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Age of Ascension

Discussion in 'Crazy Spatz's Alpha Centauri Mod' started by Spatzimaus, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. Talkie_Toaster

    Talkie_Toaster I toast, therefore I am

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    Hi all,
    First of all I'm a really big fan of the mod, it's amazing the extra features you've managed to achieve.

    Now, on to business: I've been inspired by a mod that seems to be abandoned to suggest a new feature which I think fits this mod perfectly: Interstellar colonization.

    As described in the link, you would never actually see the colonies on a map, rather you would direct their founding, growth and direction from a colony management screen, looking something like this:


    The ability to expand to the stars has been one I've yearned for in my Ascension games since I started playing them, it made no sense to me that constant references were being made to the colonies, but they were intangible. Well now we have a chance to make the late game a lot more interesting. So what does everyone think?

    EDIT: Taking a closer look at the forums, it appears I should have posted this in the Age of Ascension thread rather than giving it its own thread :cringe:, apologies. It's probably best if you merge this post into it.
     
  2. The_J

    The_J Say No 2 Net Validations Retired Moderator Supporter

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    Moderator Action: Threads merged.
    Please use the "report post" button () to bring things to the attention of the mods, else we will not see it (thanks to CivOasis who took care of that in this case :hatsoff:).
     
  3. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

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    In the long term I'd like to create a variety of scenarios to go with this content, and this sort of thing would go very well into that. I'd been considering something a little less abstract; something like the original Master of Orion, where the map consists of a bunch of planet "islands" and they're managed through an outside interface like the one you've shown. But either way works, as long as we're talking scenarios.

    My primary worry about integrating this into the core mod in the near future is the usual one of AI capability: adding a new mechanism like that that bypasses the usual Civ5-based systems really favors a human player. (I've run into that repeatedly in the Mythology mod, for obvious reasons.) If the bonuses are large enough to have a significant impact on gameplay then the AI needs to be adjusted, and if not, then what's the point? Unfortunately, without the DLL we're just VERY limited on what the AI can do, but once the DLL comes out I do intend to go back and redesign some of the Ascension mod's systems to make it a bit smoother.

    Now, there's another aspect I'd originally planned and then dropped. In SMAC, you had the four satellite types (orbital hydroponic farm, lunar mining station, orbital power transmitter, orbital defense pod) and you could build as many of each as you wanted. In this mod, because of its Civ5 roots, these satellites were reduced to a one-per-city building that had a global effect. I was never really happy with this change, but without adding an entirely new mechanism, there wasn't much else I could do; while I could also remove the one-per-city logic, that'd just lead to the AI getting stuck in a loop too often thanks to the ridiculously crude Flavor system. I'm a little better at this now than I used to be, so replacing those with this sort of "colony" mechanism is possible. So at Orbital Spaceflight you can make colonies, several later techs boost the yield gains you get from your colonies, and so on. It'd be nice to integrate this into some sort of diplomacy/revolution system like the Empires mod will have.

    The primary problem with this is one of timing. At the moment, it's just too easy to win the game in the Digital, when I really need the game to still be competitive through the late Fusion. Without this, there's just not any point in adding complex mechanisms that don't start until the mid-Fusion. So I'm still trying to improve the balance of my mod set to extend this competitive phase a bit further than it is now. I'm trying to make the Empires mod add a few elements that help this by making espionage and diplomacy easier for the small empires, but even so it's just too easy to roll over the others once you get a modern, mobile military.

    So, I'm looking at doing a major balance pass on the Ascension mod in the near future (once I get the major bugs in the Mythology mod knocked out), and balance suggestions are welcome. For instance, right now it's just too easy to use an overpowering air force (especially once you get Logistics to attack twice per turn, and ESPECIALLY if you play America, whose B17s start with an extra promotion and so only need 30 XP to reach Logistics) to kill the defenseless siege units and then pick off the rest of his army at your leisure. But imagine if every anti-air unit gets two weaker interceptions per turn instead of one strong one, and fighter units get a larger bonus against bombers (to where an intercepting fighter will often kill the unit it intercepts unless it has Evasion abilities)... suddenly, it becomes possible for an enemy civ to create an impenetrable defensive wall that a smart human can't pick apart. This was always the intended goal, but the present balance doesn't quite reach that yet.

    If I can improve the balance to where the Fusion Era is still a viable era for competition, then I'd be open to the sort of conceptual redesign you're suggesting. But I'd limit it to only our solar system, no extrasolar colonies, and the colonies would never dominate the home planet; part of the theme of this mod is that it's the Earth-based counterpart to SMAC, where the slowship-founded Alpha Centauri colony is our first and last attempt and leaving the system.
     
