Rethinking factions…

By on April 26, 2010 9:32:33 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Draginol

Join Date 03/2001
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We have been pleasantly surprised at how this has worked out because it gives us the opportunity to look at seeing if we have time to do something we have wanted to do: Develop the RACES further.

The Kingdoms are made up by a single race (Men)

The Empires are made up of three races presently (Men, Trogs, Urxen).

However, with the reality being that people seem to much prefer to create their own factions, it may make sense for us to return to TWO pre-made races (Men and Fallen) and then use the resources saved to put in more content to let people make their own races.

So in the Faction creation screen, you would have a “Race” tab where you would design what they look like along with a very simple Strength and Weakness list.

Illustrating the point

One of the things we thought we would have to wait until a sequel would be to let players mix their races together when they build up their kingdom or empire.  Right now, you capture a city, all the people simply become your faction (and its corresponding race).

So even if you made a race of those Avatar blue guys, when you capture a city from Pariden, the city would remain populated by Men.  You would then be able to created a mixed army where they all have their strengths and weaknesses and visually look different.  So you could create a true “Last Alliance”.

Now, the trade off is that the 10 factions would be made up of only 2 premade races (Men and Fallen) but there’d be enough assets available then to let players create their own Orcs or Dwarves or Elves or Space Smurfs or what have you and then let players create a mixed empire.

So Men might have a +1 bonus to say Economy. Fallen might get a +1 bonus to their attack rating. Then players could also create (for instance) Elves who get a +1 to the range of their archers or any number of other differences plus they would visually look different.  From this, in post-release we could explore other ramifications.

What do you think?

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April 26, 2010 9:44:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well I like the bottom part - but not the top. Call me greedy, but I'd really like to see at a minimum 5 races (preferably at least one non-human Kingdom or split up into sub-races (Mancers etc.) ),  and the kind of stuff you mentioned for the 2-race scenario. In my personal estimation this amount of customization and flexibility will be what brings the game from a 7 to a 9 in most review books.  Races are a huge deal in a fantasy game. They are a lot of what gives the game its personality.

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April 26, 2010 9:50:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You are seemingly forgetting that players will still want the A.I. factions to be fleshed out by the developer- consider that though almost everyone played with a custom faction in Galciv2, they were still happy playing against Drengin and Yor. So please don't liquidate your old ideas.

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April 26, 2010 9:53:18 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I like this new idea. One of the things that kind of worries me about the current 10 faction system is that they will all be similar. What bugs me about a lot of strategy games is that the factions, while different aesthetically, they play very similarly. As much as I love Sins, the three races aren't super different from each other at the base. They do have differences, but most of them are subtle.

I think leaving most of the customization to the player could result in some more unique playstyles. And the intermixing races thing could lead to some interesting game mechanics. Would we be able to "encourage" our own race to move to and settle captured cities, like some modern day countries do? I imagine that a captured city of a race not your own would be less loyal to you.

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April 26, 2010 9:54:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I too would like more stock races.  But if having only two does away with silly race conversion on capture and allows unit mixing, I say go for it.  More tools for the community to produce content seems like a better use of resources to me.  That said, strager does have a point.

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April 26, 2010 9:59:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

How would this change affect the campaign?  

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April 26, 2010 10:00:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like the idea. I'm assuming that we can import other races the same way we'll be able to eventually import maps, icons, etc.

If this makes it easier to allow for custom race creation I'm all for it. Let the developer flesh out the game, let the gamers flesh out the content!

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April 26, 2010 10:01:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

A second thought I had, with the AI not even remotely fleshed out and the factions being only marginally different right now this may just be biased by how much fun we have designing factions.

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April 26, 2010 10:19:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting nitey47,
I like the idea. I'm assuming that we can import other races the same way we'll be able to eventually import maps, icons, etc.

If this makes it easier to allow for custom race creation I'm all for it. Let the developer flesh out the game, let the gamers flesh out the content!

