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Author Topic: Forking tech trees - some ideas  (Read 6997 times)

Offline Echo

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Forking tech trees - some ideas
« on: April 19, 2010, 05:07:05 am »
Hello everyone,

I'm a fan of the X-com series (I still play the original) and some time ago I came across UFO:AI, and I have to say, I'm quite impressed with the way the game seems to be progressing.

One thing in particular that I found to be an improvement from the original game is the way your head researchers mail you. Cdr. Navarre and Dr. Connor (and later, Col. Falkland) have personalities and ideas above and beyond their roles as reaserch information givers - so without further ado:

Branching Tech Trees, some ways to make it figure into the story/campaign.

1. One of your researchers is kidnapped, and if the rescue mission fails, is replaced by someone else (Such as Dr. Yamamura, if Dr. Connor is captured) who will either limit your tech tree or provide completely different ideas. For example, I imagine that Dr. Yamamura would push for further research in the direction of psionics in order to communicate with the aliens, whereas Dr. Connor would avoid that path in favour of a XIV counter-serum that would "disconnect" the aliens from one another... while on this train of thought, If a counter-serum for XIV is developed, perhaps some limited number of 'liberated' aliens might make themselves available for recruitment, knowing that they are fighting against their former captors/slavers.

2. Upon meeting certain in game requirements, a strange email comes in from a hacker, known as ______ who nonchalantly lets you know that he/she is "the best human mind ever to ever lay hands a digital interface", and that you should just ask Cdr. Navarre if you want proof. (Cdr. Navarre should send an e-mail at the same time panicking about his computer and files going haywire, with no evidence as to why). This would open up some tech tree possibilities, or upgrades to some of Cdr. Navarre's technological designs, faster reverse engineering of alien nav/computer systems, etc... Of course, Navarre won't like this very much, having started off on a bad foot with this newcomer, and as a result, he may chose to leave the project at some point, or simply not propose certain designs.


This is to say nothing of the actual technology to be presented in the game, just plot-ways to introduce them. I hope these notes strike a spark in someone's imagination.

-Echo


Offline Prinegon

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Re: Forking tech trees - some ideas
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2010, 06:31:15 am »
Doesn't work for me.

If the first possibility is going to happen and your research tree is margled, once a scientist is captured by the aliens, you will most likely simply reload.

If we follow your second sugguestion, that could mean, you actually would want to trigger the abduction of a specific person to unlock the research branch you prefer. I don't like one trying to trigger something harmful to himself to get rewarded.

Offline Jarkill

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Re: Forking tech trees - some ideas
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2010, 10:12:04 am »
You misunderstand. The second one isn't triggering harmful consequences or anything like that, just that at a certain stage of the game (from the way I see it) You get to choose one of two advanced tech lines; the one given by Navarre and the one given by the hacker. You don't lose anything, you choose which way you want to go.

Of course as much as this seems like a nice idea it will probably not happen, honestly. Choices are nice, but I'm not even sure the engine supports it (of course, I'm pretty much as dumb as a rock for this kind of thing).

Another way of doing this is choosing a corporation to purchase your weapons from; An experimental technology research faction might give you reverse engineered alien tech, while a military weapons supplier would focus on earth based weapons and modifying them, giving you more accurate and cheaper weapons, but dealing less damage, etc.

Of course, ain't gonna happen.

Offline BTAxis

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Re: Forking tech trees - some ideas
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2010, 10:27:08 am »
The engine would probably be able to handle it, but I don't think it's such a good idea anyway. We had plans for a forking tech tree with multiple, mutually exclusive forks depending on research order, but we had to abandon that idea. It's a challenge as it is to construct an expansive tech tree without relying on useless filler techs.

Offline DiDiT

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Re: Forking tech trees - some ideas
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2010, 10:54:45 am »
Hmm... about the hacker idea, I'm not sure about, seems a little 'Mary sue'-ish.

also, BTaxis, Is it possible to have research options that are mutually exclusive? If it is, I'v got a few ideas...

Offline BTAxis

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Re: Forking tech trees - some ideas
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2010, 10:56:10 am »
I'm not completely sure, but I *think* there is some support for it.

Offline DiDiT

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Re: Forking tech trees - some ideas
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2010, 11:05:05 am »
Awesome Sauce ;D




Offline docwild

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Re: Forking tech trees - some ideas
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2010, 02:05:15 pm »
2. Upon meeting certain in game requirements, a strange email comes in from a hacker, known as ______ who nonchalantly lets you know that he/she is "the best human mind ever to ever lay hands a digital interface"

hackers wont like that... but it is just a matter of scripting it.

I've been thinking of a possible surprise ending; it was all a misunderstanding and the alien overlords, who are never seen, were just testing humanities tenacity. They're very sorry for all the trouble caused and would like to buy everyone a ham.

Offline Hertzila

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Re: Forking tech trees - some ideas
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2010, 04:11:46 pm »
I don't really like the idea that the tech tree could fork to mutually exclusive researches. I understand some games basically live by it (Sword of the Stars) but it seems like a frustrating system to me, especially if it isn't that clear when it would happen. Different research proposal and finishing texts are nice but completely removing access to a certain tech from a player is a bad idea IMO.
1. As such, no support for the first idea.

