Since 1.08 seems to be changing a number of game mechanics, I thought I should get out the last few bits of notes and feedback I have. That way, I'll have fresh notes that aren't mixed in with old notes about old game mechanics.
[bug] Assigning a movement command that requires more than one turn in tactical combat results in the unit automatically moving at the start of the turn. Unlike in the strategic map, multi-turn movement should not be possible or happen at the end of turn. The situation is more likely to change and thus the player will more often want turn-to-turn adjustments.
[bug] Notables have spawned inside the visible radius of a unit, sometimes even on top of a unit. As with other spawning issues, this should not happen or at least be more subtle.
[issue] Ice effects are very strong. Stab of Ice allows the caster to deny a unit a turn at only 2 mana. This can be very devastating in conjunction with other abilities or units such as archers as one caster can functionally lockdown a unit for multiple turns. Reducing ice effects to a loss of action points might be an option. In an initiative system, reducing initiative once per round.
[issue] Retreat points are unclear. Adding icons and more distinctive visual cues would be helpful.
[issue] Choosing city upgrades is intrusive and uninformative. Instead of displaying automatically at the start of the turn, put a message icon on the right. Clicking on this icon will bring up the city upgrade menu. The menu can also be closed without choosing an option; this will put the dialog back into the message queue. In addition, include the city information in the dialog box as well as a picture of the city and it’s surroundings; the picture is to help remind players of where they might be expanding to.
[issue] The effects and benefits of unit leveling are unclear. This should be mentioned somewhere or made more visible in the popups (X has gained a level. X has gained Y, Z, A benefits).
[issue] Morale seems to binary and effective. Either you don’t feel it at all or you’re suffering/benefiting tremendously. Perhaps making it more of a sliding scale of effect or a constant variable effect. Tying morale more into combat acts, allowing it to be regained with good acts or lose with bad acts would also make it more a combat variable and less a pure timer. As well, by tying it into acts and abilities, we can have something like intimidating hits where something really impressive affect morale.
[suggestion] To give units basic combat options beyond attack and move, every unit would have a ‘bash’ attack that would affect opposing units positioning. The default – change with weapon, over ridden by other spcial abilities,
[suggestion] Strategic spell options that are medium-length, lasting one to two turns. For instance, an ice storm spell that would frost over a tile resulting in increased movement costs. Or flash flood which would disable food production on a farm improvement for a few turns. These would fill the gap between enchantments and summons which are indefinite and tactical spells which are less than a turn.
[suggestion] Strategic spell casting uses up movement points. This would make it consistent with tactical spell casting and help limit spamming spells like teleport.
[suggestion] To improve auto-resolve combat, perhaps being able to definite certain general rules of engagement. Skirmishing would emphasize hit-and-run tactics, costing attack power and defense but increasing health. Defensive tactics would increase defense. This would be similar to the various invasion options in GalCiv2. Or at the very least, it would influence how the game resolves things; the player wants to be aggressive, preserve units, etc.
[suggestion] One thought to help with tactical and auto-resolve combat would be the ability to bid or invest resources into a fight to help improve a unit/give a unit an advantage. For instance, in the recent Total War game, siege units were not built as specific units but built on the spot of the siege (and could not be moved). In Elemental, perhaps investing material, metal, crystal, even things like essence would allow for more ‘surprise’ but also make war more costly, balancing out steamrolling over an opponent by having to invest resources to the war effort.
[suggestion] When a city is captured, the capturing faction does not gain immediate control. Instead, a city goes through several stages of control – contested, controlled, then conquered. Contested means that the city is treated as enemy territory; no production is possible. Controlled means the city is considered neutral ground; no production is possible. Conquered means that the city is friendly ground for purposes of unit healing; production (building, unit, and resource) is heavily penalized. Only once the war is actually ended does a city become fully under control. In addition, ZOC of a city is treated independently of the city and –always- remains either contested or captured. If there is a hostile unit in the ZOC, it is treated as contested. If a captured city does not have any units from the capturing side in it, then having opposing units in the ZOC will also reduce the status of the city. If a captured city is re-captured by the enemy, then it becomes contested and production is heavily penalized.
