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Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013)
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Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 3 years, 11 months ago #1854

  • Desertfox
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Proposed economic and strategic system for Beyond Protocol 2 (version 2013).

This writeup proposes an economic system that would fix most of the flaws of Beyond
Protocol. It focuses on the gathering of rare and valuable materials as a primary
goal in the game, which in turn creates competition over materials as a driving force
of wars instead of mere aggression for its own sake, while keeping an eye on game balance.
This requires 1) giving different types of material different value 2) geographic
distribution of material. This will add a lot of strategic depth to the game.

In the past I've written a similar writeup, but this one contains many new or improved
ideas (especially in the areas of research, armor design and game balance) while dropping
some of my older ideas that were not that good.

I've tried to stay a bit close to the original game. Partially because of the amount
of work involved, partially because of If you want to change too much, you'd be better
off starting from scratch and not have to worry about stuff like licenses and copyrights.
Also, if you change software code too much, you'll end up with a tangled mess of code
that gets increasingly hard to maintain.

Other focuses are to make the game more attractive to casual players, lowering the
learning curve for new players, and revitalizing parts of the game like trade and
planetary combat, that already exist but are under-used due to poor design decisions.

TRADE AND MONETARY SYSTEM

In BP, players get money by making a cash colony, a one time investment of effort that
gives free money every day as long as it exists. And players get even more free money
by setting their contacts mutually to relation 81.

Free money tends to destroys trade. Why work and sell stuff for money if you can get
money for free? Under the current rules, it is more profitable to build another cash
colony to get a permanent income than it is to produce stuff to sell for just a one-time
sum of cash.

An alternative system, used by the game Mankind, is to earn all money by work: mining
materials and selling it to an NPC trader. But that turns the game into a job, not fun.

I have concluded that the best monetary system is a hybrid: the current system of
free tax credits for directing your own economy, like building ships and conducting
research, and another currency (Intergalactic credits or IC's) for exchange of
valuables between players, much like there are many small countries on Earth that
have their own currency for their own local economy but use US dollars or Euros for
international trade.

Credits and IC's can NOT be converted into each other, and all trade between players is
done with IC's only. IC's represent value that players have actually worked for.

IC's are initially brought into the game by selling materials to an NPC trader which is
present in every trade station you make. For example, the npc trader buys very common
materials for 2 IC's per unit and sells them for 6 IC's per unit. He also trades
selected types of rarer materials for high prices (like buy for 100 IC's per unit and
sell for 300 Ic's per unit). But the most rare materials are purely player-traded.

Won't this lead to rampant IC inflation? Initially yes. Players will sell lots of
common materials to the NPC trader, and more and more IC's will go into circulation
between players. In fact, a similar situation existed in the old MMORPG Runescape.
Runescape players got the option to create their own money by something called
alchemy. Soon, many players were doing alchemy all day long, leading to a massive
inflow of money into the economy and resulting in ever rising prices. But as prices
became higher, selling stuff to fellow players became a quicker way to make money
than alchemy, so players started doing more trading with other players instead of
doing alchemy, and prices of items stabilized at a high level.
I expect the same to happen in BP 2, as soon as there are enough IC's in circulation,
players will ignore the NPC trader and trade among each other exclusively.

I'd watch out for the NPC trader to have too many money sinks for that reason.
Materials that are popular for use in bulk, like good hull materials of ships and
facilities, or popular materials for making bulk armor, should not be sold by the
NPC trader, only bought by him.

I'd like to see "buy orders" in addition to "sell orders" for materials.
E.g. you can put an order to buy 100 Floese on the market for 87 IC's per unit, and
deposit the money upfront. A miner can then sell the 100 Floese and receive 8700 IC's.
This will increase market transparency a lot. Also I'd make buy orders not anonymous,
so the trader can choose who he sells his stuff to, which adds a political layer to
trade. Players and guilds can decide to wage economic war by institute boycotts by
only trading with buy orders and refuse to sell their stuff to certain other guilds
or players.

A side note: in the case of buy orders, the issue of delivery times must be addressed.
Various solutions are possible (including just removing the delivery time),
each with their own pros and cons. Buy orders will also remove the stealing of
materials from players who use the trade system for transport by buying and selling
to themselves.

To promote exploration, I'd make trade free of charge between players who are in
contact with each other, but slap a 20% "commission" on all IC exchange between
players who are not in contact with each other. And no buy orders are allowed to be
filled with players who are at war with each other (they won't show in the player's
user interface). Perhaps a cost in local credits can be added to any trade, for
realism.

GUILD BANK

The guild bank has been used for many exploits and borderline exploits. One is
milking inactive members for tax money, another is abusing the death budget system
to create large amounts of cheap combat ships by repeat self-destruction and storing
the ships on an inactive account you have an alias to. The use of the guild bank as
a war chest is not advised anyway in current BP as large sums in the guild bank
increases the price of specials for all members. The only laudable use of the guild
bank is to help newbies get some startup cash, but there are other ways to do that.
Therefore, I'd keep the guild bank but only IC's can be stored in it. This will
restore the guild bank's function as a war chest.
Also, the death budget will only fill up automatically, depending on how much tax
money a player is getting from his colonies. This will discourage many types of
exploits and abuse.

MATERIALS

The purpose of the changes below is to give materials individual value.

Keep the 100+ material types, including multiple properties. Let these
properties (or combination of properties) determine the value of the material
for the various applications. The properties still range from 0-10 (no need for
decimals in this system) but the names of properties may be changed.
The general idea is that the higher its properties, the more valuable the
material is.

Difference in value and usefulness of materials opens up the possibility of
geographic distribution of materials, which in turn opens up opportunities for
adding new strategic layers to the game.

The more valuable the material (i.e. higher desirable properties and lower
undesirable properties), the harder it should be to get it, through rarity
and through danger to get it.

Also I'd like a renaming of materials,
so that the first two letters are always unique, for easier abbreviation.

In addition to mining on planets, I'd like to include asteroid mining, like in
the game Homeworld. I propose that each star system has up to 4 asteroid fields,
with an average of 2 per star system. These asteroid fields are visible on the
star system map. Each asteroid field contains a number of materials lumps that
can be collected with cargo ships. Collecting materials with cargo ships is
already coded so this shouldn't be hard to implement. When all the materials
are collected, the asteroid field respawns in a random star system that has less
than 4 fields.

I propose 4 general quality tiers of materials (Q0 - Q3), with materials becoming
more valuable from Q0 to Q3.

Q0 "plastic" or "synthetics" the worst material. The only material you can buy
with normal credits, and it is instant home-delivered. No need to include it
physically in the game; Whenever you construct something out of Q0, an amount
of credits is automatically deducted from your available credits.
properties: all beneficial properties have a value of 1.

Q1 easy-to-get materials. You can mine it everywhere, lots of deposits.
T1 (home system) planets contain only this material, but they are also present on
T2 and T3 planets. Properties range: from 0 to 5 on beneficial properties

Q2 a bit harder-to-get materials. Collected from asteroid fields in T1 and T2 systems
but also present on T3 planets.
Possible problem: big players with fast ships monopolizing asteroid fields.
because of this, add a small number of mining deposits on T2 planets and make a
few selected Q2 materials available at oppressive prices from the NPC trader.
Properties range: from 0 to 7 in beneficial properties.

Q3 the most valuable materials. Available only in T3 systems (like Docchu) on planets
and in asteroid fields. Properties range : from 0 to 10 in beneficial properties.

MINING SYSTEM

In BP beta, mines were privately owned. However because some players tried to
monopolize mining, other players were stuck without any materials.
With Q0 "plastic" available to all players, I'd like to remove the silly bid system,
on mines, and revert to the old system of privately owned mines.
Mining however, should be costly if done on a very large scale.

Also I'd like to drastically reduce the size of the mineable deposits, by
a factor 20-50 or so, depending on the rarity of the more valuable materials.
This will make the better materials rare enough to become a problem.

N.B. this whole system stands or falls with sufficient rarity of materials.

To prevent somebody monopolizing all the mineable deposits, whenever a mine is
built on a deposit, it absorbs all the ores into itself, and the deposit can then
respawn somewhere else. The mine then processes its ores slowly, filling up the
warehouses of the owner with materials over time, while still costing a
facility point. This ore processing would cost a significant amount of (local)
credits. Furthermore, the penalty for going over the FP limit should also be
applied to mining costs, to further discourage planetary mining monopolies.
materials mining speed should depend on ore concentration and quality of the
mine, but the current dropping of concentration over time is unnecessary and
can be dropped to improve server load.

