Beyond Protocol Interview - Page Two
Ten Ton Hammer: Do
players compete for the same resources all over the universe? Or do
players each have their own “safe” area that they
can stay in without being attacked?
The only separation between players as the game as of now is the
tutorial. In a tutorial account, it is only the player versus the NPC
pirates, so the player can learn the game at their pace. Once out of
the tutorial, the entire universe is a free for all. However, competing
for resources is a different matter. While all resources are public and
fought over, which resources are particularly important to an empire
will vary. With 105 resources in the game, and an alloying system that
allows the creation of extra unique resources, players can choose to
use common or rare minerals in their designs. This choice is
accompanied by trade offs like component size, number of minerals
needed, production times and costs, and tank rush versus mother ship
Ten Ton Hammer: Are there
different races / cultures that a player can choose from? Can you
describe these options for the Ten Ton Hammer readers?
Currently, there is only one template available. This starts the player
off with a blank research slate and the typical available models to be
used in unit design. However, because research is so customizable and
there are many unit models to choose from, the look and function of
individual player fleets is very different. Not only are the components
and armor customizable in function, but in color as well. While this
may not be a large difference, it does ensure that even the lower end
computers can run a game which often pits 1000’s of units
against each other in a single environment.
Ten Ton Hammer: In the
game’s FAQ, you mention that there will be a “soft
unit cap” in place. Is this how players are measured? With
units rather than with levels? How does the soft unit cap function?
Unit count can be one unit of measure, but often the technology of the
units is more important. I made an earlier statement about the choice
between tank rush and mother ship tactics. What I meant there was the
option does exist to utilize many cheap and expendable units or one
very large very expensive unit, both of which can be very effective
tactics, in which case unit count means nothing. The soft unit cap is
another way of decreasing the demand that this game could possibly have
on a player’s computer. However, in past games this is often
done with a hard cap dictated by an overall value or a derived number
based on buildings, research, or areas of control.
Unit count is not as
important as technology.
In Beyond Protocol Special Technology determines the number, but that
number does not by itself determine the number of possible units. When
a player starts out, they are given 300 Command Points (CP), which as I
said can later be increased. CP is the value of the soft cap. When
newly produced each unit requires 10 CP whether it is a tiny tank or a
huge mothership, so to begin with the soft cap begins at 30 units of
any kind per environment. So, a player can have 30 units on their home
world, 30 in space protecting that home world, 30 on an outpost planet,
However, as a unit enters combat and gains experience, it can be
promoted. Promotions reduce the necessary CP, at Elite, the highest
level, the unit requires only 1 CP, brining the soft cap to 300 units
per environment. Promotions are based on comparative complexity of the
design, so it is much easier to promote a single fighter than it is to
promote a battleship. Therefore, with experience a large mass of less
powerful units is easier to achieve than a large force of extremely
powerful capital ships.
The final variable to the soft cap is the limit’s penalties.
At small deficits of actual CP to allowed CP, about 1.33 times, or 400
if we stick with the original assumption of 300 CP, the player receives
a flashing warning at the top of the screen and a slight increase to
the financial upkeep cost of that environment. Between 1.33 and 1.5
that slight increase becomes an exponential increase. At 1.5 or 450,
the players units will become disoriented and begin firing at anything
that moves, including each other, in addition the exponential increase
in upkeep continues to rise. So, while this could be used as a tactic,
it is not recommended in the long run.
When CP is once again normalized, either through the loss of units, or
by docking them in something with hanger space, this frenzy ends. This
soft limit also gives the player a reason to use carriers. It is
possible to dock hundreds of smaller ships into one large ship which
only costs 10 CP. Whether the intention is to bring these units to
another theatre of war or to replace lost comrades as they fall, the
concept remains the same.
Ten Ton Hammer: You also
mention that players can choose to have several different goals that
they can achieve in Beyond Protocol like being a trade or science based
empire rather than conquering other players. How can these particular
players defend themselves from those players that are simply interested
in destroying other players?
Teamwork is crucial
in Beyond Protocol.
Teamwork is crucial in Beyond Protocol. Being part of a group of
players, of which part are warriors, is the best way to deal with this
problem. However, individual players are also more than welcome to take
the non combat paths of play, like, as you said, trade and purely
technologic empires are, but this does not mean they will be immune to
unprovoked attack. If and when this happens, it is in the non
confrontational player’s best interest to call in some
favors. A good trade or science based empire will probably have made
contacts with which they deal or supply goods, that are more tailored
to the war department.
One feature of the trade and technology systems in BP is that each
design is unique; it cannot be substituted or perfectly reverse
engineered. So, war based empires which rely on a supplier will have
incentive to keep that supplier alive and well. Most players
“simply interested in destroying other players”
will most likely not have the patience to design their own technology,
so the key for non combat focused empires is either supply and satiate
the aggressor or have other aggressors already in their supply line.
One aspect of this which has not been discussed is the espionage
system. It does not take the traditional form of combat or destruction,
but is rather a form of behind the scenes attack and manipulation.
Everything from learning a player’s score, to slowing
production, to stealing cargo, and even destroying a key building is
possible with the agent system. So, this too can be used to thwart an
enemy of superior military might.
Ten Ton Hammer: Is there
anything else you’d like to tell the Ten Ton Hammer readers
and Beyond Protocol fans?
think I have said quite enough, I suppose the one thing I can leave you
with is something one of my DSE coworkers has said which highlights the
ambition of this project. Before reading it, know this, special
research is what distinguishes each empire and the framework behind
most of the game. “If it is science fiction related and you
have read it in a book, seen it on a TV show, or contemplated it while
watching a movie, chances are it is, or will be, a special