VDC-compatible SP races

Information, How-to's, and discussion about mod'ing Master of Orion II.
James Gryphon
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Joined: Mon May 27, 2013 9:38 am

VDC-compatible SP races

Postby James Gryphon » Mon May 27, 2013 11:05 am

Picked up VDC since DC is no longer available online, and like it a lot (although it's a bit out of my skill range right now).

The only thing I wasn't sure about was that the races in both DC and VDC are customized for MP, and have very little to do with the original races. After looking at the available options, I decided the best way to get something I'd be satisfied with was to do it myself.

I'm not an experienced minimaxer. My MoO playing ability is mediocre at best. Thus, I expect that the veteran community here will find most/all of these races to be very underpowered. Now, I'm willing to make some changes to beef them up a bit; all things being equal, I would rather have good races than bad ones. But ultimately, if I have to sacrifice some power to preserve the races' personalities, I'm willing to do so. I figure the worst weak races can do is make for a more challenging game.

Here's a list of my current race configurations. My reasoning is below each race, in italics. Input would be appreciated.

Alkari
Population Growth +60, Ship Defense +50, Ground Combat +20, Aquatic, Artifacts Home World, Warlord, Dictatorship

Pop Growth +60 seems to be the "base" growth in this mod, with "+0 growth" being equivalent to -50% in the regular game. The most prominent Alkari trait in both games was their evasive ability, so giving them a high ship defense seems necessary for personality. +20 ground combat is justified by their presumed high agility. Aquatic comes from being reptilian... Artifacts is stock MoO2, so it stays. I gave the Mrrshans and Bulrathi both Warlord, and I figured the Alkari are just as military-themed as those are.

Bulrathi
Population Growth +100, Food Production +1, Industrial Production +1, Ground Combat +20, High Gravity, Warlord, Dictatorship

The pop growth flavor text says that higher growth races can be attributed to good physical constitution, which I figure the Bulrathi definitely have. The MoO1 Bulrathi had a particular focus on ecology (to facilitate their groundpounding), so that translates into both pop growth and the food production. High-grav is a must. Warlord fits the military style of this race.

Darlo(c)ks
Population Growth +60, Ground Combat +10, Espionage +20, Charismatic, Stealth Ships, Unification

The main changes are all based around the shapeshifting ability. I figured a shapeshifter would have advantages in ground combat (camouflage, surprise attacks, etc.). Charisma, while not traditionally associated with the sinister Darloks, is something they ought to be able to achieve, simply by taking on forms that are conducive to good relations with other races. I think shapeshifting would lead to a lot of infighting without a Unification government, and the extra defensive spy bonus doesn't hurt any.

Elerians
Population Growth +60, Espionage +10, Large Home World, Telepathic, Omniscient, Democracy

Since the Elerians are a very humanoid race, I gave them a similar basic setup to the Humans, with different special powers. At one point I'd given them Charismatic instead of Large Home World, but didn't like that it gave them a better race bonus than the Humans in that area. Telepathic abilities would seem to be conducive to picking up information in espionage.

Gnolams
Population Growth +60, Industrial Production +1, Tax +1, Subterranean, Poor Home World, Expert Traders, Lucky, Dictatorship

The idea here was to make them more like traditional fantasy dwarves. I think everything here is pretty clear in that light. Their home world is poor because it's already been extensively mined.

Humans
Population Growth +60, Scientific Research +2, Charismatic, Expert Traders, Democracy

This is the closest layout I could get to the MoO1 Humans. They're superior in diplomatic abilities, as usual; the Trade bonus mimics MoO1. The Scientific Research also comes from MoO1, where they're rated Good in every technology field.

Klackons
Population Growth +100, Industrial Production +1, Subterranean, Uncreative, Unification

Think ants and you should be about there. High growth, compact industrial development, industrious workers. I lowered the industrial production per worker so I could give that ability to the Meklars -- simulating the MoO1 Meklar advantage, which made them, worker for worker, the most productive.

