Boogie's Thoughts on Chancellors, Cities, Snaking and Secession

After 24 hours of 'Brain-testing', I Feel a Reasonable Solution is at Hand

By on February 21, 2010 2:52:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

ScottTykoski

Join Date 03/2001
+94
Of all the aspects of Elemental, none seem to strike a nerve quite like the handling of cities.  Automation, size, uniqueness, too many in the world or too few...everyone has their take on how cities should feel. I believe, above all else, the worlds and nations of Elemental need to grow in a manner parallel to how RPS maps feel...in other words, elimination city spam without eliminating the joys of city building.
 
To that end, we're doing something that (I believe) hasn't been done before, and that is putting City Creation right on the main map.  You're placing buildings and slowly taking up precious land in the world around you. Pinch points can be established and cities can grow WELL beyond the single tile that most 4x games limit you to. I personally love it, and want to make sure the system continues to improve and refine as we inch towards gold.
 
Several concerns have arisen, however, and I've been mulling over these issues, mentioned by beta testers, that makes the current system lame.
 
1. Building a city, and suddenly running out of tiles with no way to get more.
 
2. Plopping down an outpost to harvest a resource 4 tiles from another city.
 
3. Forcing the player Snaking a trail of small improvements over to
 
4. Easily growing and reaching new city levels, where all outposts will eventually become huge cities.
 
and
 
5. Even though it costs Essence to make land livable, city spam is still completely viable in Elemental.
 
These make us sad, and while there have been many solutions presented to improve the system, I wanted to throw my own into the mix as a way to fix these problems AND tie into the other game mechanics (remember Sid's rule "Complex system's aren't fun - instead, make simple systems that intertwine in interesting ways."*).
 
* - I really shouldn't put that in quotes since that was the gist of what he said...but it was something like that.

So I present to you...
 
 
My proposed 'Heroes as Governors' system!!!
 
Basically, we'd add a stat to Champions: Governing. This would be a value (0 - 5), that determines two things...
 
1. How high of a city that hero can govern, and...
2. How many tiles their cities can grow to.
 
The system would work as such...you lay down a city, and in the naming of your new outpost you'd get to assign an available unit as that cities 'governor'. This unit wouldn't have to be stationed there permanent, but for every city placed you'd need a Hero or Family Member to lead it (with most units giving some bonus when they WERE stationed in a city).
 
Need a resource tapped? Just start an outpost and have Ranger Billy govern it. It'll never go above a level 1, unless you determine it's a crucial location, at which point you re-assign a better governor and build the city up.
 
Governor dies in battle? Several things could happen...
- If you have an unassigned hero with a governing level >= the fallen unit, then you could assign them to the orphaned settlement. 
- Have enough essence and you can spend that to bring the Governor unit back to life (with the obvious magical consequences that spending essence results in)
- or, if these aren't available, the Succession system kicks in and the city is given to the a neighbor capable of handling the settlement
 
So, a straightforward system that ties the major game component into the hero, magic, diplomacy, and dynasty system.
 
Pushing my luck, I also propose the following...
 

Allowing resource tapping improvements, and them only, to be built away from the main city hub.  The obvious benefits that you wouldn't have to build another city to tap it, AND you wouldn't have to 'snake' your improvements to get there, but the improvement WOULD NOT be defended by whatever walls and stationed units the city had available, so there's a major risk in doing so.s
 
While I like some of the ideas of treating resource taping like the starbases in GC2, I really don't want to start 'mixing systems' where city's are handled like X and colonies are handled like Y.
 
Anyways, that's just MY personal idea on the whole matter. Does it solve all issues current and future? Certainly not, but hopefully it'd put us one step closer to a truly unique and engaging system for building both your cities and your nation.
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February 21, 2010 3:07:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Can you elaborate a bit more, please? I'm not truly sure of how heroes/family can do as governors and the consequences.

