Tech Editor

There was quite a lot of discussion about the tech editor lately, mainly here, but there is still a lot of unanswered questions.

What is the editor going to look like?

Now, I’m not talking about the GUI, the visuals or anything. What I mean is what things are going to be there to our disposal. Is there going to be a selection of materials and shapes that you have to further modify by modeling? Because, well. Imagine you want to design a rocket engine. I think the editor should feel fun and challenging, while making sense AND while not requiring you to have a degree in rocket engineering and 5 years of practice with Blender. Which might be quite a challenge and I have not seen anyone address it before. Maybe with things that have interior maybe we can see and modify the cross section of the thing displayed as a blueprint? Meaning you would be able to switch views between 3D and a blueprint cross section. But still.
So basically the editor should be easy to use, while not oversimplifying things - requiring you to know at least the most basic basics of the given thing (e.g. that a rocket engine has a fuel tank, an oxygen tank and some pumps that mix the two), but not requiring an expertise. This will be incredibly hard to balance and I’d like to hear your thoughts on that.

How will we distinguish what does what?

Okay, now an approach from the other side - we design something, it has let’s say two chambers, some pipes and so on. How will the editor say “Oh yeah, that’s a rocket engine!”, or “Oh yeah, that’s a water pump!”, or even “That’s definitely a weirdly shaped hookah!”. This, also, will be incredibly hard to achieve. Maybe we can add certain labels to certain parts of the technology? Such as labeling a hollow space with the tag “container”, or parts of the surface grabable (hell that’s a weird word) by the species as handles, et cetera. Or maybe there could be “slap-on” parts for the most fundamental components such as “container”, “pipe”, whose dimensions you can change, so that we don’t have to label them?
And maybe once the technology meets certain criteria, such as “Does it have two containers, one that’s ought to be filled with oxygen and one ought to be filled with fuel? Does it have pipes from these two containers that meet at some point?” It will be labeled as the technology (a rocket engine in this case). This system, however, should be easy to understand, yet not too trivial such as “Slap these two things on the screen and you have a particle collider!” and not exploitable by meeting all of the criteria despite the technology obviously being not functional. Again, this will be insanely complicated to make right. Any ideas?

Scaling

How will scaling work? There is basically no significant difference between a hatchet and a war axe. Or between a firework and a space rocket (okay, the materials, but you get the point). How will we make sure that the thing is just the right size? Will there be a scaling slider? How will we insure that it is portrayed realistically? Since making a 2cm dagger would be easy (but pretty damn useless), but making a 2cm supercomputer might not even be possible. How to ensure this? Also, as you develop, maybe the object becomes more and more scalable. Not too many decades ago computer were the size of a room and were able to do basic computation, but now they can fit in your pocket and do things our ancestors would never even dream of (okay, I’m talking mostly about porn). How will this be dealt with? Since, as I said earlier, each technology is differently difficult to make in different sizes.

Please, tell me your thoughts on the Tech Editor and how it should work, because I cannot quite figure out how it would function in such a way that’s not overly complicated and requires a degree in every single field of engineering, but neither is a boring minigame similar to the games where you combine elements to get something new or “Slap this on this” OR just a tech tree where you unlock things.
PS: But someone should definitely make at least a mod (if not a difficulty setting) for the tech editor, where you do actually need a degree in the certain field to make it work. Might be a fun challenge for people who know something about this kind of stuff or an interesting learning experience. This should definitely not be the default difficulty setting, maybe not even in the non-modded game as an option, but as a mod that would definitely be something I would love to try.

I am entirely against a tech tree. Tech trees are inherently limiting in that they have a finite list that must be followed in a particular order. That would not fit Thrive. I think the technology system should be something emergent, where there are simple systems that can be combined in novel ways to create more advanced systems.

Think of Dwarf Fortress. That game has no tech tree. There is no “atom smasher” technology that must be unlocked. An atom smasher is a bridge that closes atop items or enemies, instantly removing them from the game world. This is an emergent property of many other game systems that incidentally (that is very important) happens to be useful. I think that the player should initially be given myriad possibilities without knowledge of what works. The player would have no experiment or copy the AI, just as real human societies had to experiment and copy each other.