Meklars
+2 Production, +1 Research, +10 Espionage, Low-G World, Cybernetic, Tolerant, Dictatorship

+2 Production is as described above -- each individual worker is more productive than another race's workers. +1 Research because of their tech-dependent society. +10 Espionage for their computer abilities (a field that the MoO1 Meklars were good at). The rest are standard MoO2 fare.

Mrrshan
Population Growth +80, Food Production +2, Ship Offense +75, Ground Combat +20, Lucky, Warlord, Dictatorship

More durable and robust than the Alkari, but not so much as the Bulrathi, so pop growth is in-between. Food production... well, I needed something that cost 7 picks. Maybe they get all that spare food from preying on wildlife, I don't know. Subject to change. The rest is pretty much normal Mrrshan; the ground combat bonus is for predatory skills. Luck because cats have nine lives.

Psilons
Population Growth +60, Scientific Research +2, Low Gravity, Creative, Democracy

Mostly the same as normal Psilons. Physically they're similar to humans. Psilons are intelligent and generally peaceable, and they depend on a research bonus, so Democracy is a natural choice.

Sakkra
Population Growth +100, Food Production +2, Ground Combat +10, Aquatic, Subterranean, Large Home World, Warlord, Feudal

Intended to be a strong expansionist race. Food production is expected to go along with that. Warlord and the ground combat fit along with the expansionist theme (plus the other three "animal" races all have it too).

Silicoids
Industrial Production +1, High Gravity, Subterranean, Lithovore, Feudal

I would have preferred to make it Lithovore/Tolerant, but that's not possible with the current pick costs. Since Meklars are tolerant, the crystals get to be lithovores. Hopefully this will make for a good expansion race, as in MoO1, but I'm not sure if I like this setup as much as the others. Subject to change.

Trilarian
Population Growth +100, Food Production +1, Aquatic, Large Home World, Trans Dimensional, Dictatorship

High pop growth and food production can both be easily associated with aquatic species. Trans-dimensional was the main notable trait of the original MoO2 Trilarians, so it stays.

On the off chance that anyone wants to play with this, just let me know and I'll upload a copy of the .lbx file.

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Darza
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Postby Darza » Mon May 27, 2013 1:46 pm

2 main flaws:
1. Feudal is severely boosted in vdc, so you better take this into account.
2. And main one - you do the same mistake as original moo2 designers - creating a races using a different number of pick points. Usually race what using, say 42 positive points + 11 negative ones would be simply stronger than race what use 31 positive and 0 negative. Same was done in classic moo2 - most races was 10-0 balance and was awful, and there also was a 20--10 silicoids, who was 10 heads above each other ones. Because they essentially had TWICE more racepics compared to other ones. Generally positive points you can get by adding negatives would greatly outperform the added malus. Surely there is some severe negatives, so you actually CAN create a race what have 42 + -11 and it would be worse than "plain" 31 race, but you need to try some "killer" negatives, like "-BC", and bad mix of non-important pluses to achieve it (also see #1., you benefited many races with 11 picks for much smaller penalty as it was in classic), but unless its not your goal - there is little chance to encounter it. Also somewhere there is a special sinlge player raceset for VDC, with non-repulsive races.
and 3. Races what doesnt have either sub, tol or aqua would be in severe disadvantage in AI's "hands", aswell as in human player's too, thought to lesser harm. In short - they are "bad" by default.

Catalyst_Kh
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Postby Catalyst_Kh » Tue May 28, 2013 6:24 pm

Besides all that Darza said, AI doesn't do housing, thus any race without +60 pop growth will be way behind in development in AI's hands, and therefore completely not competitive. Also, Poor Home World is very huge disadvantage, especially when Gnolams already have somewhat mediocre setup, it may weaken them too much.

James Gryphon
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Joined: Mon May 27, 2013 9:38 am

Postby James Gryphon » Wed May 29, 2013 3:26 am

With a little time, I've devised a second draft that I think should be more compliant with the advice given above than the previous edition was.

