Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: New sorts of tech tree for future games? A suggestion introducing unique tech trees

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    12

    New sorts of tech tree for future games? A suggestion introducing unique tech trees

    Hello!

    Not sure if this is the right place, but I have a few issues with the current tech tree in civ games I'd like to discuss. Obviously, I have no hope of this actually leading to a change, but I'd welcome a discussion about the ideas anyway - they aren't exactly fully developed yet. And apologies if similar thoughts have been aired before, I haven't been here in quite a while.

    TL;DR-Summary

    The following is a suggestion to remodel the tech tree, and to make a large part of it optional. Scientific progress has many applications, but not every application is necessary for every civ. Not all civs needs to develop nuclear subs, or to develop the engineering/botanical skills it takes to be able to build the Hanging Gardens. By making a large part of the tech tree optional in-game, you can tailor your civs technological progress to meet your in-game needs. Research the basic scientific principle – then research the special applications you need, disregard the rest. You might need to use Bronze Working to build spearmen, or even Hoplites. Your more peaceful neighbour might need it to build the Colossus. Different needs leads to different choices – this suggestion will allow just that. For the rest, read on.


    1. The issue with the current tech tree

    The Civ tech tree is a universal phenomenon, in that every civilisation will progress along identical tech trees. Progress may be made at different rates, and the order in which the techs are researched may vary – but assuming that every civ survives to “fill out” the tech tree, each civ will end up with identical tech trees – and, excepting the nation-specific units – with identical applications of those technologies. Rather than resembling a tree, with different branches leading out in many different directions, the tech “tree” resembles a branchless trunk, as wide at the bottom as it is at the top.

    This denies the game of potentially very challenging and entertaining strategy choices. In civ 5, your unique military unit is handed to you depending on the civ you choose, not the in-game decisions you make. The only civ allowed to build Ships of the Line is the English, even if that civ happens to be completely landlocked during a particular game and so has no need to develop those kinds of ships. By allowing each civ to specialise their tech tree (a different application of the same principle that has been applied to social policies) the unique abilities seen in different civilisations can be made a strategic, in-game choice instead of a given fact at the start of the game – in the same way that playing as the English doesn’t prevent you from building the Eiffel Tower in-game. ANY civ can develop longbowmen. But if they want to, they need to allocate resources to research them before they can build them - resources that could also be used to discover other techs or applications.

    Any civilisation in the game will then be faced with decisions such as “should I allocate more resources to archery research in order to be able to train longbowmen, or should I settle for the weaker, normal archer – and spend the extra resources to develop better cavalry, or developing the technology needed to build wonders, or good cultural buildings?” You might prefer your research giving you better ships than your opponents, allowing you to build more advanced buildings, or improving your agriculture/economy/scientific/cultural progress. The decisions should be yours to make. These decisions will cause your civ to develop a unique tech tree compared to the rest of the world – even if the basic scientific principles behind the applications are similar. They will add a significant amount of strategy – tailoring your civs research to the needs that your civ have, prioritising some areas while downplaying others.

    2. An alternative solution: Fragment the tech-tree

    So the objective is to develop a system where every civ discovers the same basic scientific principles (the tree trunk), but where every civ can choose to apply those principles in different ways, according to their in-game needs (the branches). This is my proposal: Fragment the existing tech-tree into “base technologies” and special applications. The base technology is the tree trunk, in a hierarchal order – you still need to discover bronze working before you develop iron working. The special applications are the “branches”. These applications may be military, economical, cultural, scientific, or constructional (or other categories), and are independent of eachother. In order to advance further up along the tech tree, you need to have researched the base technology, and maybe a certain number of special applications. However, you don’t have to research every special application. Obviously, the resources needed to research all this will be adjusted, so that base tech + a certain # of special applications = the cost of the complete tech as it is in the current games. This is a matter of fine-tuning I won’t get into now.

