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Grand Strategy Stellar Monarch: Turn based 4X space empire builder

Discussion in 'Strategy and Simulation' started by Chris Koźmik, Apr 11, 2015.

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Your first impression

Poll closed Sep 27, 2019.
  1. Love it!

    7 vote(s)
    15.9%
  2. Like it

    18 vote(s)
    40.9%
  3. Depends

    6 vote(s)
    13.6%
  4. Maybe

    2 vote(s)
    4.5%
  5. Meh...

    5 vote(s)
    11.4%
  6. Dislike it

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. Hate it!

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  8. The OP is an idiot :)

    6 vote(s)
    13.6%
  1. Chris Koźmik Silver Lemur Games Developer

    Chris Koźmik
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2012
    Messages:
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    Edit: The game has been released.

    Official Website: http://www.silverlemurgames.com/stellarmonarch/





    Show Spoiler
    I'm making a 4X game for PC and I find it surprisingly hard to get any feedback. Then I remembered that rpgcodex has strategies subboard :)
    So, here it goes, the description of my upcoming game. I'm looking for feedback.


    Basic stuff:
    - Mechanic: Turn based
    - Genre: Strategy, 4X, Grand Strategy
    - Theme: Space Empire Builder (4X in sapce)
    - Platform: PC (probably more later, but overall desktop only)
    - Scheduled for release: late 2015 EDIT: the game got released
    - Current state: Prototype


    EDIT: PreOrder & Early Access (please read the disclaimer, that version is not very playable yet!) www.silverlemurgames.com/stellarmonarch

    EDIT 2: The game was released (2016)
    https://store.steampowered.com/app/446000/Stellar_Monarch/



    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    Note: here is a better quality picture http://www.silverlemur.com/pocketspaceempire/img/link/pse_screen_shipyard.png

    [​IMG]


    Core design choices:


    1) Feel like the Emperor, not like a logistics officer

    I find it annoying that, while I have played so many strategies, I never felt like a real Emperor, sure there are cool decisions to make and everything but... Where are audiences? As an Emperor I surely should grant audiences! Where are the assassination attempts (does everyone love me?), where are the true rebels that want to overthrow me (not just people who rebel because they are unhappy and starving, I mean real rebels, usurpers to the throne and other scum I should crush). Why can't I appoint governors and admirals (and I don't mean "having mere 4 heroes that can be governors/admirals", I mean selecting governors for *each* planet and commanders for *each* military formation). Instead I'm presented with choices like "what building to construct on planet X"...

    My first goal is to "fix" these.



    2) Fast paced, no micomanagement yet an epic scale

    I know many people would disagree, I guess it is a personal feeling, but I HATE micomanagement :) And no, I don't find "automated AI governors" a viable solution. Also I don't want to limit the game to a dozen of planets.

    So, I'm making a game where you are the Emperor of hundreds of planets (during testing I always start with 50 planets to get the feel of the bigger empire) and yet the game does not drag on. I made some controversial choices to achieve this, like you can't build any infrastructure on planets directly (with minor exceptions), also you can't move around individual ships (you operate with formations: fleets and squadrons).



    3 Asymmetic gameplay, truly alien aliens and challenging non cheating AI

    Since most of you are hardcore players that played a lot I will just drop some titles :)
    Andean Abyss, AI War: Fleet Command, At The Gates, Pandemic, Middle Earth Quest, Stronghold, Fury of Dracula (most of these are board games)

    I don't intend the AI and aliens to simulate the human player. Aliens are aliens. They have different goals, they do not "play the game" nor try to "prevent the player from winning". They just live in the galaxy and do their stuff (which frequently is an obstacle to the player, but not always). They also play by different rules (like some alien races having no ships at all and just use big rocks launched from their worlds as a transporter carrying insanely strong warriors that take the enemy planet from the ground - if these are not shot down upon approach).
    And so on, so on (think of these aliens more like of "forces of nature that prevents you to establish the galactic Empire". Note: you don't need to wipe out the whole galaxy to win the game.

