Reducing City Spam: Brad's Original Idea

By on October 6, 2010 7:37:53 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

onomastikon

Join Date 02/2006
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What ever happened to Brad's original idea that we saw in the very first alpha versions? Remember?: Only sovereigns could found cities (or at least the first city), and that COST ESSENCE. I kind of liked that. I particularly liked the idea of a tradeoff: there is a strategic CHOICE that the player must make, and that was supposed to be supported by having varying plausible ways of achieving dominance (Brad hinted that he wanted to make it possible to win without ever founding a city).

Well that was almost a year ago, but I particularly like the idea of CHOICES. As it is now, there is no serious reason not to make a city, so there is no question of strategic valence. What was wrong with the original idea? Make city founding cost essence. Make Pioneers or whatever you want to call them require imbuing with essence (kind of like buildable heroes).

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October 6, 2010 7:42:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If I remember correctly, the problem was more related to 'balance'. If the Sov would be only a magic-weaver, this would not be an issue. But you can create a Sov as a Warrior/Archer/etc type where Magic is not an issue.

This will turn out that you don't have a choice anymore.. whether being a magic user type Sov OR have more cities I think the change was ok, there are several other mechanism to reward players for a few higher level cities

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October 6, 2010 8:47:28 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would prefer the old method as well.  It makes a lot of sense in the world the game is supposed to be in.  The one issue I see is that magic would need to be much better than it is currently so it was a major decision to build additional cities.  Of course this method wouldn't really fit the new magic system so there isn't much reason to worry about it.

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October 6, 2010 9:00:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
Only sovereigns could found cities (or at least the first city), and that COST ESSENCE.
Only Sovereigns could create cities and they would cost Essence unless in favored terrain (plains for Kingdoms, dead for Empires).

The issue seemed more of a "Why I cannot use Settlers for revived lands?", "But I don't have so much Essence!!!" and "I don't want to waste my Sovereign in such mundane task!!!". I agree with the first, the second is a matter of balance and in disagree with the third.

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October 6, 2010 9:54:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm surprised they even changed that.  It's the way I would expect it to be from the lore.  But i  have to say the reason for not using settlers is because in the lore you needed magic to make life spring back up from the land.having not much essence is the point of not spamming cities and making a city full of life out of rubble is by no means a mundane task.  It could easily be reimplemented now that you can make outposts and city spamming isn't needed to grab every resource.

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October 6, 2010 11:18:45 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I wouldn't want to go back to the old system of having the sovereign found every town. He's the king of a nation, founding a new outpost should only require him to send some peasants and tell them to start building. But I agree that the current system has removed all flavor. I'd like to see revived land spreading beyond your influence, and your pioneers could then build viable towns on that revitalised land. If you want to expand beyond that, you'll either have to cast revitalise in that area, or wait until life spreads there naturally.

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October 6, 2010 11:45:42 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I mean with this:

Quoting ,
Make city founding cost essence. Make Pioneers or whatever you want to call them require imbuing with essence (kind of like buildable heroes).

that I am not saying that only Sovereigns should found every city, but that (for example) Pioneers can found cities, but that Pioneers should have some sort of strategic risk/cost to them, such as (as in Brad's original idea) Essence, which could be done much like imbuing a Hero with Essence otherwise (to make a caster) is done. I'd be more than happy with another decent solution, but I think the original solution (with a workaround: can imbue someone else to do the founding) is at least acceptable. What surprises me the most is that we had at least some decent ideas a year ago regarding the reduction of city spam, and that reduction of city spam was talked about as high on the list of things this game was supposed to have, and oddly enough, none of them made the cut.

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October 6, 2010 11:58:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd really hate that. I don't mind that founding new outposts is relatively easy, as long as developing them into productive cities requires a big investment of money, people, materials, and time.

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October 6, 2010 12:54:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ditching the Restore Lands mechanics was a case of throwing a promising baby out with the bathwater.

What I would rather have seen was the elimination of random habitable land, a relatively slow spread of restoration (adjustable in game setup), and the Pioneer units able to found settlements on good land. (Would have been nice for them also to be able to set up camp on resources in blasted lands if they were close enough to a viable settlement.)

As the OP notes, we lost a major branch of decisions with that move, eliminating a whole range of possible play styles and game outcomes. It also left us with essence seeming to be bit more like champagne to mana's chardonnay--essentially the same thing with a rare variety and a common variety. I don't know if there are any interesting late-game spells that burn essence, but having it be basically a combat stat plus a resource for spawning spellcasters is much less interesting than it would have been if I'd been forced to consider territory expansion as an option for spending it.

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October 6, 2010 3:11:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

At the same time, using Essence to found cities penalizes those of us who wish to be pure casters, compared with those who wish to pursue a more warlike path. While magic is immensely useful, the issues with this are...

