Radical design change: making Elemental unique + adding atmosphere + reducing city spam

By on August 27, 2010 10:23:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

TheProgress

Join Date 04/2008
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I won't be surprised if my idea is not feasible... it would require a lot of changes to be made to the core of Elemental.

 

Current issues:

  • Prestige is the only thing allowing cities to grow at the moment. We already know that people can have kids (due to dynasties) so why isn't the general population doing the same?
  • We've been told that "people" are supposed to be a valuable resource - I don't feel that at all. Population numbers have not restricted how quickly I can build an army up.
  • Founding a city feels like an extremely detached process. It feels completely unnatural to randomly plop a tent down and suddenly have people showing up out of nowhere.
  • Charisma is a very underused sovereign attribute.
  • It's currently very very easy to start spamming away cities: 10 turns after founding your first city, you can have a pioneer ready to create your second city.
  • Requiring food to build huts makes little sense
  • Up to 10 people can live within a city without any food, how does this make sense?

 

Solutions overview:

  • Create a new unit: the settler! Whenever founding a new city, settlers will form the base population. Settlers are squads of weak, defenseless people that will travel with sovereigns or pioneers.
  • Aside from the settlers automatically created upon game start: the sovereign will be able to find more settlers through notable locations (camps / refugee camps). When reaching a camp, it will be removed from the map and the sovereign will be awarded a number of settlers based upon his charisma attribute. Camps will feature only a small maximum number of settlers (10 - 20). Refugee camps on the other hand will house 100 - 200 settlers. Based on the charisma of the sovereign, he or she may only find 5 settlers in a camp instead of the maximum.
  • Settlers found in the wilds will be able to be brought back to existing cities and assimilated into the population (or be used to found a new city).
  • Units outside of a city's wall will not require food - they will "live off the land". (already happening now in effect - just clarifying for next point).
  • The core city structure will automatically generate 10 food by hunting the land just like other units on the map.
  • 1 food unit allows for 1 population: food is no longer used to construct huts / houses. Instead each person living within a city will consume 1 food.
  • If a population fails to receive the required amount of food for 3 turns, they begin to die of starvation.
  • Soldiers stationed within a city will consume 2 food each rather than 1 - this applies to squads too: A squad of 4 footmen will require 8 food. Soldiers are last to die of starvation.
  • Huts / houses will now just require material / gold to be constructed. Huts / houses determine the max population size along with food.
  • The population will now (slowly) reproduce within a city.
  • Prestige instead will: force populations of enemy cities to immigrate to the friendly city and attract neutral NPCs that are wanting to be hired. Area of control will still be based on prestige.
  • Populations from a city can be ejected: if you feel that your city is under threat you can migrate your population. This feature is also useful when founding a new city: build your pioneer and eject the number of settlers you wish to form the new city's starting population.

 

I know that this would greatly alter the game but it would also greatly add (some much needed) character. Finding stranded bands of survivors in the woods and using them to form cities / populations will be far more exciting and put some much needed emphasis on the importance of life in the game. Populations will become more valued (as they should be) and the general atmosphere of the game will feel more apocalyptic (as it should).

Further more the charisma attribute will actually being to play an important part in the game: allowing charismatic evil warlords to arise and quickly gather large forces. This system will also allow kingdoms / empires to become more diverse as I'm sure it could be altered in some way for each side.

Since settlers would be of different races, only sovereigns that are extremely charismatic would be able to gather foreign races. Imagine being a human "holy crusader" roaming the eastern hills, wiping out camps of surviving fallen - making it more difficult for fallen players to gather populations.

What do the users and devs think?

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August 27, 2010 10:32:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I just noticed I posted this in general rather than ideas, if a mod could move this that would be great.

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August 27, 2010 10:33:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Um, wow?  Why don't you enjoy yerself some karma

Whenever I find myself going back to AoW I try to simulate this "struggling to eke out an existence and prosper in the magic blasted world" feeling that Elemental seemed to be promising back in the day.  Set the game options to no cities and start with a pioneer only for a very slow starting game.

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August 27, 2010 10:41:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Good ideas. 