  4. Darsnan

    Darsnan King

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    I've had several ideas for scenarios using your mod, however have refrained from posting them as you'd mentioned before you wanted to concentrate on getting the core elements of your mod working first.

    When discussing Mods versus Scenarios, I've always taken the approach that Mods need to be balanced, but Scenarios are intended to give players different experiences than what they can get with the base gameplay. Or to put it another way, Scenarios don't necessarily need to be balanced.

    Another thought I've had which sort of mirrors Talkie_Toaster's comment of "The ability to expand to the stars" is that I'd love to be able to explore strange new worlds in the Ascension mod environment (i.e. new graphics representing different worlds).

    I don't know what direction you plan on taking regarding scenarios, but when you feel its time post a thread and I'll see if I can contribute within the scope your imagining for this.


    D
     
  5. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

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    Ascension is pretty much there. I'm not done with the unit graphics, obviously, and I've still got some balance issues, but it's close enough to start working on stuff like that. My intention is to make one more good balance pass in the next month to try to make things stay competitive for a bit longer (I'm aiming for the late Fusion/early Nanotech), add a few more minor abilities to units (now that I have them all working for the Mythology mod), and make a few more minor tweaks (like having a few different repeatable Transcendent techs to choose from, each with a different stackable effect).

    The only thing really holding that up is that we can't modify terrain/improvement/resource graphics. It's a bit of a pain for a mod taking place on Earth, but it'd be crippling if we wanted to make something more exotic like another planet.

    One of the nice things is that I've already made modifications to AssignStartingPlots, so it's easy enough to add a set of "non-Earth" randomizations. So you can create a desert world, a water world, and so on simply by removing some of the safeguards in the core game and increasing the randomization a bit more. Add some new terrain colors for each, and you're basically there.

    There are a few obvious ones, the foremost being an actual Alpha Centauri setting with the fungus and such. Beyond that, pretty much anything can work, although if you want the sort of space-as-islands setup the tech tree would need some heavy modification to add spaceships and such instead of the large number of planetary units I have now.
     
  6. Darsnan

    Darsnan King

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    OK, so I can post a new thread in this forum discussing some background/ concepts on each scenario. Then you/ others can review and see if its in-line with what your anticipating for these scenarios.

    Or I can just post the concepts in this thread and we can go from there. Let me know which you prefer and I can proceed from there.

    The one scenario concept I think which puts your mod in the spotlight is a saga involving Parachutists. This unit is unique to the future eras, so it gives traditional players (i.e. people who have only played the vanilla game) a new perspective on ciV (i.e. if pitched correctly, its a good marketing hook). Its easy enough to mod in that all I have to do is start the human's civ with Parachutists instead of riflemen. I then place the other civs into a context where the human player is challenged but not overwhelmed (i.e. the human player isn't completely surrounded by other civs), and gives the human player the opportunity to employ the Parachutists as they are intended (or not, depending on the skills of the human player....). As the game progresses then the Parachutists get upgraded into Drop Suits/ etc.


    And speaking of Parachutists, maybe its just because its a new-found toy for me, but I'm finding them to be a huge advantage, as follows:

    - Drop Medics: quickly placing a medic where its needed (i.e. not having to move wounded units) is a distinct advantage that an AI isn't programmed to do (i.e. advantage - human)

    - During the late Nuclear era I find myself chunking out Parachutists every chance I get in all my cities (maybe one or two per city, but cumulatively its significant). The non-skilled of these (i.e. units produced in cities without Armory's) I drop behind enemy lines during offensive actions and use as speed bumps: if the unit survives the AIs initial counterattack, the parachutist usually gets it first promotion, which I then use use to immediately heal the unit, and next turn the AI has to again try and batter thru my Parachutists to relieve whatever objective I am driving towards. This strategy of Drop-n-Plop is something the AIs aren't programmed to deal with: instead of using their own Parachutists to jump over my roadblock, they'll use their Parachutists to attack my speed bumps. Advantage: human.

    - I place my Parachutists outside the two-tile city radii that are effected by nuclear blasts. If I deem it necessary I can then employ these units as replacements along the defensive perimeter by dropping them into gaps in my defenses, thereby mitigating the offensive effectiveness of nuclear weapons. This strategy also holds true for situations involving conventional offensives by the AIs where they are grinding down my defenses: a well-timed para-drop can very quickly turn the tide against an AI.

    The one thing I've thought to mitigate or tone down the effectiveness of Paratroops would be to take away their ability to insta-heal. Rationally speaking this makes sense, as they are highly specialized troops who are usually behind enemy lines, so it doesn't make sense that they should be able instantly re-enforce themselves. From a gameplay perspective I think it would also help tone down the human's advantage in the use of this unit.

