Technology in Fallen Enchantress

By on April 28, 2011 9:47:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Derek Paxton

Join Date 03/2003
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In my opinion, the biggest issue in War of Magic is game pace.  Some things we can improve.  We can speed up the early game, we can even out the progression of spells, armor and weapons so it doesn’t feel like they obsolete older versions too quickly, but are still worthwhile upgrades.  But the tech system is a giant pace imposing beast that cannot be avoided.

Which is unfortunate, because conceptually I like the tech system in War of Magic.  It fits with the rule of 5, and I’ve been using the “breakthrough provides random options” in other parts of the game to provide some design consistency and make the systems feel like they all belong to the same game.

The big problem with the system is that there are 5 tech categories and the research cost of a tech is determined by how many techs you know in that category.  The more Military techs you know, the more the next Military tech you are about to learn will cost.  The reason for this is that since the player picks the tech after research is done, the game doesn’t know what they are going to research until it’s over.  So it can’t have tech specific research costs.

We thought about a lot of ways to improve this and keep the current system.  What if we have the tech’s research cost go toward the next tech?  What if we have the tech cost be the highest amount and then allow the player to recover research they don’t spend?  What if we give an option when the player has enough research to discovered one tech but he can choose to continue researching to get to others?

But in the end they were all flawed and too confusing.  So we got out the torch, some kindling and marshmellows and said goodbye.

Then we made the Fallen Enchantress tech tree which includes the following.

1. Tech screen- A tech tree screen where players can plan out their research goals.  Distant techs can be selected and the game will automatically queue up the research path to get there.

2. Tech based research costs- Now we can have the best armor tech in the game cost much more than the first weapon tech (previously if they were both the 6th military tech you picked they would cost the same amount).

3. Allegiance prereqs- Techs that are only available for certain allegiances, so even though there is only one tech tree in Fallen Enchantress the Empire and Fallen have different branches to follow.  In general kingdoms have extra defensive military techs and empires have extra sorcery techs.  There are civilization techs that are unique to each, the kingdoms get cooperation which leads to resources that improve their population growth and the empire get Domination which allows them to work their people to death.  (we may update this to allow race specific techs for modders)

4. Random techs- Some techs have a percentage chance of showing up for a player in a game.  Every time you start a game your tech tree will be slightly different.  You may start a game and have masterwork armor as a tech in your tech tree (25% per game) that you can research at some point to be able to craft better armor for your armies.  You may have a tech that allows you to recruit some unusual creatures.  Some that grant access to spells that aren’t normally available, etc.  This is one of my favorite features because I enjoy looking at my tech tree at the beginning of my game to find out what options are out there.  It may change my research plans, it’s like dynamic faction strengths.  You may play the Ironeers over again, but in one game they have 3 extra military techs, in another they have an extra adventuring and sorcery tech, etc.

5. Autolayout- The tech tree draws itself and its lines automatically.  This was needed because the tech tree will be different every time, so it must be able to lay itself out programmatically.  The good news for modders is that they can add techs to their hearts content and they will be automatically added to the tree right where they belong.

6. Cross category prereqs- Techs that require techs in other categories.  You can’t rush to big weapons in Fallen Enchantress like you can in War of Magic.  You need some civilization techs (blacksmithing) before you will be able to produce metal weapons and armor.  You need Literacy in the civilization category before you can learn the adventure tech Ereog’s Journals.

Won’t don’t techs do now?  They don’t spawn resources, monsters (monster get tougher over time, but it doesn’t matter what techs you research) or champions (though it takes techs to recruit them).  In general everything is on the map at the beginning of the game.

We will talk about the world later, but this is a part of the new design.  Explore the world, because you have to find out what’s out there, it isn’t going to be given to you as you research techs.  If you don’t have metal near your starting location you may need to find someone to kill to take it (or look into the other 4 ways to control the world).  You can’t always come into the game with a plan, you have to adapt a plan based on your starting condition.  Techs are a big part of that.

 tech screen

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April 30, 2011 10:31:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The big problem with tbs types is they always follow the same pattern of attacking the weakest opponent for expansion rather than the riskier decision of attacking your strongest opponent directly like a free for all game in Starcraft.  Spending your day seeking out and beating up the next little guy gets very old real fast, that is unless you're the type of person who actually enjoys that kind of thing in real life.

A player can always walk away smiling at his own inner super genius after conquering a powerful and puzzling challenge.  Even more so when it was seemingly impossible 3 turns ago.

 

 

Quoting Schnorkde,

Quoting razor436, reply 61Speaking of balance and tech, there is one thing that always nagged me about TBS games: large factions have a large advantage at producing tech, leaving small factions lagging far behind. In Civilization terms, I'm thinking tanks and helicopters vs. musketeers. In FE, how does the little guy remain relevant in a game with large superpowers. Are small factions fighting a lost cause because they cannot build as many... libraries as the larger factions?

