large-booklet_01New set for the ORG boardgame, this one covering Neptune and the Long War between the dysfunctional Democratic Republic of Triton and the authoritarian upstart Protean League.

Available for purchase at The Gamecrafter, along with the other extant sets covering the rest of the solar system (other than the Kuiper Belt, which will be out next month-ish…)

Seven Sins Fallout Playthrough

Fallout-Wasteland-Vault-Dweller-Survivor-700x394

It turns out I lied about almost being done with #Fallout4.

I apparently do have one more run-through of the game. Inspired by last run-through’s accidental rise to power and glory as a drug lord, this time I am going to do my best to do what the game doesn’t really entirely support, and be a raider.

Specifically, I am going to try to do all seven sins:

  1. Lust – The game easily supports this, so other than having to temporarily sideline my beloved Dogmeat, this should be a gimmie.
  2. Gluttony – Eating vast amounts of food of every kind is par for the course, but generally I avoid radiated junk food. No more. GET IN MY BELLY. As an addendum, I will, of course, be getting the Cannibalism perk as well. Also, chems. Lots of chems.
  3. Greed – Picking up everything, no matter how minimally useful.
  4. Sloth – Sleeping 24 hours a day in regular shifts is allowed, even rewarded in the game. Should be easy to do. Especially if I can pull off sleeping in strangers’ houses.
  5. Wrath – Melee weapons. Rocket-powered sledgehammer plus the Bloody Mess perk. Raze peaceful settlements. Enough said.
  6. Envy – In my envy for other people’s peaceful lives, I will endeavor to ruin said lives.
  7. Pride – I will select a single settlement, build it up in proper junkyard Mad Max-style and outfit all of my settlers with Raider outfits. Also, there will probably be a throne. Just thinking out loud, here.

ORG Boardgame

boardgame_innerworldsSince my secret side project team is still working on the digital game, I thought you might like a quick side-side project in the form of a boardgame I put together based on the dystopian future of ORG.

ORG: The Boardgame consists of six sets ultimately, with three now available.

Depicting the struggle for influence and dominance of the solar system ranging from the 22nd century through to the end of the 24th century by powerful metanational corporations and organizations – the orgs.

Each player takes command of one of these dominant orgs, maneuvering to control the course of history for entire worlds through varied routes to power spanning commercial, cultural, military, political, and research.

Each set can be played independently or in conjunction with any of the others. All together, the gameboard stretches almost 13 feet long with 20 boards and over 30 worlds. (That may be the best part…)

boardgame_galileanconflictThe central mechanic is, each turn, the players bidding over sets of influence over areas such as Political, Military, Commercial, Cultural, and Research, with secondary events and political influence cards to throw a twist.

The thing is, the players can see all of what is available each turn, and you can see what the other players have, and as your progress down the line of worlds from Mercury on outward, each player’s supply of influence will dwindle, so there’s a great deal of bluff, diplomacy, and tactics in winning your way to dominance.

While print on demand is fairly evolved for books, games are a lot more complicated, so the pricing is a little higher than I’d like (trust me, I’m getting virtually nothing for this – this is just for you guys. Okay, and my own personal entertainment.)

Available here at The Game Crafter’s website:

The Anatomy of a Super Dreadnought

Since I did one of these for the Dreadnought class, it only seemed fair to give its big sister equal time. From my in-development side project, ORG.

Although similar in form to the smaller Dreadnought class, the Super Dreadnought actually occupies a distinct role. Where the Dreadnought can operate as a mobile command center or light carrier, the Super Dreadnought is designed to do these things over a long period of time, even to the extent of providing diplomatic support and, if necessary, ground bombardment options. Around Mars, State’s base of naval operations is not Phobos, but rather the Super Dreadnought battleship the Andrew Jackson, supported by its sister Super Dreadnoughts the Ronald Reagan and the James Monroe.

Three habitat rings allow the Super Dreadnought to maintain three different gravitational norms for the comfort of its crew, and four enormous nuclear reactors provide both a redundancy of power generation as well as the massive electrical energy necessary to support the Super Dreadnought’s unparalleled Artificial Magnetosphere Generators, or AMGs. Half again as long and over five times as massive as the Dreadnought class, the Super Dreadnought class is a monster of both defensive and offensive weaponry, claiming not only the largest bank of HED Lances of any class of ship (though, it should be noted, not by mass ratio), but an unparalleled mobile capacity for tactical nuclear launchers, as well as hangar bays capable of handling drones or fighters, or some combination of both, depending on the particular outfitting of the ship in question.

superdreadnought_anatomy

So, to summarize:

