My biggest gripes with Anacreon

General discussion for the game Anacreon
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Fri Mar 13, 2015 12:19 pm

These relate to the structure and presentation of the game rather than individual features.

I think that the numbers involved at every level are too big and quantized at the wrong decimal points. Here's an example. It's not very helpful to know that my Tl 6 trillum extractor produced 5,452 trillum this watch, but if I knew that it was producing enough to supply 4 Tl7 chronimium refineries or 2 TL8 jumpfacs and 1 TL 9 jumpyards that would be different. If that world instead produced 5 units of trillum per watch, and I knew that 1 unit of trillum (plus trillum, hex) produced exactly 10 Eldritches per watch at a yard or 5 advanced jumpdrives at a fac, then it would be much easier to tell at a glance how my empire was doing.

In my ideal Anacreon a tooltip would also tell me that my trillum world would eventually rise to max out at producing 8 units of trillum as efficiency improved if I kept it at TL 6; the production would be given as 5(8) or something like that, with efficiency gain increasing it by 1 unit per 24 hour period to a maximum of 8, and that if I raised its TL to 7 without making any other changes, that production would immediately change to 6(10) while requiring more durable goods.

I'm not convinced that population and efficiency need to be tracked separately, since they both have the same practical effect (the amount of labor available to perform tasks).

It would also be a lot easier to balance production and consumption if planets always consumed the maximum resources needed for their TL and world designation, regardless of population and efficiency.

I'm also not sure that resources or ship components need to be actual physical objects that can be moved around in transports. Stockpiling surplus resource production still makes sense, but should be capped somehow and it should be possible to move resource stockpiles from planet to planet without manually sending transports, putting them in the transports, sending them to the destination, and unloading them again. Transports could still be required somehow but the process shouldn't be so labor-intensive.

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Sat Mar 14, 2015 5:39 am

Watch TV, Do Nothing wrote:
I think that the numbers involved at every level are too big and quantized at the wrong decimal points. Here's an example. It's not very helpful to know that my Tl 6 trillum extractor produced 5,452 trillum this watch, but if I knew that it was producing enough to supply 4 Tl7 chronimium refineries or 2 TL8 jumpfacs and 1 TL 9 jumpyards that would be different. If that world instead produced 5 units of trillum per watch, and I knew that 1 unit of trillum (plus trillum, hex) produced exactly 10 Eldritches per watch at a yard or 5 advanced jumpdrives at a fac, then it would be much easier to tell at a glance how my empire was doing.

In my ideal Anacreon a tooltip would also tell me that my trillum world would eventually rise to max out at producing 8 units of trillum as efficiency improved if I kept it at TL 6; the production would be given as 5(8) or something like that, with efficiency gain increasing it by 1 unit per 24 hour period to a maximum of 8, and that if I raised its TL to 7 without making any other changes, that production would immediately change to 6(10) while requiring more durable goods.
i hear you, though i think the problem and the solution are a little broader even than you point out. much of the underlying model of the game world is hidden that would be useful to players, while other things are exposed that don't need to be. i think it would be better to automate much of the empire optimization that now occurs by hand. all i should really need to do is designate a world, and the game takes care of trade routes and production optimization.
I'm not convinced that population and efficiency need to be tracked separately, since they both have the same practical effect (the amount of labor available to perform tasks).
i like the separation, though i see how it totally has the same effect. there's this emergent phenomena where you can capture a planet without decimating the population, and then your opponent has to consider if it's worth it to retake it and suffer the efficiency penalty. similarly with rebellions on poorly supplied worlds. if there were mechanisms to modify either of these things, like engineering ships or colony ships, it might make more sense to keep them separated.
I'm also not sure that resources or ship components need to be actual physical objects that can be moved around in transports. Stockpiling surplus resource production still makes sense, but should be capped somehow and it should be possible to move resource stockpiles from planet to planet without manually sending transports, putting them in the transports, sending them to the destination, and unloading them again. Transports could still be required somehow but the process shouldn't be so labor-intensive.
this i definitely don't agree on. though again, i think it would be possible to automate this and really keep the game focused less on micromanaging an empire and more on the grand scheme. for instance, there's a world i considered converting to a citadel. i remember that somewhere in my empire, i have a stockpile of light jumpengines. rather than having me find the components, find transports, and then ship the engines, the citadel could put out a call "i need jumpengines", at which point an idle transport fleet could take up the call and deliver the engines without any intervention on my part. if you wanted to, you could drill down and see all that happening, but the game could take care of that itself.

but i don't know. i enjoy a lot of the gameplay mechanics at different levels. there's the resource management, there's the combat, there's the galactic strategy... i wonder if you automate too much of it, you wind up really changing a lot of the game.

