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Mike Substelny

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I am pleased to report that in the latest beta of Artemis, Thom has completed programming of the BioMech life cycle. Previously Stage 1, 2, and 3 BioMechs could feed and grow. Now Stage 4 adult BioMechs can reproduce!

BioMechs.png 

This will make possible a whole new type of mission: The BioMech Infestation. Your ship is patrolling a peaceful sector that is busy with bases, luxury liners, transports, and other friendly ships. Suddenly dozens of hungry BioMechs swarm into the sector and start devouring everything in sight! Arm your weapons and raise your shields as biological life defends itself against the relentless onslaught on mechanical life!

The software itself may still have some bugs (my mission scripts are causing crashes) but I'm hoping this is resolved in time for beta testing on October 29th.


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MarkBell

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Oooooh, nice.  How quickly does a Stage 4 reproduce, and does it continually reproduce?
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Mike Substelny

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In order to reproduce two Stage 4 Adults need to find each other, which can take an unknown amount of time. I believe that one of the two Adults gets split into 4+ Stage 1 Babies. I am discussing with Thom whether the logic of this should change to improve play balance.
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MarkBell

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Aah, ok - that's actually a pretty neat idea.
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ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #5 
I always assumed Stage 4 BioMechs reproduced, but since I never saw it happen, I assumed it was either just very rare, or the conditions (like having two Stage 4 BioMechs within a range "window" of each other) made it very hard for them to reproduce. (I also assumed that the Stage 4 BioMech was replaced by one or two Stage 1's, leaving the number constant)

I'm glad to see this implemented. Does the read-out for "Anti-Proton levels" have a meaning that can be researched, or is it just random? I never studied it closely enough to see if it was actually working.

I'd also like to know if Stage 3 BioMechs are more likely to attack ships, as implied by the description. If they actually gained energy for doing this, particularly during the Infestation scenario, it would make their life cycle go faster. They should eventually run out of anomalies, unless, again, the Infestation scenario randomly respawns anomalies.

Also I would expect the "Taunt" for BioMechs would return to the default reaction in the Infestation Scenario. (That is, all taunts but the "wrong" one will cause it to attack, not stop attacking) Reminder that the Intel doesn't report the "wrong" taunt.

I will have to go and update my entry in the wiki for Stage 4 BioMechs as I assumed it was working. I do have some questions about the workings of reproduction, such as do Stage 4 Biomechs have to consume anything before they reproduce, is that asteroids or anomalies, and are one or both of the parents destroyed? (Okay, you already answered the latter) But I guess such things can be figured out through testing. Thom is probably thinking about such aspects and how they will shape how the Infection scenario goes. (For instance, taking the time to collect food before giving birth will slow the spread, but the size of the litter and leaving the parent intact will speed it up)
Mike Substelny

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryleyra
I'm glad to see this implemented. Does the read-out for "Anti-Proton levels" have a meaning that can be researched, or is it just random? I never studied it closely enough to see if it was actually working.


A BioMech's anti-proton levels do give a clue about when it will mature into the next stage of development.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryleyra
I'd also like to know if Stage 3 BioMechs are more likely to attack ships, as implied by the description. If they actually gained energy for doing this, particularly during the Infestation scenario, it would make their life cycle go faster. They should eventually run out of anomalies, unless, again, the Infestation scenario randomly respawns anomalies.


Yes, the Stage 3 BioMechs are the most aggressive and the next release might make them even more aggressive.

Remember that destroying a ship can drop some anomalies in the spot where the ship exploded. This gives Stage 3 BioMechs an incentive to destroy ships. Actually they should attack monsters as well. I hadn't thought about that before now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryleyra
I will have to go and update my entry in the wiki for Stage 4 BioMechs as I assumed it was working. I do have some questions about the workings of reproduction, such as do Stage 4 Biomechs have to consume anything before they reproduce, is that asteroids or anomalies, and are one or both of the parents destroyed? But I guess such things can be figured out through testing. Thom is probably thinking about such aspects and how they will shape how the Infection scenario goes. (For instance, taking the time to collect food before giving birth will slow the spread, but the size of the litter and leaving the parent intact will speed it up)


The rules for Stage 4 reproduction are still being tweaked for game balance. At this point it's only safe to say that Stage 4s are capable of reproduction and starship crews will have the opportunity to witness the blessed event. [wink]

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ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Substelny

Yes, the Stage 3 BioMechs are the most aggressive and the next release might make them even more aggressive.

Remember that destroying a ship can drop some anomalies in the spot where the ship exploded. This gives Stage 3 BioMechs an incentive to destroy ships. Actually they should attack monsters as well. I hadn't thought about that before now.


Heh, I hadn't thought about that, but it does make sense. And all of the juicy luxury liners and transports in the Infestation scenario are tailor-made for attacks by the Stage 3 BioMechs.

