time ship idea

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time ship idea

#1 Post by boolybooly » Sun Sep 18, 2005 3:13 pm

I was mulling in the bath like you do over planet names for my Raxocoricofallapatorius civilisation (you might recognise the name from Dr Who) and was suddenly wondering how you could get a timeship like the TARDIS into the game and had a bizarre brain-wreck of an idea.

I remember once having a discussion about time travel when I was beta testing Empire Earth and how you couldnt actually go back in time, but the answer we came up with was that you could use a time 'spell' casting unit to make an enemy unit disappear and it would reappear in the same spot later. You could do that in FO battles. But there is more you could do.

EE is RTS, the beauty of a TBG is that you can use game saves from way back in the past. I was thinking that if you stored a few autosaves every 20 turns or so, you could have a timedrive research to make a component for ships which, if you are losing, allows you to use the ship to jump back to a previous era (= universe taken from any gamesave), take the ship with you (one only) to give you an advantage and start a time-war!

We all do it anyway, we replay the whole game from an early gamesave when we lose, right? Well I do anyway. So why not make it a feature instead of a !SPAM! ;)

I dont know if you want to consider that for FO but I thought I would let the idea out anyway and who knows where it will incarnate. It might be wise to have the option to exclude it from MP games, but SP games the computer wont complain, it is its job to lose gracefully.

Balance factors would be key. The timeship player would have an advantage but could not be allowed to suddenly tech up as that would be silly. Infrastructure would be early game and so some advanced weapons etc would be impossible to build and any that became buildable might come earlier but be bigger.

If enemy empires had a timeship at the time you used yours then they would also have one in the 'new' early era. A timeship should be very expensive to build, but size dependant. So say you are going to lose your colonies you could build a time-frigate more easily than a time destroyer, but it would not have much weaponry because of the size of the time-drive and would probably cost as much as a ship 3 or 4 classes above. It would operate a bit like the Antaran gate in MoO2 only you dont need to take a turn, just press the button and choose your gamesave date.

The timeship when transported into the early era universe could provide more rapid research upto your previous tech level if it is in orbit around a homeworld and some breakthroughs if you scrap/salvage the ship (with orbit research advantage thrown in thereafter). It could also make the likelihood of research completion ahead of schedule more likely.

So you have a choice to use it as an ubership to go on a rampage and rewrite history (but lose the research advantage if it is not in orbit, and risk it being destroyed or worse captured when your enemy would get the tech advantages on scrapping) or you have the option of scrapping it, gaining tech, some money and stealing a march on building your civilisation.

All civs without timeships would be at a disadvantage.

Would that work with FO do you think ?

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#2 Post by moxy » Sun Sep 18, 2005 4:39 pm

gameplay-wise, i think its a bad idea. but its just so wacky and lovable, i know players would love it. the trick would be to put in the game somewhere it doesnt unbalance things. as youve described it, youd be stupid not to build this. so theres not much strategic choice. what if it was based on a rare random event, or even a rare random universe special, like a black-hole with temporal properties. id be happier with it being like a very unusual easter egg type feature than an actual strategy. and definitely no MP.

some other more modest ideas for time-travel applications:
- Time Scout Program. build a ship that goes back to the pre-FTL era and scouts the galaxy. lets you see the entire map, including the other races homeworld locations.

- Chronoton Missiles. devastating missiles which skip on the surface of space-time like rocks on a pond. chance to ignore shields and/or armor. (roughly borrowed from asimov's nemesis)

- Chronoscope. allows full view of enemy ships before battle, including those stealthed or cloaked that would normally prevent this.
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#3 Post by boolybooly » Sun Sep 18, 2005 7:42 pm

fair comment and good ideas, theres plenty of time tech you could have.

Another time tech might allow you to predict the outcome of negotiations like trades so you know as a SP player before you submit the trade with a computer player whether it will be accepted or not.

I agree MP timeships would be crazy because if everyone in a 4 player game had time ships then you might have to play the whole game upto 5 times over even if only one time-move was allowed per player per game.

I think as a random event it could only happen to the human player ship and could be irksome even then so I prefer the idea of a player choice.

