Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

Species suggestions, story ideas and contributions.
Message
Author
User avatar
eleazar
Design & Graphics Lead Emeritus
Posts: 3858
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 7:09 pm
Location: USA — midwest

Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#1 Post by eleazar » Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:25 am

Here's something that's bugged me for a long while, and it is probable a good time to address it now that there's some reworking of the tech tree and species are being added to the game.

The tree takes an interesting journey through farming, genetic engineering of food, psyonics, robotics, cyborgs, machine sapience, group minds, and ultimately non-corpreal beings, etc.

The sequence makes sense for humans or other organic species. But our roster of species already contains robots, cyborgs, non-organic life, telepaths, hive-minds, virtual beings, and energy beings. Quite a bit of the tech tree refers to stuff that makes no sense for many species concepts. (I got Genetic Engineering, hurrah! now my robots are healthy!) Besides being implausible, it's also uninspiring to get to the middle or the end of the tech tree to research something that your species supposedly already did from day one.

At this point, the easiest and most obvious thing to do would be to change the roster of species to contain only biological/organic beings. But unfortunately we have EPs: Radiated, Inferno, and especially Barren, where it is awkward or silly to imagine that flesh-and-blood aliens aliens might prefer to live. With these EPs some sort of Robotic, Non-corpreal, Silicon-based or other non-organic beings seem required.

On the other hand we might try to adjust the tech tree:
> But limiting tech descriptions to stuff generic enough to apply to any and all aliens, would indeed limit us to rather vague and dull descriptions.
> Or trying to make multiple tech trees, or major alternate branches for exotic species would be very unwise at this time. Trying to tackle the current tree is hard enough without all the other stuff.

I would like to add some special pics like "Telepathic", "Lithovore", or "Energy-vore" (sic), etc. and some techs/effects that cater to them -- but i think that can only be sensibly done much further down the road when the basic tech tree for organics is mostly done and roughly balanced -- and when species have been developed enough that we have those pics. But, I don't think we can assume that 1.0 will support any particular type of exotic species listed at the top. Maybe none of them.


So that's my description of the problem. Discuss. I don't have an answer to offer at this time, but i suspect any successful answer must be attack the problem from more than one direction.

User avatar
Geoff the Medio
Programming, Design, Admin
Posts: 12486
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 1:33 am
Location: Munich

Re: Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#2 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Oct 23, 2011 2:14 am

A few ideas:
-Add some techs about doing this with just biological systems, so robots or energy beings can research the ways to use other forms of "life" to their advantage, just as human-like populations would research using robots or how to live as pure energy and the related applications.
-Make having a race in your empire and focused on research on some planet give instant, or at least free, access to some theory techs that are related to the basic nature of those races, that would otherwise need to be researched quite slowly.
-Maybe there shouldn't be pure-energy playable races? At least if they aren't a standard "playable" race, it makes a bit more sense that you could control a pure-energy being-populated planet, but not instantly know everything a reasonably-advanced pure-energy civilization would.
-The various advanced manipulations of different life forms, like genetic engineering, creating new artificial sentience, psyonic manipulation of large populations and telekinetic-derived powers, merging independent minds into a collective consciousness, etc. aren't necessarily things that every civilization based on those forms of life would automatically know how to do.
-Perhaps we need to consider a (limited) series of labels to apply to species, perhaps related to "picks", which would be used to decide what effects do or don't apply in various cases:
* "Biological" would determine if a genetic engineering effect should apply a health bonus to a planet, and robots wouldn't qualify.
* "Psyonic" species would be able to do various social manipulations that most other species couldn't.
* Some label to the effect of "Flexible Specialization" that indicates robots, cyborgs, or insects that can readily modify their physiology or hatch new specialized workers quickly, allowing them to use automation or dedicated body parts / tools and such that a human-like species couldn't.