    The other item I think could be toned down would be the Supercollider: 10 units of uranium means 5 nuclear missiles, and I've optimized my playing style such that I'm usually in position to immediately purchase one missile, and shortly thereafter start building the next one. I've also marked the Supercollider as one of my Benchmark Wonders, and almost exclusively I am able to snag this (that's of course if I've survived the game long enough to get to that point, but that's a discussion for another post).

    D
     
  7. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

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    I'd say keep it in this thread. I can't really think of any scenarios that won't be explicitly linked to one of the three content mods, so it's best to keep the discussion in threads like this.

    If you're referring to the Paratroopers, those ARE in the vanilla game, you know. Sure, no one really pays attention to the Modern Era units because the game's basically over, but I didn't add those. (I tweaked their stats a bit, though, and inserted them into a new upgrade chain.)

    As to drop units in general, I abused the heck out of that mechanism in SMAC. All of my Rovers or Hovertanks would have drop pods. All of my Colony Pods had drop pods. I'd have a few Workers with drop pods for beachhead improvement, although I generally wouldn't bother with anything beyond that. It was a great feature, albeit one the AI was horrible at using.

    And the disturbing part about this is that the paradrop function is something the devs put in years ago, so it's not like the AI has any excuse not to use it correctly. Just goes to show you, if we get the DLL and someone remakes the AI behavior, things could get scary.

    Yes, but remember: compared to the vanilla game:
    > I have FAR more units that require uranium, so you'll be spreading it thinner. Using all that uranium for nukes when you've got destroyers and subs waiting to upgrade to stealth ships, or helicopters to vertols, or fighters and bombers to needlejets...
    > Uranium deposits provide more units of it, to account for the above, but it's still a net loss until you get Fusion Labs or the Supercollider.
    > Nukes will get intercepted some of the time.

    Now, I'm not saying that it can't be tweaked. Make it require dilithium, reduce the amount to 5, even move it to a Fusion-era tech if need be. I'll look into it.
     
  8. Darsnan

    Darsnan King

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    Scenario ideas are as follows:

    1) A Hop, Skip, and a Jump: as society on a planet crumbles, you are in charge of the last contingent of Peace-keeping forces, which happens to be a Brigade of Paratroopers (i.e. 4-ish Paratroopers). With global anarchy reigning, can you re-assert authority on this frontier world?

    And the last time I checked vanilla ciV the balance was very poor on an Industrial or Modern era start, so probably not too many people play a lot of games starting in these eras, and even fewer would develop strategies for drop troops in the ciV environment. So the thought here would be that by giving the player Paratrooper units to begin with, that it would "introduce" a lot of people to this unit, and put them into an environment where the players could explore the various uses and strategies these unique units provide them.

    2) Pax Galactica: concerned for our planet's safety, a "benevolent" alien society has deemed that there will be no nuclear warfare on our planet, and have established Sentinels around our planet to intercept any nuclear weapon launches (this can be accomplished by giving C-S SDI's and Orbital Defense Pods, and setting the C-S to hating the regular AI civs and the human player). The senario name is actually from a short-story with the same premise.

    3) The Black Forest: one of the things I've noticed on the Standard sized Continent maps I play on is that generally speaking, the AIs who start out in the middle of the continents (i.e. bordered by 3 to 4 other civs) usually end up on the short end of the stick. So I wondered what AI civ would be a good candidate to be placed in the middle of the map? One thought I had was the the Iriquois with their ability to use forested tiles as roads would be a good candidate for this. I'm envisioning creating a large swath of forested land within the Iriquois cultural borders where the Iriquois can quickly move from one front to another as needed, while the forested tiles would also impede human and AI invasions into the Black Forest.

    4) A Plague of Machines: Alistair Reynolds has a series of books which has a plague that is capable of infecting both man and machine. My thought would be that if I could give the Barbarians cities and pump up some of their other abilities, that I could make them into a threatening civ that is capable of conquering other AI civs, and even overwhelming an entire planet. The premise for this scenario would be that a bio-engineered plague has gotten loose on this world, enslaving man and machine. Or to put it another way, its a "Zombie Apocalypse" style scenario.


    :goodjob:


    D
     
  9. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

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    Calling it "very poor" is generous, in my experience. The devs had been using a strategy of cost reductions for earlier eras, and extrapolated it to a ridiculous extremes in the later eras. Techs costing only 20% of their original values, that sort of thing, and the AI just couldn't handle that well. An awful lot of the balance changes I've made have been trying to fix this.

    But yes, one of the things I think the game is really missing are good late-era scenarios. Every Civ game always does a WW2 scenario (either in the base game, an expansion, or a very early mod), but nothing beyond that. Most "modern" settings don't really do much with it. Back when I was mapping out the "official" timeline for use in the Civilopedia entries, I brought up a bunch of later wars to explain the development of the high-tech units. So I could easily make a few later war scenarios, like the Resource Wars (especially the Neutronium battles over Antarctica, which'd allow for a custom map) to use all of my custom units without having to deal with the balance issues of having a fully developed industrial world.

