Tinkering With Tinkers

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Dacarnix
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Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby Dacarnix » Mon Feb 15, 2021 8:54 pm

A recent thread on the Steam forums brought me back to a topic I've considered a few times before - I believe the Tinkers have the potential to be much more compelling.

On the topic of Harmonized population units, Arioch stated "They are essentially a better version of slaves; they need to be carefully managed to keep them in line." Maybe I'm watching the 'wrong' SciFi relative to Arioch, but... huh? When I think about Cyborg aliens and Cybernetic enhancement, it's a very different image and interaction than thinking about slave planets with chained-up miners being worked to death.

Should the defining trait of the cyborg race really be that it has "better slaves"?

I don't think it should be. I think Tinkers would be more compelling and more evocative of their own SciFi tropes if:
[*] Harmonized population (even disconnected Harmonized population) always had 0 Morale
[*] An interconnected race of Cyborgs were not worked to death or experimented on to death (A. They have inhuman stamina. B. It makes no sense to do that to a member of the collective consciousness.)
[*] They had their own mechanic to replace the work-slaves-to-death / experiment-slaves-to-death one they've borrowed from the Gremak.

I think there are a few things that could be fun, and I don't mean any of these as "buffs" or "nerfs," just as ideas. All could be tuned as needed by adjusting pros and cons to make it fit.

Idea one is to push in on the interconnected theme by adjusting the production of Tinkers based on the number of Harmonized population units on the planet. The base value would be their disconnected value and would gain +1 with 5 or more Harmonized population units and +2 with 15 or more Harmonized population units (or something along those lines that is properly balanced).

Idea two is to push in on the cybernetic enhancement element and allow the populations of different planets to specialize. This, too, would require some adjustments to their base stats but would also allow fun interactions. The slavery buttons would change to (something along the lines of) "Construction Augments," "Excavation Enhancements," and "Neural Network," which would grant bonuses to production, mining, or research respectively. Again, not intended to be fully-baked and fully-balanced, just a starting point.

But either of these concepts, to me, would evoke a cybernetic race instead of a race with "better slaves."

Thoughts?

nweismuller
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Re: Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby nweismuller » Mon Feb 15, 2021 10:06 pm

Honestly, I see nothing wrong with the cyborg model being treated as essentially slavery, and it not always seamlessly working with species that haven't been perfected for their role in the machine. The key thing here is that both slaves and harmonised persons are prevented from pursuing individual interests (somehow), and are instead simply treated as a piece of moveable capital without inherent individual value. The greater community will survive casualties, and if the greater community needs to push some portion of the population to breakage, then it will do so.

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Arioch
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Re: Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby Arioch » Tue Feb 16, 2021 1:25 am

My comments were in reference to non-Tinkers population who were captured and made part of the cybernetic collective by force, not the Tinkers themselves. Tinkers are essentially born into the Harmonized state, and were never independent. When they are disconnected, they don't become discontent, but rather lose productivity. Harmonized aliens are different. As part of the collective, they operate as normal citizens along with the Tinkers, but when disconnected, their minds become independent again.

Imagine if you woke up one morning and you found that all of your body parts had been amputated and that you are now a cyborg that had been serving the monsters that did this to you... but now you are unplugged like a Neo or a disconnected Locutus. At the very least, I think you'd be confused and afraid... but more likely enraged. Much more so than discontent colonists who simply don't like having Alien Rulers or who are upset because you took some slaves.

By the way, the discontent cyborg colonists mentioned in the Steam thread are now working on the development branch here and on Steam.
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nweismuller
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Re: Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby nweismuller » Tue Feb 16, 2021 3:10 am

That's a welcome change to hear. The behavior of discontent cyborgs struck me as a bit odd before.

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sven
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Re: Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby sven » Tue Feb 16, 2021 4:53 am

Arioch wrote:At the very least, I think you'd be confused and afraid... but more likely enraged. Much more so than discontent colonists who simply don't like having Alien Rulers or who are upset because you took some slaves.

By the way, the discontent cyborg colonists mentioned in the Steam thread are now working on the development branch here and on Steam.


Whether or not the morale penalties for Tinker controlled discontent cyborg colonists are high enough, as well as whether or not the bugs involving magical deharmonization are really fixed are both things that could use testing.

Also, more generally, if you see any morale behaviors in game that look weird to you, post patch, please post about them.

nweismuller
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Re: Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby nweismuller » Tue Feb 16, 2021 7:38 pm

One question I had- what does 'Scrupulous' reflect in the Tinker AI, and why do they have it? Most of the other descriptors in the diplomacy screen for side AI I've identified ways that it makes their behavior distinctive, but I'm less clear both on what that means and why, conceptually, Tinkers have it.

