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SpaceEmpires.net Newsletter - May 2005
Volume 1, Issue 3 - May 2005


________________________________________________________________________________

SpaceEmpires.net Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 3 - May 2005
________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________

Table of Contents

1) General News
2) Modding News
3) Community News
4) Developing More Interesting Cloaking Systems
5) How to combat the Tesco Start
6) Hammer Time
7) Newsletter Information
8) Contribution Credits
________________________________________________________________________________

1) General News
________________________________________________________________________________

In an odd turn of events, Shrapnel Games has concatenated the new Space Empires
V forum with the old Space Empires IV forum, creating the Space Empires IV & V
forum.
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/postlist.php?Cat=&Board=UBB23

Montreal, Canada. May 10, 2005 -- Strategy First and Malfador Machinations are
happy to announce that they will be bringing the popular online title Star Fury
to retail stores nationwide.
http://www.strategyfirst.com/en/press
________________________________________________________________________________

2) Modding News
________________________________________________________________________________

Parabolize has created a new revision of the long-standing Devnull Mod.
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/showflat.php?Number=72491

StrategiaInUltima has put Capship Mod on hold for the time being.
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/showflat.php?Number=330909

Tesco Samoa has revived the infamous Sweet Mod and is currently working on a new
version.
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/showflat.php?Number=164105

In the works:

Fyron reports that the long overdue update for FQM is nearly complete.
http://fqm.spaceempires.net/
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/showflat.php?Number=70762

After a long hiatus, Fyron has resumed work on Adamant Mod. the Energy and
Machine race paradigms are nearing completion. Additionally, a new pollution
system, based on discussions with Suicide Junkie, has been implemented. These
items are available in the 0.16.00 Dev Snapshot version of the mod. They are not
yet ready for public release.
http://adamant.spaceempires.net/
http://www.spaceempires.net/home/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=4060

Atrocities has dipped his prodigious hand into the Star Wars universe, unvieling
some new Empire ships.
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/showflat.php?Number=355227

Atrocities is currently testing a new update for the Star Trek Mod.
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/showflat.php?Number=298468
http://www.astempire.net/startrek/STM.html
________________________________________________________________________________

3) Community News
________________________________________________________________________________

Suicide Junkie dusted off Pirates and Nomads Mod to start P&N Syndicate Wars, a
PBW game centered around pirate races.
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/showflat.php?Number=351409
http://seiv.pbw.cc/

SECenter.org continued its months old search for authors willing to contribute
articles on various subjects.
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/showflat.php?Number=343716
http://www.secenter.org/

Captain Kwok awarded two more people with Captain Kwok's Community Service
Award. Geoschmo received the April award for running the Play by Web service for
SEIV and providing countless mod and multiplayer game ideas over the years.
Atrocities received the May award for his plethora of shipsets and Star Trek
mods.
http://www.captainkwok.net/community.php

AgentZero continued work on his excellent "Hell is for Heros" fan fiction story.
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/showflat.php?Number=349561

Abkaiser conducted a brief interview with Aaron Hall on Space Empires V.
http://www.andybrain.com/extras/aaron_hall_interview.htm

Thermodyne has begun an effort to resurect the Borg Forums and Hypecomm Central.
The Borg Forums was a gaming forum back in the Space Empires III days. Hypercomm
Central was a roleplaying forum in the Space Empires III days and the early days
of Space Empires IV. Eventually the site will be located at arklamp.com.
http://69.136.230.163:9080/
________________________________________________________________________________

4) Developing More Interesting Cloaking Systems
________________________________________________________________________________

One of the least developed areas in the default game is cloaking and cloak
detection. With a paltry 3 levels of Cloaking Devices and easy to come by cloak
detecting sensors, this potentially exciting and strategic part of the game is
rarely seen. Fortunately, there are plenty of options that are easy to
implement in even the most basic of mods, but first let's start with
understanding how cloaking works in Space Empires IV.