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I absolutely agree with you, but I’m not sure how the designing of the technology itself should work. But yeah, tech trees would be hell in Thrive.

Personally I think that by this stage of the game you will be playing as a head of state making head of state decisions. Political leaders don’t, in general, design rocket engines because they simply don’t have time, they are working on political problems.

Moreover even Kerbal Space Program doesn’t let you design engines, it’s just a lego set of premade rocket parts and that’s an entire game only focused on rocket design.

This is the sort of thing Alpha Centauri did, you’re just clipping together a set of subcomponents. I think that worked quite well for that game.

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I think that slapping one generic pre-made thing onto another generic pre-made thing is both waste of potential and boring. The tech development potentials should not feel neglected and should give the player a bit of a “free hand” with the design (while still being kinda easy to use, which is going to be a challenging balance to achieve).
Moreover, I think that once you design something, it can become a “slap-on part”, but there should still be the process of designing it in the first place. Otherwise, it would feel too much like Spore’s “this makes you go fast, this makes you go pew-pew, so slap on whatever you want”. I think Thrive has potential to not only follow the evolution of the species, but also the evolution of the species’ technology. Not just unlocking slap-on parts by progressing through a tech-tree.

I’ve been thinking about how the tech editor could work for a while now, and while it definitely isn’t a priority now, it’s obvious that the tech editor and in-game technology in general needs to be more fleshed out.

I agree with @Zahyyy on virtually all points. I think having as much creative freedom as possible in Thrive is what makes it intriguing and I feel like it should be the way to go. Of course this should also apply to the tech the player designs.

So i don’t really think there should be a tech tree (tho if there are no better options, I’m fine sticking with it). I see a lot of issues with it.

Personally I’m really confused about how it would even work. The current plan is for the nation stages to be real -time strategy, which complicates progression through the tech tree. It could be that researching the technology takes a given amount of time, like maybe in the beginning there could be the wheel tech which takes five minutes to research, and as you progressed you could build scientific centers which increase the speed of research for technology that takes a lot longer to get. However even this idea is pointless. I could pretty much just click on the tech i want, auto-queue units (and i don’t even have to if I’m not at war), and go relax and make a sandwich and binge watch something on netflix, maybe play a game of civilization afterwards while thrive is still running, and go back to see that my technology is done researching, because no matter how long it takes, even if it takes a belgium, it will still be done sooner or later. There’s also no fun in attempting to solve that problem by forcing the player to be on their feet the entire time. I know this is a huge exaggeration, but my point is that the game gives you a goal that it wants you to complete, instead of you giving you your own goals, so it takes away part of the magic of the game.

The tech tree would force you to advance according to what the game wants. It significantly limits player innovation. Honestly, i think it’s a good thing that creating tech should be limitless and a bit complicated. The player would naturally learn what is effective in their current situation and what is not. Like @Zahyyy said, the player’s tech should evolve and adapt according to the player’s creativity and environment. Every player would craft a unique solution to the same problem. It’s actually quite educational. Heck, even i could learn a thing or two about engineering if i was able to play with the tech editor right now.

There should still be concepts set in place that are easy to understand, like the properties of materials and forces like gravity, but the player should always be able to tinker with those concepts (and tech the AI creates could even simplify to your level depending on the difficulty). There obviously has to be a lot of balancing. If you follow this train of thought enough, it might start picking at the possibility of smeltal the meltal, but that’s a discussion for another day. I’m also open to other ideas, because obviously this is pretty much still speculation and I feel like there needs to be a strong foundation for how this would work, and if i missed anything let me know.

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Maximizing player freedom and making an unique tech system is nice and all. But how could these ideas work concretely? It’s not possible to make a game from ideas that are not possible to program. So I think it’s very important to discuss plausible ways for research to work in thrive.

I’ll share my idea how technology would work, which I as a programmer think is actually implementable without major issues.

