Essence, can we get rid of it now?

By on September 17, 2012 9:30:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

darkehound

Join Date 09/2003
+1

Hello to all , once again the voice of unreason returns. Back in this post-http://forums.elementalgame.com/429458-I was really unhappy with the state of the game. The current beta is much better, i am still having to run a command line edit to get 3d models but overall things seem to be running well EXCEPT the game concept essence. I have literally been ctrl-n ing for an hour and a half. I get a good map and all the spots that i think are nice have NO ESSENCE. It is hard enough in game to find a place in the wilderness to build a decent city, some maps are so bad i just ctrl-n and go on. But essence has reduced our starting locations even more. I do not understand any of the thinking behind putting another limit on city locations. Can we just edit out that line in the code and forget that it happened? Please? If the only thing the designers want is to limit city enchants then make them cost more or put them further up the tech tree. I usually only throw 2- inspiration and hammers- and even that is usually not possible. ---just ctrl-nned another map because the visible starting location had NO essence...didnt even walk around just boom.

FOOD MATERIALS MANA TREES RIVER HEROES CLAY are all possible starting factors. 3/3 is good 3/3/1 is doable BUT every one seems to be somewhere other than the NEEDED terrain features. We have had to deal with 3/3 as acceptable for a long time. Lets not continue to introduce one more variable that reduces start locations.

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September 17, 2012 9:53:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Removing essence is the wrong way to go about it.  There should be an option to specify a minimum available tile for all players, and everyone will be happy.

Essence add another layer of strategy.  That is GOOD.

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September 17, 2012 10:41:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Exactly what strategy is added? I am a commander looking to take over the world, there is no way i am going to start in the sahara. I am going to start somewhere with supplies. If that is your idea of a strategy then i dont understand the value of adding it to the game. AI sovs dont use essence and it just reduces players options so lets quietly remove it.

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September 17, 2012 11:16:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

First, you are wrong about AIs not using essence.  They are not great at it, but then, they aren't great at anything much.  They will definitely cast the production and research boosters on their first city when they can, and I usually see them use all the available essence in every one of their late game cities.  Now, they are not always picking the best spot to settle, but that's something the developers should aim to improve, not throw away.

As for what strategy is added by essence?  For starters, tiles without essence are not worthless, especially if you are playing with "Enchanters".  In the game I just finished (8 Insane AIs, turn 122 Master Quest win) I had five towns that were settled on essence-less tiles.  I used them to claim land, push the enemy dominion back, and ultimately as production facilities.  Their production values at turn 122: 112, 126, 112, 112, 140.  These are NOT useless cities - they pushed the enemy dominion back, they claimed resources, their grocers and butchers fed the rest of the Kingdom, etc...

Then you have the cities that were settled on essence rich tiles.  Those usually become conclaves, and generate mana and research.  In the game I'm talking about, I have two conclaves.  One is 34 research and 10 mana (without counting shards) and the other is 49 and 13. These usually have little materials, and sometimes little food.  To grow, they require food from towns and to build they need cash from taxes and merchants.

And finally you have the cities that fall in the middle.  Cities with some essence, that are not tied to a specific role, and where the enchantments are switched depending on what the Kingdom needs.  They get "Enchanted Hammers" and "Set in Stone" to get off the ground, they switch to "Meditation" or "Inspiration" when the Kingdom needs mana or research, and they support the specialized cities.

Essence makes cities flexible.  It lets the player make choices, and that is, as I said before, GOOD.

Frankly, I do not see your point.  You dislike the fact that your starting city is not perfect, and you want to remove one of the resource types so that it is easier to roll a perfect city.  I dislike to start with a crappy city myself, and I'd love an option that makes it easy to give everyone a good start.  But removing essence is very much not to my liking.  Hell, take it to the extreme, and you end up with a simplified, dumb game.

 

 

 

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September 18, 2012 12:37:49 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

We started this ride with a simple city placement model and every step further has reduced our options. I see absolutely no reason to go from OOOh look a mana source to the current system where you end up sucking hind tit if you dont have a forest and a shard and a farm and 3 essence...needless complexity is needless. Just before essence there were MANY complaints about food/mats values being low. Now we have another value on top of that which did not give us any upside, just a reduction in choices. THERE should be a least a medium start spot on your first screen but with */*/* that is three chances of it sucking. If the designers want a ctrl-n fest they got it......I would like one of the modders to take it out if the designers wont, and i wil play it like that forever.

