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Making a Space 4X Game: Technology

By on June 28th, 2013 10:45 am

Making a Space 4X Game - Technology

For this article I’m going to discuss technology in my game. On my previous article, A Living Galaxy, technology became a hot topic in the comment section so it only makes sense I write about it next.

Overall Game Design Philosophy

Since I’m going to be writing a lot about the game systems, I’ll take a brief moment to explain my philosophy on them. For many of the systems, I take something that players are familiar with (ie: genre standards) then I improve and add onto it. So you will see many familiar aspects but done differently.

The aspects that I change are carefully thought about and chosen for specific reasons. Technology is a system where I added some new features onto the standard. However, I do add larger twists to the systems to make them radically different than the norm.


The two main goals that I’ve tried to accomplish with the technology system involves replayability and choice.

Technology consists of 4 broad categories: Energy, Materials, Xeno-Sciences, and Computers. In addition, there’s a special one called Super-Projects – but more on this later. There will be 50 technologies in each of the 4 main categories (200 total) and most races will not have access to them all.


Since races currently do not have any special/unique technologies, I still needed a way to show an affinity or lack thereof. There is a proficiency for each technology category, and this serves to modify the technology cost. An empire with a high proficiency, say 100%, will have to pay the base cost to learn the technology. While an empire with a rating of 80% will pay 20% more. This helps distinguish between the different categories and races.

The benefit of this system is in it’s simplicity which still offers depth and impact throughout the entire game. It’s also easier to balance from a game design perspective and is trivial effort from an implementation standpoint.

Technology Cost

I’ve decided to use the familiar “research points/beaker” concept here. It’s a nice abstraction because trying to easily quantify research (especially in various categories/sciences) seemed to make things overly complicated. I’ve experimented with ideas such as “millions of hours” and “research labs” and while I could get it to sorta work, it never really fit in (in my opinion :) ).

Details and Progression

The following explains specific details and the progression of the technology system.

First, you can only research one item at a time. This is a genre standard but cuts down on micromanagement and offers choice.

Second, there are 10 tiers of technology within each category – so each tier has 5 technologies. Each empire starts with the first tier unlocked. Upon unlocking a new tier, 3 random technologies will be selected from the 5 (note: Races may get different amounts based on their characteristics). In the end, a race can only learn 60% of the known technologies (ie: 30 of the 50 technologies in each category). This is good because it offers:

  • empires will generally have different technologies
  • re-playability

Third, technologies can have upgrades, which the player can select to research. These are present on the screen and each have levels associated with them. A technology can have up to 4 upgrades. Upgrades can range from a simple % reduction in space/cost/damage/etc or give completely new items such as new weapon mods (armor piercing for example). The exact types and levels of upgrades are random each game.

Upgrades generally are cheaper and faster to research than the base technology.

Finally, a player can research a new tier. Researching a tier is expensive and takes a long time. When research of a tier finishes, a new randomly set of technologies (3 of the 5 possibilities) will be unlocked for the player to research.

The above may be hard to visualize, so I had this artist create this image to demonstrate the above research paths in more detail:

Technology Overview


As mentioned before, a main purpose of the technology system is to push the player into meaningful choices based on their current situation. I really didn’t want the game to degenerate into “Ok, time to choose a random technology!” or “Hey, can’t learn every technology so I need to always get the Plasma Cannons!”. I’ve also wanted to mitigate the idea of a tech rush to a specific technology (ie: Plasma Cannons from Master of Orion 2).

A player can be looking at the technologies and can decide maybe it’s better to upgrade some weapons because they’re in a war and the upgrades will come faster than a new tier will (new tiers are expensive and take time to research). Or maybe they will research a new tier because they haven’t discovered another empire.

Everything the player does should have some meaning and impact in the present and in the future. This, of course, will need to be fine-tuned to ensure good gameplay but this is easily done with play testing and adjusting the cost of technologies, upgrades and tiers.