  • The Frigate class represents the general purpose workhorse of the solar system. It’s not a freighter, though it can be used as such. It’s not a survey ship, though with the right modifications it can do that, too. It’s not a dedicated warship, but armed with a bank of HED Lances, it can certainly fill that role. When fitted for combat, it is notable for being the smallest ship designed to make interplanetary trips. Frigates also have human crews, though they are not large enough to sport their own rotational elements. They’re small, fast to build, easy to crew, expendable, and flexible. Though not common, even some of the larger polities such as the Oceanic League on Earth utilizes frigates for the bulk of their combat operations.
  • The Destroyer class has no human crew at all in favor of a set of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) units. Without human frailties to worry about, destroyers are ideally suited for extended duration picket duties, stealth missions, suicide missions, as well as frontline duty. Although Earth is fortunate to have an inexhaustible supply of human beings for crew, most of the worlds in the rest of the solar system suffer from continued labor challenges, and as such destroyers are for this reason as well as all of the above mentioned reasons very common and very popular.
  • The Dreadnought class is the smallest human crewed ship designed from the start as a military vessel, rather than simply being sometimes adapted for such duty as is the case of the frigate class. Dreadnoughts are intended to operate within the safety of a net of destroyers; four or five is typical, although necessity and opportunity may dictate more or less. The Dreadnought class is built to be able to operate as a mobile command center, a frontline combatant, and, sometimes, even a light carrier.

Super dreadnoughts are not only highly advanced but incredibly expensive vessels, both to build and to maintain, and only the shipyards orbiting Earth itself have the industrial capacity to construct the massive battleships. The orgs that contract out the construction of these are not, naturally, above contracting out and selling super dreadnoughts to other polities, and as a result a number of the navies of the solar system off Earth boast one or more super dreadnoughts.

Org_EarthPolityMap

Like the Dreadnought, the Super Dreadnought has a profile that is noticeably longer than it is wide, although less so than the Dreadnought. As general naval tactica dictates that super dreadnoughts should be kept back and used as an operational platform, maintaining a narrow front is less critical. Also like the Dreadnought, a large proportion of the Super Dreadnought is comprised of armor and shielding systems. On the Super Dreadnought in particular, these latter, known as AMGs, are powerful enough to diffuse incoming HED Lance fire and even provide some limited added protection from kinetic damage sources.

Aside from the obvious differences such as double the number of attitude thrusters and double the number of nuclear reactors, the major operational difference of the Super Dreadnought class is that it is capable of very extended remote service. Whereas a dreadnought must rely on regular resupply, a super dreadnought carries with it extensive hydroponic capabilities. Where dreadnoughts are focused on providing an offensive forward warship, a super dreadnought is designed from the ground up as a mobile command center, and also boasts considerable troop transport capacity in the form of over a thousand cryosleep tubes.

Although all super dreadnoughts are intended to operate as mobile command centers, individual ships can be fitted to some degree of specialization, from added troop transport, extended hangar capacity for true carrier functionality, and seemingly inexhaustive tactical nuclear missile deployment capability. In practice, however, most super dreadnoughts occupy a middle path between all of these roles rather than specializing.

The triple habitat ring setup is most often geared towards the owning polity’s own gravitational requirements, but where such have mixed gravitational requirements by virtue of multiple planetary possessions this triplicate habitat ring offers logistical capabilities allowing accommodation. Some polities as well, especially those in the Outer Worlds, do not even fully crew their ships, instead choosing to use the extra habitat rings for additional hydroponics or even storage, or even refit the ship to remove any extraneous rings.

The Decidedly Unsexy Nuts and Bolts of Game Implementation

Unlike most software development, game development requires that the end product be that elusive thing called “fun”.

Because of this admittedly rather unusual requirement, it isn’t unusual for people from outside the industry to have the impression that game design is itself fundamentally a “fun” endeavor.

To be sure, the process of game design can be enjoyable, but generally in the same way that anyone who enjoys their job enjoys it.

So, what is actually involved in this kind of game design? (And, it should be noted, this is almost the exact same process I used on Star Trek Online‘s duty officer system or on many of the game modes over on Marvel Heroes.)

In ORG, ships are one of three types of a broader category called minions consisting of agents (people), facilities (things like shipyards, mines, refineries, military bases, and universities), and ships (freighters, medical ships, destroyers and other types of ship). The vast majority of tasks that a player will engage in require one or more minion to be temporarily slotted into the task, and thus unavailable for the duration of the task until it completes.

Players gain ships – and indeed, all minions – as rewards for tasks, or by purchasing them from other players, or by acquiring them from purchased packs. Behind the scenes, of course, the process is quite a but more complex:

Games like ORG can be seen as running on three basic layers – the engine, the game code, and the game data.

The engine represents the most fundamental code that handles things like drawing the user interface on the screen, interfacing the database with the rest of the code, coordinating the ability to purchase things in the game and have them show up properly in game. In terms of coding time, building the engine is almost always a far more expansive task than the game code.

The game code represents the game logic that makes a game like ORG, well ORG, and not Monopoly. The game code defines how tasks are processed, how durations are calculated, how rewards are processed, and a hundred other questions.

