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What do YOU want in SMAC2

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  • Drop-in SPs, other stuff

    Yeah, Cybergod, you're right about the SP movies. Running a quick check in /usr/local/games/smac/data/movies (I use the fabulous Linux port by Loki), the average SP movie is 7 megabytes, which means that they will (on average) take 20-25 minutes each to download if they stay MPEGs. However, (and, as a Linux user, it pains me to say this) they could provide a Windows *shudder* Media file (.wma) or QuickTime *shudder shudder* file (.mov) for about one-third the space.

    Several more things that I'd like to see (these were refreshed in my mind after a 14-hour SMAC-fest on my home box):

    1) Cross-platform MP:

    As it stands now, Linux (yay!) and Windows (boo!) copies of SMAC can't play against each other, because the Windows copy uses proprietary Microsoft networking. To go with my metaserver idea, it would be possible to run a server that acts as a go-between for the two platforms.

    2) Higher production values:

    The SP movies (especially for Clinical Immortality, if I remember correctly; the MPEGs don't play right with plaympeg, the Linux MPEG player outside of the game) are kinda lame in parts -- I mean, just look at the "Morgan TV" logo.

    3) Custom blurbs:

    The game needs a TTS (Text-to-Speech) engine and a set of pre-made voices. This would enable the game to have all sorts of cool things -- audio diplomacy, custom faction blurbs, and other fun stuff (it should, ideally, have a way to be disabled for low-spec machines).

    4) Sprite editor:

    If you look in your SMAC data directory, there are a whole mess of sprite files, like units.pcx. The only way to modify these is to use a graphics editor (Paint on Windoze, The GIMP on Linux), and even then it's dicey. A separate sprite editor (on the SMAC2 disk) would be nice.

    5) Concurrent development:

    I hated, and I'm sure the entire Linux community hated, too, the 9-12 month delay on the Loki port of SMAC/SMACX (their official explanation, from on Usenet, was the delay was due to packaging problems). If Loki still developed and sold the port, but Firaxis distributed it, it would be a boon to all future SMAC mod-packs, upgrades, or se(pre)quels, not to mention the fact that it would be a heck of a lot easier to find in stores.

    6) Printouts:

    I liked the feature in CivII of being able to print out a world map (in two different sizes) or information on your empire, including a colorful tech-tree. I'd like to see this come back in SMAC2.

    7) Client-server multiplayer model:

    I have a P3/933 box at home, and I dislike waiting for my multiplayer opponents' computers to crunch their numbers. All MP calcs should be centralized on the fastest computer available (by available, I mean that the player on the computer has already finished their turn and has nothing else to do with the CPU cycles) even though it would require more networking overhead; or, alternately, there could just be a client and server part to the game, as with FreeCiv (

    8) Base Assimilation:

    In the current SMAC, bases remain of the same architecture as their original founder, even after they have been captured. This doesn't look natural; I mean, should a Gaian-captured Hive base look the same as a normal Hive base? The architecture of a captured base should change over time (even a sharp change after x years would be OK).

    9) Better reactors, weight limits:

    As time goes on, movement tech improves; in SMAC, a fission reactor and a singularity engine provide the same oomph on a gravship, letting it move 8 spaces a turn. Improved reactors should improve movement rates.

    Infantry units don't need to carry around a quantum chamber or singularity engine -- it shouldn't improve their hit points or anything else; you strap a nuclear power plant to the back of a guy, and he can't withstand any more bullets -- in fact, he will be easier to defeat because he has a 1-ton backpack. There need to be "no reactor" and "biological reactor" (since humans do, indeed, convert energy from chemical to other forms) choices for those units that shouldn't or couldn't have reactors aboard.

    In the same vein, units should have a maximum weight based on their chassis, reactor, and other special improvements; all improvements should be assigned a weight, possibly lessened for space units (another idea I've seen thrown about in this thread). An infantry unit can't even carry a 10-ton fusion tokamak or an (even heavier) singularity engine. Fission tech shouldn't be enough to support a ship that levitates using applied gravitonics.

    10) More Missile Warheads:

    I like the new Fungal and Tectonic payloads for missiles (my favorite trick is to build the Xenoempathy Dome and a hell of a lot of Fungal Missiles, then sweep through enemy territory; they're great for terraforming, too -- use Fungal Missiles on your own bases, then build the Manifold Harmonics; you can use Tectonic Missiles and then Planet Busters if you want to keep that part of the map intact), but there are still only 4 types. I'd like to see biological, chemical, thermonuclear, and all sorts of other warheads; more atrocities, too. Along the same lines, missiles shouldn't just crash when they run out of fuel; they should blow up -- more fun that way, and with Planet Busters, you can build an instant canal without all of the trouble of terraforming.

    Just another $.20...


    • vogon_jeltz, I think that the base graphic does change to your style after a while - I think at the same time that its status changes from "captured base". I think that they plan some kind of "cultural" elements to make it harder to deal with new acquisitions.

      I like the ideas about leaving opportunities for customizing much of the audiovisual features.

      I like the idea of a spherical world too, although I shudder to think of the various programming headaches.