If you build your first city, you have no heroes or family. Ergo no governor except your Sovereign, who could not explore, being forced to stay in the city to allow it to grow.

And what happens if my grown but not maxed city loses its governor and I cannot assign anyone else? Silly questio, I know, but I'm going to suppose that the city remains as it is (not losing area but neither growing more).

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February 21, 2010 3:11:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Just how common are heros going to be? This system would only really work if they were extremely prolific..... and who or what decides the hero's governing value?

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February 21, 2010 3:18:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Allowing resource tapping improvements, and them only, to be built away from the main city hub.

This particular aspect gets a huge thumbs up from me.

 

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February 21, 2010 3:25:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Cauldyth,

Allowing resource tapping improvements, and them only, to be built away from the main city hub.


This particular aspect gets a huge thumbs up from me.

 

Me too, it would allow raiding if pillaging is implemented, and therefore the option to garrison important resource improvements.

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February 21, 2010 3:30:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

And if we want to let a governor to go out for trouble ? Is he obliged to stay in the city forever ? Can't he go sometimes outside ?

I still don't like the cap from the level of governor. If I need an outpost to harvest a shard and I want to build some barracks and a wall to defend it, but I don't have the right governor ? I can't ? I want to be able to do it AND pay the price. Maybe instead of a governor, we could "attach" a unit (or more) with the right requirement. If I can build warfare units, why can't I build "civilization" units ?

For instance : I design a unit, with nothing special for equipment, but with the special training "governor", and maybe the trait "versed in warefare" that would allow him to build a barrack for free, even if you don't have the necessary available tile to build. I attach him to my shard-outpost, and when he gains the level 2 of governor then I can't build some more tiles.

I like the fact that a city need someone able to build more buildings, but we should be able to plan what we need. HEroes and births are just too random for something as important as governors.

Maybe special buildings can only be built with a governor with the proper traits.

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February 21, 2010 3:31:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Heroes should be allowed to get assigned as Governors but by default, cities should be created with a NPC Governor of level 0. As time goes by, he levels up and allows the city to grow more. These Governors can be moved to other cities and any city that loses its Governor, gets one of his citizens promoted to Governor (level 0). One city can have more than one Governor but only the highest rank one "leads" (might receive bonuses from the other Governors though).

But what of cities which size is bigger than their current Governor's level? We cannot simply destroy the extra stuff (very bad idea) but we should apply penalties to the city. Prestige penalty, not growing population, tax penalty...

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February 21, 2010 3:44:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hum, the governor system would seriously reduce cities spamming (a big plus in my mind). I guess the channeller will be considered as a governor too, so that you always start with one.

As for only allowing ressource improvements from being built away from the hub, I would suggest allowing all buildings to be buildable away from it. That way you reduce the number of exceptions in the rules, and you allow watchtowers to be built in reasonable locations. Of course putting your houses outside the city walls will be a bad idea, but there are no reason to explicitly forbid it.

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February 21, 2010 3:45:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like most of what you've suggested, but I have a few issues. Either heroes will have to be pretty common, or they will have to be entirely non-essential to city function and able to act as 'governor' while off fighting wars or adventuring for extended periods. That said, I like the idea of a trade-off between bonuses granted by having them sitting in the governor's office (I'm assuming city resource bonuses in addition to the certainty that the hero will be present to defend the city if attacked) and the benefits of the hero questing or going to war.

I also like the idea of larger cities being able to reach out and 'grab' resources without having to snake houses to them. I'm sure you know how frustrating it is to have your entire empire unable to grow because some small farming colony can't reach a high enough population to build enough improvements to reach that second patch of fertile ground a tile away. Food can be a pain to acquire in the barren land of Elemental, and acquiring food (among other resources, but mostly food) seems to be the primary factor pushing towards cityspam for me.

