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Thread: Taking On City Spam

  1. #11
    I'm a bit on the fence on this one. A bit like Battledawn, it depends on how it is implemented.

    The goal should first of all be to increase game fun and not restrict players too much in how they like to play the game. If players like to build a sprawling empire, why not let them? A better goal could be to make multiple expansion tactics be competitive so that players can play the way they like to play and still be successful. So if you like to build a few huge cities and highly optimized troops, then that should be a possible successful strategy. And if you like to build a huge sprawling empire which spams a large quantity of units, then that should also be possible. At present, fast expansion has no real downside, so it's a bit forced to play that way if you want to play 'optimal'.

    I don't like the possible outcome of the 'fame-mechanic' sketched by Battledawm where a peaceful builder type of player is forced to go to war to gain fame in order to peacefully expand the empire further. It doesn't sound like a logical game mechanic at all. It's as if people like to live in an empire of a warmonger above the empire of a peaceful builder. Maybe that's true for orcs, but it's not the way I envision elves.

    Suggestion.

    1) Looking at it from a fantasy perspective, how would an all-powerful wizard control a large medieval empire? Of course, normal communication is slow in a medieval empire, making control difficult and making it more difficult to stop uprisings in far corners of the empire. However, we're an all-powerful wizard, so keeping control of all the far corners of the empire through magical communication should be possible.

    In basis, cities have an unrest penalty dependent on the distance to the capital.

    Solutions 1 for unrest:
    The wizard can create a magical relay (spell effect) in cities which makes instantaneous communication with the wizard tower in the capital possible. This removes the distance penalty to unrest. The relay however, has a magical upkeep dependent on the distance to the capital.

    Gameplay effect: Extremely fast expansion will cost you mana per turn. You need to grow these cities a little and create the first mana producing buildings in the city in order to break even in mana. Once the wizard expands wider and wider, the costs of the magical relay increases meaning that cities need to build medium tier mana-producing buildings before they break even.
    It also means that the mana production of an empire grows slower than linear with the number of cities in the empire.

    In order to not punish a wizard who starts on a small island too much, you could count distance through water tiles at a lower value.

    2) Looking at the fantasy aspect a bit more, one could also imagine that people living in a world with deadly magical beasts and undead and powerful wizards and warriors would value a safe place to live. So if a wizard is able to protect his/her people then it should be easier to maintain control in a large sprawling empire.

    Solution 2 for unrest:
    The wizard gains 'protection points' for keeping his/her people safe. Keeping people safe, means that no enemy or wandering monster unit remains inside your city borders for more than 1 turn. If you can achieve that for 5 consecutive turns, then you gather 1 protection point (or 0,2 points per turn). You also gain 1 protection point if you defeat an army inside your borders without losing any of your troops. When you lose battles, cities, large groups of units (Pyrrhic victories) or leave enemy armies inside your borders, then you lose protection points.

    If you have more protection points, then people in your empire are more at peace and less communication with the borders of your empire is needed and the communication relay becomes cheaper.

    Gameplay effect: Expanding beyond your ability to effectively defend yourself will cost you as you can't build a protection score. So building roads and maintaining advanced garrisoned troops to react to enemies will be valuable in your expansion.


    I think, both gameplay effects combined will let the player think a bit about the best way to expand. The player can choose to suffer a little in early mana production and get a larger more sprawling empire in return. Or the player can build the cities a bit larger, build some roads and create advanced troops so that the wizard gets a higher protection value and the cities have a higher mana production before expansion. There's a choice and it's not evidently clear what's the optimal path to victory.

  2. #12
    Mage of the Inner Tower Endless Rain's Avatar
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    Great ideas Roland Johansen, I especially like the protection points.

  3. #13
    Archmage of the Inner Ring ampoliros's Avatar
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    I do not like Roland's "Solution 2" at all. I have yet to meet a 4X game where the AI completely respects Non-Aggression Pacts. The AIs always pop a unit or 3 over the border for a turn or 2. (Then when you complain they go to war. If you try the same thing, they complain and go to war.) So, it will be extremely difficult to keep a positive trend of "Protection Points" rolling, at least the way Roland described it.

    As far as magic relays go, that was discussed as one possible method to combat the combat casting distance penalty. (Not sure where that left off...) If these magic relays can pull double duty and also reduce unrest, I can get behind that.

  4. #14
    Interesting ideas. I'm not a fan of the "protection points" myself, just because it would be harder to handle the larger your empire gets which would lead to more micro-management in my opinion.

    Still, we can look at them more closely once we have the "unrest limiter" (or whatever you want to call it) in place. And if it turns out that it's not something we like we can always drop it.
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  5. #15
    Archmage of the Central Tower Happerry's Avatar
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    I'll admit I didn't even bother trying to peace treaties in Civ 3 a lot of the time because of the mentioned 'The AI doesn't give a shit about pacts and if you complain will go to war about it, while instantly jumping on any of your units that try to go into their land and threatening to go to war about it.'

    I just ended up at war anyway, so why should I bother?

    Maybe protection points would work better if it only counted random monsters and stuff, or enemies who you were actually at war with. After all, if you have a peace treaty with someone, then they aren't likely to go murder random bits of the population, right?
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  6. #16
    I think it would be very illogical to count units from a nation with whom you have a non-aggression pact or alliance as 'enemy units'. So of course, they wouldn't reset the protection point counter.

    Personally, I think it's one of the positive effects of the mechanic that it's harder to protect all the people in a larger empire. That's one limiting factor in a large empire. It won't cause extra micromanagement, the way I look at it as you'd always want to destroy enemy units within your borders. Now you're just rewarded for doing it quickly and punished for expanding beyond the limits to protect your citizens effectively. If you implement such a mechanic in a smart way, then it won't behave unnatural.

