Other views on city snakes

By on March 31, 2012 7:33:13 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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So we’re getting a lot of feedback on the concept of “1 tile” cities vs. building on the main map.

Those in favor of building on the main map itself make many good arguments on how it’s inconvenient to have to go to a separate screen to build improvements and that it’s fun and useful to be able to see, at a glance, what a city has.

The problem that many of us have with the WOM style of city building is the gaming of it – snaking cities to be used for teleporting units or getting to far off resources.

In my build, as a test, I made it so that you can’t build beyond 1 tile of the hub.  This makes some sense since the resources you see when you build the city is the culmination of the resources in that 1 tile plus all the tiles within 1 radius. Therefore, it would make sense that you could only build within 1 tile of the hub.  It would also result in rewarding the player who carefully chooses what improvements to build in a city and reward specialization rather than “all of the above”.

The above screenshot is an example of a city that must build within 1 tile of its hub:

image

You’re still talking about being able to build about two-dozen improvements in a city.

 

Video of a close up shot of a city:

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March 31, 2012 7:36:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

New Tile Art! Nice stuff!

 

I am a proponent for the 9 tile limit for cities. They look nicer. 1 tile or 9 tile limit achieve the same goals for me: order. We must have order! The potential memory costs of a 9 tile limit would convince me though, that 1 tile is better for the size of game I want to play. 9 tiles may be something better suited to smaller maps.

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March 31, 2012 7:46:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


9 tiles is actually the 8 tiles surrounding the city hub, at least from what I can see of the screens above.  That's 4 subtiles per tile, or a total of 36 possible build points.  That may still be too many to drive city specialization, I don't think I've built 36 independent improvements yet.

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March 31, 2012 8:34:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Also, what happens if there is some special resource like a mine or a shard in that area? Do you lose those tiles for building?

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March 31, 2012 8:49:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

How about more maintenance when buildings are further away from the hub? maintenance = distance * base_maintenance or something like that. Snake away if you wish, but it is going to cost you.

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March 31, 2012 8:58:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It is less than 36 because of larger buildings taking up more space. You might end up with only 8 buildings. 

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March 31, 2012 9:36:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Don't do this. This is a gamey limitation that worsens the overall experience. Snaking is a shitty mechanic, but so is being arbitrarily limited to a certain size. It makes no sense logically that a city could only expand so much, and from a gameplay perspective it tackles the symptoms rather than the problems. Snaking is symptomatic of city design being irrelevant with regards to the city's contents, but not with regards to the worldmap.  The "best" solution to the second problem would be to model building productivity in such a way that positioning matters for buildings, encouraging people to think about building positioning in logical ways within the city. Of course, this is of limited feasibility - it would doubtless take a lot of code work to implement, and conveying the requisite information effectively would require reworking the city-building interface. A lazier but still acceptable solution would be to just take control away from the player - the player doesn't decide which tile his new building goes on, so snaking doesn't happen. And since the players can't effect it (and nothing of value is lost), most players won't care.
Another good solution is to look at why players are snaking in the first place - the irrelevance of building placement is why players don't refrain from snaking, this is why they do it in the first place. Players want to be able to block off chokepoints. Make it possible to do that  through a mechanic dedicated to that purpose, and snaking won't happen. If players can just build a wall extending from their city to the coast on one side and the mountains on the other, snaking is more or less irrelevant (except with regards to resources, and we have outposts for that) so the problem is more or less gone.

You also say that limited city footprint would encourage specialization by prohibiting taking all good options. I don't think there's a big problem with generalization in the current build, but to the extent that it exists, city generalization is a symptom of insufficient link between buildings and local resources. Although it's possible that no one solution will suffice, a good way to fix the problem is with buildings that effect resource production, such as (for example) doubling a city's crystal or iron or horse production - or make buildings that are advantaged, such as one that gives +1 gold production for every diplomatic capital point that the city generates in a season.

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March 31, 2012 9:40:18 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Or how about removing the teleportation benefit that cities provide to units? Then the only benefit to snaking would be possibly expanding the ZoC, which could still be based around the central hub of the city and not be influenced by expanding the tiles. You could even make it so improvements can't be built to expand the ZoC.

If you do go the route of "must be within 1 tile of the hub" concept, you'll need to do several things:

1. Make sure you identify the central hub well. Looking at a mass of improvements, it might not be obvious.

2. Be careful with this, as it would penalize building defensively (near mountains or on a peninsula. Maybe there's a way to make these locations desirable without removing their ability to build.

If the concern is making cities too expansive or not specialized enough, couldn't that be handled with maintenance costs, city level or another mechanic?

Moral of the story- you might not need to go to the hub concept if you re-think some of the current reasons why snaking is happening.