 

I agree.  In GalCiv, I don't think I ever played with a stock race as I much preferred to make a custom one from game to game.  I would much rather have two basic starting races and the ability to create customized ones, with the added benefit of a more realistic take on race mixing, than have a lot of pre-fab races and less realism on the racial front.  If we can easily import races as nite says above, there really is no downside to this.

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April 26, 2010 10:30:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I Very Much like the idea of making our own Races. I love it in fact. This part though bugs me...

Quoting ,

So even if you made a race of those Avatar blue guys, when you capture a city from Pariden, the city would remain populated by Men.  You would then be able to created a mixed army where they all have their strengths and weaknesses and visually look different.  So you could create a true “Last Alliance”.

The way you describe it here "So even if you made a race of those Avatar blue guys, when you capture a city from Pariden, the city would remain populated by Men."

the next sentence contradicts that.

"You would then be able to created a mixed army where they all have their strengths and weaknesses and visually look different.  So you could create a true “Last Alliance”."

With the sentence before then this should say "You wouldn't be able to created a mixed army" , or at least not in the Same City.

You need to be prepared to handle Mixing Races in the Same City. Have one Barracks as normal, but have that Barracks be able to make troops out of the Mixed Population of the city. The conquered city would stay populated by the race of Men, but the other race would move in too. It makes sense to give the player a choice which race his newly created soldier would come from in the city.

Now, I completely understand that from a Programming perspective it is much simpler to keep each city it's own race, but, that kinda seems like the lazy way out if you ask me. I love the Created Race idea, A LOT, but, if you're going to do it you should do it right. Don't half-ass it.

I say Go For It!!!!!

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April 26, 2010 10:39:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

"A second thought I had, with the AI not even remotely fleshed out and the factions being only marginally different right now this may just be biased by how much fun we have designing factions."

Yes.  Also, I've been known to go custom with every magic / research / spell-book option available, just to see how magic works in the beta, even though I wouldn't play that faction for real.

Please have LOTS of variety in the built-in factions, partly so the AI opponents will be different, as also to let us check out the different flavors before / instead of building our own.

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April 26, 2010 10:43:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

In my gut 2-4 races sounds about right. With less races, there is more lore for each race you make. With expansions you can add more stock races later on.

But Ya even I mostly use custom factions... So more custom options there are, the more I won't mind the low number of stock races...

Make having mixed races in a city a feature and when making armies. It will make things way more interesting!

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April 26, 2010 10:56:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd like to see the current faction system remain.  Playing as a custom faction is one thing, but I doubt many would feel like filling a game with them.  Premade factions will pretty much inevitably have better flavour than custom ones.  GalCiv makes a great example; you can't fill a game with enough options to deal with Thalan-Terran, Terran-Altarian etc relations, and they're quite interesting (They would be moreso if the results went a bit deeper than a unique greeting and a disposition bonus/penalty).

Also, none (or very little) of that flavour is implemented yet, so it's inevitable that the premades don't shine as much as I expect they would later in the development cycle.  The premades in their current state are just a set of traits, no more unique than if the player keyed the same points into the action editor.

EDIT: Rereading, I'm not sure if I missed the point or not.  Would this system be relacing the existing factions?

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April 26, 2010 11:06:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If there is any idea and mentality in the Stardock offices concerning efficiency in focusing on things felt important and necessary, than I understand completely from your Independent perspective. However, I feel you are combining this "content-focus" with "game-lore design" for lack of better words, mentality to much together. Furthermore, I understand and love the faith in suggesting the modding community to come will up take the reins to create content, yet, imagine if the developers of Age of Wonders just scrapped all twelve unique races and said "Let's just have Elves and Dark Elves, let the modders create the Orcs, Humans, Frostlings, cetera." Comparing that example to this, it is exaggerated and broadened, but merely mean't as an example.

Thus, I feel you should keep the unnecessary lore-oriented races such as the Trog, Urxen, cetera and let them be part of the Fallen Genus, but be their own individual Species and have significantly different, yet similar strengths and weaknesses related to the original Fallen-Men.

