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New Game Mode (Battle/Instance/Challenge), New Game? 
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Preamble: much of what I'm proposing here seems to be the way the game is going anyway, and also takes in many bits of suggestions from others on the forum. I've done a bit of research and made every effort to stay sympathetic to the existing ethos of the game so far. I admire it for it's clean, intuitive do-don't-explain aesthetic that stays focused with no unnecessary, distracting mini-games. Like you say here, Arthur, I'd hope the primary effect of implementing any of these suggestions would be to give "more reasons to build spaceships" (with an economy of code changes).

Abstract: I'm thinking of something between the existing tournament mode and single player. Apparently Deluks already called for asteroids to be included in tournament (in part 3 of his 35K P fleet competition, according to Camo5 [Edit: here in video]). That would be cool, just add an option to auto-spawn a boulder field or whatever, but it's only the thin edge of the wedge I've been thinking about: There might be competitive uses for stations and non-military craft for resource collection in a microcosm of the main game. This (new) mode would tie in well with adding more direct player control over AI behaviours. It might allow those currently modding, and new enthusiasts, to build scenarios to be beaten, or an entire series of challenges that could even form a narrative.

As it happens, a few years back, I was scribbling down some ideas for making a game somewhat similar to Reassembly, seemingly from many of the same inspirations. A 2D space setting compressed into a more pragmatic petri-dish/microscope slide environment. So part of my excitement with your game was to see some of my vague notions brought to life, something I could not have done, in practice (got as far as trying spherical collision detection, which is hard enough!). But I was thinking of even more organically grown designs, emerging from a genetic code. I was also aiming to focus on the principle of conservation of mass (an important concept to me, as an (ex)physicist) and I knew that such constraints would make the result more of a simulation than a game. Something you've deftly avoided in making Reassembly super-compelling. Suggestions related to these ideas are towards the end of this post, as will probably be beyond the scope of even a fundamentally modified game mode, more suited for consideration in a sequel, if at all.

Minimal Implementation (Tweaked Tournaments):
  • Randomly generated boulder/plant/debris fields in tournament mode. Random, in line with the already randomised ship starting positions (that is presumably to help avoid exact repeats of fights).
  • Enabling a more cluttered battle environment would probably benefit brawlers at the expense of snipers and maybe even mine/projectile scattering spinners (to a degree).
  • Give the tournament host more control of the type of event they hold.
  • Give builders a slightly better idea of how their creations might behave as agents (or allies), in the single player galaxy.
New Game Mode (Unchanged Core Mechanics):
  • Entire map is simulated continuously, at least as big as the tournament arena (4x4 sectors, ish?).
  • God's eye view with dynamic zoom, no fog of war, as normal.
  • Players import (cluster.dat?) files specifying entire environment, instead of, or in addition to, challenge fleets.
  • Player aims for pre-defined victory conditions: annihilation (of all enemy modules), assassination of a key module, building their fleet up to a certain value, collecting a fixed amount of resources, building a win-button/monument (e.g. artificial worm-hole to progress to next mission), survival (to a fixed amount of time).
  • And/or time attack, with an (online?) leader board for best times.
Usage Examples:
  • Straight up (1v1) RTS like battle - each side starts with just their (factory equipped) command module which must grow into design from scratch, gather resources, spawn more allies, and fight for the winning condition. Situation spins out without player intervention (like tournaments now), since writing a brand new strategic RTS AI is out of scope and would change the style of the game too much anyway. Build order might be pre-specified, or (at minimum) simply determined by current system, according to ship P values, etc.
  • A kind of (inverse) tower defence, where a (massive, pre-made) structure must be breached by coming up with appropriate designs (maybe allow editing mid-battle).
  • Survival mode - verses a pre-programmed (or randomised) sequence of enemy ships. Basically Gratuitous Space Battles, but your ships might be able to spawn reinforcements using dropped resources.
  • Deck (design) building game - somewhat like Hearthstone or Pokemon (? I'm not into either). Choose which of your designs (or pre-made design lists) to play, in turn, in real time, limited by either: spawning 1 new command module per time period (from a fixed base), and/or by your resource pool. Tournament outcome seems pretty rock-paper-scissors already, so a fair bit of scope for tactics. Also, strategic decisions as to whether spending resources building resource generating capacity, etc. This almost certainly be off-line only, with opponents play order pre-specified, or randomised, to avoid the need for an entirely different type of game AI.

AI Enhancements (Ships): you are always going to get players calling for the AI to just do this or that a bit better, however good it gets (that game theoretic process you mentioned somewhere). Having (also) done a degree in Cybernetics/systems engineering, I'm deeply impressed with your pilot AI (and physics & block snapping, too), with the apparent use of almost emotional states to switch behaviours(?). But there's no way you can win while it's fighting itself, in particular. However, if players are given even rudimentary control over the AI behaviour of their ships, it could drastically reduce feeling of frustration, re-directing it towards thinking about possible design changes.

Minimal Options:
  • Fleet level tactical selection (saved with fleet file). E.g. close in aggressively / maintain distance / run(?), flock/disperse.
  • Ship level control (saved with ship file). As above, also whether to retreat or not when badly damaged, how long to pursue a behaviour before getting 'bored' and changing (complex), ship archetype (harvester, fighter, escort, sentry, etc).
  • Use weapon settings like key bindings from single player: "fire all" would literally fire all if any one has line of sight, default retreat if all primary (LMB) weapons destroyed, point defence weapons never used to decide positioning, etc.
  • Ship's (command module?) changes colour or symbol to indicate current behaviour (for clarity/player debugging).