The Basics
----------

To start, there are 5 different types of sensor types hard coded in the game:
EM Active, EM Passive, Gravitic, Psychic, and Temporal. A typical sensor entry
in components.txt is listed below:

Name := Gravitic Scanner I
Description := Scanner designed to detect gravitic distortions emitted
by cloaked ships.
Pic Num := 39
Tonnage Space Taken := 40
Tonnage Structure := 20
Cost Minerals := 800
Cost Organics := 50
Cost Radioactives := 450
Vehicle Type := ShipBaseSatDrone
Supply Amount Used := 0
Restrictions := None
General Group := Cloaking & Detection
Family := 35
Roman Numeral := 1
Custom Group := 0
Number of Tech Req := 1
Tech Area Req 1 := Gravitic Scanning
Tech Level Req 1 := 1
Number of Abilities := 1
Ability 1 Type := Sensor Level
Ability 1 Descr := Peforms Level 2 gravitic scans.
Ability 1 Val 1 := Gravitic
Ability 1 Val 2 := 2
Weapon Type := None

The most important part of the entry is the Sensor Level ability. The Val 1
entry corresponds to one of the above mentioned sensor types, and Val 2
corresponds to the sensor level. In this example, the scanner will perform
scans at level 2, detecting any object that does not have a gravitic cloak level
greater than level 2. By default, all objects are given Level 1 'sight' in EM
Passive and EM Active sensors - for consistency we'll also assume that objects
recieve Level 1 sight for the other 3 sensor types, although this is not true.

An entry for a cloaking device is quite similar to those for detecting sensors,
but with a few minor differences as described below:

Name := Cloaking Device III
Description := Renders a ship invisible to most types of detection
sensors.
Pic Num := 38
Tonnage Space Taken := 20
Tonnage Structure := 20
Cost Minerals := 600
Cost Organics := 90
Cost Radioactives := 450
Vehicle Type := ShipBase
Supply Amount Used := 30
Restrictions := None
General Group := Cloaking & Detection
Family := 36
Roman Numeral := 3
Custom Group := 0
Number of Tech Req := 1
Tech Area Req 1 := Cloaking Device
Tech Level Req 1 := 3
Number of Abilities := 5
Ability 1 Type := Cloak Level
Ability 1 Descr := Prevents Level 3 Gravitic scans.
Ability 1 Val 1 := Gravitic
Ability 1 Val 2 := 4
Ability 2 Type := Cloak Level
Ability 2 Descr := Prevents Level 3 EM Active scans.
Ability 2 Val 1 := EM Active
Ability 2 Val 2 := 4
Ability 3 Type := Cloak Level
Ability 3 Descr := Prevents Level 3 EM Passive scans.
Ability 3 Val 1 := EM Passive
Ability 3 Val 2 := 4
Ability 4 Type := Cloak Level
Ability 4 Descr := Prevents Level 3 Psychic scans.
Ability 4 Val 1 := Psychic
Ability 4 Val 2 := 4
Ability 5 Type := Cloak Level
Ability 5 Descr := Prevents Level 3 Temporal scans.
Ability 5 Val 1 := Temporal
Ability 5 Val 2 := 4
Weapon Type := None

Note that the cloak level needs to be 1 greater than the 'sight' level of the
sensor types it is effective against, so a cloaking device with a cloak level of
1 would be useless. Another difference is that cloaking devices can use
supplies. The supply amount listed is per turn when the cloaking device is
active. If the cloaking component does not have an entry for one of the sensor
types, then the cloak level for that sensor type will be 0.

The setup of the cloaking and cloak-detecting sensors in the stock game is
straight forward. There are 3 levels of Cloaking Device and 3 levels of 5
different types of sensors, one for each sensor type. There is no real
variation with the different types of sensors aside from research costs. Mines
are only unit/vehicle in the stock game that have cloaking built into their hull
and cannot be made visible by any sensor.

* Cloaking Device I-III (All Types, Cloak Level 2-4)

* Hyper-Optic I-III (EM Passive, Sensor Level 2-4)
* Tachyon Scanners I-III (EM Active, Sensor Level 2-4)
* Gravitic Sensors I-III (Gravitic, Sensor Level 2-4)
* Psychic Receptors I-III (Psychic, Sensor Level 2-4)
* Temporal Sensors I-III (Temporal, Sensor Level 2-4)

Although the default setup is simple with any sensor being capable of detecting
a cloaked ship, it has the potential for a lot more intricate and interesting
designs. Cloak Level and Sensor Level abilities can be used in Components.txt,
Facilities.txt, and VehicleSize.txt.

Let's Make it More Interesting:
-------------------------------

The simplest method to make cloaking and detection more extensive is to extend
the number of tech levels for both items. This gives players a longer amount of
time to try and use cloaking devices before they top out. If pursuing a course
of this sort, it might be a good idea to cheapen the cost of cloaking devices or
even decrease their size to encourage their use. Remember it only takes one
detecting scanner per system to overcome a fleet of cloaked ships.