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Sun Mar 15, 2015 12:56 am

I really like the ideas you all are coming up with (also in 6cef's response about UX improvements).

Sid Meier (the godfather of 4X) describes games as "a series of interesting choices", and I think that's the fundamental test I want for Anacreon. Does a feature offer the player interesting choices? If yes, then good. If not, then we should automate the feature away or alter the design to add an interesting choice.

For example, right now building structures on a planet is not an interesting choice because there is no trade-off. There is no benefit to not building. I think in some cases (such as maybe spaceports) we should just automate it away and build them automatically. In other cases, such as domes and arcologies, I intend to add a trade-off that you have to deal with.

I also really like the idea of automation through directives, such as gathering resources/ships at a specific planet. This keeps the simulation at a high-level of granularity (which can create emergent effects) but avoids micromanaging.

Anyway, keep on brainstorming--it's been very helpful for me.

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Sun Mar 15, 2015 1:38 am

Lot's of great suggestions in this thread. Concerning the new player experience, one factor for the high number of people giving up that I haven't seen mentioned is how disheartening it can be to start with a tiny force and not be able to capture any nearby worlds. There are a few flavours of this so I'll give some examples of my early experience. I've been playing Anacreon for a long, long time in it's original offline form. Every few years I'll get the urge to download it and binge out on some epic giant space war and economic chaos fun. Anyway, Imagine my surprise when I went to download it and saw that this incredible online version was a thing.

I was immediately hooked (if you told me in 2010 that in 5 years I could be playing a game of Anacreon with about 40 people in a persistent 5000 world galaxy for free I would have punched you in the face for taunting me with the impossible). It took me a little while to figure out the things that were different (mainly actual scouts instead of probes and exactly how trade routes work) but the biggest difficulty I had was finding a spot where I could actually set up anything. This was a time when the galaxy was much less populated than it is now. Sometimes I would try to get started, only to be completely surrounded by massive empires with no space to expand. Other times I would have some space around me, but all the free worlds were remnants of a former empire with 50,000+ space forces and impossible to take. Basically, if you start and see that, maybe in 10 days you could try to take a world or two, you feel like giving up.

Of course, the flip side of this is when someone starts a new game and gets the remnants of a large fleet. A member of the alliance I'm in is having problems because a new empire inherited almost 200,000 Gorgos and happened to be right in the middle of his new expansion. It's a tricky one. One solution I thought of would be to let new empires see the galactic map in full and pick a place to start. It's not like most established empires haven't scouted the whole galaxy, so there wouldn't be much of a reason to exploit.

Apart from the new player experience, one simple improvement that would massively improve the overall player experience is to do something, anything, to improve the message system. I don't mean the inter-empire diplomacy messages, though these do need some work, but the rebellion/shortages/deaths stuff. I want to have this information, but having to click potentially thousands of times to clear them when a cluster collapses after a war is horrible. I know it's been mentioned a lot before, but even something as simple as adding a function that count them .i.e. "57 million people have died due to life support shortages x1976", "This world has regressed to antimatter tech due to luxury shortages x98" etc would make a huge difference. Or at least some sort of "clear all messages" button.

The only good thing about the current system is that when you sow fire and destruction in someone's empire and sever trade links left and right their view of the galaxy can become so blocked with thousands of messages that they have to click to remove that it creates a sort of emergent fog of war. And while I like the idea of fog of war getting more intense the more chaotic and wartorn a sector is, my intelligence division's ability to remove it shouldn't be entirely represented by my IRL ability to rapidly left click :P .

Despite all the bugs and problems, this is the most fun I've had in any sort of online grand strategy in a long time. Keep up the good work!

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Sun Mar 15, 2015 12:51 pm

I think the current message system isn't good at all when there's a lot of messages. A better way might be to have a message screen which shows up at each login, can be closed with one click, and can be called back up whenever you want. The screen would hold every messages sorted by time, and maybe have a few filters for the player to choose (Attacks, Economies, Riots, each local cluster, planet types etc.)