Exactly my point.

Since this has been brought up three times, it deserves an answer.

The best ways I can think to counter this is with A-symmetric warfare or better design dynamics.  A small example of A-symmetric warfare in tbs is the Civilization 4 Revolutions mod.  Here you turn your opponents chief strengths into weaknesses by transforming them into empire wide instability.  Another point is how those powerful special bonuses obsolete far too quickly if you choose to advance your tech fast.  A more primitive civ would still be able to take full advantage of them when he *cough* acquires your city.  Also don't forget diplomacy and cooperation.

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April 30, 2011 11:12:32 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting razor436,
Speaking of balance and tech, there is one thing that always nagged me about TBS games: large factions have a large advantage at producing tech, leaving small factions lagging far behind. In Civilization terms, I'm thinking tanks and helicopters vs. musketeers. In FE, how does the little guy remain relevant in a game with large superpowers. Are small factions fighting a lost cause because they cannot build as many... libraries as the larger factions?

Why not? If you are overpowered and can do nothing about it then you have been out played; therefore I see no reason for there to be any way out other than playing even better (individually or in alliance with other powers)... and hoping they screw up (or have over extended themselves, in which case they were not playing better and are not more powerful).

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April 30, 2011 11:13:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting LightofAbraxas,
Listen, I hate to be negative at all after you took the time to put something together for us to look at... But, the old tech trees just screamed 'bland'. And while I like everything that you're doing here, I think that a little bit of flavor text, less utilitarian titles, and more nuanced tech function would go a long way.

Because, honestly, right now you might as well name them 'Unlock Game Mechanic 1', 'Unlock Game Mechanic 2', 'Unlock Game Mechanic 3', et cetera. I think that the Civ series did it pretty well (and AC, obviously). Taking a look at this (and I recognize that it's an early look), I can't say that I would be in any danger of actually feeling like I'm rebuilding a civilization, rather than messing around with an electronic toy.

 

When you compare Civ series technologies to FE, you are putting FE at a disadvantage. Civ technologies are much more interesting because they have:

  • historical meaning to us
  • unlock iconic units of the era, rather than bland weapons
  • unlock buildings that, unlike WoM, have more impact on your civilization than in WoM. e.g. some buildings affect happiness, culture, specialist slots
  • unlock new ways to improve terrain
  • and lets not forget wonders
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April 30, 2011 11:23:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting razor436,
When you compare Civ series technologies to FE, you are putting FE at a disadvantage. Civ technologies are much more interesting because they have:
historical meaning to us
unlock iconic units of the era, rather than bland weapons
unlock buildings that, unlike WoM, have more impact on your civilization than in WoM. e.g. some buildings affect happiness, culture, specialist slots
unlock new ways to improve terrain
and lets not forget wonders

That's fair. Use Alpha Centauri as your comparison, if it makes you feel better. Both are mostly made up, drawing from two different types of fictions, but the research element of AC and that of the WoM series are worlds apart. I also agree that tech can 'do' a lot more things in Civ, but honestly, buildings that do more (and more interesting) things than in WoM isn't out of the realm of possibility, even with the xml tags we have now.

But regardless, fair comparison wasn't my point and I don't want to get into a meaningless debate about what is or isn't a good comparison.

The point is that the tech (and magic system, for that matter) is very bland, the cost-benefit of sprucing it up a bit seems like it would make sense, and sometimes when you're elbows-deep in the code, it's just hard to see the forest for all the trees. It's my honest and constructive criticism for the developers.

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May 1, 2011 12:14:21 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Regarding, how to make the "little guy" relevant if he's being out-researched:

I honestly don't think those that are lagging behind tech-wise deserve some special bonus to make up for the fact that they are being out-teched. Coming from someone who loves trying to out-tech my opponents in TBS games, I'd be extremely disheartened if all that out-teching was nullified by giving assistance to the little guys.

That said, there are a things that could be done to give low-tech opponents a fighting chance:

  • Slaves: allow armies to take enemy peasants and combatants as slaves when victorious on the battle field or when raising an enemy village. Slaves could be used to create hordes of cannon fodder to wear enemies down.
  • Battlefield loot: give the winning combatant the enemy's weapons and armor after the battle is over. Of course, in order to be useful players would need to be able to upgrade existing units with the loot.
  • Technology theft: when raiding an enemy village, award the winning combatant an option to select 1 un-researched technology (per number of research buildings in village) from the overthrown enemy to be automatically acquired. *In order to keep things from getting out of hand, the player should probably be limited to choosing from technologies that have had their prerequisites met.
  • One-man-army magic: the later magic spells could enable magic users to become one-man-armies in a sense, giving weaker nations a fighting chance to hurt the bigger guys. (Of course the bigger guys would in all likely hood be able to research these late game magic spells before the little-guy, so this would have to be balanced in some way).
  • Mobility: guerrilla-type raiding parties and nomad style moving cities would help prevent the bigger guy from getting a fix on the smaller guys location.
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May 1, 2011 12:49:49 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting TheProgress,
Regarding, how to make the "little guy" relevant...