User avatar
eleazar
Design & Graphics Lead Emeritus
Posts: 3858
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 7:09 pm
Location: USA — midwest

Re: Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#3 Post by eleazar » Sun Oct 23, 2011 3:56 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:-Add some techs about doing this with just biological systems, so robots or energy beings can research the ways to use other forms of "life" to their advantage, just as human-like populations would research using robots or how to live as pure energy and the related applications.
I don't think it is outrageous to have a robotic species that primarily uses biological technology. We (humans) are biological, but we use mechanical technology to do many/most things.

But on the other hand i'm not too interested in duplicating part of the tech tree and slapping "Bio-" on the all the names. IMHO if we do alternate paths, each path should be interesting in it's own right. Techs that correspond to machine-life "health" and population growth are the easy part.
Geoff the Medio wrote:-Make having a race in your empire and focused on research on some planet give instant, or at least free, access to some theory techs that are related to the basic nature of those races, that would otherwise need to be researched quite slowly.
Like a "Theory of Telepathy" a rather expensive tech you would need to get any telepathic applications, could come free (or cheap) with any telepathic species.
Geoff the Medio wrote:-Maybe there shouldn't be pure-energy playable races? At least if they aren't a standard "playable" race, it makes a bit more sense that you could control a pure-energy being-populated planet, but not instantly know everything a reasonably-advanced pure-energy civilization would.
I don't have a problem restricting them to some sort of end-game "stargate" accession victory. I agree they don't make much sense as a playable species. As a minor species, done right, they probably provide the least benefit for the effort.
Geoff the Medio wrote:-The various advanced manipulations of different life forms, like genetic engineering, creating new artificial sentience, psyonic manipulation of large populations and telekinetic-derived powers, merging independent minds into a collective consciousness, etc. aren't necessarily things that every civilization based on those forms of life would automatically know how to do.
True. But, for instance, a tech that provides a "collective consciousness" would be redundant to a group-mind species.
Geoff the Medio wrote:-Perhaps we need to consider a (limited) series of labels to apply to species, perhaps related to "picks", which would be used to decide what effects do or don't apply in various cases:...
Yeah, something along those lines.
When the time comes to define those labels, i think we should tend towards fewer labels that make a bigger difference. I'd rather skip robotic "species" than have "robots" that function the same as meat-bag species in regards to health, food, and population growth, etc. Or skip a telepathy that doesn't do anything but add +10% to catching spies. Which is why i don't want to predict which sorts of exotic species we will have, since it is mostly too early to predict which kinds we can do well, or so it seems to me.


Another interim possibility is to simply not create species with Barren, Inferno, or Radiated as their EP, until we can properly do exotic species that make sense there. If there were an equal number of planets of each type (currently not even close) then that would cause a balance problem, since species whose EP was near those would tend to less competition for planets. But we can worry about that when we are a lot closer to being balanced. Anyway, i wouldn't mind "lousy" planet types that nobody especially wants.

User avatar
Geoff the Medio
Programming, Design, Admin
Posts: 12486
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 1:33 am
Location: Munich

Re: Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#4 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Oct 23, 2011 6:12 am

eleazar wrote:But on the other hand i'm not too interested in duplicating part of the tech tree and slapping "Bio-" on the all the names. IMHO if we do alternate paths, each path should be interesting in it's own right.
Yes, there would need to be some different advantages or features available on different content paths, however they're made available.

Tying the applicability of content groups to tags / labels rather than each individual species will make scripting easier.
...a tech that provides a "collective consciousness" would be redundant to a group-mind species.
That tech could be useful for an empire of only group-minds by making it easier to communicate and trade with independent-mind species they come in contact with. Or, a group-mind species might have a goal to get other species / populations to merge into collective consciousnesses, perhaps using cloaked manipulator ships of some sort, or as part of an empire's development...

