Growing Cities

By on December 8, 2008 4:00:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

nitey

Join Date 07/2003
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I've been reading a bit on how to control city spamming and an idea that might be worth considering is instead of allowing the player to just pick a spot and 'create' a city from a settler style unit, cities are instead 'cultivated' by having the player invest in certain things that allow for a city to form.

From what I can remember from my history classes, few cities were actually formerly created by rulers. What usually happened was people found what they felt was basically a somewhat safe area, started by building their farms then merchants moved in to supply the farmers and when enough merchants got together a village would appear. Now, if the village was in a area that a ruler thought was significant enough, he would appoint a Lord over the lands and the Lord would then build his castle or keep and if the Lord was favored enough by the King or was a good enough ruler - the castle or keep would provide enough protection to attract more populace. In the end, the village would grow to a town and ultimately to a city. On the other hand, villages that were unsupported often stayed no more than villages or even disappeared.

So a method that might be considered is that once the game begins, each player moves units and creates a 'territory'. The game decides which squares are considered safe and after x amount of turns that the square is considered 'safe' and x amount of squares away from the starting city, a village may appear.

When the village appears, the player can divert money into the village, send resources such as stone masons, craftsmen, merchants into the village and as long as the village is considered 'safe' there is a chance that the village may grow into a larger entity (town for example). Note, villages are not cities - nor are towns, they are simply areas that might be grown into a town or city.

Once the village has grown into a town, the ruler of the territory can appoint a Lord to oversee the area at which case a Hero is directed to build a castle or keep in the area of the town. Once the keep/castle is built, the town continues to grow to ultimately be a city and any towns or villages within x of the keep/castle will progress no further. In this case the 'population' can decide on potential city sites, however, the player can then pick the best (but it might not be the most ideal) location to create his city.

This is just a off the cuff idea, but it does have some interesting concepts not seen in other games. First, city spam is inhibitied as the player can't just put a city in the best resource spot 8 squares from his last city. The player may be presented with a few different sites as potential city sites, but with a limited number of cities, the player may have to choose to see whether the game sees fit to place a village in a area that seems the best or go with what the game has given.

Anyway, I'm throwing the concept out for discussion. This is by no means a finished idea and all discussion is welcome.

 

 

 

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December 8, 2008 5:42:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Wow. This sounds like a potentially major twist for the basic colony/city rush phase all TBS games seem to share. In all the other Civ-kin games I've played, you either had predetermined city sites or you had settler units that could found a city almost anywhere. I very much like this hybrid notion where channelers could spend essence to influence a potential city site, but at root we are working on a map where the population centers all have a core tile that the game chose in response to player choices.

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December 8, 2008 6:00:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's interesting, although it depends on the computer choosing good spots. It certainly would need to understand about bottlenecks.

There is some historical precedent for rulers founding cities. In particular towns might be founded on a hostile frontier and incentives offered for people to move there and take up arms.

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December 8, 2008 9:07:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's an ineresting idea and it does seem more realistic than the usual model where every population base is founded by state sponsored settlers. It goes without saying that it would have to be implemented well to not end up being massively irritating in practice.. but if it was done competently then I think it could work. Part of me worries that I'd find it kinda inhibiting to have potential city placements denied to me.. but then in actuality that's happening anyway due to random map creation. There's always going to be places where you might, and places you would never put a city so I guess a system like this is just an extension of that but intentionally structured to solve some other problems otherwise inherent in the genre.

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December 8, 2008 9:34:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like it.  It's more organic, less micro-management oriented, and more than anything else, it would encourage you to build a military to keep areas "safe".  One of my biggest problems in games is justifying building up an early military that I know will get wiped out easily/quickly when I can invest in another city or economics instead.

Even just being able to promote existing villages into cities as a managerial power would be cool.  And there wouldn't have to be anything prohibiting you from founding a city in a far-off land, but you might get a lot more benefit to doing it this way (in terms of resources to make founding a city much easier).

Stardock, you reading this?  Cool idea here.

