Technology in Fallen Enchantress

By on April 28, 2011 9:47:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Derek Paxton

Join Date 03/2003
+122

 

In my opinion, the biggest issue in War of Magic is game pace.  Some things we can improve.  We can speed up the early game, we can even out the progression of spells, armor and weapons so it doesn’t feel like they obsolete older versions too quickly, but are still worthwhile upgrades.  But the tech system is a giant pace imposing beast that cannot be avoided.

Which is unfortunate, because conceptually I like the tech system in War of Magic.  It fits with the rule of 5, and I’ve been using the “breakthrough provides random options” in other parts of the game to provide some design consistency and make the systems feel like they all belong to the same game.

The big problem with the system is that there are 5 tech categories and the research cost of a tech is determined by how many techs you know in that category.  The more Military techs you know, the more the next Military tech you are about to learn will cost.  The reason for this is that since the player picks the tech after research is done, the game doesn’t know what they are going to research until it’s over.  So it can’t have tech specific research costs.

We thought about a lot of ways to improve this and keep the current system.  What if we have the tech’s research cost go toward the next tech?  What if we have the tech cost be the highest amount and then allow the player to recover research they don’t spend?  What if we give an option when the player has enough research to discovered one tech but he can choose to continue researching to get to others?

But in the end they were all flawed and too confusing.  So we got out the torch, some kindling and marshmellows and said goodbye.

Then we made the Fallen Enchantress tech tree which includes the following.

1. Tech screen- A tech tree screen where players can plan out their research goals.  Distant techs can be selected and the game will automatically queue up the research path to get there.

2. Tech based research costs- Now we can have the best armor tech in the game cost much more than the first weapon tech (previously if they were both the 6th military tech you picked they would cost the same amount).

3. Allegiance prereqs- Techs that are only available for certain allegiances, so even though there is only one tech tree in Fallen Enchantress the Empire and Fallen have different branches to follow.  In general kingdoms have extra defensive military techs and empires have extra sorcery techs.  There are civilization techs that are unique to each, the kingdoms get cooperation which leads to resources that improve their population growth and the empire get Domination which allows them to work their people to death.  (we may update this to allow race specific techs for modders)

4. Random techs- Some techs have a percentage chance of showing up for a player in a game.  Every time you start a game your tech tree will be slightly different.  You may start a game and have masterwork armor as a tech in your tech tree (25% per game) that you can research at some point to be able to craft better armor for your armies.  You may have a tech that allows you to recruit some unusual creatures.  Some that grant access to spells that aren’t normally available, etc.  This is one of my favorite features because I enjoy looking at my tech tree at the beginning of my game to find out what options are out there.  It may change my research plans, it’s like dynamic faction strengths.  You may play the Ironeers over again, but in one game they have 3 extra military techs, in another they have an extra adventuring and sorcery tech, etc.

5. Autolayout- The tech tree draws itself and its lines automatically.  This was needed because the tech tree will be different every time, so it must be able to lay itself out programmatically.  The good news for modders is that they can add techs to their hearts content and they will be automatically added to the tree right where they belong.

6. Cross category prereqs- Techs that require techs in other categories.  You can’t rush to big weapons in Fallen Enchantress like you can in War of Magic.  You need some civilization techs (blacksmithing) before you will be able to produce metal weapons and armor.  You need Literacy in the civilization category before you can learn the adventure tech Ereog’s Journals.

Won’t don’t techs do now?  They don’t spawn resources, monsters (monster get tougher over time, but it doesn’t matter what techs you research) or champions (though it takes techs to recruit them).  In general everything is on the map at the beginning of the game.

We will talk about the world later, but this is a part of the new design.  Explore the world, because you have to find out what’s out there, it isn’t going to be given to you as you research techs.  If you don’t have metal near your starting location you may need to find someone to kill to take it (or look into the other 4 ways to control the world).  You can’t always come into the game with a plan, you have to adapt a plan based on your starting condition.  Techs are a big part of that.

 tech screen

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April 28, 2011 9:58:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Numero Uno!