Quote:

The rules for Stage 4 reproduction are still being tweaked for game balance. At this point it's only safe to say that Stage 4s are capable of reproduction and starship crews will have the opportunity to witness the blessed event. [wink]


As I noted, it might balance the scenario to have the parents either consume resources before mating, or in order to give birth. If they have to consume energy as in stage 3, that would put them in direct conflict with the player ship. OTOH, the Stage 4 would probably be VERY aggressive while pregnant.

You're probably also right that having to get two Stage 4's to meet up within a very small radius of each other would also make the event rather rare. Although I would expect them to seek each other out.

Just throwing out some ideas...

By the way, did I mention how much I like this idea?

Mike Substelny

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryleyra
As I noted, it might balance the scenario to have the parents either consume resources before mating, or in order to give birth. If they have to consume energy as in stage 3, that would put them in direct conflict with the player ship. OTOH, the Stage 4 would probably be VERY aggressive while pregnant.


Exactly. Thom is working on the balancing of this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryleyra
You're probably also right that having to get two Stage 4's to meet up within a very small radius of each other would also make the event rather rare. Although I would expect them to seek each other out.


They are supposed to seek each other out. Right now my tests without a full crew show that the reproduction rate is a little too slow to be a challenge. Nevertheless if the crew just sits and does nothing every friendly ship will quickly be destroyed and the BioMechs will overrun the sector.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ryleyra
By the way, did I mention how much I like this idea?


That makes me very happy! [biggrin]

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notsabbat

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Reply with quote  #9 
Im also really happy that this is happening. I have actually done experiments to try to see stage 4 biomechs reproducing....Hmmmm, it didnt sound nearly as weird before I typed it out  [biggrin]


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ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Substelny

They are supposed to seek each other out. Right now my tests without a full crew show that the reproduction rate is a little to slow to be a challenge. Nevertheless if the crew just sits and does nothing every friendly ship will quickly be destroyed and the BioMechs will overrun the sector.


Well, you could change the rules slightly. For instance, the Stage 4 BioMechs could die off after giving birth in the regular game modes, but in Infestation Mode they keep eating and reproduce again once they've built up enough energy. That will speed up the cycle. You could say that Infestation is triggered by BioMechs going into a breeding frenzy every decade or so, or when environmental factors trigger it.

I would prefer for the population of BioMechs to be more or less stable in the normal game modes, including Peacetime. I don't necessarily have to want to hunt them to keep them from running out of control. I mean, if you use the same rules the only difference between regular mode and Infestation is that in Infestation the BioMechs have a head start. The end result would be the same if the players don't do anything.

Xavier Wise

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Reply with quote  #11 
It would be great if we could tailor how many biomech spawn from two adults mating. A higher and lower threshold could be set.

For modding the game, we could then create new alien species using the biomech vesselData stuff and have more aggressively reproducing species.

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ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #12 
I was actually thinking about an AI command. For scripts, you can tweak the reproduction rate, how much "Anti-Proton" level is needed to reproduce and whether the parent is destroyed, and then that could be hardcoded into the normal and Infestation mission modes.

However, if you want to tweak that in the vesselData, you'll need an attribute for that. Maybe Thom could experiment and find a selection of different reproduction levels that seem to work out well? Then we can select between them.

Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #13 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xavier Wise
It would be great if we could tailor how many biomech spawn from two adults mating. A higher and lower threshold could be set. For modding the game, we could then create new alien species using the biomech vesselData stuff and have more aggressively reproducing species.


Xavier you might actually be forced to do that in your mission scripts. The BioMech life cycle is built into the "story captain" AI, not the brain stack. Story captain is not accessible to mission scripts. So we may need to write our own BioMech life cycle code.

 


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Impaler

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Reply with quote  #14 
Very nice mission concept, it presents a lot of good command decisions, focus on killing the level 4's to cut off reproduction, or try to clean up the offspring en mass.
ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Impaler
Very nice mission concept, it presents a lot of good command decisions, focus on killing the level 4's to cut off reproduction, or try to clean up the offspring en mass.


Well, depending on if the Stage 4's need to feed and what they feed on, it could be even more complex than that. Stage 4's pose the most immediate threat since each is potentially a new spawn of enemies that will be more difficult to wipe out. However, Stage 1's and 2's are the easiest to kill, because their shields are not very powerful, and they do minimal damage.

Stage 1's and 2's pose no immediate threat, however. Stage 3's do, because they're the ones that will be going after your bases and the helpless ships in the area. So if you defend the mission objectives, you are neither taking out the reproducing BioMechs, nor the new babies which are relatively defenseless. You've got three choices, none of which are ideal. [biggrin]

If Stage 4's feed on energy too, then you have to worry about them seeking out mission objectives as well. Likewise if they become massively territorial against any ships in range while "pregnant".

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