One of my biggest concerns is that multiplayer games need to have an option to prevent user-made races and the "culture" factions be one of the regular permanent features. I'd hate enough to see peoples poor excuses for Avatar's and Michael Jackson's, but as actual races!? Michael's getting +1 Fertility!? *Shakes fist in the air* "Damn you Frogboy, damn you!"

Finally, I think you should seriously consider implementing what Master of Orion 3's modders found in the files, being their Ethos system. http://moo3.quicksilver.com/official/religion02.html

If we are to have our own factions between these two races, (please mix it up and include the other two!), than we need some sort of dynamic, say, "a clash of cultures" between factions. I haven't fleshed it out in my imagination, but factions whether they're paired Fallen to Men to each other wouldn't decide all, but be judged almost entirely on their strength and weakness choices will find themselves either more friendly or hostile to each other. The idea that on one end of the ethos-spectrum exists civilizations of Men and Fallen co-existing peacefully like blacks and whites in America sharing the same ideals that are primarily focused around material things, knowledge and class is possible. Yet, how absurd and truly alien this must be and is to co-existing Men and Fallen that place physical strength, ancestral beliefs and military traditions above all other aspects of their culture. Thus, you will find whether Fallen or Man, will when diplomatically dealing with each other or you have cities that share different factions with far different cultures, become great concerns and obstacles in your games.

Though Factions should without the players deliberate input and by natural world development, gain and lose their strengths and weaknesses unless they're not racial, but only cultural (factional). Natural world development being, if your faction of Fallen are the best miners in the game (+5) yet you haven't established a mine or quarry in first 50 turns, they'll lose 1 or 2 points off that strength. Factions populations that are hostile to each other are taken over, and their original faction still exists in the game, they'll act as if they're subjugated and worst, at war, just in the streets like guerrilla fighters. It will take large parts of your gildar revenue, large garrisons and dozens after dozens of turns to comform them to your culture. However, if their original faction died, whether friendly or hostile, they'll more easily lose their original traits and begin replacing theirs with yours.

I know that was a lot, but this Journal excited me lol.

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April 26, 2010 11:07:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So races of cities would work like Master of Magic and Age of Wonders in that you can build their units once you capture their cities.

Sounds good to me.

 

Isn't it a bit sour for you guys who have worked hard to create the Pariden, Gilden, Capitar and the others just to see everybody make their own faction..?

 

If you go through on this, what would happen to the Trogs and Urxen?

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April 26, 2010 11:49:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The idea is great!!  More customisation choices.   The points raised above about have premade factions needing to be included can be gotten around by having a module in the AI algorithm that actually designs its faction/race at the beginning of each game.

Also, by putting all these customisations options, you could have a competition with the beta testers to create races/factions and award the top five creations (with backstories) be bundled as prefab factions/races in the final game.  This would easily add to any premade factions/races the developers put in for the campaign story/background of elemental.

Also, If you're looking into the faction/race creation system, it could easily be fleshed out by having gradients of strengths and weaknesses, see MOO 2 race creation.  eg, great thinkers (or whatever its called) gives +10% Research.  However, you could extend this to +10%, +20%, or +30%, costing more race/faction points for the higher grades.  Similarly, weaknesses can be really bad weaknesses:  eg Dumb (or whatever it is called), -10% research, could be extended in the same way as great thinkers.

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April 27, 2010 12:03:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Raven X,
I Very Much like the idea of making our own Races. I love it in fact. This part though bugs me...


quoting post
So even if you made a race of those Avatar blue guys, when you capture a city from Pariden, the city would remain populated by Men.  You would then be able to created a mixed army where they all have their strengths and weaknesses and visually look different.  So you could create a true “Last Alliance”.


The way you describe it here "So even if you made a race of those Avatar blue guys, when you capture a city from Pariden, the city would remain populated by Men."

the next sentence contradicts that.

