[Beta 3][Feedback/Suggestion] Severe lack of depth in city-building/empire-management

By on April 22, 2012 5:10:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

DragonRider862

Join Date 05/2007
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Okay, this post is probably going to be really long, so I’ll just jump right into it: now that faction differentiation has started to get looked at, I’d say that empire-building (i.e. expansion, city management, and economic management) is the weakest element of Elemental: Fallen Enchantress as it stands.  It just feels really shallow with very few interesting decisions to make.  And given that the majority of what you do while you’re not at war is build your empire, that’s a pretty big problem, especially in the early game.

So here we go:

 

Claiming resources and territory through outposts requires no thought or investment

Part of the issue here is pioneers.  For some unfathomable reason, pioneers are the single cheapest thing you can build.  Cheaper than scouts, even.  At the same time, outposts cost absolutely nothing to set up or maintain (nor do cities, but more on that later).  So given how important the control of territory is, there’s pretty much no reason to build anything but pioneers until you have physically run out of resources to claim (maybe making slight deviations to grab a workshop and a market; all the other improvements are things which are of minimal value at this stage because you don’t need much food, you aren’t producing soldiers, and percentage-based bonuses are close to worthless with a small population).  Your research, production, and economy (not that you have, need, or are capable of running a gold economy in the early-game whatsoever anyway) barely suffer at all since they’re all based primarily on population rather than advanced improvements, and your population grows no matter what you produce as long as you have food.

Monsters will occasionally attack resources, but only rarely move all the way to outposts themselves, and even if you do lose one because you built it a million miles away in territory that you can’t be bothered to actually control, who cares?  It costs nothing to replace.  The only real problem is that the AI is likely to send one of its own horde of dirt-cheap pioneers to steal the land before you can get back there.

Patch 0.90 added the Monument improvement, which increases a city’s zone of control by one.  Who in their right mind would build this when you can build a pioneer for less than half the production cost and set up a totally free outpost instead?  If you want to really be a jerk, you could even spam outposts in places that don’t even have resources just to spread your borders around and prevent other fations from moving through your territory (thus securing more land to spam outposts in).  Why not?  It’s practically free.

 

 

City-spamming also requires no thought or investment

You’d think that founding a full-fledged city would be a bigger deal than plopping down an outpost, but it isn’t.  The cost of the pioneers is still negligible, and fledgling cities still don’t cost upkeep or have any negative impact on your economy whatsoever.  The only “downside”—the fact that you’re drawing prestige-based growth away from your more established cities—is completely irrelevant for a number of reasons:

 

-More cities means more inns and pubs, which means more total prestige.  So your total pool of tax-paying, research-doing citizens grows faster, not slower.

-More cities means more food, which means a drastically higher population cap.  Your early cities are going to hit their food caps before too long anyway, so the only way to keep from wasting your prestige is to spam more cities.

-And lastly, there’s very, very little reason to care where your citizens live.  A taxable chump is a taxable chump regardless of whether he lives in the capital or out in some hovel in the middle of nowhere.  Yeah, it’s nominally better to have them concentrated in more developed cities so you get more of the percentage-based research bonuses and the like, but very few of those are limited to one per faction and I’ve yet to see any from city level-up bonuses (except the ones the require an empty production queue, which are worthless for reasons that I hope are obvious).  You’ll get almost the same bonuses in your new cities eventually, and in the meantime the benefits of more total growth matters more anyway.  Especially since, again, that awesome capital with all the schools and universities is going to hit its population cap pretty quickly anyway.

 

So, to recap so far: the benefits of spamming as many outposts and cities as you can as fast as you can are more resources, more territorial control, more total population growth, more total population capacity, and more troop creation potential, and the downside is…nothing.  No economic cost.  Next to no opportunity cost.  It’s a no-brainer.

