Governors

By on November 11, 2008 5:12:41 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Cuddlelump

Join Date 03/2006
+8

I'd like to see your cities and towns have a governor that you choose from a list and assign.

The governor need not be an actual unit on the game map, but more of a statistic.  The governor would have strengths and weaknesses, and you could chose him based off what you want the town to do.

Want a town to produce the tools of warfare your empire needs? Pick a governor who's well versed with industry.  Need a farming town to feed your empire? Find the governor who understands agriculture the best.  The choice in governor could also dictate how any automation for that town prioritizes its production.

This role could alternatively be filled with non-combat heroes, who apply their bonuses/penalties to whichever town they are in.

Either way the governor or hero could be assassinated, causing the town to fall into anarchy, halting production and trade until a new governor is appointed and regains control, or after so many turns pass.

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November 11, 2008 7:22:42 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd rather have governors in the way GalCiv2 has them: As agents to reduce micromanagement. Building preset buildqueues in cities, sending units to prearranged rally points, building up mines, etc.

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November 11, 2008 10:10:55 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would like to be able to program governors and save them as well as assign them avatars and have a track record or historical one follow them from game to game.

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November 11, 2008 10:19:17 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What about reversing the process? Rather than choosing a governor to define what type of town you want to have, what about having the type of town you develop choosing the governor?

In other words, small, initial settlements start without governors (or highly bland and generic ones). As you build structures and train units in the city, those choices determine the likelihood of a specific sort of governor emerging in the city when it reaches a certain size. Build barracks and train many swordsmen and you're likely to see a civic leader emerge who confers a bonus to unit training time but a penalty to research output; build lots of schools/markets and the city will likely aquire a mayor/governor that boosts population growth but reduces the city's defense.

I think this approach makes for a more interesting game dynamic, since it replaces one interesting and meaningful decision (choosing your governor) with many (every build/recruitment order takes on added importance in terms of affecting what governor the town would get).

To keep the decisions meaningful, I would suggest that governor's bonuses be able to improve (or weaken) as the town continues to grow. If a town with a military governor continues on a martial path, then the governor's bonus should increase, making him even more useful. If you have the town switch to a different path, then his bonus should atrophy as it essentially goes unused - ultimately, possibly, leading to the governor leaving the town altogether if he feels like its no longer the kind of place he wants to live.

- Ash

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November 11, 2008 11:08:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Please don't overdo the governor stuff. I can't bear managing governors in the same than in the Total War games (4x + Sims).

 

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November 11, 2008 11:14:57 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would have to agree with McFungos here.   I personally hate AIs managing my towns when I could manage it myself (AI always does bizzar stuff I don't want it to do or builds in a different logical order than I think it should be built.).   I also don't really see a game about letting a powerful wizard bring the world back from near apocolyptic war really turning to puppet governers to manage the towns.  Like I don't want to say don't include governers, but I don't think it should be a particularly developed/complex feature.  If I want governer management, I'll play something that is not a spiritual sequal to master of magic.  I want magic and armies and heroes.  Cities just stand for a means to have more magic or armies (and to help draw a "you cross this line and I am going to have to kill you" line)

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November 11, 2008 11:40:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would like NPC/AI governors in an RPG/4X game where they had real personality, dialogue, story developments etc... and I posted about doing that earlier but the more I think of it I just don't think that such a degree of RPG could be worked into this without hijacking the straightforward 4X goal.

 

I do like the idea of units/heros/whatever that provide bonuses to cities where they are stationed or nearby, and those units could be, ah, "persuaded" to cease to exist like any other, but I don't know how much further I'd go than that.

 

Assign them avatars, follow them through games... sure, sounds cool.  But I don't want to have to pay attention to an AI personality in each city or region of cities.  If "things don't work right" because of characters at that level then managing an empire on a really massive map could bog down.

 

Maybe there's a way without hitting the issues I'm thinking of, though.  Stardock has surprised me before.

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November 11, 2008 12:10:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would like NPC/AI governors in an RPG/4X game where they had real personality, dialogue, story developments etc... and I posted about doing that earlier but the more I think of it I just don't think that such a degree of RPG could be worked into this without hijacking the straightforward 4X goal.

I'm of the same opinion. I think it will add lots of value to the gameplay - if done correctly.

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November 11, 2008 4:21:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm with the dissenting opinion here. Whenever I have the option to allow Governors to manage cities/colonies/planets/deli shops for me, I always turn it off. I'd much rather take the time to micromanage everything myself than to have one of my key cities not producing what I need it too because I'm only limited to generic build queues like 'military' or 'civil' or 'whole wheat'. Gah! No one wants a whole wheat pastrami sandwich!