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September 18, 2012 1:02:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting darkehound,
Exactly what strategy is added? I am a commander looking to take over the world, there is no way i am going to start in the sahara. I am going to start somewhere with supplies. If that is your idea of a strategy then i dont understand the value of adding it to the game. AIsovs dont use essence and it just reduces players options so lets quietly remove it.

Did you not even read his post?

He explicitly stated that essence as a gameplay mechanic adds strategy and the solution to YOUR ISSUE of not finding a starting location that is perfection itself is to specify "minimum starting location quality" in map creation.

Personally I won games (most of them actually) where I started with 4/2/0, no champion, no river, no clay, no woods, no sea (harbors, you missed that one in your list), and no resources at all nearby (no mines, no apiaries, no shards, nothing...)

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September 18, 2012 2:56:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting darkehound,
We started this ride with a simple city placement model and every step further has reduced our options. I see absolutely no reason to go from OOOh look a mana source to the current system where you end up sucking hind tit if you dont have a forest and a shard and a farm and 3 essence...needless complexity is needless. Just before essence there were MANY complaints about food/mats values being low. Now we have another value on top of that which did not give us any upside, just a reduction in choices. THERE should be a least a medium start spot on your first screen but with */*/* that is three chances of it sucking. If the designers want a ctrl-n fest they got it......I would like one of the modders to take it out if the designers wont, and i wil play it like that forever.

darkehound as far as I can tell you are the ONLY one who has this opinion - read through your previous post and see how many replies SPECIFICALLY said that the "remove essence" request is a bad idea...

The other posters said it as well, but let me try and explain it once again - your point is valid ONLY if you are power-playing and only starting games which give you the IDEAL placement position... it is the same point as saying "let's remove shards from the game because I have to go looking for at least 2 of them before I can found my starting city", or "let's remove gold mines because they are not always available to me from the start" or, to make it more explicit, "let's remove gold from the game because I only start with 300 when I could be starting with 3 million"...

If you overcome this basic desire to ALWAYS start with a perfect position, then you will see that your problem just goes away - if you find a site with essence, it becomes a BONUS which gives a number of additional strategic options and improves the flexibility of a city, instead of a "limiting factor". The benefits of essence may still need to be balanced, but removing it is NOT a good option.

At the end of the day, your point is not that the game is more complex, but that it is HARDER - by the same token, all city tiles should give 10 materials and 10 grain, and they should always be near shards and goldmines etc... I personally LOVE having to start from a handicapped position (no essence, no shards etc.) and having to dig myself out of a hole with superior strategy and tactics.

Overall, you really should reconsider your logic if you seriously believe - as you advocate - that ADDING an element SUBTRACTS from the game... 

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September 18, 2012 3:34:17 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting darkehound,
We started this ride with a simple city placement model and every step further has reduced our options. I see absolutely no reason to go from OOOh look a mana source to the current system where you end up sucking hind tit if you dont have a forest and a shard and a farm and 3 essence...needless complexity is needless. Just before essence there were MANY complaints about food/mats values being low. Now we have another value on top of that which did not give us any upside, just a reduction in choices. THERE should be a least a medium start spot on your first screen but with */*/* that is three chances of it sucking. If the designers want a ctrl-n fest they got it......I would like one of the modders to take it out if the designers wont, and i wil play it like that forever.

Somebody was a fan of E:WOM's city placement style.

Snark aside, I really like the idea of essence, though I believe enchantments' power shouldn't be quite so beholden to it.  As it is, essence is all-powerful if you enchant your cities, and while the idea of essence increasing enchantment power is cool, it means finding a fertile tile with only one essence is a let down.  On the other extreme, choosing Enchanters as a bonus and settling an X/X/3 tile will easily get you 5 essence (because that city is without a doubt becoming a conclave), which gives you five EXTREMELY powerful enchantments.  Don't get me wrong, I love when I'm able to have this happen, but I'm pretty sure having a city with +25 production, +5 grain, +125%(!!!!!) food on top of that, AND having +5(!) growth, IN ADDITION to +5 research... That city is now my single most powerful city in play.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have a X/X/1 city that has a piddly +1 research bonus, nothing more.  I'm all for making enchantments amazing, but linking enchantment power to the number of enchantments you can have is probably not the best idea.  Instead, either have it based on number of shards, grain/materials, city level, or even just a flat bonus.  Enchantment quantity should not be tied to how many enchantments a city can hold.

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September 18, 2012 6:38:20 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hmmm, I kind a love and hate essence.

