Elemental: Tactical battles

By on March 3, 2009 3:56:43 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

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One of the major differences between a game like Galactic Civilizations and Elemental is going to be the tactical battles.

Players won’t have to actually fight these if they don’t want. If you’ve played Galactic Civilizations, you can pretty much imagine how the tactical battles in Elemental will work in the sense that they’re really just the next step from what we had in GalCiv II.

The idea is that you zoom in to a given battle and you see all your units there. From there, you can set the speed you want the action to take place (from “turns” to real time). 

On the map you give your units orders and those orders appear on the screen and they go and fight it out. You can zoom in and out as much as you desire on the map to see either the whole epic battle or down to seeing individual units fighting.

Our goal is that if you want to see the whole “Battle of 5 armies” type thing you should see each and every soldier fighting if you want or you can zoom out and see it more abstracted.

There will be quite a bit of skill involved in managing the battle in terms of where you place your forces and how you handle your hero.  However, the AI (which I’ll be writing) will be designed to wage war as effectively as possible.

One of the concepts we’re playing around with is a leadership ability. Leadership basically gives a general bonus to your side. The idea there being that players who don’t want to monkey around with the tactical battles can focus on having heroes who are also excellent generals (high leadership) who you can have confidence that they will fight a battle with maximum capability.

The AI too will be allowed to invest in leadership skills to help their generals get better and better.  Early on, leadership won’t mean much.

Sizes of armies

As a player, one of my questions about this kind of thing would be how big are the armies going to be?  The answer is that it’s going to vary a great deal.

At the start of the game, I would imagine the sovereign walking around alone or maybe with 10 foot soldiers armed with pikes. Those early battles will be pretty straight forward.

Later on, however, you could have battles with thousands of soldiers with a few recruited magical creatures involved along with your hero.

Hence, even if you enjoy watching the tactical battles, you may eventually want to build up your heroes leadership ability so that you can have confidence in letting them call the shots so that you can just sit back and watch the show in fast motion.

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March 4, 2009 10:19:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's great to get more information on the tactical aspect of the game.

Is this picture https://store.stardock.com/images/product_gfx/Battle_lightning_1280.jpg an accurate in-game view of of this system, or obsolete? It's from the Stardock "Coming Soon" page and not in Elemental's media section. If current, does it imply the interface changes depending upon the speed selected for combat? Real-time would need the boxes to display selected unit stats and mouse-over enemy stats while the turn-based has a box for the active unit and then a ribbon showing the combat order?

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March 4, 2009 10:49:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

One idea:

Instead of leadership increasing your battle capacity, have leadership increase the size of the army you can command?

This is one way you can put stack limits in the game as well.  All armies should require a hero leading, but armies should have multiple heroes (though heros can count as multiple units- depends on their insubordination score- which is something else I'd add)  Some things like dragons, heros, paladins- may be obnoxious and count as more then one unit for insubordination.

 

Another issue: try to avoid situations where a unit is much more or less powerful in tactical then regular combat.  This will be tough.

 

I got a feeling I'll be savage in the beta test- just a hunch.  You may end up not liking me .

 

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March 4, 2009 11:51:50 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I love the sound of this and i'm very interested in the real-time tactical combat but I would like a few more details on the way time will flow in battle.

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March 4, 2009 12:48:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Darkodinplus,
I love the sound of this and i'm very interested in the real-time tactical combat but I would like a few more details on the way time will flow in battle.

My hopes that we'll have some 'true turn-based' option for tactical aside, I'm more curious about how tactical time/turns will relate to 'full' game turns. Will all the tactical combat happen during major turn processing, or will working through tactical battles be part of getting ready to click the big Turn button?

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March 4, 2009 1:16:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

...an accurate in-game view of of this system, or obsolete?
Obsolete 

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March 4, 2009 1:39:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Speaking of which, any new screenshots from the alpha this week? (hint, hint Boogie).

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March 4, 2009 4:07:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting GW Swicord,

My hopes that we'll have some 'true turn-based' option for tactical aside, I'm more curious about how tactical time/turns will relate to 'full' game turns. Will all the tactical combat happen during major turn processing, or will working through tactical battles be part of getting ready to click the big Turn button?