The current message that shows up everywhere can still be there, but every one of it leaves at the first click. If the player wants to read them again, they can open the message screen.
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Mon Mar 16, 2015 3:33 am

Wayward Device wrote:...one factor for the high number of people giving up that I haven't seen mentioned is how disheartening it can be to start with a tiny force and not be able to capture any nearby worlds...
One time I wound up in a world where my initial world had no visibility to other planets. Luckily it's easy to abandon and start over.

My first go through I had a simply massive force of starships, jumpships, imperial infantry... and i burned through all of it without knowing WT* I was doing.

I think the game should pick a location based on different factors. New players might need to have a grace period where they can't be attacked. Or maybe they have 1000 "points" to spend within 100 light years of their captital. You could determine empire aggressiveness (or lack thereof) and put n00bs near less bellicose neighbors.

I'd place the starting empire strength randomness at a pretty low priority though. Ultimately, if you don't like your lot, abdicate and roll again. Though, if you handed me 200k Gorgos... oh man! Lucky guy.
my intelligence division's ability to remove it shouldn't be entirely represented by my IRL ability to rapidly left click :P .
Absolutely! Oh man, I dream of that day.

But I think a message history with other empires is also critical. I've been trying to negotiate which neutral worlds to avoid taking from neighbors, and at least twice I've missed the message and not been able to go back to see what was said.

Similar issue: hitting the backspace key and going back to game selection page when I'm typing numbers into a dialog box. You lose your place on the dialog but also on the map. Should probably disable the backspace key navigating away from the game. Super low hanging fruit right there.
Despite all the bugs and problems, this is the most fun I've had in any sort of online grand strategy in a long time. Keep up the good work!
It is remarkably fun! I hope Transcendence is a runaway success so George can get back to Anacreon. :)

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Mon Mar 16, 2015 3:35 am

sun1404 wrote:I think the current message system isn't good at all when there's a lot of messages. A better way might be to have a message screen which shows up at each login, can be closed with one click, and can be called back up whenever you want. The screen would hold every messages sorted by time, and maybe have a few filters for the player to choose (Attacks, Economies, Riots, each local cluster, planet types etc.)

The current message that shows up everywhere can still be there, but every one of it leaves at the first click. If the player wants to read them again, they can open the message screen.
This sounds like a good scheme. I think seeing where the messages are on the map is important, but having a central place where you can manage them in bulk is also necessary.

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Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:37 am

I notice that the left side of the top GUI bar has several spaces that could contain buttons for empire management. Only one space is actually occupied, by the mysterious game-breaking button (I still have no clue what it is supposed to do. If anyone knows, I'm desperate to find out.) It would be really helpful to have a "Messages" button for inter-empire communicating, a "Notifications" record for pop-ups (with an anti-fog-of-war button, of course), maybe put the "Empire" tab up there, and just stick in something like my Stargazer Bulletin (three strongest empires, youngest empire, oldest empire, viewer's ranking based on Imperial Might, etc).
6cef wrote:Similar issue: hitting the backspace key and going back to game selection page when I'm typing numbers into a dialog box. You lose your place on the dialog but also on the map. Should probably disable the backspace key navigating away from the game. Super low hanging fruit right there.
Aah, that. That has been the bane of my existence in every fleet deployment since I joined. "Whoops, I added an extra zero. I'll just backspace and...oh no! Now I have to reload the whole thing with my darned slow internet connection!" *5 minutes later* "Wait, what!?! My only trillum world in the cluster declared independence?!" I just barely managed to reconnect before the trade hub's limited supplies vanished, but so much production went down the drain because of a single backspace.
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Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:40 am

sun1404 wrote:The current message that shows up everywhere can still be there, but every one of it leaves at the first click. If the player wants to read them again, they can open the message screen.
Lucky! For some reason, most of my messages duplicate themselves so it is rare that I can close a message in less than two clicks. On one memorable occasion, a rebelling world declared its independence no less than seven times before the notification system was satisfied that it had gotten the message through my thick head.
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Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:57 pm

The thing I want more in the galaxy is an automatic way to create fast trade routes !

Create the trade routes is the thing in which I spend more time :-\
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Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:18 pm

That's because you mostly use the "link individual worlds without hubs" strategy. That way you have to make 2-6 routes per world., which must really add up over time. Part of the reason I like clusters based on all the worlds withing the import/export range of a trade hub/foundation pair right next to each other is that you only have to make 2 routes for any world, ever. It's still annoyingly fiddly to set up all the route settings. I think having two settings that you could just click one button for when selecting a route would be a huge help:

Button 1. Import All Needed

Would import all of the goods of that type that the import world needs. No more fiddling with the %. For Finnian style lattice interworld trade.