When I'm playing at higher difficulty, with the AI at some advantage already, I CTRL+N without at least +2 Essence, unless the spot has something extraordinary (like a wood adjacent 5/4/0 in a recent game, with a scrying pool and Set in stone, this city will produce like mad), simply because its so powerful.

So it is clearly a requirement for a good start. But that is it! Best would be if the founding city would have an automatic building, which would increase the starting essence to 2 (not add 2 as then it would be again a hunt for the 2 essence spot), so everyone would be sure to have 2 enchantments, no matter where the start is.

Also I tend to agree with Emperorjarin, the number of essences should not influence the effectiveness of the enchantment so much and the empire shards should influence the available magic to some degree.

My suggestion would be:

A flat 3 essence base assumed (so hammers =+15 prod, call of sov = +3 growth - so making each choice worthwhile, while not OP)

This could be increased with the shards under control (only slightly though). That increase could be something along 1/2 of 1 essence effectiveness (so if u control 3 earth shards, that would add 3*2.5=7.5 production to the hammers enchantment for a total of 22.5). This would add additional choice: "Do I change that earth shard into death for the increase in damage or do I keep the extra production?"

This way high essence locations would still be wonderful and juicy, but also smaller essence locations would not by default degenerate into a SET in Stone production hub, but would offer relevant choices.

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September 18, 2012 9:53:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like these ideas, Gorshmak.

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September 18, 2012 10:05:15 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like essence, I hate the way it was implemented.

A reason why I like essence is it expands the options, it puts an interesting limit to number of enchantments on a city, and I think its fun to play with.

Why I don't like the way essence was implemented, each and every enchantment scale in extraordinarily amounts with each new essence in a city. (Seemingly in my earlier post, I was one of few to feel this way though).
Also Essence is not limiting the number of grains or materials, the way that high material spot usually have low grains. I think each spot should have 7-8 total resources and should not deviate too much from this, if my city spot have 2 essence, it should have less grain and materials than the 0 essence spot.

Sadly ground resources are affected by natural resources,
(shards, clay pits, wild grain each improve natural essence/materials/grain in surrounding tiles)
This makes the city tiles you stumble upon extremely random depending on how many resources are surrounding the spot, if there is a river it usually get a ton of extra grains too, and all this adds up to extremely random starting locations, I would love to see a more controlled resource distribution throughout the game.

That's my 5 bagels, or whatever you call it

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

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September 18, 2012 10:26:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Just out of curiosity, why don't you try the less than perfect starting spot.

 

My only suggestion with eseence is let that be the number of maintanence free enchantments.  You could cast additonal enchantments on cities that cost maintanence.  But have it increase in cost.  The first enchantment has a maintanence of 10 mana per turn.  The second has 15 mana per turn and so on.

 

Quoting Gorshmak,

This could be increased with the shards under control (only slightly though). That increase could be something along 1/2 of 1 essence effectiveness (so if u control 3 earth shards, that would add 3*2.5=7.5 production to the hammers enchantment for a total of 22.5). This would add additional choice: "Do I change that earth shard into death for the increase in damage or do I keep the extra production?"

I do think it would be neat that shards could increase the effectiveness of certain enchantments.  That would be great.  Shards effect tactical spells and unit enchantments.

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September 18, 2012 11:14:08 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

A simple solution is just to make city enchantments like most other spells in that their power is related to shards instead of essence; essence indicating solely the number of enchantments that a city may have.

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September 18, 2012 11:24:13 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting KingHobbit,
My only suggestion with eseence is let that be the number of maintanence free enchantments. You could cast additonal enchantments on cities that cost maintanence. But have it increase in cost. The first enchantment has a maintanence of 10 mana per turn. The second has 15 mana per turn and so on.

It would be nice to cast a spell that increases the essence of a city by 1, at a maintanence cost of 5 mana per turn per (essence + 1). So a 2 essence city would have a maintanence cost of at 15 mana pre turn and a city with 0 essence will have a maintanence cost of 5 mana per turn.

Of course, I highly doubt that they will implement any idea that will increase the the number of enchantments on a city past the given essence. But who knows what will be possible with modding.

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September 18, 2012 12:03:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting parrottmath,


It would be nice to cast a spell that increases the essence of a city by 1, at a maintanence cost of 5 mana per turn per (essence + 1). So a 2 essence city would have a maintanence cost of at 15 mana pre turn and a city with 0 essence will have a maintanence cost of 5 mana per turn.

