[DESIGN] Eden : a SMAC themed mod design

Discussion in 'Civ5 - Creation & Customization' started by jenks, Oct 20, 2010.

  1. jenks

    jenks Prince

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2006
    Messages:
    494
    Location:
    Yorkshire, UK
    Eden

    Foundations for a SMAC-themed mod: a design for Civilization V



    I see already lots of modders are discussing building a SMAC-themed mod for Civ V :) Bonus. I haven't yet seen anything substantial produced, and so I got to doing some thinking on how it could/would work, and started making some notes. Im running this post for the moment as a brainstorming/notepad/design document, updating as ideas come, suggestions are made or found. Im not designing a direct 'port', but would like to capture some of the flavour of SMAC in this design.

    N.B. For ease of focus I'm self-limiting the design at present to only the initial two 'eras' of the game (Im thinking: 'Planetfall' & 'Survival' / with 'Sentience' & 'Transcendence' design to follow)
     

    Attached Files:

  2. jenks

    jenks Prince

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2006
    Messages:
    494
    Location:
    Yorkshire, UK
    Note letters and numbers are for my cross referencing.

    CONCEPT / FLAVOUR CHANGES:
    - Gold commodity / Maintainance principle replaced with 'Energy' / Maintainance
    - Culture commodity replaced with 'Influence'
    - Forest & Jungle features replaced by 'Xenofungus', with penalty to movement, defense, food, production, energy for non natives
    - Ancient Ruins replaced by 'Wreckage'
    - Palace wonder replaced by 'Fusion Core'
    - King / Queen replaced by 'Leader'
    - Barbarian encampments replaced by 'Nests', brutes replaced by 'Mindworms', native only units
    - Native units can embark from start of game. Player units cannot embark at this time.

    TECH TREE
    Spoiler :
    (general flavours: Discovery / Economy / Faith / Green / Infrastructure / Security / Weaponry):
    D1 (I-Mine)
    E1 (I-Solar Panels)
    F1 (U-Militia)
    G1 (B-Recycling Fac)
    I1 (U-Colony Pod)
    S1 (B-Sensors)
    W1 (I-Fortification)

    D2 (U-Foil)
    E2 (U-Terraformer)
    F2 (B-Respite Centre)
    G2 (I-Irrigation)
    I2 (I-Road)
    S2 (P-Armor branch)
    W2 (U-Rover)

    F3 (P-Fortitude)
    S3 (U-Artillery)
    W3 (U-Missile)

    UNITS
    Spoiler :
    (Combat type):
    3 Artillery (Artillery 1)
    1 Colony Pod (Expand 1)
    3 Foil (Naval 1)
    1 Militia (Melee 1)
    X Mindworms (Native 1)
    3 Missile (Artillery 2)
    1 Scout Drone (Recon 1)
    2 Rover (Recon 2)
    2 Terraformer (Expand 2)

    PROMOTIONS
    Spoiler :
    X Fungal branch I-III (native only, combat/movement bonus in fungus)
    0 Weapons branch I-III (all, generic combat strength)
    2 Armor branch I-III (all, generic combat strength with defensive bonuses)
    3 Fortitude I-III (all, large combat bonus vs native)

    BUILDINGS:
    Spoiler :
    0 Hydroponics Lab (+food)
    2 Respite Centre (+production)
    1 Recycling Facility (+energy)
    1 Sensors (+influence)

    IMPROVEMENTS:
    Spoiler :
    2 Irrigation (+1 food, flatlands only)
    2 Mine (+1 production, hills only)
    1 Solar Panels (+1 energy)
    1 Fortification (+defense on tile)
    2 Road

    LEADERS / CIVILIZATIONS
    Spoiler :
    (starting tech):
    Lady Deirdre Skye of Gaia's Stepdaughters, G1
    Chairman Sheng-Ji Yang of the Human Hive, I1
    Academician Prokhor Zakharov of the University of Planet, D1
    CEO Nwabudike Morgan of Morgan Industries, E1
    Colonel Corazon Santiago of the Spartan Federation, W1
    Sister Miriam Godwinson of The Lord's Believers, and F1
    Commissioner Pravin Lal of The Peacekeeping Forces S1

    CITY STATES:
    Spoiler :
    Prime Function Aki Zeta-Five of The Cybernetic Consciousness,
    Captain Ulrik Svensgaard of The Nautilus Pirates,
    Foreman Domai of The Free Drones,
    Datajack Sinder Roze of The Data Angels,
    Prophet Cha Dawn of The Cult of Planet,
    Guardian Lular H'minee of The Manifold Caretakers, and
    Conquerer Judaa Maar of The Manifold Usurpers.

