Anacreon 3.0 Questions

General discussion for the game Anacreon
george moromisato
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Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:28 am

This is a great thread with lots of interesting ideas. I've got some random reactions in no particular order:

1. Atarlost makes some great points about balance in an galactic conquest MMO. I completely agree that this will be the most difficult part of the game design. I have a couple of different ideas to deal with the problem, but I won't know which will work until we try them out. Some or all may work. Possibly none will. But I think they are worth exploring. Here is a quick list (feel free to suggest more):

1a. I like the idea (brought up by Watch TV) that not all planets can be colonized at the beginning of the game. Perhaps this can serve as a throttle for empires: planets near weaker empires open up for colonization sooner (or something).

1b. As Watch TV metions, perhaps there should be disincentives for large empires to attack small empires. For example, perhaps the rewards from successfully attacking a large empire are disproportionaly larger than the effort (or risk required). Some of this could be done with combat rules (e.g., a limit on the number of forces concentrating on a world would benefit small empires). Perhaps the revolution index for a large empire increases if it picks on (seemingly) weaker opponents.

1c. I fully intend to exploit gates/warp links. Stargates essentially allow the topology of the game to change at runtime. It is true that playing Lesotho is not very interesting. But imagine if there were a stargate in Lesotho leading to Sri Lanka or California. Perhaps all empires start out with a single working stargate. By mutual agreement (exchange of codes) two empires may connect their two stargates. Suddenly, two small empires in opposite sides of the galaxy can be practical allies. Perhaps there are random stargates that occassionally open up, giving evenly matched empires a chance to attack each other.

2. Regardless of all of the above, I fully intend to support the concept of scenarios in Anacreon. The MMO version of Anacreon will very likely be just one of many scenarios (probably one that can only be instantiated by an admin). But it will be possible (though maybe not in the first version) for 2 players (or even 1 player) to start their own private game of Anacreon 3 using whatever scenario they like (including one that they have uploaded). The pacing rules (how fast time passes, etc) will all be controllable by the scenario. In fact, just like Transcendence, I expect that scenarios will end up being very sophisticated (in the fullness of time). [BTW, I believe this is one of the key differentiators for Kronosaur Productions--every game from the company should provide this kind of customizability.]

3. Watch TV's question about the philosophy of Anacreon is also interesting to me. Obviously a great deal of the flavor comes from Asimov's Foundation trilogy. The idea of rebuilding a galactic empire on the shattered ruins of a previous empire always appealed to me. At the same time, I've really enjoyed creating the lore and setting for Transcendence, so its likely that I'll try to expand the Anacreon lore.

4. I don't know what the ultimate name of the game will be. "Anacreon 3" is a codename for now (though I didn't mention that in my original post). I would like to call the game "Anacreon: {something}" where {something} is evocative of however the game turns out. Failing that, though, I will probably default to "Anacreon 3".

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Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:47 am

Also, it would be nice to follow the philosophy of entropy by adding a "maximum" size to how large an empire can be before it naturally fragments. Since travel and information is not instantaneous (I'm assuming that stargates don't cover all of the map) , it would be logical to add a delay mechanic. If players have a capital that is far away from the rest of their empire, it would result in delayed announcements. This would force empires to have inherent maximum size because the lack of flexibility when dealing with fringe worlds would make it unrealistic to add them to an empire. This would introduce a sort of state like Rome, where instead of geographic bounds, a player's galactic empire would be bound naturally on all sides by distance and the speed of communication. Old players can still have a say by contributing their large attack fleets, but it would not be feasible for them to expand indefinitely.
George wrote: By mutual agreement (exchange of codes) two empires may connect their two stargates.
It would be cool to have a hacking technology that lets you hack the codes of an enemy stargate :D
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Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:43 am

george moromisato wrote:
1c. I fully intend to exploit gates/warp links. Stargates essentially allow the topology of the game to change at runtime. It is true that playing Lesotho is not very interesting. But imagine if there were a stargate in Lesotho leading to Sri Lanka or California. Perhaps all empires start out with a single working stargate. By mutual agreement (exchange of codes) two empires may connect their two stargates. Suddenly, two small empires in opposite sides of the galaxy can be practical allies. Perhaps there are random stargates that occassionally open up, giving evenly matched empires a chance to attack each other.
This is a very attractive idea to me and I think that you could do a lot with it, provided that you offered players an easy way of visualizing their local gate topography.