    There are also some special scenarios, for example one where you start with 200-300 planets and try to crush the rebellion.


    Standard links: https://twitter.com/SilverLemur (Twitter, the most active), https://www.facebook.com/StellarMonarch (evil Facebook, bleh...), http://www.silverlemurgames.com/stellarmonarch/ (official website), https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCps-DZqxTNj7vrTMvSfml1A (YouTube channel)


    Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/blcMDr (only announcement about release/greenlit, etc - best for people mildly interested who don't want to forget about the project - first 2k subscribers will get a small cosmetic pack/DLC (like different gfx set, additional gfx of the imperial throne to choose from, etc))
     
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  2. Destroid Arcane

    Destroid
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    Text in the UI is very hard on the eyes, especially that shipyard screen.

    What engine/lib are you using to make it?
     
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  3. Stargazer_ Guest

    Stargazer_
    Seems cool, I agree with Destroid the UI text is a little rough on the Eyes.

    On a unrelated note shouldn't the Army be labeled as "Marines"? You know that silly space as an ocean trope.
     
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  4. Chris Koźmik Silver Lemur Games Developer

    Chris Koźmik
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    The picture got distorted by the imagehost, here is the original http://www.silverlemur.com/pocketspaceempire/img/link/pse_screen_shipyard.png is it still problematic?

    I use my own engine (based on SDL+OpenGL).

    Army section holds not only space marines but also territorial army, militia and planetary defensive installations. The "space marines" (which I named "Storm troopers" at the moment) are included as a subbutton inside Army.
     
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  5. Lone Wolf Arcane

    Lone Wolf
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    What's the scope of the game? Can I expect to be throwing around fleets of thousands of ships by game's end?

    Are there space opera-styled alien empires that throw around similar fleets? 'Alien' aliens is nice, and all, but I actually prefer the 'painted face' aliens. It gives me a comfortable framework to operate in.

    Questions aside, I really like the idea of fleets-in-being, rather than individual ships. And macro over micro is always good to see, in 4X games.
     
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  6. oscar Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    oscar
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    I (100% theoretically of course) came up with a similar idea for you playing an emperor in a sort of Dune/40K/Fading Suns type universe with Victoria II/AGEOD/HoI/EU:Rome/Dominion type mechanics (demographics, populations have political views and preferences, loyalty, people actually engage in economic activity and investment without being directly ordered, delegation, civil wars and pretenders, you influence strategy parameters but up to your generals and units to actually carry it out).

    For instance you tell an admiral to knock out a space fortress. He has a few long-range ships that outrange it. A cautious general simply bombards it until it is destroyed/surrenders, a more aggressive one will move ships in closer to get the job done more quickly even though there's now some risk, a suicidal lunatic general throws the entire fleet at it etc. You can also set general parameters for the operation (prioritise: speed, low casualties, conserve munitions, retreat permitted etc). Additionally the general's personality and politics might influence things:

    A daring/bold/undisciplined admiral gets sent to attack a fleet he has a big advantage over so conserve munitions is checked: however the enemy is reinforced by a large fleet mid-battle and now the fleets are even in strength so he overrides your conserve munitions order and uses the missile stores rather than be defeated. A cowardly or stickler-for-the-rules type guy might ignore this and follow the conserve munition even as the entire fleet is in flames (I remember a British officer in one of the Zulu Wars doing something similar).

    Likewise a childless emperor might be wary about entrusting the majority of his fleet to his envious younger brother.

    If retreat is permitted a stubborn general might still refuse to retreat while a cowardly one might retreat too easily. Likewise a general who is both brilliant and has the 'Political Connections' trait might make a successful retreat even if it is banned.

    Good luck with it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2015
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  7. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    Looks great, and the goal is great. Still, I am not sure if it'll work. For example, the "fast paced" and "no micromanagement" sound swell, but then I look at the starmap and the fleet management screens, which to look more complex than MOO2 and certainly MOO. I know you want scale, though, so maybe the problem is unavoidable. That said, I would definitely consider not having individual ships arrayed like that; if you're going for quick-and-streamlined, I would probably say that everything short of a battleship is just a number, and then the larger super-important ships could be customized a bit more.