    WONDERS:
    Spoiler :
    0 Fusion Core (marks site as capitol, +1 production, +1 energy, +1 science)

    ALL FACTIONS BEGIN WITH:
    Spoiler :
    1 x Colony Pod. First city will have Fusion Core (Palace) National wonder when built
    1 x Scout Drone

    ZERO REQUIREMENTS:
    Spoiler :
    B-Hydroponics Lab
    U-Scout Drone
    P-Weapons branch
    W-Fusion Core
     
  3. jenks

    jenks Prince

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2006
    Messages:
    494
    Location:
    Yorkshire, UK
    I want to say as a kick off, that the mod/design for Eden which I am working on is based on lots of concepts, many of which are not all my own ideas, many which are. I do not have any desire to own these ideas and disclaim them now to the public domain, most were inspired by SMAC itself (possibly my all time favorite PC game), other CivFanatics users, generic sci-fi and media, and a Roanoke mod I had the pleasure of contributing on (Civ IV mod back in 2007, with its designer Padmewan), which I felt had gotten close to awesome - but finished incomplete due to trying to do too much...

    What I'm saying is if anybody wants to take these ideas, develop them, burn them, code them, please feel free to do so. If anybody has any suggestions or other good ideas, please also feel free to discuss them here, or chip in with anything you can offer.
     
  4. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    3,063
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    That's because we're busy actually, you know, MAKING it.
    It's a lot of work; I'm intending to have the v0.0 release of Spatz's Mod for Alpha Centauri (SMAC) ready this weekend, at which point I'll create a discussion thread. Nearly all of the XML is done, with 45 new techs, something like 60 buildings and wonders, twenty-something units, ten social policies, and so on. I'm just starting on the Lua programming, I've got no unique 3d models yet, but I've been creating the icon atlases using SMAC's building and tech icons. (GIMP is not being cooperative on this one.)

    Also, I got distracted with the combination of Minecraft and Fallout: New Vegas. Oh yeah, and that whole job thing. So obviously I'm not devoting 100% of my time to Civ 5 modding.

    What you're describing is more of a total conversion, a scenario game designed around the factions and such of Alpha Centauri. What I'm doing, instead, is creating future eras for Earth using the techs, buildings, wonders, and some of the units of SMAC as inspiration. Obviously, some things will change as a result.
     
  5. jenks

    jenks Prince

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2006
    Messages:
    494
    Location:
    Yorkshire, UK
    Hi. I wasn't talking about you specifically there fella. Nor do I know what you are up to in your own time, especially if its not got a thread with any details! Please dont take the first post as a dig at you (or anyone else who is working on a SMAC mod for that matter). As I said, I still haven't seen anything posted as an overhaul mod (SMAC-themed or otherwise - I was hoping for a supermod to be out by now, a la FfHII!), but as you say - RL gets in the way and all that...

    I do feel there is a definate buzz about Civ V demanding something SMAC-esque though (though this could also be said for civ IV).

    True, the design above even at the stage it is at now is for a conversion mod rather than an extension of the game, I'm thinking of a revamp of pretty much everything and wanted to get pen to paper, as it were.

    I shall look forward to having a go at your mod though Spatzimaus, especially if there is an option to begin at the future tech phase!

    cheers
     
  6. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    3,063
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I know. But you're not the first person to make this sort of thing; a lot of people seem to equate "no files posted" to "no progress made", and decide to offer suggestions. In many mods' cases (and I'm not just talking about SMAC here), the creators are far beyond the point of the typical "idea" post. I can't speak for the others, but I'd been planning my mod since Civ4 came out and only a few things had to change to match the new reality of Civ 5.

    On the bright side, assets are fairly portable. So if person A makes an Alpha Centauri mod in a certain style, and person B doesn't like it, he can make his own mod and use many of the same graphics and such. We'll probably end up with a bunch of similar mods as a result.

    The reason for that isn't one of free time, per se. The bigger issue is that, at present, we have no way to create many of the art assets needed. What's the point of making a mod involving angels, demons, etc., if you can't actually make a unit that looks like an angel or a demon?
    Likewise, the schema in the XML files have a lot of unused stubs for abilities. Some of these work, some don't, but we don't currently have access to all of the files we'd need if we wanted to add many of the new abilities people have asked for.