    For instance

    turn 1: no enemy units -> protection points + 0,2
    turn 2: no enemy units -> protection points + 0,2
    turn 3: enemy unit crosses border -> protection points + 0,2
    turn 4: enemy unit still within your borders, but you defeat it without losses -> protection points + 0,2 and protection points + 1 for defeating enemy without losses
    turn 5: another enemy crosses your borders and you have no units close by. You expanded a bit reckless in that area. -> protection points + 0,2
    turn 6: unit still within your borders -> no protection points
    turn 7: unit still within your borders -> -0,2 protection points
    turn 8: unit captures your city destroying lone spearman -> loss of city: -1 protection points, lost battle: -1 protection points

    You can't get negative protection points. Positive points reduce maintenance of magical relays with a percentage with a maximum of 50% reduction or so.

  7. #17
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    An oversimplification of Protection Points is essentially that having an enemy within your borders produces Unrest. Unfortunately, the problem I have with this is that it doesn't take into account situations where it's more advantageous, tactically, to remain in the confines of the city instead of sallying forth to attack. For example, under Protection Points, there'd be an increase in Unrest if a Sorcerer Lord ignores two injured human spearmen because the nearby city is surrounded by sturdy city walls and garrisoned by sharpshooters mounted on baby dragons and enchanted to summon thirty-foot tall rock golems whenever someone with hatred in their heart approaches the city gates, or because the city watch chooses to hold out and man the parapets while the zombie horde approaches the city walls instead of heading out into the fields into what could be a zombie ambush, or because it's not like the dull-witted goblins are going to be able to detect the secluded glade fortress unless they literally pass right over it. That is to say, simply allowing an enemy unit to pass through your territory does not in and of itself imply that you are unable to protect your citizenry, and nor does the fact that an enemy stays put within your territory mean that they are pillaging and looting the suburbs and making the citizenry upset (Orcs notwithstanding).

    Protection Points also, unfortunately, bring the military to the forefront of Fame once again. Losing cities, defeating enemies, losing battles--these all already influence Fame directly, and if they are also a means by which empire unrest is handled, then there's only more reason to build and march large armies instead of taking a measured, peaceful (or at least neutral) approach.

    Besides, isn't the fact that we're garrisoning military units in a city as riot control to reduce unrest already illustrating to the populace that we have the strength to protect them? Whether that's true or not comes from our military record, which is a part of our Fame.


    Regarding Magical Relays, I think this is something I'd rather see as a race-specific option than a global one. The reason I say this is because we already have spells that help to reduce unrest, and a magical relay at its simplest is essentially exactly the same--a mana per turn cost to reduce unrest--and there's no need to take away from the benefit that those spells provide by allowing every Sorcerer Lord the ability to cast it. However, it is interesting to conceptualize a species of angel or celestial creatures that dwell on the Positive Energy Plane and are more likely to rebel or simply be incapable of useful activity if not kept in contact with their Source (Sorcerer Lord), or an arcane species that is 'taxed' for mana instead of gold. This sort of mechanic would make that species interesting and different to play.


    Making Fame reduce Unrest or a lack of Fame increase Unrest is something that might be able to be made to work, but, again, there has to be provisions for non-military action to increase Fame in order to keep things fair, while also devising a formula that doesn't hinder the early game, either.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron View Post
    OK guys, this is just a quick post to let you all in on something we're considering to put a bit of a throttle on city spam.

    Before I jump in I want to point out that city spam isn't going to be as big an issue as it may seem now. One of the mechanics we already have for limiting it isn't in place yet. That being the fact that a city looses 1K population whenever it builds a settler. This prevents a player from creating population with settlers. So, you can't just flood the world with citizens. You have to wait for the population to increase before you spread out too far.

    Still, we realize this isn't enough, but we don't just want put a bunch of limiters on it. Instead we want to come up with something that feels “natural” and fits the overall theme of the game. So, what have we got right now? Limitations tied to fame.

    Rather than just hard capping the number of cities or population or something like that we want to tie your empire's size to your fame. The idea is that as your empire's population increases you begin to suffer from a growing unrest penalty. This will make the population harder to control and will slow down population growth.

    Now, there will actually be several ways to handle this situation. Ensuring that you have all the unrest reducing buildings you can have in each city will help, as will certain spells. However, the real trick to eliminating this penalty is going to be fame. In simple terms: The more famous you are the larger your empire can be without penalty.

    It's also important to note that this limitation won't effect the Unhallowed. They don't suffer from unrest and are meant to use more “zerg-like” techniques.

    This limitation won't greatly effect some players as they're going to be out there getting fame with victory after victory. But it will prevent players from “turtle-ing” together huge empires.

    Of course, for players that like to have a large number of smaller cities that will still be possible. The larger a city's population the larger the problem of unrest. By strategically building settlers to lower a city's population you'll be able to spread out and place cities strategically to take advantage of world resources.

    In the end we want city spamming to be a valid strategy, not the only valid strategy.

    Thoughts?
    I was going to post something similar, tie cities/growth to fame I think is important to create better balanced long-term games. I think some of mechanics of how fame is gained and lost needs to be reworked if this is going to be used. Should we lose fame if an engineer is killed? I'd hate to use an actual number but looking at my current game I think 25-50 fame per city makes sense but maybe make this variable upon setting up the game.

    Also wanted to touch on expanding city borders, take a look at some of the space type games like galactic civilizations. I'd like to see cities growth both in red border, if two cities are close with overlapping resources have them split the output. There's just too many towns and cities in the game at the moment in my opinion. Decreasing the population by 1,000 is a nice touch to moderate expansion.

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