    Anyway, this is surely one to keep an eye on.
     
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  8. Eyeball Arcane

    Eyeball
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    Protip: play Emperor of the Fading Suns. Then remake that, only without the bugs.

    Instant GOTY.
     
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  9. Chris Koźmik Silver Lemur Games Developer

    Chris Koźmik
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    Earlier. In the prototype there are around 100,000 ships total (aliens included) in the early game. But I think throwing around hundreds ships would be more accurate than thousands... Typical planetary defensive installation is 50 units and a squadron is 100-200 units. But the exact number is less important. I will try to balance it so the player is encouraged to upgrade/modernise the fleet, not just inflate the number of ships. For example you are limited (globally) by the crew availability (based on population), so you might want more modern shipos that have automatization and require less crew to operate. Also, during combat there would be soft limits/penalties if you have too big forces in one place (penalty to organization, tactics, coordination, etc if above 1,000 thousand tons), so you are discouraged to just group all units in one big "stack of doom".
    So, while you can have thousands/tenths of thousands of ships, hundreds of thousands would be impossible.

    Yes, aliens will have similar numbers (with many exceptions :D)
    One important note here, there won't be any "alien empires". There is only one Empire in the game, you, the player, run it (the game is strictly singleplayer). OK, I lied a bit, at the late game there would appear one strong extra galactical alien force which could be considered and empire sort of. But overall, aliens are more like "regional powers", interested in their part of the galaxy only (player is one of the very few really expansionistic races capable/willing of conquering the whole galaxy). Typical aliens (again, exceptions) are self contained to a certain radius out of their homeworld, so, even if the player made a big mistake he won't be immediatelly exterminated by join forces of all aliens from all parts of the galaxy. Overall, usually there won't be "wars till total extermination of the enemy", it would be more like "grabbing several border planets from the neighbour". Also, it would be frequently/sometimes undiserable to annihilate an alien race, like if that race is civilized (humanoids) you usually want them to survive so they are a buffer to more vicious kinds of aliens (it's better to be surrounded by hostile humanoid races than by the insectoid hive or the parasites). So, strategically, it might be frequently more benefitial to let the opponent live an merely make them understand and accept who is the biggest meaniest dog in the garden :D


    Explanation of how the fleet system works: http://silverlemur.tumblr.com/post/110151975596/fleets-squadrons


    Well... it's all about proportions I guess :) While what you wrote resonates well with my design, I would not phrase it that way. I mean, I want the subjects (AI controlled) to deal with all low level stuff (automated sending ships around, building basic planetary infrastructure, tactical combat), but let the player do the high level stuff (where each squadron should be, who we are at war with, which planet to conquer/colonize, what is the specialization of the planet, who is appointed to which office, what kind of ruins imperial archeologists are to excavate first).


    Yes, it will be more complex than MOO1/2. But not terribly more complex.
    Note, what you see on the map are not ships but squadrons, the ships are the number displayed on the squadron flag. And you see there all squadrons of all races (the screen was taken with infinite recon option, so typically it will look much less cluttered).
     
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  10. Norfleet Moderator

    Norfleet
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    Well, just make sure that the subjects do this job well, or at least plausibly. There's nothing more irritating than being UNABLE to do anything about an AI assistant that consistently behaves moronically without any justification or solution. At least if it only happens because that specific governor is incompetent, you can have him executed for incompetence.

    It should also be noted that fighting is cool and players like to do fighting, while AIs are almost always utterly wretched at it. Consider letting players fight. Perhaps the Emperor's Own Flagship can be there.
     
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  11. Galdred Studio Draconis Patron Developer

    Galdred
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    I think it is less frustrating to have subjects be abstracted than AI controlled. MOO1 didn't have tons of buildings per planet for instance, just a raw number of factories and defences, with a tech level, which abstracted all the individual buildings of MOO2.

