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Food, wood & gold, still works? (strategy resource)


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#1 suliman   Members   -  Reputation: 521

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 04:04 AM

Hi

The classic food, wood and gold resources have been used in many medieval strategy games. What is your take on this? Too tired, or still has a place in games? The thing is it uses terrain good and can make a good differentiation of usage and source, typically:

 

Food (plains) = units, expanding population, upkeep

Wood (forest) = buildings, ships

Gold (mines, taxes & trade)= units, upkeep, upgrades

 

Wide question I know, but happy for any feedback:)

Im using a simple map like old civilization games where you build cities and develop them.
Erik



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#2 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9637

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 09:45 AM

It seems to work fine. Maybe a little boring, though.

 

It would be entertaining to replace gold with salt.


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#3 Scouting Ninja   Members   -  Reputation: 555

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 10:06 AM

You seem to have forgotten rock/clay and iron/copper, for building and weapons.

 

Tin and silver are good if you are looking to expand, maybe even coal.



#4 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6377

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 11:29 AM

Short answer: It depends if it suits the strategic decisions you're trying to build.

 

Long answer:

A few years back, I did an analysis of potential resource gathering mechanics that could be implemented in one of my RTS. Rather than focus on the theme (what the resource is) I focused on how its mechanically harvested, stored, etc.

 

Here's a brief overview of what I came up with as potential avenues for each of my resources:

 

Form of resource

- Single-input concentrated resource object (Warcraft's mines) - Workers only pick up stuff that's already lying there.

- Single-input automated concentrated resource object (StarCraft's Vespene geyser with their SC2 campaign automation upgrade).

- Multiple-input concentrated resource object (StarCraft's minerals, AoE's rocks and gold). More than one worker can harvest simultaneously.

- Multiple-input scattered resource object (Dune's Spice melange). Sub-category: World-shaping resource: (Warcraft's Wood, rocks in a tunneling game).

- Multiple-input scattered resource object using a refinery-like approach: it automatically harvests everything in a radius.

- Intangible (StarCraft's Supply Depots, Warcraft's Farms, C&C Energy Capacity, etc).

- Territorial (Warhammer 40k, Ground Control: zones you need to capture)

 

Form of harvesting process

- The resource is automatically collected (having a vespene geyser that automatically refines gas over time without the use of workers).

- The resource is harvested (its lying around, waiting to be picked up by workers and brought back home to be collected).

- Hybrid (the building slowly generates the resources, but it will also need to be collected)

*Possibility to include 'warehouse'-like buildings to shorten collection range

 

Worker Types

- Swarms (StarCraft, Warcraft) - Generally travel short distances, have a small cargo space

- Small numbers (Dune, C&C) - Generally travel long distance, have a large cargo space

- 'Golem' - Hybrid unit that transforms temporarily into a warehouse-like building but can revert to a mobile form. No need for 'back and forth' but requires immobilization commitment

- Building-based - (Dune's Windtraps, StarCraft's Pylons, Supply Depots, Warcraft's Farms, etc.)

- Positioning - (Usage of military units to capture locations, transferring military advantage into extra resource income).

 

The key here is that Food, Wood and Gold are thematically relevant, but their implementation shouldn't be straightforward. AoE and Warcraft have a drastically different implementation of Gold for example, and Food. While their implementation of Wood remains relatively similar, the 'proxy' collection buildings behave differently.

 

I wouldn't worry too much on what resources you're actually ending up with, and would rather focus on the mechanics you want to put into motion.

 

For example:

If your implementation of gold is to have a very close mine that does all the job and simply needs peasants to gather, there's not much room for risk-management and you won't force the player to go 'out there'.

One of the very intrinsic fun byproduct of 'wood' as a resource is that, by design, it forces you to reach further out as the game progresses. You'll soon end up with no natural resources nearby and will progressively need to send out operations to get wood out.

This will generally come at the expanse/investment of a small base, commitment of some military units, etc. The same could apply to have mines that you need to first find, then build around.

Focus on what you believe will make your game 'roll' (force players to come in conflict, etc) and build around that.



#5 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 10:54 PM

Food (plains) = units, expanding population, upkeep

Wood (forest) = buildings, ships

Gold (mines, taxes & trade)= units, upkeep, upgrades

Are they interchangeable? Could I sell some wood for gold? Or buy food for gold? The two resources in Starcraft cannot be exchanged. But in Space Empires IV, planets can construct resource converters (with a heavy tax/loss rate).