First off, I don’t think it is plausible to make an editor where the player can by placing parts create the technology for their species. Instead we need to go for a technology web where each technology has a number of prerequisites, some of which may be optional to make it less rigid, but skipping the optional techs would make the later technologies take longer. And then we could also loan the heureka moments from civ 6 that would speed along a technology if the player does something. We could literally steal the idea that if the player uses ranged weapons a lot, it makes researching bows and crossbows cheaper. There would also need to be some tech researched that gives the idea that something is even possible. It wouldn’t be possible to research quantum mechanics without first covering physics that can lead to that way of thinking. Continuing from that example the technology like crossbow could have the following requirements:

  • some tech for elastic parts (for example bows)
  • wood carving tech (which would already be researched for bows)
  • technology required for the bolt

Then each tech could also be upgraded, like a crossbow with heavier pull strength and a mechanical loading mechanism. So with this web of tech the player can easily skip some tech and with the heurekas it would shape which techs are the most optimal for a player to go towards.

Factorio has a sort of tech web, where you need some techs as prerequisites for other ones. And as that would be very complex to show as a tree, they don’t. It’s instead a list of available and locked technologies. Stellaris has a limited number of techs available so the player can’t effectively b-line for some specific tech. And then the heurekas (or were they called inspirations) from civ allow player action to make researching things easier. By taking aspects of all of these systems, I think we can make good gameplay mechanics for tech researching in Thrive.

So that would be basically how the player discovers tech. @tjwhale said well that as you are responsible for governing a nation, dictating all minute details of tech aren’t very realistic.

Then we can fill the creativity aspect by allowing the player to customize the blueprints of their tech. For example after discovering the spear a default spear would be available, but if the player wants to can customize the look of their spears as long as they keep the required aspects of it.

I think you just described exactly how research in stellaris works (other than not being able to queue things). And people are fine with it.

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I sharply disagree. A techtree is a bad idea. Having set techs will limit the possible gameplay options to only those techs. If there is a tech for crossbows, for example, then they will appear in every game. I do not want the game to feel the same every time. Every game of Civilization feels the same because the same things happen every time. The technologies are always the same, the units are always the same, etc.

The only way a techtree would work for Thrive is if that tree were gargantuan with complex and indirect ways of reaching the ultimate goal of space travel. If there were thousands of techs and many of those techs disabled others, then each game of Thrive would have different combinations of techs resulting in different gameplay experiences. Available techs should also depend on the player’s world. What if there is no wood (or a wood analogue)? If no such material evolved, then technology would need to utilize something else. For example, sentient octopuses couldn’t make wooden implements, but they could create coral implements.

However, making thousands of techs would require too much time, I think. Instead, things should develop dynamically. If you want me to be specific, then take this example.

A player’s species wishes to make rock implements, but lacks the tools to do so. There is a stat called “hardness” which is exhibited by the various natural resources. The player would experiment with the resources to determine which had the highest hardness, and this resource could be used to break rocks. Suppose sandstone requires a hardness of 3, and the only nearby resource with that value is the shell of some animal. The player would hunt those animals, harvest their shells, and create the first rock implements. Those tools could be refined to have a “sharpness” stat that could be used to puncture the hides of animals (i.e. a stone spear). If a space rhino’s hide requires sharpness 10 to piece, and the highest natural value was the horn of some animal with sharpness 7, then the player would have to utilize the game’s systems to somehow create an implement with the needed stat. Perhaps some space trees could be harvested for space wood and sharpened to create the needed sharpness.

I think there should be a system of numerous (tens, at least) stats which are required to perform various functions, but there are many dynamic ways of reaching those stats. The player’s responsibility is experimenting and learning what resources have which stats and can be used for what purposes. This way there are no set technologies, no set weapons, no set buildings, and (most importantly) no arbitrary order in which technologies must be unlocked. Maybe bows will be created, or maybe not. That depends on the resources and the player’s ingenuity. The player could still advance to the space age without ever having invented bows.

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I agree with what hh is saying, it needs to be a feasible system.

To address some ways of making it more interesting than just a linear tech tree.

Firstly, as you say, I think it’s a good idea to have the planet you are on and the species there change what techs it is possible get. So if there are no heavy elements on your planet (like uranium or plutonium) then you cannot have fission, if there are no “horses” then you cannot have horseback riding. If there is a lot of ocean on your planet boats will be much more important than if there is very little.

