Foundation and Empire TC

Playtesters needed

Hello all,

I've been working on a TC based on Isaac Asimov's classic Foundation series. Specifically, the first part of the second book, Foundation and Empire. I've reached a point where I could use some playtest feedback, so I'm tossing this public alpha out into the wild, just to see what comes back. Click here to download it and check it out.

What I need playtested right now are the ship designs (graphics and stats). In particular, I need to know if the opposing sides' ships are decently balanced against each other, with neither side having any strong advantages. It's particularly tricky just because the Foundation's major strength is in their ships' speed and agility, which is tough to balance against powerful weapons and shields.

The alpha has only three systems: Trantor, the Empire's capital; Terminus, center of the Foundation; and Siwenna, an independent world that doesn't really serve any purpose here. All of the major warships from both sides are available for free, so you can just grab them and go.

The only missions are geared toward testing the ships. You can fight any of the ships, singly or in groups. You can take any of the groups as an escort. Or you can witness AI-controlled battles between any of the ships or groups from the two sides.

So, I'd appreciate it if you'd take it out for a spin, kick the tires, and let me know what doesn't work. The Readme includes a lot of info you might find useful, so make sure to check it out. Thanks!

What's the eventual goal of this TC? Isaac Asimov's books don't really have any player elements to them that can be turned into a TC IMHO.

@jacabyte, on 12 February 2012 - 11:39 AM, said in Foundation and Empire TC:

What's the eventual goal of this TC? Isaac Asimov's books don't really have any player elements to them that can be turned into a TC IMHO.

As I see it, the books were so broad in scope that a lot of the details were left for the reader to fill in, and that's what I'm doing here. None of the battles were described at all, for instance, or the details of Bel Riose's intelligence-gathering visit to the Foundation, or how he found his way there... All kinds of off-stage episodes that can be worked into a game. Just how I'll do that, well... just wait and see.

Now, it's true that the player can't really affect the ultimate outcome of the war. Part of the point of the story was that one person can't affect the course of history all on his own. And since you'll be able to choose which side to fight for, you could end up on the losing side. But there are still personal victories to by won, and being on the losing side could lead to the most interesting victory of all. (I can say that there won't be much in the way of happily-ever-afters here.)

The Macintosh resource fork, bane of my windows using existence. Could you compress these into .bin or .sit files, it looks interesting and I'd really like to test your alpha.

@reclusiveone, on 12 February 2012 - 07:11 PM, said in Foundation and Empire TC:

The Macintosh resource fork, bane of my windows using existence. Could you compress these into .bin or .sit files, it looks interesting and I'd really like to test your alpha.

Done. Grab it here.

I hadn't realized zip files were a problem. That's how I've been backing my stuff up... erk.

@shig23, on 12 February 2012 - 10:05 PM, said in Foundation and Empire TC:

I hadn't realized zip files were a problem.

The problem isn’t so much zip files, as the fact that the convertor included with the Windows version of EV Nova can only handle a very small range of input formats.

Sadly, I don't have a machine running NOVA online currently. But I love the Foundation series, and would love to take a look at your ship designs if you'll post screenshots or renders. When I read it, I was under the impression that foundation ships were much smaller - they got put on Terminus because it had no natural resources, so they'd have to use high-tech solutions to everyday problems; unlike the empire which had nearly unlimited resources and could solve everything with brute force (meaning that their ships were HUGE).

Funny, I"m reading Foundation and Empire on my Kindle at the moment… now you've got me wishing I had EVN installed on this computer to try out your TC.

@meaker-vi, on 13 February 2012 - 11:09 AM, said in Foundation and Empire TC:

Sadly, I don't have a machine running NOVA online currently. But I love the Foundation series, and would love to take a look at your ship designs if you'll post screenshots or renders. When I read it, I was under the impression that foundation ships were much smaller - they got put on Terminus because it had no natural resources, so they'd have to use high-tech solutions to everyday problems; unlike the empire which had nearly unlimited resources and could solve everything with brute force (meaning that their ships were HUGE).

It's been years since I re-read the Foundation trilogy, but if I recall correctly, at the point of the war with the Mule, the Foundation's sphere of influence was much greater than just Terminus. I seem to recall a line or two about how difficult it was to protect their holdings since it was spread out around the periphery of the Empire, making reinforcing a nightmare, while the Empire could just kind of focus on one particular point and/or carve up the territory. I may be misremembering that, however.

@shig23, on 12 February 2012 - 10:05 PM, said in Foundation and Empire TC:

Done. Grab it here.

I hadn't realized zip files were a problem. That's how I've been backing my stuff up... erk.

Thanks!

and like David Arthur said; it's not the zips, it's just that files made using the resource fork can't exist on windows.

@reclusiveone, on 13 February 2012 - 08:35 PM, said in Foundation and Empire TC:

it's not the zips, it's just that files made using the resource fork can't exist on windows.

Strictly speaking, they can’t exist in a .zip file either, since PKZIP was designed for DOS. So getting resource files into a .zip file requires the same sort of workaround as getting them onto Windows; the problem is that the convertor and Mac OS X’s .zip features use different workarounds.

Come to think of it, I should take a look at exactly how the Mac OS X version works . . .

@david-arthur, on 13 February 2012 - 09:28 PM, said in Foundation and Empire TC:

Strictly speaking, they can’t exist in a .zip file either, since PKZIP was designed for DOS. So getting resource files into a .zip file requires the same sort of workaround as getting them onto Windows; the problem is that the convertor and Mac OS X’s .zip features use different workarounds.

Come to think of it, I should take a look at exactly how the Mac OS X version works . . .