[suggestion] Capturing a city requires capturing a majority of the tiles the city controls. The buildings in a tile affect the difficulty of taking the tile as well as other attributes like combat modifiers (defensive strength, offensive strength, ability to engage in combat in neighboring tiles, ability to make ranged attacks into neighboring tiles). As well, units stationed in a city could move and defend to any tile contiguous to the one they’re in at no cost. Larger cities would also gain overall bonuses on top of this. This would make large cities much more difficult to capture as well as make city building a little more useful for military and other purposes.
[suggestion] City maintenance draws upon local resources first. That is, if a city requires food, gildar, or what have you for buildings, the cost is first deducted from whatever the city makes in other resources first, at a loss (5 material to 1 gildar or what not). Caravans can reduce this penalty by, essentially, transferring goods. More or higher level caravans can transfer more goods; bigger and higher level cities can get better rates on the conversion.
[suggestion] Roads affect production time and cost. A city that is not connected to a road (ie a road runs through one or more of it’s tiles) suffers from a time and cost penalty to production and building. Connecting a road to a city reduces this cost based on the distance to the nearest resource required (metal when building a unit that requires metal). Cities further from metal will thus require more time and metal (or whatever) to produce an equivalent unit or building.
[suggestion] Increased casting time for spells as well as casting restrictions; special abilities take place right away but have a cooldown. A unit picks a spell to cast but the spell does not take effect until one or more turns later on the unit’s turn. The unit must remain immobile or the spell will fizzle out. Special abilities on the other hand occur on the turn they are used but require a cooldown before being used again.
[suggestion] Counterspelling. If both sides cast a spell in the same turn, a counter-spell duel happens. Spells ‘fight’ against each other based on mana cost, intelligence, wisdom, caster level and spell level. In addition, the more similar the spells are in effect to each other, the more powerful the counterspelling is on both; this can be measured along elemental lines as well as offensive and defensive effect.. The spells can potentially cancel each other out but regardless, the spells are diminished in effect.
[suggestion] Not enough information on units in tactical battles. Units with moves remaining should have a highlight, ring at their feet, or some other indicator that they can still act. When a unit is selected, highlight enemies in attack range. When a unit is selected and the mouse is over a target, change the highlight to show that it is a valid or invalid option.
[suggestion] Spouses, citizens, and descendents have diplomatic demands/needs. That is, occasionally they will ask something of the Sovereign. Fulfilling these demands or answering their needs will increase their loyalty, abilities, or other factors. Citizen demands might also provide a bonus to population, diplomatic capital, and other bonuses. In addition or alternatively, these demands and needs will influence who descendents will ally with initially. Perhaps also these needs and demands can be completed by any faction and thus people can be fought over through influence and actions. Not completing the demands will not necessarily hurt; it may simply provide a less or more immediate benefit. For instance, instead of a population boost or production turn bonus, the player may receive a small amount of resource.
[suggestion] In addition to city information being a toggle, additional functionality would be nice. Mousing over a city would bring up the info bar. Holding the mouse over a city would bring up a slightly more detailed summery including building production, unit production, and current units in the city. Double clicking would bring up the detailed book screen. The book information screen should also include the units in the city as well as production details.
[suggestion] Instead of tech treading, perhaps one could trade for tech points in a certain technology. One would only be able to get partial credit (you could never get enough points from a single faction to go from 0 to full). In addition, how much you get would scale based on the number of opponents and the level of the tech. So higher level techs or games with more opponents, you would need more people willing to give you tech points to trade for something from empty to full. The more you have traded for points in a tech, the more reluctant the AI will be to trade for that tech.