Look at Civilization IV, by comparison.  Settlers are the single most costly thing you can produce by a very wide margin for a big chunk of the game.  Not only do they take forever and a day to build (preventing you from building very important improvements and infrastructure in the meantime), but the cities they create cost money to maintain (potentially a lot of money at a stage where you have very little to throw around).  Deciding where and when to expand is a huge deal, strategically.  And the more cities you have, the more costly each additional city becomes, so there are still important decisions to be made about expansion even later in the game.  Fallen Enchantress doesn’t have even a tiny fraction of that depth at this stage.  More cities always means more people, and more people is always better than less people.

 

 

Cities are boring and interchangeable

Part of the reason why city-spamming is so attractive is that it just doesn’t matter where your cities are.  At all.  City surroundings are almost completely irrelevant.  Local resources have no bearing on the city’s productivity, and the general terrain only affects it only very marginally and abstractly (apart from the small-but-noticeable bonuses from having access to one river tile or one forest tile).  Basically, the most exciting difference you’re going to see between cities in your average game is the difference between a city built on a 4/3 tile and a city that settled for 3/3.  Since all cities have basically identical potential, there’s no reason to favor certain sites over others, and no reason to specialize cities in any given way.

I’m assuming that the city level-up bonuses were supposed to help in this regard, but they don’t, because they suck.  Apart from your first market (which will be the sum total of your economy for the next hundred turns) and maybe the training yard, the benefits of the single building you receive for each tier range from “okay but no better than the crap I already built half a dozen of” to “completely worthless”.  I’m not going to bother criticizing them one by one, but honestly.  A 20% bonus to research in exchange for wasting all of your production?  +1 defender if the city ever gets attacked?  These are supposed to be your rewards for cultivating a thriving metropolis?  This is part of the reason why nobody cares about their prestige being split up by city-spamming.  The difference in productivity on a citizen-per-citizen basis between a level 4 city in the best possible location and a level 2 city in middling terrain is close to zero.

I’m going to point to Civilization IV again because it’s easy.  In that game, it’s impossible to overestimate the degree to which a city’s location defines what it’s capable of and how it develops.  Local resources give huge bonuses to production, food, or economy.  The basic terrain type (hills versus grassland, the presence or absence of fresh water, etc.) are a huge deal too.  Locations whose food availability isn’t way above-average usually can’t support a city worth its cost at all.  The difference between a city in the middle of the mountains with a few good food resources and a city surrounded by nothing but grassland and floodplains is huge.  They’re both great, but for totally different reasons.  In Fallen Enchantress, a city is a city.  As long as a location’s total grain and materials add up to at least 6 it’s worth plopping down a city there and developing it in exactly the same way you’ve developed every other city.  And the only reason you don’t put cities in locations with less than 6 total resources is because the odds of finding a better location within 6 tiles are really high and it’s a waste to not build there instead.

 

 

Suggestions for improvement

So those are the basic problems as I see them: outposts and cities are too cheap and easy to spam with no downside and there’s almost never anything special about any given city.  What’s the best way to go about adding more depth to this part of the game?  My instinct would be to do something like this:

 

-Make it so the first city generates like 5 gildar per turn on its own.  It’s going to be impossible to implement a deeper economy if you need to assume that the player is going to be running an empire with zero income for the first hundred turns.

-Greatly increase the cost of pioneers.

-Consider adding more early-game improvements whose benefits aren’t dependent on a large population (to compete with pioneers in value).  I know you moved away from flat bonuses to keep from rewarding city-spamming too much, but that can be dealt with in other ways (or you can put limits on the improvements, though I wouldn't consider that ideal).  Workshops, lumber mills, and markets are good examples of stuff that works.  I would call the study too weak in this regard.

-Put an upkeep cost on outposts.  Not so high that your early-game economy can’t support a fair number of them, but something to make you ask whether it’d be better to seize that third iron mine half a map away now or later.  Probably either a flat 1 gildar/turn each, or something that stacks up like .5/turn for the first outpost and an additional .5/turn for each subsequent one (1 for the second, 1.5 for the third, and so on).