Control blocks:
  • To modify ship behaviour away from default they would need a control block physically attached (and intact?). A trade-off that can be balanced.
  • Add a different block type for each behaviour, instead of hidden settings screens (with tick boxes and sliders). So you can fathom how a design should behave purely by looking at it, and damage may derange it's behaviour, or be used as a response system.
  • (Some) behaviour blocks might be directly connected to the block (or type of block?) they are to control - weapon, thrusters.
  • Chain-able for sequence or precedence.
  • Glow/animate when activated (visual feedback/debugging).

Mechanics Change Ideas:
  • Metamorphosis - programmed in upgrade sequence (or automatic selection from fleet file), so (some) ships will move up tiers instead of purely spawning new ships. (I see something like this happen already in single player, possibly at random?)
  • Factories could boost regeneration speed (diminishing returns for each extra module in range). Would give them an active role in (minimally tweaked) tournament mode. Could be required for any ship regeneration in a significantly modified game (mode).
  • May need to boost plant grow/death speed to facilitate reasonably quick build-up in pseudo-RTS mode.
[Reveal] Spoiler: Been recording some in-game time-lapses (co-incidentally).
ImageI really love the organic, natural feel of the in-game environment; it's relaxing to 'be' somewhere that feels alive. Worth the effort of coding the flora, I think. :)


Alternate Game - "Matter", "Smatter" (Smart Matter), My Vague Alternative Conception:
  • Mass (or matter) is 100% conserved.
  • Plants convert (and therefore consume) dumb matter (asteroids) into harvest-able smart matter (their bodies).
  • Specialised (less efficient) mining/refining tools are otherwise required to extract usable materials.
  • Ships must consume stored resources to rebuild damage (hull pieces would definitely have some cost).
  • Broken-off parts/wreckage is persistent, or coalesces back into (dumb) matter (or smatter) clumps.
  • If bits do 'evaporate' in the void, the mass balance con be conserved by generating output from 'white holes', like hydro-thermal vents (which would probably support some encampment).
  • Too different to be a mode or mod (so, sequel suggestion)..?
  • There's a "Smatter" outbreak as a key plot component of Ian M Banks' novel "Surface Detail", where orbital factories get infected and start pumping out weird designs/weapons, etc, infecting more factories and trying to spread further. Initially crushed easily by far more advanced culture craft, the outbreak adapts and evolves to overwhelm their advantage. I thought this might make for an interesting, heavily asymmetric game play: player either pilots a fixed "Blitterator" design (with upgrade rewards, at most), or commands the outbreak side (with designs that can be changed, mid battle, ideally). AI or human opponent. Probably tough to balance into game (would likely need fog of war to prevent super-ship side insta-winning).
  • Like the wreckage reclaim mechanic of Total Annihilation (or Supreme Commander) taken out to it's natural conclusion; I loved the 'flux economy' mechanic, as it made more sense, but 'mass points' seemed silly, when there's matter laying about everywhere on a planet. Space is a good way to ration access to building materials.
  • Conversely, the initial quantity of mass caps the total possible amount of units that could need simulating (even once it's all been put to use!).
  • 'Computronium' modules might need to be included in the agents to animate them at all, with each additional module accessing more of your computer's processing time, and therefore boosting unit's AI capabilities.
  • Communication/sensing modules would be needed to maintain control over units (from your unique command module). Disconnected units no longer feed back mapping info (don't reveal fog of war), will go independent after a while, do their own thing.
  • Units can be procedurally generated, like 4D printing, starting at the 'seed' (command) module, or fabricator, and linking out one connected piece at a time. Difficult to make complex designs by hand this way, but should fit better with computer evolved designs (via genetic algorithms, etc). A compromise (e.g. for Reassembly 2) might be to store ship designs as a branching network of connections (rather than absolute X-Y co-ordinates). So sections of design might be more easily duplicated. Physically impossible (clashing) part additions would just not get built, out in the virtual world. Messy, difficult stuff...
  • Additional tiers of less accessible materials might become available along the way, requiring greater energy for processing/extraction. First tier might be carbon based structures from a biosphere, then taking apart the planet's crust later on. It'd be a mini parable of the probable future mega engineering, as entire solar systems are transformed into animate matter and put to use (matrioshka brains, etc). A narrative I've long found compelling and hence worth communicating.
    Image
    My old scribbles.
    Not sure why, but have dug them out and stuck them up. (The memetic ethyomology interests me, I suppose.)

End note:
I throw out these (not especially inspired) ideas freely, with no intention of claiming any credit for anything. Sorry if any of this treads on directions that were already under development (for updates or a new project) - I've always hated being told/suggested to do something I was already about to do! :x :) Also, sorry if I've partially regurgitated someone else's suggestion from elsewhere, please feel free to post a link below and/or berate me! :P I'm just hoping something here might help spark discussion, maybe even help towards bettering an (already great) game...

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Last edited by ZeroGravitas on Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:50 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Sep 16, 2015 4:26 pm
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Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2015 3:04 am
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Quote:
Give the tournament host more control of the type of event they hold.

If people wanted to, we can change some match rules with simple cvar edits;
kTournamentMatchTime = 90.000
kTournamentMaxRadius = 1000.000
kTournamentRounds = 3


Quote:
Randomly generated boulder/plant/debris fields in tournament mode.

I'm not sure if everyone realizes this, but the tournament area is just a sector.
You can enter the console and hit P at the start of a match to freeze, then go ahead and add whatever you want via Sandbox commands.
Maybe: fill explosive 6 200
Or: region 13


Actual UI buttons to select this stuff would be cool though.

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Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:52 pm
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