    I’ve tried to illustrate this in the poorly made bmp below:



    Uploaded with ImageShack.us

    As in Civ-games today, you need to research bronze working before you can move on to research Iron working. This is the hierarchal tree “trunk”, or rather - part of the trunk. However, in order to be able to build units/buildings, you need to select your applications as well. For instance: you need a strong military, so you decide to research the basic military application, allowing you to build spearman. In order to ensure domination over your foes, you also choose to spend extra beakers towards military applications, and developing the military branch an even further step – giving you a stronger unit, the Hoplite. In order to do this, and not spend too much time getting to Iron Working, you decide to leave the cultural branch for now – so the cultural buildings and the Wonder will not be available to you yet.

    Other times, you may not need as strong a military – you might prefer to focus on the cultural aspects, allowing you to build bronze sculptures (cultural buildings), or even a Wonder. Or you might go for all or most of the possible applications – which will give you the most out of bronze working, but might mean that your opponents discover Iron Working before you do. Similarly, you might decide to skip the branches and go straight for Iron Working – but during that time, your forces will be vulnerable to the enemies who decided to use bronze to develop a strong military. And culturally, you might lag behind the civs that decided to use bronze working for cultural aspects. Some techs – such as writing – will have scientific applications, requiring you to spend extra resources in order to be able to build libraries. (Obviously, the branches won’t be locked just because you discover the next piece of the “trunk” – if you discover Iron Working, and it turns out you don’t have access to that much iron, you may still choose to research military applications of bronze working. The branches will remain open once they’re opened – but you need to allocate resources to them in order to develop them.) Similar choices needs to be made with other techs – the base technologies will generally resemble the hierarchal order of the tech tree as it is in civ5 today, but there will always be independent branches – maybe with several levels, as illustrated above. Obviously, you can also choose to build many “shallow” branches – getting some benefits from all special applications, but not the best ones that come with “full” branches (special units, Wonders, etc)

    This way, you need to make strategic choices in order to tailor your civs tech tree to your civs need – which might be different from game to game. And your enemies might surprise you in every new game as well. The Chinese might use every military application of horseback riding to develop elite cavalry in order to dominate the open terrain they happened to be located near in this particular game, causing the nearby Americans to spend extra resources on developing Hoplites to counter them – and so on. You – and the AI – will need to make dynamic, strategic decisions with regard to the tech tree based on what is happening in that particular game. The result: Truly unique civs with different tech trees. Specialised militaristic, economical or cultural civs developing full “branches”, for instance – or balanced civs trying to develop many “shallow” branches instead of a few “full” ones.

    Obviously, a rearrangement of techs, as well as new applications might be necessary. Some application can be pure bonus effects – in the same way as the “farms yield +1 food”-effect in some techs work today. For instance, military application of a hypothetical “Organisational Theory”-tech might grant your units a bonus, either in experience or strength, while an economical application might grant you a gold bonus.

    So, what does everyone think?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    India
    Posts
    8

    Thumbs up

    I also think that the way to go for future civilization as it will make the game far more challenging. Instead of going for a few proven strategies we'll have to go for a lot of planning. There should be some way so that players not have to go through every technology in the tech tree.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    1,548
    I see you've worked very hard and put a lot of thought into this. No doubt you feel proud. So, let me be the first to exhibit utter disregard for all of that and flippantly declare "hmmm...nah, it's different. I don't like it. Ain't broke, don' fix it. Poo-poo, I say!" Now we can go back to arguing about the proper color scheme for a civ, or better yet...Poland, anyone?



    Seriously though, I love posts like this that show a genuine desire to improve the game's fundamentals. Certainly, this wouldn't be the first 4X game to offer different civ's different tech trees. The current system of assigning uniques is often peculiar. If I want to replace a mounted unit with one that doesn't require horses, I still have to research equestrian techs, for instance.

    Five-star rating.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    352
    Nice idea, really like it!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    846
    Well, yeah, the Civ5 tech tree used to be more like that when the game started.

    But it seemed players were choosing express paths to killer units and alternative strategies weren't competitive so they made everyone go through the same path.

    Then they thought that one path enabled you to get to a particular winning condition faster than other ones, so they made everybody go through the same node.

