Saturday, April 14, 2018
Making a Better 4X (Part 1)
Go. Compared to Go, chess has a fairly limited moveset; hence the reason it's good at the latter and not so hot at the former. Lanes also create some interesting strategic options that are lacking in the other two forms of FTL. That said, I don't think Warp and Gates should be excluded entirely. When you get down to it trying to travel from one planet to another, even within the confines of a single star system, can be a real headache both logistically and in terms of resources needed. Therefore, I think having some kind of Warp drive, even if only capable of sub-light speeds, would be an extremely useful component of any interstellar empire wanting to accomplish things on human timescales. As for Lanes and Gates, I think combining the two technologies could create some interesting choices for the player. Assume for a moment that each star system (on top of planets, moons and asteroid belts) has a bunch of nodes that connect to other nodes in neighboring systems. Building a gate at a node opens up that connection...here's the catch though, it's a one-way trip until a gate is set up on the other end. So instead of sending scout ships or a science vessel (depending on the 4X) the player must mount a resource intensive expedition complete with a survey team and construction ship to set up the gate on the other end. In this way it becomes very important for the player to consider where they want to focus their "stellar cartography" efforts. Some nodes with more distant connections require more advanced gates to utilize which can only be accessed through technological advancement. In this way new routes will become available as the game progresses, creating shortcuts and unlocking new areas for exploration or avenues of attack while still keeping things within the star cluster generated at the start of the game. In fact there's a lot this sort of FTL arrangement adds to wartime strategies, but I'll discuss that in more detail in the section on warfare.
Whew! Long post...expect more in about a week where I'll continue this space 4X examination by continuing with the next item on the list - colonization.