In addition, in order to assist the player a bit, the research progression of each technology is saved – so you can research 25% of a technology, switch to another, and the first one still remains at 25%. The first technology can be returned to at a later date with no penalty to the player.

Super Projects

I’ve mentioned before that you can learn super projects. You’ll be able to discover these on planets you explore and then research them. Super Projects will require large investments to unlock so deciding if they’re worth it will be important. Especially since you can only research one item at a time, a super project could be either good or bad depending on the situation.

Types of Technologies

I’m still designing the technologies for the game but you can be assured, I will have cool stuff present. Really, this type of game has an infinite amount of possibilities for coolness! I intend to capitalize on that. I mean, Master of Orion’s Black Hole Generator…need I say more?


I think the technology system will be very effective, fun and simple to learn but harder to master. The majority of players should be familiar with this and be able to jump right in. Then, the rest depends on how the game session plays out and how the players like to run their empires.

So there you have it – this is how I handled technology. As mentioned above, it deals with the familiar systems other 4X games have. I wanted to expand on the standard and make choices mean more based on the current situation in the game. I think I’ve achieved that.

What am I currently working on?

Since my last update, I’ve completed saving and loading of games (my custom XML parser helped out a lot with this – reduced time by around 50%). Right now, I’m in the process of coding the SitRep (end of turn reporting) system.

After I finish the SitRep, I will wrap up a series of miscellaneous items and systems. I should be mostly feature complete sometime in August. At this point, I’ll start private late alpha/early beta testing. I want to start off with private testing to work out any initial quality issues, work on basic polish and take initial feedback on the game.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments!

dayrinni has been a Space Sector contributor since October 2011. This is his first foray into writing articles for any review site. He is an avid gamer in the genres of 4X, Strategy, MMO’s and RPGs. Finally, he has been the implementor of several MUDs and is currently working on a space 4X game that offers large scope and complexity. See all dayrinni’s posts here. In particular, check his “what makes a good game” and “making a space 4X game” series.

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  1. Andromeda says:

    I’m curious after reading this and other articles, what degree of Terraforming will be available? What can we terraform and what can’t we? Will there be stellar and solarforming like we see in Space Empires?

    • dayrinni says:

      There will be some form of terraforming present.

      I’m still working on that system out so if you have any suggestions/ideas fire them away (sounds like you have some)! I’m really really open to this idea and want to go more in a direction with the most fun rather than some other goal. :)

      • Andromeda says:

        I’ll let you in on my many ideas from my majestic brain.

        Terraforming in some 4X Games comes off far too easy. Its just a simple “Build Me! and in X Turns, Its Gaia again!”. I recall in a game called “Stars!” Systems and Planets had a Temp, Radiation and Gravity attribute which affected its pop cap etc.

        It would be interesting to see this implemented into Terraforming. It can be too easy to over complicate the process for a game possibly why most just have a building that does it all. But it always seemed odd that once you finish researching basic terraforming, you’ve got this magical building already. Not starting off from the basics of using solar shades, CO2 Pollution, Nanites etcn and other methods of removing and adding things from the enviroment.

        To me a basic way of starting Terraforming would be similar to how the Ithorians were terraforming Telos IV in KOTOR 2, by enclosing large areas of land and terraforming a grid at a time which would be cheaper but take longer.

        Intermediate would be being able to use things like genetically modified plants and bacteria to accelerate a natural process and using advanced lasers and explosives and other technology to make the planets core molten to form a magnetic field.

        And Advanced would be being able to spread nanites across the atmosphere and let them go to town.

        But obviously with Terraforming there are hazards. If you have a basic level of technology and you have a building that maintains the enviroment, if that gets destroyed the enviroment could collapse, making you start all over again. Or the nanites could go rouge or malfunction.

        Terraforming would be an excellent tool, not only for economic focused players who like to max the population out for tax income and trade, but also as an event mechanic. Even a weapon. If a device such as Star Trek’s Genesis Device was used on say a Sheliak or Tholian world, that planet would be hazardous to them but prime for Humanoids to take over.