What about just including some sort of admin cost for each city? Looking into the ElementaldDefs.xml, it seems like the ability to do this is there (it looks like there are tags for both a linear and exponential component). Combine that with a nominal cost in gold for each research/arcane lab (and any scientist knows that the amount of money provided is directly correlated with the amount of research done) and you have a soft cap that would put empires that expand rapidly without developing their cities at a relative disadvantage in research (and granted, this will largely depend on the unknown way in which population growth and taxation is handled in FE).

I might be in the vast minority here, but I also think that it's worth asking if, historically, large empires lost some amount of effeciency in innovation and wealth generation. The Greek City-States and Venetian Republic jump to mind as examples of cultures that seemed to punch above their weight, population wise (though I'm certainly no historian, so take those specific examples and the larger point with a grain of salt, if you'd like). Call me crazy, but I think that the real world provides tons of fun game mechanics if abstracted properly. Anyway, it's food for thought.

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May 1, 2011 1:13:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm quite sober and I like all the stuff mentioned in the OP, especially the removal of tech-spawned resources, good riddance.

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May 1, 2011 1:34:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Gwenio1,

Quoting razor436, reply 61
Speaking of balance and tech, there is one thing that always nagged me about TBS games: large factions have a large advantage at producing tech, leaving small factions lagging far behind. In Civilization terms, I'm thinking tanks and helicopters vs. musketeers. In FE, how does the little guy remain relevant in a game with large superpowers. Are small factions fighting a lost cause because they cannot build as many... libraries as the larger factions?

 

Quoting RogueCaptain
Since this has been brought up three times, it deserves an answer.
The best ways I can think to counter this is with A-symmetric warfare or better design dynamics.  A small example of A-symmetric warfare in tbs is the Civilization 4 Revolutions mod.  Here you turn your opponents chief strengths into weaknesses by transforming them into empire wide instability.  Another point is how those powerful special bonuses obsolete far too quickly if you choose to advance your tech fast.  A more primitive civ would still be able to take full advantage of them when he *cough* acquires your city.  Also don't forget diplomacy and cooperation.


Why not? If you are overpowered and can do nothing about it then you have been out played; therefore I see no reason for there to be any way out other than playing even better (individually or in alliance with other powers)... and hoping they screw up (or have over extended themselves, in which case they were not playing better and are not more powerful).

 

 

I suppose my original intent was to find a balance between large and small factions so that a large empire will have a technological advantage over a small one, but not to the point where the small faction cannot win any more tactical battles because their troops are hopelessly outmatched. A solution to this could be to ensure that large empires building many tech producing structures (lets call them libraries) provide diminishing returns. For examples, first library produces 4 tech, the second provides three, the third two, and every subsequent library just one tech.Those numbers as just for a numerical example.

Like I said, that was my initial intent. What really irks me though, is that when a faction becomes weak, it becomes like a race horse with a broken leg: it has lost it's usefulness and, so, is shot and killed. Honestly, who wants to be friends with the weak faction? They have nothing to trade, an insignificant military, and since every other faction wants them dead, befriending them could damage your relationship with the others. Essentially, a weak civilization is insignificant in a world of sprawling empires, and it cannot make a comeback. I do not think it should be that way.

 

Diplomacy

One way to address this is with diplomacy. In a world with a weak faction, everyone just wants to kill it. Although it may be realistic to a gamer's perspective with a goal of winning, I dislike it. Perhaps I should tell you more about myself so you understand my perspective. When I play empire building games with diplomacy (Civilization), I don't play to win; rather, I play to watch civilizations grow and the relationships that develop between them. The immersion breaks, however, when civilizations make diplomatic decisions that just are not human. Well, I'm sure we would mostly be backstabbing SOBs when opportunity presents itself, but I think we would also have friends. What happened to the unbreakable bonds of friendship?

That is the weakness of the + and - system to diplomatic relationships: they give numerical values to various things that result in the AI making odd and aggressive decisions.

Here is an exaggerated example of how a large empire views a small faction:

  • +2 : you are very close friends
  • +1 : they have placed many gifts at your feet
  • +1 : trade agreements have been fair
  • -1 : close borders spark tension
  • -100 : their military is much weaker

It is even worse when the weak civilization hates the strong one also for their difference in military strength, when instead the weak should be ingratiating the strong.