More interesting design schemes can make use of the various types of sensors.
In that case, it can be a good idea to establish a hierachy of cloaks or sensor
types from basic to more advance.

Example of a Tiered Cloaking System:
------------------------------------

Gravitic < EM Passive < EM Active (Omitting Psychic/Temporal for Simplicity)

* Small Ships (Gravitic Cloak Level 2-4; EM Active/Passive Cloak Level 2)
* Cloaking Device I-VI (EM Passive, Cloak Level 2-7; EM Active Cloak Level 2;
Prevents all gravitic scans)
* Advanced Cloaking Device I-VI (EM Active, Cloak Level 2-7; Prevents all other
scans)

* 'Basic' Sensors I-III (Gravitic, Sensor Level 2-4)
* 'Advanced' Sensors I-VI (EM Passive, Sensor Level 2-7)
* 'More Advanced' Sensors I-VI (EM Active, Sensor Level 2-7)

Using the above scheme, you can make smaller or selected ship hulls (or even
other vehicles like mines, fighters etc) have low levels of 'natural' gravitic
cloaks while adding basic sensors that are required to detect them. As
technology improves, you can have cloaking devices that render ships invisible
against more advance sensors in the EM Passive tier while being effective
against all lower level scans, and lastly even more advanced sensors to overcome
the most advanced cloaking devices. Alternatively, you could create a series of
stealth armors in the lower end of the hierachy to serve as pre-cursors to
cloaking devices.

On the detection end, if you find it to easy to deploy sensors to catch cloaked
ships, you may want to make using sensors more difficult by restricting them to
bases or making larger. Remember it takes just once functional sensor in a
system to detect cloaked ships, so by making them more difficult to build helps
to encourage more active use of cloaking in the game.

Also keep in mind there is no requirement to use each sensor area as it is
described, since the actual sensor types are not displayed anywhere, you can
call them whatever you want in your mod nor do you have to employ the racial
trait ones exclusively with racial traits.

Considering research, the there should be enough levels of cloaking
armors/devices plus sensors to stretch through an entire game. A lengthy tech
tree helps to keep players engaged as the game goes on and encourages a constant
battle between the next generation of cloaking device and it's counterpart
sensor. Also with more tech levels, you may also want to consider increasing
the obscuration levels of storms and nebula.

Further Ideas to Spice Things Up
--------------------------------

* In a tiered scheme, create some overlap between the tiers
* Create several separate but 'equal' branches of cloaking technology, using
each sensor type as a branch
* Reduce research costs and increase number of tech levels to promote a more
rapid 'cat and mouse' game
* Create a more extensive system of stealth armors (using different sensor
types) to allow more race specialization
* Allow higher level detection sensors to uncover mines

-----

That's it for now and I did skip the area of planet cloaking, but I hope that
provides a good start to making your mod's cloaking system a lot more
interesting!

Captain Kwok
________________________________________________________________________________

5) How to combat the Tesco Start
________________________________________________________________________________

So here I am on vacation, trimming hedges, cutting down trees and writing about
how to combat the Tesco Start. Ever play a game of that classic Space Empires
and have 1 breatheable planet located within your starting system? And then
there are three other planets that are tiny but you can colonize them. Then
after afew turns of exploring the empty surrounding systems, you find a few more

tiny and small planets you can colonize.

Well if you have the luxury of that start then you have never had a Tesco Start.

A Tesco Start would not allow for a breatheable planet located within three
hundred light years of your start system. Hell what are you doing with three
planets to colonize? Now we're talking about a Tesco Start.

So how do you combat that? First off, you must realise that Space Empires
is a game that has a history of knowing when you mention you like another game,
hobby, person or food. It knows so it punishes you. What can you do? Well here
it is. Are we paying attention right now?

First have a beer or a glass of wine when creating your empire to combat the
Tesco Start. See that one ability you hammer down to fifty percent. Yeah you
know the treaty one. We do not do it. You need it to be at one hundred and
twenty. That's right you heard me. One hundred and twenty. Repeat it. One
hundred and twenty. One twenty, one twenty. Sounds nice does it not. Now where
do these additonal points come from as you have the min-max system down? Well
who cares how much your bunnies reproduce. Drop that sucker down and drop the
tolerance down as well. Happiness. Drop it. This is a Tesco Start. Nowhere are
you allowed to be happy. Your going to be building billy club swinging troops
soon enough, which brings me to the second part of the equation.