I would like to suggest, though, that the outer resource improvements not be completely helpless. Yes, they're outside the walls and all, but I would like to see an option to send a force out from the city whenever such an improvement is threatened. Something like "sire, scouts report an army advancing on our farm to the south. Should we dispatch troops to protect it?" with the option of selecting some or all of the units garrisoned in the city to immediately move to the farm in question and enter a tactical battle/ quick resolve rather than just lose the farm. Essentially, an attack on the farm would still be an attack on the city, but the defender could choose to fight the battle without the aid of his city defenses, or just let the attacker have the farm.

 

Last, but not least, I have to say that the idea of governor succession, while sounding cool, may be a bit too much. Unless the succession system is very transparent and it's relatively easy to insure that your cities won't flip back and forth every time someone gets killed in action, it could really ruin the fun for some people. Perhaps we should have the option of choosing between a simple 'assigned' governor, in which case the governorship is simply empty upon death and may be reassigned, and a 'hereditary' governor (maybe call it baron or duke or whatever) in which case the governorship follows rules of succession similar to the sovereign. The player as sovereign would have the option of encouraging (or disallowing) the governor to marry off children to other lands in order to secure alliances. 

The more I think about it, though, City flipping through succession should be quite rare. I'm pretty sure historically if some French guy happened to be the only surviving heir to a chunk of land in England, that land was still considered part of England, and paid taxes to the English crown, etc. So it should be in Elemental. It would be most interesting, however, to set up a system by which another player's hero or sovereign can inherit governorship of a city while the city still belongs to its original owner. The governing player would of course control whether the governor is present providing his governorship bonus to the city or not, and might even have some control over the city economy. (though its taxes and produced units would still go to the controlling empire) The governor would gain some benefits from the city (a salary from the city's coffers, perhaps the option to have the city produce 1 or 2 units as personal guards) and should somehow be encouraged to govern it well, even though it is not of his kingdom. Perhaps this would put a hero without lands in his own kingdom in the position of being willing to switch sides, with the right influence applied. 

In fact, it would be amusing to be able to offer another player's heroes hereditary control of a city in order to entice them all away. Their employer could of course refuse to allow it and insist that they remain loyal, but then the heroes might become unhappy and ask pointed questions about why heroes in other lands have their own cities. Similarly, if a governor decides to defect, or the governorship of a city is inherited by a foreigner, the sovereign should have the option of stripping the governor of his title and giving it to someone else, to prevent loss of control of the city. This should have serious consequences (making your hereditary governors uncomfortable at the thought that they too could be removed on a whim, perhaps even being considered an act of war by the country/hero deprived of his rightful city.

 

I'm going to call it quits before this becomes an essay and see what others think.

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February 21, 2010 3:55:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If you build your first city, you have no heroes or family. Ergo no governor except your Sovereign, who could not explore, being forced to stay in the city to allow it to grow.

I read the OP to mean that a champion-governor can be anywhere as long as he or she is alive & the site's OK, but most of these units would grant bonuses when you have them at home base.

Just how common are heros going to be? This system would only really work if they were extremely prolific..... and who or what decides the hero's governing value?

That's only true if you want city spam. If you want city spam, max out the frequency of champions and the speed of breeding in the setup options.

I confess that I've wanted champions as at least optional governors pretty much forever. But tying site development to champion recruitment and family building seems completely brilliant to me. Seems worthy of a 1G.1 patch between Thursday and Beta 2.

 

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February 21, 2010 3:56:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I really like the idea, I think the problem alot of people have with it is they see the governor as a static object attached to the city, however the post even said he could be off doing things. Honestly though, I don't think thats restrictive enough. Maybe heroes have to be a certain level? People want a game where each nation has 10+ amazing cities but think about fantasy epics in the past... Often times the capital city is the only city that meant anything to an empire, while the rest were just minor settlements.

 

I also think that the resource-outpost idea is a good one, but perhaps the outposts could be walled seperately? I just can't see an empire leaving a massive farming area 50 miles from thier city without even a basic garrison fort.