What I propose is to strengthen bonds of friendship between factions so that A faction will want to go out of his way to help a friend. Even if that friend is the weakest faction. Even if the enemy is the strongest faction. Because friendship is forever, right? As it is now, I have the impression that the only way to get another faction to help you out in a war is to bribe them and they'll accept only if they hate the enemy and have a stronger military than them.

I think this can be made possible in FE by making dynasties matter greatly. I mean, you would help out the faction that your daughter married into, right? You do know that if you let that faction be destroyed, your daughter will die, right?

Also, instead of obeying the + - system to the number, I would also like to see something else governing the decisions of the AI. Yes that other faction is much weaker, but I really want to be friends with him and, in time, I think he'll show his appreciation.

In addition, it would also be nice to give the AI, as well as the player, a reason why they would rather have the weakest faction alive than dead.

 

Strong Sovereigns

Another way to make a weak faction relevant is to make sovereigns overpowered so that while a weak faction is defending it's last city, the Sovereign can dish out lots of damage to invading armies. I suggest a way to grant sovereigns short-term gains (e.g. in spell power) for long-term sacrifices. E.g.:

  • sacrificing a power node
  • sacrificing population
  • sacrificing essence (or spell power)
  • sacrifice mana

To put these examples into practice:

  • Sacrificing a power node will grant you an army of elementals of that node type, but long-term you lose the benefits of that node (strengthening spells of that node type, mana production)
  • Sacrificing essence or spell power will grant your sovereign a +100% (or more) damage/effectiveness of spells for the next 50 turns, but will detract 30% permanently thereafter.
  • Sacrificing mana
  • Spend three time the mana cost of a spell to double its effectiveness.
  • Spend five times the mana cost to summon a level 10 version of a something.

 I just made those numbers up so let's forget about balance for now. The idea is to give a very desperate Sovereign a means to avoid imminent defeat. It would also be in the well-to-do Sovereign's best interest not to employ these desperate measures because it would weaken him in the long run.

 

Rare Events and Quests

Should a faction fall in dire need of aid, something unexpected occurring once every few games, could save them. Something like

  • a Titan granting aid in exchange for something
  • happening upon a large supply of metal
  • finding a powerful weapon
  • citizens want to defend their homeland. Training soldiers cost 0 gold and halved training time for the next 100 turns.

I am uncertain about a quest with a considerable reward, because quests require an army to travel around the map, where a weak civilization would rather have them defending.

 

Sorry for taking this thread way off track. Basically my goal was to offer a way for a weak faction, who has no means to compete with large factions at a technological level, to make a comeback, or to have yet an important role to play in the world stage.

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May 1, 2011 1:44:58 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting LightofAbraxas,


Quoting razor436, reply 103
When you compare Civ series technologies to FE, you are putting FE at a disadvantage. Civ technologies are much more interesting because they have:
historical meaning to us
unlock iconic units of the era, rather than bland weapons
unlock buildings that, unlike WoM, have more impact on your civilization than in WoM. e.g. some buildings affect happiness, culture, specialist slots
unlock new ways to improve terrain
and lets not forget wonders


That's fair. Use Alpha Centauri as your comparison, if it makes you feel better. Both are mostly made up, drawing from two different types of fictions, but the research element of AC and that of the WoM series are worlds apart. I also agree that tech can 'do' a lot more things in Civ, but honestly, buildings that do more (and more interesting) things than in WoM isn't out of the realm of possibility, even with the xml tags we have now.

But regardless, fair comparison wasn't my point and I don't want to get into a meaningless debate about what is or isn't a good comparison.

The point is that the tech (and magic system, for that matter) is very bland, the cost-benefit of sprucing it up a bit seems like it would make sense, and sometimes when you're elbows-deep in the code, it's just hard to see the forest for all the trees. It's my honest and constructive criticism for the developers.

Are you suggesting just adding flavor text, or something more? What ideas do you have in mind, b/c i can't think of anything.

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May 1, 2011 2:31:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting razor436,
Are you suggesting just adding flavor text, or something more? What ideas do you have in mind, b/c i can't think of anything.

Yeah, a few. I'm going to assume that you read my first post and not just re-quote it here.

If the criterion for releasing the game is: "It must be awesome," I don't really understand why the developers would willfully ignore the best aspects of other games in the genre, especially when they are so easy to implement. For example:

1) Multiple food source types (other than fertile land, very fertile land, and bee hives) influencing tech progression. Feeding your new society would seem like the first and most important step in rebuilding it. The tech that you use to feed your people could then affect the techs you pursue in the early game and should have implications beyond just 'I can build this improvement.' Agricultural societies that develop from Fertile Land, Wild Wheat, etc. would then develop somewhat differently than those built around hunting abundant game. Say... a slight leg up on animal domestication vs. bow and arrow and mobility techs.