-Get rid of spammable prestige-boosting buildings (inns and pubs) entirely.  They completely defeat the purpose of dividing prestige between cities.  Prestige should only come from once-per-faction improvements or things that don’t relate to cities at all, like your accomplishments.  (City level-up bonuses might also be a safe place for prestige bonuses if the opportunity costs are high enough).

-Put some sort of upkeep costs on cities beyond the first that increases the more you have and the further they are from the capital, a la Civilization IV.  Removing upkeep costs on common improvements was a good idea, but managing an extensive empire in general should be costly.  Finding a good balance here is probably the hardest part of this proposal.  Doing more than just a straight cost (like increasing unrest or some sort of administrative inefficiency across all of your cities, including well-established ones) might also be worth considering.

-Drastically reduce the gildar upkeep of soldiers in light of the new infrastructure costs.  Keeping a standing army is too expensive as it is.

-Completely redo the city level-up bonuses from scratch.  The benefits should be way, way higher than they are right now.  Much stronger buildings, probably coupled with strong passive bonuses.  One level 4 city should be a lot better than two level 2 cities.

-Let local resources affect cities in some way.  For example, maybe having a resource within a city’s zone of control (not just being harvested by a random outpost) unlocks special buildings which slightly improve the yield of the resource and give significant boosts to some type of productivity.  Like maybe crystal and shards would unlock buildings which give you a lot of extra research, gold mines and influence resources would each have associated buildings that boost revenue, iron mines give lots of extra production speed, mounted units are produced much faster and have a starting level bonus if the stables are local…stuff like that.

 

Final words

I can already tell from the small amount of time I’ve spent with it that Fallen Enchantress is way further along than War of Magic ever was.  The underlying mechanics are a lot more logical and stable and it’s well on its way to being a fun, complete game.  But the overly simplistic empire-management is really holding it back at the moment.

I know it’s kind of unfair for me to keep comparing Fallen Enchantress to Civilization IV when Civilization is like 90% focused on empire-building as opposed to maybe 50% at most for Elemental.  But even so, it needs to be a lot deeper than it is.  Personally I’d say it’s probably the single most important thing you could be working on at the moment (apart from stability and AI, of course).

(To be honest, I also have some issues with how research is handled--especially in terms of magic--but that’s a topic for another thread.)

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April 22, 2012 5:44:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I 99% agree. You bring up a lot of important issues.

The reason pioneers are so so cheap is so the AI doesn't get crippled when his die. I hate how the first thing you build is 2 or 3 pioneers in a game. In order to fix this I think pioneers should be made slightly more expensive, then say scouts, and require a level 2 city. Monsters are supposed to prevent you from expanding at the start of the game but they don't because the are to weak.

I don't think that growth buildings should be completely removed but they need to be even rarer. The first one should require a level 3 city and a mid level tech.

They have said in other threads that they might be moving to a new city system where cities are much smaller in Beta4 , so they probably won't be adding to much to the current system until then.

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April 22, 2012 7:41:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Great ideas OP - and a maintenance cost for the outpost is such an easy change.

Mozo

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April 22, 2012 10:54:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Have pioneers be expensive, take a significant chunk of your cities population with them, and come with a built-in teleport home when attacked spell. This would slow down the city spam and prevent the issue of having them get killed. Building outposts would be done with an Engineer unit.

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April 23, 2012 2:04:21 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I am commenting after reading about your post in the Beta 3: Verdict! thread, and reading Frogboy's response. I think you mention three things that are easy and fun to impliment, that still meet Frogboy's standards. I just want to reiterate them.

 

First, you mentioned adding a small upkeep cost to outposts. I completely agree with this. You should not be able to spam outposts all over the map. In addition, to make up for this cost, I think outposts should offer one free defender (like a city gets) and/or increase healing for units in them.

 

Second, you mentioned letting local resources effect what you can build in a city. I think this is a great idea that would make cities unique and interesting. Iron mine nearby lets you build a smithy, which lowers the cost of weapons in the city. Wheat lets you build a bakery (I know this already exists on city level up).