        • dayrinni says:

          Wow nice thoughts. I have some of the same feelings – that terraforming is done too quickly in most games. I remember that very clearly from the MoO series. I actually have this distinct memory of when I was first playing MoO2 all of my planets suddenly became Gaia and I had no idea how that or it even happened. Definitely not one of the finer moments of my gaming career :P Also, the Alien’s franchise indicates terraforming is a lengthy expensive process. I think it’s a realistic view.

          Anyways, you do bring about some very cool ideas with the genetically modified plants and bacteria. I think this would definitely make much sense – you’d want to terraform a planet to be what you’re used too so you’d probably use some of the native plants from your homeworld (or other terraformed worlds).

          There seems to be a potential of a nice subsystem/mini game here. Doing a grid-like selection like you suggested may be an easy way to get the player involved and not make it too complex. We could put down different grid layouts (how it’d actually terraform that area with various bonuses). Then the combination could create a unique planet or something similar… It’d be great for the players who really like to interact with the planets, but I will need to somehow manage the micromanagement/complexity issues.

          I’d like to hear more of your thoughts, as well as anyone elses on the matter!

        • Andromeda says:

          I remember the same with the Orion games. It was always quite weird to just find a once barren crappy backward rock is now this garden of eden of love and life.

          I suppose a method of making it not a chore of micromanagement (Although personally as a person who grew up with 4X Games of the 80s/90s I actually kinda like Micromanagement since it adds depth for me) would be to break it up really.

          When at a planet screen you have a button that says “Terraform” and when it opens that window you have to plan out how you want to do it.

          Being cheap but wanting to use top notch gear to get it done quick can have terrible consequences but once you select the tech and how much you will fund the project, an AI takes over the ship for it (Similar to Star Drive’s AI can set up the Subspace projectors up for you and Distant Worlds’s AI does all the private sector things for you)

          You then have a choice of letting a “Project Manager” (basically an AI) do it for you. Or you can get involved with mini games that let you get involved.

          Spore has shown us people love Terraforming games in a 3D Environment, but since (I’m assuming its still going to be or is) this is a 2D Game, SimEarth could provide some insight.

          If you wanted to make it realistic, you would probably want to add minigames that have you keep things in balance.

          Stellarforming wise, I’d love to see the option to make a system.
          Space Empires seems to be the only series that lets you do this. I thought it was an amazing concept. But why not let people build an entirely new system rather than in SE where it was make a new star to replace the near death one and make planets from asteroids. or collapse a black hole or remove the stellar nebula and make a star for an artificial construct.

          It’s quite a shame this never caught on.

          I would say Stellarforming would be a late game concept and tech. Since it would be a little odd if a new empire with low tech started going about building systems, opening wormholes etc.

        • dayrinni says:

          I’ve thought about your ideas in further detail and they really do offer some good game play choices and as you know, I like choice!
          I especially like the part about deciding what type of equipment to use during the process. I think that’s a very good game play element that can be easily interwoven into the choice dynamic.

          I’m going to start designing a preliminary system here for terraforming. Thank you!

          The game is completely 2D.

          I totally agree about the creation of stellar objects- it’s a really cool feature rarely explored and I’m going to definitely add it in. I do agree that it must be balanced properly and with the lore of the game, it sounds like it would work best as a Super Project that is discovered on a planet, which can then be used late game.

          One immediate thought that jumped out from me with the creation of planets,etc is: I think it’d be an interesting proposition to use some resources in the construction of these objects as well. It would offer a simple yet fun dynamic: maybe I can construct a planet for X resources but it costs Y. It’d be very interesting for sure.

        • Mike L says:

          If you really want to see a fascinating approach to terraforming and other science/physics/reality-based aspects of a space game/simulation, take a look at Aurora ( Aurora is highly detailed and complex strategy simulation that incorporates elements I’ve not seen in any other space game to date, and I’ve probably tried most, if not all.