"You would then be able to created a mixed army where they all have their strengths and weaknesses and visually look different.  So you could create a true “Last Alliance”."

With the sentence before then this should say "You wouldn't be able to created a mixed army" , or at least not in the Same City.

You need to be prepared to handle Mixing Races in the Same City. Have one Barracks as normal, but have that Barracks be able to make troops out of the Mixed Population of the city. The conquered city would stay populated by the race of Men, but the other race would move in too. It makes sense to give the player a choice which race his newly created soldier would come from in the city.

Now, I completely understand that from a Programming perspective it is much simpler to keep each city it's own race, but, that kinda seems like the lazy way out if you ask me. I love the Created Race idea, A LOT, but, if you're going to do it you should do it right. Don't half-ass it.

I say Go For It!!!!!

You misread that. The current model would change all your cities to your faction, and the new model would create mixed populations.

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April 27, 2010 12:21:15 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

  I like(oops) creating my own factons so far and I am sure I would just love to create my own races of elves, orcs, etc..What I don't particularly like if we do that is  "a 'Race' tab where you would design what they look like along with a very simple Strength and Weakness list."  As of yet I haven't been able to model any units.  When I'm in unit creation screen I can see a white window with a lil bit of turqois color in it.  I can see the background poses and background pictures I just can't get them to work.  So assuming the modeler tool is working well for others how do you like creating and designing what your unit looks like?  Have you been able to do that?  A little worried about what the models might look like.  Hoping it is sufficient for a wide variety of racial types.  Like wings, gills, scales, claws, talons. sharp teeth, cat irises(eyes), multihued beings, eye stalks, suction cup limbs, etc.

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April 27, 2010 12:27:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

We have at most a few sentences of lore and backstory behind most of the factions. The only exception being Pariden, which you might notice is about twice as popular as the next highest.

We have absolutely no connection to these factions, and honestly I don't think the game has reached a point where their differences can actually be noticed; either that or they just aren't different enough to begin with. I'm not surprised custom races are vastly more popular than the stock races - the stock factions feel incomplete (and I imagine they are indeed very incomplete), so why bother playing one of them when we can invent our own faction with our own narrative or story? I think this would change as the game progresses to the point where faction differences begin to matter, the background and lore is expanded on, and the player demographic expands beyond the type of people interesting in beta testing.

Additionally, what about unique techs and faction-specific magic? I recall a while ago it was mentioned that each faction would have a handful of unique techs available only to them. And I remember reading that the majority of faction differentiation was going to be done with magic. Are these being dropped? Would you continue developing these as content for custom races?

To be honest, while I do like the idea of more content for custom factions and neat features like mixed-race armies, I'm wary of there only being two stock races. I enjoy playing custom races and probably play them 75% of the time or more, but I don't particularly enjoy playing against custom AI races. Hand-crafted factions, through the synergy of their specialized AI, backstory, leader personalities, etc, provide an experience that simply cannot (from my experience) be captured by a custom race in the hands of the computer. And I would hate to have to choose between populating a world with only two stock factions, and populating a world full of randomized custom factions.

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April 27, 2010 12:41:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

YES YES YES!

 

That should be the way to do it.

 

Don't worry about fleshing out the races too much.

 

You can even try to do mixed races within a city, although that would be very complicated....

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April 27, 2010 1:07:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think this is a good idea, although I'm surprised that providing a generic race modeling option (and balancing it) is only about as expensive (in development time) as making one or two "premade" races.

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April 27, 2010 1:21:12 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

@Frogboy

have my children (don't panic i don't have any), those are great ideas

 

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April 27, 2010 1:22:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Am i the only one to think that if people choose custom factions over premade ones, it's because the premades ones aren't appealing enough ? Maybe it would be better to work on improving the premade factions so that people choose them thinking "wow, a slave master draconian blood spitting faction, how cool !" ?

In Gal Civ 2 i loved to play the pre made factions/races, because, well, destroying the galaxy with your drengin psychotic furred enslaving fleet was just... fun. In Elemental, i dont get that feeling yet : when i face the selection screen, i just pick the faction with the bonus i want, and that's it. We need some cool factions !