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December 9, 2008 12:09:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I definently like the way this idea is sounding I would think that an option for a leader to provide incentives for people to move towards certain areas that are strategically important such as offering 10 gold per settler for people to move into a demon/monster infested region that just so happens to have lots of valuable ore to be mined. Granted normally people wouldn't ever think of going to such a region but if you offer enough gold people may be willing to take on more risks. Also there could be other ways of getting people to settle there are well. Several magical spells that make the place seem like a green pasture or spells that compell people to settle there come to mind and of course using these types of spells should come with costs such as your heroes essence or other downsides such as a compelled workforce not being as good as a regular one or people being more susceptable to being killed when they're under the illusion that a monster's lair is a place of safety. Evil leaders could also go with a slave camp type settlement where you can force people to work and settle into an area however, there needs to be a certain amount of military personal there otherwise revolts will happen.

Anyways I seem to have gotten off on a tangent but the point is players should still have ways to choose where a city should be or ways to increase the chance that a city will appear on a certain tile so that they won't get frustrated with the AI placing potential city sites in areas where the player dosnt want them to be. There should be some downsides to this so that it is more feasible to go with what the city location AI wants you to do and I think it would be pretty cool if there were multiple ways to provide 'incentives' for your people to make towns and cities in extremely inhospitable environments. 

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December 9, 2008 1:12:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm not sure how it would mesh with essence use.  In this case, it seems like you, as the leader, formally revive areas, and then people can settle there, rather than just going with the flow.  It is a TBS, after all.. and you are needed to revive land, so why would it happen on it's own?

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December 9, 2008 1:20:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

some good stuff there. it seems like a novel way to deal with founding cities and city sprawl. But the problem here would be the computer choosing too many 'sub-prime' areas and leaving you with a shortfall or lack of access to specific resources (ie no bears). Maybe a combination of your idea (where villages can be persuaded to take root) with what has been hinted at elsewhere (specific places are urban-setting friendly). This would mean quite a lot of city friendly squares though and i'm not overly keen on that idea.

A few questions; How do your villages establish themsleves? Naturally without any hlep from you (the Wizard) or must you send your military to pacify (i.e. patrol) specific areas, or do you mean that your military must be sent out to pre-established villages (generated randomly by the computer) in order to promote their safety and encourage their growht? I would think that you (the wizard) would be confined to encouraging a certain amount of villages but how would you limit that encouragement? Resources/magic shards/time? I also like the idea i read (can't remember where) that your wizard would have to expend some of his precious magical energies to build/establish cities. Could we actually still do this to gain access to a specific resource that the computer has failed to account for? Finally, what about forts? I read somewhere that 'cities' could be founded and developed as forts (ie not cities) that can gaurd specific choke points.

 

ps does anybody like Massive Attack or Radiohead? If so then you might remember the songs "karma" Koma or "karma" police

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December 9, 2008 2:33:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So a method that might be considered is that once the game begins, each player moves units and creates a 'territory'. The game decides which squares are considered safe and after x amount of turns that the square is considered 'safe' and x amount of squares away from the starting city, a village may appear.

Which sounds like a mechanism that would be very annoying in a computer game.

While randomness isn't a bad thing per se, too much randomness on the wrong parts of a game can lead to immense frustrations. For example, you need a city in a certain place to extract resources, if it wouldn't happen because rand decides you get a settlement somewhere else, it could get really problematic. (You of course add other means of resource extraction then cities, through mines or other things, but you would need to add a whole layer of other things to balance that approach. And since resource extractions will most likely only work through cities in Elemental, it would need a complete change in design.)

Additionally, a large part of the attraction and fun-factor of Civilization like games is the city creation part, especially looking for good places and exploiting them. With your mechanism you remove that (imho very fun) game concept and replace it with a random system.

While your idea is more realistic then to conventional approach, I don't think it would be very fun for a game like Elemental.

 

Imho the need to spend essence to create cities is a good enough system to balance city-spam strategies with other strategies to make more options viable. With your system you would just remove the city-spam strategy altogether, with would remove choice from the player. And I'd never liked removing choice. 

 

In conclusion, interesting idea, but imho not fitting into Elemental at all.

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December 9, 2008 10:27:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

On the other hand, it might save people like me from obsessive and futile attempts to tesselate their cities in a land-use maximizing pattern.

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December 9, 2008 10:29:17 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Additionally, a large part of the attraction and fun-factor of Civilization like games is the city creation part, especially looking for good places and exploiting them. With your mechanism you remove that (imho very fun) game concept and replace it with a random system.