2) It doesn't make that much sense to me that the ability to use a specific type of spear has been lost after the apocalypse, but written language hasn't, and most of your new citizens are automatically fully literate. Make written language a tech. One advantage might be that it's required for advanced horse-breeding (keeping records of the abilities of stallions and mares). Then you could create a building that had an upkeep of, say, 1 horse every two weeks to produce a purposefully bred charger in four. Or whatever you want to call it and whatever timeframe you want to have it in. This is all codable in about 20 minutes, guys (and gals). The written language tech could also be extended to give a bonus to research, if you'd like.

3) The development of metallurgy and the domestication of animals should be a major advance that spans both civilization and warfare improvements. Have it as a prereq for advanced weapons as well as techs that yield food bonuses. I'm sure that you've heard of or seen a plough before? Digging out roots and stumps really is easier when your plough has a nice sharp edge to it and has some strong beast of burden to pull it.

4) The development of calendars could also provide a slight food bonus. In addition to whatever bonus to this or that type of magic or magic research that seems appropriate and consistent with the game lore.

5) Rhetorics. It's just an example, but have some abstract scholastic thing give a bonus to both diplomacy and domestic education.

6) There are just tons and tons of interesting confluences between the different magic schools and 'mundane' research techs. Why not let factions that have pursued advanced Water magic get access to the same buildings as factions that have spent time developing advanced irrigation techniques. Or factions that have pursued Earth or Life research finding that they can grow slightly faster with limited farming or game resources than factions with the same resources and other magical research programs can't?

6.5) Why not use (6) to make the magic schools 'feel' a little bit different? If you can identify specific advantages for a couple of the non-offensive schools, then you can feel free to make, say, the Fire school a little bit more offensively powerful. Sure, it might be a little unbalanced on the face of it, but if the others are able to carry a higher troop load, isn't that the diversity that we're looking for in a game like this? Advanced Fire research as a pre-req. for advanced Weapon Tempering tequniques accessible only way down the line to other factions (or the most advanced levels not availabe at all to others)?

7) What about engineering, masonry, and mathematics? What about their hypothetical relationship to the study of magic? What about the relationship between mathematics and tax revenue? There could possibly be different paths toward weatlth accumulation. There's also a plausible story to be told about the relationship between them and magic in your game world. An interesting linkage in technology and some flavor text is all you need to tell it. Or maybe magic completely defies logical characterization. Then, no tech linkages, but definitely some flavor text to demonstrate the difference.

8) Better use of World Wonders. I think(?!) that these are in the game already, but I don't really think that they're being used to their fullest potential. For me, they are a way of maintaining distance in a certain aspect of technology that would otherwise naturally shrink as the game progresses. Why not have a wonder for the first faction to discover a critical farming or mining or abstract reasoning or horse-breeding technology? An agricultural/mining/rhetorical/husbandry college- you name it whatever you want. The point is that they are used in fairly arbitrary ways in WoM, and I think that their potential is being wasted.

You see, those are just eight examples off the top of my head. Someone actually getting paid to do this should be able to come up with upwards of 30 of these kinds of technological intersections. That's what I mean by 'nuanced tech function.' And you're right, the other two aspects of my first post would be just refraining from naming the techs as explicit descriptions of the bonus they provide you or mechanic they unlock. This doesn't do any favors for immersion. And flavor text is certainly important. Ambience is possibly the most important thing that separates a good game from a classic. And, luckily, they are low cost additions to the game in terms of man-hours.

If the developers actually consider one thing I've said in the year and a half I've been posting here I would want it to be this:

Please, be brave and have some imagination.

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May 1, 2011 2:56:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I completely agree with this post.

Best regards,
Steven.

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May 1, 2011 3:16:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I always thought the intent of Elemental was to have "technology" separate from "magic". Something where your arcane ability would not be tied to how many libraries or cities you have, where you could have a nation of few cities, people and production capability but still rival mighty kingdoms through the force of powerful magic. Battles where armies of mighty soldiers battle against a few but powerful magi, etc.

Don't suppose we could mod in two separate tech trees, where regular "library" tech points are only used in the regular tech tree and mana is used to upgrade the magic tech tree by upgrading nodes and temples or something else that doesn't require a lot of land and don't use traditional resources. Hmmm... having a lot of mana production in the early game but every time you build "tech" buildings it diminishes your mana production? Maybe even a tech slider bar that ranges from technology on one end to arcane studies on the other, lending to the choices of becoming a magic or tech based (or balanced) civilization. 

