Scientific Advancement in Star Governor
Thursday, 16th November 2017
Most 4X games I've played have a model of scientific advancement that reveals discoveries in discrete steps. Either they have a technology tree where specific abilities become available at specific times and each leads to other possibilities, or they have several threads of scientific advancement each with its own "level" and associated range of technological items to build.
The problem with this model is that, eventually, scientific advancement must end. Eventually you discover all the technologies that have been built into the game, and further research is wasted. There were numerous games where I discovered everything in the universe before the end of the game, and proceeded to demolish all of my labs and universities to make room for something else.
I wanted to avoid that model in Star Governor. So I'm following the model of individual technological threads, but without the discrete levels of advancement. Instead, each technology will be a non-integer number that acts as a multiplier for your effectiveness in that technology. So if your star drive technology is 1.2, then your starships will move 20% faster than someone whose star drive technology is 1.0.
The model I envisage is that each player has a number of technologies, probably 21 if I can think of them, starting at a random number that averages 1.0. These technologies can be gradually increased by assigning population to research. To stop too much disparity between different players, I plan to make later stages more expensive. I haven't yet decided whether this is calculated independently for each technology, or whether concentrating on one area will make all scientific advancement a bit more expensive.
It shouldn't be too difficult to think of 21 different technologies. Different aspects of starship operation each needs its governing technology, like speed mentioned already. The various areas of planetary exploitation can be more or less efficient, and other economic activity (like construction) can be affected by technology. Advanced diplomatic methods might help in negotiations with non-player characters.
Hopefully this model, even with the increased expense of later advancement, will mean that science will have a part to play throughout the course of the game.