The main issues of the tech tree currently:
- Legibility: As it stands the tech tree is of moderate to minimal legibility.
- Balance: many techs that boost in-game stats are difficult to balance, and even harder to change because of interdependence.
- Comprehension: why is the technology for starlane bores in knowledge? Why doesn't collective thought network have a production prerequisite?
What I am going to propose here, and have in the previous thread, is a whole-sale re-structuring of the technology tree. Each major branch of the tech tree will get a "theory trunk". It will borrow from the TAR (theory-application-refinement) structure, with several caveats.
- Every theory will lead to at least one application or a major improvement/refinement
- No theory in the trunk will require an application
- *Stat boosters will not lead to other applications
- The technology victory will have only theory prerequisites
- The path to the technology victory will not be help for the diplomatic or conquest victories
For Example: adaptive automation would not be dependent on nascent artificial intelligence and neither of them would lead to exobots. Now exobots would be dependent on a production theory tech, probably with a growth theory tech cross-dependency. Adaptive automation would be dependent on an earlier Production theory tech, and not NAI. Instead exobots might get a cost-reduction if you research AA and NAI. Neither NAI or AA would lead to anything, so you would only research them if you wanted the bonus. However currently you just get both bonuses if you want to get exobots. This creates all sorts of issues with balance. Many feel these tech are overpowered, but we can't just remove them, because then no one would get exobots.
For some general-case tech tree branch we should get a structure that looks something like this:
Using this structure, you can see it's a lot easier to "prune" unwanted or problematic technologies, as well as graft new technologies or entire sub-branches if we wanted to. IN fact now we can easily move technologies along the tech tree if we want players to get them sooner or later.
As I've been doing preliminary work on this and realized that the tech tree might actually need more of a re-work that just this. With influence (a whole game mechanic) coming; with fighters, point-defense existing and missile on the way; metabolism specific bombardments existing and metabolism specific growth tech coming; with the work on detection and stealth; with the production and research boosters possibly getting major re-work I realized that the tech tree might need even further changes. Major changes to existing categories or even whole new categories might need to happen.
One thing that might seem minor, but occurred to me was to look at the color-coding of the branches. As it is a way we sort thing it should have an understandable and logical pattern to it. I decided to try to keep as much of the original scheme as possible, while tying to place categories that were close in association or function close together on a color wheel. Red: Production
This is staying similar. It will be cleaned-up through the new structure. Production and production based cross-dependencies and cost-reductions are about getting the most out of the planets you have IE: tall empires. It will host technologies that will allow you to increase production. It is a necessary supplement for a large fleet or lots of building projects. It will be a major branch with a theory core leading to the technology victory.
Orange: Engineering (also: Ships)
This is staying close to the same. This section will be for ship hulls, and maybe a small set of ship parts. Relying closely on production it is a similar color. It will be a secondary branch without a theory core, and variable cross-dependency for the different ship-lines. There will probably not be a theory core.
These ship-parts will get their own category and color. Weapons and weapons based cross-dependencies and cost-reductions are about getting to the conquest victory. It will be a major branch with a theory core that does not lead to the technology victory. It is tied closely to ships and is thus similar in color.
Chartreuse: Attrition (?)
This branch is new. Basically when I was looking through the tech tree and trying to re-work growth, I realized there was a sub-category of "negative growth" technologies. To "clean up" the growth category, these now get their own category. Concentration Camps, Bombardments and Bioterror facilities and anything else similarly nasty will fall into this category. These technologies are all about reducing unwanted populations. It will be a secondary branch without a theory core. It will have the most cross-dependency with growth and weapons.
Kind-of similar to what exists now, but probably the biggest changes of the major branches. Bioterror, terraforming and gaia transformation will be moved out. Each metabolism will get specific bonuses that allow for the colonization of a wider range of planet types, as apposed to universal ones. Growth and growth based cross-dependencies and cost-reductions are about getting as many planets as possible. It will essential be for players who want "wide empires". It will be a major branch with a theory trunk leading to the technology victory. It should look something like this: Teal: Infrastructure (formerly: Construction)
Currently construction exists, and get yellow. Most technologies, or the applications thereof that fit better in construction and don't currently reside there come form knowledge or growth, so I will probably keep those as cross-dependencies. The color-coding has been changed to reflect this. Terraforming, gaia transformation, and the techs for starlane bore and nexus, artificial singularity, and (probably) singularity collapser will go here. Concentration camps and space elevators will be moved out. Armor ship parts might be moved here. Applications from this branch will be about changing the map, increasing the construction/infrastructure stats of your planets, and increasing the structure of your ships. This will be a minor branch, that might get a theory trunk, but would no longer lead to the technology victory if it did.
Similar to what exists now, probably the most similar. It will be losing most of the map-changing applications to construction, and now be more solidly about boosting research to get you to the technology victory. Combining the theory cores of this branch with Production, Growth and Intelligence will get you to the technology victory.
Largely the same as what exists now. Cross-dependencies for knowledge and intelligence will be introduced (I'm looking at you planetary shields). Troop pod technologies might go here. The color remains similar, and it is close to knowledge and intelligence as good planetary defense will be important to players going for the tech victory or a stealth strategy. It will be a minor branch that might get a theory trunk but that would not lead to the technology victory.
Similar to what exists now, and getting a theory core, with the biggest change being that it will now help you get to the technology victory. Intelligence and intelligence based cross-dependencies and cost-reductions are about hiding your presence. This will hopefully facilitate the "stealth as a strategy" concept once implemented. Force-energy camoflauge and the distortion modulator will be dependent on the new theory-core. The technologies in this branch will be about stealth or detection, possibly with some espionage additions.
Purple: Civics (?)
Totally new category. This would be a category for increasing planet happiness, and possibly decreasing enemy happiness. If governments become a thing, there might be some social-policy techs that come from here. I color-coded it to suggest a closeness to intelligence and influence. It will be a minor branch.
Majenta: Influence (I don't have a better name)
Totally new category. This would be a category for technologies that affect the upcoming influence mechanic. Any buildings or ship-parts that affected it would also come from here. If governments become a thing many social-policy techs will likely come from here. Influence and influence based cross-dependencies and cost-reductions should be about achieving any sort of diplomatic victory. It will be a major branch with a theory trunk that does not lead to the technology victory.
Pink: Logistics (formerly: Economics)
Apparently a resurrected category. This would be the category that affected the supply mechanic and ship-speed. Space elevators will go here divorcing them from construction. If governments become a thing, there might be some social-policy techs that come from here. This placement is dependent on my opinion that supply should be primarily what carries influence, in addition to production, thus placing the supply-affecting technology branch between the two of them in color-coding would make the most sense. It will be a minor branch.
The color-coding is designed to represent three different victory conditions and thee differing game strategies, with minor categories in-between based on relation and cross-dependency. The thee "strategy" branches are primary additive colors and the three "victory" branches are primary subtractive colors. The other branches are (hopefully) appropriate blends of these colors. The intent here is to make the technology tree more obvious in function and easier to modify without breaking. I want to create a system that is simple to understand and explain. Twelve categories might seem like a lot, but we have a lot of applications and stats currently, and with influence coming we will only get more. This system is intended to have a place for everything and have a logical system to put everything in its place. There are no more random lumping together of buildings and stat boosts. The only really "different" stats that remain together are detection and stealth. Other than that they all get their own category. There are no "wastebin" or "other" categories.
I should be starting a pull request on github in the next week or so but I wanted to start discussion here.