But anyways, back to the improvements shown: certainly very good. Can't wait to see it in action. I've always been a fan of the random tech tree, especially in SotS. It does have it's problems though, as the "sadorandomizer" can be extremely unkind in every facet of the game from the tech tree to resources and colonizable planets, etc. It makes for great diversity but certain games are just absurd (don't get me started on the one where as a Hiver I only had polysilicate armor and the Liir had adamantite). Not seeing the tech tree would be nice, a toggle would be great. Not a useless feature at all, different people play the game differently. It sounds like Kael has a good bead on the line between players wanting to restart to get that perfect tech and where players adapt to the random things thrown their way.

Keep up the good work guys.

 

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May 1, 2011 7:29:01 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Gwenio1,

Quoting razor436, reply 61Speaking of balance and tech, there is one thing that always nagged me about TBS games: large factions have a large advantage at producing tech, leaving small factions lagging far behind. In Civilization terms, I'm thinking tanks and helicopters vs. musketeers. In FE, how does the little guy remain relevant in a game with large superpowers. Are small factions fighting a lost cause because they cannot build as many... libraries as the larger factions?
Why not? If you are overpowered and can do nothing about it then you have been out played; therefore I see no reason for there to be any way out other than playing even better (individually or in alliance with other powers)... and hoping they screw up (or have over extended themselves, in which case they were not playing better and are not more powerful).

actually, i'd agree with the principle for some extent. when power is purely related to territory a game becomes very predictable. and there are plenty of historical examples, such as how western europe came to dominate the world despite muslim armies controlling most of the world's largest, richest and most developed cities.

you'd hope that magic would become the great leveller in a game like elemental. whether that happens remains to be seen, but i think there's a good case for slanting technology in the favour of the smal factions a little bit, such as giving a faction's first city a % research bonus.

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May 1, 2011 8:37:27 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would agree with making magic a big leveller, and your suggestion sounds like it would be a good start to this end.

Best regards,
Steven.

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May 1, 2011 9:16:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting razor436,

Diplomacy

One way to address this is with diplomacy. In a world with a weak faction, everyone just wants to kill it. Although it may be realistic to a gamer's perspective with a goal of winning, I dislike it. Perhaps I should tell you more about myself so you understand my perspective. When I play empire building games with diplomacy (Civilization), I don't play to win; rather, I play to watch civilizations grow and the relationships that develop between them. The immersion breaks, however, when civilizations make diplomatic decisions that just are not human. Well, I'm sure we would mostly be backstabbing SOBs when opportunity presents itself, but I think we would also have friends. What happened to the unbreakable bonds of friendship?

That is the weakness of the + and - system to diplomatic relationships: they give numerical values to various things that result in the AI making odd and aggressive decisions.

Here is an exaggerated example of how a large empire views a small faction:


+2 : you are very close friends
+1 : they have placed many gifts at your feet
+1 : trade agreements have been fair
-1 : close borders spark tension
-100 : their military is much weaker

It is even worse when the weak civilization hates the strong one also for their difference in military strength, when instead the weak should be ingratiating the strong.

What I propose is to strengthen bonds of friendship between factions so that A faction will want to go out of his way to help a friend. Even if that friend is the weakest faction. Even if the enemy is the strongest faction. Because friendship is forever, right? As it is now, I have the impression that the only way to get another faction to help you out in a war is to bribe them and they'll accept only if they hate the enemy and have a stronger military than them.

I think this can be made possible in FE by making dynasties matter greatly. I mean, you would help out the faction that your daughter married into, right? You do know that if you let that faction be destroyed, your daughter will die, right?

Also, instead of obeying the + - system to the number, I would also like to see something else governing the decisions of the AI. Yes that other faction is much weaker, but I really want to be friends with him and, in time, I think he'll show his appreciation.

In addition, it would also be nice to give the AI, as well as the player, a reason why they would rather have the weakest faction alive than dead.

One of the difficulties is that diplomacy doesn't matter as much in most games as it does in the real world. I mean in reality the US could conquer Canada to get at that oil, but why would they? Despite huge millitary superiority it would cost a fortune, it would be hard to hold territory, would do damage to the resources they want to capture AND the infrastructure required to exploit them, it would lead to worldwide condemnation, etc... and isn't worth the headache when Free Trade accomplishes similar results (access to resources) but instead creates a diplomatic ally.

That differs in several ways from games:

1. In the game world, the "cost" of a major power going to war with a weaker nation is basically nothing. You're going to lose few units (and they can be replaced) due to tech superiority, and you can afford to lose them due to numerical superiority. You'll capture territory in a largely undamaged state, and it quickly becomes productive again. You don't generally suffer a hit to your finances (when in reality even an easily winnable war costs a fortune).

2. Because game developers don't want to make war prohibitive, there's always a gamey way to convert the territory you capture and make it productive. At release, Civ 5 had a bunch of ways to take cities but the best one was usually to just raze it and  build your own in place if you want it (since then patches have improved puppet states, which are at least not as silly). In reality you really can't wipe a city off the map and a couple years later put a new one in the same place as if nothing happened.