I don't think you're reading the suggestions quite right. At least as I see it, nitey's idea is not removing traditional city location methods. Something like 'seed villages' need not oblige you to build a given city anywhere, and a fully-developed system along these lines should *also* include flat-out, old-school Founding, a la Russia's St. Petersburg.

I also still think the devs might be aiming to free us from that old 'city zone of control' thing that meant using the iron at point A meant you had to have a city no more than three squares away. If we're going to get a good supply line system in this game, then choosing where to plant or encourage cities should become a balance of transportation needs, defense, and population growth.

So you start the process by picking what look like good places to imbue with essence. You have an idea where you think a city should go, so you order an outpost established there. But if you didn't awaken quite the right land or you neglected to take care of a local problem like roaming giant spiders, maybe that outpost refuses to grow until you do some things to change the situation. Meanwhile, one of the volunteer outposts is thriving in ways that startle you, and eventually you end up making the place your capital.

The colony rush thing is still not a frustration for me, but the longer I play this sort of game, the more sympathy I have for folks who have pretty much the opposite of Vandenburg's take. Some of the highest-scoring GC2 players can pretty much tell you whether a game is won right around the time the last open worlds are colonized. That doesn't mean you don't still have tons of clicking to do to get to a given win type, but if I ever got that good at reading my GC2 map, I think I'd quit playing.

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December 9, 2008 10:58:46 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Some of the highest-scoring GC2 players can pretty much tell you whether a game is won right around the time the last open worlds are colonized. That doesn't mean you don't still have tons of clicking to do to get to a given win type, but if I ever got that good at reading my GC2 map, I think I'd quit playing.

Well, GalCivII doesn't have a very good system to prevent or devalue city (resp. colonies) spam (though the extreme planets helped a bit). The essence cost in Elemental though sounds like something that could be balanced extremely well to make city spam not a necessity without the need to remove controlled expansion from the player.

 

I also still think the devs might be aiming to free us from that old 'city zone of control' thing that meant using the iron at point A meant you had to have a city no more than three squares away. If we're going to get a good supply line system in this game, then choosing where to plant or encourage cities should become a balance of transportation needs, defense, and population growth.

I didn't get that impression at all. AFAIK you're only able to harvest resources that are on your city tiles, thus making a cities location very important. But I agree on the second part, balancing those different needs should be mandatory. But that would make city location even more important, making randomness in city location even more potentionally debalancing.

 

So you start the process by picking what look like good places to imbue with essence. You have an idea where you think a city should go, so you order an outpost established there. But if you didn't awaken quite the right land or you neglected to take care of a local problem like roaming giant spiders, maybe that outpost refuses to grow until you do some things to change the situation. Meanwhile, one of the volunteer outposts is thriving in ways that startle you, and eventually you end up making the place your capital.

The reason why I don't like a system like this is, that I don't want to be at the mercy of a random number generator which decides if I get what I want or not. Especially not in something so important as city location. Let's say I want to defend a mountain pass by building a city there (which should be easily possible by Elementals modular city expansion system) and now rand decides that my city starts a few tiles away, ruining it for me. Of course you could (as you've said yourself) have the option of still be able to found cities just where you want. But then it's easily possible that older cities (or villages) that were randomly founded get in my way. (Something I absolutely hated about the founding city bonus in goody huts in older civilization titles, which often came in the way of my planned city expansion.)

Also I need to come back to my old complain, it removes control and choice from the player. (Yeah, I'm an obsessive control freak regarding my empire. Even marriages are prearranged by my clerks. )

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December 10, 2008 6:25:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Vandenburg, I don't mean to get on your case but if you read the whole page again you'll see that what is potentially on offer is actually a way of increasing the choices that a player has to (or can) make. You've taken GW Swicord's off the cuff description and applied that to how it will work. I'd actually agree with the whole thrust of what he has to say but that still doesn't mean that you can't found a city using a massive amount of essence. You can 'encourage' a village to take root in an area by clearing it of mobs and investing *resource* in it or decide to do it through essence, that's how i'd see it.