Secondly how you have chosen to evolve could open or lock certain techs. For example flying creatures could have sky ballet or could use aerial bombing runs very early and walls wouldn’t be much use, elephants would have real trouble making light fighters or doing acrobatics.

Thirdly it might be interesting if in the late space stage there are different answers to the questions science currently has. What is dark matter? Is it an exotic form of matter you can use to make artificial wormholes or is it a mistake in the theory and is nothing at all? We could have multiple options which are selected from randomly each time you play for what is possible late game.

Fourthly I agree a tech web is better than a tree. If you start in the middle you could have the left right axis be mental <-> physical and the up down axis be abstract <-> applied. So the four quadrants would be

abstract physical: basically science, mathematics, architecture etc
applied physical: engineering, vehicles, tools, buildings etc
abstract mental: philosophy, meditation, religion, poetry, literature etc
applied mental: politics, entertainment, festivals, advertising etc

That way you could choose which ones to focus on, you could be very practical, like Ancient Rome, and focus on applied physical, building roads and monuments everywhere. Or you could be the opposite and focus almost entirely on abstract mental and become like Tibet where 20% of the population were monks and you focus more and more on the mind.

That way every game is you choosing a different path through the tree which is reactive to the situation you are in and what the other groups on your planet are doing. You could just play as the Vatican City and have almost no worldly power but have enormous religious influence, or you could be Ghengis Khan and conquer eeeeeveryone.

So yeah I think we could make something quite interesting and fresh out of all this.

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I really like that slider system with the 4 combinations, did you think of it yourself? Otherwise, I pretty much agree with everything you just said.

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No, do you not see? A tech web is still a tech tree, it is just a tree with multiple branches. Why must there be techs organized in a list like that? Having specifically defined techs is too restricting. Elephants should be unable to make airplanes not because they are arbitrarily restricted, but because that is how the game dynamically developed. Scripted techs, no matter how they are arranged, would be detrimental. There would be no experimentation, no learning. The player would just go down the list of technologies. Arbitary prerequisites for arbitrary techs would not match the overall theme of dynamic evolution.

There should not be a few categories on which to focus. Whether your empire is capitalist should not be determined by capitalist = yes, but rather by the amalgamation of your many economic policies. Things should be dynamic, not scripted.

I like the idea of there being different fundamental properties of the universe in each game. One universe is expanding, another is contracting, etc.

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You must have skipped over one of my points, as I said that with a web / structure techs could have optionally needed techs. For example if there is a later tech that has a requirement of having one of 5 different techs, the player can take a different route through.

The replacement you described seems way too abstract to me to be doable. I think your example is fine with experimenting with materials for making tools or making something sharp enough to attack some other species. However when you get to the later techs, how would that work? Does everything have a “space worthiness” stat? I find that not really doable.

I fail to see how this applies to technology. More relevant discussions:



I don’t think this kind of split is really good for a “tech” tree. It’s not really possible to get to space without engineering, though politics and such can help with that. So instead I think there should be one huge tech web with only technologies. And then other things would have a different tree, kind of like in civ 6, but we could have even more different trees. The trees would also give bonuses to each other to encourage using them all.

Anyway, back to, the feasibility argument. I just don’t find any too dynamic system to be really possible.
I think the early techs, when the player maybe hasn’t unlocked the RTS view could be done, as you describe, through experimentation etc. But in RTS mode the player basically has thousands of scientist they command to “look into this tech that is starting to look possible now”

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I absolutely agree, this was even the intention for starting this thread. To discuss how is the tech editor even going to be possible to implement, hence all the questions about the possibility to implement this and that.

To be honest, not a fan of the idea. Sounds just like a civ tech tree with some minor tweaks. Which is not terrible, but definitely would be an underachievement for Thrive. There is a room for a lot more potential. However, I agree that the exposure to a certain thing should make working with that thing easier. (I’ll get back to that later*)

I think that the technology is a very important part of the nation itself and should not be neglected just for politics. This sounds like the game is going to give you a pre-made weapon/vehicle/whatever, or you just simply slap 2-5 random parts together, perhaps slap something fancy on the spear and call it a day, just for the sake of focusing on politics.