Whenever a deposit respawns there is a 50% chance it will do so outside of the
current star system (exceptions can be made for very crappy materials to avoid
empty systems. Crappy materials can still be used or sold to the NPC trader for
IC).
That means that there is no long term guaranteed mining access to your favorite
materials unless you expand to other systems or engage in trading.
Also, many deposit types (typically those more in demand) have a very high chance
(90+%) to spawn on specific planet types. That means e.g. that if somebody
lives in a system with many volcanic planets but few Terran planets, he will
have a surplus of some materials and a shortage of others. For the same reason,
I'd make individual asteroid belt contain only 1 or 2 materials types.
All this will create shortages in specific materials while creating surpluses in
other materials. Together with the fact that trade money (IC) is scarce, this
system will do much to promote trade.

Dangerousness of areas:
T1 system: minor, passive pirate activity in space, only guarding some asteroid fields.
T2 System: minor, passive pirate activity in space, guarding all asteroid fields.
T3 System: permanent war zone. All players not in the same guild are automatically
at war with each other at all times regardless of diplomatic settings.
Large numbers of highly aggressive pirates, both on planets and in space.
Collecting materials in T3 (both on planets and from asteroid fields) is dangerous
and costly due to constant clashes with other players and pirates whittling away
your defenses. The cost is high, but so are the rewards (in the form of access to
Q3 materials). This will solve any lack of combat in the game. It will also make
diplomacy (division of territory in T3) more important.

And to the player that at the beginning of a new universe wants to rush to T3 and
arrive there before everybody else: good luck fighting the pirates on your own.

Expanding into T3 is a strategic decision, if you want to play a more quiet or
peaceful game, stay in T1 and T2 systems and trade for Q3 materials if needed.

Pirates used in this way will also improve game balance. I assume that the more
powerful guilds will eventually occupy a larger area of T3 system(s). The larger
the T3 area occupied, the more pirate attacks the guild will get and therefore it
will suffer greater losses from pirates.

Lack of access to T3 wormholes can be overcome by using Battle Group travel between
star systems.
To prevent any guild to block off a T3 system entirely, I'd bring back the rule that
battlegroups will leave and enter a star system at the edge instead of at the center.
In case too many players join one big mega-guild, I'd consider putting a maximum to
the number of members in a guild.

MATERIALS AND GAME BALANCE

A system of danger combined with rewards however has a major flaw, as seen in the
MMORTS Command & Conquer: Tiberium alliances. That game has a similar system of
danger combined with rewards; players start on the edge of a circular map, and as
they go towards the middle, they encounter stronger NPC enemies but get bigger
map-based rewards when they win and occupy new territory.
While this promotes combat and competition, it will eventually lead to increased
imbalance: As players collect bigger rewards, they become stronger faster,
which allows them to collect even bigger rewards in an escalating way, and end up
getting an ever-growing advantage over the lesser players.

The rewards for good materials should therefore be interesting enough to strife
for but not good enough to be overly unbalancing. Or good materials should
give other rewards than mere strength.

One solution to this problem is already in the game. Smaller ships give
better combat power for their price than bigger ships. However, by building
smaller ships you fill up your maximum CP (command points) faster so hit your
maximum sooner. Making better materials necessary to build bigger ships, components
and facilities would therefore be harder on big players who want to build bigger
stuff to overcome the CP and FP barriers, than it is for small players who rely
on the more cost-efficient small ships for which low quality materials are good
enough.
Later in this writeup I'll do something similar with facilities by introducing an
efficiency factor based on the size of your empire. The bigger your empire, the
bigger and better quality facilities you'll want to make.

DESIGNER

I'd like to change the effect of the used materials on designs.
The player needs to choose materials for a few slots, and based on
the magnitude of the properties of the chosen materials (different relevant
properties for different slots) , he gets bonuses on his design.

Possible bonuses:
-lower amount of material needed.
-quality of the end product. Higher combustibility of payload materials means
bigger/cheaper AoE.
-smaller hull usage for components
-smaller power usage for components
-lower production cost
-lower production time (higher malleability means faster production)
-lower research cost
-lower research time
-improved efficiency modifier (see later)
-shifted soft cap (the most important).

Some of these bonuses shouldn't be too big otherwise they would too much benefit
players who are already strong. But they shouldn't be so small they would
be irrelevant.

Note that one materials slot can be linked to several bonuses. Depending on
the type of materials chosen, the player can choose e.g. between
cheaper components that are slow to build, or expensive components that build fast.
Or, if you use very rare and hard-to-get materials, design components that
are both cheaper and faster-to-build.
The choice of materials can also depend on what the player has stockpiled;
use a good material that he has only limited amounts of, or use a mediocre
material that he has plenty of?

The shifted soft cap is the most important. Basically better materials means
bigger units and components. For facilities, hardness property will determine
the softcap on the size of the building, and for ships, the strength property of
the material will determine the softcap on the size of the ship. Crossing the
soft cap (i.e. using materials with too low properties) will make units MUCH
more expensive in credits. I'm thinking of a factor 2
per insufficient property point (maybe more). I may also add a materials
quantity needed penalty (but less harsh, like a factor 1.2 per missing point).

Do you want to make a plastic battleship? Even the smallest size of
battleship is much bigger than the size soft cap derived from plastic, so it will
be excessively expensive (not worth making). You need higher strength materials.

I'd make fighters buildable with strength 2 materials or better, escorts with
strength 3 materials or better, corvettes buildable with Strength 4 materials
without crossing their bottom soft cap, and strength 5 (the highest Q1 material)
giving a sufficiently high softcap for most
frigates and most transports. Note that using Q0 (plastic) for any mobile unit
will increase their price, and even more so for larger units. I'd say a factor
2 (possibly 3) for every property point below the minimum, making plastic
fighters twice as expensive and plastic corvettes 2^3= 8 times as expensive as
similar units made from better materials. Same for components.

For facilities, I'd like to make the facility size range MUCH larger. But the
largest sizes will only be reachable with the best hardness materials, and even
then be quite expensive. Basically, the higher the hardness of the material you
use, the bigger you can make the facility (production slots, armor slots,
hitpoints etc.) N.B. later in this write-up I'll make a connection between the
quality of your facilities and the size of your empire.

I'd allow the smaller ground units and small facilities to be built with a
minimum property (strength for units or hardness for facilities) of 1, without
crossing the soft cap, allowing beginning players to build medium ground units and
small facilities from Q1 "plastic" without cost increase, so he can make some
defenses for relatively cheap.

But plastic fighters (which require strength 2) would cost double for being
below the strength soft-cap, aside from any other penalties (like production
time) as a result of using crappy Q0 material. And it gets worse for bigger units.
So building offensive capabilities would be more costly until the player has
gathered some better quality materials.


ALLOYS AND NOISES

The idea of alloys is totally NOT compatible with the idea of geographic
distribution of materials of different value, because with alloying you can
turn anything into anything. In current BP, you can make almost any alloy from
any 2 materials at an affordable price, once you know the tricks.
So alloying in its current form will have to go.
I'm not sorry to see it go, that saves a lot of warehouse clutter, but some players
liked the mathematics side game, so let's list what alloying was used for:

1) lowering materials used for the largest components/hulls.
(for anything smaller than the largest components and hulls, materials
quantity was mostly irrelevant because materials are easy to powermine)
2) removing noises
3) making hardness 10 materials for hulls.
4) making good quality armor.

options 1, 2 and 3 have become strategic choices with regards to the materials
used. Every material you can choose for a slot gives a combination of different
bonuses, depending on the relevant properties of that material.
If alloying is dropped, noises cannot be alloyed away, and become part of the
strategic choice of which material to use.
This leaves alloying for quality armor. Why not merge alloying and armor making?
In other words, turn armor making into the math sidegame that alloying was.
I'm sure somebody who likes math games (I'm good at math, I just don't really
like math games) can come up with several new systems for designing armor.
I've thought of one system which I will outline below.

BOUNDARIES FOR A NEW ARMOR DESIGN SYSTEM:

On the one hand, I don't really like the 100% resists. It turns the game into a
rock-scissor-paper game that is very disadvantageous for offline players.
However to use AoE weapons, a unit needs armor that is resistant to its own
AoE weapon, or the unit will destroy itself. And AoE is a necessary counter to
mass unit stacks.
So reluctantly, I'd keep the 100% resists in the game.
Furthermore, it should be possible to make armors with at least 2x 100% resist
by using only Q1 materials, although it should be much easier to do with better
materials. Also I don't like secret tricks like 1:30 armor, I'll let hitpoints
be the result of formulas and strategic choices, not just decided by player
input.