Oh I really hope tactical turns won't relate to 'full' game turns at all. I don't want to constantly be interrupted in the middle of combat to deal with all my regular activities. It would be really frustrating. Especially later in the game when games will probably take a while. The game should flow, not regularly disrupt your thought process.

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March 4, 2009 4:34:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting pigeonpigeon,
... I don't want to constantly be interrupted in the middle of combat to deal with all my regular activities. ...The game should flow, not regularly disrupt your thought process.

Fascinating. I feel like I'm reading you from the Myrror plane. I'm one of those very fringe TBS people for whom *battles* are often an interruption in what I think of as the flow of the game. I didn't even consider the idea that you could be interrupted after you got drawn into the Mysterious Continuous Turn dimension, and I'd not like that sort of interruption even if I could set tactical mode to 'true turns.'

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March 4, 2009 5:39:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting GW Swicord,
Fascinating. I feel like I'm reading you from the Myrror plane. I'm one of those very fringe TBS people for whom *battles* are often an interruption in what I think of as the flow of the game.

The only reason I don't think the same way you do is that in TBS games, I still get to choose when to start the battles. I can choose to fight at the beginning of the turn, then do the rest of the turn. Basically, you can order the turn, including when to fight, in pretty much any order you want to. If tactical turns were related to strategic turns, then the game would decide when to interrupt your current action for you.

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March 4, 2009 6:12:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting pigeonpigeon,



Quoting GW Swicord,
reply 8
Fascinating. I feel like I'm reading you from the Myrror plane. I'm one of those very fringe TBS people for whom *battles* are often an interruption in what I think of as the flow of the game.


The only reason I don't think the same way you do is that in TBS games, I still get to choose when to start the battles. I can choose to fight at the beginning of the turn, then do the rest of the turn. Basically, you can order the turn, including when to fight, in pretty much any order you want to. If tactical turns were related to strategic turns, then the game would decide when to interrupt your current action for you.

 

If you are saying that once you are in a tactical battle, that should play out completely before returning to the strategic game - I totally agree.

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March 4, 2009 7:58:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

edit:disreguard this post

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March 5, 2009 4:31:09 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting arstal,
One idea:

Instead of leadership increasing your battle capacity, have leadership increase the size of the army you can command?

That makes leadership a skill you have to increase to have a big army then. Depends on how big an army you can have without the skill but it limits you just like in Kings Bounty. It can work but upkeep is another army limiter.

 

Quoting arstal,

This is one way you can put stack limits in the game as well.  All armies should require a hero leading, but armies should have multiple heroes (though heros can count as multiple units- depends on their insubordination score- which is something else I'd add)  Some things like dragons, heros, paladins- may be obnoxious and count as more then one unit for insubordination.


Terrible suggestion. That's HoMM all over again with few armies roaming the map. It would eliminate the freedom of scouting with lone Elven Gladerunners like in Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic (bit of a modern MoM) and capturing what you can with them.

 

Quoting arstal,

Another issue: try to avoid situations where a unit is much more or less powerful in tactical then regular combat.  This will be tough.


That's a big problem in Age of Wonders but if FC (Fast Combat) gives as good results as TC then I wonder what advantage playing out the battles will give. Makes me fear that TC will be too simplified ala Disciples 2 to make FC as powerful as TC.

 

 

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March 5, 2009 6:57:32 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That's a big problem in Age of Wonders but if FC (Fast Combat) gives as good results as TC then I wonder what advantage playing out the battles will give. Makes me fear that TC will be too simplified ala Disciples 2 to make FC as powerful as TC.

Yeah I agree it's a fine balance as you need auto-resolve to be operating at a competent level but it certainly shouldn't max out on how well you could have done in a particular battle. I mean if it did then you'd only ever be sabotaging yourself by playing the tactical battles (as clearly you can't do better than the best possible outcome but could easily screw up and do worse) which would be very frustrating (especially as the tactical battles look fun and I want to play them!). Ideally you want a setup where if you have an army (given that the quality of the units are about even on both sides) of say 8 times the size of your enemy..then you should be able to not bother with that fight, auto-resolve, and have a realistic outcome (i.e. you win taking very few casualties, if any at all). Then, on the other side, it needs to be possible that if you are out numbered (say 12 enemy units to your 8) then brilliant command of the tactical battle could still net you a win, where the auto-resolve would understandably give you a loss.