  • Essence can only grow with level. Unless we put our Sovereigns into frequent danger, magic becomes utterly worthless (cities can produce armies, armies can work as effectively as magic, if not more so).
  • Cities tied to essence means that you cannot be a caster type without dumping a ton of points into Wisdom at character creation, because each city costs additional essence to found.
  • People have frequently been complaining about Sovereigns who wander around and are roflstomped (and thus, removed from the game) by player armies. This method makes such a thing happening all the more likely. because of this, the only way to found cities without making the one factor of your nation's survival at risk is to have a huge army. To have a huge army, you need...more cities. Catch 22. The risks are far too great compared to the expected reward.
  • If we imbue a Pioneer with essence and go off to found a city, the same issue as above results. It isn't AS dangerous (losing a pioneer is not as bad as losing your Sovereign) but at the same time, you'd need a large army to make sure that the Essence risk is not misplaced. Furthermore, I refer to my first point, where Essence is capped as a levelling mechanic.

At the end of the day, using Essence in such a fashion seems fairly pointless to me. You gimp one path for a city, while other paths are not nearly as hindered. Sovereigns DO gain some experience from all battles (I know mine has levelled fairly randomly before) but unless they totally focus on Essence, raising cities is immensely difficult and unrewarding. The weight - permanent weakness and inability to pursue a path vs. having multiple cities - is too great. It's called War of Magic, and by using Essence in such a fashion, it just becomes a War. Do I want to have the power of magic, or do I want to have cities?

You might as well remove magic from the game if you pursue this path. That is one of the reasons that Essence was changed. Because it was not fair to make one path so weak because it needed to build cities, essentially forcing another path on players if they wanted to be anywhere near decent.

This method does not solve anything, but will ultimately make the game more frustrating. I am all for stopping the spamming of cities. However, I am not for this particular method.

-N

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October 6, 2010 7:19:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

i had an idea on how to help fix it.

::warning, shameless self promotion below::

strategic way to help with city spam.

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November 24, 2010 12:28:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, since there's no such thing as Essence anymore, this idea is shot. I'd just like to change it to: Make founding a City COST, both in terms of initial investment and upkeep; the only thing that would make sense now would be to have it cost gold or cost mana. I'd still like us to be, at some point, able to settle just about anywhere without the need for the "fertile land" tiles in certain circumstances, but that's probably going too far.

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November 24, 2010 12:44:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think the key to citybuilding is to look at a real medieval empire and take a few notes. One or two large cities can be easily defended and can rule over a fairly vast area, though resources are more vunerable to attack. It should be more efficient and give some unique buildings and bonuses.

Having many cities means they should be smaller due to food constraints and cost more to maintenance, leaving a point where too many cities means you wont have enough money for defense.

It really seems to just be a balance issue at this point. Thankfully once I get 1.1 I can adjust maintenance levels to my own taste with the xmls.

 

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November 24, 2010 10:41:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Currently, in 1.09n, food seems to be the huge limiting factor in building cities.  I'm finding myself having to hold off on settlement upgrades, so I can build that next city I'm thinking about, and several Cities have ended up holding off on leveling up because I don't have the food to spare for more huts/houses to house the necessary population, at least until I research the next available food boosting tech or wait around for that granary/irrigation structure to finish being built.

So the key here is to not make food resources so random that your game may end up being over before it ever began, but not so plentiful that you can level up cities at will, and build as many as you want.

 

That being said, I NEVER have a problem with City Spam.  Managing 15-20 cities makes the game more interesting.  The key is to make interfacing with said cities as seamless and as easy/fast as possible.  Currently, I have to keep pulling up the city list window or scroll around the map looking for cities needing things to do, and open ANOTHER window to double check what the city already has.  If these interfaces could be combined (thus having less steps to go through), that'd make things easier.

And if the city tab button at the bottom took you to any city with either the build or training cue open (instead of having to be completely idle), this would speed things up dramatically, just by doing this one simple change.

And if the city list window stayed open until you manually closed it (rather than automatically closing like it does now), that would also save time (by not having to re-open the interface each time).

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November 25, 2010 9:29:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would like it if tech and arcane research from different cities wouldn't stack much, if at all. It would make sense too since coordinating research over great distances wouldn't be possible anyway. Basically it would be cool if just having one big city and focusing heavily on magic would work. With only the capital doing research.

Multiple cities could bring you more population and resources that you could use to build a bigger and better army, if that's your cup of tea. But I hope there would be other viable adventuring / magic paths that could be accomplished by just owning one big capital / city state. And perhaps some fortresses or other strategic locations, but no city building frenzy, it has always been the least fun for me in strategy games.

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November 25, 2010 9:39:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting tjashen,
Managing 15-20 cities makes the game more interesting.

Heh, that would be a total nightmare for me. I loved MoM but I couldn't stand the city spam. And the city building was very straightforward in MoM.

I'd much rather concentrate on one capital and then perhaps one or two other cities. And those cities should benefit from or be forced to have some heavy specialization that would give them more meaning and flavor.

The way I see it, you can either have a building game or a war game - combining both will always frustrate some people. Elemental should definitely be in the magic/war box. Awesome magic and cool units and battles and just enough building to make those possible without turning into Sim city.

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