[Edit] BTW, love the cross-category prereqs!

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April 28, 2011 9:58:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thank you, great to see some of this!

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April 28, 2011 10:14:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I love the new approach that Kael is taking. No more rinse and repeat games. As a great philosopher once said; "All plans go out the window once you get punched in the face".

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April 28, 2011 10:17:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds awesome!

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April 28, 2011 10:33:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm glad you guys had the balls to do it!

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April 28, 2011 10:36:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Very cool, I love every change. The monster recruiting system in right now really sucks, various random monster options is a much better system.

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April 28, 2011 10:37:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Heck YA!

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April 28, 2011 10:58:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Solid!

-.-

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April 28, 2011 11:15:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Random science?

I don't like it.

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April 28, 2011 11:27:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Trojasmic,
freak yes!  take another thing off my wishlist.

hero skill trees (traits) = check

common/uncommon/rare/set item types = check

better quest system = ???

better dynasty system = ???

better tech tree = ???

better city specialization = ???

better UI = ???

This is WAY better... thanks!  Take another thing off my list.  And Brad said you weren't making this game just to please me...  Pffft!

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April 28, 2011 11:45:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like the random tech idea, it's one of my favorite features in Sword of the Stars.  Once more, I really like the direction you and your team are taking with this.  Really can't wait to get my hands on it!

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April 29, 2011 12:08:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Race specific techs & race specific traits would help to differentiate the races.

- Example: The Wraith might have early access to a tech whereas the other fractions would access this tech later in their tech tree.

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April 29, 2011 12:35:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

yeah, i am loving this approach.  as long as you keep the random techs i am all for it.  one of the most important replayability factors for me is for each game to have something new and different.  also it seems like i am gonna be spending more time researching tech.  the one thing i dislike about the current game is that you research everything way to fast.  i like having something to research throughout the whole game no matter how many research points i have.  i can't wait!

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April 29, 2011 1:11:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

YAAAAAAY!  This is all wonderful news.  I had posted about problems with the tech system, and it sounds like you've solved them all.  Thank you very much

 

Btw, while the previous research system turned out to be completely inappropriate for navigating any system with tiered rewards (especially along linear-dependency research paths), it might be salvagable for any sort of flat-result, non-research (which by definition is always tiered) approach.  Something like a global production investment that pays off on completion, it could have different buckets and even allow for some of the options in a bucket to show up on a random schedule.

 

Examples might be

civilization: +x metal, +y elementium

adventure: a piece of equipment, a healing potion, boots of speed, etc

military: x experience to 1 unit of your choice, a trait addition to a normal unit, option to retrain 1 group with new weapons at the difference in the cost of the equipment loadout + training time

magic: +z mana, scry area for 1 turn

diplomacy: +1 relations for x turns, +x% gold income for you and a trading partner for y turns

 

Ot not.  

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April 29, 2011 2:09:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds good. The technologies that spawned monsters and treasures were just too unrealistic and I like the fact that tech trees change every time. If that works I hope you guys add enough variations to truly make all games different from each other.

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April 29, 2011 2:32:06 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

hard to say whether a complete tech tree at the beginning is good or not. sots has a hidden random tree, for example.

 

good.. so you don't get frustrated at the lack of a particular tech deep in.. (so you keep starting games to make sure you get the tech)

bad.. can possibly get a bit same old same old..

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April 29, 2011 2:45:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

5. Autolayout- The tech tree draws itself and its lines automatically.  This was needed because the tech tree will be different every time, so it must be able to lay itself out programmatically.  The good news for modders is that they can add techs to their hearts content and they will be automatically added to the tree right where they belong.

Hey, that's really cool.

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April 29, 2011 2:47:06 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This looks awesome. Great work!

I'm somewhat conserned about the UI, though. Looks a bit cluttered. A lot of elements on a single page.