EXAMPLE SYSTEM FOR DESIGNING ARMORS.

Each of the 6 resist types (impact, burn, chemical, pierce, beam, magnetic) is
linked to one material property. Hardness for impact, strength for pierce,
reflection for beam, inertness for chemical, heat resist for burn and
electric isolation for magnetic.
The player throws in a number of different materials, assuming that together
these materials will form an alloy. The server adds up the properties
of the input materials and for every point of e.g. hardness, the armor gets
e.g. 5% impact resist. On top of that, the resists gets a number of penalties
and bonuses.
OPTIONAL: a 7th material property (durability) that gives a bonus to hitpoints.
OPTIONAL: an 8th material property based on malleability that gives a
bonus to construction speed.

If you look at chemistry, there are several different types of compounds,
e.g. metals, salts, polar organic compounds and apolar organic compounds.
Compounds tend to mix better if the compounds are of the same type.

So in BP 2, every material has a property called mixtype. Mixtype is
represented by a number. Mixtype ranges e.g. from 0-10 but larger ranges are
of course possible. If you use two or more materials with similar mixtype,
the resists get a bonus. If the mixtypes are dissimilar, you get a resistance
penalty that increases as the mixtypes are more dissimilar.

The size of the bonus or penalty also depends on a property called mixeffect.
Mathematically this can be done by finding the average of mixtypes,
add bonuses to the resistance (a bonus from every used material), then for
every single material subtract the mixeffect n times from the resistance,
with n being the difference between the mixtype and the average mixtype.
It may be necessary to add an extra multiplier to increase this penalty.

The player is allowed to put focus on one, two or three resistances.
If the player chooses 1 resistance, that resistance gets the mixeffect x5 as
bonus. In case of 2 resistances, the bonus is x3 for both resistances.
In case of 3 resistances chosen, the bonus is x2. The rest of the resistances
only get the penalty.
If the player puts no focus on any resistance, the bonus is mixeffect x1.

Furthermore,every material has another property: its Preferred
Cooling Speed. You could also call it annealing speed or tempering speed.
It is the speed with which a heated material is cooled.
A high annealing speed means you cool the hot armor by dropping it in a bath
of ice cold water, while a low annealing speed means you allow it to cool
very slowly. This can also be crystallization speed for salts or reaction
speed for organic compounds.

When designing armor, the player sets the cooling speed. FOr every material
used in the "alloy" the player gets a bonus (depending on a property called
coolingeffect or annealingeffect). If the preferred cooling speed
differs from the player-chosen cooling speed, he also gets a penalty, which
increases as the difference grows.

For increased complexity, for every one of the resistance types, I'd give a
material different mixeffects and coolingeffects.

In the real world, carbon is rather soft. However, carbon can be turned
into diamond which is quite hard. Also, if you add carbon to iron, it
becomes the much harder steel. In game terms, carbon would have a low
hardness but a very high mixeffect. And a mixtype which is close to
that of iron.

Assuming that the values are carefully enough chosen by the gamemaster,
there is no need for secret values in this system: the puzzle is already
complex enough. Every material has the following properties:
-Mixtype (0-10)
-Preferred Cooling Speed (0-10)
-a set of mixeffects (one number per resistance)
-a set of coolingeffects (one number per resistance)
If more complexity is desired, the Preferred Cooling Speed can also be
split up, giving a different value for each resistance.

By making mixeffects and annealingeffects small or large, the gamemaster
can make matching of mixtype and preferred coolingspeed anything, from
irrelevant to very important, for every material and resistance type.
The mixeffects and coolingeffects can be made so big that the resulting
resistance bonuses can exceed the resistance gained from the base properties.

Of course, a player can keep on adding more and more materials with similar
mixtype and annealing speed, and get better and better quality armor (i.e.
with better resistances).
Using more types of raw materials will however increase costs (both in
credits and amount of raw materials) and production time considerably.
Also resistances above 100% are capped at 100%.

If the quality (weighted total resistance) of the armor exceeds certain
parameters, the armor will suffer from brittleness, lowering all resistances.
However, resistances above the cap of 100% can of course suffer a bit of
brittleness before dropping below 100%.

One way to determine brittleness would be to disregard resistances below 50%,
and adding up all resistance points above 50, and if this exceeds 125
resistance points, brittleness is applied until the number of resistance
points above 50% is 125 (this would usually be 2x100% plus 1x 75% resist).
After that, any remaining resistance above 100% would be lowered to 100%
and the excess points applied as a penalty to the lowest resistances.
This will promote aiming for exact resistances instead of just going
for whatever highest you can reach.

With this system it is fairly easy to design an armor with 2x100% resists,
just dump together a bunch of materials with similar mixtypes and
preferred cooling speeds and focus on the two desired resistances. However,
designing the best theoretically possible armor (with
resistances 100%/100%/75%/50%/50%/50%) would be an excessively difficult
math puzzle. More likely, the best practical armor would be
100%/100%/50%-75%/low/low/low

OPTIONAL: the player can choose to compress the armor, leading to more
hitpoints. The player can choose a sliding scale from 100% hp to 150% hp,
with 150% hp costing 5x the amount of raw materials.

So in the armor designer, the player sets:
-plate size
-which types of materials to use in the alloy
-resistances to focus on
-Cooling Speed
-compression (100-150%)

the server then calculates:
-resulting resistances
-hitpoints
-amounts of materials needed
-credit costs (research and production)
-research time and production time

The advantage of this approach is that
-it no longer depends on decimals or getting exact property values on alloys
-which in turn allows the creation of easily recognizable "good" and "bad"
materials
-which in turn allows for relevant geographic distribution of the different
materials (unlike in BP 1).
-which in turn will lead to several new layers of strategy in the game,
e.g. by controlling territory, or the necessity of trade relations.

To make it easier for the player, I'd include a test lab, where you can order
your scientists to test a given set of materials over the whole range of
cooling speeds, and give the resulting resistances for each cooling speed.

EMPIRE EFFICIENCY

I'd like to introduce a factor called Empire Efficiency. The purpose of Empire
Efficiency is to discourage overexpansion while not making it impossible.
However, the negative effects of empire efficiency can be partially overcome
by using rarer materials.

To limit confusion, I'd rename the current colony efficiency to a better
fitting word like "job occupancy" or something similar.

Empire Efficiency starts at 100%, and for every colony the player builds, it is
e.g. lowered by 1.5%, with a bottom cap of 10% at 60 colonies.
Space colonies don't count for this purpose.
What values would be best is of course open for discussion. The optimal empire
size would be much smaller than 60 (I think 20-30 colonies is optimal) while
only very old, rich and advanced players would dare go to 60 colonies and beyond.
This Empire Efficiency affects a lot of things; tax income, production value of
labs and factories, roll chance for special techs etc. Also upkeep cost per ship.
For the effects on facilities, these can be partially compensated for by building
bigger facilities, which are more expensive and require better materials.

I'd also like to add a secondary construction material for facilities, used
for equipment. Depending on the equipment material, the facility an efficiency
bonus which is equal to the Durability property. This is +1 for plastic and
+10 for Q3 materials with the highest Durability.
But the higher this bonus, the more expensive the building becomes. For small
players, a few % extra wont do much, but for players at their Empire Efficiency
bottom cap, every % counts.

I'd also like to introduce another Empire Efficiency bonus based on the size
of the facility. When designing a facility, the player first chooses the hull
type and the hull material. This chosen hull material has a hardness H (H=1
for plastic and H=10 for the best T3 material).
Every facility hull type has two values, N and P. N is a size multiplier and
P is a hull price multiplier.
The size softcap is ((H+6) x N). This will set the softcap to 7N for plastic
facilities and 16N for hardness 10 materials.
The max size of the facility is 18N. The minimum size is 7N for normal
facilities, and 8N for facilities with all-arc (which are of more value
militarily, so I'd like a 2x price penalty for plastic facilities to
mildly discourage spamming plastic).
The price of the facility is (chosen size x P) with an additional x2 penalty
for every N points the facility is over the softcap.
The Empire Efficiency bonus for facility size is ((chosen size / N) - 8)
This ranges from -1 to 10 for normal facilities and 0 to 10 for
facilities with all-arc.
The largest facilities are quite expensive though, if you use a hardness 10
material, you still have a * 4 price penalty for being two points over the
softcap, and another x2 penalty for every hardness point below 10.
Also a penalty to materials quantity may apply.