    So they've balanced the game by steadily eliminating choice. The number of possible routes through the tech tree is now a tiny fraction of what it originally was.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    12
    Quote Originally Posted by eastkitton View Post
    But it seemed players were choosing express paths to killer units and alternative strategies weren't competitive so they made everyone go through the same path.
    There is a difference. With the current system, the express path to swordsmen automatically gives you the spearman, because you need to discover bronze working before iron working. With the proposed system, the express path to swordsmen means never developing spearmen at all. The same goes for every unit in the game. So choosing the express path to tanks from the start might get you creamed very early, because the enemies that chose to develop Hoplites are killing your Warriors. And so on.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrimner View Post
    There is a difference. With the current system, the express path to swordsmen automatically gives you the spearman, because you need to discover bronze working before iron working. With the proposed system, the express path to swordsmen means never developing spearmen at all. The same goes for every unit in the game. So choosing the express path to tanks from the start might get you creamed very early, because the enemies that chose to develop Hoplites are killing your Warriors. And so on.
    Perhaps one idea for providing variable paths of development would be to have two or more military lines, and two or more peaceful lines of technology application at various junctures.

    So that you could concentrate on, say, developing a new kind of sea-fearing vessel or, say, a new melee weapon type. This way you could adapt to your circumstances, but since everybody chooses both some military, and some peaceful path of application, there is less of a risk of military disparity for civs of similar level of technology.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    846
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrimner View Post
    There is a difference. With the current system, the express path to swordsmen automatically gives you the spearman, because you need to discover bronze working before iron working. With the proposed system, the express path to swordsmen means never developing spearmen at all. The same goes for every unit in the game. So choosing the express path to tanks from the start might get you creamed very early, because the enemies that chose to develop Hoplites are killing your Warriors. And so on.
    Then you're likely to get rock-scissor-paper scenarios.

    Take Age of Empires (2): Horsemen kill Archers. Archers kill Pikemen. Pikemen kill Horsemen.

    The AI has a simple strategy: it chooses one of these at random and builds a stack of them and comes over and attacks you. You had better guess right because you don't have the resources to build a defence to more than one. If you guess wrong you might survive for the moment but your economy is hopelessly crippled. (You can't do the same to them since they start with big defence - walls.)

    So in a hypothetical Civ, what are you going to defend against? The guy to your west who goes for early attack unit Alpha, or the guy to the east who buypasses that to beeline later attack unit Beta? You can't defend against everything and in a game with a large number of opposing AIs there will somewhere be a bullet with your name on it.

    Your only viable strategy is to roll the dice and attack someone. You might get lucky with what they are building. You might be unlucky but it's a forced gamble.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    1,548
    Quote Originally Posted by eastkitton View Post
    So in a hypothetical Civ, what are you going to defend against? The guy to your west who goes for early attack unit Alpha, or the guy to the east who buypasses that to beeline later attack unit Beta? You can't defend against everything and in a game with a large number of opposing AIs there will somewhere be a bullet with your name on it.

    Your only viable strategy is to roll the dice and attack someone. You might get lucky with what they are building. You might be unlucky but it's a forced gamble.
    Well, if I was pinned between tow potential enemies, my viable strategy is to go for defensive techs and build a defensive army. I just have to generate enought to look like too much effort. "You don't have to be faster than the tiger..."

    Then, at some point you hope to forge a mutually-beneficial relationship with at least one of the civ's. This assumes that in this hypothetical civ that A) mechanics exist that provide mutually-beneficial relationships, and B) the AI is programmed to weigh the benefits of such mechanics against the benefits of warmongering. I'd also throw in a tentative C) some civ's prioritize the former while others prioritize the latter. I don't mind being stuck between warmongers, as long as sometimes I'm stuck between two trademongers.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    13
    The effect of unique tech trees?

    Look no further than Starcraft. If there's one huge complaint that comes out of that community, it's Balance. Often, the complaints can be summed in two letters: "OP" (overpowered). Now imagine trying to balance the number of Civs according to individual tech trees. That will be a nightmare for developers.