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March 5, 2009 8:52:14 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting pigeonpigeon,
This is a great post! It clears up a lot of questions, I think, although it still leaves some very significant ones (like what exactly you mean by continuous-time turns).

And I agree with Jentz... It sounds like you're planning on the leadership ability to determine the quality of orders that the AI will give your toops, but that sounds like a bad idea to me. For one, it means that if you don't have good leadership skills with a general but don't want to deal with the micromanagement, the AI controlling your forces will be gimped. The only thing this will do is encourage people to take control of each and every battle and just ignore the leadership ability...

I think it would make more sense for leadership to do something that is ~equally beneficial whether the player takes control or leaves it up to the AI. Like, if you implement any sort of morale modifier, leadership could significantly affect that in some way.

 

Actually I see it a bit differently. Being the Channeler means that  I might have to take control of the battles because I do not trust my general. On the other hand being the Channeler I might not have the time or the patience to take control of each battle and there comes my hability to give command to different  Generals depending on their combat experience. As a leader I must make the right decision. Maybe Hero 1 is the best one and I will put him on my main line while hero 2 is very inexperienced and because of that I will put him on a battle line that means little. If all your heroes have the same AI in battle what the point in investing in theit combat ability? I must train my army and my leaders to be as efficient as possible. That means investing in leadership for some of them. Maybe at the start I will have to take comand of most battles only because I have not train any learers in my armies. ONn this is done then I will be able to trust some of them in major battles.

In most battles Kings did not take part in them, they sent their BEST generals to take command, not just anybody who was at the castle. The way I am reading your guys seems to say that whichever hero would be ok. It would not be ok. I want the best I want to be able to train the best. I want to go in battle and know that my ennemy hero is an ass and kick it back to him

This is not a way to force a certain game play. It's realism, being that just because you are a Lord does not mean you can lead an army. A leader must have experience not a title. Mr Frogboy I think your leadership ability idea is a very good one for the reason I have posted.

 

Keep up the good work

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March 5, 2009 10:48:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is an interesting post and quite a few interesting replies.  I like the idea of a leadership skill having an effect on both player run battles and auto resolve battles.  I think that Frogboy's idea for leadership with the auto resolve battles is fine but for player run battles perhaps leadership allows a certain number of units to be controlled by the player with a minimum of one or two units for armies without leaders.  The rest of the units would be controlled by the AI after setup.  This would make leadership a valuable resource for player run tactical combat as well as auto-resolve combat.

One of my main annoyances with tactical combat is that you have complete control over your forces for the most part which is not realistic nor do I think it's very fun or it's completely scripted in which case it's just a cinematic.  In games that have a tactical aspect I've played like the Total War series I can take my vastly outnumbered units, stick them in some incredibly defensible position, goad the AI enemy into an attack, and wipe them out easily in tactical combat.  I usually end up auto resolving just to make it fair but then I miss out on an aspect of the game that I enjoy.  Sometimes it's cool for a vastly outnumbered force to win but when you can do it EVERY single time, what's special about it.

Anyway, I'm really enjoying the sheets of graph paper and the glimpses into Elemental.  Thanks!

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March 5, 2009 11:57:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

One of my main annoyances with tactical combat is that you have complete control over your forces for the most part which is not realistic nor do I think it's very fun or it's completely scripted in which case it's just a cinematic. In games that have a tactical aspect I've played like the Total War series I can take my vastly outnumbered units, stick them in some incredibly defensible position, goad the AI enemy into an attack, and wipe them out easily in tactical combat. I usually end up auto resolving just to make it fair but then I miss out on an aspect of the game that I enjoy. Sometimes it's cool for a vastly outnumbered force to win but when you can do it EVERY single time, what's special about it.

In my opinion the problem here is not with having complete control over your forces, which personally I really enjoy (couldn't give a fudge if it's realistic or not.. I'm a goddamn wizard for chrissakes!), but with the quality of the enemy army's AI. Hopefully, with Frogboy doing the coding, the AI will be good enough to make beating the odds as you describe above a special occurrence and not something that can be taken for granted (which I admit would indeed be tedious).