  • I think that is not a bad idea. You start with things you can find around yourself, so your first tool would probably be stuff like a big stick for poke-poke, a rock for a thud-thud, OR if you are lucky and find some bones, you can even have some pieces of bones for stab-stab.
    The more you use these things, the better you become with the material, meaning you can make your sticks pointier, maybe you can refine stone into the famous primitive hand axe and so on. Once you reach a certain amount of expertese of these materials purely from using them, you can combine them into one piece, be it a spear, a club, whatever.
    Each material would have its stats such as the hardness mentioned by @Solitarian , fragility, weight and so on, which would determine their usability in certain situation (also their shape (the game would not track the shape, we would just make a list of what materials can be used for what) - making the handle out of stone should not be possible, duh). I think this would be a nice system, as it would provide you with some progress even between progress’ AND make your tools somewhat customizable even without implementing anything else. This would also make for example metal refinement pretty interesting, as you would start refining you first metal, it would be clumpy, lame and oddly shaped, but the more time you spend utilizing it and working with it, the more skilled you would be. I think that would be really neat.

I like all of your points, but the fourth one is really interesting and if not done in a style of a tree or a web, but…somehow (sorry for not elaborating on that, I’m not really sure what the solution would be), this might turn out to be a fairly interesting mechanic. We still shouldn’t make just a fancy tech tree, but this is something we might be able to work with.

Boi, this is gonna be a hard topic to tackle.

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One thing re this is I think maybe if you have several different trees and draw them on the same screen pointing in different directions from the root node then it becomes very similar to what I am talking about. So I think we are largely on the same page.

Something I think is really interesting about treating things like politics as “techs” (which civ 5 does, for example, though civ 6 has a seperate culture tree) is that it provides this interesting balance between raw material power and social organisation. For example if you stick with being a tribal chief then it doesn’t matter if your tribe has tanks and aircraft you still would have a succession crisis every time the chief dies as the empire would wobble as the pretenders fight to get the leadership, possibly resulting in civil war. Inventing things like monarchy could really help with that.

Or again if happiness “techs” are in another part of the tree that’s an interesting question too. You can make a purely heartless mechanical empire but the miserable people might always be in perpetual revolt, having more culture and poetry might make for a more harmonious and strong society.

I agree you can’t get to space without engineering, and as you say I think complex social organisation and culture, even religion, might be required too, to knit enough people together into a society big enough to fund an Apollo program.

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Yet another problem with techtrees (or webs or whatever) is that techs are permanently unlocked once they are researched. However, knowledge can be lost. We still don’t know how Greek fire was made, and the secrets of concrete were lost for centuries after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. A dynamic system based on attributes of materials would completely obviate this problem. There should not be a linear progression from simple tribe to complex empire, but rather a complicated web of advancements and regressions. Maybe a new religion appears that burns the libraries, destroying the wisdom of the ancients and forcing societies to spend centuries reinventing things.

Having many systems (I refuse to say trees) overlapping would be interesting. Advancements often have unforeseen consequences. For example, a medical invention might mean that people live much longer, so a large elderly population would develop that is politically active and attempting to change society. Yes, the game should heed social organization. Collapse is an important part of history. Just as most species that existed are now extinct, most states that existed are now defunct.

Hhyyrylainen made a good point about later techs not working well with my stats idea, but I think you are thinking too straightforwardly. There would not be a “spaceworthiness” stat; rather, spaceworthiness would dynamically emerge based on meeting many other criteria. An airtight container must be moved from the surface to orbit. It has a “mass” stat, and the rocket pushing it has a “thrust” stat. “Thrust” and “mass” would have been important throughout the game for things like artillery or verhicles, so it would not be something new just for rockets. Indeed, a rocket would just be another vehicle, except it is one that goes up. The material comprising the rocket might have a “heat resistance” or “specific heat” stat which determines how well it withstands the friction of atmospheric exit/entry. All of this would combine to produce a viable rocket.