Dacarnix
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Re: Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby Dacarnix » Tue Feb 16, 2021 7:52 pm

Don't get me wrong, I like this change and will happily test it for bugs, but I don't think this addresses the way that a "harmonized" networked race is represented by slavery and being worked to death, especially among natives of their species. I can't think of a single hive-mind entity in all of SciFi that intentionally worked its core members to death. And even if you could name one, I bet you could easily name 10 where that isn't the case.

The Matrix is an... interesting example of why this supposedly makes sense. I wouldn't consider plugging in human bodies to use them as batteries "cybernetics," certainly not in the sense that the Tinkers appear to have in Stars in Shadow. I also think their concept of consciousness was literally the opposite of being "harmonized" with their masters. They were flesh batteries kept in stasis via mental manipulation, not a functional cybernetic population in harmony and with a mutual understanding of a higher purpose.

nweismuller wrote:One question I had- what does 'Scrupulous' reflect in the Tinker AI, and why do they have it? Most of the other descriptors in the diplomacy screen for side AI I've identified ways that it makes their behavior distinctive, but I'm less clear both on what that means and why, conceptually, Tinkers have it.


My interpretation was that it represents that they "follow their programming." Once they agree to do something within the diplomacy interface, they honor that agreement unless some much higher priority "program" forces them to do something else. They do seem less capricious than some of the other races in terms of what will set them off and cause them to break agreements with you.

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Centurion XXI
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Re: Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby Centurion XXI » Tue Feb 16, 2021 9:07 pm

Dacarnix, спасибо за тему! Я всегда играю исключительно за жестянщиков. У меня много идей. Но я как собака: всё понимаю, но не могу сказать. Поскольку английский - это не родной язык для меня.

...

Dacarnix, thanks for theme! I always play only for tinkers 8) I have many ideas, but I am as the dog: - all understand and can not say 8) Because English is not native language for me.

But... - aaa! - I already wrote about Machine altar as Unique Race's building:

"How about a building, exclusive for the race? As advanced option for existing ones or fully completely unique. For example, for Tinkers: the machine altar could be an absolutely unique ancient building that exists in a single copy! And in their colonies the aerials would be built for communication with the galactic computer network (the supercomputer running an automatic factory on Dzibix). It would also solve the problem of inability to get the achievement "build six factories" for the Tinkers.

This would make playing for different races even more fun... May be... the Tinkers build factories, like everyones, then are simply upgraded one of these factories into the machine altar, through which is connected to a interplanetary network (aka Dzibix), or in other words, "all unites with the divine essence".

And it is cool: an unique building for every race... except humans 8)

nweismuller
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Re: Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby nweismuller » Tue Feb 16, 2021 9:57 pm

Where did you write about ideas for race-unique buildings? Do you have a link?

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Arioch
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Re: Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby Arioch » Wed Feb 17, 2021 6:22 am

i
Dacarnix wrote:Don't get me wrong, I like this change and will happily test it for bugs, but I don't think this addresses the way that a "harmonized" networked race is represented by slavery and being worked to death, especially among natives of their species. I can't think of a single hive-mind entity in all of SciFi that intentionally worked its core members to death. And even if you could name one, I bet you could easily name 10 where that isn't the case.

The Tinkers aren't designed with sacrificing their own population in mind, but considering their hive mind, I think it makes sense that they could certainly do it if the situation called for it. Whether you value the growth of your long-term population or short-term gain, I think the nature of the Harmonized collective means that your population will do whatever you tell them to.

Since Harmonization uses most of the same game elements as slavery, we thought it makes sense to include the same options, even to the Tinkers' own population. But from a gameplay standpoint, I wouldn't recommend sacrificing your own Tinkers population for short-term boosts, especially considering the Tinkers' low inherent population growth.

It's hard to think of a scifi "hive mind" example in which the collective was not willing to sacrifice individual members for the sake of the whole, if necessary. The Matrix is perhaps not the best example, as it's not clear that the AI beings have a hive mind (Agent Smith's actions imply to me that they are individuals). The Borg in Star Trek present a mixed example: on the one hand, the Borg are clearly not bothered by losing individuals, but on the other they seem unable to disconnect a compromised individual from their collective (I'm guessing for plot reasons rather than anything else).