    So for now, many of the "content" mods simply use placeholders, both in terms of artwork (recycling the artwork from the unique units to represent the new units) and abilities (giving a unit or building a certain ability in lieu of the one you really want). Some have gone ahead and posted their results anyway, others are waiting until the full software package is released.

    For instance, take the mindworms. There's simply no way, as far as I can tell, to create a true "Psi" combat system at present. So for now, I just made them a new unit type with its own set of counterpromotions. And without a graphic that looks anything like mindworms, it's not really the kind of thing you want to release to the public.

    Yes, definitely. I actually had made an early version of this mod back in Civ 4, but I was never happy enough with how it had turned out to post it. (The fact that the various expansions broke it also hurt a bit.) SMAC was a very popular game, and to this day there are still quite a few features that other world domination games haven't included. Civ 5 is the first Civ game that I felt had enough functionality to actually make a decent attempt at this theme, so I'm giving it a go.

    There are a few headaches, though; in Civ 4 you had wonder movies, which made it easy to integrate SMAC's great movies. Civ 5 doesn't use those any more, which is a real shame, so I'm waiting to see whether someone adds that ability.

    Thankfully, that option is now integral to Civ 5's game design. As near as I can tell, you can start at any era (unless you specifically set an Era to NOT be used as a starting point).

    But to be clear, my mod is actually two mods. The first, Crazy Spatz's Long Mod, is a general gameplay mod designed to make it more likely that a game starting in the Ancient Era is still competitive in the industrial/modern eras. This is essential if you want to have any future-era mod, since what's the point of adding all of that content if people will never reach it? If they do get that far, it's usually because they were stringing along a helpless foe just to see what a Giant Death Robot looks like or something, and that's no fun. Sure, you can start the game in the modern era, but I want it to still be possible to play a game that starts at Agriculture and that still makes it that far. (I was actually going to post a working verson of the Long Mod this weekend as well.)
     
  7. Quetz

    Quetz The Tallest Lilliputian

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    663
    Location:
    Heavensent
    Just throwing it out there, but Maniac's excellent Planetfall mod for Civ 4 (SMAC conversion) could possibly have a lot of art assets waiting to be used in something like this for things like worms, if it's possible to convert them over.
     
  8. chongli

    chongli Prince

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2010
    Messages:
    310
    Is there any way to mod SMAC's true 3D map (with varying elevation) into Civ 5?
     
  9. jenks

    jenks Prince

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2006
    Messages:
    494
    Location:
    Yorkshire, UK
    Not without a hell of a lot of hard work!
     
  10. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    3,063
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    And there's the problem. Yes, there are TONS of art assets made for Civ4, most of which could translate over just fine once we get the ability to add new models. Unfortunately we can't do that yet, but once we can, it'll be easy to come up with visually distinct units.

    That's one of the reasons why, in my design, I compromised on units. I'm not even TRYING to mimic SMAC's modular unit construction system; to make up for this, and to keep from having to create a few dozen slightly different variations of the same basic units, I had (in the Civ4 version) just grabbed whatever good art assets I could find and built the mod around them. That's actually the main point of feedback I'll still need for my own mod; while the buildings are fairly straightforward, and wonders are limited to the sorts of effects I CAN make, units are a wide-open system with tons of possible abilities.
     
  11. Quetz

    Quetz The Tallest Lilliputian

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    663
    Location:
    Heavensent
    Would it be that hard? There are plenty of mods in Civ4 that allow building on peaks. There's 3 elevations: Peaks/hills/plains
     
  12. chongli

    chongli Prince

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2010
    Messages:
    310
    SMAC's elevation is different from anything in any Civ game (and possibly any other 4X game). Every tile has an elevation measured in meters above sea level (along with 3 levels of rainfall and 3 levels of rockiness). Hills and valleys are not restricted to individual tiles. Elevation smoothly varies over every tile on the map, giving a realistic rolling appearance to the terrain and greatly enhancing strategic depth.

    SMAC also features a much larger number of tile improvements, with some having very dramatic effects. One such improvement is "Drill to Aquifer" which creates a new river beginning in the current tile and flowing naturally down the slope of the terrain (possibly over many tiles) to the ocean. This would be very difficult to replicate without implementing SMAC's elevation system.
     
  13. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    3,063
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Yeah, it still amazes me that we went backwards from SMAC to the current games, and the terrain is a prime example. If you want to talk about "dumbing down" a strategy game, this is the best example.