[suggestion] To help ease the cost of buying Champion’s equipment, perhaps their weapon could be upgraded via resources and/or gain experience, in effect being able to level up with them.
[suggestion] Unit movement coordinates not useful since we don’t have any way of identifying the coordinates of a square. Perhaps show the coordinates of a square in the upper right corner with the terrain information.
[suggestion] The Kingdom/Empire tree needs improvement to be more useful. See end of post for pictures. The pictures don't have everything mentioned in the notes since it's past 4 am.
a) Currently, it shows how many buildings and units a city has. It’s not really useful to see how many buildings a city has; that’s rarely something you need to know. It would be better if the blue dots represented if a building was available to be built in the city.
Additional icons on the city icons: if a city is building a building, is building a unit, if it defended, population and housing, if it has an enchantment.
c) Additional icons on the unit icons: if a unit has an extended move order, if a unit is injured, if it has an enchantment or summon.
d) Mouseover information is shown away from the tree on the right side of the screen. It should instead be shown on the bottom left or attached to the mouse cursor so that the information is more directly connected to what is being selected or moused over.
e) Sorting of the icons: instead of sorting seemingly arbitrarily or by founding date, allow for multiple sorting styles including alphabetical, age, resource production (by type and amount), building availability, unit or building in queue. As well, allow for a custom sort/order that can be saved – the player would sort the icons by control dragging icons around.
f) In addition, the player can type in text in a search box. This will look for units or cities with this text string in their title and/or unit type. The search box that appears will allow one to select units from the list.
g) Being able to use the tree to cast spells on units or cities. Selecting a spell normally and then clicking on the unit in the tree would cast the spell on them if possible. This would help with stack targeting or city targeting for certain spells as well as increasing functionality.
h) Being able to use the tree to issue general orders. For units telling them to go to a particular city (perhaps selecting a unit then control-clicking on a city in the tree). For cities, assigning build orders.
i) Better organization for the tree. Currently, it’s basically a list. It needs to be consolidated especially for large empires where the list of units and cities can be many screens tall. The tree should be an actual tree and group things together. As well, the little + icons are small and don’t necessarily provide any more specific information.
- At the top level, Sovereign, Heroes, Units (stacks without heroes), Cities, and Resources (included as long as it’s in one’s ZOC).
- Clicking on an icon slides the tree down and out with basic general info. For Heroes and Units, this would be the lead unit (used as the icon), number of units in it’s stack, overall health, and if it has a current movement order. For Cities, if it’s building something, if it’s being threatened by an enemy, if it’s defended. For Resources, if it’s improved or not. Mousing over a different icon would close one category and open the other.
- Clicking on a specific icon would them bring up even more specific info on whatever was clicked with the other things moving out of the way/sliding into the tree. Clicking on a different icon would close the current one and open that. For stacks, this information would be the individual units and icons, individual health, and so forth. For cities, specific resource production, specific unit and building production, time to completion, and specific units defending. This would also select the stack or city.
- Selecting one of the particular units would then select the unit itself and provide even more specific information on the unit. Double clicking would bring up the unit’s book window.
- The top level icons other than the Soveriengn would merely be icons; they would not represent an in-game ob ject. The actual objects would appear to the side of them.
- The top level icons would enlarge as the user passes their mouse cursor over it. This would help identify which icon they will select as well as give feedback.
- Selecting an icon greys out the other icons and unrolls second level ones onto the side. These feature the same rollover enlargement effect. If there are a large number of icons, they will unroll into rows of no more than seven.
- Selecting a second level icon rolls up the icons into a single row while dropping unrolling the third level. The other second level icons will fade out. As before, the third level icons will enlarge when moused over.
- Selecting a third level icon will not roll up or grey out the other third level icons. This is to maintain the party identity.
- Selecting anywhere except for the tree at any point rolls up the tree to the top level and puts focus on the map.
- Mousing over a something will only highlight it on the map; the object will not b selected or zoomed too until it is actually clicked on.