This week's design series will discuss Lord of Rigel's technology tree and in particular why Lord of Rigel will not feature unique technology trees for each species. This is a question that has naturally come up as Lord of Rigel is discussed online and we feel that addressing this question will give you more insight into the design strategy behind Lord of Rigel. Unique technology trees have certainly become a talked about design feature and certainly one considered when designing Lord of Rigel.
The big concern with technology is that it needs to have a purpose and that purpose should be unique. There are some unique tech trees that have the same piece of technology renamed for different species and this is something we wanted to avoided. In this instance the unique technology tree becomes more about form (technologies are "unique" because of a name change) than function, which is the opposite of what a technology tree should be. Technology should provide players with tough gameplay choices and provide various avenues to achieve different victories and gameplay experiences.
Further, if we take the above argument that technology is about function and should provide players with difficult decisions, then each technology needs to be well thought out and balanced. In Lord of Rigel you will have access to numerous species and if each species had completely unique technologies then it would become extremely difficult to balance out research items related to weapons, buildings, diplomacy, etc to make sure that they are working with each other in harmony. In addition, players will have something of a unique tech tree or at least a unique perspective on how to best use the technology tree depending on the attributes of their species, the conditions of each game, and the victory condition they are shooting for. These factors alone can be difficult enough for players to sort through, which is why species traits like "Creative" which allow for all research to be discovered are so expensive as it provides a huge advantage.
So our emphasis with Lord of Rigel was to provide a functional and well balanced technology tree that provided reasonable depth, but didn't become huge and overburden the player with entirely new choices for each species. There are certainly some games that do unique technology trees well, but most of them have much smaller trees than the one in Lord of Rigel, and certainly fewer factors to try and balance the technology and gameplay with.
Join us next week as we discuss strategic resources!