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March 31, 2012 9:55:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The valid criticism of the 9 tile limit is why I dropped it as an idea a few months ago. One tile limit seems to be a better choice. 

I don't like the idea of making building position affect its usefulness either. Too much management for most users and it opens up a whole new can of worms as far as exploiting the system goes. There are many directions you can go with cities, but most of them see at least as problematic as the current system. At least the 1 tile city reduces memory constraints. Most people agree that this is a very important factor.

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March 31, 2012 10:08:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with the currently proposed 1 tile limit with sub-tiles for specialization, and a town screen.  Really, a town screen doesn't take you away from the game as much as you might think.  It works fine in HOMM and Civ, and would work fine here.  I say, continue the one tile with sub-tile concept that you revealed a little while ago, as I think it has the best overall gameplay and memory advantages.

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March 31, 2012 10:13:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like limitations that force a choice. 9 tiles (that is really more, depending on how big the buildings are) works for me. Building EVERYTHING was a terrible mechanic.

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March 31, 2012 10:36:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I *like* building my capitol into a supercity with all the world-wonders and one-per-faction buildings and a huge population providing synergistic benefits.  My idea of city specialization is one huge city "specializing" in being huge & great, with captured villages off in the distance.  Please DON'T limit the number of building we can have in any one city.

I'd be fine with a one-tile city and a separate build screen, especially if it has as auto-locate function so I don't have to go into that screen if I don't want to.  (And month/years from now, after I've seen how everything looks, I'd never go into it).

I'd also be ok with a radius of 2 or 3 tiles, whatever it takes to leave plenty of room for everything.  Or they could get fancy with a rule like, "you can't build on any tile X + 2 tiles from the center until you've built on every usable tile within "X" of the center.

Remember, if a city is stuck next to the coast or a some chasm, you might not get as many usable tiles as normal.

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March 31, 2012 10:55:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

1 Tile for level 1-2 cities, 2 tiles for level 3-4, and 3 tiles for level 5 cities I say.

This rewards you for city growth (feeling rewarded is good), as well as helping contain both snaking and memory usage (these things are also good). What do you think Frog?

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March 31, 2012 11:40:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'll submit another vote for 1-tile cities with a separate city view, and no control over placement.

The 9-tile solution proposed here solves the snaking problem, but I still don't see what advantages it provides.  Sealing off chokepoints with a sprawling city isn't a very appealing way of offering strategic control.  Let us build separate fortifications instead.  Besides, Raise/Lower Land completely nullifies the sealing of chokepoints anyway.

 

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March 31, 2012 11:40:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Cruxador,
Don't do this. This is a gamey limitation that worsens the overall experience. Snaking is a shitty mechanic, but so is being arbitrarily limited to a certain size. It makes no sense logically that a city could only expand so much, and from a gameplay perspective it tackles the symptoms rather than the problems. Snaking is symptomatic of city design being irrelevant with regards to the city's contents, but not with regards to the worldmap.  The "best" solution to the second problem would be to model building productivity in such a way that positioning matters for buildings, encouraging people to think about building positioning in logical ways within the city. Of course, this is of limited feasibility - it would doubtless take a lot of code work to implement, and conveying the requisite information effectively would require reworking the city-building interface. A lazier but still acceptable solution would be to just take control away from the player - the player doesn't decide which tile his new building goes on, so snaking doesn't happen. And since the players can't effect it (and nothing of value is lost), most players won't care.
Another good solution is to look at why players are snaking in the first place - the irrelevance of building placement is why players don't refrain from snaking, this is why they do it in the first place. Players want to be able to block off chokepoints. Make it possible to do that  through a mechanic dedicated to that purpose, and snaking won't happen. If players can just build a wall extending from their city to the coast on one side and the mountains on the other, snaking is more or less irrelevant (except with regards to resources, and we have outposts for that) so the problem is more or less gone.

You also say that limited city footprint would encourage specialization by prohibiting taking all good options. I don't think there's a big problem with generalization in the current build, but to the extent that it exists, city generalization is a symptom of insufficient link between buildings and local resources. Although it's possible that no one solution will suffice, a good way to fix the problem is with buildings that effect resource production, such as (for example) doubling a city's crystal or iron or horse production - or make buildings that are advantaged, such as one that gives +1 gold production for every diplomatic capital point that the city generates in a season.

Great points regarding walls and why people build the way they do, Cruxador.  I am all in favor of a separate city build screen if it gives us the ability to build fortifications that matter during tactical battles and strategic map movement. 

 Let a city wall off a peninsula if it is no more than 4 tiles across.  I mean you can almost do it with the destroy land spell now if you want.

