Help Improve Proteus

Folks, as most of you know, The server technology for Neptune’s Pride is nearly 10 years old now, and was written on a platform called Google App Engine.

Google has stopped supporting the flavor of App Engine that I use, and I will have to do some significant work in the coming years to make sure NP can live forever! (There is no rush, I just know I can’t continue on an unsupported platform)

As I do this server re-write I will want to merge Triton and Proteus so I only have to support one set of game rules moving forward.

If you haven’t played Proteus for a while, I encourage you all to jump into a game and refresh your memory, then think about what you would like me to do to Proteus to make it the perfect version of NP.

  • Are ships created too fast making it too difficult to attack?
  • Do the spying rules erode tech advantages too much?
  • Is the escalating cost of carriers annoying, perhaps you would you prefer a daily upkeep deducted from production?

I’ll also be asking you all to join me in some play test games using the new rules in the coming months. This is your chance to get your favorite feature included!

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I’ve been thinking about Proteus’s design issues a lot recently. I went into my first proteus game expecting to hate it, and actually found that I liked it quite a bit, but frankly I don’t think I would have stuck around with NP if Proteus had been my first port of call.

I’ll share more detailed thoughts at a later stage but for me the fundamental issue boils down to this quote from the manual.

“Neptune’s Pride is not like any other 4x strategy game because it’s streamlined mechanics allow players to focus on high level strategic decisions and diplomacy”

This is true of Triton. It is not true of Proteus. The way everything scales exponentially, the difficult relationship between cost and benefit of each infrastructure point/technology level and the variable speed up of warp gates mean you need to pay far more attention to specific game mechanics (and do a fair bit of maths) than in Triton. This makes it much more difficult for a beginner to pick up and play, where as most people grasp the fundamental details of Triton over the course of their first game.

Having said that, I really like some features about it, and in particular that every tech is useful at every stage of the game. The ledger is also obviously brilliant and needed in mainstream NP :slight_smile: And while it’s less intuitive, I quite like the warp gate mechanic (I’m not sure I prefer it, but it at least makes it easier to get a full night’s sleep)

Thanks for the initial notes Kaine, perhaps one good idea is to scale back some of the new feature in new player games, perhaps new player games don’t have warp gates for example.

I initially enjoyed the changes in Proteus and played it quite a bit, but over time I found that many of the changes actually spoil the appeal of NP…
Some initial thoughts:

  • the way that carriers scale in cost, I think is horrendous and a hindrance to those players who pride themselves in building a strong supply network. Could this perhaps be scaled back as a choice at game creation stage, i.e. cheap, normal, expensive fixed costs?
  • I think the removal of the defensive bonus detracts from the strategic elements of the game. Stars just change hands with no real consideration of its strategic importance. Surely gaining a star should have a strategic / defensive benefit, rather than just being able to develop another star.
  • I don’t like that the infrastructure gets destroyed when taken (see above)
  • wormholes, a nice idea but are too random (the two ends can be close together) and surely they should be instant, rather than 24 hours? I’d prefer a wraparound galaxy…
  • warp gates, I just don’t get why they have to have a fixed travel time?!? Surely there’s nothing wrong with how they work in Triton?
  • I love the ledger, is a must for the “main” game
  • I do like the way that banking and exp work in Proteus, it makes these techs far more useful later on the game

To be blunt, if Proteus replaces NP2 as it is today, you’ll be one less player down - some of you may think that a good thing :rofl: but I’ve been around since NP1 so it would be a shame for me. Going back to Triton after having played Proteus for some time was like a breath of fresh air, it is currently a far better game (IMO).

However, how about keeping most of Triton and introduce some of the more obvious improvements from Proteus (e.g. Ledger, banking/exp changes), then have some of the more divisive changes as options (e.g. defensive bonus, warp gates fixed speed, worm holes)?

I do believe that NP would benefit from having an active and ongoing development, and really does need that to encourage new and old players to stay. Although I can understand that with having other commitments and probably not making much money from this would count against that…

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Thanks Kamardrome, I really appreciate you taking the time to write some thoughts.