Not every race is maxed out. Unfortunately, in some cases, I felt it was necessary to make concessions to preserve the differences and personalities of the races. However, I think they make better use of the picking system than before. Hopefully y'all will agree.

Here's an updated list of the race configurations. Entirely new abilities or disabilities are bold. Abilities that have been increased or decreased from before are underlined. The total of each race's positive and negative picks is next to their name.

Alkari 42/-11
Population Growth +60, -1 Production, +2 Research, Ship Defense +50, Ground Combat +10, Dictatorship, Aquatic, Large Homeworld, Artifacts Home World, Warlord

Birds are generally more frail in their workings, and so I suspect that they wouldn't have very robust industries or mineral workings, so -1 production. +2 research comes from the artifact connection (plus they'd have to be clever to build a starfaring empire in spite of the previous limitation).

Bulrathi 40/-9
+100% Growth, +1 Production, -1 Research, +25 Ship Attack, +20 Ground Combat, Dictatorship, High-G World, Subterranean, Warlord

I felt that if the birds were bright and the cats were average, that the bears would logically be a little dense. The extra ship attack comes from preying abilities. Subterranean instead of aquatic because of the association with bears and caves.

Darlo(c)ks 40/-9
+60% Growth, -1 Research, +20 Spying, Unification, Aquatic, Charismatic, Stealthy Ships

I figured that a shapeshifting race that is used to espionage efforts might disdain the concept of doing their own research -- particularly if they can do other productive work in the meantime.

Elerians 40/-9
+60% Growth, -1/2 Food, -20 Ship Defense, +10 Spying, Democracy, Aquatic, Rich Home World, Telepathic, Omniscient

Made these changes to parallel the changes to the humans.

Gnolams 40/-9
+80% Growth, -1/2 Food, +1 Industrial Production, +1.0 BC, -10 Spying, Dictatorship, Subterranean, Rich Home World, Fantastic Traders, Lucky

Parallel the dwarf theme a bit. They're hardier and live longer, but they have an affinity for inert things over life -- hurting their farming ability. The spying thing... well, they're psychologically disposed to seek out monetary gain, and this reasoning pervades every aspect of their consciousness, resulting in telltale signs that other races can watch for. (How's that for an excuse?)

Humans 40/-9
Population Growth +60, -1/2 Food, +1 Research, +0.5 BC, -20 Ship Defense, Democracy, Aquatic, Charismatic, Fantastic Traders

One can look around and see that humans aren't the best at keeping everyone well-fed. In spite of all this advanced technology, there is still nearly a billion malnourished people on Earth. The people who do have food don't know how to consume it properly, resulting in waste. On the bright side, humans, when properly trained, can be good at penny-pinching and extortion. Truly three-dimensional thinking isn't natural to most people, so I figured that it would suffice as a 'disability'.

Klackons 42/-11
+100% Growth, +1 Production, Unification, Subterranean, Uncreative

Unchanged.

Meklars 42/-11
+2 Production, +1 Research, +10 Spying, Dictatorship, Low-G World, Cybernetic, Tolerant

Unchanged.

Mrrshan 31/0
Population Growth +80%, +75 Attack, +10 Ground Combat, Dictatorship, Aquatic, Lucky, Warlord

I honestly tried to think of some ways to stretch these guys out a bit more, but couldn't think of anything that didn't already overlap with another race, and/or make sense. So they're stuck at 31 picks. If that means they must be weak, I'm willing to settle for that; they were the weakest race in the first game too.

Psilons 42/-11
+60% Growth, +1 Food, +2 Research, Dictatorship, Low-G World, Subterranean, Creative

I wasn't willing to give them less than +2 Research... maybe it's a psychological weakness on my part, and maybe that will change if I'm convinced that it's a bad idea. As a result of that, though, to fit in Subterranean, I had to remove Democracy. With 4 picks left, it was a tossup between +1 Food and Artifacts World. For now I'm going with the former.

Sakkra 42/-11
+100% Growth, +2 Food, +10 Ground Combat, Feudal, Aquatic, Subterranean, Large Home World, Warlord

Unchanged.