Of course, I highly doubt that they will implement any idea that will increase the the number of enchantments on a city past the given essence. But who knows what will be possible with modding.

I don't think 5 mana per turn is enough.  And why add essence just allow for additional enchantments but have the mana cost be high.  If you have a city with 2 essence (no way to add more), then the third enchantment costs 10 mana per turn.  The fourth is +15 mana.  So the two extra city enchantments are costing you 25 mana per turn.  If you want a fifth enchantment on a city with 2 essence, then that one is +20.  Now you are spending 45 mana per turn for three extra enchantments.

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September 18, 2012 12:04:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

The intent is that the player adjusts his strategy based on the randomness of the maps.  Without that, where do you draw the line?  Do you Ctrl+N until you get nearby iron or crystal?  What about a nearby fire shard for your fire based custom sovereign?  If you have good locations you have to have comparatively bad locations.  If you want them all to be "good" then you probably want a starcraft type balanced locations.  That's important in multi-player, but one of the advantages that we have, since we are single player only, is we don't have to balance like that.  The world can be less predictable.

You may get a powerful monster nearby that makes growth difficult, and therefor increases the difficulty of the game, you may get a really good item from a goodie hut that makes the game easier.  We do attempt to balance these extremes so they don't overshadow the impact of the players strategic decisions.  But the good and bad of the random world is intended.  Some of the best games come from scrapping and surviving in less than ideal situations (in my opinion).

Personally I don't like the Ctrl+N option, but if players enjoy using it then it is there game and they can play as they wish.  I am a bit confused by folks that play on higher difficulty levels and Ctrl+N until they get an ideal starting location.  For me thats like turning the difficulty up and then turning it back down.  Like reloading saves from before lost battles, or until you get an item from a goodie hut that you want.  It's fine if that's what you want to do, but it always seemed odd to me.

Of course the other option is to play Pariden, they get an improvement that increases the Essence of any city by 1.

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September 18, 2012 12:14:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Are we playing the same game? 20 mana per turn? 45 mana per turn?  Leaving aside the opportunity cost, by the time you have this kind of mana to throw around, shouldn't you have already won the game, or at least be engaged in a war for domination as opposed to fine-tuning cities?

You guys worry a bit too much about essence. 

I like the idea of essence, and I really enjoy it when my revitalization efforts reveal a 4/2/4 tile, but I look at it as a welcome bonus, or as of something that gives the city a purpose and a personality.  And I have, at least once, chosen to settle a 3/5/0 rather than a 4/2/3.  It was a very very specific case, as I needed that city to act as a fortress against expected Yithril aggression, but still, resources are at least as important as essence. 

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September 18, 2012 12:27:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Tuidjy,
Are we playing the same game? 20 mana per turn? 45 mana per turn?  Leaving aside the opportunity cost, by the time you have this kind of mana to throw around, shouldn't you have already won the game, or at least be engaged in a war for domination as opposed to fine-tuning cities?

You guys worry a bit too much about essence. 

I like the idea of essence, and I really enjoy it when my revitalization efforts reveal a 4/2/4 tile, but I look at it as a welcome bonus, or as of something that gives the city a purpose and a personality.  And I have, at least once, chosen to settle a 3/5/0 rather than a 4/2/3.  It was a very very specific case, as I needed that city to act as a fortress against expected Yithril aggression, but still, resources are at least as important as essence. 

1: Agreed, I was puzzled too

2: No I don't

3: yes and no, while I understand a 5 material city (hoping they remove the 3turn cd at some point, or I will keep cheating with rushing), since materials are really important, I still hope they will manage to get essence, grain and materials numbers just right, I like essence, just think the enchants should be... altered. Since right now IMO essence is best. (If you have more than 1)

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

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September 18, 2012 12:55:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like Essence and I typically do not ctrl-n.  What you get is what you get.  I did try to play a game where I started with no fertile ground within walking distance.  That game was pretty difficult.  By the time I even got my first city settled

 

On a medium map there usually about 20 or shards.  By the time you reach Temples each one produces 3 mana.  Plus all the over buildings and talents that produce mana, you can have a mana income between 50 to 100.  Unless I am doing something terribly wrong.