    One semi-scenario I'd been considering was taking my existing mod, and just ramping up the Psi units into a sort of "zombie apocalypse" playstyle. Instead of a slow trickle of Psi units that can be contained with a few units, make a flood of them. Give them the Spawn ability (used by Zombie and Vampire units in my Mythology mod) that lets them create copies whenever they kill a unit. Raise their power levels, giving them enough extra promotions that they'll often win. Make Spore Towers spawn a psi unit in each adjacent hex when they're created and each turn, instead of just one unit in the same hex. Make the more dangerous Psi units (Chiron Locusts and Nessus Worms) appear immediately instead of waiting until the Nanotech Era. Have the percentage chances increase with time, so that a 20% chance of getting a Mind Worm on turn 1 becomes a 25% chance on turn 10, a 30% chance on turn 20, and so on. (This last one I've been looking at adding to the core game, albeit not ramping up that quickly.)
    Instead of a nuisance that can be contained over time, you'd face an ever-growing wave of enemies and it'd only be a question of how long you could last. You'd be nuking your own lands, just to kill the Spore Towers that you can't reach to buy some time. Thing is, I don't even need a scenario for this; since it's all Lua-driven anyway, I could simply add it as an option in the setup screen, sort of like a OCC or Always War game. The only real problem is that the AI players would be quickly overrun, so I'd need to add one additional element: World Peace. When the Breakout happens, all nations would stop fighting each other and would join forces against the horde, permanently. It'd be better if you turned on Always Peace from the start, so that the AIs would use the pre-Breakout time to build up their forces; the game actually has that option, it's just hidden by default. (And obviously, turn off all of the victory conditions.)
    There are still some balance issues with this, like Improvements. The psi units would pillage them all and you'd never be able to get a Worker out to fix most of them. So maybe I could change the wild Psi units to not have the pillage ability; you wouldn't be able to work hexes they're standing on, but once you cleared a hex it'd be back to full production.

    But there are other options as well. The running theme of my civilopedia timeline was a series of narrowly averted catastrophes; obviously, for the world to survive long enough to reach transcendence you couldn't have a true apocalypse. But if the Rain of Fire (the brief nuclear war of 2077) hadn't been stopped cold by anti-nuke systems, you'd have the Fallout universe. If Skynet's robot uprising hadn't been stopped, you'd have the Terminator universe. If one of the plagues I mentioned hadn't been stopped, you could easily have a scenario like the Years of Rice and Salt, where an entire continent is resettled by the rest of the world after the nations there were utterly destroyed.

    That could be handled easily as well, since nuke interception is managed through my Lua code. Just destroy all existing nuke units and add a CanConstruct check to prevent anyone from building a new nuke. Or set interception to a much higher value, if you want it to still be remotely possible to nuke someone.

    I'd actually been looking at giving all city-states the equivalents of SDI/ODP projects automatically at certain techs, since they can't build projects normally. (Or, make CS-specific buildings that do this.). But I'm trying to implement better nuke logic, now that I can get the target hex from the mission info structures, so I'm overhauling the whole math. And once we get the DLL, the first thing I intend to add will be diplomatic penalties for using any nukes.

    Everyone who starts out in the middle suffers, because the AI's hatred is based too heavily on proximity, hating anyone whose borders impinge on his own. Being on the edges means most AIs won't hate you for that. Rather than make a scenario around this design flaw, I was looking to replace the whole thing with better logic in the Empires mod that cares a bit less about position and more about second-level (friend-of-friend) relationships. But that'll have to wait until the DLL.

    Back to the zombie apocalypse idea, but now with cities. You wouldn't want to use the Barbarians for this; simply spawn another major empire, give it massive bonuses, and set it to Permanent War with everyone else. While you could do this for the Barbs, they have too much hard-coding, like the various anti-Barbarian policies and the overrides for all the unit types and buildings. But another major empire wouldn't have those problems; you'd probably want to prevent that new empire from building any Wonders, but that's easy enough to lock out with Lua's CanConstruct function.

    If you've played Master of Orion 3, they had a race exactly like this. It had much bigger bonuses than the other races, but had huge diplomatic penalties that nearly always resulted in a state of permanent war with at least one neighbor. (That game had a LOT of balance and design issues, but its race design/relationship mechanism was actually pretty nice.) So make a new civ, prevent the player from choosing it, and when you reach the trigger point it starts "corrupting" fringe cities to form a new, hostile empire. There are plenty of different stories with this sort of theme to choose from, whether it's Berserkers or Zombies.
     