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February 21, 2010 4:06:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

this is a damn good idea i wouldnt mind though if the cities got massive to a point of course because it would just look awesome on the map. Imagine your roaming new lands and you see a new city taking a chunk of the map up compared to your city taking only a smaller chunk of the map up "oh shit" ha such a great idea comparred to the your city is one hexagon no matter how big it gets idea of other games *Cough* hope you stick to your idea and get it to work out.

As far as the sucsession goes i like it. Makes your champions much more precious and therefor you wont want to simply throw them away but if a succsesion grab came into play i think the player who currently occupies it should get a loyalty advantage that say adds a 10% chance that it goes to one of your people.

I also like what was said above about defending buildings outside of your city defences you should be able to send your garrison out to defend them just that they will now have no defences to aid them. This adds some strategy to sieges.

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February 21, 2010 4:14:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Hackbar,

I would like to suggest, though, that the outer resource improvements not be completely helpless. Yes, they're outside the walls and all, but I would like to see an option to send a force out from the city whenever such an improvement is threatened. Something like "sire, scouts report an army advancing on our farm to the south. Should we dispatch troops to protect it?" with the option of selecting some or all of the units garrisoned in the city to immediately move to the farm in question and enter a tactical battle/ quick resolve rather than just lose the farm. Essentially, an attack on the farm would still be an attack on the city, but the defender could choose to fight the battle without the aid of his city defenses, or just let the attacker have the farm.

I have to disagree with that suggestion because it doesn't make sense logically if my resource improvement, 5 tiles away from its controlling city, can instanteously be defended by the cities garrison. Furthermore, it makes the game less strategic and more gamey. Everyone should be allowed to harass an enemies resources outside the city limits like Hannibal sorta did to the Roman's throughout Italy. Allowing that would take so much fun away from strategically breaking down anothers ability to wage war and force them to actually leave the city. Think about it.

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February 21, 2010 4:18:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I definitely think this is the way to go Scott. Remember when you and I had that conversation about city tiles and spam and improvements? This is exactly what I was talking about, and by allowing the ability to get resources outside of the city proper fixes that perfectly. Well done.

I like the governor system as well. The only addition I would make is to make sure it works without a governor as well but you get bonuses like you describe while using one.

Well done brother. It's also nice to see you knew exactly what I was talking about without me needing to make that Jing post.

 

Keep up the Great work, my friend.

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February 21, 2010 4:19:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting vieuxchat,
I still don't like the cap from the level of governor. If I need an outpost to harvest a shard and I want to build some barracks and a wall to defend it, but I don't have the right governor ? I can't ? I want to be able to do it AND pay the price. Maybe instead of a governor, we could "attach" a unit (or more) with the right requirement. If I can build warfare units, why can't I build "civilization" units ?

Erm, unless Boogiebac edited his original posting that is just what you can do:

Need a resource tapped? Just start an outpost and have Ranger Billy govern it. It'll never go above a level 1, unless you determine it's a crucial location, at which point you re-assign a better governor and build the city up.

I would imagine there could be some items that you can equip units with to boosts their governing stat.

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February 21, 2010 4:22:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That's only true if you want city spam. If you want city spam, max out the frequency of champions and the speed of breeding in the setup options.
Depends on what your definition of "spam" is. I prefer a city number somewhere between 10 and 30.... in addition to heros I am using for spying and combat, and with a hefty overhead for heroes that are not good governors.

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February 21, 2010 4:26:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This thread wins! 

The best part about it is this:

Allowing resource tapping improvements, and them only, to be built away from the main city hub.  The obvious benefits that youwouldn't have to build another city to tap it, AND you wouldn't have to 'snake' your improvements to get there, but the improvement WOULD NOT be defended by whatever walls and stationed units the city had available, so there's a major risk in doing so

This is a wonderful idea and I love it. It essentially accomplishes everything an outpost system would but within the current framework, and also naturally adds in a distance requirement. It makes sense that you wouldn't really be able to harvest resources from some distant location without any sort of infrastructure in the general vicinity.