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April 27, 2010 1:23:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd love to be able to customise races as well as sovereign, that would be some pretty tasty icing on an already delicious cake.

But I do share the concerns about the resulting lack of depth for the AI factions, particularly where the SP campaign was then involved.

Not that I personally will likely end up finishing the SP campaign (unless it is amazing) as I'll be likely using it as a tutorial and spring board for the online play, but hey.

 

So I guess ultimately for me: If I have to chose between being able to create a custom race OR having various developed preset factions.. I definitely pick on the side of customisation.

But if we could meet in some middle ground where existing work didn't have to be tossed out, that would be best of all.

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April 27, 2010 1:25:46 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Personally, I don't feel that I have enough knowledge at this point to make an informed decision.

 

What differences would the stock races have if you were to go that route? Would they have some different buildings, research, magic, and units (to at least a short extent)? Also, by that I don't mean new textures and particle effects; I mean will they have abilities unique to them in a game changing way? For example, one race may have the ability to summon ogres, and no other race can. Maybe that race can also sacrifice population to gain spell points, and they may have a tactical spell that forces some of their opponents troops to turn on their own faction.

 

On the other hand what would you be able to customize with a race editor? As far as strengths and weaknesses are concerned I can't think of much meaningful that one could add to a race that they can't add to a faction; so most strength and weakness attributes would be unnecessary for the race editor from my perspective, except for the illusion of addition customization. The other point that you mentioned is appearance, but to be able to make any significant change in a races appearance would require a very powerful editor that could be very difficult to squeeze into your development time if there isn't already a large chunk of time alloted; look at how long it took Spore to create a powerful creature editor, it took so much of their multiple year development time that they barely had any time for the rest of the game. Now, if the race editor is as simple as... this one is taller, this one is shorter, this one is wider, and this one has blue skin... then it would be of minimal gameplay value.

 

Looking at the two of these, taking option A and creating more races from the get go would give far more customization from my perspective even if its only one additional race. I would also be concerned that option B would damage the campaign, and there is the AI in custom games to think about; I would much rather have interesting and diverse opponents than tall, blue skinned people running around my cities. As for mixing races, I think it would be much more important to have this ability with option A than B.

 

Bare in mind that I am trying to fill in the gaping holes of knowledge regarding this topic that I currently have with pure speculation. Ultimately I would like to hear more from the development team about what these options really entail so that I can make an informed decision.

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April 27, 2010 2:00:02 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy, I hope you will consider this.

 

The factions aren't there for us. They're there for the AI, to give the AI a set of known strengths and weaknesses, and specific traits. The AI that plays the Krax will know what tactics the Krax use best, what units work the best with them. They won't know how to play "random mishmash #9912." They're there to give the enemies we face in Elemental life, and a difference between enemy #1, and enemy #2. The horsemen from the steppes should *FEEL* like the horsemen from the steppes, they should field hundreds of elite calvary units and sweep across the land. The seamen should build great navies and the Gilden should be rich beyond dreams.

It is the differences that can give the world we play in a semblance of life, not one sparsely populated by randomly strewn-together races (those belong to the independant city-states that arise and fall, not those lead by full NPCs) or playermade ones with no real forethought or flavour.

I guess:

  • The AI can be better balanced to take advantage of a known set of weaknesses and strengths.
  • The Flavour of the enemies we fight requires detail and attention to what each "race" is.
  • We'd like to have the option to play games where everyone is playing a predesigned race, since balancing all the abilities AND soverigns will be a nightmare.
  • A lot of us love lore. We want to find out about the world and read these fascinating in-game little snippets that are part of the other cultures in the game, not just random "<RandomFaction> does <RandomVerb>."
  • Some players just want to hit the "play now!" button. Unlike us they want a quick enjoyment without a lot of thinking about things in advance. Believe me these rare beings do exist!
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