Random gates or transient wormholes could also provide an interesting mechanic like letting players dispatch small expeditionary forces composed of a preset number of ships to remote, uncontrolled, and conventionally inaccessible areas of the galaxy, like globular clusters outside the galactic plane, or the Clouds of Magellan. These expeditionary forces would then get cut off from receiving support from the bulk of the player's empire and would have to fight with other players' expeditionary forces that were dispatched simultaneously.

Access to any given extragalactic cluster could be limited to a couple of players to prevent sheer chaos from dozens of empires in contest, which would allow players to focus more on strategy and really pay attention to the few enemies who are trapped in the cluster with them. This would let weak players compete directly with strong ones because both players' local assets would be comparable; the difference is that the relative payback would much larger for for a small player if they triumph in a constrained arena like this, while a large empire will have the resources to commit forces to contest multiple remote brushfire wars simultaneously without compromising their core systems' defenses.

George, I'd love to hear a little more about how you hope to handle research and tech trees. Will the idea of uneven technological distribution be retained from Anacreon 1? Given the interplay of research and time, it might be very hard for a new player to get into the game if they can never expand or catch up technologically because their opponents have already amassed enough LAMs to dust all their fleets from 50 light years away. That said, if players have any control over how research is directed and what fraction of their empire they want to dedicate to it, it would be a little unfair to established players if they spend half the game pursuing a research-intensive strategy to ensure that they're the first one in their neighborhood to get SRMs, only for some upstart to pop up next-door and start cranking out SRM-defeating starships.

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Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:14 am

what is to stop a developed empire from dispatching a relatively large, high-tech expeditionary force?
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Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:58 am

Dependence on Trillium. As long as the smaller player keeps their fleet from engaging directly and save reserves, the older fleet will slowly die of fuel loss ;)
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Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:04 am

Perhaps only a certain size of fleet can pass through these temporary stargates (the one to otherwise unaccessible systems)
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Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:06 am

alterecco wrote:Perhaps only a certain size of fleet can pass through these temporary stargates (the one to otherwise unaccessible systems)
This is the idea that I was trying to get across, although you did so a lot more succinctly. Only a certain total strength-equivalent of ships can pass through a transient gate, and you can't send reinforcements if they fail. If Anacreon 3 is anything like old Anacreon, then the game as a whole will be about the long view- carefully expanding, cultivating worlds, and building up forces until you can outproduce and overwhelm your opponent. I'm envisioning tactics in a cluster to be more focused on quickly securing a few key resources in a tight space where players must make risky choices and are forced into battles where the odds are not dramatically in one side's favor.

On these smaller battlefields, the game's mechanics play exactly the same as for the regular galaxy, but suddenly you and your foe are eye-to-eye in a steel cage instead of peering at one another through telescopes.

Grand strategy games have a tendency to get dominated by Captain Picards, who have a deep understanding of the rules and odds, who play conservatively, avoid risky strategies and micromanage their assets to optimize compounding outputs; I'm imagining an aspect of the game where the Captain Kirks of the world can fight on equal footing.

That said, it may not be quite in the spirit of Anacreon, so, uh, I dunno.

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Sun Jan 13, 2013 7:13 am

I think generating new regions and stars on the fringe of the universe is a good idea. Or maybe you can generate new regions far away from the main big one, far enough that it wouldn't be logical for the big empires to send fleets there, and only let that region to be connected to the main one with stargates, which need to be built by the new empire alone. That will give new players a breathing space and enough time to fully build a stable empire, and mass forces, but they will be limited by the number of planets they can capture, and eventually needs to build a stargate to invade the main space to expand their empire. This way new players can choose their own time to fight the older, bigger empires, but even if they later destroy their stargates, the bigger empire can send a large fleet through space, traveling for days, or many game-years, to destroy an empire that had attempted to invade them, if they think it is really needed.
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Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:39 am

So, these aren't the same types of questions as the OP, so they may not be appropriate for the thread, but I'd rather try here first before starting a new topic.