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November 11, 2008 4:28:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I personally dislike too much AI automation that isn't directly ordered by myself (governers like in GalCiv2 are perfectly fine though).

But I hate the leaders in the Total War games even more. Too much micromanagement and reorganisation necessary without a real benefit in gameplay (making each sword a talking sword wouldn't be an improvement in gameplay either, though you would have more RPG elements  ).

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November 11, 2008 6:09:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I can see governers taking something like the grand vizer did in MoM.   Just an AI that manages your building.   Nothing more, and that would be fine.

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November 11, 2008 6:23:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

as long as I have the option to turn him/her off I'm up for the idea

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November 11, 2008 6:51:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Aren't you forgetting that the grand vizier in MoM was horrible? If you turned him on, all of your towns will act just like the rest of the computer controlled towns. If I could get him to stick to buildings that would have been perfect. But leaving him on always resulted in huge amounts of redundant troops. I could garrison a town with 6 regiments of elite longbowmen and he would still build basic cavalry instead of a shrine.

Along with "template" governors we should be able to customize our own. We must teach them what we wan't them to do, but only once. So at the beginning you could have a "colony" governor who builds a preset list of buildings ending in defensive walls. Once that is done he either turns himself off or changes into a "fronteir town" AI who upgrades the defenses and builds garrison troops. You could assign tasks in chains such as "do this and this and this then inform me when you are done" or "do this and this and then raise this army and send the troops to the next town over". You could also assign standing orders for governers of different types to automatically change into others when certain conditions are met.

I could have explained that better but hopefully you got the gist of it. This type of control is macromanagement, it works more like directing an orchestra composed of many instruments. You provide each musician with a different sheet of music, but on concert night you only have to wave your baton to set the rythm with which they play.

Compare that to redundant micromanagement which is akin to playing the piano with your hands and an accordion with your feet at the same time.

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November 11, 2008 7:15:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I really like the templates Tamren has come up with.  to Add more thought we could have a build order for a custom governor, like I always built > builders hall > granary > smithy > market > farmers market  .... no matter what that start would be the same.  From there I would change depending on what I needed (focus on research vs. focus on military) and I would want a governor to then prompt me "build Queue template is done, where from here?" and I could tell it to focus with whatever governer personality would be appropriate.

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November 11, 2008 7:50:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Standing orders could also apply to unit production. For example:

Order 31 is as follows: "each town must raise and maintain a single unit of spearmen not to exceed 10% of the total population. Up to half of the soldiers may be militia if there are not enough workers to fill the current production quota. They must be armed with equipment up to the current standard, if the resources required are not immediatly available then the next best local option will be taken until supplies can be brought in from other towns"

What this means in terms of game mechanics is this:

  1. Order 31 is a standing order for every town you own to maintain a standing army of spearmen. If your town has a population of 2000, then soldier will be drafted automatically until the number reaches 200.
  2. Up to half of the soldiers recruited can be militia. What this means is that these soldiers will go back to thier civilian jobs when required. Since they don't spend as much time on the training ground they are not as experienced as full time soldiers. But on the other hand since they must spend a minimum of time on the training ground, they are not as efficient as full time workers.
  3. Normally idle civilians who don't have permanent jobs are recruited first. If the quota is not met then your active workers will be enisted as militia. So under Order 31 smaller towns without a worker surplus will rely heavily on militia while large well developed cities would have none unless you upped the percentage.
  4. The current standard of arms in this example is a shirt of maille armour, helmet and spear. The best material you have access to is steel but steel is rare and expensive, so iron is the common standard.

This would play out in a predictable manner all over your empire. Lets say you founded a new town on choice land that is cut off from your others by a dangerous river. Cargo shipping over the river is impractical and can't handle heavy items, going around takes a long time. The new town doesn't have the industry to supply iron and experienced armourers to make maille. Since they can't go unequipped for the time it takes to build a bridge over the river, they fulfil Order 31 by using local bronze instead of iron and leather armour.

Now this might be a long and convoluted example but it is one of many ways we could condense tasks which make micromanagement a slog.

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November 11, 2008 10:40:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Honestly, them managing my towns isnt really the feature I was hoping for, because personally I like to manage my towns myself, and well AI's tend to mess it up.

For me, the idea of having a npc leader arise or be assigned who applies bonuses to the town/region, that I can choose to move based on my needs and desires for my towns is what I'm looking for.

If a town is well outfitted for research, I'd like to set a governor who'll "run" the town to peak efficiency when it comes to research.  If I have a town at the front lines, guarding an important mountain pass, I'd like a military oriented leader there to run it.  They dont necessarily have to literally manage my town, but since ai driven governors are generally included to micromanage towns, I figured, why not give them some personality and bonuses, and let the player decide if he wants to micro manage or not.