As a known easter egg it could be a black hole thing that you can select one ship from any fleet that reaches a black hole as a time travel ship if you have certain technologies. That would be a gas but this method means all the other civs would not have timeships in the 'new' early era. So its imbalanced and a bit ego-massage cum sandpit and does not constitute a time-war which is, I think personally, a point since we have timewars in Dr Who, Star Trek Enterprise and I think BSGalactica is looking a bit like that so its a fun thing at the moment to have a time war and associated strategy.

Like nuclear weapons in the real world, a timeship makes it very hard to go to war and win so it increases the strategic challenge in finishing off a time capable civ, so it should definitely be optional in game set up. If you consider that only a losing player would want to use a time ship then they are a balancing factor and a last resort, just like restarting the game because you have lost, but giving that ability to a computer player is very interesting. A worst case scenario would be that you invaded a civ and you had no timeship and it had one and used it and you lost 100 turns or so with nothing to show for it and the enemy would have a timeship advantage and be on a war footing. Diplomacy becomes a necessity.

As an aggressor you would need to have a time ship just in case your invasion triggers a time incursion, and as a defender you would want an intact time ship as a deterrant, like you need missile bases.

Thinking about that does give me strategic ideas, e.g. the timedrive can only be used with a jumpgate (& this must die if the planet battlestation dies) ; only one timeship per civ; on self-destruct the timeship eliminates all forces on the battlefield/gameboard.

As an invader you would have to try to discover by espionage (or by another temporal science detection tech) whether other civs had a timeship or were building one and where it was, and how big it was, then you might undertake raids to prevent it being built or to destroy it before it could be used as a preliminary to any aggressive invasion moves. You would lose any force you sent to attack the completed timeship but by eliminating all enemy jumpgates/battlestations you could then make a newly constructed timeship impossible to use as anything other than a bomb. Then again if some player uses a timeship as a bomb and destroys your fleet and planet but fails to destroy your own time ship then you have an advantage, if you dare to use it... since if you go back in time they will not have a timeship.

As a defender you would want to get time tech as soon as any other player has it by trade or espionage to build a timeship in case they activate their timeship. You could use a timeship to destroy an entire invading fleet or as a last resort you would need to ensure a timeship and jumpgate remained intact.

What the time ship move does is sort the wheat form the chaff. It will reset the game to an earlier time but the weak civs without timeships (because they died or were not advanced enough) will be even weaker than the civs with time ships, which means expansion of the time capable races will be faster than the first time through the game. So if you mess up second time round you are more likely to be overwhelmed.

Also since timeships cant be used without jumpgates you cant time hop again until your civ has jumpgates. In which time you may be overrun or then again you may do the overrunning.

I think at easy difficulty computer players should not use timeships and at moderate difficulty levels the human player should be notified by diplomatic channels if a computer player has completed timeship research.

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#4 Post by utilae » Mon Sep 19, 2005 7:03 am

I don't like the idea of travelling back in time being the same as loading a save game.

Here's an idea:

-You send a leader back in time. Everything is refreshed in the current turn to reflect the fact that you have had that leader for much longer (leaders level would be up heaps, maybe some money saved up thanks to the leaders finance bonus).

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#5 Post by boolybooly » Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:25 pm

don't like the idea of travelling back in time being the same as loading a save game.
OK I believe you, why is that ?

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#6 Post by utilae » Tue Sep 20, 2005 7:18 am

Well, why would I bother researching it when I could just load my game. Though I guess in Multiplayer you can't load your game without loading everyone elses.

The main problem is that people will get annoyed if you keep go back to point X, in your attempt to try to win. There needs to be simpler forms of time manipulation. Of course if time travel was an end game tech, you could use time travel to go back in time, step on a mushroom and the enemy never existedm, etc.

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#7 Post by Kharagh » Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:09 pm

The idea itself is nice, but I don't think it can be successfully implemented into the game.

First of all, it would be only for SP, as people in MP would get pissed if they have to replay the game since the beginning repeatedly.

In SP it could be done, but I don't think it will be much fun to replay the game until you know every move the AI makes in advance.