3. Most importantly, diplomatic allies don't mean a lot. Unless you're trying for a diplomatic victory, you only really need to people to not hate you until you're big enough that it doesn't matter. The smaller nations aren't that useful as allies because they can't do anything that you can't already do, and diplomatic votes rarely matter. So what's the incentive to keep them alive if you can just go take their stuff instead? (In the real world, diplomatic votes are pretty useful if you can get countries with good reputations to support what you want to do, because that helps you sell it to your own public. Very important in democracies. Diplomats from other nations can also in some cases have access to speak to the leaders of nations with whom you can't due to poor relations, which provides an indirect line of communication.)

 

So for my money, the best way to fix this is to beef up the diplomatic game such that someone is just as useful to you alive as they are dead.

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May 1, 2011 10:05:15 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Tridus,
So for my money, the best way to fix this is to beef up the diplomatic game such that someone is just as useful to you alive as they are dead.

It should be coming since Derek is still talking about the 5 tech trees and the 5 ways of winning.

When we'll have a journal about Diplomacy, it would be time to bring back the walls of text and the many ideas. I particularly HATED to read that independant city-factions were disliked by the dev team when I see them as major immersion factors and tools for diplomatic strategy and soft (and even hard) power.

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May 1, 2011 10:07:50 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Schnorkde,
So far like it. Just to throw some extra idears in.

How about tech which show up during game and/or require some word stuff. For example:


U need to hold a (unique) location to be able to research some tech (+ have some prequisits)
U need to have a special hero/item/spell active to research some tech
U need to accept some (temporary?) negative influence on the empire (slower growth, less productivity...)
U will recive a negative trait on all childs and main char (taintet, reckless, monster...)
U need to sacrifie something, hero, city, monster, gold
Some tech will be blocked if u choose one
U need to be allied with some race
Just dumped all that i came up with. IMHO i like the idear that teching is related to the game not only by research points. Additionaly i would like all above for some spells. Imagine you could only summon a dragon on a vulcano or while having a propper chain  

All this would better reflect my imagination of magic and add significat options for game play.

Greets 

These are not only good ideas, they provide a fictional context for the introduction of random techs, which is vital. There must be a reason why you can research a tech one game and not another. Having 25% chance for the option of a weak tech adds nothing to the experience other than clutter. For it to have some emotional impact, and nothing you put in the game should be without emotional impact, it has to be part of the narrative.

Random techs can be good, or they can be bad. If you can't tie them to events in game, then you must make them weak. If you must make them weak, then they are only for flavor. If you include flavor techs, then you must make the game easy enough so that players can afford them. Its a slippery slope mechanic.

I want to be punched in the face by a random tech that makes sense. Otherwise I don't want it cluttering my interface.

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May 1, 2011 10:10:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Speaking of balance and tech, there is one thing that always nagged me about TBS games: large factions have a large advantage at producing tech, leaving small factions lagging far behind. In Civilization terms, I'm thinking tanks and helicopters vs. musketeers. In FE, how does the little guy remain relevant in a game with large superpowers. Are small factions fighting a lost cause because they cannot build as many... libraries as the larger factions?

I thought that it had been discussed already in this thread, it was concluded that research should not be proportional with empire size to prevent the invincible player syndrome.

http://forums.elementalgame.com/387963

 

 

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May 1, 2011 10:25:30 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting LightofAbraxas,
What about just including some sort of admin cost for each city? Looking into the ElementaldDefs.xml, it seems like the ability to do this is there (it looks like there are tags for both a linear and exponential component). Combine that with a nominal cost in gold for each research/arcane lab (and any scientist knows that the amount of money provided is directly correlated with the amount of research done) and you have a soft cap that would put empires that expand rapidly without developing their cities at a relative disadvantage in research (and granted, this will largely depend on the unknown way in which population growth and taxation is handled in FE).

That would model over extending. I suggested such a system way back (http://forums.elementalgame.com/397068). I support systems that promote planning, and feel that the player that does better should win. People that build a large realm and plan it out so that they do not over extend should not be punished just for having a large realm. Similarly players that have a small one should not be given a boost for being small, rather if they are small then they need to have built up a very effective realm for its size if they plan to compete.


As to some smaller realms being better historically, they are better organized and/or well positioned. Large ones, not so much as they did not need to grow. They had all the tech they felt they needed and choose to keep the money rather than researching. Also they over extended and choose to expand into areas that cost more to aquire than they gave in return afterwards.


What the game needs is not to 'balance' empires of different sizes, but rather to put in place consideration that make you think about how you should grow your empire (or 'balance' different strategies by making them relatively equally viable depending on map conditions and how well you play). Making it take some time and maybe money to make new aquisitions profitable would be a good idea. Having it be costly to field larger numbers of high quality units would be another so that when you expand into less profitable areas you will need more troops but not be able to field the best and have enough. Allowing money to be easily diverted from research and used for other things would also help.