Worst case scenario, at least give me civic heroes, who apply town or region wide bonuses/penalties based on what he's good at, whether that be research, military, economy, etc.

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November 12, 2008 10:08:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Cuddlelump,
Honestly, them managing my towns isnt really the feature I was hoping for, because personally I like to manage my towns myself, and well AI's tend to mess it up.

Here's the deal, though.  If the AI could manage your towns, it should be the same AI that the computer uses to manage its towns (give or take some additional intelligence depending on your difficulty level chosen).  If the management AI sucks, then it does for the computer opponents, which means there's an AI coding issue that needs to be addressed.

In essence, we could help trouble-shoot the governor AI by pointing out issues that would be more difficult to see if it was just the computer managing it.  Not only would we get a better governor, but the computer opponents would be better and at worst, just make it an opt-in system so you can still do your own micro-management if that's what you find enjoyable.

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November 13, 2008 2:58:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Lord Reliant,
Here's the deal, though.  If the AI could manage your towns, it should be the same AI that the computer uses to manage its towns (give or take some additional intelligence depending on your difficulty level chosen).  If the management AI sucks, then it does for the computer opponents, which means there's an AI coding issue that needs to be addressed.

In essence, we could help trouble-shoot the governor AI by pointing out issues that would be more difficult to see if it was just the computer managing it.  Not only would we get a better governor, but the computer opponents would be better and at worst, just make it an opt-in system so you can still do your own micro-management if that's what you find enjoyable.

A most excellent thing to point out. I don’t think many have even entertained the notion. If a strong scripting system is in place it makes coding for the AI that much better for Frogboy. Moreover it would also give us the opportunity to develop some wicked AI profiles which would further enhance the RPG experience.

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November 13, 2008 3:33:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If you try to use player interaction to improve the behavious of AI opponents then that wouldn't work. The only way to truly test the AI is to give it total control and observe how successful it is based on the results of its own descisions. If it is acting "stupid" then you need to give it access to more and or better information so that it can make better descisions. If you have any hand in the process whatsoever then the end result can only be in essense a stupid version of you. You are modifying the AI to behave in the way you yourself consider intelligent. If you take that process too far then you no longer have a true computer opponent, smart as it may be.

Not that this is a bad thing! Far from it. Imagine the flavour and depth we could add to the system if we could create whole custom races and empires and the AI to control them for us by proxy.

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November 13, 2008 8:26:16 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Tamren,
If you try to use player interaction to improve the behavious of AI opponents then that wouldn't work. The only way to truly test the AI is to give it total control and observe how successful it is based on the results of its own descisions. If it is acting "stupid" then you need to give it access to more and or better information so that it can make better descisions. If you have any hand in the process whatsoever then the end result can only be in essense a stupid version of you. You are modifying the AI to behave in the way you yourself consider intelligent. If you take that process too far then you no longer have a true computer opponent, smart as it may be.

Not that this is a bad thing! Far from it. Imagine the flavour and depth we could add to the system if we could create whole custom races and empires and the AI to control them for us by proxy.

Oh, Brad and other SD employees will pit the AI against itself to see how it does.  It's just that we as players don't see how they do first-hand because a lot of times that information is hidden to us.  If we can see first-hand how the computer handles our city management, we can give SD feedback on it.  And perhaps like Spartan suggested we could create/request different AI personalities/preferences.

Even cooler, would be for the AI to "learn" what we like to build, similiar to a junk filter, and create an AI personality on that.  Maybe we would play a few games doing the city building ourselves and as we changed our builds it would learn from that.  It might be a bit of stretch to do this, so even just allowing us access to the computer's AI on city management would rock.

And since we wouldn't be using the entire AI for playing the game, I don't think it would ruin the game or make this not fun.

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November 13, 2008 11:11:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like to Micro my towns until the game enters the mop of phase.  At that point I would like to use some sort of governor.  A script controled governor AI that we can edit would be best.

Sammual

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November 13, 2008 3:14:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Something similar to my standing Order 31? I think a mix of both would be perfect. The whole point of automation is to take over from us to handle tasks that are no longer fun. There are situations where the computer could take over completetly. For example you could have campaigns or scenarios that are entirely focused on one of the 4 Xs. Its still important to have an economy in a war focused scenario but a good AI could take over and let the player give his all on the war front which can be more difficult to compensate and likely more fun.

In order for us to be able to rely on these AIs they have to be smart. Not smart as in always choosing the most efficient course of action. They have to be in some form or function copies of us. An AI that doesn't do what I want is an AI that I will get angry at and turn off.

It would be the peak of awesome if our managing AIs learned by example, after a point you can ignore the AI because you know it will do what you want. Furthermore it would be able to offer advice based on your own preferences.

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