Think of Dwarf Fortress: the material that something is made of affects its properties. A boulder of schist is much heavier than a boulder of granite (i.e. it has a higher “density” stat, for examples of what stats could be tracked, you could look at this page: https://dwarffortresswiki.org/index.php/DF2014:Granite). In DF, dropping schist boulders on a bronze colossus is more likely to harm it, so the savvy player would be wise to use it instead of granite. There is no “bronze-colossus-killing” stat. Rather, the ability to kill bronze colossi emerges dynamically from the stats.

Instead of making specific, arbitrary techs, you could instead set many stats for the various resources and give players an extremely large number of methods to combine and refine those resources. The game would invent the late game stuff for you via emergence.

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I think this idea has a lot of potential. As you can probably tell, I really don’t like tech-trees, so it would be better if this was implementable in a way other than a tech-tree, as they feel somewhat constraining, but even if it was in the style of a very convoluted and elaborate tech-tree, it’s still WAY better than a regular tech-tree. so, yeah.

ALSO I was thinking a bit and I think that at least the tribal tech-editor might not be as complicated to do, as nothing in the tribal stage is really going to be an intricate mechanism. For example, when creating a spear, you will have certain things available as a spear handle (e.g. a bone, a stick), and then you add the actual ouchie thingies, making them go through the handle, poking out from the other side (e.g. sharp rocks, bones, large “canine” teeth), using these resources in the process (so you actually need a stick to have a stick handle, you have to have some bones if you want to use bones et cetera). You can also assign a certain thing to a certain members of your tribe based on the hierarchy (spiky spears, clubs, daggers… to warriors, decorated staves to shamans and so on), which brings me to another thing - decorating. It might seem like a trivial thing nobody will use, but putting some skulls or feathers (? given that there will be creatures with them) using threads might give this kind of technology just the right feel.
Also, the first problem with this system might arise with the introduction of metals, but there might be a way to do it. As I mentioned in my last post here, there might be a “skill” system based on your experience with the given material. When you are first introduced to metal, the parts to your disposal might be just weird, irregular pieces of metal or weak plates with holes in it, that could be applied to any handle in the same manner as the previous materials, but as you gain mastery of the process, you get better and better shapes as your slap-on parts, until you have like 50 different shapes of edges, blades, plating and so on. This could lead to infinite possibilities, but that’s something we’ll discuss in the next paragraph.
So, we have our slap-on parts, we have our materials, but how will we determine what kind of weapon you have created and how does it work in practice. Well, each piece of material might have some properties, such as weight, sharpness, fragility, or hardness (again, partial credits to @Solitarian ). What would also be taken into account would be the size of the handle. And for each of these properties, there would be an effect. Is your weapon heavy? It’s slower, but probably powerful. Is the handle long? Probably has a big reach of damage. Is it sharp? Probably can penetrate better. Is it blunt? Probably can do more bone-crunchy damage. This would give us the typical stats you see in RPG’s and stuff without actually having to have categories for the weapons. Things that would be similar to daggers are probably really fast and can penetrate quite well, but the reach is VERY small. Spear-like things are a bit slower and harder to operate, but can reach way further. Heavy things similar to maces are probably very slow, but can cause some serious fractures. I think you get the point.
One last thing before I go, also, I should credit @Solitarian again. If the thing you are attacking has some stats better than your weapon, it might lead to your weapon taking more “damage” when used. So, for example, if you have a wooden handle and attack something with a very thick and durable hide/armor, the wood’s “fragility rating” might be too low (or too high as in “too fragile”? You get the point), the wooden handle might snap in two, if it has taken enough damage. Or if you have a metal blade, but the metal has not high enough “hardness”, it might bend, lowering the damage it deals.
Okay, sorry for such a long post, I just wanted to get all the ideas out there. What do you think? In my opinion this might give birth to a pretty interesting designs of weapons, where players try to design the weapon with stats as good as possible, everyone having a different approach. I think that the combat system also makes sense and would not need neither buffing, nor nerfing. Also, it would create an absolute creative freedom, while also being fairly realistic and probably even easy to implement. The worst part about implementing this would be THE UTTER [REDACTED] TON of 3D meshes and texturing it would need to allow for such a creative freedom. If anything is unclear, feel free to ask. Thank you for your patience and sitting through my BS today.