  10. Darsnan

    Darsnan King

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    My thought from a marketing perspective would be to highlight how effective your SDI/ODPs are, so would want to leave the nukes in-game, so the scenario players could "experience" (witness?) this element of your mod.

    Concerning the "Pax Galctica" scenario:the pic below shows what I'm running into in seeing what I can do to generate the scenario. I can build the cities, but I don't get the option to selct the SDI or ODPs (and I remember now that this is controlled via Lua, so these items are not "buildings" or "units" per se). I can give the individual players the money to purchase these items, however I don't have that option with the C-S unfortunately. Rather frustrating! :mad:

    Regardless, you can see the approach I am taking regarding the cities I plan on using for this scenario in that I am making them inaccessible to being conquered (land equivalents would be surrounded by mountains). And placing a nice range 4 Plasma Artillery in each city should condition the players to steering clear of these "cities" as well.

    I was looking at this from the slant of how can I as a scenario generator build a scenario where the center AI is competitive. One of the underlieing themes for scenarios I've always pursued is to give the human players different experiences than what the base game can give you: a strong AI in the center of a map definately falls into this category. That plus its good info for a scenario generator as to what works (and conversely what doesn't work) in regards to building a strong/ competitive AI in a scenario (i.e. I consider it a good educational experience).


    Here again I think what I am pursueing here is 1) a different experience for the players, and 2) a better understanding for me of what I can do with the Barbarians in scenario environments. Modifying the xml files that control what the Barbs can build (i.e. a mod to your mod in a sense) I think should make them more challenging in the fixed environment that is a scenario (i.e. I would build the scenario around the strengths of my villain).

    Another idea that I had for a scenario was "Ice, Steel, and Water" which would take place on an icy water world. The map would have free-floating ice even in the equator region, and I'd have to edit the units to emphasize naval warfare ( I was thinking about sort of modeling the unit selection after Schafer's "Final Frontier", which to a certain extent can be viewed as similar if you just replace space with water, and solar systems with archapeligos). Because of the ice, submarine warfare would become a more viable option. One thing I noticed when I was playing around with the map generator for waterworlds was that there wasn't very much uranium placed naturally in waterworld style maps. Not a problem in a scenario, but I wonder how players who enjoy waterworld environments deal with it?

    D
     

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  11. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

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    Yes, because they're Projects you'd have to do it through Lua. At the start of the game, have a simple Lua function give everyone one copy of SDI and/or ten ODPs. I'm honestly not sure what this'd do for City-States, who are normally banned from all Projects; I'm trying to implement something for them right now.

    The other option is for you to create a new building in XML. The nuke interception chance is handled entirely through Lua, so it'd be trivial for you to modify the Lua logic to recognize a building type as adding to interception chance; the only catch is that it'd have to loop over all cities, whereas Projects can be directly counted from the Players structure.
    In fact, you wouldn't even need a building. In the Lua code I set the minimum and maximum chance of interceptions; you could simply remove SDI from the game, and set the minimum interception chance to 50%. Currently, it's 30% for A-bombs, 20% for nukes, 10% for planet busters, and 0% for a subspace generator. (You'd need to modify the logic to ensure the Subspace Generator isn't destroyed when its shot is intercepted.) Yes, I know this means you'll be missing out on some bits of artwork and such, and it'll make certain techs less desirable, but you can do it.
    (Note that ODPs aren't just nuke interception, they also reduce the effects of orbital weapons through another Lua override. So if you remove their anti-nuke effect, you should increase the other.)

    If you don't want to destroy the projects and want to still have a very nuke-unfriendly world, you could always just boost those minimum percentages by a flat amount; instead of 30/20/10, make it 60/40/20. You'd probably hit the maximum caps very quickly, though, as those are 83.3/66.7/50%.

    If you want them to be unconquerable without the inaccessibility bit, you can just give the cities a custom building that adds a huge amount to their Defense value; the unfortunate downside is that those cities' base ranged strike would then be incredibly powerful, even if its range would still be 2. That can be adjusted through Policies, though.

    And remember: just because a city is surrounded by mountains doesn't mean it's actually inaccessible; quite a few units in my mod can move freely over mountains. Skimmers, Gravtanks, Vertols, Chiron Locusts, Nessus Worms, Formers, Combat Mechs, Labor Mechs, Bolos, and Gravships. Plus the orbital weapons can hit the cities, even if they can't capture it.

    The problem there is that, as I mentioned, Barbarian camps just stop spawning once you reach a point in the game where the map is explored. If you want to keep Barbarians a threat after that, you MUST use a Lua override like my Spore Tower logic; since it's Lua, you can easily tweak it to spawn whatever you want, really.