          For an enjoyable way of understanding how the various aspects tie together check out some of the fan-based AAR/stories of games as they are played:

          If this game can even approach the feeling of scope and reality I get when playing Aurora and do so with a pleasing UI and graphics it will be a thing of beauty.

        • Andromeda says:

          I’m glad to see someone likes my thoughts on video game mechanics.
          I can’t wait to play this or see it crop up somewhere for purchase or backing.

          All I have left to ask “What is Customization like in this game?”

          I looked at Aurora, quite a nice little gem. Reminds me a bit of “Stars!” And a little of “Space Empires I”. Downloading now.

        • dayrinni says:

          @Mike L:
          I’ve seen Aurora before and the level of detail is truly amazing. I’ll look deeper into their terraforming ideas to get a better idea of the approach they took.

          I’m trying to add more scope and depth into the game but making it manageable at all stages of the game. I have a lot of future plans/ideas besides what I have slated for initial release. I also hope that the community can continually chime in ideas as well (not worried about this one really!!)
          I really want to build on this game for years to come and hopefully, in the end, have a really fun game that offers many fun features with depth but manageable.

          We will see if I am successful but I really appreciate your thoughts and it offers great motivation for me!

          I’m planning a future article for Empire Management and micromanagement where I’ll touch on a lot of what I did. It’s one I’m really excited for because it’s one of my flag ship features.

          You’re welcome!
          Based on my experience, generally players can come up with many great and fun ideas (obviously most ideas need to be balanced/etc to work properly). The issue crops up with if the idea fits in with the game’s overall vision and plan. I will readily admit I have a certain vision for some aspects which I’m less open for ideas. HOWEVER, for others, such as terraforming and ground combat, I’m very open to suggestions and thoughts from people. So thank you!

          I’ll be private testing later in Augustish, and the hopefully hitting Kickstarter sometime in September/October time frame (I can’t give an exact schedule since I don’t want to release something that’s not ready). I’ll make sure to keep everyone informed about what’s happening though, especially when I go to Kickstarter!

          But let me tell you – I’m really looking forward to having people play it! Heck, I’m looking forward to playing it!

          When you refer to Customization , what do you mean exactly? That’s a broad term so I’m not sure what you’re referring too exactly :)

        • Andromeda says:

          Customizing things such as your race, designing components (As seen in Aurora). Designing starships. Modular ship design even though its 2D would still be fun.

        • dayrinni says:

          “Customizing things such as your race, designing components (As seen in Aurora). Designing starships. Modular ship design even though its 2D would still be fun.”

          You can customize your race (the game is very moddable). The ship components cannot be designed, but are premade by me. You design ships like in MoO1/MoO2 so no modular designs.

          One of my goals is to refine and improve greatly on the space combat from MoO1/MoO2. I added a lot of features there, which I’ll be writing about in a future article. I haven’t seen some of the new features in other games so I think it has lots of potential. Anyways, that’s why I opted not to go with the different types of ship designs.


  2. Matt says:

    Where is the picture at the top of the article from? Great art.

    • dayrinni says:

      That is a picture for the game! I’m very happy on how it came out.

      It’s of an intergalactic warp gate. Ships use wormhole FTL drives and generally can only transport themselves. Warpgates can do multiple ships at once on a constant basis. They are very large and generally are powered by stars.

      Glad you like it :)

  3. Nirius says:

    I’ve read the article and i must say i’m completely for the randomized tech tree as it achieves great replayability.

    However, i would like to suggest adding a secret/special projects tech option aside from the super project. If you recall the tech system from “sword of the stars” which applied similiar concepts, once in a while depending on random events or the amount of contact with other empires you could try and research technologies not in your tech tree. I believe it will greatly enhance the reality of the system, in real life reverse engineering is a great and powerfyl tool to open new research aspects or to hasten existing aspects.