The game data represents the actual information for each individual task, each trait, each effect, each region, and so on. Whereas the tasks of building the engine and the game code are undergone by software engineers, the task of implementing the game data is undergone by designers. There is, even, an additional layer of distinction – design architecture (or sometimes just “design”) and design implementation. Whereas the game code is the actual programming code that tells the program how to process things, the task of design architecture is concerns itself with the basic gameplay decisions of how should the game process various actions by the player. Design implementation, on the other hand, is concerned with the replication, extension, and elaboration of the multitude of individual missions, tasks, player classes, items, and other elements that will vary depending on the type of game.

(Years ago, at the dawn of video game development, it was common for developers to wear multiple hats, and it was quite common to see software engineers, or artists, or producers also engaging in design; these days, especially on well-established and well-funded projects, these tasks are almost always fairly specialized.)

(Check out the rest of the article over here on the website for ORG…)

Anatomy of a Dreadnought of 2472 C.E.

dreadnought_01Art Diary #4 for the 25th century solar system of ORG, a side project in development for an iOS/OSX/Android/PC/Linux multiplayer persistent logistical game.

This beauty, courtesy of P Michael Norris, is the pre-textured Dreadnought Class battleship in common usage in 2472 C.E., complete with protected habitat rings, rotating attitude thrusters, and the innumerable other functional details combining to make a practical, lethal warship.

In the course of designing the ships of the 25th century of ORG, it was important to us that the ships made sense, both from a functional design perspective and for the role that they were intended to fulfill.

While the frigate class is often militarized and used for interception duties and commerce raiding, their core design is not that of a dedicated military machine. As such, they come in all sizes and shapes, some better adapted than others. Destroyers, on the other hand, are the workhorse – uncrewed and piloted by advanced Artificial Intelligence programs, destroyers are both expendable and capable of very aggressive maneuvering.

As useful as these two ship classes are, extended duty in complicated tactical theaters of operation requires – at least politically – a human mind to make the overall tactical decisions in the field. More intended as mobile command stations than as frontline battleships, this class of battleship is intended to provide a flexible, mobile, resilient element of force projection.

This is the Dreadnought class.

Unlike destroyers with their absence of a human crew, the central design consideration for the dreadnought is that it has a human crew. Dreadnoughts thus have several elements that are absent or played down in destroyers.

As with destroyers, the dreadnought’s profile is long and narrow, though by necessity it is bulkier than a destroyer since it must be robust enough to take significant damage and still be operational. The front part of the ship does have power conduits, weapons, and hangar bays, but by mass is nearly 80% armor and shielding systems, the latter of which is capable of short, maintained energy deflection similar in function to a ship-sized version of a planet’s magnetosphere.

dreadnought_anatomy

Hangar Bays can be configured for either automated drones or crewed fighters for long-range operations – often both, as crewed fighters frequently operate in functionality similar to the dreadnought itself but at a more local level, meaning a crewed fighter will operate more as a drone command ship with attendant automated drones extending the effective reach and reaction speed of the crewed fighter.

HED Lances are common short to medium range naval engagement weapons consisting of high-energy particle weaponry. Even their short range, however, is quite long, generally measured still in tens of kilometers. HED Lances are also common armaments for the smaller, A.I.-operated destroyer class; larger super-dreadnought class battleships are intended to operate at even more distant range, and as such tend to favor tactical launched warheads, although both dreadnought class ships and super-dreadnought class ships usually have both types of armaments, although their respective ratios differ significantly.

A pair of Habitat Rings are situated towards the rear of the dreadnought. Paired for redundancy and, and at the cost of energy efficiency the habitat rings are much more compact so their profile is minimized and also so they can take greater advantage of the dreadnought’s shielding systems. Able to rotate so as to provide faux gravity, there are also secondary command stations in the center of the dreadnought beneath the rings for use during major active combat operations. In addition to not generally being used during combat maneuvering, the habitat rings are also not used during primary thrust at the beginning and end of a flight plan. (In fact, as with nearly all such ships, the deceleration period involves the ship flipping around so that as it approaches a target world or station it will advance rear-first until it gets fairly close.)

Behind the habitat rings lies fuel, cryo-storage for hibernating personnel such as ground troops or auxiliary crew, and standard storage as well. Behind that sits another set of heavy shielding and secondary shielding systems to protect the crew from the powerful Nuclear Engines at the rear of the ship that provide the bulk of the vessel’s thrust.

Finally, sandwiched between the ship’s powerful nuclear reactors and the storage section sits another rotating ring, this one not for the habitat rings but for a trio of Attitude Thrusters used for rapid maneuvering. The three thruster pods rotate on a common ring such that if one or even two takes damage, the dreadnought can still be maneuvered even with just a single remaining thruster pod. The thruster pod itself has dual redundancy, and can angle 180 degree along the primary axis of the ship. Fuel supply for the attitude thrusters is resupplied from the ship’s main nuclear reactors, but stored separately, meaning that in the event of a problem with both nuclear reactors, some degree of maneuvering and thrust is still available.