User avatar
em3
Vacuum Dragon
Posts: 599
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2011 2:51 pm

Re: Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#5 Post by em3 » Sun Oct 23, 2011 1:25 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:...a tech that provides a "collective consciousness" would be redundant to a group-mind species.
That tech could be useful for an empire of only group-minds by making it easier to communicate and trade with independent-mind species they come in contact with. Or, a group-mind species might have a goal to get other species / populations to merge into collective consciousnesses, perhaps using cloaked manipulator ships of some sort, or as part of an empire's development...
The tech "collective consciousness" could enable adding tag "collective consciousness" to any species in an empire, but give no practical benefits to a species, which had such a tag to begin with.
Maybe there should be species traits/tags that are applied to species by picks or technology and have some effects defined (the relevant technology would only grant the trait to species, not have any additional effects)?
There lies a question of course, what if an empire (for some reason) would not want to empower a species with trait that it recently research.
Plus, this could end up with having empire-based sub species (like, in one empire species A is enhanced energetically and linked to a hive mind, in other empire it is modified genetically)... Many good ideas can be thought of, the question is where the complication costs outweigh gameplay/flavor benefits.
[...] for Man has earned his right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone totally batshit insane. - Randall Munroe, title text to xkcd #556

User avatar
Krikkitone
Creative Contributor
Posts: 1508
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 6:52 pm

Re: Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#6 Post by Krikkitone » Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:23 am

I like the idea of "tags" (collective conscisousness/energyvore/psionic) that alter the behavior of worlds/ships/etc.

A world/ship/etc. either has a "tag" from
Species that are tied to it
OR
The empire that owns it
OR
Buildings/parts that are on it
etc.


Now many of the "biological techs" that provide something (food boost, etc.) can still work if you generalize the concepts ("genetics" can still apply to robots/silicon beings etc. as long as you don't use DNA as a term).. that is assuming the gameplay is the same (they still use "food")

For some 'tags' however the techs will have different effects (either be redundant...psionics for a race already psionic; or useless..ie food boost for lithovores)


A key would be that any "Tags" should NOT be ie Telepathic... +10% spying (that is pointless, just have 10% spying)

User avatar
eleazar
Design & Graphics Lead Emeritus
Posts: 3858
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 7:09 pm
Location: USA — midwest

Re: Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#7 Post by eleazar » Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:47 am

Krikkitone wrote:Now many of the "biological techs" that provide something (food boost, etc.) can still work if you generalize the concepts ("genetics" can still apply to robots/silicon beings etc. as long as you don't use DNA as a term).. that is assuming the gameplay is the same (they still use "food")
Yeah, that's theoretically true, but i believe such descriptions would have a very strong tendency to be vague, uninteresting, and likely confusing.

I invite your or anyone else who thinks this is viable way to go, to pick a current tech currently makes no sense for non-organics, and to re-write it so that it makes sense for robots too. Then post your work here.

SowerCleaver
Space Squid
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:59 pm

Re: Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#8 Post by SowerCleaver » Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:59 pm

I think a good system will have incorporated a blend of multiple solutions to this problem.

1. The "main" tech tree will be developed with a human race in mind. A number of humanoid, organic aliens can utilize this tree, maybe with just tweaks in explanatory text of the tech. E.g., if an inferno race subsists on "inferno" version of fauna and flora, farming tech can have slightly different explanation but still provide the same in-game farming bonus.

2. For truly alien species (non-corporeal, lithovoric, digital mind, etc.), an entire school of tech or certain theories/applications in a school can be disabled. Recall that Silicoids had no farming techs, and because of their repulsive nature had no diplomatic techs either. This is a drastic measure, but presumably only a small number of playable races will need to be treated this way, and good picks for such races will be selected to make up for such a disadvantage. Ultimately this will be a balancing issue.

3. As others suggested, one "technology" may provide one type of bonus to organic species but a different bonus to a specific type of species. For example, an advance in robotic factory may give a boost in production to organic species, but would give pop rate increase to robotic species. A tech that grants collective conscience transformation could give a further boost to hive-mind aliens (i.e., an "advanced" form of government for collective conscience is available only to races who were initially hive-minded). Programming-wise, I would assume this is not difficult to implement. Again, it becomes a balancing issue, albeit more ticky one than simply disabling certain techs.

4. Further, with sufficient interest, certain "offshoot" schools of tech that are specialized to specific racial picks can be developed. All these features may appear too complicated, but we can always start with the "main" tech tree and develop all the related systems (racial picks, etc.) in a working condition, and then add on the flavors later.