 

Third, and most important: redo city level up buildings. This is a beautiful idea. The concept of cities leveling up is a fantastic one, but the current buildings you can make are so bland and uninteresting. So much more can be done with this mechanic. Elemental is a world of MAGIC; make the city level up buildings amazing and fun and game changing. Let me specialize my cities more in ways that matter.

 

Frogboy, Kael, if you ignore everything else about changing how cities work, please consider these three points, especially points 1 and 3. They are small changes that will go a long way to making FE a more enjoyable game.

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April 23, 2012 6:16:12 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Best post I have seen since Beta 3 came out.  Very largely in agreement.

 

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April 23, 2012 6:23:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy has said beta 4 will feature re-made cities.

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April 23, 2012 9:18:26 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

FB also completely dismissed DR's ideas and used his "this isn't the game for you" meme in response to these terribly obvious shortcomings in the current version of the game.

Re-made does not equal re-bettered. 

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April 23, 2012 9:54:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Maybe instead of granting a set amount of growth inns and other population buildings could multiply existing prestige growth. That way prestige still matters.

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April 23, 2012 11:19:58 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I disagree with a couple of points in the OP.

 

Building pioneers means you're not building buildings or martial units - that's a tradeoff.

 

If you invest in +food/grain techs, (most of which come early in the tech-tree) it takes a lot of time to reach food caps, especially for high grain cities.

 

"-Make it so the first city generates like 5 gildar per turn on its own.  It’s going to be impossible to implement a deeper economy if you need to assume that the player is going to be running an empire with zero income for the first hundred turns."

 

- Too convoluted, though some other way of increasing early-game income might be a good idea.

 

"-Consider adding more early-game improvements whose benefits aren’t dependent on a large population (to compete with pioneers in value).  I know you moved away from flat bonuses to keep from rewarding city-spamming too much, but that can be dealt with in other ways (or you can put limits on the improvements, though I wouldn't consider that ideal).  Workshops, lumber mills, and markets are good examples of stuff that works.  I would call the study too weak in this regard."

 

- The study is weak if you're spamming cities all over the place - if you focus on horizontal growth it's very powerful. More early-game improvements would also encourage city-spamming even more. Personally I'd be more for increasing city levelup bonuses (in the form of stronger buildings).

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April 23, 2012 12:15:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ximxim,
Building pioneers means you're not building buildings or martial units - that's a tradeoff.

Only in the sense that if you are getting robbed at gunpoint you could choose to not give them the money. A real choice requires outcomes of near equal value and that simply doesn't exist for all the reasons stated above.

 

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April 23, 2012 1:15:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Werewindle and I are thinking of adding much of these suggestions. I will take a look at citylevelup bonuses and early game improvements once I finish up the combat changes I am making.

 

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April 23, 2012 1:49:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

A very well thought out and written post. I agree there are issues with city character that might be addressed by considering the local environment. 

As for city bonuses, I wouldn't make them exclusive. I would allow the player to choose one that can be built cheaply and the remaining four available at CONSIDERABLY higher cost (at a premium, actually). The justification is that these improvements require the recruitment of specialists (i.e. the gallows would require a magistrate, the scroll maker a scribe, the alchemy shop an alchemist, and so forth). The high expense would limit the ability to make identical cities with ALL of the improvements, instead I might be inclined to specialize. In the current form, I will generally alway choose my single favorite for ALL cities.

 

Pioneers are really too cheap to build, and scouts are too weak to use effectively (I find it better to just build militia for production and cost-effectiveness).  

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April 23, 2012 2:21:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting mqpiffle,
FB also completely dismissed DR's ideas and used his "this isn't the game for you" meme in response to these terribly obvious shortcomings in the current version of the game.

Re-made does not equal re-bettered. 

There is a giant difference between "you don't know what you're talking about, everything is fine", which is what dismissed means in this context and "our solution to the problem will be different than the one you suggest", which is what Brad said.  