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March 5, 2009 12:16:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Will there be a limit of one hero per army? I quite liked having a wandering band of heroes in MoM, it was like having a little D&D adventuring party going on

 

I also really hope to be able to lead an adventuring party to fame and glory and not be limited to one hero per army.

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March 5, 2009 1:09:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting tenchifew,
...  I also really hope to be able to lead an adventuring party to fame and glory and not be limited to one hero per army.

Indeed. There were no regular units involved in the passage through Moria in The Fellowship of the Ring, and all nine Companions began the journey together.

I'm also hoping that the references to a singular "hero" are shorthand for "field commander" or somesuch. I think the game really is aimed at getting to grand battles like the ones in LotR, and for those it seems only reasonable to have most or all of your heroes together.

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March 5, 2009 2:43:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
I agree with you about the leadership skill. It's something we'll have to play with during the beta.  Hope you all pre-ordered.

 

Nope, sadly your payment options are rather limited for me atm and my alternative (PayPal) can't be used until you start charging, which I guess will be when beta opens.   Bear with me. 

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March 5, 2009 5:14:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Campaigner,

That's a big problem in Age of Wonders but if FC (Fast Combat) gives as good results as TC then I wonder what advantage playing out the battles will give. Makes me fear that TC will be too simplified ala Disciples 2 to make FC as powerful as TC.

Well Jonny covered this pretty well. There are two problems - the first problem is that the AI's strategy stinks in many games, meaning TC almost always is more favorable to the player. Honestly, like you said that will almost always be the case unless combat is so simple that it would be boring for a player. That said, hopefully Brad can work some magic with the AI and make it much better than we're used to. The other problem, though, is that Auto-Resolve often makes certain units much better or worse than it should be. I get the impression that Stardock's tactical combat will actually involve the conflict playing out, which should actually do away with that problem! (Most auto-combat, I think, is done as a calculation). 

And as to the single most important advantage of playing out the battles - fun! Many people love playing out tactical combat, at least occasionally, even if it provides little or no actual gameplay advantage.

Quoting Solam,
This is not a way to force a certain game play. It's realism, being that just because you are a Lord does not mean you can lead an army. A leader must have experience not a title. Mr Frogboy I think your leadership ability idea is a very good one for the reason I have posted.

But it is a way to force gameplay - because we have the choice of auto-resolving or taking control of the combat. If having a general with leadership just means that in auto-combat your forces are controlled by a more competent AI, but doesn't do anything for you if you actually take control of the combat, then the player who doesn't waste upgrade points or whatever on leadership and always takes control of tactical combat will have the advantage.

Basically, if your forces are only controlled by a competent AI in auto-combat if your army is lead by a general with high leadership, then it will be a dissuasion to use auto-resolve unless you have such a general in charge. No one wants to go into combat knowing that an intentionally stupid AI will be in control of their forces, especially when they know they could do a much better job of the combat themselves. If we weren't given the option to take control of combat ourselves then this wouldn't be an issue, but it is.

Quoting Sarkos,
I think that Frogboy's idea for leadership with the auto resolve battles is fine but for player run battles perhaps leadership allows a certain number of units to be controlled by the player with a minimum of one or two units for armies without leaders.  The rest of the units would be controlled by the AI after setup. 

But this wouldn't work. Well, it would work, but it would be so frustrating. It's effect would be to have two separate armies, with two separate strategies. The AI will do its own thing with its share of your forces, while you do your own thing with yours. It would be terrible. It also means that in progressively larger conflicts, leadership becomes progressively less useful. Being able to control 5 out of 7 units would be very useful, but being able to control 5 out of 20 is much less useful.

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March 5, 2009 6:16:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The combat actually playing out will still end up undervaluing some units.

 

The problem with leadership beiing the way it is will be that either everyone spams it, or no one spams it.  It's a flawed concept unless they come up with something I can't think of.

 

TC and MP will NOT go well together- that's a guarantee.  I'm doubtful even Stardock can do this.

 

Maybe if battles were real-time, and worked like Kohan or maybe even a Fantasy General, it might work.  Micromanaging in TC needs to be avoided as much as possible for this to work though.

