geoscorcher artifacts, these operatives could be created out of a unique building (similar to the way a research station creates an artifact). Potentially create a Play-Counterplay interaction with Operatives and Security. This would lead to the cost-benefit analysis of deciding exactly how much Security you need to upkeep to maintain safety.
Some ideas:
-Sabotage (production at one structure is lessened by a 20-30% range for a short time)
-Labor strike
-Work Accident
-Espionage (production at one structure is stolen by a ~5% range)

-Planetary Quirks. As mentioned before, either randomly or non-randomly assigned bonuses and maluses that affect the appeal of planets for various purposes. Not all planets would even have to have them. This would act as an extension of the non-random attribution of resources on various planet types (for example, the high metal content of volcanic worlds or the fact food resources only spawn on certain terrestrial planet types).

-Nameable Planets (either generated names, or player named). This one is actually a big one for me. Stars have names, cities have names, our planets need names. Once something has a name it can start having an identity. Perhaps name them only after a certain number of population is reached? I think it's a small thing that would actually go surprisingly far in helping us create a world full of character.

-This will seem like an odd one, and perhaps I'm way off here, but I think adding separate discord channels under the general channel for each populated star system would be useful for helping develop internal communities within the greater playerbase. Again, it always comes down to creating systems that help form distinct identities within the community.

-Strategic Resources (similar to artifacts, specific boosts to productivity in certain industries, ability to mitigate harmful planetary quirks, etc.)

I'll add more to this post as I think of them, but I'm in a bit of a scramble right now. I really would love to see some open discussion on these suggestions and whether or not people would like to build on the ideas or point out flaws in them.

-Shaw
edited by RadCavalier on 6/7/2018
edited by RadCavalier on 6/7/2018
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Doctor Dread
Doctor Dread
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Posts: 1458


6/8/2018
Doctor Dread
Doctor Dread
Administrator
Posts: 1458
I like this post, here are my thoughts on everything

Money Sinks - New Megastructures for political prestige stat which translates to logistics, end game progression. This is what big corps end up pushing on to increase thier logistics past level 10. Some megastructures can be High cost/low maintenance ones purely for prestige. Like Civilazation "wonders".

End game raids - Entire planets of infinity scaled unit bases or unique Superbosses that offer special ship rewards. Can be randomly spawned by events. Kind of like Kaijus but they are larger or multi-stage and sit in one place. For example. A Doomstar that warps in more units as the fighters are destroyed scaling up the fight and with different units until it is destroyed. THat way you can initiate an attack on it but be forced to switch out unit types or manuever a bit to take it out.

Planetary Quirks - Give planets Bonuses, negatives and "problems". Original game idea which was never implemented. A lot of foundation for this feature is in place now. The city/Planet/System wide bonsues for example. I need some Combat affecting ones and then these quirks would be easy to implement.

Artifact Diversity. More consumable uses for artifacts is a must I agree. Also, to goive them more flavor, How about making 5 Different Artifact resources instead of one? SO there isn't a generic Artifact site resource. They are one of the 5 types. Geo, Meta, Cyber, Dimensional, Mysterious?

Rulers influencing town. Maybe not tax, but bonus/neg for certain categories of industry. This can be at city/planet/system level

City events requiring a sink of money or military. Money to prosperity sink will probably work better with more megastructres that permanently boost population or industry.

Rulers setting tarrifs vs corps - Edict system should implement this. Rulers will be able to edict other players so they cant trade, or build etc within the scope of that rulers territory. City/Planet/System. Edict system is envisoned more as a player-enforced justice system.

Spy/counterspy - I don't want this kind of mechanic in game where I have spies and everyone has spy defense. It was an original game idea but its feature creep with a lot of new systems and structures etc that need to go in. I do want to implement something similar to Sins of Solar Empire, the pirate bribes. "hidden" players can invest in pirates to attack other corps secretly with fleets or by sabotage. Its kind of the same thing except its a straight money sink that is actually competitive because while you don't know who exactly is paying the pirates to launch an attack 100 turns from now, you can see howmuch money has been invested and who they will currently attack. That corp can throw more money to make them go the other way. The Scale of the inevitable attack grows with the amount of total money being sunk into it. If 2 supercorps go to a price war against the pirates, they might sink billions into it and inevitably one side is going to get hit with a planet sized fleet.