Silicoids 42/-11
+1 Production, Feudal, High-G World, Subterranean, Lithovore

Unchanged... for now.

Trilarian 42/-11
+100% Growth, +1 Food, -0.5 BC, +35 Ship Defense, +25 Ship Attack, +10 Ground Combat, Dictatorship, Aquatic, Large Home World, Trans Dimensional

The idea is that if they spend most of their time on a large, primarily water-based planet, where it's easy for them to go anywhere they like, and material objects don't have as much value, this might have an impact on their economic views. The space combat bonuses come from their long-time experience under the sea; the ground combat bonus is for general toughness. I would like to have given them the spying weakness instead of the Gnolams, but the BC hit didn't allow for anything else.

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Darza
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Postby Darza » Wed May 29, 2013 7:14 am

Sadly now you just killed most races outright. See use of "killer" negatives+weak positives using a value get from them. Main problem is what building of equally (or near equally) powerful races using a giving number of them and theyr personalities apeeared in moo1 - is nearly impossible, just the game isnt flexible enough. Simtex designers was ok with huge gap in power of races in moo1 and 2, so maybe its one of some things what better "let uncasted".

Catalyst_Kh
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Postby Catalyst_Kh » Wed May 29, 2013 7:49 am

There is another approach to this problem. If your main goal is to preserve authentic personalities and to make all races of relatively the same strength, then you may just weaken the more stronger (by economical and strategical terms) races to set them in one line with already weak races, keeping all authentic picks at the same time, thus everything will be "balanced".

James Gryphon
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Postby James Gryphon » Wed May 29, 2013 3:41 pm

Well, which races in particular have been hurt the most by the revision? I'm disappointed that some of them might not be better as a result of this tinkering (after all, I made sure that everybody had either Aquatic, Sub or Tolerant), but there's terrible race penalties in MoO1 too, and stylistically I have to say I'm pretty comfortable with a lot of the races now (except for the Psilons). Anyhow, I'm not real confident in my ability to evaluate these, and I'd rather not spend a bunch of time going the wrong direction in a third revision. If they're weak within tolerable limits (so there aren't any races doomed to be chronic one-planet wonders), and if there aren't many races that are dramatically better than the others, I might just leave things mostly as-is.

On the side, I'd like to know if races have different relations with the other races, and if so, whether it can be tweaked. I know this is the case in MoO1 (like the Mrrshan-Alkari rivalry), and some fan sites I've seen have implied it's the same in MoO2, but a search through the race .lbx files didn't reveal anything.

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Darza
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Postby Darza » Wed May 29, 2013 6:14 pm

Alcari, Bulrati, Gnolams, Mrasshan, and especially Trilarian are dead outright (at first edition they was better). Silicoids, Meklars, Sakkras, Psilons adn Klackons are good (i mean in power). Also i guess there is no special race-to-race relations here, unlike moo1.

Catalyst_Kh
Posts: 117
Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2012 7:49 pm

Postby Catalyst_Kh » Thu May 30, 2013 3:40 pm

In MOO2, instead of race to race special relations there is some random leader personality, which may affect this part a little. as leader type vs leader type non default probabilities for each relation in particular. But mostly all this is done by rolling overall diplomacy success based at all bonuses and rolling high spy success, which will result in random(?) framing another race event.

Do you want to level race's playing strength particularly in AI's hands or in human player hands? I mean, does this authentic races supposed to be picked up as is (without picks changing) for multiplayer games, or supposed to be played with AI?

James Gryphon
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Postby James Gryphon » Thu May 30, 2013 4:35 pm

Made some changes, this time only to the races mentioned in the last post.

Alkari - 31/0
Population Growth +60%, Ship Defense +50, Ground Combat +20, Dictatorship, Aquatic, Artifacts Home World, Warlord

Reverted back to the first revision.