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Centurion XXI
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Re: Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby Centurion XXI » Wed Feb 17, 2021 12:03 pm

nweismuller wrote:Where did you write about ideas for race-unique buildings? Do you have a link?


viewtopic.php?f=2&t=29&start=1063

username
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Re: Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby username » Thu Feb 18, 2021 11:42 am

Arioch wrote:Imagine if you woke up one morning and you found that all of your body parts had been amputated and that you are now a cyborg that had been serving the monsters that did this to you... but now you are unplugged like a Neo or a disconnected Locutus. At the very least, I think you'd be confused and afraid... but more likely enraged.
Honestly? I probably volunteered for this in exchange for the cool robot parts. It's not really clear to me why sci-fi always treats this as some kind of universal negative. Why would you NOT want a cool robot arm with spinny blades and a lazor on your head, instead of failing organic meatbag parts? Clearly, being robotically upgraded is a plus. As for the entire "being in thrall to the collective" thing, well, that's in the past now, and honestly, maybe it wasn't really so bad. I mean, guess what? Now you're going to go back to work in that same factory you were toiling away in before anyway.

Dacarnix wrote:They do seem less capricious than some of the other races in terms of what will set them off and cause them to break agreements with you.
Honestly, I haven't noticed the AI being particularly capricious in general. If anything, SiS is one of the few games where it's actually worthwhile to engage in diplomacy beyond the most surface level of trade-exploitation, precisely because the AI's behavior is generally dependable. This is in direct contrast to the AIs of other 4Xes, which are prone to abruptly breaking off agreements and declaring war on you without any real provocation, only to then lose badly, so it wasn't even a particularly well-thought-out backstab. In contrast, with SiS AIs, you usually end up growing closer and closer together until you eventually merge, making diplomacy a goal worth pursuing over the usual "Imma give you $100 to fuck off" diplomacy.

Dacarnix
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Re: Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby Dacarnix » Thu Feb 18, 2021 8:04 pm

username wrote:Honestly, I haven't noticed the AI being particularly capricious in general. If anything, SiS is one of the few games where it's actually worthwhile to engage in diplomacy beyond the most surface level of trade-exploitation, precisely because the AI's behavior is generally dependable. This is in direct contrast to the AIs of other 4Xes, which are prone to abruptly breaking off agreements and declaring war on you without any real provocation, only to then lose badly, so it wasn't even a particularly well-thought-out backstab. In contrast, with SiS AIs, you usually end up growing closer and closer together until you eventually merge, making diplomacy a goal worth pursuing over the usual "Imma give you $100 to fuck off" diplomacy.

That's fair. I guess it's mostly the "wait, wtf" experiences that stick in my head. Yoral in particular seem to go from being your best friend to attacking your undefended planets on occasion. Going from a big positive Military bonus to a big negative one when you put your best ship in for a Refit is probably the thing that catches me off-guard most often.

It would be nice if ships in Refit weren't ignored entirely for that calculation. They're still ships in your fleet.

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sven
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Re: Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby sven » Thu Feb 18, 2021 8:22 pm

Dacarnix wrote: I guess it's mostly the "wait, wtf" experiences that stick in my head.


"wait, wtf" moments often make good bug reports, if you can remember to upload a game and write a post about how things went sideways when it happened ;)

Dacarnix wrote: It would be nice if ships in Refit weren't ignored entirely for that calculation. They're still ships in your fleet.


There's a bit of a realism issue here: in theory the AI should be subject to fog of war effects when doing these sorts of relative power comparisons. In practice, they're not, but I guess if we're going to give them a fog of war exception in this case, they should probably "see" ships under refit just as well as they can "see" all your other military assets.

Dacarnix
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Re: Tinkering With Tinkers

Postby Dacarnix » Thu Feb 18, 2021 11:01 pm

sven wrote:"wait, wtf" moments often make good bug reports, if you can remember to upload a game and write a post about how things went sideways when it happened ;)

Yup, I should be using that more often. What's the hotkey again? I'm used to F8 from various other games, and that's not doing the trick. What should I use for bug reporting?

sven wrote:There's a bit of a realism issue here: in theory the AI should be subject to fog of war effects when doing these sorts of relative power comparisons. In practice, they're not, but I guess if we're going to give them a fog of war exception in this case, they should probably "see" ships under refit just as well as they can "see" all your other military assets.

That makes sense in terms of what's causing the behavior, but yeah, it does sometimes feel rather strange.

The area where I "feel" the lack of true fog-of-war most frequently is actually Slavery/Harmonization. The way that aliens react on the other side of the galaxy when they couldn't even reach the planets where you enslave/harmonize someone is the fog-of-war element that feels most ... contrived.


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