I agree with the whole idea of trying to eek out an existence in awakening world and revamping city building

What if the "city" started out as a camp with very basics. And through your questing and recruitment you were able to increase its size. I mentioned somewhere else that city building seemed boring because you have to build every building eventually so it takes no thought or choice. Right now I just spend my time exploring the world looking for resources to plop down another city to claim those resources. Is this the best game mechanic choice?

 

I like how you made use of the useless charisma stat

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August 27, 2010 10:43:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting TheProgress,
I just noticed I posted this in general rather than ideas, if a mod could move this that would be great.

I think that worked!

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August 27, 2010 10:48:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Cities in Master of Magic made a lot more sense.  The rate of growth depended on different conditions.  And the population were treated as a resource in that you could allocate them more toward farming, or toward manufacturing/production.

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August 27, 2010 10:53:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting cjlindem,
Cities in Master of Magic made a lot more sense.  The rate of growth depended on different conditions.  And the population were treated as a resource in that you could allocate them more toward farming, or toward manufacturing/production.

 

Right now I don't even pay attention to my population. Does it matter? I just go about my business building anything and everything I need. It would be nice to start seeing checks and balances set in place for decisions we make. Honestly city building just seems to easy right now.

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August 27, 2010 11:04:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yes, your ideas are a definate improvement. I don't even know where to begin with my grievances about city building.  Radical is exactly the word I was looking for.

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August 28, 2010 1:13:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting cjlindem,
Cities in Master of Magic made a lot more sense.  The rate of growth depended on different conditions.  And the population were treated as a resource in that you could allocate them more toward farming, or toward manufacturing/production.

I agree that the Civ style of allocating the population to different jobs would be great - but implementing that would require vastly more work than my current suggestion.

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August 28, 2010 8:57:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Very neat ideas, indeed!

As it is now, population and city-growth and -building in general does not feel very lively at all. By introducing some sort of "independent but recruitable" population this sad part of the game could be greatly enhanced.

In my opinion this needs quite a lot more detailed thinking, though. You start suggesting game mechanics (you even mention exact numbers) without this actually having been thought through, if I may say so. If this feature is going to be integrated into the game, I suggest we should take the time to develop the idea from general to specific. I fear though, as you have already mentioned in your first post, that this might be rather hard and time-consuming to program and integrate into the game.

I suggest we start with the general lore of the game. We are in a post-apocalyptic world. So let's gather ideas of how and where we can meet people that live in this world and could be persuaded to join our kingdom/empire. On the top of my head I can think of the following:

 

a) People who have already settled down in some way or another (yet did not form anything you would call a settlement /village / township)

I mean think about it: Fertile land is supposed to be scarce in this desolate world. How come this fertile land is actually unclaimed? I understand the wilds are a dangerous place, yet we repeatedly hear in the fluff texts of recruitable champions, that families own farms,so obviously there must be people who have settled down in arable locations. If unable to convince the living populace to join you but you still need the land, you would have to kill or drive off the people who live there by force.

Other settled down people could be:

alchemists / miners / hermits / a cloister / a refugee camp

 

b ) People who roam the wilds and make a living off of the wilds

 

Generally I would embrace the idea that any person could be persuaded to join you, even bandits.

This would however introduce new problems (if you can convince a robber to join

You, why wouldn't you be able to convince him to join you armed and ready to defeat your enemies?). Other people who wander the wilds and who could be a source of new population:

hunters / gatherers / herders / driven off and now homeless people / deserters / scavengers /

people who lost their occupation due to unfortunate events (mine didn't yield any resources anymore / mercenaries who weren't needed anymore / merchants who were robbed or made a critical business failure)

 

I'd be grateful for anyone contributing ideas on either the topic of "where and how to recruit people" or "how to proceed with fleshing out this idea in general".

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September 23, 2010 8:34:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

this is a great list of the problems with the system and geta at a lot of what i've been saying all over the shop. i'd go a little further and make some of your ideas more mechanics rather than rules.

 

relate food direstly to the population: great. but what if we not just make food a requirement for population, but a factor that affects growth? places that have more food (a general resource in elemental for the ability to support people) are always more attractive to people. and if a place has the means to support more people, families will have more children. at the same time famine causes diaspora, starvation and so forth.

