Sci-fi Setting: Concepts for a Sequel

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Alfryd

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EDIT: I'm not pointing any fingers, Spidey. I'm just wondering what can be salvaged.

Anyway, I don't have much to add for the moment. I'll see what the sitrep is in another week or two.
 
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BSPiotr

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:O This thread blew up over the past 5 years. I'll take a look when I have time.
 

Spiderman

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No worries Alfryd, just wanted to clarify my statement just in case it was taken the "wrong way" (as I thought it might have been from your reply) :)

Good luck with your project!
 

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Well, just making somebody from Paradox team play the demo, without giving any other sales pitch, would be a great step forward. Its true about Magna mundi and East vs West, but still, some compromises and common grounds can be found even in the current situation.
 

Alfryd

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Well, I would be thrilled to have somebody at Paradox (aside from Shams) play the demo, but I'm not sure what else I could do to make that happen? It hasn't been for lack of correspondence on my end.

(Generally, I've found that cold emails with industry reps usually yield zero results- after sending out links & CVs to dozens of game companies I can count on one hand the number of human responses.)
 
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Alfryd

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Ah, blast. I just found that the game crashes after upgrading to the 1.8 JRE on OSX (the native libraries get extracted as a .jnilib when a .dylib is expected.) I probably badly need to upgrade both the LibGDX library version and my packaging system. Apologies, all.
 

Alfryd

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Welp, I got a gaming PC last week, which prompted me to at least attempt rebuilding the game as a standalone application with it's own JVM included. However, it turns out the native libraries LibGDX uses are actually extracted dynamically and placed in a temporary folder hidden within the bowels of the OS, so separate packaging probably wouldn't help.

I'm going to try updating to a newer version of LibGDX, but it's been a *long* time since I since pulled down a fresh version and many aspects of the installation have no doubt changed. At least there seems to be better built-in support for working cross-platform now, so I can figure it out the windows build should be stabler too.
 

Alfryd

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Updated to the latest LibGDX libraries, which wasn't as painful as I was expecting. I'm sure 70-90% of you are still making do with Windows machines, so here's a download that should include an .exe file. (If anyone could just confirm that it runs okay on their machine, I'll see if I can automate the build process.)

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9g64vkEiJ2iTWxVYTRXVlY3LUE
 

Alfryd

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*sigh* ...Honestly folks, it won't bite you. 2 minutes of your time to make sure the opening screen loads would be more than sufficient.


Anyway, I have had some time to think about how the problems I mentioned earlier (character complexity and finite mental bandwidth) might be solved. There's a single major requirement that I think requires a lot of small-to-moderate changes to work well. And... well, since I'm not actually making a Majesty sequel, one fairly big change. The chain of logic is as follows:

Complex characters -> require -> more time to get to know characters -> require -> long-term campaign operating out of central base -> require -> relatively slow, leisurely base-building -> require -> most of player's attention is spent with heroes on missions -> require -> ability to direct heroes on missions outside of central base area -> require -> control mechanisms different from flags.

Another, slightly different way to look at it is simpler:

Complex characters -> require -> smaller roster -> require -> better justifications for not being able to give them orders than avoiding micro.

Uh-oh. Direct orders? I know, I know, but hear me out- they could still disobey or quit your employ, particularly if they get bored or frustrated by losses or defeats. They can (and probably will) expect a regular salary. And some of them might have expectations about your ethics and conduct as a ruler. But I *think* being able to ask a veteran Trooper to blow up a particular Roachman without having to haggle over every ammo clip might be a more natural fit for the premise. Some of the time at least.

Exactly *how* you'd wind up giving orders is another matter- maybe you'd have to send the sovereign as a PC to direct them in person, maybe you could use psychic suggestion, maybe you just call them over the radio.

Still, I could be wrong. I'd love to hear ideas on possible workarounds.
 

Alfryd

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expedition_screen.png


Well, good news, I think- new automated builds are ready for windows and mac:

https://github.com/Morgan-Allen/Presidium-Graphics-Overhaul/releases/tag/v0.11-beta-win
https://github.com/Morgan-Allen/Presidium-Graphics-Overhaul/releases/tag/v0.11-beta-osx

A couple of personal acquaintances were willing to test the game on their own laptops, so I'm 80-90% confident these will run correctly on modern machines. (Though of course, feel free to report any bugs you run into.) In addition, they should no longer require a separate JRE installation. Just download, unzip, and put 'em where you want.
 