      The display of the sphere need not be terribly difficult however. I think that a view tapering off on the top and bottom with say one fewer tile in each upper/lower row would suggest a sphere; it would not have to taper to one tile at the top and bottom, but would still leave parts of the corners free for game controls, etc. The contents of the view would scroll to represent different points of view - you would be essentially looking at the globe from above, but close enough that you would only see a (presumably variable) fraction of the surface. Note that this would lead to a hex-like movement pattern with only 6 possible directions. I fear that this scheme might not really work as well as it is working in my mind and/or it would nasty-difficult to program for any but equatorial and maybe polar viewpoints.

      Another approach is to do away with discrete tile-boundaries. The computer could maintain some micro level positioning, but we would instead deal in areas of influence radiating from points where units/bases/improvements were located. We'd need P25's to handle the computations, but the programmers would need a few years to deal with it too.


      • I tend to side with C17 that I'm fine with the rules as they stand; foremost I just want an improved AI. This may not be as impossible as it sounds, i.e. not necessarily programming it to emulate human strategy, just little things. C17 already suggested adaptive unit design based on what the invaders got, now for their Builder game probably the biggest way the AI shoots themselves in the foot is inept terraforming. Farms & Mines in squares, farms & solar collectors in *arid* squares for god's sake, solar collectors and mines by themselves, stingy on forest planting, building condensers and then foresting *around* them, thereby nullifying the point of a condenser, etc. The AI never re-terraforms its squares either, regardless of how inappropiate their functions as the game moves on. If the AI simply used this model, their game would improve rapidly:

        Rolling & Moist/Rainy, Flat & Rainy: farm and solar collector.
        Rocky: road and mine, if more than three rocky squares in a base radius, level it.
        Arid, Flat & Moist: Forest.

        Then for special terraforming options, per base it should find one or two otherwise worthless squares in its radius, ideally flat & moist or arid squares, and build a borehore on them, using multiple formers.
        If there is a central location with a great deal of moist farming squares, drop a condensor on it. Ditto for Echelon Mirror in a middle of a lot of solar collectors.

        As soon as the base builds a tree farm, re-terraform over each rolling & moist square under 2000 meters in elevation with a forest.

        Once the base builds a hybrid forest, re-terraform over EVERYTHING except mines and boreholes.

        Though I love SMAC infinitely more than its precursor Civ II, I feel that Civ II gave a tougher game because there were less options for the AI to manipulate and take advantage off, especially in square improvement, which it basically did correctly. Civ II's AI seemed to also build a lot more base improvements (though I also suspect that game cheated a lot more).

        Well, at least the AI formers build roads and sensors right...
        "I wake. I work. I sleep. I die. The dark of space my only sky. My life is passed, and all I've been will never touch the earth again." --The Ballad of Sky Farm 3, Anonymous, Datalinks


        • Sorry for forgetting the name of the person who first suggested the "mercenaries"...

          Here's my take on your idea (above guy):

          If your base is running low on minerals because you can't suport the amount of units you would like to have, you should be able to turn desired units into mercenaries (sorry if I spelt it wrogn)! Simply right-click on the same square as the unit, or use some new short-cut key, and select "Trun into a mercenary" command. The mercenary unit will be different from other normal units - it would have a circle around the base of it's unit graphic and would have a floating M on the right side of it's flag. The mercenary units would have following advantages/disadvantages:

          * Don't take up minerals from your base production - they provide their own resources
          * Don't cause drone riots if out of territory - not really bound to your citizens

          * Use up your energy instead of minerals (-1 energy/turn/unit) - those people want hard cash
          * Can't be used as police units - they wouldn't care much about citizen disorder

          You should be able to have complete control over these unit. Maybe there should be a limit to how many of these you could have. And you could have a thing in your faction file that adds additional number of mercenaries your could have (or have "MERCENARY, 0" to completely stop you from having any of them!).

          (1) Agree
          (2) I don't understant the statement, please rephrase (gosh I sound like a computer terminal! NOOOOOO...). Maybe you meant the design of the movies, on which I agree for some, there should be more time and effort spent on them to make them interesting. I LOVE the Voice of Planet movie (don't know why) and in CtP (normal one), I like the ESP center movie (I know that you know what you know...). Whoops! Got a little off topic .
          (3) Hm... hear Miriam say her last prayers nefore my Sophoric Shard Choppers ? Or keep having Yang blabbing away how he dislikes me not running PS and going Demo? Or hear the screams after/during a Psi combat? Now that WOULD be wicked ! Joke aside, I never had a text-to-speech system so I don't know how complicated/simple that would be.
          (4) Maybe. I find Paintshop Pro quite sufficient
          (5) Definetly agree.
          (6) Hmm... interesting: "Here's the map before I used my ten singularity PBs... and here's after" *gasps*
          (7) I never played a proper internet game (apart from PBEM) to comment
          (8) But they already DO assimilate! Look at the same base you conquered after about 50 turns and see!
          (9) Kinda dissagree and gravships and other air units DO get movement bonuses from different reactors (I think).
          (10) Most definetly ! Idea: plague bomb - destroys farms + forests in its radius and, if there is a base(s) in its radius, cause the base(s) to have a virus!
          ... This body holding me reminds me of my own mortality...
          ... Pain is an illusion...