In addition, this technology would be an end-game tech and by then, most players are either in a good position, or dead. Nobody will invest in a tech which forces him to replay 100 turns just to be a little better in the end.

I don't like Utilae's idea to send a leader far back in time to get him back with boosted stats and a monetary bonus.
It feels a little bit like cheating to me, to artificially boost my leader in such a way, and the money won't be worth it in late game.
However sending him back only a little in time could be fun.

Perhaps we could limit time travel to only a few turns, maybe 10 at most and the further back in time we travel, the more expensive and risky it gets.

Small things could be achieved this way, like sending back a leader or spy to warn of an imminent attack a few turns before it happens, or speeding up research which is vital for the empire's survival.
Killed leaders could be saved by going back in time and warning them of the danger to their lives.

But that's as far as it should get, as everything beyond will make the game less enjoyable in my eyes.

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an Alternative...

#8 Post by guiguibaah » Tue Sep 20, 2005 6:10 pm

Here's an alternative...

You get the 'time travel' technology in the year 2400.

In the year 2405, a leader from the future visits you. She has some extra bonus statistics that put her ahead of the other leaders because she is from the future.

She tells you that she comes from the year 2455.

So all is good - you spend the next 50 turns enjoying extra prosperity. Then the year 2455 comes, the year her future self is recruited by your empire and sent back into the past.

Now sending her back into the past costs a lot of money, right?
You send her back into the past, and all is good. You keep your older and wiser time-travelling leader.

Now suppose you were frivolous and did NOT send her into the past. Well, then suddenly really WEIRD things happen. For starters, your empire is subjected to 20 random events (that turn) - most of them being on the unpleasant side. See, your leader travelled into the past to prevent these events from happening in the future. By not sending her, you now feel the full force of a time-rift.

further, any random event that started with a timer (say, a 20 turn timer to stop a plague from emerging) will begin with the timer's turns all used up. That's because the plague happened 40 years in the past, and now it is 50 years into the future. Plagues, Mining shortages, starvation, suns going supernova, etc...

- - - -

You could also do something like this with a ship... You can opt to "receive" a ship from the future (say with a new technology added to it)... and in the future if you cannot design the ship with the technology that you gained by the deadline, then now only do weird things happen, but any battle that took place on enemy installations with that ship could be instantly given back to the enemy (to simulate you actually loosing that battle) as well as incurring a loss of ships...

So in the end, it is a double-edged sword. You can accept the help of your future selves, but if when the time comes you cannot meet the requirements to do the same to your past when the time comes, you get to feel the "goodness" of a time rift.

And time rifts are almost always a bad thing.
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#9 Post by yaromir » Wed Sep 21, 2005 8:55 pm

Well, then suddenly really WEIRD things happen.
Ah, that reminds me of "Pier of Yellow Ships" by Lukyanenko.

It asserts that time-line is self-healing, if you change something in the past, time-line will start adjusting itself, sometimes through violent events to revert to original self.

It was an interesting story.
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#10 Post by boolybooly » Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:04 am

As I said at the outset this may not fit with FO, the main objection being it is a lot of work and an untried idea. But its a brainstorming forum so I thought it was fair to share.
Well, why would I bother researching it when I could just load my game.
I cant take that "why" literally because my first posts were all about the advantages a timeship could offer, so I am guessing you must mean "why" would you want to add the strategy of timewar to the game.

Why have missiles ? They are not as zappy as lasers and are too slow, but still people love them, why is that ?

Simple answer is fun, from strategy. Looking at it another way, you load savegames if you lose anyway right, so why not make that part of the game and make it a strategic element?
Nobody will invest in a tech which forces him to replay 100 turns just to be a little better in the end.
lol - Who is forcing them ? Its up to you, noone forces you to play. The whole point of a timeship is that is is in the game, not a cheat, a balanced and fair representation of a time war.

It would be one path you could take, your decision as a player.

Have you never lost a game and played it through again from the start and won? The sweetest victory comes after reversing defeat, that is what timewar lets you do, but in game.

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#11 Post by pd » Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:11 am

Just wanted to jump in and say that i like your idea boolybooly. Also i don't think it would mean a lot of work, if it is based on savegames.