    A second idea i would like to suggest is the espionge-tech interface i find the concept of stealing a technology quite more complex than what is usually implemented it is quite absurd that a spy could steal a technology ready for use, i think that once a technology is stolen it should still need to be researched (completely if it is not in your tech tree or above your tier level)or at least have negative bonuses for a few turns, until enough experience with the technology has been achieved.

    Last and not least i would love seeing a “randomized event” like influence on the research process: breakthroughs, sabotage(internal not by spies:”stop animal testing!”), project budget overrun etc. Such occurences could force players to rethink their chosen paths in the technology race or even in the social and political fields if implemented correctly (choose policy X events 250-260 has probability Y).

    I’m really looking forward to playing your game as

    • dayrinni says:


      Thanks for the thoughts and ideas! Some of what you have mentioned are on my list for future patches/features! That being a randomized event system and it would most definitely deal with the research process in some way.

      I also agree on the espionage tech stealing. It’s too…automatic and little input from the player to either steal or prevent stealing of a technology. And as a player, that REALLY bothers me. Having said that, I’m going to try and remedy it but I’ll save that for my article on espionage. That systems is where I tried a bunch of new and completely different things.

      It sounds like I could easily expand the Super Projects tab into the idea of your secret/special projects. The more ways to get cool technology the better I say. It’ll also go on for making the galaxy feel alive and dynamic.

      Thanks for your comments!

  4. Jeff P says:

    I too enjoy randomized tech. However, some games (SotS 1, for example) have randomized tech for each race, but certain techs are so important (suspended animation and point defense) as to be game-killers if randomized out of a race’s tech tree.

    I believe developers must make such vital tech 100% probability for each race or the game will suffer from serious balance problems.

    • dayrinni says:

      You bring up some major issues with a randomized technology system and it’s something I’m going to ensure does not happen. I’ve tweaked some game systems to avoid the situation of not having a vital technology so if you don’t get something, you generally won’t be in an awful position.

      But you do suggest one easy solution – make that tech have a 100% probability for appearing.

    • jackswift says:

      Ahh, the sadorandomizer in SotS 1. While playing the game it could be so cruel, but when I look back on it, I did enjoy a couple of the games where I got screwed… it made it a great challenge against the AI. There was one time as Hivers where I didn’t get point defense or any armor past the first tech (and no reflectives either). It pushed my creative fleet design to the max… having to run around with fast jamming picket ships and deflector screens, actually using shields and longer range tactics… felt like I was a Liir trapped in a Hiver body.

      • dayrinni says:

        That sounds pretty harsh but it seems you had a couple good games.

        How often did you run into a bad situation where you weren’t able to recover?

        • jackswift says:

          Quite often…! There was one time I was stuck up against two Zuul empires who used nothing but a ton of missiles in the early game, and with no laser PD as Liir, I didn’t last long enough to see if the Phaser PD was waiting for me. Plenty of other times where there would be no colonizable planets in range (that cost less than 100,000 to start), boxed in by multiple swarm colonies… if could be brutal.

        • dayrinni says:

          I’m surprised it happened that often. Sounds lime you enjoyed some of these though :)

          I’m aiming for those circumstances to happen less. Sure, maybe every once awhile you’ll have really awful luck but it shouldn’t happen as a common occurrence. I will play test accordingly to ensure that for the majority of the games go smoothly.

  5. NonEuclidian says:

    Header picture looks cool, where can i get it?

    • dayrinni says:

      Glad you like it!

      I had my artist make it for the game – it’s a picture of an intergalactic jump gate. These jump gates are usually at the center of galaxies and/or near large clusters of stars and require massive amounts of energy to operate. But, most of them are non-operational because the Ancient Empire that built and ran them is a Remanent of it’s once great self.

      You can view a larger version by clicking on it.

  6. Kvothe says:

    You have some very interesting ideas here, and I’m enjoying the glimpse into the idea generating portion of the dev cycle, the things that get considered as your designing the core aspects of your game. While the project eternity devblogs have shown this on a larger scale, seeing it for a sci fi 4x, a genre near and dear to my heart, is a great pleasure and I thank you for sharing it.