 

 

 

 

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March 5, 2009 6:41:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like the leadership concept and see it playing out something like this: (I could be dead wrong of course!)

Maybe a leadership skill of 1 allows the hero to effectively lead 10 other units. He could still be at the head of 100 soldiers, but only ten will fight at the "effectiveness" of a well run AI. The rest are either left to the human player to manage, or they will fight less effectively.

So as seems to be hinted at, a high leadership skill would allow you to let a huge battle with 1000s of soldiers unfold with little or no tweaking from you because your hero is so incredible at leadership that it will be using the most effective AI routines and it will cover the entire force.

That's also going to put a huge bullseye on your hero's hindquarters, which I also like.

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March 5, 2009 7:05:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Denryu,

So as seems to be hinted at, a high leadership skill would allow you to let a huge battle with 1000s of soldiers unfold with little or no tweaking from you because your hero is so incredible at leadership that it will be using the most effective AI routines and it will cover the entire force.

But the AI will not be as good as most players. And if the AI is only in control of a small subset of your forces, it will go take them and do things that more often than not won't work with the strategy you're trying to use. And even if your hero/general has such high leadership that he can control the whole force, a player would almost always still be better. Which means that you'd still be better off, in terms of actual value, forgoing leadership altogether and control all your forces by yourself. Really, in this situation I would do everything I could do to prevent my heroes and generals from getting leadership, because I wouldn't want them to commandeer part of my army and do their own thing.

I think auto-resolve should always use the best tactical AI available (for a given difficulty setting), or all I can see is lots of frustration with it. 

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March 5, 2009 8:04:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting pigeonpigeon,



Quoting Denryu,
reply 22

So as seems to be hinted at, a high leadership skill would allow you to let a huge battle with 1000s of soldiers unfold with little or no tweaking from you because your hero is so incredible at leadership that it will be using the most effective AI routines and it will cover the entire force.


But the AI will not be as good as most players. And if the AI is only in control of a small subset of your forces, it will go take them and do things that more often than not won't work with the strategy you're trying to use. And even if your hero/general has such high leadership that he can control the whole force, a player would almost always still be better. Which means that you'd still be better off, in terms of actual value, forgoing leadership altogether and control all your forces by yourself. Really, in this situation I would do everything I could do to prevent my heroes and generals from getting leadership, because I wouldn't want them to commandeer part of my army and do their own thing.

I think auto-resolve should always use the best tactical AI available (for a given difficulty setting), or all I can see is lots of frustration with it. 

So it seems to me that you see the value of leadership, you just want it by default. Maybe instead of leadership points, a hero can earn leadership experience. For instance a new hero might only be able to effectively lead ten men. It doesn't matter if he is in an army of 100 or an army of ten, he is only actaully "leading" ten. After leading ten for a while and a few battles, along with XP he gains LP and is now able to lead 20, then 40, 80, 150, 300, 600, 1000.

If you recruit a hero late in the game, he should not be able to lead 1000 as effectively as your seasoned hero. He either needs to start with leading ten OR at this point maybe you want to pony up and pay for some leadership training so that he can jump rioght in with a big army and be effective. You want maximum godly AI to run your battles in auto resolve? I hardly dare say it but I will - MAKE IT AN OPTION!   And if anyone doesn't like it as an option then I would prefer great leadership to be earned like they are talking about rather than default behavior.

 

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March 5, 2009 9:31:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Leadership doesn't sound good. I would never fight in FC if I get better results in TC.

And realism isn't a real argument. I always giggle when somebody mention "but the king/lord/god doesn't direct the battles himself! You're not a liutenent, you're the lord of the kingdom!"

 

It's completely irrelevent to me. You (I atleast) go by what makes the best gameplay. Couldn't care less about realism if gameplay is compromised....

In Age of Wonders Shadow Magic we were wizards that ran a kingdom. Still you could control every battle if you wanted to.

 

Denryu

That would lead to Disciples 2 gameplay where each player has one superhero and other heroes are scouts. If the main hero dies then it's basically gameover. If I lose my main hero should my scout who can only lead 150 troopexperience fight against the enemy main hero who can lead 1000 troopexperience..?

edit: Don't understand blockquote tag....didn't work as I thought it worked....

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