Alfryd

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Cheers! I'd say that using Java was almost accidental- that was simply the language I was most familiar with at the time the project started. I don't think it worked out too badly for my purposes, it's just the bundling tools are a bit scattered.

Anyone who's looked at my Github page can see I have a couple of projects going at the moment (and I'm hoping to chip in with some of the active Majesty mods, either with art or code,) so I'll need to pick a direction there. My current work contract will be winding down in a month or so, and at that point I would have both the time and cash to wrap up the project properly.

One of those other projects is a stripped-down and streamlined version of Stratos that 'clones' the basic mechanics of Maj1. What I might try is porting over bits and pieces from the older build with an eye toward continued refactoring, because I think this framework might be more maintainable going forward. (There's not much to see right now, but I can put up some builds for comparison if folks want to weigh in?)
 

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The upside of Java is that it's cross platform, the downside is that the 3D graphics is kinda primative. It's hard to do shaders and all the other fancy modern gizmo.
 

Alfryd

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Nah, for me the breakdown is as follows-
Pros: Good balance between compile time and execution speed, can hot-swap methods while debugging.
Cons: Somewhat verbose syntax and the usual complaints about OOP hierarchies.

Interestingly enough, the 'cross-platform' thing is almost irrelevant by now- to include a JRE and proper launcher I need a custom build process for each platform, and LibGDX comes with native libraries for all the graphics calls. So I actually have shaders all over the place (learning to use those was a necessary step when I found out the older GL calls were crawlingly slow on Windows.) The more you know.
 

Alfryd

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I don't know if it strictly *was* hardware-accelerated. The older version of the game ran okay on OSX, but it's quite possible the windows drivers were falling back on software rendering unless you made proper use of GLSL. I'm not a hardware geek, though, and won't pretend to know what was happening there.

So anyway- any crudity in terms of graphics is entirely my fault and not Java's. :p
 

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Interesting. Only discovered this topic last month when it briefly rose to the main page while I was browsing.
Complex characters -> require -> more time to get to know characters [...]
Complex characters -> require -> smaller roster -> require -> better justifications for not being able to give them orders than avoiding micro.
Does not seem to hold in case of e.g. Dwarf Fortress.

I like the idea of a "work shift" game object, though, which provides finer - but still indirect - control over the individuals within. As long as people are "on the clock" they would stay closer to their workplace and always prioritise work tasks (subset of all possible work tasks, as defined by the shift or mayhap profession slots within the shift?) over others.
- If the shift is too long, too distant, etc. to fulfill their needs, the workers would eventually complain about that and eventually leave the shift (sooner switch to shifts with happier participants, later accept even unemployment). Shifts might have their own intricate quality rating fed by their participant's peak happiness (in both directions), which could act as a magnet effect (in both directions) for unemployed people.

Most shifts would probably allow to define a workplace (plain old flag, mayhap with a radius as seen in Dungeon Keeper or Gene Wars?). Certain shifts may allow to define other detail orders as appropriate (pathes for soldier patrols or attack vectors, forbidden risky tasks for standby duties, etc.).

Following such an approach would allow direct control over the shift objects, while maintaining indirect control over the people objects.

Robot/Golem individuals might be possible for direct control of people with restricted skill sets; if their orders are complete they would just stop, mayhap start to hibernate or return to a defined depot, etc. . They could be daisy-chained into work shifts to maintain and/or organise them for regular people, to keep micro down while not needed, while the player could assume direct control over them (in groups? Those might be specialised lightweight work shifts?) as necessary.

Personally, I see no bounds to character complexity, as long as a purely-UI element exists that provides the player with high-level matchings of person<->task and as long the individual person's AI is sufficient to take care of its needs and complain sufficiently desciptively where it cannot.