5. I also stress that descriptions of certain features of a race can be changed to make the appplicable race more suitable to the "main" tech tree. The racial description in this board should be a starting point, rather than something that needs to be adhered to without fail.

User avatar
eleazar
Design & Graphics Lead Emeritus
Posts: 3858
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 7:09 pm
Location: USA — midwest

Re: Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#9 Post by eleazar » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:23 pm

SowerCleaver wrote:2. For truly alien species (non-corporeal, lithovoric, digital mind, etc.), an entire school of tech or certain theories/applications in a school can be disabled. Recall that Silicoids had no farming techs, and because of their repulsive nature had no diplomatic techs either. This is a drastic measure, but presumably only a small number of playable races will need to be treated this way, and good picks for such races will be selected to make up for such a disadvantage.
Don't forget unlike MoO, in FO species does not equal empire. So just because you started the game with a (non-corporeal, lithovoric, digital mind, etc.) species -- assuming we have such -- doesn't mean that your empire won't include "ordinary" species doing the research.

If certain techs were disabled for certain species, it would have to be overridden by having another species in the empire for whom the tech was not disabled.

SowerCleaver
Space Squid
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:59 pm

Re: Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#10 Post by SowerCleaver » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:28 pm

eleazar wrote:Don't forget unlike MoO, in FO species does not equal empire. So just because you started the game with a (non-corporeal, lithovoric, digital mind, etc.) species -- assuming we have such -- doesn't mean that your empire won't include "ordinary" species doing the research.

If certain techs were disabled for certain species, it would have to be overridden by having another species in the empire for whom the tech was not disabled.
Right. You mean that, if Empire X starts with a lithovoric species, the farming tech tree would be initially unavailable, but once it subjugates a planet populated by a hive-mind organic species, the tree needs to open up. Also, if Empire X adopts a policy of racial cleansing, kill off all original lithovores in favor of the hive-mind, the tech tree relating to morale (assuming there is no morale bonus for hive-minds here) then needs to become unavailable.

Or, rather than making a tree entirely unavailable, we can make the RP necessary to research the tech very high - it would be implemented by a multiplier that is set high for races with non-optimal tags.

In the case of Empire X that has both lithovores and hive-minds, does the current system track the composition of where RPs are coming from? If the entire output of RP is, say, 100, can it be determined that 60 is coming from lithovores and 40 from hive-minds?

User avatar
qsswin
Pupating Mass
Posts: 93
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2011 6:48 pm
Location: UTC-5

Re: Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#11 Post by qsswin » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:04 am

SowerCleaver wrote:
eleazar wrote:Don't forget unlike MoO, in FO species does not equal empire. So just because you started the game with a (non-corporeal, lithovoric, digital mind, etc.) species -- assuming we have such -- doesn't mean that your empire won't include "ordinary" species doing the research.

If certain techs were disabled for certain species, it would have to be overridden by having another species in the empire for whom the tech was not disabled.
Right. You mean that, if Empire X starts with a lithovoric species, the farming tech tree would be initially unavailable, but once it subjugates a planet populated by a hive-mind organic species, the tree needs to open up.
But what would happen if Empire X proceeded to research a few Growth techs, and then performed racial cleansing on the non-lithovores? It wouldn't make sense to keep the Growth techs bonus. You might say that it would "unresearch" all of them, but what if Empire X conquered more organic species? Why would you not be allowed to use the techs you previously researched?


I think that there is no reason not to let any empire research any tech -- but the tech might not give it any bonus. Remember that a planet has one and only one species associated with it, and almost all problems that arise are based on planetary meter bonuses. Those bonuses could just be restricted to species with certain tags, if something like that could be implemented.
As to things like telepathy or transcendence or other problems where a species might be expected to already know it, any empire with a species that should be able to know it could start out with some techs or immediately acquire them upon conquering such a species

EDIT:
Geoff the Medio wrote:A few ideas:

...