Adding up bonuses, facilities get an efficiency bonus between 0% and 20%
depending on the chosen size and the material of the equipment.

For different facilities of the same kind (e.g. different research facility
hulls) I'd make one kind relatively cheaper to build but with a lower softcap
on size if both use the same materials (i.e. a facility has
both lower N and P).

The effect of Empire Efficiency on the overall game is that when a player starts
out, he can make a small but effective empire quickly by dropping a bunch of
plastic buildings on the surface of a few planets. But if he wants a large empire,
he has to invest lots of credits and rare materials into making quality buildings.
Plus by using bigger facilities, he can stuff more production capacity into
his allotted Facility Points (FP).

Also, ship upkeep should be influenced heavily by empire efficiency. It should be
negligible for small empires but expensive for big empires. A formula like
(upkeep) = (standard upkeep) / (empire efficiency) would do the trick. Then make
upkeep somewhat similar for all ships small or big, and big players will have a
strong incentive to field big ships instead of swarms of small ships. This can
be magnified by giving bigger ships an empire efficiency bonus, meaning they
will get relatively cheaper (less fast more expensive) to smaller ships as empire
efficiency drops.

Also, since empire efficiency worsens with the number of colonies, players will
prefer to build a few large well-developed colonies over spamming little colonies
everywhere.

With this system, homeworld supply tax becomes superfluous and can be removed.
It was a failure in stopping viral expansion anyway, it only hurt
recently-started players with low income trying to expand beyond their home
systems, for bigger players with high income it was at worst a temporary minor
inconvenience.


SPECIALS RESEARCH

I'd like to make materials necessary for specials research.
The easiest way to do it is to add a materials requirement to the price.
For example: to research the special tech "shield size 8000", you need to pay not
only an amount of credits, but also pay e.g. 100,000 units of any material that
has e.g. a "magnetic production" property of at least 5.
As a general rule, the materials needed to research the rarer specials require
higher minimum properties. This will encourage the more advanced players
to go to the highly dangerous T3 systems more and more often, where they may
clash with other advanced players over the limited amounts of Q3 materials.

But I also like to go a step further and introduce "fundamental research".
Right now, the chance to roll any special is a fixed chance (although you can
sometimes influence it a bit by making prototypes at the edge of your
technological capabilities). I'd like to make that chance depend on fundamental
research.

Fundamental research is chopped up in units.
There are three types of units of fundamental research:
1) basic fundamental research. Adds 5% roll chance per unit done. Requires
Q1 (or better) materials. Max 5 units = 25% bonus.
2) advanced fundamental research. Adds 7% roll chance per unit done. Requires
Q2 (or better) materials. Max. 5 units = 35% bonus.
3) top fundamental research. Adds 9% roll chance per unit done.
Requires Q3 materials. Max. 5 units = 45% bonus.

First of all, every special tech is part of a group, like beam lasers, shields,
engines etc.
Every tech group has its own fundamental research and requires its own type of
material property. For example, basic fundamental research into lasers
requires a bunch of material with refraction minimum of 4, for advanced
fundamental research you need material with refraction at least 6 (which rules
out any Q1 material), and for top fundamental laser research you need
material with at least 8 refraction (which can only be found in T3 systems).

Fundamental research can be done in any research facility. Just pay a sum
of credits and required materials with the correct minimum property, wait a
short while, and a unit of fundamental research is acquired (max 5 units
of any combination of type and group). You can start any unit of them at any
time, even start all 15 at the same time at 15 different research facilities if
you can afford the price.
The price for a unit of fundamental research depends also on the Empire
Efficiency factor.

the chance to successfully roll a new special is:

chance = (startchance + fund.research - bypassed) * rarityfactor *
* prototypebonus * (empireefficiency + tradepostbonus)

startchance: basic chance to roll a special. For very common specials, this is
a positive number, meaning that you will eventually roll it even without
fundamental research. But with fundamental research it will come much
faster. For uncommon techs, startchance is set to zero or slightly
below zero. Which means you need to do fundamental research to have any chance
of rolling it.
For rare and ultrarare techs, startchance is a negative number, which means
there is a minimum amount of fundamental research needed to have any chance at
all.

fund.research: bonuses from fundamental research, maximum 25% + 35% + 45% =
105% if you have all 15 units of fundamental research done.
For example, if the startchance is minus 60, you need to have done all 5
basic fundamental research units, and all 5 advanced fundamental units
(together = +60%) and at least one top fundamental research unit, to
have a positive chance to successfully roll the special. It is also possible
with less basic and advanced fundamental research units, if that is compensated
for with even more units of top fundamental research.

bypassed: minus 5% chance for every bypassed tech of the same type, and
minus 2% for other type feels right.

rarityfactor: rares and ultrarares have not only a negative startchance, but
also a rarityfactor between zero and one, to prevent the chance rising too
quickly after passing the minimum amount of fundamental research needed to
compensate for the negative startchance.

prototypebonus: normally a factor 1 but this is increased a bit for every
prototype with the same tech level as the prerequisite for the special.
This is similar to what is already implemented in original BP.

empireefficiency: based on the number of colonies of the player, as written
earlier in this write-up. But a factor 0.10 for large empires might be a bit
harsh; so I'm adding a tradepostbonus (see below). Possibly add another
+10% or so.
Note that although a poor empireefficiency lowers the chance, it never
makes the chance zero, nor does it change a positive chance into a negative
chance.

tradepostbonus: +1% for every system with a planetary tradepost, with
a maximum of +15% bonus. Historically, long-distance trade has always
been a major factor in the spreading of new ideas.

Once a player successfully rolls a special tech, all fundamental research
in the tech group of that special is deleted. But players can already do
new fundamental research while the currently available specials are being
researched.

This setup has two advantages:
1) it allows the player much more control over the specials he gets by
investing in areas he is interested in.
2) it eventually steers advanced players into the dangerous T3 to get
materials for top fundamental research.

Note that to get Q2 materials, a player needs ships that are sufficiently
large and fast, to successfully compete with other players for asteroid
fields. Therefore it makes sense to have the Q2 materials needed for
thrust and engine speed specials research, for sale at the NPC trader
(at oppressive prices) in case a player is having trouble getting materials
the normal way. No good construction materials though, as that might
become too much of a money sink, and may remove too much IC from the
economy. So I'd give the research materials the NPC is selling a
lot of component noise and lousy other properties.

New specials will need to be added to the tech tree, each one opening
up the fundamental research of one tech group. It should preferably
arrive just before the first special of that tech group becomes available
i.e. you get the "open engine fundamental research" special right before
your first engine tech.

A player may choose to focus heavily on one tech group, to get fast
progress there, but that is expensive in rare materials, plus if you invest
all in having one good roll, and fail that roll anyway, you will be without
specials until the next roll. And if you do succeed the roll, you lose a
big chunk of fundamental research.
In the long run, it would be cheaper and more efficient to spread your
fundamental research over several tech groups.

The system of tech clouds with its ever-increasing prices feels a bit
unfair in this setup. I'd replace it with a rising base price based on
the number of specials in the same tech group already researched,
modified by empire efficiency.

Optional: I think the current research speed bonuses for factioning are too
big; a king with full faction would research 4x as fast as somebody without
faction bonus. I'd half all bonuses from factioning, but add 2% tech speed
bonus for every star system you have a trade post in (with a max) .
This would force players to decide between 1) sitting in your own little
corner on the edge of the galaxy; less territorial tension and easier to
defend but less bonus, or 2) spreading out over several systems, harder to
defend (especially with T3 dangerous to traverse) and causing territorial
tension. Especially T2 systems, with their small number of planets, will
see territorial tension.

optional: I've also considered adding ultra-rare material conversion specials,
allowing you to turn one specific random type of material into one different
specific random type of material of the same quality tier, possibly a material
that can't be mined. These generic ultra-rare specials will have their own
fundamental research to invest in, making it a kind of expensive lottery to
get such recipes. Most of these matter conversion specials will be worthless,
some of these matter conversion specials will be extremely
valuable, when they give access to materials with the best properties. I'm not
sure if this is a good idea or not. It allows for an industrialist type of
player who buys up cheap materials, and turns them into expensive materials
for selling.