-Why do my ships and infantry(and presumably other resources) disappear over time? Is there some intentional attrition effect? If so, why does it outpace the production rate of most of my worlds?

-On a related note, why do my worlds not like to produce what I ask them to? Despite being designated specifically for a certain task, they seem to perform rather slowly, and some items take multiple watches to even create. I've also noticed that my worlds don't ever like to produce more then 1 of any unit per watch(resources seem to do fine), even if that unit is a very small and presumably easy to build one, like the explorer ships or basic infantry brigades?

-Why doesn't my capital absorb the tech levels of worlds it's trading with? It's remained at 7 as long as I've been playing, despite being connected to two tech 9 worlds. It doesn't even indicate the possibility for improvement.

-How do I take a world out of a downward efficiency spiral? I accidentally changed the designation for one world a second time, resulting in inability to sulf sustain with food supplies. I could supply it from other worlds, but that stabilizes the efficiency, rather then increasing it, whereas if I leave it to fend for itself, it continues to drop and be even less able to self sustain.

-Worlds in a state of civil war - is it possible to end this? I've tried elevating infantry presence, far higher then my average garrison, to no effect.

-Tech 10 worlds seem to have a very low efficiency. Is this intended? If not, is there a way to fix it?

-How do I find recipes for production? Some are self evident, but some are not. One thing I'm having trouble with is finding out what's needed to produce exoarmor at my infantry autofac.

I realize some of these are probably related to the fact that the game is in alpha, but I assume some are not, and even for those that are, it's worth highlighting them as possible areas for improvement in future releases.

Thanks.

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Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:06 pm

I have some questions of my own, but decided to answer the poor soul left hanging for the past month first.
-Why do my ships and infantry(and presumably other resources) disappear over time? Is there some intentional attrition effect? If so, why does it outpace the production rate of most of my worlds?
There is an intentional attrition effect. I'm not sure what the reasoning behind it is, though. As for your production, figuring out how to get your worlds to produce a lot is one of the fun parts of this game. (Well, it is for me, anyway.)
-On a related note, why do my worlds not like to produce what I ask them to? Despite being designated specifically for a certain task, they seem to perform rather slowly, and some items take multiple watches to even create. I've also noticed that my worlds don't ever like to produce more then 1 of any unit per watch(resources seem to do fine), even if that unit is a very small and presumably easy to build one, like the explorer ships or basic infantry brigades?
Since you're having trouble, here's a hint: trade and specialization are the key to high production.
-Why doesn't my capital absorb the tech levels of worlds it's trading with? It's remained at 7 as long as I've been playing, despite being connected to two tech 9 worlds. It doesn't even indicate the possibility for improvement.
No idea. I've noticed the same thing.
-How do I take a world out of a downward efficiency spiral? I accidentally changed the designation for one world a second time, resulting in inability to self sustain with food supplies. I could supply it from other worlds, but that stabilizes the efficiency, rather then increasing it, whereas if I leave it to fend for itself, it continues to drop and be even less able to self sustain.
Supplying from other worlds, increasing tech, and increasing defenses will prevent the people from getting angry and decreasing efficiency. To increase efficiency, it seems you just have to wait. It does increase, just slowly.
-Worlds in a state of civil war - is it possible to end this? I've tried elevating infantry presence, far higher then my average garrison, to no effect.
I've ended several civil wars by preventing the citizens from getting angry for long enough (along with enough troops to crush the rebels). It takes about a cycle for a garrison to crush the resistance, once the citizens are on their side.
-Tech 10 worlds seem to have a very low efficiency. Is this intended? If not, is there a way to fix it?
So far as I can tell, tech 10 worlds have lower population caps, but can generate more industry per person. I haven't worked out what the net effect is yet.
-How do I find recipes for production? Some are self evident, but some are not. One thing I'm having trouble with is finding out what's needed to produce exoarmor at my infantry autofac.
They aren't available on the interface (yet?), so experimentation is the only way to find out. I've found that exoarmor needs chronimium.