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#6 suliman   Members   -  Reputation: 521

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 12:05 AM

Hmm not interchangeable i think.

 

Resources are based on terrain surrounding the town (plains, forest, mountains for mines)

This sets the max workers that can be tasked to each resource (size of town sets no of workers)

 

Fir now there is no risk for the workers (think civilization for the scale). So there is no actual workers walking around on the map, its just a setting in each city

 

Replacing gold with salt? That makes little sense for troop production for example. Its much too specialized for a game of 3 resources only.


Edited by suliman, 18 September 2013 - 12:18 AM.


#7 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9637

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 04:53 AM


Replacing gold with salt? That makes little sense for troop production for example. Its much too specialized for a game of 3 resources only.

It was primarily a joke, but it is often posited that Roman soldiers were paid in salt...


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#8 powerneg   Members   -  Reputation: 1299

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 08:49 AM


Long answer:

A few years back, I did an analysis of potential resource gathering mechanics that could be implemented in one of my RTS. Rather than focus on the theme (what the resource is) I focused on how its mechanically harvested, stored, etc.



Here's a brief overview of what I came up with as potential avenues for each of my resources:

 

You forgot free resources players sometimes get(although not often in RTS, especially multiplayer) just for not being annihilated.



#9 LorenzoGatti   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2525

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 08:57 AM

In a Civilization-like game, you can have as many resources as you find uses for; each one contributes some realism, and/or a gateway for the subset of research trees and things to build that require them.

Every town will have only a limited number of mineral resources nearby (forcing exploration and colonization), a limited space for growing crop resources (forcing a choice), and often too few workers to get all possible resources (there are other jobs).

To avoid crossing the line between carefully optimized production planning and frustrating lack of resources, reducing and simplifying resource demands (e.g. basic catapults require 2 wood units each rather than 3 wood and 1 iron) is more effective than limiting resource types.

You can also play tricks with resources at the strategic level: for example, if you put all of one mineral in a small place (e.g. large natural diamonds in South Africa) and the mineral is necessary (e.g. large natural diamonds as a prerequisite for advanced microelectronics and indirectly for really powerful computers, AI, robots and space travel) a ferocious war, and an advantage for the player who plans ahead, is guaranteed.


Produci, consuma, crepa

#10 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1494

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 09:42 PM

Scarcity of necessities (be they required or perceived) creates the pressure that brings conflict to any population. You could make the scarce resource popularity the units high school students and the game would work. The key is limiting the resource while still giving the player a chance to feel like they've built something out of it.

 

If your going to stick with just those three. I would suggest bringing a certain level of realism to the equation since many players think of warcraft right off the bat when they see these three. Here's a few ideas that might mix things up. Lets start with farms, creating farms on farmland should pollute the surrounding area limiting the amount of farmland a player can build (driving players to seek out more arable land) and no forest can ever grow there(more on this later).

 

When clearing a forest it should repopulate as long as the player doesn't kill the predators that stalk the edge of the forests. Although these animals kill wood cutters and nearby livestock they represent the expansion and succession of the forest (needed organic cycle for a forest to reproduce), if the player does kill these animals the forest should turn to swamp (slowing and even killing units that attempt to cross it) this swamp land could also release toxic clouds that drift across the map and kill indiscriminately, lastly halting any chance for the forest to return.

 

Lastly is gold. This could be extracted from a mine leaving an empty mine (boring), or you could replace gold with coins instead. Why coins you say? This could give you the opportunity to show off the flaw of economy. In order to build certain units/structures you would need coins which requires the player to build a bank, the resource of coins could be extracted from a bank at interest (this is important) creating an ever growing dept to the bank. The existing coins extracted would allow the player to create/upkeep units and infrastructure. The coins would then exist in the "private" sector where the well being of structures(armor) and soldiers(moral or speed) depends on their being gold to pay them on a on going bases, this means the extraction and sale of extra wood and food to pay the interest back and extract more coins. If the player doesn't have enough gold to upkeep structures and units their city is weak to siege and their soldiers lack in moral or will. What if you just keep asking for more coins and never pay the bank. Civil unrest, the city accuses you of greed and uprising starts. This can be kept at bay with the military but the player then has to fight the war on 2 fronts. 

 

You don't need to use exactly these ideas but hopefully they still prove useful.