    A thought that I had while reading through was the impact that technologies have on the societies that implement them, and the possibility for what would translate to ‘recursive bonuses’ I guess. Suppose for example that I’m playing as humans, and I’m focusing heavily on automation and robotics, always researching them first and foremost as I move through the tiers of technology. As these are always my priority they will always be the techs that bleed in to the civilian population first, and will shape the way the society interacts and what they in turn tell their kids is worthwhile to learn and will lead to bigger and better ideas as we, as a society, accept it and gear our minds toward it. So, in time, that civ will become more automated, robotic, and AI (either artificial or augmented intelligence) oriented.

    Now picture that same race, same starting situation and inherent bonuses, but instead my research priority is always toward biological augmentation rather than mechanical. Now my greatest minds are leaning toward biology and genetics to fulfill those same needs that the first was finding answers for in automation. We begin to integrate biological systems in our ships to fulfill roles the first civ used robots for, and in time perhaps genetically design and grow biological ships rather than crudely manufacturing them from base parts. Thus, rather than an asmovian robotic future I have led humanity to resemble more the edenists from the reality disfunction.

    In the interest of allowing for interesting choices, maintaining some flexibility toward research bonuses and allowing a way of tracking the decisions of the player to allocate tech availability seems an interesting system. It may add an interesting dynamic and lead to interesting situations, and thus impactfull choices. If I suddenly find myself in a war and need to shift gears on my research, then suddenly the war has impacted not just the expansion of my empire, but the development of my society. The fact that my peaceful humans who focused so hard on gene manipulation suddenly find themselves focusing on power and weapons systems to stay alive, and that it will resonate through our continued expansion long after the conflict in question has been resolved seems tantilizing.

    In practice it may be as simple as allocating certain probabilities for techs and upgrades according to what order you reach a tier of technology in, and having upgrade types for other techs based on this ordering, showing the bleeding over of techniques and design philosophies from the dominant fields into the less focused upon.

    Alright, I’ve gotten the core of my idea out, and despite Some editing I think there are enough run on sentences in here for now. Thanks again for the chance to peek in on the process, and best of luck.

    • dayrinni says:


      I’m glad you’re liking the insight from my articles. I try to touch on some important topics. I don’t normally write too much about the technical side of things because it’s harder for the readers to understand and relate. I think a lot of good information can be gleaned from my goals and reasons of why I’m doing certain things with the various systems.

      Your idea sounds pretty cool actually. I like how you can focus your race in a certain direction based on the technologies you research over time. It sounds like a fun way to make the game play different between games and when coupled with different races, you could end up with some really weird but good games!

      It does sound like this in some variation would be a good extension of the technology system for a future update – being able to broadly extend your race in one of a few different fields. Like the ones you mentioned: automation/robotics/AI, etc. And then your more organic one. I’m sure a few more could be found. Though, it’d have to not step on the toes of certain races and their unique inherent bonuses. But, fun stuff regardless!

  7. ashbery76 says:

    I like tech trees to have random elements,racial techs,super late game weapons with great imagination and finally you should never get close to maxing out tech trees in a full game playthrough.the SOTS series and MOO2 are stand out in this regard I feel.

    • dayrinni says:


      I’m going to try to make some really interesting technologies, and use inspiration from other places. I think that there is a lot of cool sci-fi stuff that can be done and want to try to capitalize on that as much as possible. I don’t want them to be all generic and plain. I’d like to have a few really weird ones that could have the potential to be quite useful if used right at the right moment, or if a plan was executed successfully. Kinda like building a combo MTG deck.

      I’m going to include a technology research speed so players can adjust the length of technology research according to how they want to play. I generally LOVE long games in Civ and others, and so I make technology very long.

  8. a1mless says:

    Cannot agree with all the ideas of the OP regarding research and technologies, but will focus on the randomization part, as it have caused most discussions.

