View Full Version : Increasing Feedback/Influence

06-27-2012, 08:53 AM
I'm going to move a sub-discussion from this (http://www.soldak.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5208) thread, since I think it deserves its own thread. The discussion is, how can the player feel like he's affecting the world.

One of the feelings for me, in Drox, is that I'm more 'along for the ride' than having any significant influence in the game. You can tell you're influencing things, sure, because the one you're completing quests for is usually ahead by some margin. I posted most of my thoughts on that here for anyone who's that interested:

That said, I'm wondering if it's simply a matter of improving the influence and methods of influence of the operative that will make a significant dent in the problem. Right now it seems the Operative really has little chance of deciding who will win after the first 10 to 15 minutes of the game. It's pretty much on a runaway course and you need to pick the right side. Which basically ends up as non-aggression with everyone you can and then ally with whoever's got the biggest alliance already setup.

In the end, I think a combination of a few things will actually make the operative more of a 'balancing point' for the sector than the ant-like being they currently are.

Slow down the 4x events so the Operative has a chance to see what the sector looks like before war has broken out killing off entire races of people they've never even heard of.
Increase the effectiveness of rumors started by the operative.
Make technological gains more decisive and less likely to be researched by most races. Make the bonuses seriously count to give each race personality, and lower everything else.
Lower the impact of planetary defender ships so that an operative has a chance at actually defeating them in a time of war.
Sub-item to the above, running weapons to a planet that is at war with you is nearly impossible, this needs to be adjusted so you can actually get planets to 'turn'.
Make Terraforming and Drox Colonization have more impact, so that the Drox has more effect on which races can expand faster. Nothing says 'Why did I care?' as much as a colonization quest that's obsolete before you can even pick up the component.
Have the races actually help you in return by giving you the location of where they'd like your assistance. It's rather annoying that they want you to scan a planet they found but you have no idea where it is until you've mowed the lawn in a system.
Increase the number of options for the Drox to invest into a particular culture. Examples would be: Building/donating a defensive station for them. Able to directly purchase technology sold directly to a culture eventually. Refitting their warships directly with found/stolen goods.
Allow the Drox to assist in leading 'campaigns' against a particular enemy. In this example, the Drox would be part of, or possibly leading, a small fleet of a particular race in war time. Trade Convoys could have a similar mechanic.
Lengthen the time in a sector so you actually care about who you've been building up for a while. As it stands you usually barely have it half to 2/3s mapped before the sector's completed on anything but tiny.

Increase the effect a Drox Operative can have on any particular race, lower the 4x 'wave' that carries you along for the ride feeling like nothing but an observer, and involve the Drox more directly into the different races and I think you'll find that you end up involving yourself more directly into any particular race than you would otherwise.

Your suggestions are good. Some have been already mentioned by others (political quests of fighting wars are definitely missing in the game) and some are new.

Getting back to DC as an example, though, in DC you have full control of whether the town will be won or lost. And yet, take away the victory/loss conditions, and the game becomes bland.

The question you're addressing is how much of an influence should the player have on the shape of the game, and it's related to the question in this thread, though it's not identical. In DC, the game is your adversary and it's a zero-sum game: either you win or the game beats you. The result is that it's much easier to feel your impact on the game world: if you don't do anything, you lose. In DoP we already see more complicated conditions: you may do really well, but it doesn't automatically guarantee victory for your covenant. In reality, it usually does since the game translates quest completion to influence, but you could potentially have a stronger covenant trail you for the whole game, or even defeat you with a surprise attack. On the other hand, doing nothing in DoP doesn't automatically mean you'll lose -- you could just be a weak covenant that gets lucky.

Drox takes those complicated conditions a step further. Because you're an assistant to the races, it's not clear what should happen when you don't do anything vs when you do act. This is a tough act to balance. You want to give feedback to the player that he's making a difference without automatically changing the strategic game just because the player did something -- it seems like helping a minor race through some quests shouldn't automatically make that race dominant.

I think perhaps the most helpful thing in this regard is to increase feedback as much as possible. 4x games traditionally have specialized screens displaying the productivity of each planet, the number of ships each ally has, or the state of war against enemies. Such screens would show you if a planet is lagging behind in production or doing badly, or how much the mission you carried out helped advance the cause. Feedback is the most important thing here, and there needs to be a way to see what your influence is in the big scheme of things. There's just no way to understand your role in the game by looking only at the space surrounding your ship. In DoP, you could get a complete picture of how a covenant is doing by looking at their influence level and their covenant members. Here, you need a much more detailed examination of a faction. This is also where spying can come into the picture btw.

The questions for this thread are:
- How much influence should the player have on the game world? What if the player doesn't do anything?
- How can feedback be increased as much as possible? My suggestions so far are to have screens for planet productivity, for examining a race's navy, and for analyzing the progress of a war. These screens would make it much clearer that you're having an impact.

06-27-2012, 09:02 AM
The questions for this thread are:
1) How much influence should the player have on the game world? What if the player doesn't do anything?
2) How can feedback be increased as much as possible? My suggestions so far are to have screens for planet productivity, for examining a race's navy, and for analyzing the progress of a war. These screens would make it much clearer that you're having an impact.

1) Player must not be center of the game, races wars are center. If player doesn't do anything, races could destroy each other: if anyone left, Drox cannot win!
2) minimap and map:
- minimap: should releal everything on system when discovered except cloacked ships. Planets, moving ships, static defences, anomalies, big monsters, even conflicts between different races fleets
- map: describe where fleet are moving between systems, where races planet worlds are => player must know where races are expanding and how war are going on

06-27-2012, 09:07 AM
I think the player's choices should have a lot more influence reputation wise.

For instance, if you take a quest to deliver zombies to an enemy planet, which should effectively terminate it, if they aren't helped, the consequences are -

Quest giver - "You annihilated an enemy world with zombies!!! +1.5 rep!"
Quest target - "You attempted to commit genocide on our planet!! -1.5 rep for you!"

On a scale of 100 relations, this isn't making a lot of sense.

06-27-2012, 09:18 AM
One suggestion I really agree with is slowing down the 4x. There's just too much to do, too many monsters to kill, and too many systems to go to to be able to pay attention to the 4x when it's so fast. I'm not sure how that would work practically. Perhaps if there was more feedback (screens) about the 4x it would be easier to keep track of it.

On a related note, I think quests should show when they're about to expire with a different color or icon. There are so many quests, you have no idea when a race is about to give up on a quest and complete it themselves. In general, having quests auto-expire makes a lot less sense in Drox. I'm cool with quests ending because, for example, the delivery planet was destroyed. But if a race is about to do the quest themselves (because of an internal timer), there should be feedback that that's about to happen.

06-27-2012, 02:04 PM
One suggestion I really agree with is slowing down the 4x.

Yeah I agree. I actually think this is what the "slow" and "very slow" option should really mean when you start a new galaxy, how fast civilizations progress.