This might be stuff for an add-on after v1.0.

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#12 Post by boolybooly » Thu Sep 22, 2005 1:32 pm

thanks for saying so pd, its encouraging to know others like it too

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#13 Post by boolybooly » Sun Sep 25, 2005 1:51 pm

Some more brainstormy ideas on timeships.

Could be an Orion type special, there are two possibilities for this : either it is the only one in existence (the fabulous prize) and that allows one player one use of timeship, or like MoO2 the Orion ship is simply a version of a ship you could build yourself later in the game if you wanted and storming Orion just allows you to get one early.

I prefer the second scenario.

Balance will be important and here are some more balance ideas.

COSTS (in terms of cost/benefit these are ideas about what it might cost to use a timeship)

Maintenance costs on a timeship should be high so that when you jump back in time you are going to have to make a real sacrifice to keep it in space anytime early in the game, say turns 1-60, when it could make a big difference to battles.

It could carry a diplomatic penalty encouraging races without timeships to ally with each other and shun races with timeships. This might be dependant on the timeship being detected by another race in a fleet encounter. A diplomatic scrapping of the timeship might reduce this penalty while complete secrecy might effectively eliminate it. Hence there would be a consideration for the ship designer make the timeship a stealth model, with more component space penalties.

As already mentioned the timedrive should be big and very expensive.

When you jump back in time the stars may have moved, so you may find yourself in the wrong place if there is no jumpgate present. A jump to a pre jumpgate era might mean a number of turns before your timeship can reach a base and contribute to research or be given orders (dependant on the communications tech of the era).


Research improvement dependant on orbiting a colonised planet. Maybe moderated by the research potential of the planet & system (so if it was used defensively on outposts it would be of less research benefit.) Includes faster research (lower cost) and better chance of early completion for all the techs completed by the turn the timeship was launched back in time.

Scrapping would provide full research benefit and some weapons and components breakthroughs and quite a lot of cash value (size & cost of the breakthrough tech would be larger than normal but reduce faster).

It might also provide one supercomputer core for the planet where it was scrapped. Building the supercomputer would allow the planet to provide more research points.

It could carry a ship leader from the future with it.

It would remain as powerful as you built it so if you did not scrap it you could use it for battle with the attendant diplomatic penalties.

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#14 Post by Yoghurt » Sun Sep 25, 2005 5:04 pm

Another idea that would also work for Multiplayer, although it would make the time-travel less innovative:

It is based on the assumption that time-travel cannot change the past. So, the only useful application of time-travel would be a time-travel scout ship, as follows:

You build a time-travel scout that travels back an intially adjustable amount of turns (maybe the scout visual range should depend on the amount specified, maybe it need not). You can then position the scout at a (nearly) arbitary position in the galaxy, be it known or unknown.
And then you immediately see the situation in the scouts visual range as it was N turns before. You cannot move the scout anymore, however, see below why.

Potential uses:
  • You could re-examine WTF happend in the battle at Huygens System 10 turns ago
  • You can see whether you ally really had no fleets available at Sparsky System 8 turns ago, or if he lied to you.
  • Spy at the homesystem of your enemy, however with outdated information.
A nice auto-balacing factor is that the scout is like a normal ship, and since it cannot move, can be destroyed by the enemy. Example:

You build a timescout at Turn 30 at System Foobar with a "delay-factor" of 5, so you see the situation 5 turns before. The enemy now can destroy the scout at Foobar, resulting in loss of information 5 turns later.
So if the scout it destroyed in Turn 31, in Turns 31-35 you see Turns 26-30, in Turn 36 you see the attack, and afterwards you get no more information.
So you automatically have some sort of auto-balancing; if you build a scout that gives you information 1 turn on, the enemy can destroy it immediately and you get only information for 1 turn. If you build it with 10 turn delay factor, you get information for at least 10 turns.

I hope this was understandable.

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#15 Post by Dreamer » Sun Sep 25, 2005 9:35 pm

Well, I mostly see time distorsions everywhere as a huge complexity-generator, not always worth it. But if this goes in some mod or something I think the best advantage would be to send figthing ships to the past, to win battles you previously lost.

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