Let an outpost build a ballista or catapult on top of the keep that exerts a ZOC that prevents neutrals or hostiles from entering w/o proper treaty/tribute or the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.  (Or attacking the outpost and taking the keep in a special tactical map with walls, moats and vats of boiling oil... {THOSE would be fun techs to research... scaling ladders, flaming arrows, battering rams, training War Trolls or Ogres to destroy walls, a swarm of wall-climbing spiders.}) 

Great Wall could even be a one per civ or one per world achievement or an Earth spell obtainable via quest or levelling up.  Different civs and spell schools could have a myriad of different ways to siege or defend against one:

Earth to Mud (destroys wall)

Water Guardian (takes water from moat and turns it into a powerful elemental) 

Flying troops or magic carpets for air mages

Burning walls or moat for fire mages (they already have fireballs offensively) etc.

Thanks for the many updates this weekend!

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April 1, 2012 12:02:44 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I really like making big sprawling cities myself, it more matches real life. 

Though, maybe what should be done is varying tile limits by city level? Smaller cities can build across 9 tiles, mega metropolis cities can spread out over 25 tiles. Maybe city level + tech. Or have it so you can have 3 or 4 kinds of capitals, similar to the capital improvements in GC2, and cities with those capitals can expand further.

I remember in Civ Revolution, you could build a courthouse which expanded your city's reach out to 25 tiles.

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April 1, 2012 12:17:57 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd be down with 9 tile limit if you reduced the size of buildings to 1/4. Limiting tiles makes sense but limiting buildings does not. If you want to build on a river/coast you only get 5 building tiles minus any adjacent resources.

You may not be able to pick out buildings from normal scrolling view but you can always zoom in.

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April 1, 2012 12:21:08 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I play this game because I find chaos to be entertaining.  If I wanted order, I would play at being an accountant.  My alignment is firmly CN.  I can't see myself being a city planner.  I want my cities to be different; very different.  I think the buildings we have are too vanilla.  Why can't everything be as exotic as a developed shard.  I suspect if you go with a one tile limit, you will only be catering to the accountants and the cops.

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April 1, 2012 12:23:31 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Supporter of one tile city w/ limits on number of improvements.  So long as improvements are further specialized.

To address the need for the occasional "super-city", there can be improvements that grant their city additional room for improvement.  Each faction is permitted a certain number of these improvements (perhaps contingent on a Civilization tech).

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April 1, 2012 12:31:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Kill the snakes!

Sword

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April 1, 2012 12:35:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I am okay with all 3 options (snakes, 9 tile, or 1 tile). One way to fix snaking if the teleportation is the only problem is to make it so that you have to walk all the way across your city to get to the other side (it counts as a road). You can still defend the city from anywhere for the sake of convenience though.

 

Whatever you end up deciding on, I hope I still get to physically place the buildings, even if its purely aesthetic due to the 1 tile system.  

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April 1, 2012 12:49:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yeah, I was really excited to hear that cities were going to hub only. So, naturally, I'm not super excited to hear about this.

But, you all are the professionals, I guess. 

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April 1, 2012 1:11:31 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The current plan is 1 tile cities. But we also are aware that a lot of people like having the cities in the maP in their full glory. So before we make a radical change it's a good idea to make sure we leave no stone unturned and let those who feel one way or the other have a place to express their views.

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April 1, 2012 1:22:20 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds like I'm in the minority here, but I don't like the idea of 1 tile cities in Elemental.  I love 1 tile cities in Civilization, but this is Elemental.  Let's be different!  I like being able to place buildings.  I like being able to see my cities on the main map changing and growing.  I like that I have to build them in different configurations based on the terrain or strategy I choose to employ.  If snaking is a problem, then I vote for the option in the OP. 

P.S.  I got a snake man'g.

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April 1, 2012 1:34:15 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I wrote a long post a ways back about how I would do a 9 tile limit system. It would need to include upgradable tiles. Those tiles would need multiple upgrading paths. I don't see a good 9 tile system coming from using the current improvement mechanics with less space to build. People would be destroying things to build late game structures. Cities would still be able to creatively snake by settling next to a mountain or river. Use of terrain like hills and forests would pretty much go out the window. And it would still allow 3 tiles worth of teleportation. The only teleport a city should have is one that was built by the Ancients and then used for slave trafficking by the Goa'uld.  

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April 1, 2012 2:11:04 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I dunno. To me, one tile cities would be a regression to the GalCiv1 era. One of my favorite parts of GalCiv2 was building structures on a map, and not just selecting them from a menu... When I was dabbling with making my own game, I had islands that were different sizes but you would colonize and build up on a zoomed in picture of the island. The city building in Elemental is like that now and I think it would lose something without building your city around the terrain. Think of how the original New Orleans was built as a crescent around the river. I think the game would lose some charm if you couldn't build to the terrain like that.

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