 

so clearly we can make this procedural. if instead of just saying "you require" 1 food per person, take it a step further and divide the total faction food over the total population. we can then relate this ratio to population growth: if it exceeds a certain ratio then populations get a bonus to growth. if it is below a certain level you get a negative. you can add in other bonuses for buildings and so forth as well (you could even add in an extra one for charisma if you liked). so then what happens is this:

 

population ends up adjusting to meet whatever food supply (and other factors) are available. it then becomes something the player very rarely has to worry about directly. when you increase your agriculture, circumstances improve and population gets a further bonus (so it continues to rise in the long term, but stagnates if your tech and infrastructure stagnate).

 

this way we get a realistic game mechanic that makes having food an advantage rather than simply a requirement. but the best thing about it is this:

even if growth modifiers are positive, population only grows until the housing limit is reached. so if you're clever, you can cause the growth to happen mostly where you want it to: in the big cities so you can get better stuff (you get economies of scale where it's better to have 10 guys in a city where you have the infrastructure to exploit them, then it is to have them in a farming village). this means that instead of settlement homogeneity, we will get an interesting mix of settlement types.

players can still "spam" settlements to grab resources, but you no longer end up with cities everywhere. which means less micro, more space on the map and more diversity. even better, instead of factions being crippled by the loss of one or two outer settlements, the outer settlements are less crucial in the short term. so losing factions remain competetive for longer and the epic battle comes at the end of the war instead of the beginning.

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September 24, 2010 6:33:19 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Good post.

I really like the idea of coming across a wilderness camp, and the game generating settlers based on the Sov's charisma. I also like being able to bring the settlers back to a city and merge them with the population. This makes sense in the context of the story, that the world is in ruins and you are trying to rally the people under your banner.

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September 24, 2010 2:44:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

To the OP:  

While I can see that you're certainly thinking in the right direction here for making cities feel more alive and less "spammy", I don't really like the idea of throwing in a new Settler unit.

What's the point of the Pioneer, now that we have a Settler?  Why would a Pioneer have to accompany a Settler to found a city?  Why not just change how Pioneers work to make them act more like Settlers instead?

I still like Brad's "slot" idea a lot more than this.  The slot system will fit right into the game as it currently functions now, there will be no need to come up with and balance a new unit as well as create loads of new mechanics such as Charisma affecting how people join you, etc.

I mean, your ideas sound pretty good, but I don't see how all of that cannot be accomplished by modifying the existing unit: the Pioneer.  As a side note, I think the point of the Pioneer and not a "Settler" was to avoid the blatant copying of Civilization.  I think the Pioneer was always supposed to act like Civ's "Settler", just with a different name.

I like the idea of ejecting a unit to remove some population, but supposedly this is how Pioneers will work under the new slot system.  They will just require a certain number of slots or specialists to be created.  The only problem I see here, however, is that the slots need to be held even after the new city is founded, or else this would be pointless.

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September 24, 2010 9:12:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Wow!  Love the ideas!

In fact thinking about that makes me excited.  Like everyone else has mentioned... population is very disconnected in this game.

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September 25, 2010 5:02:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It is a nice idea. But while it is a first step in what might be the correct direction, it does not solve the problem that there is a serious lack of reward for having big cities except for 1-3 Core cities to get the powerful level4/5 buildings that can be built once per faction. Sure, the added income/research is nice (and with your concept of being able to pool your population wherever you want them and a non-linear growth, it would be less slow to level them up), but it does not give cities any bonuses that cannot be matched by two smaller cities.

If this concept was implemented, I would probably use it like this: I would have 1-3 big cities (who therefore have a high population increase and allow me to build the powerful "once per faction" buildings), but instead of keeping it maxed out, I would often built/eject settlers there and push my "countless" other cities to Level 3 and flood the countryside, because it gives me much more gain for the population investment.

 

To solve this, your concept needs to be expanded, something like this (just brainstorming here, it is nowhere near polished):

- a city can use caravans to "harvest" resources outside of its zone of influence. That could be used to redirect resources that are originally belonging to another of your cities (for example to build up a gold-hub with a lot of bonusses to gold production that grabs two or more gold mines), but also to harvest resources completely outside of your area of influence (but not in another faction's zone, of course), which can be risky, but obviously also very rewarding. This not only gives you more abilities to make your cities specialized by pooling resource types but greatly reduces the need for building cities just to get hold of a new resource which is especially handy if the resource will come into your zone of influence soon anyway.