    Imagine simple scenario:
    1.Enemy AI declared a war knowing he has superior forces (he scouted or planted agents better than me, or is just coded to sense when hes more powerful) so he goes to war with ships fitted with nasty missiles, and he knows I have no defence against that.
    2.Now I look at my research tree and realize im just 1 tier below the required tech to start manufacturing those flak guns for my ships. So i instantly switch research and dig in to win some time.
    3.When enemy is just few jumps away from my homeworld, I finally achieve what i prayed for.. or so I thought. Random system of YOURS did not select my shields, and went for some different tech that has no use for me at this dire moment. Hence enemy bombards my home planet, eats my children and sends me to end game statistics chart.
    No, No, and No once more, randomness is extremely difficult if not impossible at all to balance. It is fun only when it is limited to bring you small degree of dissatisfaction in case of bad luck. But when its a decisive thing – and research often is, then I am afraid it will cause more frustration while playing against challenging opponent. There might be a way as you already stated to program the “randomness” not to rule out vital technologies, but I think its a bit cutting the point of randomness then. Also making random technologies less significant is not a way either, no point in researching then. Stick always has two ends.

    Balancing is the main issue here, especially it will be a pain if you ever plan to implement multiplayer.
    Email me if you wish to discuss this further, in case you need more arguments.

    • dayrinni says:


      Thanks for reading and then taking the time to reply.

      I understand your concern. I’ve thought of those situations and I’m going to help mitigate any side affects of poor randomization. Here are a few:

      1. Similar technologies will be present in different technology trees. For example, all point defenses (this is actual a weapon mod not a single technology) won’t be in the Computer tree.

      2. The majority of the technologies, probably at least 50-60% if I had to guess, will be devoted to weapons, defenses and other specials. This will help mitigate an empire not having appropriate selections.

      3. Empires will begin with a set of basic equipment so regardless of how randomization goes, they will have at least something to load up on their ships for weapons and defenses.

      4. The technology system saves your research progress on all previous projects so there is really no loss in switching gears.

      Now, on the decision of the research paths to take (techs vs upgrades vs tiers), I leave that up to the discretion of the player.

      I’m not discounting your example because it may happen. It’s my goal through play testing, polishing and other methods to help mitigate what you described above. I will tune as necessary based on feedback!

      Having said all that, I also understand and respect your disagreements with the technology system as a whole (based on your comments you don’t like much of it). I’m glad there are many other 4X games out there and ones that fit your likes and play style.
      Also, it was very respectful of you to offer to continue this email.


  9. dayrinni says:


    The artist read your replies about the header image and he’s going to make some wall papers for you all. I’ll post up again when he’s finished!


  10. Pukako says:

    I love what you’re doing here – so many 4X games are straight from the developer, with their particular style, and the reasons for certain choices are hidden, so it’s great to see something aired.

    Tech in these type of games is interesting. I’ve mainly played Stars!, MOO3 (hey – too young for 1 & 2), SOTS and Distant Worlds, and they all have some good and some annoying features. Also 2526 and GalCiv, but not my cup of tea.

    I always thought spies stealing an entire tech was silly, and would prefer real spy stuff – news, force deployment, details of tech, etc.

    Techs from different ‘fields’ that combine in unexpected ways are always good, as some things are combinations of all the categories. Not gamebreakers, but racial aspects – Stars! did that well with interesting but not always useful racial techs.

    I also like techs that add in both flavour and visual aspects to my empire, and incremental improvements in civilisation, as then I feel that I’m playing a Space Empire game, rather than a Space Battle game… Too many of the recent ones I’ve tried are space wars with the other bits tacked on.

    Good luck with this, too…

    • dayrinni says:


      Thanks for your comments!

      I’m trying to give a view of why I do certain things (on top of what I’m doing), rather than a bunch of technical aspects. Most people can’t relate to those technical pieces one way or the other (don’t care, can’t understand, etc). I’m glad you are liking the articles so far!