I also like the governor idea, although (as any new idea) it could use a fair bit of refining. The biggest issue to be solved is what happens to a city whose governor dies and cannot be replaced? I don't like the idea of it leaving your control and joining up with the nearest neighbor who can support it (which it looks like you suggested). Maybe, depending on the governor ability of the replacement, the city would take a hit to productivity and efficiency, and also prevent any growth from occurring until a suitable replacement governor has been found.

I think I'll be very happy if something like this makes it into the game, as I think it would resolve a lot of my reservations about city building!

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February 21, 2010 4:28:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If we can city-spam now in MoM and Civ, if the drivers are still there to city-spam in Elemental, the player will still -try- to do it, just that they'll governor spawn/city spam instead of MoM's settler spawn/city spam. Heroes/family hard to get? Could become equivalent to making a new city settler expensive.

Isn't there some way to more subtly remove the -motivations- for city-spamming the map? - For instance, in civ/mom it's obvious that you want as many cities as possible - because they add to your accumulated income/research. IF, however, some sort of law-of-diminishing-returns was applied to reflect the dangers of imperial overstretch, this would discourage city spamming over a particular population. - And we'd have to choose carefully where to place them strategically. - Unfortunately it's then obvious that the underlying formula would have to change for balance on different map sizes.

Alternatively, there could be a 'Capital' dynamic, as in many other games - With your idea, the Capital could perhaps be the city governed by the Sovereign. - Certain key scores/buildings might only go up via the 'capital', meaning it becomes all important. P'haps only one capital per major landmass?

Like the idea of resource-tapping outposts - but better if we have the option to reinforce them or leave them vulnerable - all part of the strategising!

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February 21, 2010 4:29:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Note: Units that are set as a city's 'governor' would still be able to explrore and adventure. The difference is that hero units more inclided for domestic use (with a higher 'Governing' stat) would also have inherent traits that give bonuses to the city they're stationed in (boost o production, training times, etc).  So cities that don't have their governor present will not be producing at their max ability.

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February 21, 2010 4:45:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What if outposts didn't have to have governors?  That would eliminate the problem of having essentially no heros to govern in the early game.  You could still make a few outposts, and as you got more heros, you could expand them into actual cities.  While you'd still have to have some sort of measure to stop outpost spamming, I have much less of a problem with having a handful of large cities and a large number of outposts than with having a huge number of sprawling cities.  This could also add an element of depth and strategy to creating cities- would you rather have a few large cities with heros and armies constantly guarding them, or a number of very small ones, requiring a more mobile army but therefore allowing more mobility to your heros?

Just a thought.

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February 21, 2010 4:49:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I prefer a city number somewhere between 10 and 30..

Eye of the beholder, indeed. 10 cities per faction would be horrible spam to me on the beta map size, and 30 would be ludicrous even on a ludicrous map. I'm really sold on the idea of trying to make a marked departure from the swarm-o-cities norm in the TBS genre.

I'm late in my second colony rush on a GC2 immense map with moderate habitables. 100+ colonies seems both normal & fun, but I got all my GC2 habits long, long before I started hearing Elemental devs express interest in the idea of fewer, more 'meaningful' cities.

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February 21, 2010 4:55:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Really, really like the system. It addresses nearly all of the concerns i have with the current system.

Things to consider:

With this system a couple of early heroes are essential, since the marriage of the sovereign is probably a mid game event and the second and third city should come way before that.

Tapping resources without snaking: Yes! Yes! Thank you!

Maybe allowing some other structures -like watchtowers- to be built not adjacent to the hub too?

Governors to avoid city spam: Yes! Yes! Thank you!

Maybe letting lvl 0  outposts be possible without governor but also being absolutely unable to grow till a governor is assigned? So that a mining outpost with just 4 tiles would be possible? But absolutely every settlement needing a governor is also all right with me.