    Don't get me wrong here. It'd be fun to see how different Civilizations with different tech trees interact. For each tech, different Civilization have to be able to counter the others, or else domination by one or another will simply become too easy.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    12
    Quote Originally Posted by eastkitton View Post
    Then you're likely to get rock-scissor-paper scenarios.

    Take Age of Empires (2): Horsemen kill Archers. Archers kill Pikemen. Pikemen kill Horsemen.
    Well, first of all, that's a truth that can be modified. Enhancing the differences between units and the significance of different terrain might alter that dramatically. Anyone who played around with the settings of Alpha Centauri knows that the Rocks-scissor-paper scenarios quickly seized to apply - if you multiplied the bonuses, some sorts of units could excel in some sorts of terrain, but could be decisively overmatched in others. Archers might get mowed down by horsemen in the open - but if you fortify them in the woods, the horsemen would take huge casualties attempting to assault them. True, civ-games have terrain bonuses, but nowhere near differentiated enough - or unit-specific enough.
    I briefly commented on this earlier - a civ that's mainly located near open plains would have a much bigger incentive to develop strong cavalry than a civ confined by massive forests. This cannot be decided by a pre-game decision (e.g.: "The greeks get champion cavalry"), it should be decided by you, or the AI.

    Besides, the applications are supposed to be less "expensive" to develop than the main tech. So when facing hordes of enemy cavalry, developing pikemen - provided you already have the base tech - won't take nearly as many turns as developing a tech in current civ-games. Sure, you might lose a few cities during the time you need to research that application. But that's basically the point, such advantages should shift to-and-fro, based on the standard sword-vs-shiels arms race.

    Secondly, going for express paths to strong military units with the suggested system means eliminating everything else. No cultural or recreational buildings. No wonders. No scientific buildings. So the player who keeps applying their resources only towards the best military units will eventually face these problems:
    - Lack of cultural buildings means severely arrested development wrt social policies
    - Lack of recreational buildings AND lack of culture means your civ will face grave problems with unhappiness. This wil increase with conquests, and as long as no research is spent iot remedy the problem, there will be no way out.
    - Lack of scientific buildings mean less overall progress scientifically

    And of course, that civ will not benefit from any effects from Wonders, since they never spend any resources developing them.
    This is the main difference between this system and ordinary tech trees. The "express path" to the best military units with the current system automatically give you the ability to build recreational, cultural and scientifical buildings - as well as wonders. This system does not. If you want to build colosseums, you will need to research the appropriate - non-military - application. Express paths to the best military units thus means giving up significant benefits in this system, and that will cause grave problems. If you want to avoid that, you'll have to choose a more balances approach. And that might mean going for more fully-developed military branches in times when you're at war, and going for fully-developed cultural branches during times of peace.

    The effect of unique tech trees?

    Look no further than Starcraft.
    This system does not suggest tech trees that are by definition unique to every civ. It suggests a tech system which is universal - any civ might choose any path it might desire. Nothing prevents two civs from developing identical tech trees, if they should so choose. However, since every civ might have different needs, the tech trees will wind up unique. Not because a designer said so, but because you - or the AI - make(s) different decisions in that specific game.
    Last edited by Andrimner; 02-22-2013 at 11:53 AM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    846
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrimner View Post
    - Lack of cultural buildings
    Get them by conquest

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrimner View Post

    - Lack of recreational buildings
    Get them by conquest

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrimner View Post

    - Lack of scientific buildings
    Get them by conquest.
    Also, your extra population generates more science.

    Meanwhile, your opponents have their own problem:

    Lack of cities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrimner View Post
    ...grave problems with unhappiness. This will increase with conquests, and as long as no research is spent to remedy the problem
    So you catch up.

    Whether or not this is an insurmountable problem for you, the AI, with their big start in Happiness, will just love the express military path.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Republic of New Zealand
    Posts
    1,112
    I'm definitely in favour of a more varied tech tree, although I'm not sure limiting it is the way to go. I'd prefer to see something with more paths, more beeline opportunities, and unique techs. As it is now, Gunpowder becomes available in the Renaissance era for everyone. What I'd like to see is something like this:
    China has gunpowder available in Classical era
    'Chinese Gunpowder' has peaceful, cultural aspects (eg. Fireworks maker)
    'Chinese Gunpowder' does not have musketmen or Himeji Castle
    Musketmen require additional tech (Guns?) or being in Renaissance era
    Himeji Castle requires additional tech (Physics?)