    You might want to consider looking into the book "Seas of Venus" by David Drake, downloadable here. (It's free to download if you use the links on the left side of that page.) Obviously not ice-based, and there's no mention of submarines, but it's all about a waterworld where the little bits of land are basically uninhabitable (due to incredibly powerful native wildlife) and everyone lives in undersea domes that are more-or-less immune to attack, with "wars" basically being organized skirmishes between mercenary forces where the loser capitulates immediately.

    The biggest problem for any of this is that with increased naval emphasis, you'll just need more units; part of the reason for the Stealth Ship and Leviathan in my mod is that I was trying to REDUCE the number of types of naval units, since they became less and less important as time went on. With long-range air units (and eventually orbitals) taking over the bombardment duties (and having more than enough range to hit targets without needing to base on a vulnerable carrier), Vertols and such being all-terrain units, and most land units now having more than enough mobility, I was trying to close down the naval operations.

    You'd basically need to do the opposite, creating an even larger number of naval units to fill the roles that many of the land units filled. Or, modify some of the existing ones; the Skimmer could be given the Vertol's all-terrain promotion, to allow it to fill the mobile defensive infantry role while the vertol remains the offensive tool, although you'd want to reduce the Skimmer's other stats to compensate. The Chiron Locusts could easily be given this ability as well, as-is.
    You'd want some new naval unit, to replace things like the Gravtank; it could be sort of a Battleship/Submarine hybrid, to balance the Leviathan. Give it some missile racks as well, instead of fighters, and remove the missiles from the Stealth Ship; you'd now have three naval units that each have their own pros and cons. Likewise, you'd need to modify the Bolo and Combat Mech (the only two Titans without the all-terrain ability) to be naval units.

    There are basically three options for this:
    1> Remove Uranium as a resource. You don't have to actually remove the resource itself, just make any units that require it use, say, Oil instead. So less "nuclear sub" and more "modern sub", like how the Modern Armor replaces the Tank. Maybe have it require Aluminum as well.
    2> Adjust AssignStartingPlots (and a few bits of XML) to spawn water-based Uranium. You'd need to expand what I went through to get the AI to improve its own water-based Omnicytes and Dilithium, to include this new resource.
    3> Use the Building Resources mod component (which is already included in my mod) to create buildings within each city that generate the land-based resources. So if each city gets a free building that generates 1 unit of Uranium automatically, then there'd be no need to have large numbers of deposits on the map. You don't even need to create a new building for this; just give it to an existing building that every city gets automatically, through one simple XML declaration.

    The thing is, on waterworld maps you'd be short on all the other resources as well, especially Aluminum. If you're sticking with only futuristic settings then you can ignore Iron, Horses, and Coal; Oil will be present in the water, but unless you change the Lua it'll be much more spread out than in the vanilla game. That leaves Aluminum and Uranium. So option #1 above isn't really practical, but the other two can be expanded to include both resources.

    The real problem, as always, is the AI. If you make a map that requires a very specific playstyle, the AI just won't adapt well to the changes. In a waterworld, naval bonuses become very important, but the AI's flavor values don't really change so it wouldn't be any more likely to build these as before... unless you change those as well. And if the city in question is on a 1-hex island, the AI will continue to build land units there even if it has nowhere to put them.
     
  12. JJOne

    JJOne Warlord

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    Hi there, still on my first game with your mod (marathon :) )
    It is great, but I have some questions:
    1. Does the Breakout occur only in unseen land, as do barbarians, or is it anyhow linked with the average technical level of players? I researched the ship with 50% of the civs in renaissance, 45% in industrial and one civ just beginning nuclear. Now about 20 0turns or so later I'm in fusion (thanks to a little abuse of research agreements), the oponents are 70% in industrial and 30% in nuclear. No psi units.
    2. Unit graphics - Am I doing it wrong, or are unit graphics from normal units being reused? (For example: skimmer=horseman, quantum artillery = artillery, stealth ship invisible)
     
  13. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

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    No. Psi units, both during the Breakout and for the Spore Towers after that, are placed on any unoccupied (no units or cities) hex in the world, whether or not that hex can be seen. The entire point of the Spore Tower mechanism is that it's NOT limited only to invisible hexes like barbarian camps are.

    The only modification I've made is that if the hex chosen is a water hex within a few hexes of land, it'll find the nearest land hex and spawn units there instead (assuming that hex is unoccupied). Otherwise, you'd have far too many Isles of the Deep roaming the oceans and too few mind worms. This also, in practice, helps city-states since they're more likely to be located in coastal hexes and have their units covering most of the nearby land area.

    Sort of. It's tied to the tech level of the Barbarian faction, which tends to lag behind the lead player by a fairly fixed amount, but there's also an explicit timer override: when you built your spaceship, the game picked a random number between 10 and 30. Each turn, you subtract a random number between 1 and N from this, where N is the number of civs that have launched a spaceship; once this timer runs out, the Breakout occurs. At that point, all city-states, barbarians, and players are given the Centauri Ecology tech and all future spaceship construction is disabled.