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September 18, 2012 1:16:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Derek Paxton,
The intent is that the player adjusts his strategy based on the randomness of the maps. Without that, where do you draw the line? Do you Ctrl+N until you get nearby iron or crystal? What about a nearby fire shard for your fire based custom sovereign? If you have good locations you have to have comparatively bad locations. If you want them all to be "good" then you probably want a starcraft type balanced locations. That's important in multi-player, but one of the advantages that we have, since we are single player only, is we don't have to balance like that. The world can be less predictable.
You may get a powerful monster nearby that makes growth difficult, and therefor increases the difficulty of the game, you may get a really good item from a goodie hut that makes the game easier. We do attempt to balance these extremes so they don't overshadow the impact of the players strategic decisions. But the good and bad of the random world is intended. Some of the best games come from scrapping and surviving in less than ideal situations (in my opinion).
Personally I don't like the Ctrl+N option, but if players enjoy using it then it is there game and they can play as they wish. I am a bit confused by folks that play on higher difficulty levels and Ctrl+N until they get an ideal starting location. For me thats like turning the difficulty up and then turning it back down. Like reloading saves from before lost battles, or until you get an item from a goodie hut that you want. It's fine if that's what you want to do, but it always seemed odd to me.
Of course the other option is to play Pariden, they get an improvement that increases the Essence of any city by 1.

Yay! Somebody with the same beliefs as me and with control of the game design.

In regards to my post I was just suggesting a possible compromise and I do know how expensive 5 mana a turn is that is why I suggested it. It's not something that I think should be a mod (if possible), but not in the core game.

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September 18, 2012 1:49:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

There should either be minimum 1 essence per tile or there should be upkeep costs for enchantments, as it stands it kind of bugs me that enchanting a city feels more mandatory rather than a bonus

 

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September 18, 2012 1:59:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Bobofett,
there should be upkeep costs for enchantments, as it stands it kind of bugs me that enchanting a city feels more mandatory rather than a bonus

 

 

^Also a perfectly sound solution, agree on the feeling.

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September 18, 2012 2:13:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Derek Paxton,
 

The intent is that the player adjusts his strategy based on the randomness of the maps.  Without that, where do you draw the line?  Do you Ctrl+N until you get nearby iron or crystal?  What about a nearby fire shard for your fire based custom sovereign?  If you have good locations you have to have comparatively bad locations.  If you want them all to be "good" then you probably want a starcraft type balanced locations.  That's important in multi-player, but one of the advantages that we have, since we are single player only, is we don't have to balance like that.  The world can be less predictable.

You may get a powerful monster nearby that makes growth difficult, and therefor increases the difficulty of the game, you may get a really good item from a goodie hut that makes the game easier.  We do attempt to balance these extremes so they don't overshadow the impact of the players strategic decisions.  But the good and bad of the random world is intended.  Some of the best games come from scrapping and surviving in less than ideal situations (in my opinion).

Personally I don't like the Ctrl+N option, but if players enjoy using it then it is there game and they can play as they wish.  I am a bit confused by folks that play on higher difficulty levels and Ctrl+N until they get an ideal starting location.  For me thats like turning the difficulty up and then turning it back down.  Like reloading saves from before lost battles, or until you get an item from a goodie hut that you want.  It's fine if that's what you want to do, but it always seemed odd to me.

Of course the other option is to play Pariden, they get an improvement that increases the Essence of any city by 1.

It's a kind of 'munchkinism' and I think everyone is guilty of it at least once. The challenge is awesome, but sometimes....just sometimes...you want to pound that iron fist.   (whether that be through combat, politics, magic, etc)

I'll reserve my small and meanial judgement on essence until I play the next beta.  

I still think every city should eventually be able to gain access to +1 essence as there are just so many spells and and enchantments that we should be making use of. Pariden should, in consequence, be further improved by obtaining a +1 at first, but increasing it to a +2 bonus at the same reasearch point as the other factions gain access to their +1.

 

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September 18, 2012 2:15:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


How about we have better starting point requirements so that each starting point has some good to it, but not the same for every player? Force spawning resources, rives, forests seems like a reasonable request. We shouild be able to modify how good starting points are.

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September 18, 2012 2:21:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting seanw3,

How about we have better starting point requirements so that each starting point has some good to it, but not the same for every player? Force spawning resources, rives, forests seems like a reasonable request. We shouild be able to modify how good starting points are.

I agree - an I would like to take this idea a step further such that there should be starting point game option at game creation like civ V. Random, balanced, abundant, balanced abundant, magical synergy (at least one shard of the sovereigns beginning magic elements), etc.  It seems like this kind of thing is a big deal to the community.

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September 18, 2012 3:01:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Edit: nvm

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