      I really really want to have interesting technologies. I would like to include a few that are game changing and really influence the way your empire expands. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do but that’s one of my goals. Another one that I’ve mentioned already is I want to capture some of the lost fun techs from previous games.

      You’ll be pleased to know that I’m spending time on trying to add some side systems for the people who like to do empire management (these are future articles) and non-combat activities. While combat will be the focus of the first game (I want expansions to flesh out other aspects), it isn’t the pure focus. You’ll be able to manage your empire through a variety of different ways which including selecting structures, trade and espionage. I’m going to have different victory conditions and some of them are non-combat based.

      Thanks again and hope to hear from you again!

  11. Nemesys says:

    I has followed your serie of articles and I am very interested in it, but you stopped on June, so I want to know ifyou are already working at the game and at the articles or not.
    Please reply to me.

    • dayrinni says:


      I didn’t see this comment until now. You can see my update a little ways below – in reply to Kreissig.

  12. Kreissig says:

    In regards to the tech-tree implementation. Have you thought about having the different branches somewhat inter-related? For simplicity, it could be that attaining a specific tech is dependent on the acquisition of a tech in another branch. It could be that the different trees need not visually link to one another (for UI simplicity) but a tool-tip (let’s say) shows the player what other tech is needed to complete the study.

    I’ll make an example using your tech-branch system types:

    Say that under XENO-SCIENCE is a branch called PARTICLE PHYSICS…

    Which has sub-categories of Sub-Atomic Wave Propagation and Space Distortion

    But say to research Space Distortion, the player must first find (somewhere in the Galaxy) an anomaly that contains Anomalous Vexium (a mysterious plasma)
    Once found, this could be researched under the MATERIALS section. The properties (once discovered through research) will allow Space Distortion to be finished.

    Then, a machine could be built on ships that allow say “Quasi-cloaking”, which could later be upgraded more easily than researching a new tech….ect…ect..

    Would this game mech be hard to implement? I’m not a programmer…so am unsure.

    • SQW says:

      1. The AI is bad enough with researching through an static tree, anything more complicated will just confuse it that much more.

      2. So if you don’t spawn with this resource within reach then you are effectively blocked off from that branch. Is the game design balanced against this RNG?

      3. It is, on the other hand, entirely doable. SOTS has a special place in my heart because of its highly underrated random tech trees. At heart, this means under certain criteria, that tech branch may not be available.

      4. The human factor. We will rage against any perceived RNG injustice. Most players WANT the assurance that all tech is available and FAIR. By removing the sense of control, a game is going to piss off a lot of people hence the staple of fixed tech tree in games in the name of balance.

    • dayrinni says:

      (Sorry for the delayed response – the holidays have been keeping things busy)

      As SQW mentions, RNG can be a good thing or a really bad thing. It takes a lot of care and good design to make it work out OK.

      That’s why during our creation of technologies, we have technologies ones perform similar functions but in different ways. This way, no matter what you get, you’ll be OK and one won’t be overly better than the other.

      In our prototype game (some people were helping out testing it from this site; it was called SpaceIT), we had a really elaborate tech tree that is similar to what you describe. While it added a lot of depth and complexity to the game, the AI had some issues with researching things that made sense at the time and some players were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice and didn’t fully understand the way they were linked to others in the technology tree. Even I felt that way during testing.

      I think that you do talk about some good ideas though, and we have plans for future expansions that expands on the technology tree and system in a fun and exciting way! I do find the theories that interlink to be something that is explored and attempted!

      Due to my lack of articles, I’ll give a brief update here on things: The game is still being made and we’re currently in Alpha. We’ve worked out a lot of issues and hammered out a large portion of the technologies (~75%) while purposely leaving some of the upper tier technologies unfinished because we desire to receive player feedback for ideas and whatnot. After all, you’re going to be (hopefully) playing the game. We are planning on opening up more testing in 2015 and eventually starting a small Kickstarter for the artwork(we want to have a fully playable game prior to going to Kickstarter so the potential backers can feel good that the game actually exists).


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