Quoting Frogboy,

And I'm not even implying that I think you're wrong.  I'm saying that the game *we* want to make is substantially different than the game you want this to be. Maybe the market will decide you're right and we're wrong. In which case, we'll have to find other types of games to make instead.

I know I sound like a broken record, I've been saying this same thing for a long time. And while there are some significant additions/changes coming (for instance, city specialization and fewer tile cities, more content of course, and other polish and improvements), we're not looking to turn FE into some radically different game than what you are playing now. 
 

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April 23, 2012 2:29:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd love to see outposts beefed up and made more expensive.  Right now the biggest problem with having such cheap pioneers is that there's no reason not to have a few sitting in reserve to rush out and build outposts as your Sovereign clears.  One side of the equation has to get more expensive, either pioneers or outposts, although it's worth pointing out that this doesn't necessarily have to be a gildar maintenance expense.

There are plenty of ways to make pioneer spam or rapid outpost expansion more expensive to the player than a simple boring old maintenance cost.  

I also think early game outposts should be a big deal.  How the hell can a Sovereign just starting his kingdom turn around and convince a bunch of guys to head back out into the wild to man a bare bones outpost in order to keep a mine operational?  However they are made more expensive outposts should be a significant early game undertaking.  

Brad has mentioned recently that he would like to see them become customized as the game progresses based on technology and the players decisions.  Hopefully this second look at outposts, if it happens, will produce a more fully fleshed out mechanic (as opposed to the current "plop them down everywhere" solution).

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April 23, 2012 2:46:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Outposts would also be a good thing to be unlocked by a tech instead of available at turn 1.

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April 23, 2012 3:41:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't think that increasing the tech requirement on pioneers or outposts is likely to improve anything.  Partially because it only delays the problem rather than solving it, partially because you have even fewer useful buildings to compete with them at turn 40 than you do at turn 1, and partially because it would be likely to introduce a balance issue.  If there was a tech required for pioneers (or they required a level 2 city) and nothing else changed, then the absolute most important thing to do would be to achieve that threshold as quickly as possible.  If the AI didn't realize this and reached pioneer tech 20 turns later than the player, there's a very real chance that there would be no land left for them to claim because how quickly pioneers can be mass-produced.  Delaying the rate at which pioneers/outposts can be sensibly produced is more important than delaying the point at which they are available.

Actually, that gives me an idea.  What if pioneers cost, I don't know, let's say 35 population to produce?  If you founded an outpost with them, that population would be "lost", as far as your empire-wide economy is concerned.  In my current game, my 389-turn-old empire of Resoln has a total of 2,326 citizens across 6 cities (all of which are at or near their food cap, in case anyone still doubted that prestige-splitting was irrelevant).  I also have 13 outposts.  If each of those outposts consumed 35 citizens to produce (not counting the one or two times one got razed and had to be replaced), I'd have invested 455 citizens in them.  That's like 20% of my late-game economy  And probably more like 80% of my economy at the stage of the game when I actually built them.  To make the cost higher, you could even suppress population growth while they're in production.  That would make it impossible to produce much more than one pioneer every 15-20 or so turns in the early game, and producing them even at that rate would keep your capitol basically empty (and thus contributing next to no research).  You could even have the outposts sap some food away from you cities, so the population can't just grow back!  I don't think it'd necessarily solve the city-spamming problem single-handedly, but it would be a good start and would go a long way towards propping up population the limiting factor in growth rather than gildar (if that's the goal, as it seems like it is).

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April 23, 2012 3:58:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting DragonRider862,
I don't think that increasing the tech requirement on pioneers or outposts is likely to improve anything.  Partially because it only delays the problem rather than solving it, partially because you have even fewer useful buildings to compete with them at turn 40 than you do at turn 1, and partially because it would be likely to introduce a balance issue.  If there was a tech required for pioneers (or they required a level 2 city) and nothing else changed, then the absolute most important thing to do would be to achieve that threshold as quickly as possible.  If the AI didn't realize this and reached pioneer tech 20 turns later than the player, there's a very real chance that there would be no land left for them to claim because how quickly pioneers can be mass-produced.  Delaying the rate at which pioneers/outposts can be sensibly produced is more important than delaying the point at which they are available.