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Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:43 pm

I gather that extra information is being posted on a Facebook group. For those of us who don't want to sign up for Facebook, is there some way to view that without Facebook demanding we log in? If all else fails, would you consider cross-posting on the Kronosaur blog? Edit: or here, of course. Why didn't that occur to me earlier?

About the revolution penalty for attacking a smaller empire: just how bad is that? If a 100+ world empire were to conquer one of the one-world-wonder empires, how much penalty would that incur? I'm actually finding myself tempted to test that, but I would really hate losing half my worlds to civil war even for an interesting experiment.

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Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:34 pm

What determines consumer goods consumption? Tech level obviously has a strong effect, but there are puzzling differences between my worlds. I have two antimatter ocean worlds, one with 9.3 billion consuming 449 luxuries/watch, and another with 8.9 billion consuming 569 luxuries/watch. They're both happy, both consumer-goods autofacs, and the smaller pop world has a slightly higher efficiency.

Is tech level perhaps a continuous scale, instead of the discrete levels displayed on the interface?

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Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:20 pm

Hussell wrote:What determines consumer goods consumption? Tech level obviously has a strong effect, but there are puzzling differences between my worlds. I have two antimatter ocean worlds, one with 9.3 billion consuming 449 luxuries/watch, and another with 8.9 billion consuming 569 luxuries/watch. They're both happy, both consumer-goods autofacs, and the smaller pop world has a slightly higher efficiency.

Is tech level perhaps a continuous scale, instead of the discrete levels displayed on the interface?
Yes, tech level is a continuous scale (otherwise you would get a massive jump in consumption at tech level boundaries).

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Fri Mar 15, 2013 5:54 pm

Yes, tech level is a continuous scale (otherwise you would get a massive jump in consumption at tech level boundaries).
Right, that probably explains my observations. It would be nice to be able to see that on the interface, so players can get an idea of how fast a world's tech level is changing, get a rough idea of consumption levels, and just generally be less confused due to having a faulty mental model of what's going on (like I have been until just now).

I realize a lot of effort needs to be (and has been) put into making any complicated strategy game accessible and understandable at a glance (by having tech levels with nice icons, for example), but if a mechanic isn't easily discoverable by players, its seemingly random effects may cause confusion and a sense of powerlessness. I suppose it's a constant struggle to find the right balance between putting too much and too little information on the screen.

As a potential solution (or at least something that will help), can I suggest you use tooltips? I've seen them used very effectively in several strategy games, especially Civilization IV. Accessible, immediately useful information is on the screen, but when the cursor holds still over any element of the interface for long enough, up pop the guts of the mechanics. For example, if I hovered my mouse over a resource on the info-pane, a list of the worlds being traded with and the quantities being imported/exported from each could pop up.

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Fri Mar 29, 2013 2:41 pm

I just noticed that infantry brigades have missile defense. Does that actually work, as in shoot down missiles aimed at planetary defenses? Also, what do the missile defense ratings mean? Greater rate of fire? Able to shoot down larger missiles? Longer range? For that matter, how are power ratings calculated?

Also, I've been doing some rough calculations on the relative cost of units, and it looks to me as though infantry is more cost-effective, in terms of industry/power/watch, than armored infantry or exoarmor. The militia-base exploit makes the situation even worse, since they generate infantry brigades more than three times as efficiently. Giving missile defense capabilities to exoarmor and/or armored infantry, and taking it away from regular infantry, would make the expensive units more attractive again (provided ground troops with missile defense actually shoot down incoming missiles).

The highest level ships all seem to be armed with missiles, which are mostly neutralized by missile defense ships. I have a suspicion that devoting all shipyard capacity to missile-defense ships armed with direct-fire weapons might be more effective than any other strategy as things are now. OTOH, rough calculations show that building gunships (Sirius and Minotaur both) is more efficient than building Defiance-class cruisers, again in terms of industry/power/watch.

Things I haven't yet worked into my calculations: increases in consumer-goods consumption by the higher-tech worlds required for some units; costs of building transport ships for ground units.

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