COLONY ECONOMY

The current colony economy works, kinda, sorta, but it is also
convoluted and illogical. Players must adhere to a bunch of tricks
to make cash colonies: Spam research facilities, make 15% less
residentials than jobs, Set tax to zero until it is fully grown
(a low pop gives little tax anyway) set tax rate to A for pop size B.
Set tax to zero for production and mining colonies. There is little
strategy involved other than learning and executing this set of tricks.

Besides, setting tax to 20% on one day and 0% on another is unrealistic;
no modern society can or will function that way. In a realistic scenario,
if you change the tax rate too often, the people will spontaneously elect
somebody else to lead them.

So I've designed a new system for cash colonies, one that interacts
better with Empire Efficiency.

First I'd remove the colony tax rate (I'll introduce another tax rate
later).

For cash colonies, Instead of spamming labs, the player spams Manufactory
Facilities. Manufactory Facilities produce consumer goods, the amount
of which is influenced by job occupancy, production slots and empire
efficiency (modified by the efficiency bonuses of the individual
facilities). These consumer goods are never seen in-game but get turned
into (local) credits immediately. This is the main source of player
credits. Call it VAT (Value Added Tax) income if you don't like a
communist system.

Morale is only needed for population growth or shrinkage, and is
usually 100% unless there is a special circumstance, like unpowered
residential facilities or high unemployment.

When a player increases his number of colonies, he gets a higher total
facility points which he can use to build more manufactory facilities,
but will earn less from each manufactory facility because his
Empire Efficiency drops at the same time. These two factors cancel
each other out to a varying degree, making it very inefficient
after a while to grow your income by spamming more plastic manufactories.

However the income you get from efficiency bonuses of manufactory
facilities (max +10% from facility size and max +10% from equipment
durability for a total of max +20% of the production slots) is linear
with the total number of manufactory facilities and not influenced by
empire efficiency.

In mathematics terms:

income per manufactory facility =
(empire efficiency + efficiency bonus) x production slots =
(empire efficiency x production slots) +
(efficiency bonus x production slots)

The last part "(efficiency bonus x production slots)" is independent
of empire efficiency.

For a small player with few manufactory facilities and high empire
efficiency this last part does not give very much extra income
relatively, but for very large players, the bonus income
from high quality manufactory facilities will become his highest
income source while the total income
from "(empire efficiency x production slots)" will stagnate due to
dropping empire efficiency.

Thus, it all works out: small players can use cheap facilities
while players who want a large empire need to build expensive
facilities made with high quality materials. This goes a long way to
balance small and large players.

This leaves one issue: what to do when a player goes over his
facility points (FP). I've considered several models, but I couldn't
make it work with Empire Efficiency in all possible situations.
So I've decided to add population tax and population upkeep.
Population tax is an income for the player which is linear with
the population size. The population upkeep is also linear with
population size and is normally 90% of the income tax.
Thus more population gives more income, but not much,
only the 10% difference between income tax and population upkeep.
Income tax and population upkeep are independent of Empire Efficiency.
However, population upkeep gets a penalty from being over the
facility point limit. Thus population will start costing more and
more money the more you cross the facility point limit.

To summarize income sources:
-income from manufactories which is influenced by Empire Efficiency,
efficiency bonus, job occupancy and production slots.
-population tax is influenced by pop size
-population upkeep cost is influenced by pop size and FP penalty
-facility upkeep (small for manufactories) is influenced by FP
penalty
-and then there is also unemployment costs, upkeep of mobile units,
mining costs etc.

I'd also remove the 100K colonies bonus for newbies, for being
illogical. Instead I'd give players the ability to build a palace
(or a replacement if the first one is lost) that gives e.g. 300K/tick
cash income. This palace also has moderate defense capabilities
(firepower) and the ability to produce ground engineers.

Trade income for players setting each other to 81 had the nasty side
effect that it prevented war between big players, who were unwilling
to set each other to war because of the resulting massive income loss.
Instead they attacked little players.

One solution would be to put in a hard cap of 500K/tick on trade
income. Hard cap instead of soft cap, because once big players are
well over the hard cap, they can set a limited number of other big
players to war without losing any income, as long as they don't drop
below 500K/tick trade income. Another solution would be to just drop
trade income altogether, and increase the income from the palace a
bit.

This leaves the question how many credits players should have. Too
much money and it becomes meaningless. Too little and the game
becomes frustrating. I'd balance it so that part-time players who
play decently have enough money to do most of the things they want,
while fulltime players suffer a bit of shortage.
Fulltime players may want to build a larger empire to get more
income, but that requires money to invest.
Therefore, I'd add some ways to earn extra local credits by putting
in time and effort. Nothing that will make players rich but just to
give something to do to fulltime players who are constantly scraping
the bottom of their purse. I'd allow production of luxury goods from
rare materials. Luxury goods are never seen in-game but get sold for
credits immediately. I'd do that by adding a "luxury" property to
certain materials, like gold and silver are good electrical
conductors but you can also use them to make jewelry. Higher luxury
value = more local credits.

Also in current BP, prices of the later Special techs can become
excessive. At 440 specials researched, I got 3 new specials that
each cost a month's income. I'd make it more affordable cash-wise
but let players who want advanced specials hunt large amounts of
ultra-rare Q3 materials in T3 systems to start specific rare specials.
For players who are hoarding cash, I'd add a penalty to net
income once their stash gets over 1 trillion or so. It is valid
Keynesian logic: if the government taxes away all the money and
doesn't spend it, the economy will slow down, hurting tax income.

NEWBIES

When BP first went live, many newbies entered the game. However due to
the steep learning curve and pathetic "starter units", they were
unable to defend themselves and were butchered over and over again
in large numbers by aggressive veterans from beta. Most newbies quit
in disgust, starting a decline in player base that eventually ended in
the bankrupcy of DSE (Dark Sky Entertainment). The original developers
became quite angry with the veteran player killers, but really the devs
themselves were to blame for not providing a way for newbies to defend
themselves. Putting defenseless newbies in a hostile wargame with
veteran Player Killers is just cruel.

With Q0 "plastic" available to all players it is now possible to supply
beginning players with some real designs of units and facilities
(designed by veteran players) that can be built right from the start
(if the player has enough credits) that are actually useful in combat.
However, due to softcaps, these plastic units will be much more
expensive, build slower etc, so players will substitute plastic with
better materials pretty quickly. However, adapting existing designs
is much easier than making designs from scratch, which will lower the
learning curve considerably.

MAKING THE GAME EASIER TO LEARN

I'd remove a few stupid rules that newbies kept asking about that
complicate the game but give no real improvement to the game. It just
makes the game less accessible until you have learned the annoying
protocols you have to go through (hoops you have to jump through).
Either it annoys veterans to have to explain the same thing over and
over again, or it gives new players an additional disadvantage for not
knowing it.
First is colony int and its effect on designs.
Another is the 15% pop growth over residential max. Just make it 1:1.
Another is the manual input of extra crew for ships, which serves no
purpose other than filling up to the minimum. Let the designer calculate
whatever extra is necessary.

There is also some weirdness going on in facilities. There is a turret
but it is too small to be useful. Instead players use a certain
residential facility as turret. There is a warehouse but everybody uses
factories for storing stuff. I'd make it more straightforward.

Furthermore, I don't like hiding the game rules. Stuff like softcaps
and noises should be shown in the designer. For example, the strategy
game Civilization IV has a complex system of attack and defense bonuses
for units. However, when a player wants to attack, the game provides
a calculation giving his % chance to win. This means that the player
can focus more on playing the game instead of spending his time
making calculations.

The current in-game tutorial is long, buggy, obsolete and incomplete.
It would be great if a large development team would thoroughly overhaul
it and make it up-to-date and more complete. However, if no such team
exists, then the faster and more efficient way would be to drop the
tutorial and make a series of youtube tutorials in which an experienced
player shows how to play the game. There are plenty of "let's play .."
tutorials on youtube for games like dwarf fortress and minecraft.

FAIRNESS FOR OFFLINE PLAYERS

This is my biggest protest against BP and the main reason I don't play
Beyond Protocol/After Protocol anymore: under the current game rules,
it is impossible to make a reliable offline defense.

Compare BP with its predecessor Mankind. In Mankind, all static defense
units outrange mobile units. This means that even when the defender
is offline, his static units will shoot back and kill some attackers
before being destroyed. Thus, despite all its flaws, the game Mankind
was at least fair to offline players.