Bulrathi 34/-3
+100% Growth, +1 Food, +1 Production, -20 Ship Defense, +25 Ship Attack, +20 Ground Combat, -10 Spying, Dictatorship, High-G World, Large Home World, Warlord

Research hit removed, kept the ship attack because they're the only race with it. Spying weakness added in (which is authentic with MoO1). Even if this isn't great, I'm inclined to leave it this way because I've already tweaked the bears a bunch. Anyway, they're listed among the weakest races in MoO1, so the worst that can happen is that they'll keep the status quo. I think it wouldn't be as big of a deal if ground invasions worked like they did in MoO1, where transports had a chance of getting past orbital defenses and spaceships -- whereas here, one ship with a PD laser cannon can hold off 100 transports.

Gnolams 39/-8
+80% Growth, +1 Industrial Production, +1.0 BC, -25 Ship Attack, -10 Ground Combat, Dictatorship, Subterranean, Large Home World, Fantastic Traders, Lucky

Removed the farming and spying weaknesses, added in a ship attack weakness and a ground combat weakness. I'm hoping this won't be as weak as the previous setup was. The in-plot reasoning: since they primarily live underground, they have decreased depth perception and are worse at tracking movement. Their ground combat weakness also comes from being smaller than the rest of the races.

Mrrshan 31/0
+80% Growth, +1 Food, +75 Ship Attack, +20 Ground Combat, Dictatorship, Rich Home World, Lucky, Warlord

Almost the same as the first revision, but with rich home world and +1 food instead of +2 food. I'm hoping this gives the cats a short-term production advantage, and it also allows me to say that the "Rich Home World" bonus is used. (I'm trying to use as many of the race picks for this set as possible -- the only ones that I think are unused are -0.5 BC, -1 Production, and Repulsive.) Besides, I didn't think it really made stylistic sense for the warrior cat Mrrshans to be as good at food production as the Sakkras and Trilarians.

Trilarians 34/-3
+100% Growth, +2 Food, +35 Defense, -10 Spying, Dictatorship, Poor Home World, Trans Dimensional

This puts the water race at the top in food production, while keeping some of their combat ability and weakening their spying, like I wanted to do before. Poor home world still hurts their production, but I'm hoping it won't be as crippling as the BC penalty was.

I'm hoping that the third time will be the charm, and that I have at least mediocre (but not terrible) races here.

---

I wanted to take a look at the leader personalities, but I couldn't find that in the lbx files either -- and besides, I'm not really sure what changes I would make in most cases anyway. I think most of the personalities are the same as they already are in MoO1, and stylistically I can't think of anything that's out of place for the new races.

I haven't played multiplayer myself, so the idea was to get it set up for SP. The problem is that I really am a bad player, so the AI is likely to give me a challenge on higher difficulties whether their races are optimal or not... so I'm kind of at a disadvantage when it comes to judging whether these races are good for AI use.

If people were to play it in MP, that's perfectly fine, but I haven't prioritized that in development. I suppose that stronger players could take the weaker races, as a handicap, but I don't know what is normally done in this community.

Catalyst_Kh
Posts: 117
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Postby Catalyst_Kh » Fri May 31, 2013 8:22 pm

So, if you want this races to be close to equal strength in AI's hands as a main goal, it is way easier then. Each race has to have pop growth bonus or non races has to have it, this will level things pretty well. As an exception, if some race doesn't have pop growth bonus, but others have, this one race should be maximized in everything else to at least halve the gap in development to other races. Also, if race have any problems with initial production (there are several different ways), it should have rich home world as mandatory, or AI will be so slow in building colony ships, that it will became even weaker, than non pop growth races. AI doesn't build colony bases, only colony ships. Also it could be done in reverse - only several races would have pop growth bonus, but would be weakened overall to compensate that. The point is to have AI filled galaxy, where any race will have a fair chance to overcome, preserving all authentic setups, which would be the most interesting in terms of Singleplaying with multiple opponents.

So, first of all, pick a direction – either most/all races without pop growth bonus, either most/all races with pop growth bonus, and then we can balance some concrete race's configurations in particular.


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