Since I am bored, have nothing to do, and without a life, I have taken upon myself to redesigning FE's tech tree from scratch since I, as gamer for life, am much more capable than professional game designers (sarcasm). Of course I am a long way from finishing, as I am discovering that I need to add new game features / traits / spells, to keep ideas fresh and not rehashing similar things over and over.
Anyways, I am writing this post to share two solutions I came up with to problems with the current FE tech tree: bland names and tech tree pacing.
Technology Tree Pacing
The greatest problem with tech tree design for this game is that each technology costs a fixed amount of research points, and that the player acquires these research points at an increasing rate as his more population grows and as he builds city improvements. The idea works in Civilization because eventually all civilizations will learn each technology so it makes sense that it is easier to research earlier technologies it missed by them being quick to research. The problem this creates for Elemental is that it makes more sense for players to research both magic and warfare rather than choosing only one path. For example, after researching a couple of techs in Warfare, the next tech would take 30+ turns, whereas the magic techs would start at 5 turns (I'm making up these numbers).
My answer to this is to treat research as follows:
First ten technologies that you research take 10 turns each. Thereafter, each subsequent technology will take 1 additional turn to research to a maximum of 25turns.
e.g. # turns = 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 25, 25, ...
The exact numbers really depend on the number of technologies int the game.
This way, early technologies are relatively quick to research, giving the player time to build the city improvements/units they unlock.
The other pro of this approach is that for the early and mid game, small factions won't be significantly out-teched by large factions.
So what happens to research points and tech buildings? Are they gone? Not entirely.
For each research point you gain, it reduces your research time by 1 turn. By default, the maximum number of research points you can gain is 5. Acquiring so many research points is very difficult to accomplish.
Ways to acquire research points:
-1 research point (RP) per 500 population empire-wide, to a maximum of 2RP that can be contributed in this way.
-1RP for both factions involved in a Research treaty.
-1RP from a hireable champion (1 unique to kingdoms, 1 unique to empires)
-1RP from city improvement
-1RP from word achievement
-1RP from another World Achievement (when no faction is at war with each other among the Kingdoms/Empires, all factions among them gain 1RP and the builder gains +5 guildar per faction
-1RP from a quest.
-1RP as a faction ability
-other ways that are not accessible by everyone
I'm thinking many of you will dislike the notion because without a series of tech buildings to construct, there is no way to specialize a city as a technological capital, but I really believe it is the best way to make viable a strategy focused on only Warfare, or only Magic.
Yes, they are bland and very specific. This leads to being very limited as to what you can include in the technology that would make sense. The most telling examples are the Warfare technologies.
Obvious examples are:
- Archery: unlocks bows
- Leatherworking: unlocks all leather armor
- Weaponry: unlocks the core early weapons
- Agriculture: Food
- Trading: guildar and diplomacy
Names like that are appropriate for a game like civilization, where names have historical significance, but in FE, I'd do it differently.
I suggest naming technologies based on the steps a society would take from founding a small village, to conquering rival cities. From my work on designing a tech tree, I have a few early technologies to give you an idea what I mean.
Safe Haven: (things that help protect your settlement in the first turns of the game)
Hedge Wall (I am assuming here that walls provide a physical barrier in city tactical battles)
Bow (appropriate weapon to fire from behind a wall)
Reclaiming the Land (what you need to start clearing out nearby monsters)
Monster Hunter (a trait that makes killing monsters easier)
Bad Neighbors: (To help defend against stronger monsters or a nearby warmongering faction)
(requires Safe Haven)
Archer's Turret (Assuming we can fortify settlements with turrets)
Minions: (Because if a Sovereign does not research into Warfare, he will have no weapons/armor to equip his villagers with)
Summon Wolf (1, Basic) The (Basic) implies the spell does not belong to any particular school of magic, 1 is for spell level
Summon Bear (1, Basic)
The Sovereign Protects: (What you need to protect a settlement for the first turns in the game.)
Mud Wall (1, Basic)
(insert level 1 ranged offensive spells here)
Sovereign's Blessing (To magically help your city grow)
(insert level 1 city enchantments here)
A Beacon of Hope: (Draws survivors from around to join the settlement)
+1 Faction prestige
A Better Life (Buildings that increase the livelihood of new settlers from shit to OK)
Industry (A bland name for production)