Actually, that gives me an idea.  What if pioneers cost, I don't know, let's say 35 population to produce?  If you founded an outpost with them, that population would be "lost", as far as your empire-wide economy is concerned.  In my current game, my 389-turn-old empire of Resoln has a total of 2,326 citizens across 6 cities (all of which are at or near their food cap, in case anyone still doubted that prestige-splitting was irrelevant).  I also have 13 outposts.  If each of those outposts consumed 35 citizens to produce (not counting the one or two times one got razed and had to be replaced), I'd have invested 455 citizens in them.  That's like 20% of my late-game economy  And probably more like 80% of my economy at the stage of the game when I actually built them.  To make the cost higher, you could even suppress population growth while they're in production.  That would make it impossible to produce much more than one pioneer every 15-20 or so turns in the early game, and producing them even at that rate would keep your capitol basically empty (and thus contributing next to no research).  You could even have the outposts sap some food away from you cities, so the population can't just grow back!  I don't think it'd necessarily solve the city-spamming problem single-handedly, but it would be a good start and would go a long way towards propping up population the limiting factor in growth rather than gildar (if that's the goal, as it seems like it is).

While I think there needs to be significant cost with either outposts or pioneers and some of these ideas could do that from the pioneer side, this really reads like you're trying to price outposts out of existence.  At the costs you're listed, you would be crazy to use them unless they provided some huge benefit.  Otherwise pioneers would be saved only for cities.  Be careful of the pendulum swinging too far back in the other direction.  

I definitely think the cost needs to be split among the various mechanics you're trying to regulate.  Pioneers should in some way be more expensive, but the outposts themselves should too.  And the influence mechanic needs to be balanced so that it does actually penalize city spamming (which I'm sure it will be eventually, the game clearly hasn't had too much in the way of balance passes yet).  

As far as outposts in particular, they should just siphon some small portion of resources away from whatever city they are linked to as a way to show the city is supporting the outpost in order to gain whatever benefit the outpost is providing.  Food, citizens, some materials/metal, whatever.  But some fraction of the cities economy should go towards outposts.  Then, if we get upgradeable outposts, these costs go up depending on how the outposts are upgraded.  Techs, like economics (roads to outposts) can apply some lowering of these costs when you learn them as roads would help to increase support efficiency, etc.  

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April 23, 2012 4:22:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like the idea of Pioneers costing a significant amount of population, it might be a good way to cost them.

 

I would also like to see more buildings like the Arena that let you train up units and heroes that are on guard duty, and heroes who are not out questing. At the moment, having a hero sitting in a town feels like a waste - they could be out there killing monsters, getting harder, acquiring loot, and basically progressing your game.

Sitting in a city should maybe provide 1/4 of the experience of going and fighting something every other turn. Higher level cities would have more training facilities, and would be able to train troops and heroes better.

This could be done in martial buildings - barracks, forts, castles for martial troops or heroes. Or in academic facilities - schools, universities, mage towers, for magical troops or heroes.

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April 23, 2012 11:28:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

DragonRider has hit the nail on the head with the lack of depth in the empire building part of FE.

Quoting Kantok,
There is a giant difference between "you don't know what you're talking about, everything is fine", which is what dismissed means in this context and "our solution to the problem will be different than the one you suggest", which is what Brad said.

The problem is that Brad said that the issues DragonRider pointed out are not things that Stardock cares about. My problem with that is the the issues DragonRider pointed out are core to ANY 4X game and FE is ultimately targetted at 4X fans (cf all the comparisons with MoM, Stardocks history of 4X with GC, hiring Shaefor and Kael, etc, etc). Saying that Stardock doesn't care about core empiring building aspects of 4X games is just bizarre. It is setting Stardock up for failure in a way which it appears Brad just doesn't get.

