Suggestion - Game start with pre-explored

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Suggestion - Game start with pre-explored

Postby Watsong » Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:02 pm

Suggestion: At the start of a new game, make the systems within reach of your ships pre-explored.

Reason: The first decisions of the game include choosing where to send your starting ships, (which includes a colony ship). The effect of colonising the best available planet, within range, at the start of the game is magnitudes greater than colonising a planet later in the game. A few turns difference to using that first colony ship counts. I find that I start a new game, scout the starting systems, and then reload to get the best choice. Having to move fairly blindly makes those first moves either a lottery or a save/load situation. Relying on star descriptions isn't enough.

Example in attached image.
There are two stars. The yellow star gives a human colony to annex. The red star, despite the description, gives a medium garden world with natives to colonise. The colony ship should go to the red star and another ship to the yellow star. This gives you 3 systems on turn 3. Sending the colony ship anywhere else or not moving it delays you by 3 - 6 turns. The star descriptions prove useless in making the initial movement decisions.
NewGameStars.png (1.47 MiB) Viewed 2162 times

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Re: Suggestion - Game start with pre-explored

Postby Mithramuse » Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:31 pm

This kind of thing would make a neat pre-start mini-game or something, I think... start 100 years earlier and a "blank slate" with no research done, and let the player choose which items to research (with strong recommendations for colony hulls etc.) and include some things like a planet-hunting telescope or the like, to at least let you know which stars have planets, perhaps hints as to the atmosphere... tough to do now I would think, though, or maybe just not quite "worth it."

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Re: Suggestion - Game start with pre-explored

Postby sven » Mon Jun 03, 2019 7:15 pm

Watsong wrote:I find that I start a new game, scout the starting systems, and then reload to get the best choice. Having to move fairly blindly makes those first moves either a lottery or a save/load situation.

Yeah, I admit, I find myself doing the same thing. Of course, I'll often use the same strategy in Civilization, or Moo2, or any number of other 4X-style games that share a similar "explore and settle" core mechanic. When you're trying to play these games "optimally", exploiting reloading to maximize the value of your early colonies often feels like a very compelling cost/benefit tradeoff.

Giving the player 1 or 2 pre-explored early stars might cut down on this a bit. And following civilization's lead, and creating a few "data cache" special events that could grant visibility to other areas of the map might also help.

Ultimately though, I think the fact is that the player will always have some incentive to use strategic reloading -- it's not a thing we could remove from the game entirely. And pre-exploring stars may have gameplay negatives as well as positives; it's hard to justify in terms of game lore, for one thing, and it could remove some of the mystery and excitement that one otherwise gets from the first few turns.

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Re: Suggestion - Game start with pre-explored

Postby PrivateHudson » Tue Jun 04, 2019 6:57 am

Gamble is part of a game. Not all players savescum the start. If you implement the change, please make it optional.

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Re: Suggestion - Game start with pre-explored

Postby Arioch » Tue Jun 04, 2019 7:52 am

I for one don't savescum, at least not as a regular procedure for optimal play. If some folks do, that's fine, but I don't really think the mechanics of the game should be designed around it. The premise of the game is that starflight has just been rediscovered, so it doesn't make a lot of sense that the nearby systems should be pre-explored.

I don't have any objections to having optional starting modes with pre-explored systems, or advanced starts, or the like. But I'm not sure whether these things would really be a high priority compared to other things we could spend the time on.

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Re: Suggestion - Game start with pre-explored

Postby zolobolo » Tue Jun 04, 2019 6:04 pm

I find the starting phase perfect as is - the interesting part is not knowing which systems hold greater findings. Makes each decision meaningful and exciting. This is also why its called exploration phase, need to explore the surroundings :)

I would additionally put forward the idea that this is also the case for mid and late game: the trick is to always have unknown aspect within the game such as in case of diplomacy. We should never be certain what another AI is going to do.
It is fine to have feedback and see they are generally friendly, but they should also declare war from time to time even when friendly and break up alliances (I had these event quite frequently since the latest diplomacy updates and makes the later game phases vastly more interesting)
This is why I am also missing the harpy and pirate invasions - these introduced random uncontrollable elements into the mid-game that have kept the player on toe even in regions that were generally safe from other empires

Admittedly I almost never save-scum in any game and expect to loose some games to make things interesting upon further replays.
A bad start can set you back true but not completely destroy a game if the player knows how to keep low though.
As long as the system description generally holds true and there are only few exceptions (if system says it probably has planets, it should have something 80% of the times) I would prefer the unknown

Also note: hitting a bingo on the first system and catching a good rhythm on the 2nd colonization is the highlight for me in the early game - its all part of the race to gear up for the first encounters and if you have bad luck at the start it is all the more exciting to catch up

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Re: Suggestion - Game start with pre-explored

Postby AMX » Tue Jun 04, 2019 6:43 pm

Lore-wise, I could see "before we started building interstellar ships we experimented with unmanned probes, and collected some data about the surrounding systems in the process."
But that would beg the question why all scouting during the game has to be done with ships... :|

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Re: Suggestion - Game start with pre-explored

Postby nathanebht » Wed Jun 05, 2019 1:55 pm

I like advanced start being an option in 4x games. Usually helps the AI and also saves some time.

However, I wouldn't give it a high priority. A more competitive, less cheaty AI would be more significant.

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