Named planets - Straight typed names, No, Being able to select from several random ones, yes. Problem is that the planets are named after the system they are in for a reason and makes it a little easier to know where they are by name. They are also named immediately upon creation. Perhaps City renaming would work better? When a new city is forming, there is a vote by the industry holders at location as to what the city should be named from a list of a few random names. Thats the name it will use when it is actually formed 100 turns later.

Strategic Resources - This can be handled by the planetary quirks some of them can make certain industries have a bonus. But if you want to "Find a Super Weapon" or "Find an abondoned Super Component Facility" or "Terminator Factory" which is a special Military Base that can pump out Terminators. If I make those things indestructible then I need to get the Capture mechanic in place so you can attack them. This sort of "game theme" can somewhat be covered by making Artifact Resouyrce be split into 5 distinct resources.

Something I want to add - Special features for Moons. Moons are underutilized. I was considering making their resource numbers a bit higher and perhaps making it so it only requires one city ruler on a moon to initiate a planet ruler vote. They can also be the site of Special locations I'm working on.
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RadCavalier
RadCavalier
Posts: 24


6/8/2018
RadCavalier
RadCavalier
Posts: 24
All of these responses make me incredibly excited for the future. Big Grin And as far as combat relevent ideas for planetary quirks, I'll brainstorm and see if I can offer a list of suggestions. I know how taxing it can be to come up with this stuff, so any way we can help crowdsource ideas to lighten your load, just let us know!
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Doctor Dread
Doctor Dread
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Posts: 1458


6/8/2018
Doctor Dread
Doctor Dread
Administrator
Posts: 1458
Theres already a list of Planetary Quirks somewhere in the guide(?), Guide >> The Galaxy there is a list there. But that is kind of obsolete. Most quirks are going to be bonus by category of industry. Bonus/Neg by category of military unit, Persistent problem like indigenous lifeform that attacks often. Im not seeing the free resource drops happening. But I do like you ridea of strategic artifact/location that is permanent and can be fought over.
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RadCavalier
RadCavalier
Posts: 24


6/10/2018
RadCavalier
RadCavalier
Posts: 24
So after doing some brainstorming, I looked at your old list of quirks and almost every single one of my ideas was listed there in some fashion. While I totally get that it wouldn't make sense for the old ideas to simply give you free resources, it could be interesting to have the quirks impact city demand or provide % bonuses to production. Like a "Weak Magnetic Field" meaning any product with "Radioactive" in the name gets 10% bonus to production at the cost of -2-5% pop growth due to radioactivity (it doubly makes sense that an Arcology would mitigate this from a lore perspective as well).

At any rate, I've been haunting the Discord and doing some thinking myself, and I've got an additional list of suggestions. As ever, we know that you're busy, and the last thing I want from barraging you with suggestions is for you to feel overwhelmed at all by them. These are just things we think would be cool because we all get so jazzed about the game. :P

-(Extension to the Tariffs idea)Trade Embargo: Banning a corp or guild from an industry within the sphere of your rulership. Since this would be such an extreme measure, perhaps it would cost an expense in prestige?

-A "frontier" spawn modifier that dictates raider/pirate spawn rates dependent upon the development.
Star Lord = Core System = 75% Raider spawn 50% Pirate spawn
Planetary Emperor = Developing System = 100% Raider spawn 100% Pirate spawn
Mayor = Frontier System = 125% Raider Spawn 150% Pirate spawn
No Ruler = Lawless Space = 150% Raider spawn 200% Pirate Spawn

-Another suggestion was to have pirate bases pop up on low-pop (under 10mil) planets in high-pop systems. This would give corps in developed worlds something to do with their ships on the off-time, hunting down the pirates that cling to the fringes of society.

-Offering a "Corp Bio" section which would just be an 1000 character text field where people could state their goals and purpose. It would go a long way towards making each corp special and unique without being too difficult to implement.

-A separate forum specifically for Stories and RP fiction. It would be a good place for the Grand History to get pinned, and I imagine it would encourage people to write stories about the lives of people trapped in the great tides of corporate intrigue.

-The ability for a ruler to institute a city-wide event at the cost of prestige/money. Like a military parade to give a temporary buff to army effectiveness, or “declaring a holiday” to make a demand for a particular industry grow by 2% per turn for a short time. Could even incorporate other players present in the city by, say, hosting some kind of city-wide festival. Not only would the size of the festival be determined by total amount invested, but perhaps there are certain bonuses for being the #1, 2 and 3 contributor (pulling this idea from Civ V with its global events like that World Fair).

-A display when making Move To Location orders that displays the total turns the trip will take.

That's all I've got right now. Thanks again for taking the time to read through!
-Shaw
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