Hrm. I've not used the Windows version of... well, anything, really. Can you work with the files as they are, or do I need to create a separate version?

@meaker-vi, on 13 February 2012 - 11:09 AM, said in Foundation and Empire TC:

Sadly, I don't have a machine running NOVA online currently. But I love the Foundation series, and would love to take a look at your ship designs if you'll post screenshots or renders. When I read it, I was under the impression that foundation ships were much smaller - they got put on Terminus because it had no natural resources, so they'd have to use high-tech solutions to everyday problems; unlike the empire which had nearly unlimited resources and could solve everything with brute force (meaning that their ships were HUGE).

Yup, that's exactly what I'm trying to reflect here. The Imperial ships are monstrous, miles long in the books--and my sprite for the biggest of them is just over 500 pixels. (That's part of the goal of the playtest, to find out whether I can get away with that, or have to include smaller versions of some of them.)

Here are the renders I've made so far, to scale but not actual game-sprite size. First, the Imperial Navy:

Posted Image

From bottom to top, starting with the left column: Patrol Cutter, Corvette, Frigate, Destroyer; Light Cruiser, Heavy Cruiser; Battlecruiser; Battlewagon. And yes, there is a certain, ah, design philosophy to some of them. As one noted psychohistorian put it, "Gentlemen, there are times when a cigar is just a cigar, and a starship is just a starship. But in the case of His August Imperial Majesty's Navy, it is most assuredly something else."

Now, the Foundation's ships:

Posted Image

Bottom to top, from the left: Dory (barely visible), Sloop, Brigantine, Man-O-War. All were hastily designed and built in response to the Imperial threat, so except for the Man-O-War, all of them are converted from existing civilian or Trader ships. Technologically, they are superior in every way to their Imperial counterparts, but they're still not strong enough--and not nearly numerous enough--to take the Imperial fleet head-on.

@archon, on 13 February 2012 - 06:06 PM, said in Foundation and Empire TC:

It's been years since I re-read the Foundation trilogy, but if I recall correctly, at the point of the war with the Mule, the Foundation's sphere of influence was much greater than just Terminus. I seem to recall a line or two about how difficult it was to protect their holdings since it was spread out around the periphery of the Empire, making reinforcing a nightmare, while the Empire could just kind of focus on one particular point and/or carve up the territory. I may be misremembering that, however.

It was far worse than that. After taking all those hinterland worlds, General Riose was able to form a sphere of ships around the Foundation's remaining territory, exerting enough force anywhere on its surface to turn back any resistance. He then began to draw the noose closed, and there was nothing the Foundation could do to break the siege.

Those Imperial ships share some design similarities with the ship graphics in the rEVisited plug-in package. shig, were you by any chance the creator of those graphics? If so, there are a few people around the boards here who've been looking for permission to use those graphics.

As for your TC, I just downloaded it and will get around to playing it eventually.

Good eye. Yes, the Imperial cruisers and ships-of-the-line are directly derived from the rEV graphics. Kris Quistorff was kind enough to provide the source files for those. You can reach him at k.quistorff@gmail.com if you want copies for yourself.

If you just want to use the sprites as they are, permission is already explicitly given in a license doc included with the pack. That's what I was originally going to do with this project, with the Confed ships for the Empire and the Rebels for the Foundation, but I wanted to put different emblems on them, and Photoshop was useless for that. So when I got hold of the files I changed those first, then started tweaking a little here and there, and... well, it kind of got out of hand, as you can see. To imagine that I'd have been satisfied with only two or three ships on each side..!

So, ah, anyone had a chance to try it out? Don't mean to be pushy, but I'm curious what people think.

I have tried it out. It's pretty fun, though I personally think the scale could use some tweaking. Mainly, the Man-O-War needs to be smaller, simply because it is smaller than the Imperial equivalents. It just looks odd to me to see it like that after having seen images here with them all to exact scale with each other.

As for balance, I haven't read the books so I can't tell exactly what you're looking for. I can see, though, that the Foundation's navy is powerful but not unbeatable. One thing you might want to look into, though, is the fact some ships have turret weapons that only fire to the front. You may want to switch those to forward-quadrant instead of standard turrets with blind spots.

@darthkev, on 22 February 2012 - 10:59 PM, said in Foundation and Empire TC:

I have tried it out. It's pretty fun, though I personally think the scale could use some tweaking. Mainly, the Man-O-War needs to be smaller, simply because it is smaller than the Imperial equivalents. It just looks odd to me to see it like that after having seen images here with them all to exact scale with each other.

Hmm... I'll have to take a look at that. The images posted here were re-renders from a slightly different angle, so it's possible I got something wrong. The Man-O-War was meant to be roughly the size of the Imperial cruisers.

@darthkev, on 22 February 2012 - 10:59 PM, said in Foundation and Empire TC:

As for balance, I haven't read the books so I can't tell exactly what you're looking for. I can see, though, that the Foundation's navy is powerful but not unbeatable. One thing you might want to look into, though, is the fact some ships have turret weapons that only fire to the front. You may want to switch those to forward-quadrant instead of standard turrets with blind spots.

None of the ships should have blind spots. I intentionally avoided that, just because it makes it too easy for the faster ships to zip in and plink the bigger ones to death. Which ones are showing up with blind spots?

The balance I'm trying for is for each Foundation ship to be able to defeat its Imperial counterparts roughly half the time, maybe slightly less, but relying on speed and agility rather than strength and toughness. (Of course, a ship controlled by the player will have better odds. That's why I put in the "Battle" missions, so I could see how they do with the same skill level.)

Thanks for the feedback!

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