I am open to making large changes to Proteus to make it more like Triton, or just to just try and make it a better game overall.

I won’t respond to each point just yet, I’d like to collect any feedback people have then think about it for a while.

I hope we can all have some fun testing new versions.

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I do think it’s great news that you’re planning to further develop NP and would be very keen to help test (as I’m sure many others would be as well).

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The main thing holding me back from trying out Proteus and giving feedback is the lack of a turn-based mode.

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Jay, this is great news, I am thrilled. I will actually defer to @Karmadrome on many specific gameplay comments, as he and I are generally on the same page. I played Proteus almost exclusively once you started development, and was very supportive of your efforts. However, I took a long break beginning in 2018, until Covid brought me back! And I am playing Triton. Why?

  1. Turned based, I value my beauty rest!
  2. Complexification. I believe that many of the changes you made to technology were intended to a) make each tech worth researching until the end game and b) to try to slow the tech momentum accruing to the leaders. I think you succeeded in a), but failed in b). The cost of the added complexity is not worth it, in my Jameson-degraded opinion.
  3. At the the heart of it, the issue with momentum is that most players are unwilling to challenge the leader if they have been allied all game. “Diplomacy in Space” cuts against the grain for most players, they just don’t have fun with the shank.
  4. The best thing you could do to compensate, imho, is to enhance team mechanics to allow smaller players to pool resources to dynamically challenge leaders. I think the popularity of the very large games speaks to this appeal.
  5. Easy to do is easy to say, I am as non-technical a player as you will find in this game, so take what I say with a grain of salt!

Looking forward to my next game of Proteus :grimacing:

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The comments above are great. I too loath the incrementing cost of carriers. Makes for less looping carriers and supply setups. But can see why. Perhaps $10 cost increments…

I don’t mind the destruction of resources on capture, but perhaps you keep only science? Or only 50% is destroyed. Some bigger cash bonus perhaps…

Love the spying. Hate the range based trading, but it does add an interesting social element, so could come to love it.

Warp gate range could be 20 or 30% greater than range science ie you can travel further between stars with warp gates. Makes them more worth while. But need to improve their short distance value too, so perhaps the quicker of 2x faster (short distance value) or 12 ticks (long distance value).

I like worm holes, but maybe the option to create them (at a cost) to help out allies on the other side of the map, and add trading through wormholes… ie scanning can see down the hole.

Resource sharing, eg gifting ships by sending to a star without attacking, and ceding control… could be no good or could add an interesting element.

Just some initial thoughts.

Wormholes. Giving them a bit more thought. Perhaps scanning and range ‘projects’ through them. So the scanning and range you’d have on the other side would be just as if the galaxy was folded such that the worm holes touched.

Also if that were the case then there’s no need for a star at the wormhole. ie there’d be no owning the worm hole, just the stars around it.

Travel time down the wormhole could be instant or fixed at 6 or 12 ticks… or 24 still. Warp gates could impact this travel time too.

I too would love to try Proteus, were there a turn-based option. Real-time is a non-starter for me.

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Almost every Proteus game I’ve played ends with a team of 4-5 or more players winning that had been working together since the beginning. Unless you’re willing to join into a big alliance, there is no chance to win these games. Part of the problem lies in the “trade scanned” option which exists also in Triton. I think that option does a good job of taking into account the benefit of being on the “safe” periphery versus the dangerous position of being central. The unintended outcome seems to be that too many neighbors end up as allies or in big teams. This to me is the biggest downfall of Proteus and I’ve stopped playing Proteus because of it. I often wonder how to get around this all too common outcome. Is there a way to limit how many trade partners a player can have? The bigger the team, the bigger the tech lead. Limiting trade partners over time could lead to some interesting trade diplomacy. How about only being able to trade with one other player per 24/hr period? I’m not sure what would be easy to implement, I’ll leave that up the the smarties behind the scenes.

As far as other details go, I would agree with @Karmadrome 's post and echo everything he said.