EDIT: Here’s a very, very crappy illustration of what might the editor look like. Imagine having dozens of the assets with a lot of different shapes, giving you the ability to create basically any melee weapon you can imagine. The green thing is where it connects to the handle, but maybe that’s BS. Might require threads. I think you get the point. Challenge me to describe how would you make ANY melee weapon, I’ve got everything figured out. dabs
Also warning, I’ve been using Paint, so it’s REALLY CRAPPY.

Crappy Concept

What do you think?

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I feel indirectly bullied by this talented MS painter. sniffles

I can see the point re these editor designs, they match well with the cell or creature editor. It sounds cool in the awakening to be able to pick up a stone and flake it in to a shape and try to use it for something.

One question I have for the civilised stages is around the number of things you’d make with them. So you would you make all weapons all game, clubs, spears, swords, shields, lances, halberds, polearms, bows, crossbows, muskets, rifles, machine guns, shotguns, sniper rifles, grenade launches, rocket launchers etc?

That feels like quite a lot of work, especially if you also consider vehicles and buildings and everything else.

Say you take 3 minutes in the editor per item and there’s 100 items that’s 5 hours of tech editing for a playthrough, that feels like a lot. If it’s 500 items that’s 25 hours.

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The following paragraph is only about technology that’s tribal or similar to it - basically just melee weapons. As I said, I imagine it as there being no melee weapon classification. You just make something, perhaps you name it yourself, but the “type” of weapon you create is purely determined by its stats, which are determined by the things you have used. For example if you want a spear, you take a long handle and a small tip, but the game would not recognize it as a spear - it would just know that its long, so it has a large range and its pointy, thus able to penetrate. By not having any melee weapon classes, the player won’t have an empty slot telling them “You have not designed a mace yet”, rather, the player design just as many weapons as they want. You can create just one, you can create 100 of them - each with slightly different stats. So it is only up to you how much time you’re going to spend with it. Also, it won’t be one huge editor session, but rather the 3 minutes as you said anytime you will have a new material/technology to your disposal. So, if you have designed a knife made out of wooden handle and a bone at the very beginning of the stage, but then you discover metal, you simply just jump into the editor and within 10 seconds switch the bone for a metal and you’re good to go. You would definitely spend more time out of the editor than in the editor.
As for the non-melee weapons, yeah. I can imagine bows still being pretty simple to do within one minute or so. Crossbows, I’m not really sure, but there would definitely be a solution as well. What would be a problem would be any technology after that - guns, vehicles, maybe even buildings. Stuff like that are really complicated and I’m not quite sure how would we tackle that. Maybe there might be a different approach to those, as I guess almost anyone of us would be able to make a simple knife or so IRL with around an hour of practice, but guns or vehicles require more than that, so maybe the editor for those might work a bit differently. I really have no idea.
But as for the tribal/(early) medieval technology, this editor might be a really great option. Someone lazy could make a functional weapon within 10 seconds, literally just slapping something on a handle, but others still would be given the option to spend as long as five or ten minutes in the editor creating the work of art they desire, perhaps even making a dozen of different weapons. And each time you discover something new, you just pop into the editor and alter/add/replace a certain piece of technology. Again, you can just slap it in there within a few seconds, or you can spend all the time detailing it.
Also, the weapons would, once “saved” be sort of an asset you can just click on whenever you want to produce another one, you really wouldn’t have to design every single knife individually (but I mean… you certainly can, as there is no classification system). Again, if you have any question, I’ll be glad to answer them.

Also, the green connection point in the concept might be a bad idea, as it would be a bit limiting. I’d either remove it, or add more of them on every piece. But that’s up to you.

PS:

OH STOP IT YOU! It’s just a quickly put-together mess lol.

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Will the editor have tips for people who don’t know what to do like textboxes or lists? (I literally didn’t know how a rocket works until this thread)