    So even if you were so far ahead of the others that no one else had even started building a ship, you'd have 10-30 turns before the Breakout. It wouldn't matter exactly how far behind you everyone else was. If you were in a very close space race with another civ, to where they'd complete their ship soon after yours, then it'd go quite a bit faster as it'd often subtract more than 1 from the counter each turn.

    If you're several eras ahead of everyone else, then there's really no point in continuing to play the game because you could wipe everyone else out whenever you felt like it. So, the mechanism is designed around the assumption that everyone's close enough to each other to not be completely overwhelmed in the Breakout.

    The units that I haven't finished importing custom graphics for still use placeholders, generally a UU unit model that fills a similar role. Yes, that means the Skimmer uses the greek Companion Cavalry artwork, and the Plasma Artillery uses a basic artillery model. Most of the humanoid units don't have custom artwork yet, while most of the mechanized ones do.
    The Stealth Ship, however, should NOT be invisible; this is something we've run into before. In the DX9 executable the custom unit models that I've completed work just fine, but they seem to be invisible for anyone using the DX10/11 executable, and I just don't know why.
     
  14. JJOne

    JJOne Warlord

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    OK, in the session tonight the breakout occured. And about the eras ahead, it's getting interesting, because your technology difusion concept works just fine - I only have one tech in fusion, and another 3 civs are also in fusion.

    Loaded the game with DX9 and stealth ship, isle of the deep and vertol are still invisible. But I can see the spore towers (sort of a large red mushroom).
     
  15. Androrc the Orc

    Androrc the Orc Emperor

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    Very nice mod :)

    I noticed a problem though: some units have strange animations (they seem to be running when they should be having their idle animations... this was a barbarian unit at the early (digital era) game).

    Anyhow, I'm getting too overwhelmed by mind worms and the like. Is there a way to stop them from spawning (as can be done in regards to usual barbarians by destroying their encampments)?

    Keep up the good work!
     
  16. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

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    Yes. This is an unfortunate side-effect of one of my bug fixes. You see, if you deal extra damage to a unit through a Lua function, or heal the unit, then it won't update the graphical representation of the unit right away. This is most noticeable with Barbarians, because one of the changes in my mod is that all Barbarians heal at least 1 HP per turn, no matter what action they take; the result of this is to make the Barbarians much more of a threat, since you can't just whittle them down so easily.

    What'd happen is that if a unit healed enough damage through a Lua function to increase the number of little people it needs to draw, and you attacked that unit before it had a chance to do anything that'd cause it to update its graphics, then you'd see one guy come running in from the other side of the planet, and your unit would try to meet him halfway. A similar problem would occur if the unit had taken extra damage through Lua, in the other direction.

    To avoid this, every time I have a unit heal or take damage through Lua, I tell the unit to move to the hex it's already standing in. This forces a graphical update on the number of people to draw, which is good, but it unfortunately leads to that "running in place" animation. I figured it was just the lesser of two evils, and I've been trying to see if there's some other way for me to force the graphical override. No luck so far.

    Destroy the Spore Towers. They're what spawn the mind worms, isles of the deep, etc., basically filling the same role as the classical Barbarian camps. They tend to be pretty strong against bombardment, but weak against ground units; a single Mechanized Infantry should be able to take off most of a spore tower's HP in one shot, especially if you took the Honor tree (because wild psi units count as barbarians).

    The way it works is that a Spore Tower spawns somewhere in the world (generally one tower per turn), and then at the start of each following turn it has a 40% chance of spawning a mind worm in the same hex, a 20% chance of an isle of the deep, and once you get to later eras, a small chance for Locusts of Chiron and Nessus Worms. So you want to take out the towers as quickly as possible, before they have a chance to generate a few "screening" mindworms (on the turn the worms are created, they'll be stacked on top of the tower, and you'll have to kill the worm before you can reach the tower. This was deliberate.)

    Other than the few mindworms and isles of the deep that spawn during the Breakout, every worm will be spawned by a Spore Tower, so you just need to get into the habit of prioritizing their destruction. The whole reason for this mechanism is that I wanted to encourage the player to keep some of his military units in his back-line cities, like an AI would, instead of throwing everything towards whatever front he's currently fighting on. This also means that if a spore tower appears in the territory of one of your city-state allies, it becomes really important for you to help them clean the infestation out, because city-states will rarely have enough of a military to take out spore towers by themselves.
     
  17. Androrc the Orc

    Androrc the Orc Emperor

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    Yes, it sounds like the best option between the two.