    SMAC:
    > Flexible unit design system, with tons of different abilities you can slot in (each with a different cost modifier) instead of needing a dedicated unit for each combination of abilities.
    > Dynamic terrain system instead of an explicit "hills" or "grassland" type tile setup. The river thing mentioned earlier was AWESOME. This also includes deformable terrain; hit an area with a big nuke and you leave a crater. Raise the sea levels and a coastal city might drown unless it's built a Pressure Dome. Once you got Tectonic warheads or Planet Busters, it became a question of how MUCH of the opponent's territory you wanted to leave intact.
    > Natural Wonders that have significant resource effects. The current NWs in Civ5 are okay, but they're not very good tiles to work so there's little motivation to settle next to one. One of the things I want to do is change them all to be like SMAC's Monolith (2/2/2 yield) instead of the current 0/2/3.
    > Water cities, water tile improvements, and in general, a useful navy. This can be modded in, but it should be in the core game. (Seriously, water cities could easily be set to only be possible at a certain tech. I want to try this, actually.)
    > A "prototype" system for units to discourage people from mass-producing a combat unit the moment they unlock its tech.
    > Psi units that use a type of combat entirely separate from the normal strength system, allowing a civ that's fallen behind technologically to make units that can threaten foes.
    > Fungus. This stuff had all sorts of great game effects. You can mimic some of this with forests and such, but it's not the same.

    Don't get me wrong, it had a lot of downsides as well. Building effects were a lot less complex; they made up for this by having most buildings do multiple things (+gold and +research, +research and +happiness, and so on), but with Civ5 there's so much more we could do. So I'm willing to dump a few of the above benefits if it means picking up the advantages of the new features. For instance, there were no National Wonders in SMAC, which can make a huge difference; in my mod, I've changed things like the Citizens' Defense Force, Command Nexus, Planetary Datalinks, and Living Refinery to be National Wonders. Some of these are basically National Wonders that give an effect that was previously available as a World Wonder (Citizens' Defense Force is identical in effect to Himeji Castle, but now everyone can have it, and yes, it stacks with Himeji; Command Nexus is the offensive counterpart, giving +20% to combat outside your borders), others are just things I wanted every empire to be able to do (Living Refinery is like an Ironworks on steroids).

    Also, there were some horribly abuseable combos, so I'm not trying to claim that SMAC was the end-all be-all of games; there's a reason I haven't played it recently. But it's sad how so many of the great innovations in that game were effectively ignored in all later games. Or in the case of Wonder movies: trimmed down and then removed entirely.
     
  14. Darsnan

    Darsnan Emperor

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,044
    :lol:

    So where is this mod you keep talking about, or are you just going to keep us in suspense for a while longer? :mischief:

    I've been playing around with some of the game's mechanics in the Modern/ Future eras, and am liking what I see so far: the GDR makes a great Battle Ogre, the paratrooper can be re-skinned into a Drop unit, and the fighter jet is almost perfect as-is.

    Anyhoo, I'm looking into generating my own future-themed mod, but would like to tag-team off of someone elses mod (no sense in re-inventing the wheel if someone else has already done it). I've already got the xml editing under my belt, and will shortly be getting into the LUA, so if your looking for a hand on your mod please let me know (and if your wondering about my history with AC, just google Darsnan and SMAX and you'll see I've done a lot of mod'ing, scenario, and PBEM generation over the years).

    D
     
  15. jenks

    jenks Prince

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2006
    Messages:
    494
    Location:
    Yorkshire, UK
    yeah i was thinking i could do the same, using somebody elses as a basis for a few tweaks and changes. feel comfy in XML after modding civ IV but Lua I dont have time to learn atm!

    What I wanted to do with this post was prompt a discussion for some simple changes that shouldnt take much coding to make a SMAC conversion of the game.

    Without tonnes of (probably unneccessary) work:
    I dont think elevation is possible. I dont think modular unit building is possible. I dont think the civic system is possible. I dont think psi combat is possible.

    I do think some of those things and the core flavour of the game can be put in, with simple switches

    I thought a type of 'Psi combat' can easily realised by using the existing unitcombats and promotion structure. New unitcombat Native (easily done with a few text amendments, just replace Mounted or something which will not be on an alien planet). Give them a strength of 10, versus your bog standard infantry unit also with a strenth of 10. 50/50 result. If you train your units in psi combat via promotions, or build promotin giving wonders/buildings to train them, you get a Psi hardened promotion (I called it Fortitude above), say +25% vs Native units. This itself could have multiple levels, Fortitude II giving a further +25% say. If this doesn't work you could give units an inherent advantage / disadvantage vs Native units, or tweak the strength values themselves. I can see that working with little difficulty.