- There should be more options on leveling up a city. If your city does not have access to a gold mine or library, you might as well leave this town at level 1 forever. In addition, leveling up a city should do more than what it currently does, but that could also be solved with adding more buildings that are unlocked across all tech trees.

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September 26, 2010 4:42:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like your Ideas (@ TheProgress)

 

Food production is probably a HUGE part of how well your system would work.

1. Homestead (uses 1 slot/ 10 population) makes 20 food.   2x

2. Communal Farm (uses 5 slots/ 50 population) makes 150 food.  3x

3. National Farm (uses 10 slots/ 100 population) makes 500 food.   5x

 

Perhaps various things could increase or decrease the % food that these institutions were making. For instance, spells, season, weather ... obviously season and weather is a bit detailed, but they are just examples, and it'd be pretty cool if some turns were a "good harvest" and some turns were a "bad harvest" ... especially if such "special harvests" lasted for 5-10 turns or more.

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October 1, 2010 3:03:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This idea is great and I support it entirely.

I think perhaps the way food is implemented should not be as described by Sethai is the better option, however, a squishy limit instead of a hard one. It's a good solution, it gives us an easy ratio that can be multiplied by some base value (pending play-testing, naturally). The only problem I see is scaling rate: Population starts out with low numbers, and food is relatively easy to get. As the game progresses, population increases exponentially, and food increases linearly, r at a decreasing rate if you planned specifically for the acquisition of food early on. So probably the actual equations should look a bit less simple than that.

Saklaus, I like that suggestion. Perhaps merely add a persuade option, and if you succeed, the unit joins you. To allow this to be population related, there would need to be some option to reintegrate military into the civilian population. These are both good ideas, though I think they are separate from the main idea of this thread.

Nerulan, those ideas are not really related to this.

Tasunke, that idea is unrelated, and I also think it's a bad idea. I see no benefit, and it just makes things messy.

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October 2, 2010 5:12:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Cruxador,
This idea is great and I support it entirely.

I think perhaps the way food is implemented should not be as described by Sethai is the better option, however, a squishy limit instead of a hard one. It's a good solution, it gives us an easy ratio that can be multiplied by some base value (pending play-testing, naturally). The only problem I see is scaling rate: Population starts out with low numbers, and food is relatively easy to get. As the game progresses, population increases exponentially, and food increases linearly, r at a decreasing rate if you planned specifically for the acquisition of food early on. So probably the actual equations should look a bit less simple than that.

well, population only currently grows exponentially. it need not. if it is found that this makes level requirements hard to meet in the end game, then change the level up requirements. much easier to tweak a couple of numbers to fit a solid system, than try and tweak a broken system to give the right numbers (as currently happening)

btw, i leave scope in my system for pubs, prestige etc to count as additional food in any given town.

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October 3, 2010 7:02:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Dunno, I kind of like how it works right now (1.09). This game should be about War and Magic, not frustrating population management.

 

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October 3, 2010 9:33:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well ... honestly I'd prefer for Population to Grow Logrithmically in relation to extra food ... and then take that basic equation and input Birth-Rates and Prestige where needed.

 

The Civ system is nice, but its in direct relation to the "population" working tiles on the ground.

In elemental, perhaps instead of population working tiles ... population should work "buildings" AKA Frogboy's post (specialist slots per X pop) AND my post above about Homesteads, Communal Farms, and National Farms.

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October 4, 2010 9:23:16 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The Progress>  I really appreciate what you suggest.  Great ideas.  Hope SD implements something along those lines.  One 'fine tuning' comment about finding a refugee camp.  If the camp exists, there must be a (perhaps small) source of water and food growing going on there, or the camp would be abandoned, or full of dead beings.  Perhaps, the discovering SOV might wat to keep the resource, as well as the population.  WHat do you think about addressing this idea?

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October 5, 2010 7:59:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Sethai,
well, population only currently grows exponentially. it need not. if it is found that this makes level requirements hard to meet in the end game, then change the level up requirements. much easier to tweak a couple of numbers to fit a solid system, than try and tweak a broken system to give the right numbers (as currently happening)

btw, i leave scope in my system for pubs, prestige etc to count as additional food in any given town.
No, population should continue to grow exponentially. You have small outposts early on, and you eventually grow it into a great empire. That's something that should be maintained.

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