In BP, attackers can always outrange planetary defenses by using
Orbital Bombers. Putting armor on your facilities will slow this down
but will not stop it. I've experimented with facility shields but they
only stop the bombs of at most a dozen heavy bombers. And these
shields cost so much power the defender will be extremely dependent on
power facilities, and once these are taken out, there will be no power
left to defend against a close-up attack with other mobile units.
So when the attacker comes with a large enough bomber fleet, the
colony will die with no losses for the attacker except perhaps a few
cheap throwaway scouts to check on progress.

So the defender may choose to build a space station (SS) in orbit to
defend against bombers. A limited solution because you can only build
4 spacestations before going over the FP limit for the whole system.

However, there is a trick to take out a Space Station with minimal
losses, by abusing the target lock system. Target locks allow units
to shoot outside of radar range.
Suppose there is a space station with max (255) range radar and
weapons. The attacker brings an armored dummy ship and several
attack ships with 255 range weapons and radar. The attacker sends
in his dummy ship and then his attack ships. Once the attack ships
get a target lock on the space station, they withdraw to almost 388
range and continue shooting. Once the Space Station has destroyed
the dummy, it is unable to get a target lock on the attacking ships,
while the attacking ships keep shooting from 388 range until the space
station is dead. I've never used this myself, so I may miss a
crucial detail, but my allies told me they lost several expensive
space stations this way. A space station shield may help (although
that takes lots of specials) but cost a lot of power which will
considerably lower the station's firepower, making it vulnerable
to mass attack with short range cheap units.

The ONLY defense against such attacks is a mobile defense..assuming
that you have a fleet nearby that is not destroyed in the initial
attack. But a mobile defense requires the defender to be online.
My final conclusion is that it is 100% impossible to make any
effective offline defense against an attacker who knows what he is
doing.

Now picture this..you have a long-term wargame with players
potentially from all time-zones in which your bases and units are
exposed 24/7. But to defend them you HAVE to be online or your units
will be taken out with little losses to the attacker.

This means that you may be forced to play at unusual times.
(I guess most After Protocol players live in the Americas, because
the most players are online when it is deep in the night in
Europe where I live), which is hard for people with a fulltime job who
need their sleep and also cannot play during working hours.

This is a crucial difference with a game like Mankind: if a Mankind
player loses a well-defended base while he is offline, at least the
attacker has suffered horrendous casualties which take time to
replace, so the victim has time to recover or counterattack.
However, in BP, after a bomber or target-lock abuse victory, the
attacker still has his attack fleet, which can be used over and over
again.

All this means that a fulltime player has a double advantage over
a part-time player. Not only does the fulltime player have more
time to build up his empire and fleets, he can also attack the
part-time player when he is offline and unable to defend himself,
and do some major damage while receiving little losses on his own
side. This means he can keep on attacking with the same fleet.

"Wars" in BP consist of quick and boring mop-ups of unarmed
planetary bases with fleets of corvettes, and orbital bombing the
remaining few armed bases.
There are no massive battles over a single battlefield (planet or
space) that lasts for days or sometimes weeks, like in Mankind.
Since offline-defense is impossible, many part-time players try
to survive by quietly hiding in a corner, or when war does
break out, spread out their fleet over as big a space as possible,
leaving the attacker frustrated because he can't find the enemy.

In Mankind, players hung their combat fleet over their armed
bases for mutual protection. In BP, for part-time players it is
stupid to build anything but the cheapest bases, or have their
fleet defending those bases since it will just get bombed away
with the facilities.

SirParadox is apparently experimenting with methods to better
find hidden ships. Although there is nothing wrong with adding
features, it is trying to treat the symptoms instead of the
disease. The disease being that mobile units outrange static
defenses, which screws offline players hard, and parttime
players are mostly offline by definition.

Conclusion: in the long run, only fulltime players will survive in
BP. The game seems to be designed to especially favor one type
of player, the full-time player-killer.
While I don't begrudge this type of players their fun, this type
of player will eventually chase everybody else out of the game
so it is a big mistake to favor such players.

So BP in its current form will eventually end up with a tiny player
base: a handful of fulltime PK'ers, a handful of newbies trying
to learn the game and are effectively just playing a solo
management game, and a handful of part-time players, those who
haven't figured out yet that they are just left alive by the
player-killers to build up stuff until their empire is big
enough ("too high score") to be butchered like a pig when they
are offline.

A typical player experience for part-time players would be:
First spend months building up a basic empire. Then one night
he goes to sleep, when he gets up in the morning he logs in for a
quick look, 10 minutes before he goes off to his job. He notices
he got attacked during the night by a fulltime player killer, and
has lost half his stuff. Then he goes to his job, and when he comes
back home at the end of the day, and finally has time to play,
he already lost the other half of his stuff. And the attacker
has received very little losses so is still at full strength.

Since I'm a parttime player, I refuse to waste my time playing
BP/AP in its current form, let alone contribute to it.

REMOVING BAD IDEAS

When it becomes apparent that a very bad idea has crept into your
game, there are two ways to deal with it.
The WRONG way is to leave it in, and try to lessen its bad
effects by centering game design around neutralizing those
bad effects, an approach that may eat up a lot of programming
effort with no guarantee of success. Plus it leads to something
I call "design option poverty". Every game design decision locks
out a certain number of other potential game design decisions.
If you make numerous decisions on game design around neutralizing
the bad effects of a bad idea, eventually you will be so locked in
("painted yourself into a corner") that you will have very little
options left to make new improvements to the game. And for players
this usually means they are limited to at best one (and only one)
strategy to deal with a certain situation.

The RIGHT way is to cut your losses and just remove the bad idea,
opening up the way to put your effort into new features that
really improve the game.

In the movie industry, this is done all the time; Scenes that do
not fit the overall story, even expensive scenes that are already
filmed, are usually cut out. There are plenty of examples on
youtube, just search for "deleted scene".

Beyond Protocol Very Bad Idea number one is the idea that mobile
units should outrange static units, with orbital bombers being
the biggest culprit. This is highly unfair to offline (and
parttime) players.

The right idea is that static defenses should ALWAYS outrange
mobile units.

Orbital bombardment has been discussed before. The idea to allow
facilities to shoot back to space was judged too difficult to
program. And adding an endgame tech like planetary shield is just
a slap in the face of everybody who doesn't have 9 months of solid
non-interrupted tech research. What was done was implementing
a large number of workarounds (e.g. massive facility armor bonus,
underwater protection) that lessened the impact of Orbital
Bombardment without solving the reason why it is a bad idea in
the first place.

Therefore, the best solution is also the easiest to program:
just disable the Orbital Bombardment button in the client.
That shouldn't take more than a few minutes of programming.

With some additional programming, the bomber can be re-used as a
planetary weapon of war. Bombs can be turned into a range 10 weapon
that can only hit (and does massive damage to) facilities, ground
units and naval units, but the bomber will be vulnerable to fire
from its targets and flying units. Some of the graphics of orbital
bombardment can be re-used for this. And Space-only bombers can be
used against stationary targets like space stations.

Since there haven't been any real planetary wars in BP, some
additional game balancing may need to be done in planetary
warfare (I'd definitely take another look at the x10 armor bonus
for facilities). But removing orbital bombardment will definitely
make the rest of the game much better.

For target lock abuse, I'd keep the target lock for mobile units
chasing mobile units, but only stationary units can fire within
target lock range, mobile units can only fire within radar range.
This should take only a few lines to program.

Beyond Protocol Bad Idea number 2 is alloying. Since with alloying
you can turn any two materials into almost any alloy at an affordable
price (once you know the tricks), there is little real difference
between the materials, which removes the possibility of geographic
distribution of materials, which in turn removes several layers of
potential strategic depth, making BP a much more shallow strategy
game.

PLAYER BALANCE

Many players left the game because they were crushed and wiped out
by somebody stronger. To keep more players, it would be best if
the game rules promoted more local battles. That can be done by
making defense cheaper/more effective than offense.
Removing Orbital Bombardment and allowing only static units to
fire within target lock range will go a long way since it would
make planetary fortresses more viable. It is also much more fair
for offline players.
Furthermore, I'd like to introduce a planetary facility called
a bunker. A bunker has +150 radar and weapon range bonus
(max 255) so newbies with lack of radar and weapon range techs
won't be easily outranged.
Another way to promote local combat is compartmentalization.
Compartmentalization means that a victory in on area (compartment)
will not automatically spill over into a guaranteed victory in
the next area against the same enemy.
One way to do this is to make units that can enter only one type
of environment (space-only spaceships, naval units and land units)
much stronger than units that can enter more than one environment,
like fighter and corvettes.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Trifler, Cyrusblack2

Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 3 years, 11 months ago #1855

  • Desertfox
  • OFFLINE
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  • Posts: 41
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(cont.)