    Anyway, point of the post / thread. If anybody has any SMAC themed ideas of anything which could be integrated easily into a civ V mod, or how it could be done, discuss away - it cant hurt anybody else who is already in development of one! (Graphics will come eventually, I have faith)
     
  16. Valkrionn

    Valkrionn The Hamster King

    Joined:
    May 23, 2008
    Messages:
    14,450
    Location:
    Crestview FL
    Sent you a PM on the subject, but haven't seen a reply, so I'll post this as well.

    It looks like there are two separate mods going by the name of Eden atm; My own, which will be a fantasy mod, and this one, an SMAC mod. Could cause some confusion with both using the same name, there. :lol:

    My team's mod has been planned since last december (seeing as we're all testers, we've had time to design it, if not C++ access to create it), and we even have our own forum on CfC already (albeit a hidden one).

    So, to come to the reason for the post: Any chance we could persuade you to change the name? I realize that it is appropriate for an SMAC themed mod, but it is also appropriate for ours... And we've dropping the name for several months now. :lol:
     
  17. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    3,063
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Well, I wanted to get it to actually load somewhat correctly before I posted it. Posting a nonfunctional mod isn't very helpful, although I might post it anyway just to get "idea" feedback. The biggest problem I'm having right now is that the techs in the Digital Era (the first of three new eras) just give too much stuff; all give 3-4 units/wonders/buildings/rule changes, which is just huge compared to the Modern era techs. So I'm looking to see if I can move some things down to the Modern era.

    Also, I've been playing Fallout: New Vegas the last couple days. It's a bit time-consuming. (But kinda awesome, other than the technical problems.)

    That's basically what I've done, for now, but that's not what Psi units were. Mindworms were the same effectiveness no matter how you upgraded them; they were just as good against a 1/10/1 infantry as a 10/1/1 rover, which made them a great unit to use when you were facing an opponent who had really high-tech defensive units garrisoning his cities. That's why they were so dangerous as a "barbarian" unit; sure, most cities would have a Trance unit to keep them under control, but units caught out in the field could get wiped out easily.
     
  18. Darsnan

    Darsnan Emperor

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,044
    Ah, OK, understood. Looking forward to this when you do upload. :goodjob:

    D
     
  19. Spatzimaus

    Spatzimaus Mad Scientist

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    3,063
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Also, I should add to my previous post, I made two mistakes in developing my mod, both of which are delaying it.

    First, I changed too many things at once, building the mod towards the final design instead of making intermediate steps that could be debugged individually. So when I want to test something, I have to do a lot of copying and pasting from my complete mod to my test mod.

    Second, and more importantly, there's the ongoing issue of placeholders. For instance, take the icon atlases. Obviously, I want my techs to all have unique icons, and I HAVE all of the image files I need to create the tech atlas ready to go (they're in .pcx form, straight from SMAC itself). But GIMP isn't being cooperative, so I'm having a hard time converting the .dds correctly.
    The problem, then, is this: do you write the mod assuming these icons will be fixed (meaning they'll use icons number 0-44 in TECH_ATLAS_SMAC), or assume in the interim that it won't (and assign them some placeholder number from the existing atlases)? If you go with placeholders, then it's that much more work once the atlas IS made.
    And it's not as simple as icon files. Here's a big one: one of the things I NEED to work for my mod is YIELD_HAPPINESS. That is, I need to be able to create tile yields, specialists, etc. that add +happiness, instead of needing hard-coded LUA setups in dozens of places. Now, I'm sure someone will figure out how to do this eventually. But do I add all of the specialists, buildings, etc. that use this now, knowing they won't work?

    I'll try to make a thread tomorrow. Even if it's not working by then, I can get enough in place to start the discussions.
     
  20. Darsnan

    Darsnan Emperor

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,044
    Thanx for doing all the grunt work for jenks and I - we appreciate it! :goodjob:

    Seriously though, theres a lot of people who are probably interested in this, so farming out the work (i.e. vetting individual components of your mod) would probably be very beneficial at this stage. Beats banging your head against a wall for hours trying to do everything yourself.



    I think this is an excellent idea. From a strategic perspective I think its very important to have in place a solid foundation to build off of: between that and the thought that Maniac's Planetfall mod didn't really gain steam till BtS (i.e. 2.5 years after the cIV vanilla release) points more to us getting our ducks in a row at this point than anything else.

    I am also relatively fastidious when it comes to documentation, so if you feel there is documentation that needs to be generated for your mod, then I am definately available, as I would be doing this anyways for my mod.

    D
     

Share This Page