Plus, many people have said how resources will be dependent on a city's access to it. If this is true then I think it would be a good idea to give the players an alternative, though still expensive (combination of time, resources etc) way to found cities and gain access to the preciousss resources (bears, iron, etc). Although i guess it all depends on balance in the end.

And to prove i'm not picking on you, here's a beer!

 

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December 10, 2008 7:34:02 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting delad,
Vandenburg, I don't mean to get on your case but if you read the whole page again you'll see that what is potentially on offer is actually a way of increasing the choices that a player has to (or can) make. You've taken GW Swicord's off the cuff description and applied that to how it will work. I'd actually agree with the whole thrust of what he has to say but that still doesn't mean that you can't found a city using a massive amount of essence. You can 'encourage' a village to take root in an area by clearing it of mobs and investing *resource* in it or decide to do it through essence, that's how i'd see it.

Plus, many people have said how resources will be dependent on a city's access to it. If this is true then I think it would be a good idea to give the players an alternative, though still expensive (combination of time, resources etc) way to found cities and gain access to the preciousss resources (bears, iron, etc). Although i guess it all depends on balance in the end.

Well yeah, I probably took it too literal and applied it in a too narrow way on the game. Gotta conceed that point I guess.

Sounds better the way you've described it now. If you could controll where and when to invest those resources and the city would grow on a place where you've decided as a player, an over-time creation of cities depending on safety and resources could work.

Quoting delad,
And to prove i'm not picking on you, here's a beer!


I'm allergic to alcohol. I knew it, you want to kill me!

Seriously, why would I get the impression you want to pick on me? We're discussing ideas, so it's normal to disagree with each other and to dislike other peoples ideas.

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December 10, 2008 10:25:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Really interesting idea.  If the computer did decide "safe" places to settle, perhaps nation attributes could modify those place--like the skill "woodlore" would make it more probably that you could successfully settle in the middle of a forrest patch.

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December 10, 2008 11:26:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think this is a perfect example of what's being discussed in another thread about how some non-feasible ideas (either due to complexity, would be too frustrating, etc) can still lead to a great discussion! Personally I think that the original poster's unmodified idea would be very frustrating, but at the heart of it there are some amazing concepts to be drawn from it!

I love the ideas of having to encourage population growth by making sure the area is safe, and possibly even by giving incentives for people to move there. On the other hand I think it should be impossible to establish any major population center without using some of your channeler's essence except on the rare, already fertile spots. Instead of having two separate ways of establishing cities, I would love to see them both combined into one more involved method. 

If a little small population gathers in a good spot for you, maybe because you've had a large troop presence there or some other reason, you can choose to imbue the land with your essence. The result would be a new settlement under your control with a slight advantage in that it already has an establish population, or maybe in costing a little less essence. Whereas if you want to establish a city in that dangerous, relatively far-off mountain pass, you can still due so. But it'll cost a little bit more from your channeler and it'll be somewhat harder to grow the population there at first.

And the little 'volunteer' population centers should never interfere with the placement or growth of a city. Because like Vandenburg said, that is annoying.

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December 10, 2008 11:03:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I love it. My only problem I see is if my cities growing in directions I don't want them to.   I mean great idea, but I like to have good control of my cities, at least if they push or move the build range for other things.  Like I don't want the cities expanding on their own preventing me from building things at other locations (at least on their own).

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December 11, 2008 7:37:17 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting landisaurus,
I love it. My only problem I see is if my cities growing in directions I don't want them to.   I mean great idea, but I like to have good control of my cities, at least if they push or move the build range for other things.  Like I don't want the cities expanding on their own preventing me from building things at other locations (at least on their own).

I'm pretty sure that when your population reaches a certain point and is able to expand to another tile, you will choose which tile it'll expand to.

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December 11, 2008 7:14:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting pigeonpigeon,

I'm pretty sure that when your population reaches a certain point and is able to expand to another tile, you will choose which tile it'll expand to.

I would presume so, this is what we've been told and it sounds like the best idea

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December 11, 2008 8:14:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I've had this similar idea for a a few years with the aim to implement it game design wise, just remember that although it is an organic based process in many situations, throughout history leaders etc. have purposely settled cities and towns such as demonstrated in the Hellenistic periods etc..

The best idea imo, is to give various routes and options to enable city/village founding that keep the realistic image of an organic civilisation.

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