    I'd also like the tech tree to be wider (Vertically) with more dead-ends.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    12
    Quote Originally Posted by eastkitton View Post
    Get them by conquest
    I think you overestimate this possibility, for several reasons.
    1. The express path to elite military unit A does not include elite miitary unit B. If you choose to develop Hoplites, it will take you longer to get Legions. If you disregard everything iot get Legions, your balanced enemies will counter your warriors with ordinary spearmen. And so on. Sure, enemies might spend more on other application, which means you might have a quicker overall progress, but that doesn't necessarily mean you can easily "get" those buildings by conquest, because:
    2. Your balanced enemies will have more production bonuses, and more land because of cultural/constructional bonuses you don't have. This means they'll be able to produce more units than you will. And
    3. You'll still be dependent on the fact that the cities you do conquer will have built those buildings, and that those buildings are not destroyed in the conquest (remember, this isn't about civ V - other aspects may be different). If these buildings are in every enemy town, that means the enemy is already much more developed than you, which means they have significant bonuses in production, gold and science. And
    4. If you are never able to get any bonuses giving you adequate amounts of gold, those buildings will eventually disappear. Presumably, you have a massive military to support - but you cannot construct any gold-boosting buildings, and your workers can't build the necessary improvements over resources. Sure, you might get SOME by conquest. But probably not enough. And when the conquered buildings start to go, your problems worsen. The same goes for happiness.

    I do not share your concern that the AI would ONLY choose the express path to elite military units. That means using every available resource to produce such units. The equivalent in todays civ V would be to ignore everything else to produce large quantities of military units iot create an ever growing army. That would mean that the AI would NEVER "waste" production on buildings, wonders, etc. And they certainly wouldn't pick any social policies until they'd filled up the "Honor" tree, since that'll give them the biggest military bonus. But this doesn't happen. For the same - and other - reasons, I don't think the fragmented tech tree will mean "express paths" to the elite military units for the AI. I don't think it will mean that for the player either, although the players will be able to choose it - because it will probably lead to an unsustainable civ.
    Last edited by Andrimner; 02-23-2013 at 03:28 AM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    1,258
    I've been lurking around this thread for a while. I just want to say that I think the idea of a fragmented tech tree with a trunk and branches is pure win and something that would lift the game on many levels. Not only would it add a lot of strategy to the game, it would also remove some of the current bad design problems - for instance (worse in vanilla than G&K but still) it always annoyed me that if you research Iron Working and don't have acces to Iron and decide you wannt go for the Musketman and head for Gunpowder, you need to research Steel which opens for the Longswordman - which is a lot of wasted effort because you can't build Longswordmen without Iron. So clearly you should be able to skip on that part.

    Also this model fits with another idea I've mentioned before, namely the idea of "technological wonders" - or to put it into this context, some branches can only be researched by one civilization, which will then have monopoly over the benefits of this branch. This could be coupled to Unique Units, but need not necessarily be restricted to that (and can also be de-coupled from this for balance reasons) - for instance, remember how in Civ4 there were random events that would say that you have discovered the ability to breed extra fine horses, giving your stables a gold bonus, or something like that? These things could be technological "wonders", so that once you discover Horseriding, you can research a branch which will give you this benefit, but only one civ can research this.

    About UU, one might make it so that Longbowmen for instance was a subbranch below the Archer (so once you have researched the Archer you can continue to research Longbowmen) - but that the English got the "technology" for free, so that they always are able to build Longbowmen as soon as they would normally be able to research this skill. As to whether the "Unique" units should be something that could (otherwise) only be able to research once per game or free for all, I'm not sure - on one hand, it would make it more worthwhile, on the other hand it would potentially make for very dangerous run-aways who would be able to monopolize all the UU's of later game.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •