Too much research? What to research?

By on June 11, 2010 10:57:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

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My main concern: there's a ton of research to be made, right from the beginning. I'm fine with having different layers of complexity getting branched out as I continue to play and understand a game. But I find it a bit overwhelming having to decide on a bunch of research items (being some of them very similar to each other), right when I'm starting to build my civilization.

For example, why separate Farming, Orchards and Beekeping? These are all food bonuses for my cities. If I have one city with an apiary, another with orchards and another with fertile land, I need to do every bit of research for these food bonuses, while research requirements increase every time. In the meantime, there's military to consider, and education, administration, taxing, housing, mining, advanced mining, etc, as well as magic and adventuring research, etc, etc... This is more of a hassle and less of a fun factor in my opinion.

Better, intuitive research is needed. New players who are oblivious to the game mechanics will find this a frustrating learning experience, with the AI most likely beating them to a pulp... for the wrong reasons...

Suggestion 1: add a recommended research feature.

Suggestion 2: add a 'food production' research to encompass all the different food bonuses. A city with a certain food resource will be able to harvest it immediately. However, only the pioneer unit can upgrade that food resource to its fullest potential (as in the civilization adapting to that resource and learning how to increase its output) taking a greater amount of turns for the first upgraded resource, but less for the subsequent ones of the same kind (message on first upgraded resource: 'Your civilization learned how to fully develop Apiaries! Next upgrades of the same resource will be much faster now!').

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June 11, 2010 11:27:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I try not to think of it as wining a game . . but as building a civ.  Research what makes sense to you.  It'll work out . .or you'll die and have to start something new.  Thankfully, it *IS* is game and you have do-overs.

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June 11, 2010 11:41:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

There is no such thing as a recommended research item. It's up to you.

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June 11, 2010 11:42:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I personally think this is another area that needs some balancing, but I want to play some more before I commit to that belief.

 

My initial impression is that research comes far too quickly in comparison to my character growth. It seems like all techs take the same amount of time to research, where I would expect advanced research to take longer than more basic technology. Sure it depends on how much research you have allocated, but advanced techs should still take some time.

Is this a reality or is my impression completely off? (I haven't been counting the turns.)

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June 11, 2010 11:44:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Techs take exponentially more points to research.

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June 12, 2010 12:46:45 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

On the what to research front I do have a question for the Devs.

I know some R&D doesn't show up till later and some techs don't show up until you research ones before them. But are any of the techs restricted by the tech level? The reason is I find market places (the 2x2 +6 Gildar building) is one of the most important buildings to get up first and trying to figure out how to unlock it faster.

I've figured out some items progression like Housing, leads to Vilas, leads to Estates. Both in upgrade order but also in unlocking for the tech tree. Well the thing is even though you have 5 Different tech trees it seems each one also has several "mini" trees inside them. And it would be helpful to know how they are layed out like most games do. Such as Gal Civ and SOSE.

Not being aware of this layout makes it harder to get a grasp on things for new players and only really benefits experianced players who have played enough to memorize the "hide tree" layout.

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June 12, 2010 1:16:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
There is no such thing as a recommended research item. It's up to you.

I can't exactly choose the tech that I want when the game already makes that choice for me. This is not a game where similar techs take a similar amount of time. I can't focus on one research type due to the exponential amount of points it takes. I get penalized when I want to take advantage of the different food production bonuses that my cities can have. I HAVE to focus on military and magic due to the amount of aggressive creatures all over the map and belligerent AI.

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June 12, 2010 1:34:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting PyroMancer2k,
On the what to research front I do have a question for the Devs.

I know some R&D doesn't show up till later and some techs don't show up until you research ones before them. But are any of the techs restricted by the tech level? The reason is I find market places (the 2x2 +6 Gildar building) is one of the most important buildings to get up first and trying to figure out how to unlock it faster.

I've figured out some items progression like Housing, leads to Vilas, leads to Estates. Both in upgrade order but also in unlocking for the tech tree. Well the thing is even though you have 5 Different tech trees it seems each one also has several "mini" trees inside them. And it would be helpful to know how they are layed out like most games do. Such as Gal Civ and SOSE.

Not being aware of this layout makes it harder to get a grasp on things for new players and only really benefits experianced players who have played enough to memorize the "hide tree" layout.

The tech-trees look roughly like this right now (this was gleaned from the XML in Beta1Z, and looking at the XML now, it doesn't seem to have changed too dramatically, mostly more stuff!):

http://forums.elementalgame.com/383598/page/1/#2644565

To answer your question about how to get super quick markets?

Civics (Green) --> Economics (Yellow).

However, remember that markets need Settlement Lv. 2 before you can build them, and 50 materials, so the straight tech beeline might not give what you want it to.

Economics has a rarity of 80, so it may not always be there the first time you break-through.

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June 12, 2010 1:39:27 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Although I like a lot of this research system I think some refinements are necessary as well.  With so many tech, randomness, ever increasing costs and hidden requirements it is hard to make good decisions on what to build.  In my first game in Beta 2 I started right next to a bee hive but after lots of civilization teching I never got the tech for it.  Did I get unlucky?  Did I need to research farming first?  It's unclear.  One suggestion is to have in the tech description a "Leads to ..." so you have an idea how this will benefit you in the future.

Also with randomness and many techs I am worried that persuing certain goals may be difficult.  I may want a rich kingdom but just never get the right techs (or at least too late to matter).  It's still too early for me to know if this is the case but it is a fear. 

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June 12, 2010 1:39:42 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting PyroMancer2k,
On the what to research front I do have a question for the Devs.

I know some R&D doesn't show up till later and some techs don't show up until you research ones before them. But are any of the techs restricted by the tech level? The reason is I find market places (the 2x2 +6 Gildar building) is one of the most important buildings to get up first and trying to figure out how to unlock it faster.

I've figured out some items progression like Housing, leads to Vilas, leads to Estates. Both in upgrade order but also in unlocking for the tech tree. Well the thing is even though you have 5 Different tech trees it seems each one also has several "mini" trees inside them. And it would be helpful to know how they are layed out like most games do. Such as Gal Civ and SOSE.

Not being aware of this layout makes it harder to get a grasp on things for new players and only really benefits experianced players who have played enough to memorize the "hide tree" layout.

I have to say that the blend of Empire building with RPG in Elemental is excellent in its essence.

However, the tech tree should be clearer and de-simplified. I'm not particularly fond of the indiscriminate exponential amount of points for each main branch. It makes game progression more penalizing than it should. Each tech should take an established amount of time to research with similar tech levels taking a similar amount of time. There's already a lot of research with different gameplay elements. A more classic approach in this area would serve the game better so that it can reach a greater audience. Otherwise... it's a damn good game for hardcore players.

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June 12, 2010 1:50:42 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Pop on over to the Elemental Ideas subforum and take a look at some of the threads on tech system stuff.  Weigh in on the ideas being floated, throw in some of your own and lets get it done.  I think we need more minds taking a good hard look at this particular part of the game.

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June 12, 2010 2:02:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's OK that I need to research a tech to unlock a bonus. However, to unlock a second/third type of food bonus, I'd need to research another two or three techs with progressively increasing cost, even if I had only a single one of those resources.

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June 12, 2010 2:13:28 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Sareln,
Pop on over to the Elemental Ideas subforum and take a look at some of the threads on tech system stuff.  Weigh in on the ideas being floated, throw in some of your own and lets get it done.  I think we need more minds taking a good hard look at this particular part of the game.

Thanks. Will do.

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June 12, 2010 2:14:16 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Mmm, I agree that having a proper techtree as part of the UI is a necessity. I don't think it's remotely true that there's "too much research", however. I also think that the call for "better, intuitive research" is a little puzzling, given that the proposed solution of just having a single food production research fulfils neither of those criteria.

I do agree that in certain specific cases, there are some techs that could be consolidated. For instance, in the OP's example, if bees and fruits and wheat were rarer than fertile land, then I could see the three of them being condensed into a single research. However, fertile land would not be condensed in. That way, the basic farming tech is the one that everyone will most likely eventually research, even if they're playing with a heavily warfare-oriented research strategy in mind. Whereas the advanced farming tech would have enough stuff in it to make it worth its high cost, since it isn't exactly early in the tech tree, when you factor in that you pretty much have to branch out into other civilisation techs before going that far.

Of course, the other alternative is to do as Civ4 does, and have all the food resources each with their own tech at roughly equal point in the tech tree. However, this is less well suited to Elemental, since the exponential tech costs makes a broad techtree significantly less feasible.

I have to say, I have yet to run into any issues with the exponential costs. But thinking about it now, would I prefer to have fixed costs? I think that might just be the case. Having fixed costs allows you to go back and cover the long-obsolete techs that you miss by specialising, with only a minor detour to your current tech progress. Which is exactly as it should be, since these are long-obsolete techs, after all, and you've already suffered the drawback of not having those techs when they were actually useful. Whereas reaching parity in this neglected branch of the techtree would require a substantial diversion of time, but could still be an interesting strategic choice.

Compare that to the current system, where generalising in the civilisation tree makes it less worthwhile to get orchards. Or beelining for beekeeping leaves you pretty well screwed when it comes to resource production, and iron production, and consequently troop training, as well as housing, and prestige, and... You get the picture. And sure, you could argue that that's supposed to happen. But really, what's supposed to happen is that you get something useful from having specialised to that degree, not end up just having more of what you started with.

Actually, I think this is possibly leading me to conclude that it's too early to make too many sweeping statements about the techtree, given that three of the trees aren't even in yet.

(Oh hey, I didn't mean to write an entire essay )

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June 12, 2010 2:35:26 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Sareln,

The tech-trees look roughly like this right now (this was gleaned from the XML in Beta1Z, and looking at the XML now, it doesn't seem to have changed too dramatically, mostly more stuff!):

http://forums.elementalgame.com/383598/page/1/#2644565

Great that's just what I wanted to see. But the thing is this kind of information should be IN GAME for players to use. Being able to display the tech tree in this kind of way in game would also help modders. Since one of the trickiest things to learning how to play a mod of a 4x game is figuring out the changes they made to the tech tree. Even if mods simply expanding on stuff that's already there it would be great to know the whole tree so you can better plan out which branches you wanna go down.

Quoting Sareln,

To answer your question about how to get super quick markets?

Civics (Green) --> Economics (Yellow).

However, remember that markets need Settlement Lv. 2 before you can build them, and 50 materials, so the straight tech beeline might not give what you want it to.

Economics has a rarity of 80, so it may not always be there the first time you break-through.

Actually the very first tech I get is construction and build a Lumber yard to have its 4 materials per turn coming in. Relying on workshops just isn't enough for the agressive city building strategy I undertake. I may build 2-3 total in my first 2 cities plus a workshop or two. Followed shortly their after by market places. I have very little problem building several very early on.

As for the tech order I must just be getting really bad luck on that rarity roll cause I do research civics most times as my 2nd or 3rd tech but it doesn't seem like economics shows up until like 6-7 techs in. And I've only played 4 games in Beta 2 thus far so not sure if they changed it but I recall having an easier time getting in back in Beta 1Z. 

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June 12, 2010 3:06:42 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I've just played my first few games (and lost them for reasons I could spot - the best kind of losses!) and I think the research complexity is fine, but it needs to be more discoverable through the UI. The current implementation took me a little bit to grasp (and I am some some complexities elude me still) but once it clicked I have to say it was a beautiful moment. I love in-depth and big tech trees!

The biggest problem currently, as is touched on in a few posts above, is the lack of visible tech tree. I think a UI visualising what is a prerequisite for what would be a big step forward. If you want to keep some element of suprise perhaps having limited visibility (see the currently researchable techs and the next step) or allow some way to focus on currently existing resources that can not yet be used (bee hives, farmland, et cetera).

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June 12, 2010 3:16:09 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

@Morlark

There's never enough research, especially when you want to prolong the awesomeness of a game! There is however the number of different research branches, and techs within those branches, which might be overwhelming for the new player; especially when they realize that the more one branch is researched, the more time it takes no matter how important that tech is.

'Better, intuitive research' was a general call of attention to this problem whereas the two initial suggestions concerned the current mechanics.

Techs usually have different degrees of importance and take a specific amount of time to develop. The exponential/unified research system nullifies that game convention and pushes the player into choosing techs without clear guidelines. This issue would be mitigated if the game was only about empire-building or just about RPGing. But blending these two elements in gameplay makes for very dissimilar options in research. As it stands, this system is more complicated to understand, being not clear what a 'correct' approach would be. Research thus becomes a puzzling chore instead of adding to the fun factor.

My experience as a computer nerd is that non nerds loathe this sort of thing. Remember the Impulse Orb that most didn't quite understood? Similar conundrum IMO.

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June 12, 2010 4:02:20 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

maybe not that there isnt enough or too many.

But more like it needs a new layout.

Things start off slow, which is fine. But once i stayed focused on schools and education, i was getting new technology every few turns, and i had no idea what they did.

I think a tech tree layout can help players organize pathways and keep things more organized, i was just random building since i didnt know what did what. Plus add some hints what they do. This builds marketplace. Well what does market place do?

 

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June 12, 2010 11:43:01 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

For me, an in-game research tree cheats the civ building lie we are willingly telling ourselves. But I like the sim/world building part of games like this.  I shouldn't be able to know that atomic weapons are in the future somewhere and if I follow X path I get them.  It's more real to me to research "warfare" and see a progressive  evolution of weaponry.

In fact, I'd dig it if, while researching magic (or some such thing), something goes terribly wrong (as research does) and I hit a dead end and lose the points I spent or I get the tech but the inventor dies in a related explosion.

 

Good times indeed!

 

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June 12, 2010 11:49:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

In fact, I'd dig it if, while researching magic (or some such thing), something goes terribly wrong (as research does) and I hit a dead end and lose the points I spent or I get the tech but the inventor dies in a related explosion.

Sword of the Stars had an implementation for this if you were "hurrying" technology.  Not such a problem if you were researching something relatively benign like lasers.  A huge problem if you were researching, oh, AI.

Edit: WRT Technology Trees

For me, an in-game research tree cheats the civ building lie we are willingly telling ourselves. But I like the sim/world building part of games like this.  I shouldn't be able to know that atomic weapons are in the future somewhere and if I follow X path I get them.  It's more real to me to research "warfare" and see a progressive  evolution of weaponry.

I think that as long as we have a tree with lots of prerequisites, we should show the tree.  So if we don't want to show a tree because it breaks immersion, then I think we need to move away from prerequisites which force a tree structure on the technology field...

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June 12, 2010 12:12:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Sareln,

In fact, I'd dig it if, while researching magic (or some such thing), something goes terribly wrong (as research does) and I hit a dead end and lose the points I spent or I get the tech but the inventor dies in a related explosion.
Sword of the Stars had an implementation for this if you were "hurrying" technology.  Not such a problem if you were researching something relatively benign like lasers.  A huge problem if you were researching, oh, AI.

Edit: WRT Technology Trees


For me, an in-game research tree cheats the civ building lie we are willingly telling ourselves. But I like the sim/world building part of games like this.  I shouldn't be able to know that atomic weapons are in the future somewhere and if I follow X path I get them.  It's more real to me to research "warfare" and see a progressive  evolution of weaponry.
I think that as long as we have a tree with lots of prerequisites, we should show the tree.  So if we don't want to show a tree because it breaks immersion, then I think we need to move away from prerequisites which force a tree structure on the technology field...

 

zubaz i was expecting a comment about how its cheating or not exploring if you know the end result of your path. That is true.

Tell you straight up i just HATE how the setup is for the technology. Really felt like i was just building random stuff hoping for random results. I think a tech tree will have cleaner more precise results. You can have the tech tree either

A) Only display the next results but hide the rest. This game can branch off in many directions, and typical gamers will know what comes next but have a hard time deciding since they will be presented with many opportunities. (which is good)

Balance things out so if you know the end results, ending result A is not obviously a better choice than result B.

C) or just change the layout of how you select skills (ie tree format), and add some information other than "Lumber skill build lumber yard". What does lumber do and by how much?

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June 12, 2010 12:12:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree the current implementation of the tech system needs something of an overhaul to make it easier to use and enhance the game experience.  It is a strategy game after all, so you want to be in control of where you are going and know what each tech does. Some randomness can spice it up but the basic must be that you can make intelligent choices and decide to go for a certain expensive tech further on in the tree. 

Also, it seems not balanced that researching e.g. beehives in mid game would be extremely expensive. Why? If you have now a developed civ it should be able to solve such basic techs rather quickly. Otherwise you will just feel obliged to always research the techs in the order they show up. It's like punishing the player for trying out unique strategys ...

A lot of cool techs though, and there can never be enough. Keep up the good work!  

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June 12, 2010 12:17:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I never understand why a civilization could only research one thing at a time. Be neat if you could have primary and secondary research focuses where primary is your main focus while the secondary research discovery takes longer but at least research is going to that area. Its kind of an archaic system to think that a civ can only research one at a time without thinking about other techs.

Also as it is right now the tech descriptions are very sparse. I would like to see what units or buildings these techs unlock without having to open a civpedia tool. 

 

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June 12, 2010 1:04:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Personally, I like the current system, research wise.  My biggest complaint is that I can't always tell what a unit does / what it's prereqs are before I choose it.  I'm still using houses... but I've researched villas, estates, and mansions!  How do I upgrade?!  (Probably a city size thing, of course )

 

Also, there are a variety of buildings that don't seem to make sense.  Abbeys (and archives), at 4 squares, give me 1 research?  Is there an additional bonus I'm missing that they're supposed to give?

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June 12, 2010 1:20:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Ron Lugge,
Is there an additional bonus I'm missing that they're supposed to give?

I agree and I expect that this sort of thing will be fleshed out quite a bit as the beta's mature.  A lot of the available techs are simply placeholders at this point.

One thing I would like to see is some way to get more information on a given tech, from the research window, before choosing it.  Something like the Civilization Civilopedia where you can drill down through successive layers.  For example:  the entry on Housing tells, in addition to what the Housing tech brings, that it may lead to Villas and Estates with links to the 'pedia entry for both of those.

 

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June 12, 2010 1:41:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

One thing I would like to see is some way to get more information on a given tech, from the research window, before choosing it.
In the upper right is the Hiergemonenen (like the Civopedia).  It's a bit light right now but I expect it to fill out before launch.

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