Indeed, a high level of not-immediately-important complexity is what sets apart an intricate simulation from a... gamey... game. If everything has to have an immediate purpose and meaning, perfectly fine systems (as far as their performance is concerned) are quickly perceived by the player as inadequate. Players feel motivated to abandon the game long before mastering it, because the gap between understanding and utilising said understanding masterfully seems too large, the payoff too miniscule, for the player to be bothered crossing it.
See late versions of Europa Universalis or Hearts of Iron as good examples.
 
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Alfryd

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Hi Zsar! I fully agree that the distinction between immediately-manipulable, superficially-accessible features and deeper underlying complexity is very important here. I think that allocating work-shifts is a definite possibility for henchmen, but I'd have to think carefully about the broader suggestions you made.

I would just mention that Dwarf Fortress starts you out managing a crew of only 7 individuals, and new arrivals trickle in quite gradually, so I would argue that DF does allow you much more of a chance to get to know your citizens over the hundreds of hours that often get sunk into an individual fortress, even if the population gets quite large. (Conversely, while you could conceivably recruit 50+ heroes within a 90-minute game of Majesty, the player isn't going to remember much about most of them beyond name, rank and serial-number. And at the moment I have something of a similar problem...)

Thanks for the thoughts, though. I'll probably come back to this later.
 

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I do not think it is necessary or desirable to have a large population any of which is dear to the player. Instead, as happens in Dwarf Fortress, I would deem it success, that anyone has the potential to become dear to the player. Indeed, this does seem to be the core idea behind Dwarf Fortress' layout: The player will find selected "dearies", which number comparatively few to the total population. Their deaths are avoided by virtue of feeding "lesser" contemporaries into the grind, if inevitable bemourned and finally replacements are selected.

Indeed, beyond the starting seven, who have an easier time getting into the "privileged" club, individuals in a Dwarf Fortress campaign usually earn their status by extravagant deeds that set them apart from the general population - but it is not, before those happen, evident, which dwarf will rise in such a way. This is, I dare say, the defining point of a good simulation: Everyone might, but mayhap no one will.

As early as in "The Settlers" / "Serf City", a notable component of gameplay was just watching the agents work. In Dungeon Keeper, Dwarf Fortress et al. this component received growing interface support: Dungeon Keeper allows to pin the camera to a subject and shows personal stats, Dwarf Fortress shows character traits, thoughts and convictions in addition to physical information. I think it can be deemed perfectly normal that most agents are at any given time of the game largely unknown, and may be "discovered" by the player by their deeds or simple browsing. Bonus points if it happens through social agency (Dwarf Fortress equivalents: notable mandates, friends with everyone, notorious for starting parties; here mayhap organising strikes, general union activity both positive and negative - coaxing others into voluntary pay freezes, etc.).

... Spent a (too) little time playing the game. Nice oldschoolish vibe so far. Definitely milking the "golden era" nostalgia, while still sufficienty individual that I cannot name a single game it would remind me strongly of.
Had a bit of a problem with environmentalists following animals too big and/or dangerous and getting killed; probably not yet figured out the intended solution for that.
- General setup and menu GUI looks&feels pretty good (if not modern).
 

Alfryd

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Hi there Zsar- I appreciate you taking the time to play through the game. Unfortunately, after much agonising on the subject, I've decided not to proceed with further development until next year at the earliest. The engine still needs a rewrite for clarity and I have some other housekeeping to do and ongoing projects that I want to explore.


Other remarks:

I'm not consciously aware of trying to milk nostalgia, though I guess that's a likely side effect of the "50% caesar 3, 50% majesty" design aesthetic I was going for. :) If you had any tips or modern-day examples for updating the setup and GUI layout, fire away.

(Ecologists being eaten by large animals is most likely a gap in the AI, since they *should* either be fleeing from or charming hostile critters...)

I agree, on principle, with the idea that the player should be able to 'pick out' their chosen favourites (having a 'noble council' or 'honour guard' or something for the purpose was a feature I had planned for more-or-less this purpose.) But for some reason I'm a complete nancy when it comes to feeding also-ran agents into the meat-grinder- it's an aspect of Majesty that bugs me no end when I see other players do it- so I'd like to keep overall mortality rates low (though not zero.)

I'm glad you enjoyed the demo anyway, and I'll think about your suggestions. Would you object if I got back in touch at a later date, and asked for feedback?