    I thought it would be the spore towers; mine are unreachable though. As it is, I'm in a situation in which neither am I able to get rid of the worms, nor am killed by them. My impression from this playthrough was that the combination of extra healing and spawn rate made the aliens too prevalent, and from too early on. But of course, this is just the impression from one playthrough.

    On another note, do you plan to convert implement more Alpha Centauri technologies and facilities? I noticed the absence of a few early-game facilities and technologies, such as Network Node and Recreation Commons.
     
  18. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

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    How are they unreachable? If you've got two or three stealth bombers based on the same continent you shouldn't have a problem knocking down any screening mindworms, and like I said, all you really need are one or two mechinfantry or armor units in the area to kill a spore tower. Air units are really not very good at killing spore towers; like all Titan units (and the Battleship and Leviathan), Spore Towers have the "Damage Reduction" ability where they'll heal 1 point every time they take damage (effectively reducing the incoming damage by 1), which means dinky 1- and 2-point bombardments from weak air units won't do much. You've got to send in something that'll do 5 or 6 points per fight, which means melee units, preferably ones with the Trance ability.

    With railroads, it should be very uncommon for a land unit to take more than 2-3 turns to reach the towers, as long as you haven't been moving all of your land units to wherever your other wars are (which, like I said, is the entire point of this mechanism), and even a couple Stealth Bombers on the same continent should be able to hold the infestation down until the land units arrive. Even if the terrain makes it hard for earlier units to reach, most of the future-era units I added have the ability to ignore terrain costs, paradrop, or move over mountains; the Vertol even moves over oceans, so there isn't anywhere it can't reach.

    As for the spawn rate, the logic is that the game will try to place at most one tower, unless you had Raging Barbarians on. Most turns it'll be less than 1 (percentage chance based on the number of other towers already on the map). Even if you controlled the entire planet, to where it'd HAVE to put the tower in your territory, it shouldn't tie up more than a half-dozen units to kill a single infestation. But because of the healing mechanism, you can't just send one unit to deal with an entire infestation; it really requires two or three land units and about the same number of air/artillery. It's possible that you just had a streak of bad luck, with a spore tower appearing in your area for several turns in a row, with each spawning worms right away. But in the long term it should be manageable, as long as you prioritize killing the towers whenever possible. And as long as you get into the habit of leaving a few units on defense in each area of your empire (like the AI does), you'll be fine.

    (I'm looking at adding a zombie-type scenario where I just crank the worm spawn rates WAY up, to where it really WILL be possible to be overwhelmed. But that's a low priority.)
    No. It's not that I didn't like those buildings, but they basically represented the "getting up to speed" period of SMAC, getting the various essential structures into newly-created cities. Since this mod takes place on Earth, you're not starting the game from scratch at the point where the future content begins; even if you chose to start the game in the Digital Era, you have an entire tech tree full of buildings already available. Effectively, I knocked off the bottom tier of techs from SMAC and spliced the existing Civ5 tree into its place; the Rec Commons' happiness boost is effectively replaced by the Temple, Colosseum, Theater, and Stadium. Same for the others.

    Now, at one point I was looking to put some of them in anyway, and just not tie them to the simple effects they had in SMAC. That's basically what I've already done with the Energy Bank and Children's Creche; the difference is that I really NEEDED a straight +Gold and +Growth building in these eras, because it had been so long since the last one of each, so I made room for those, but I didin't need another straight +Happiness building sandwiched between the Stadium and Hologram Theater. I just felt the Ascension tech tree is already a bit congested in the Digital, and I didn't want to stretch it out any further.
     
  19. Androrc the Orc

    Androrc the Orc Emperor

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    I understand :)

    Are you going to convert their icons anyway like you did for Biogenetics and etc.? You could utilize such icons for other functions and it would provide icons to modders looking into adding to their own mods or personal games those buildings you don't want.
     
  20. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

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    Already did. Quite a few of the icons from those unused techs and buildings (or at least components of them) are already being used for new techs, buildings, unit flags, promotions, build actions, and policies in this mod. I've got a full list at home to keep track of where each icon came from; obviously, nearly all of the techs and buildings/wonders I translated just use the icon of the corresponding SMAC buildings/techs, but I changed a few to use a better icon and/or quote. In other cases, I cannibalized an unused icon for the new types of components; for instance, the Terraforming build action icon (only usable by the Former unit) is the old Recycling Tanks symbol, while the Chaos Theory symbol was used for the EMP promotion and the Superstring theory symbol for the Fundamentalism policy, and most of the unit flag icons come from unused techs.

    But if you mean, am I going to convert all of them as-is to create an extra library for others to use? Then no. I converted what I needed, and the graphical files this mod needs are pretty full as-is. Any more and I'd have to increase the side of the mod's download further, and it already takes an uncomfortably long time to build when I'm developing it.
     

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