    Concerning smaller ships, I think a good compromise would be for the Emperor to chose the fleet doctrine : composition of a taskforce for instance, which would be centered around a big flagship (carrier or battleship), then the cruiser/frigates would be automatically built from shipyards (it is more or less the way World in Flames dealt with ships : you built battleships, battlecruisers and carriers, and the picket and screening ships were assumed to be included in the cost and reflected in the stats).
     
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  12. Raghar Arcane

    Raghar
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    Is this noncommercial freeware?

    You need to look at why empires have some internal problems, if you want to add some intrigue, and other stuff. Also you should look at emperor of fading suns, they implemented only 1/3 of what was necessary.
     
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  13. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    Back when, like Oscar, I was fantasizing about a game like this, one feature that I believe was novel to me was that technology would have an upkeep cost (in research). It's stylized and a bit odd, but the idea would be (my game had a long time scale) that I was trying to simulate the fall of the Roman Empire, and one of the things that happens is that when economies contract and so forth, cultural and scientific advancements fade. My game was a "hold back the tide" type game -- you always lost, it was just a matter of time -- followed by a restoration, and the tech upkeep costs were such that you'd have to start making guns-or-butter decisions like, "Do I keep a robust legal system and disband the tenth legion?" in the early phases of the game. Then you'd later regain technologies and so forth.

    (There were technologies (like literacy) that reduced tech upkeep costs, and buildings that did the same (libraries, for example).)

    Anyway, something to consider. If your timescale is a normal human leader's lifespan, it won't quite work, of course. But if this is the God Emperor of WH40k type emperor we're talking about, I think it would work nicely.
     
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  14. fastjack Augur

    fastjack
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    I believe Emperor of the Fading Suns had research upkeep, iirc it was too small to be a real factor but I liked the idea.
     
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  15. whatevername Arcane

    whatevername
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    Why do you need finances as an emperor? You just say - "Bitches, build a me death star". - "Right away, Emperor Palpatine"
     
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  16. Norfleet Moderator

    Norfleet
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    One interestingly useful approach I've seen to "tech advancement" that makes DE-advancement possible is that, instead of a tech tree and research at all, just make the entire thing based on infrastructure. You build things, that allow you to build things, that allow you to build things. If your planet gets nuked into the Stone Age, you lose the "tech", which, in games, basically translates as "ability to build things". An example of this is seen in the older Total War games: There was no tech tree, your ability to build advanced things and sustain advanced levels of development was based on the province's infrastructure. If something went through and burned the entire place to the ground, or development simply stalled because the people of the area spent all their time fighting for survival rather than building up, well, that area was primitive. After all, ultimately, in the game, it doesn't matter so much whether you "know" or "don't know" a tech, so much as whether or not you can DO it. Gamewise, "know of but can't do" is basically the same exact thing as "don't have the tech": You can't do it.
     
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  17. raw Arcane Patron

    raw
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    PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015
    how do you want to archive competitive starting locations (or situations, if you want to do it along the arrow of time aswell)?
     
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  18. Norfleet Moderator

    Norfleet
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    I'm not sure what you're trying to say.
     
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  19. Destroid Arcane

    Destroid
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    I like the idea of codifying this into an actual game concept, but most 4x already have this at play in a sense. There's no point trying to build your top of the line battleships at a backwater colony that you never developed with modern production facilities because it will be so slow the war will be over before it builds anything.
     
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  20. Norfleet Moderator

    Norfleet
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    Sure there is, you just press the "BUY NOW" button and pay somewhere between a fuckton and a paltry handful of monies. Many of them have it. In any case, there's no sense that technological progression can be inverted in any way here: You're still capable of constructing the same advanced warships as before, it's just that your backwater colony's infrastructure makes constructing BIG ones infeasible. Putting out a few advanced frigates is still well within the grasp, and the frigates are probably as advanced or more so than the battleship is, as the expense of battleships tends to give them a bit more longevity than a cheaply updated frigate. There's no sense that anything is ever lost. The ability to construct things never actually becomes Lostech. You won't find yourself in possession of a limited number of advanced lostech components that you no longer have the capability to produce anytime soon.
     