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I like the concept of the game. However, there is something that frustrates me a lot when I play.
My perception is that this game has been captured by a group of players, who play as a team, who abuse their ability to share technology, and who prevent new players from having the slightest option to prosper. This means that, in the face of frustration, they abandon the game and do not invite new players.
I repeat, the game is good, but it is not fun to make your best strategies and investments in resources, to realize that the neighbor, with less merits, has many more resources simply because he plays as a team.
One solution could be making more expensive to share technology between humans. In this way, new players will have more opportunities to thrive, and thus be interested in the long-term game, and why not, invite other friends.
Other way could be generate leagues according the matches won.
Or making a explicit team match like other games.
Or any other that prevents the problem.
Thank you very much for the game, it really is well thought out. regards

I agree largely with @Karmadrome, @Solfyre, @wfmcgillicuddy and many of the others.

Just a thought for how to mitigate the type of alliance forming we are experiencing. Since that seems to be the issue that detracts from the gameplay at the emotional level. The game mechanics just need to protect our emotional interests! :slight_smile: So, here’s the idea.

Make Formal Alliance an option that is always present, but high risk. Perhaps allow alliances to be cancelled immediately, rather than having a delay after declaring war. Perhaps incentive betrayal by giving the person who breaks their alliance an attack bonus, or some other advantage.

You could limit trading in some capacity as @Solfyre suggested or you could scale the costs back for allies, therefore incentivizing alliances yet with the added risk factor.

I think the element that makes triton so interesting is the risk. In all honesty, the gameplay for NP1 is still unmatched in regard to mind consuming diplomacy. The original game write up discussed backstabbing and self interest as legitimate parts of gameplay. I believe the current ones do as well, but in practice allies tend to stick together in both Triton and Proteus. Not sure how your resolve that problem since working with others is what makes this game so enjoyable, but I think finding a way to protect the reputation of someone who chooses to operate self interestedly would go a long way toward resolving this issue. If teams were formed on a, “so long as this benefits me basis” I think there would be less dissatisfaction.

So, there’s my stream of consciousness. Do with it what you will!

As a counter point… I see alliance forming as neither a problem nor something that is stronger or weaker in Proteus over Triton. The only game mechanics that affect this are a) wormholes make it harder to get boxed in and b) a big alliance is more useful because all the techs are useful. Honestly, I’m slightly confused why people object to diplomacy being effective in a “diplomacy in space” game!

Addtionally, Formal Alliances remove risk and cost from alliance forming and will just make this even stronger. $150 is a small cost to pay for 2 people being able to target the same enemy, where without it it requires one to give up a chain of planets and both to build their own warp gate networks that probably cost in the thousands each…

Honestly, I’m slightly confused why people object to diplomacy being effective in a “diplomacy in space” game!

Who’s objecting to diplomacy?

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I understand that having a big alliance is useful because having someone researching each tech is a smart choice. It just makes for boring mechanics in my opinion. For example: You research weapons, I’ll do terra, ect. No one is switching which tech they are researching and everything is basically automatic other than pushing the trade button once a day. That’s why I like the idea of something like you can only trade with one other player at a time. It might dissuade BIG alliances from forming and allow solo/new players to not fall so far behind. It would encourage duos. It might also cause these duos to join up early on for some shared conquest, but create some distinctions in who is on who’s team which could lead to easier later game betrayals and conflict. Isn’t that what we all want? :smiley:

This sort of idea would then need some other way to help balance out starting positions advantages. Edge positions would have a bigger advantage again.

I’m in on testing!
I love proteus, it rewards the active player. It is not a turn based style game, and thank goodness!
I agree with creating a less expensive carrier system.
-Noting the other suggestions, limiting tech sharing could help with large alliances.
If there’s a way to add an undo button, that would be good. Sometimes double clicks on upgrades can drain money.
Great upgrade to triton, I look forward to more options.

lol it’ll have to have a turn based option otherwise we’ll lose have the players (including me).

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No ones objecting to diplomacy, but it should require a little bit of work… maybe quite a bit of work. Joining a game and jumping into a 6 person alliance can be a bit boring, but it’s typically the only chance at survival.