Button 2. Import All Excess

For people like me who love trade hubs. Basically, it would import all the excess goods the world produces. Yay!


Aside from that, does anyone think there should be a time limit where if you don't log in for, say, 100 cycles, your empire abdicates? It's annoying having tiny 250 cycle old empires sitting around holding a handlful of prime worlds that active players could use. I know I could just tank the civil disorder hit from taking over these inactive worlds where it effects me, but bleh, deploying 200x 5000 Warphan, 5000 Imperial Guard is not fun.

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Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:23 am

Wayward Device wrote:Aside from that, does anyone think there should be a time limit where if you don't log in for, say, 100 cycles, your empire abdicates? It's annoying having tiny 250 cycle old empires sitting around holding a handlful of prime worlds that active players could use. I know I could just tank the civil disorder hit from taking over these inactive worlds where it effects me, but bleh, deploying 200x 5000 Warphan, 5000 Imperial Guard is not fun.
There seems to be such a time limit, but only if the empire never conquers any worlds. I have no clue whether all these tiny single world empires are controlled by real people or are just randomly generated, but a new one seems to pop up every cycle or so. They are rather annoying (seriously, these things seem to be trolling me; whenever I send a fleet to a free earth-like world, a new empire pops up mere watches before the fleet arrives; I think I have only managed to take one earth-like world that didn't already belong to another empire because of this; just my luck, I guess) but after about a week most of them disappear.

I don't know exactly how this rebellion-upon-attacking-weaker-person-thing works. I destroyed a single-planet empire which sat in my territory for 5 cycles without responding to a message (before I joined the Pact) and I didn't get any ill effects. During the Felor-TRI war, I captured two TRI worlds (one of which was the capital and therefore took some worlds with it) after the retaliation period ended (I got the message about my citizens not supporting it) but nothing bad happened. During all of this I never had any Imperial Brigade Guards on any of my worlds and space forces averaged out to about 35 per world. I'm told that I'm just extremely lucky, but I still want to know exactly how the system works.

Perhaps on the subject of trade, everything would be more manageable from a new tab in the planet menu at the bottom of the screen. There would be an import and export panel to set general percentages, and then a button could open a menu/panel (whatever you call something like the deployment screen) for specific amounts to/from each world and other micromanagements. This would allow you to have a semi-automated overview and an option for controlling every tiny bit of your empire.
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Sun Mar 22, 2015 2:30 am

I believe the "attack weaker empire" thing triggers an empire wide happiness hit. I don't know how powerful it is compared to the ones for supply shortages, but it's a similar kind of thing. So if you have a lot of "happy" worlds you won't even trigger a rebellion unless you do it a lot.

As another quick suggestion, it would be great to be able to set the colour of empire and have it be visible for everyone on the galactic map. Would make it so much easier to see what's what in those areas all mixed up with different empire's worlds.

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Sun Mar 22, 2015 3:02 am

Wayward Device wrote:I believe the "attack weaker empire" thing triggers an empire wide happiness hit. I don't know how powerful it is compared to the ones for supply shortages, but it's a similar kind of thing. So if you have a lot of "happy" worlds you won't even trigger a rebellion unless you do it a lot.
seems to be an empire wide hit and it seems to be per attack. so if you're trying to mop up an abandoned one world empire, make sure to bring a fleet with ground forces.

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Sun Mar 22, 2015 9:32 pm

Wayward Device wrote:I believe the "attack weaker empire" thing triggers an empire wide happiness hit. I don't know how powerful it is compared to the ones for supply shortages, but it's a similar kind of thing. So if you have a lot of "happy" worlds you won't even trigger a rebellion unless you do it a lot.

As another quick suggestion, it would be great to be able to set the colour of empire and have it be visible for everyone on the galactic map. Would make it so much easier to see what's what in those areas all mixed up with different empire's worlds.
Oh, my people hate me. Always have. A lot of my worlds are aggrieved because I never really bothered to do any management beyond designation and trade hook-ups. :roll: It's probably a bad lapse in judgement, but meh. There's always more worlds to conquer now.
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