2. Again, the fork idea has to go IMO, but I kinda like the idea that you could suddenly be contacted by a hacker who wants to work for you. But I'd change the introduction: At first the Navarre reports his (online, no secret base has every computer connected to net) computer behaving erratically and not always responding to commands. He shuts the computer and reports a possible breach in security (internal note could be sent to everybody, not just commander). Few minutes later, a hacker sends an email to you, expressing that he/she (referred as he from now on) wants to work for you and thought the best way to show his skills would be to take over one of the PHALANX's computer. Then you can decide would you want to assign a dropship to pick him up (would this be too big of a hassle?). No tech gets removed because of him (or so would be in my own perfect world  :P).
As a side note, he could also report being a computer tech specialist, so he would also have qualifications for the position.

hackers wont like that... but it is just a matter of scripting it.

I've been thinking of a possible surprise ending; it was all a misunderstanding and the alien overlords, who are never seen, were just testing humanities tenacity. They're very sorry for all the trouble caused and would like to buy everyone a ham.

We Could Have Avoided All This, right?

Offline DiDiT

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Re: Forking tech trees - some ideas
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2010, 04:22:44 pm »
The Drop-ship seems like too much hassle but the big question is, what would the hacker/super computer tech specialist do? locate a alien base? Boost you tech? Be hire-able as a soldier or scientific?

with or without a purpose, it all seems like a waste of codeing time to me. :-\  
« Last Edit: April 19, 2010, 05:36:10 pm by DiDiT »

Offline Hertzila

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Re: Forking tech trees - some ideas
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2010, 04:41:06 pm »
The Drop-ship seems like too much hassle but the big question is, what would the hacker/super computer tech specialist do? locate a alien base? Boost you tech? Be hire-able as a soldier or scientific?

I'd expect better implementation of reverse-engineered alien computer tech, better ECM and targeting algorithms and other software upgrades and such. Also if aliens do need electromagnetic radiation for communication between ships and bases, he could provide an interception and decrypting functionality. Locating alien bases could be a natural result of intercepting (enough) communications. This could also be tied to figuring out their language in cooperation between his team and Connors bioteam.

with a purpose, it all seems like a waste of codeing time to me. :-\  

I agree that his function could be done by Navarre but in case he is made and implemented (that sounded very weird) I wanted to drop my €0.02 here.

Offline Silversnow

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Re: Forking tech trees - some ideas
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2010, 06:11:57 am »
I'm not completely sure, but I *think* there is some support for it.
Well, if there is a way to use tech requirements to have mutually explusive techs, it "can" be interesting to give the player the option between two strategies. For instance, we could delve into psionics (distract, panic, illusions) OR bio implants (strength, armor, regeneration), but setting our soldiers on one path would exclude the other.
It can be an interesting story element, but I think that the most important question is: Will it make the game more interesting?
And the second most important question is: Is this delaying of the next release be worth it?

Of course the most important answer of all is 42...  ;D

Offline BTAxis

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Re: Forking tech trees - some ideas
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2010, 11:30:41 am »
I don't think it would be an interesting story element at all, actually. Also, note that the next release will have neither implants nor psionics.

Offline Echo

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Re: Forking tech trees - some ideas
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2010, 09:51:11 pm »
Thanks for all your feedback!

Personally I find the advantage of having forking tech trees to be expressed wonderfully by these two words: Replay Value. If you can't do everything each time you play, it will give you more incentive to come back and try very different strategies - more so if this opens up the possibility of playing online against other players' highly specialized teams, all different in respect to their abilities. I respect that this being an open-source project, that new tech is hard enough to implement (due to lack of artists/programmers/dedicated teams), making extra tech trees impractical, but I believe that these ideas represent worthwhile and interesting possibilities.

Aside from that, Hertzlia said something that makes me think:

2. Again, the fork idea has to go IMO, but I kinda like the idea that you could suddenly be contacted by a hacker who wants to work for you. But I'd change the introduction: At first the Navarre reports his (online, no secret base has every computer connected to net) computer behaving erratically and not always responding to commands. He shuts the computer and reports a possible breach in security (internal note could be sent to everybody, not just commander). Few minutes later, a hacker sends an email to you, expressing that he/she (referred as he from now on) wants to work for you and thought the best way to show his skills would be to take over one of the PHALANX's computer. Then you can decide would you want to assign a dropship to pick him up (would this be too big of a hassle?). No tech gets removed because of him (or so would be in my own perfect world  :P).

^^^This could be a very interesting mission, picking up this guy in some city (dare I suggest Moscow? I think that would be kinda cool), at a location/date/time specifically chosen by him... Except that aliens are trying to reach him first, due in part to infected spies in your HQ... so a simple pickup becomes an ambush. That way, his successful rescue provides bonus tech, or faster research on certain items. This type of mission would follow the proposed 'hostage' scenario (it hasn't been implemented, has it?) format. Alternatively, UFOs could attack your dropship as you escape with him en-route to your base. This would make it an interesting aircraft escort scenario, where if he gets shot down, a rescue mission (also not implemented, as far as I know) opens up, giving the player a way to attaining this hacker's bonuses.

This itself makes me think of other ways to introduce alternate/unlockable tech trees. What if, for example, a mission opens up, showing a specialized alien base on the planet: an alien food processing factory (or whatever), where.... I dunno, something creepy and alien happens. Upon completion of the mission, if certain principal structures remain undamaged (map objects can't be damaged in UFO:AI, can they?) a research proposal will be generated that opens up new tech branches... implants? genetically altered soldiers? Faster bio research? ... cheaper food? :P

Offline Silversnow

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Re: Forking tech trees - some ideas
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2010, 04:15:59 am »
The way you describe those story elements, they are much more like interesting random events that can be integrated into the plotline rather than tech exclusions.
Interesting possibility for the 2.4 release then  ;D