For planetary combat, I'd consider
making land units (in rare situations naval units) the preferred
way to attack planetary fortresses, with flying units more
getting the role of scouting and taking out weak or undefended
targets, or defense against bombers.

This will discourage the blitzkrieg style campaigns in which
a victim player is wiped out universe-wide in a few hours (often
when he is offline), and encourage more battlefront and area wars,
in which the stronger player can conquer a limited area with
strategic value (mining rights, opportunity to build another
trade post). Stronger player wins, weaker player is hurt but not
wiped out, both players happy.

UNIT EXPERIENCE

Units in BP get experience from combat, which means they use less
Command Points (CP). This means however that whoever wins a battle
will become stronger because of it, because he can then stack more
units in the same environment. Since the winner was probably
already stronger than the loser, unit experience would shift
this strength imbalance in the wrong direction. Plus unit
experience makes players search for all kinds of exploits to
artificially increase unit experience.
I'd remove unit experience. However, I'm considering an
empire-wide tax rate (low-medium-high) that is coupled to CP cost
of units. Higher tax rate gives more tax income (obvious) but
also makes units consume more CP. In other words, a lower tax rate
allows you to field a larger fleet. I'd also consider a difference
in CP cost between combat units and non-combat units like
transports and engineers.

CAPTURING

Some players said it would be cool to be able to capture enemy
ships. While I don't disagree, it is a very bad idea. Thirteen years
ago I played a space MMO called Planetarion, in which players built
space fleets and fought over resource asteroids. I was quite strong
(ended up 2nd place among 30,000 players) but still didn't just
attack anyone. Even a weaker enemy fleet could still cause me some
losses, and I planned my attacks calculating between the expected
losses and the expected profit. Weaker players were safe as long
as their fleet size was big enough for their wealth.
The next game round capturing was implemented and it dramatically
changed the game. Smaller players were no longer competitors but
became lunch instead, and a split in the player base occurred.
There was a small group of players that were getting stronger and
stronger in an accelerating way because they were periodically
capturing both the fleet and wealth of the majority of weaker
players, who were unable to catch up because they kept losing their
fleet to the strong players as soon as they crossed a certain score
level. It was great for a small group of elite players but it sucked
hard for the rest.

In BP however, I'd keep materials dropping from destroyed
facilities and ships. Since bigger, stronger players usually use
better materials for their stuff, it encourages attacking stronger
players instead of weaker. I'd disable pirate sellers though.
If they ask too little for their scavenged materials, it breaks the
system of danger for reward, and if they ask too much, it can become
too much of a money sink sucking Intergalactic Credits (IC's) out of
the economy.

But I wouldn't go any further in directly rewarding combat, because
the type of player who benefits most from rewarding combat is the
PK (Player Killer). PKers definitely have a place in the game but
this type of player also chases the most other players out of the
game. So the game rules should walk the fine line of not forbidding
PKing but definitely not subsidizing it either.

AGENTS

I'd like a feature to better manage agents, by allowing the player
to split up his collection of agents into groups.
For every agent, I'd add a field to the database called
"agentgroup" which can hold a number between zero and three.
For new agents, this group is filled with a zero.
This field "agentgroup" can be stored on the server or just
on the local client.
Above the agent list I'd add a button called "manage". This opens
a large popup. In this popup, the original agent list is copied four
times, each copied list corresponds with one number (zero to three)
in the "agentgroup" field and only lists agents with that particular
number. The player can then move agents around between these lists
(which corresponds with changing the number in the
field "agentgroup"). The player can do with the agents in these
lists anything he could do with the original list.
A player can then for example decide to use group zero for new
agents, group 1 for defensive agents, group 2 for his audit team
and mineral search team, and group 3 for offensive agents.
Additionally, since there is more screenspace in the popup, you can
give the player an extra filter to filter the lists for types of
skills.
Optionally, since there is more space in the popup, you can add the
basic properties of each agent (dagger, infiltration etc) after
the name of the agent.
This will save the player a lot of time sifting through his agent
list.

FURTHER IDEAS

The above system fixes most of the flaws of BP. But it also makes it
easier to add new features to it in the future. The removal of
Orbital Bombardment opens up opportunities to make planetary combat
more interesting. New materials can be added by adding a new property,
or an interesting combination of high existing properties, and such
new materials can be linked to a new challenge in the game. For this
reason, I'd not put all possible best materials (with property 10)
in the T3, only the basic construction materials.

Do you want Space Whales to hunt? Produce proto-matter (needed for
material conversion specials), anti-matter or other materials?
Find hidden treasures, like mysterious wrecks of ancient alien space
ships that provide unusual materials or other benefits, like new
specials, when explored? Expensive single-use Subspace radars made
with antimatter that show the whole system (including an ancient
hidden space alien ship wreck or hidden abandoned base if you are
lucky) but explodes 10 minutes after you turn it on?
Build "Epic Warhammer 40K" style giant combat robots that have
massive chainsaws as hands? Yes please! but only if they are not just
another type of fodder for orbital bombardment.

Desertfox.
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Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 3 years, 11 months ago #1857

  • Blazde
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Good grief, looks very comprehensive I'll have to read it in better detail & comment better later but in case I don't get around to it, a few of my gut reactions on this topic:


1) One of the main reasons I'm not playing actively right now (just ticking account over and keeping tech going) is that the game is still horrendously unbalanced. I hoped last year this was going to get some priority, there was good signs SirP saw it as a priority, but lately I sense the development effort has moved from extremely important performance issues, to implementation of very frivolous extra features. When it comes to the rare special techs like Fold Space, Stargates, High Density Living Quarters I know they're cheap to implement but a tiny minority of players even get to play with them, and they may be even be making the balance problems worse


2) That said, those of us not lifting a finger to develop the game really don't have much room to comment. If half the effort put into dreaming up whacky ideas, criticisms, and grand visions, was jut put into fixing basic stuff then the game would be progressing a lot better. Personally I hoped to help out with programming, but after taking a look over the state of the codebase was just entirely put off I'm afraid. It's horrible already and really needs completely refactoring, but realistically that's not going to happen, so we're stuck with a mess where even minor changes require huge efforts. At the moment my high-quality coding time goes elsewhere, but still won't rule out helping in the future. Anyway, my utmost respect to anyone that does help with the coding. And I'm not sure big essays are much help to SirP in the absence of coders (perhaps he'll correct me on that)


3) The biggest balance issues I can see:
a) Unit experience, well summed up above. Having 10x the units if only you take a lot of time with an ally to grind them up is just crazy. And very easy to remove

b) A lot of the special techs are just way overpowered. There should be diminishing advantages to allow newer/less teched players to compete, but because the advantages are generally not diminishing, and they often compound together it creates a huge barrier to entry which is getting bigger with every month. On top of that, to catch up you need to spend trillions plus time on all the worthless techs because the bypass system doesn't work into the next 'cloud' (unless that's been fixed?), and you're limited to 25(?) bypasses anyway

c) Many of the game mechanics act as a deterrent to war, which causes everyone to band together and make peace. As best I can tell even TP & AO have only a limited war going atm? Which is a joke. This is a hard problem to solve, it's at the heart of making an MMORTS work, but I think part of the solution has to be some kind of safe-haven (maybe one planet) for each player to promote warfare without feeling like you're risking absolutely everything. We need more spamming of expendable units and less shadow boxing

d) Diminishing returns of income and/or productivity for empire size are pretty vital somehow, though that requires deeper design thinking and probably a batch of changes


Edit: Also yay Planetarion \o/ Them were the days
Last Edit: 3 years, 11 months ago by Blazde.

Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 3 years, 11 months ago #1861

My add mind dose not feel like reading all the info. Also will this be a new game all together or just a massive update?

Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 3 years, 11 months ago #1862

  • Ghosage
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anxcon is already working on a bp2.

do not know what century he was going to finish.