 

Governor dies in battle? Several things could happen...
- If you have an unassigned hero with a governing level >= the fallen unit, then you could assign them to the orphaned settlement.

good

- Have enough essence and you can spend that to bring the Governor unit back to life (with the obvious magical consequences that spending essence results in)

good

- or, if these aren't available, the Succession system kicks in and the city is given to the a neighbor capable of handling the settlement

not good.

As the sovereign i am still the supreme ruler, it should still be my decision.

I think it would be better to give severe penalties to the city making it a liability costing big money to maintain for the time without a proper governor. Than i could revert the control of this city to a neighbor to get rid of the penalties or tough it out till a new governor is available.

I would like to suggest, though, that the outer resource improvements not be completely helpless. Yes, they're outside the walls and all, but I would like to see an option to send a force out from the city whenever such an improvement is threatened. Something like "sire, scouts report an army advancing on our farm to the south. Should we dispatch troops to protect it?" with the option of selecting some or all of the units garrisoned in the city to immediately move to the farm in question and enter a tactical battle/ quick resolve rather than just lose the farm. Essentially, an attack on the farm would still be an attack on the city, but the defender could choose to fight the battle without the aid of his city defenses, or just let the attacker have the farm.

my opinion exactly

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February 21, 2010 4:57:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting BoogieBac,
Note: Units that are set as a city's 'governor' would still be able to explrore and adventure. The difference is that hero units more inclided for domestic use (with a higher 'Governing' stat) would also have inherent traits that give bonuses to the city they're stationed in (boost o production, training times, etc).  So cities that don't have their governor present will not be producing at their max ability.

This method also makes heroes viable for more than one playstyle!  I love this idea.

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February 21, 2010 5:23:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

One thing to take into account about city spamming, is that right now you can't use Essence for anything else than city spamming. As soon as Essence can be used for something else, we will see less cities in general.

About governors, I like the idea of them, but as an idea, not as a second mechanic to avoid city spamming because the first mechanic we thought doesn't work... (and again, hard to know if it works until we get more uses for Essence).

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February 21, 2010 5:24:53 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Couple of concerns...some of which may be unwarranted to due to changes and/or misconceptions about the economic model.
So the outpost with ranger billy can't grow because of his poor governor skills, but still gets the extra bonuses from direct control of whatever resource it controls. But, because it cant grow it cant take proper use of the extra resources as much as say, City B, that is 7 tiles away, thus most of them are wasted because the outpost doesn't have the proper buildings to fully utilize the resource it just tapped. As a result, such as the problem now, there is no incentive not to grow that outpost as fast as possible so to make full use of it's resources.


(The above assumes the economic model where the city that 'owns' the resource gets a significant bonus as where other cities get a minor bonus)


I propose that cities below a certain level(outpost would probably be fine) be allowed to select a designated city that receives the bonus resources that the outpost would receive. Caravans would transport the goods from the outpost to the designated city and I think that might inject some of the option 1 feel(complex economic system) into the game. Plus they become important trade routes that add more strategic depth in warfare.


Edit: Of course, you couldn't designate a city halfway across the map as the receiver, this should be over relatively short distances.

Edit2: That also makes it so that later, when a barbarian horde is coming you still have the opporunity to upgrade to face the danger.

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February 21, 2010 5:33:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

One thing to take into account about city spamming, is that right now you can't use Essence for anything else than city spamming. As soon as Essence can be used for something else, we will see less cities in general.

About governors, I like the idea of them, but as an idea, not as a second mechanic to avoid city spamming because the first mechanic we thought doesn't work... (and again, hard to know if it works until we get more uses for Essence).

I'd pretty completely agree with this, except that the worst city-spam binge I've had so far didn't take essence for the most part, it happened via luck finding good open land and luck in what ended up covered by progressive renewal from my original sites.

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