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May 1, 2011 11:11:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like these ideas, Gwenio1.

Best regards,
Steven.

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May 1, 2011 12:35:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hmmm... What would really help in Elemental to even out research in small factions versus large faction is to make the defining limit on studies be the cost not the build time. In the current system it's build time, so the more cities you have the more studies you can pump out, and more research you get. If it was cost then small factions could keep up with large ones if they planned well.

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May 1, 2011 1:45:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting DsRaider,
In the current system it's build time, so the more cities you have the more studies you can pump out, and more research you get. If it was cost then small factions could keep up with large ones if they planned well.

  

I think it is still the misstake to try to balance tech only by one resource, research points. And therefor need to adjust build times, upkeeep and so on to keep large kingdoms in bounds. It would be nice to cure the illness not the symptoms. (see post #60)

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May 1, 2011 2:05:41 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I do not think cities (and therefore building) should be a limiting factor due to upkeeep as they are the means of generating resources (the only reasonable excpetion being undeveloped cities, in which case your first one needs to start developed enough to drain your treasury). The main limits there should be time and upfront costs (tack a few zeros on the end of the price tag). Which how research works now requiring heavy costs to build the basic research structures would not work.

The way around this would be to make it possible to do some research without them. One thought would be to add a slider for how much resources to spend on reseach and have the buildings increase effeciency or set the cap on how much you can spend (or both). Maybe have tech cost gold while having spell reseach cost mana* (to preform experiments and all that). See Age of Wonders spell research and Sword of the Stars tech reseach for examples.

* for added difference between spells and normal tech, buildings for spell research could be less effective than their tech counterparts and have the number of channelers you have provide a boost. There is only so much non-channellers could do to help. Possibly making it entirely dependent on the number of channelers, if there is not enough good reasons to imbue people if you are going the magic route to victory.

Having it be done as a measure of your ability to preform reseach rather than the amount you can do also allows for buildings dedicated to specific lines of reseach that are better than more general ones but only help (or are worse than general ones) when doing reseach outside their special area. Having more prohibive building costs opens up the possiblity of special actions that will provide a boost (reducing cost and/or build time) at the cost of a somewhat longer term penalty (or not, say increasing the cost to reduce build time). In any case it allows for more choices the player can make to build their strategies around, allowing for more diverse ways of winning.

Speaking of build times, did they make the time it takes to build building vary with city size?

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May 1, 2011 10:48:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

WOM already has some built in equalizers, they just were not implemented very well.  The Dynasty system combined with the surrender mechanic (if you get very lucky) can make a small nation into a significantly larger one overnight.  Also the experience based system for sovereigns, heroes and common soldiers provides reward for better micro by making them stronger quality to defeat superior quantity.

 

Now if only we could get diplomatic acknowledgement from a foreign emissary recognizing great military prowess by defeating a superior army.

-"Your Majesty King RogueCaptain, I Emperor Shito bow to your great military mastery commanding forces to victory over a seemingly inevitable defeat."

+4 point relations prestige due to impressive display of military leadership and strategy. -4 to the arrogant bastard who failed to beat the little guy.

 

 

 

Maybe the World Wonder buildings system is partially broken for most tbs because the vast majority of them are primarily focused in the capital?  There should be significant benefits to spreading the wonders around than anchoring all the eggs into a few basket cities.  Providing the player deep meaningful choices to be made alongside calculated risk could go a long way to improving the genre.

Consider this, let's say this is Civ4 and I created a wonder called The Great Lighthouse.  The description reads it gives you some extra trade routes for all coastal cities but in addition it will provide more bonuses the closer it is located to a foreign nation(s).  You could build it in the safety of your invulnerable capital but then you'd probably miss out on some of the best goodies the wonder provides.  Galactic Civilizations 2 partially addressed this by having class 28 planets with uber tile modifiers located in the middle of the map close to everybody.  I hope FE too will have Eden for factions to fight and squabble over.

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May 2, 2011 3:07:27 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Some of you bring up the SoTS random hidden tech system as though it were a universally good thing. 

How many who laud that system actively multiplayed the game in any fashion?

You can't simply ignore MP when you make these kinds of judgements.

If you got a bad random on anything but a small map, your game was over 5 hours in the future, you are already dead, you just haven't realized it yet.

Liir + deflectors + adamant + nothing highers than phasers on your human/hiver = loss.  And unless you really really freaking luck out on the scavenge you are toast, and you were already toast 4 hours ago.

Random tech + hidden tree = fail.

Now Core Tree + Hidden Minor extras(aka magic sword unhides magic sword +1) = a ok.

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