-Make having a race in your empire and focused on research on some planet give instant, or at least free, access to some theory techs that are related to the basic nature of those races, that would otherwise need to be researched quite slowly.
Yeah, Geoff's idea is pretty much what I was thinking except better expressed and probably more balanced

User avatar
eleazar
Design & Graphics Lead Emeritus
Posts: 3858
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 7:09 pm
Location: USA — midwest

Re: Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#12 Post by eleazar » Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:16 am

SowerCleaver wrote:
In the case of Empire X that has both lithovores and hive-minds, does the current system track the composition of where RPs are coming from? If the entire output of RP is, say, 100, can it be determined that 60 is coming from lithovores and 40 from hive-minds?
No, all RPs are pooled and then spent according to position in the queue.

I think it is best to keep it that way.

SowerCleaver
Space Squid
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:59 pm

Re: Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#13 Post by SowerCleaver » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:04 pm

qsswin wrote:But what would happen if Empire X proceeded to research a few Growth techs, and then performed racial cleansing on the non-lithovores? It wouldn't make sense to keep the Growth techs bonus. You might say that it would "unresearch" all of them, but what if Empire X conquered more organic species? Why would you not be allowed to use the techs you previously researched?
I think what we want in that case is the Growth techs researched while Empire X had organic species would no longer give any bonus until the empire acquires another organic subjects, rather than treating the researched techs as not-yet-researched.

This would mean that the bonus a tech gives needs to apply per species basis (= per planet basis, given 1 species per planet) and not empire-wide. Consider Empire Y which has 75% organic species and 25% robotic. A robotic factory tech will give manufacturing boost to all species, but additional growth bonus only to robotic species. The growth bonus, obviously, needs to apply the 25% of pop (planets populated by robotic species).
qsswin wrote:I think that there is no reason not to let any empire research any tech -- but the tech might not give it any bonus.
It is confusing to have a tech researchable when researching it will not give you any benefit now.

User avatar
eleazar
Design & Graphics Lead Emeritus
Posts: 3858
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 7:09 pm
Location: USA — midwest

Re: Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#14 Post by eleazar » Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:28 pm

SowerCleaver wrote:
qsswin wrote:I think that there is no reason not to let any empire research any tech -- but the tech might not give it any bonus.
It is confusing to have a tech researchable when researching it will not give you any benefit now.
Not so confusing if the description reads something like "Provides +10 Health for Organic species."

The thing that worries me that may potentially be confusing is keeping track of which techs have which benefits for which group of species. My assumption is that most empires will have a mix of species, so revealing/hiding techs doesn't seem to help much.


:arrow: I do think if we are going to possibly have robot species, we need to alter the techs that talk about "machine sentience" etc., especially from the early/mid tree. That technology could logically create a new robotic species to live on hostile planets, but it just gives some bonuses. Acquiring new robotic "species" is theoretically cool-- (though likely problematic in application) we shouldn't annoy the players by claiming he has a cool kind of tech, an then refusing to let him use that tech in the obvious, cool ways.

User avatar
em3
Vacuum Dragon
Posts: 599
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2011 2:51 pm

Re: Exotic Species & Tech Descriptions

#15 Post by em3 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:36 pm

eleazar wrote: :arrow: I do think if we are going to possibly have robot species, we need to alter the techs that talk about "machine sentience" etc., especially from the early/mid tree. That technology could logically create a new robotic species to live on hostile planets, but it just gives some bonuses. Acquiring new robotic "species" is theoretically cool-- (though likely problematic in application) we shouldn't annoy the players by claiming he has a cool kind of tech, an then refusing to let him use that tech in the obvious, cool ways.
The problem with the robotic species is just that: they are literally creations of a high level tech. They didn't emerge because of some physical or chemical reactions. They were developed, technologically. Then again, we could assume they were created by a high-level species, but have little technological knowledge themselves.

There is also a question if we want technologies that allow development of new species. One could imagine a technology that would enable manufacturing a lithovore worker race just in order to take advantage of inhabitable planets (they would essentially be robots, but based on a different set of paradigms than our understanding of what a "robot" is...).
[...] for Man has earned his right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone totally batshit insane. - Randall Munroe, title text to xkcd #556

Post Reply