Research troops fast and propulsion very fast. You need speed and you need to
put all your horses all in a row. Did you take advanced propulsion? Silly man,
you need those points on mining cause your going to become very adept at remote
mining. And you are going to make the fine art of the complaint very noticable.

Hey if you're good enough they may even call a bad start after you. If your good

enough to survive a Tesco Start.

Outta here. Next month I show how Space Empires and BBQ with a bucket of ice and

some beer makes for a good sunny afternoon.

Tesco
________________________________________________________________________________

6) Hammer Time
________________________________________________________________________________

My previous essay into the art of the hammer dealth with some of the basics of
using this precise instrument; the basics of weapon length, your position when
launching the strike, aiming and the angle, position and force of impact.

I will now expand upon these concepts, in order.

Previously, I only treated shortly on the length of the hammer. The size and
shape of the head are also important.

A two-meter hammer will clearly have a greater speed at the point of impact.
This can be usefull for smashing rocks, knocking out elephants and getting those
little peanut peices out of your teeth, provided you have at least a two-meter
reach. Cybernetics can help there. However, such a hammer can also become
unweildy; hard to control and perhaps too heavy to lift, which can be a problem
if the head is too large.

It can also be extremly hard to conceal, for those of you who are not cartoon
characters or other beings who can pull hammers out of thin air

A six-inch hammer is precise, easy to control and very easy to hide. A six-inch
rubber hammer can be used to hilarious effect when walking through a
space-station - As long you are carefull not to whack everyone you come accross,
you can prank for hours without anyone the wiser.

Unfortunatly, it doesn't have much of a force multiplier. I mention this only in
passing; when you can crush rocks with your bare hands, that rarely matters.
However, unexperienced as I am in this area, I can give you some pointers.

- Strike for vulnerable areas. If you happen to know what or where these are,
send me a list and I'll include it in the next Hammer Time.

- Get stronger.

My own main hammer has what I beleive to be a good combination of control and
damage; The handle is two and a half feet long; the head is six inches wide and
one and a half feet long. The head is situated six inches behind the end of the
handle, providing some balance.

A small hammer-head provides a smaller impact, but more control. The reverse is
true for a larger hammer-head.

As for shape, I've heard some people have taken to making their hammer-head
pointy, so as to deal more damage. Personally, I think this would make it a less
precise instrument as well as negating the point of having a hammer in the first
place, and I'm not sure I approve of this.

I seem to have run out of time to deal with impact; I will have to cover it
later and apologize for the inconvenience.

'Till next time,
I'm Narf. And this has been, Hammer Time.
________________________________________________________________________________

7) Newsletter Information
________________________________________________________________________________

Contact Info

Web site: http://www.spaceempires.net/
Email: admin at SpaceEmpires dot net
IRC: #SpaceEmpires on Freenode.net ( http://seirc.spaceempires.net/ )

This newsletter is put out by SpaceEmpires.net. It focuses on all things
related to Space Empires.

To subscribe to the newsletter, you must register at the SpaceEmpires.net Portal
and select the option to receive the newsletter when editing your profile. You
can also unsubscribe from the newsletter in the same manner.
http://www.spaceempires.net/home/

If you wish to contribute to this Newsletter, send an e-mail to the editor,
Imperator Fyron. Any relevant Space Empires related news will be accepted.
Currently, we are looking for writers wishing to contribute articles on subjects
such as game strategy, technical articles explaining various game features,
short fiction, etc.
________________________________________________________________________________

8) Contribution Credits
________________________________________________________________________________

Newsletter editor: Imperator Fyron.

"How to combat the Tesco Start" contributed by Tescosamoa.

"Developing More Interesting Cloaking Systems" contributed by Captain Kwok.

"Hammer Time" contributed by Narf.

The Space Empires series of games is produced by Malfador Machinations.
http://www.malfador.com/

Space Empires IV and Space Empires: Starfury were published by Shrapnel Games.
Shrapnel Games has very limited quantities of both SE4 and SF remaining in
stock.
http://www.shrapnelgames.com/
________________________________________________________________________________

All submitted materials are copyright by their respective owners and used with
full permission.

The SpaceEmpires.net Newsletter is copyright 2005 by the SpaceEmpires.net
Newsletter Staff. All rights reserved.
________________________________________________________________________________





Copyright © by the author, posted with permission.

Published on: 2005-06-02 (5076 reads)

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