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  21. Chris Koźmik Silver Lemur Games Developer

    Chris Koźmik
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    You mean tactical combat?

    EXACTLY! :) I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks that way. Automated subjects (like governors) that do things you could do too but which are too boring are no fun, instead the concept should be abstracted and the system let *only* the subjects do the stuff, not you (then you can have events like "the governor spend the planetary budget on upgrading his mansion instead of making new factories" :D), your job as the Emperor would be to only get rid of the most incompetent of them (but if the incompetent one is loyal and you fear the rebellion maybe it's a good idea to keep this moron on his post (and accept the loses), just for your own safety?)

    The current system make you build all ships manually (but there is no traditional production queue, you can do it once every several turns du eo accumulation of "IndustrialCapacity" points, so it's not troublesome at all) but the rest (delivery of these ships to proper squadrtons, repairs, maintenance, upgrades) is done automarticly. So, you have a full contol on what is built but don't deal with trivialities like where every single ship should be at this moment). Actually, the decision what to build (and for which fleet) is a kind of doctrine I suppose.

    Commercial.
    Well, I played FS a bit, but the map and moving these units around was too troublesome to me so I just played like a few turns. But yeah, the mood of it was nice.

    Maybe that's why Palpatine was overthrown in the end? :D If he were to shout less and instead watched where the moonies flow maybe he would rule longer.

    First thing to say, the game won't be fair (balanced, but not fair). Aliens will start with basicly full blown economy and military and the player starts always in the middle surrounded by hostiles. Note, the game is strictly singleplayer. Also, the player will be perceived as "too weak to really bother" at the beginning, so the player kind of controls the pace of the game (to extend, there will be several "doom timers" so wasting time & playing innocent would not work long term). I would say the starting locations problem "does not apply", not for an asymmetric gameplay.
     
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  22. Executr Arbiter

    Executr
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    There's a neat mechanic I'm finding in the RoTK XI game, in which you ask your officers for plans of action. They then suggest some and you get to choose which one to follow. Their suggestions may be retarded (I've only played a few hours of it to know better), but you could use something like this to establish relations with your admirals and governors.

    Finally a game that does this. I love these ideas, they're something I've been thinking for a long time.

    I also recommend everyone reading this post on this blog about 4x's:
    http://www.big-game-theory.com/2013/02/a-failure-to-end-too-much-what-and-not.html


    About research, I've always liked the Age of Empires/Mythology age advancement. I believe none of the space 4x I've played had this mechanic. You could for example have the 1st Age (something like pre-FTL) where you could only colonize the star system which you started. Then on the next 2nd Age, the FTL-age, you would choose two different approaches, where some units and techs would be locked for each one (like the gods in Age of Mythology) but have different bonuses and other methods of travel. Subsequent ages would be the same, where you had two options for advancement. These ramifications could obviously share some techs, but I believe this would increase replayability.
     
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  23. Marobug Newbie

    Marobug
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    Argh this could be a nice little 4x game if it was free, as a commercial product it doesn't stand a chance in what is already a over saturated 4x market.
    Mimicking moo1 and 2 has been done to death already and I don't see what's significantly different here, plus there's FreeOrion for free which is pretty neat and is constantly improving.
     
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  24. tindrli Arcane

    tindrli
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    Where is that over saturated market?? i would like to see it
    for the last 10 years minimum.. and if you call that "constantly" then..
     
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  25. Destroid Arcane

    Destroid
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    There have been quite a few releases recently and still more on the horizon, mostly indie stuff. That said the quality is generally low and the price commanded high so I wouldn't be too worried about getting crowded out of the genre.

    This game doesn't sound at all like a MoO style 4x to me.
     
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