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April 29, 2011 3:13:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This sounds promising. Two questions, if I may:

a. Would there be any reason NOT to have what you describe under Point 4 above (Random Techs) be to a certain degree faction-specific, or additionally faction-specific? This seems like an ideal feature to make the factions feel less bland or interchangeable. So there could be random techs each time you start a game, no matter which faction you play, but then additional random techs (say, 3?) which come from a random pool (of, say, 15?) available ONLY to that faction. Conceivably, there might be a slider in game setup which allows the player to determine the degree or amount of randomness at game setup.

b. Point 6 sounds most promising to me. I have been attempting to advocate this since November of 2009, e.g. here with many suggestions. I and others attempt to list some interesting things that factions can research in order to interact with other elements in the world, maybe you could take a look?

Thanks and good luck

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April 29, 2011 3:48:06 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Definitely looking good. Technology is my favorite aspect of any strategy game. Good to know Elemental is gonna get it right.

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April 29, 2011 5:04:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm curious how "distant tech queueing" works together with "cross category prereqs". Is it 'smart'?

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April 29, 2011 5:44:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

looks good

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April 29, 2011 6:28:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So far like it. Just to throw some extra idears in.

How about tech which show up during game and/or require some word stuff. For example:

  • U need to hold a (unique) location to be able to research some tech (+ have some prequisits)
  • U need to have a special hero/item/spell active to research some tech
  • U need to accept some (temporary?) negative influence on the empire (slower growth, less productivity...)
  • U will recive a negative trait on all childs and main char (taintet, reckless, monster...)
  • U need to sacrifie something, hero, city, monster, gold
  • Some tech will be blocked if u choose one
  • U need to be allied with some race

Just dumped all that i came up with. IMHO i like the idear that teching is related to the game not only by research points. Additionaly i would like all above for some spells. Imagine you could only summon a dragon on a vulcano or while having a propper chain  

All this would better reflect my imagination of magic and add significat options for game play.

Greets 

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April 29, 2011 6:43:27 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What I personally would like as an idea is to do not know the whole tech tree in the beginning.

It could be a nice option to only be able to see a short term into the future.

I always find it a little bit unrealistic to see the whole technology path ways.

 

Where you can get some inspiration is the game Ascendancy from the logic factory (now available after 10 years again for the ipad/ipod/iphone )

 

There you saw just your basic techs and when ever the prerequisites where fulfilled the according techs where shown.

Futher you could find artifacts which activated rare, advanced techs (tech-tree parts) w/o prerequisites. That was a lot of fun.

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April 29, 2011 7:06:10 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Schnorkde,
So far like it. Just to throw some extra idear in.

How about tech which show up during game and/or require some word stuff. For example:


U need to hold a (unique) location to be able to research some tech (+ have some prequisits)
U need to have a special hero/item/spell active to research some tech
U need to accept some (temporary?) negative influence on the empire (slower growth, less productivity...)
U will recive a negative trait on all childs and main char (taintet, reckless, monster...)
U need to sacrifie something, hero, city, monster, gold
Some tech will be blocked if u choose one
U need to be allied with som race

Just dumped all that i came up. IMHO i like the idear that teching is related to the game not only by research points. Additionaly i would like all above for some spells. Imagine you could only sumon a dragon on a vulcano or while having a propper chain  

All this would better reflect my imagination of magic and add significat options for game play.

Greets 

I really like these ideas. It would really help get more of that 'in charge of a fantasy kingdom' feeling. And you could do some really cool stuff with this, though I expect some of these are much harder than others to code. It really would be nice to have world locations and items have more impact on running your kingdom. A tech you can only research by killing some big monster and taking an item from them, or by holding a particular ancient castle somewhere, would be amazing. Though you'd probably want an option to turn off world related civ influences so that people who want a more balanced game can have one. I also really like the ally related techs idea, it could vastly increase the variety in civilizations based on who their allies are in a given game. If I had to pick a favorite from these ideas, I'd probably go for the ally related tech.

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