Hence I and others feel the need to reply and strongly agree with DragonRider.

Note that it isn't a matter of trying to make FE into Civ 4. It doesn't need that level of depth, but there need to be SOME empire building decisions which are real decisions and really do matter. (Personally I feel the more depth the better but I can put up with less and appreciate the adventuring aspects of FE in exchange).

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April 23, 2012 11:35:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The problem is that Brad said that the issues DragonRider pointed out are not things that Stardock cares about.

Can you point me to where I said something like this?

First, as I've said elsewhere, it's Kael's design and he has some very specific city changes in mind for beta 4 which revolve around city specialization, fewer (far fewer) city tiles being used on the map, and an economic system that is tied to city level rather than population which will have a lot of consequences.

Second, I personally disagree with suggestions that would require a significant changes in game mechanics or state that there are "no" choices.  

Third, I do agree very much with the general view that there is a lack of strategic choice. But not because of the design but because of balance.

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April 23, 2012 11:59:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Started a topic of my own on this subject.  Here.

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April 24, 2012 12:15:08 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
First, as I've said elsewhere, it's Kael's design and he has some very specific city changes in mind for beta 4 which revolve around city specialization, fewer (far fewer) city tiles being used on the map, and an economic system that is tied to city level rather than population which will have a lot of consequences.

 

So would you say that suggestions we make about the balance between population, prestige, city-spamming, etc. are basically irrelevant given that city mechanics will be so different in the not-so-distant future?

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April 24, 2012 12:40:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

Can you point me to where I said something like this?

First, as I've said elsewhere, it's Kael's design and he has some very specific city changes in mind for beta 4 which revolve around city specialization, fewer (far fewer) city tiles being used on the map, and an economic system that is tied to city level rather than population which will have a lot of consequences.

Second, I personally disagree with suggestions that would require a significant changes in game mechanics or state that there are "no" choices.  

Third, I do agree very much with the general view that there is a lack of strategic choice. But not because of the design but because of balance.

 

I'm puzzled by your post, Brad. His post is a long and detailed analysis of issues within beta 3 and how the current result is divergent from the design goal (and in general, divergent from sound 4X mechanics). It IS a balance-related post. He doesn't really ask for any significant change in game mechanics. In fact, you do, with he whole 1-tile city and changes of city mechanics. All he's mentioned is the introduction of some incentive to keep your empire limited to a few strong cities instead of the current "more is always better". That's balance, not new mechanics. A per-outpost upkeep or some global penalty based on the number of cities doesn't require much that isn't already there. I can make a decent one hastily with just the XMLs (although the AI might not be able to follow).

DragonRider gave some of the best criticism that one can find on this forum, and frankly, I just don't understand why this game "isn't for him". I don't see anything in what he's said that separates him from the target audience of Elemental. Saying "currently more is always better, and some way to fix this would be a very good idea" with arguments to support his point isn't begging for a change of directions in the game core mechanics. 

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April 24, 2012 4:25:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with the op to a degree.  Right now a pioneer is defined by "an absence of gear."  You cannot even upgrade them because they "lose" the ability to be a "pioneer," at least as of beta 2.  Being a pioneer should be a "trait" and it should increase the base cost of the unit by at least triple.  As some else pointed out the lore is your providing a safe heaven and now they want to go found a second city?

As far a pub and inn allow for city growth I feel it is needed to counter act the splitting of the prestige but at the same time the pub and the inn add to much.  Maybe +.25 for the inn and plus .33 for the pub since it requires a brewery.

As far as spamming of outpost, I think some maintenance cost to the city is in order.

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April 24, 2012 6:24:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well I agree that pioneers are too cheap and that they should cost more then a normal unit but it is better for the AI if they are still kinda cheap. All the problems with pioneers like too many outposts and cities can be fixed by other means like adding upkeeps to outposts and some sort of penalty for having too many cities. Pioneers aren't the real problem, city and outpost spam are.

I also agree that the pioneer ability should be a trait instead of a weird hidden ability.

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