Personally i think he was only making it for himself.
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Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 2 years, 9 months ago #2220

interesting. Obviously, I do not agree on everything here, but much of this I do see improvement. Let me give you some of my highlights:

1> On minerals, agreed, grades of minerals. Definitely...remove all extraneous minerals. Remove alloy builder entirely.
2> On specials, the player decides their special...that determines the dominant mineral of their home planet. That race cannot expand into other groups of specials. That is where trade/guilds would flourish. With the limitation, player grouping will continue to be important throughout the game as each player will need to provide their "special" to the guild.
3> On credits. Remove them all. the colony must produce a level of minerals to pay for their upkeep. plain and simple. Behind the scenes, normalized credits but not any type of "free money". This makes minerals the true economy. Minerals will in this way be a decisive part of the game. No more storehouses of useless mineral. That "useless" material becomes how to "pay the bills"
4> Minerals replenish based on where the mineral was lost. This is based on if player has a colony of that mineral nearby, then by guild members with that mineral, then by planets in general.
5> colonists will reproduce at a much more controlled rate. CP/FP/etc will all be managed based on the "support system". The cost of colonies, etc is paid by the minerals.

Just wanted to put it out there that I am thinking about things.
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Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 2 years, 9 months ago #2221

  • Desertfox
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Hey Aurelius, those are some interesting ideas. Here are some considerations:

-for this system (mineral special) to really work, the number of minerals should be severely limited, to like 10-20 max. (similar to the great space strategy game Aurora 4X). This would have ramifications for the component/unit designer.
-downside: limits the player for all time based on a single choice made at the beginning of the game. I always hate such choices. It also requires you to choose a guild based on your initial choice instead of liking the other members or wanting to join a specific guild based on roleplay. I prefer gamerules in which you can potentially do everything.
-having minerals follow the player, lessens a potential need to fight over minerals. Minerals instead moving away from players is harder for big players who tend to have a higher mineral consumption than weak players.
-how is trade between players possible without credits? Some kind of barter-economy?
-how do you solve viral expansion?
-mineral cost for upkeep? What if minerals run out? What if a player works a while to collect minerals, then goes on vacation for a few days, would that mean the minerals are gone when he comes back?

A good game design for BP2 must solve at least the following problems:
- balancing weak players versus strong players.
- balancing offline players versus online players.
- prevent viral expansion without limiting players too much.
- balancing eternal peace vs low survival rate of players.

Much is written about game design on the internet, there are even university courses on the subject. One hint I've picked up from write-ups: solving imbalanced combat by making combat impossible makes for boring games.

P.S. I have quit After Protocol over a year ago, partially because I've lost my interest in the economic system, partially because 24/7 MMO's are hard to combine with having a job, especially since it proved to be impossible to build a reliable offline defense. Nevertheless I'm probably going to lose my job later this year so I may jump back in.

Meanwhile I have been playing single player strategy games. The ones I enjoyed most were: Aurora 4x, Dwarf Fortress, Freecol, and my current favorite: Civilization IV with Caveman 2 Cosmos mod (which I consider the ultimate Civilization game).
Last Edit: 2 years, 9 months ago by Desertfox.

Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 2 years, 9 months ago #2222

  • Desertfox
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Anyway, after making the above write-up a year ago, my mind kept on analyzing the game until it finally stopped a few weeks later (phew!).

Some of my final conclusions:

-my proposed system of armor design was waaaay too complex to be practical so I have made a much better one instead.

In the above system of materials (higher properties = better material), it would be better to go with composite armor and potential versus chosen resists.

see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composite_armor

Say every point of a property adds 10% to the potential resist. E.g. material X (hardness 3) and material Y (hardness 5) have a total of 8 hardness which gives 80% potential Impact resist. A player making armor
out of materials X and Y can set Impact resist to 80% without additional penalties. He can also set it to 100% but then he gets penalties (hitpoints, price) based on the difference (100% - 80% = 20%) between the potential and the chosen resist. If you also add material Z with hardness 2, you can set impact resist to 100% without additional penalties. However as you add more materials, the price and production time increases.
I'm keeping the system where you can set every resist to 50% without penalties but you can only put max 125 additional points above 50% in all resists total. However, setting all resists to at least 50% without the corresponding potential resists from materials can prove costly if you don't use a mix of materials with enough properties.

This system allows you to make any armor from both good and bad materials (but is easier with good materials). It is easy to understand, requires no hidden knowledge like decimals, and if the penalties and material properties are chosen well enough, it leads to lots of puzzling over the best combination.

You can make the puzzle more complex by adding contrary properties. If the property "magnetic isolation" adds 10% potential magnetic resist per point, the property "electrical conductivity" lowers potential magnetic resist by 5% per point. But I'm not sure if that is necessary.


-regarding empire efficiency: I've done some math on the system proposed in the first post, and it doesn't really work out well in practice. The penalties become too harsh as you approach the efficiency bottom.
I'd go with a less linear decrease in empire efficiency, e.g. 2% lowering per colony for the first 10 colonies, 1.5% lowering per colony for the next 10 colonies etc., and a higher bottom.

-trade income. Every trade partner (relations 81+) adds 5% to credit income, regardless of the size of the trade partner, with a maximum of 20 partners ( = 100% bonus), so there is no difference between declaring war on a big trade partner or on a small trade partner.

-soft cap on guild size. Every guild member above 10 members counts as 1 additional colony for empire efficiency calculations. If a player is already at the bottom, each additional guild member above 10 removes 5% of the trade income.
Last Edit: 2 years, 9 months ago by Desertfox.
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Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 2 years, 5 months ago #2268

what would you all suggest? i know DessertFox has some great ideas (not all that i agreed with). i also have some of my own ideas to make BP more competitively playable, i got ideas layed out here for a mod, that i could do with the right help.
DF, i integrated some of your ideas in here.
docs.google.com/document/d/1dPe__UshDzB2...xq4bvR9qy7IHzGM/edit

id love suggestions or edits or advice.

dessert fox, i think your trying to solve the problems that come with the game, not the solutions which is to cut off problems at the source. i do really appreciate what you have been doing though.

Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 2 years, 4 months ago #2273

Is anyone here capable of codding a modification of BP? I love the concept behind BP, and I would certainly play the mod if one was released, but why discuss ways to make the game better if no one is willing to act upon those suggestions?
My proposal: wait until Gods and Idols or Novus Aeterno is released, and when those games inevitably die, wait until the next 4x MMORTS to be released. This is an extremely niche and complex game genre that is difficult to create and support a playerbase for.

On an unrelated topic, does anyone here know the name of any 4x MMORTS? Boundless Planet, Picaroon, G&I 1.x, Beyond Protocol, Elements of War, and Mankind are all dead, poorly made, or are soon to die. As I previously stated, Gods and idols and Novus Aeterno are the only two MMORTS games I'm aware of that have an active playerbase and a neat design, but neither of those games has yet to be released.

Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 2 years, 4 months ago #2274

we have access to the source code. i know the VB language well enough to edit such. however, BP also requires MS SQL and dedicated server, which i currently do not have. most of the BP fanbase is kinda scattered and doesnt fully aggree on how to mod the game. so until then, its kinda going to be up in the air.

Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 2 years, 2 months ago #2341

  • endur
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yeah I tried novus and its only 1/10 of what BP was/is I really wish BP would of worked out

Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 2 years, 2 months ago #2342

  • DeeDiebS
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Really, What prompts you to say such a thing I have a theroy that BP was the Game that inspired the creation of Novues aterno. PLEASE EXPLAIN I MUST KNOW, REDEGINING BP IS MY DREAM

Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 2 years, 1 month ago #2345

  • endur
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it just seems all about combat and thats about that, from what I played. BP bring way more.
anyways on a redesign... unreal game engine is now free

Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 2 years, 1 month ago #2346

  • endur
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they should of spent more time on the AI as well as the interaction with the player outside of the game, its not sexy, but they should of spent more money on how a player would interact with their empire by email or even a web client. This type of game you want to keep the player hooked even when they are not in the client game itself.

Re: Proposed design for BP2 (version 2013) 2 years, 1 month ago #2355

  • tesboom
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I'm playing Novus Aeterno too and it's a blank game, tbh, and beats BP in terms of lags and bugs, so many things that are not working... (ship built but it never spawns, or it's like it never existed anyway, and structures you built just vanish when you log back, same thing, it's like they never existed -_-)
It's about action, uh ? How can there be action if you're not able to do anything or that only works once in a blue moon ?
So far, no depth, no stability, IMO it's already dead. Like we say here : "Un "tiens !" vaut mieux que deux "tu l'auras". " ("a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" says internet translators)
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