#11 suliman   Members   -  Reputation: 521

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 12:28 AM

Cool ideas ya'all

Erik



#12 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 08:15 PM

Scarcity of necessities (be they required or perceived) creates the pressure that brings conflict to any population.

Yes. It brings pressure to change the situation so that the pressure is relieved; a sheppherd moves his flock to greener pastures. A hunter kills all the local mob spawns, and moves on to somewhere the cooldowns have already reset.

 

But also Scarcity of a thing is inherently an expense, an indirect cost, a thing that therefore makes the item less valueable. Difficult and Time-Consuming are expenses. They are not something that a player wants, they are a negative utility.


Edited by AngleWyrm, 19 September 2013 - 08:24 PM.

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#13 Sik_the_hedgehog   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1493

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 04:33 PM

 


Replacing gold with salt? That makes little sense for troop production for example. Its much too specialized for a game of 3 resources only.

It was primarily a joke, but it is often posited that Roman soldiers were paid in salt...

 

Well, it was pretty valuable before fridges since it was the only way to conserve food (and it was quite hard to get, too).


Don't pay much attention to "the hedgehog" in my nick, it's just because "Sik" was already taken =/ By the way, Sik is pronounced like seek, not like sick.

#14 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 05:10 PM

Before modern refrigerators, they had what's called an Ice House. It was a big business bringing ice down from the mountains and storing it between hay in deep cool cellars. 7-11 started out as a chain of ice houses, until the electric refrigerator took down that industry. Does it seem likely there were a lot of people who didn't want the refrigerator to become popular? Even today sorbet has the lingering aftertaste of expensive and high-class, because it was made from the hard-to-get-at clean bottom ice from the ice houses.


Edited by AngleWyrm, 22 September 2013 - 05:20 PM.

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#15 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1494

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 08:04 PM


Yes. It brings pressure to change the situation so that the pressure is relieved; a sheppherd moves his flock to greener pastures. A hunter kills all the local mob spawns, and moves on to somewhere the cooldowns have already reset.
 
But also Scarcity of a thing is inherently an expense, an indirect cost, a thing that therefore makes the item less valueable. Difficult and Time-Consuming are expenses. They are not something that a player wants, they are a negative utility.

 

 

If pressure is relieved by cooldowns or the resource can be accessed anywhere then the resource isn't scarce. It's plentiful. Scarcity indicates the limit of quantity or access. If a player has plenty of quantity of a needed resources local mobs, wood, popularity, etc it isn't scarce. A resource in demand that is scarce makes it more valuable and only less demand can make it less valuable (though why you'd have something on a market that isn't in demand baffles me, specially a game market).

 

"Difficulty" is only a negative utility if there is no way to learn to overcome that difficulty, and if "time consuming" is negative you should tell that to players that have sunk literally years of their life of cumulative hours into video games. Time consuming only sucks if the player isn't having fun or being challenged.



#16 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 10:29 AM

If pressure is relieved by cooldowns or the resource can be accessed anywhere then the resource isn't scarce. It's plentiful. Scarcity indicates the limit of quantity or access. If a player has plenty of quantity of a needed resources local mobs, wood, popularity, etc it isn't scarce. A resource in demand that is scarce makes it more valuable and only less demand can make it less valuable (though why you'd have something on a market that isn't in demand baffles me, specially a game market).

 

"Difficulty" is only a negative utility if there is no way to learn to overcome that difficulty, and if "time consuming" is negative you should tell that to players that have sunk literally years of their life of cumulative hours into video games. Time consuming only sucks if the player isn't having fun or being challenged.

Gotta say I disagree with almost everything you've said.

  • Cooldowns directly control scarcity; lengthening the cooldown on a unique mob drop reduces the number of that item in the game universe.
  • A desired resource that is scarce is not more valuable due to it's rarity, it is only more expensive. That is to say, an increased cost.
  • Difficulty in acquiring a resource is a cost payment. Easily acquired resources are less outlay to acquire.
  • Time consumption to acquire a resource is also an expense paid. Sooner is cheaper, later is more expensive.

Edited by AngleWyrm, 24 September 2013 - 08:39 PM.

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#17 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1494

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:20 PM


I gotta say I disagree with almost everything you've said.
Cooldowns directly control scarcity; lengthening a the cooldown on a unique mob drop reduces the number of that item in the game universe.
A desired resource that is scarce is not more valuable due to it's rarity, it is only more expensive. That is to say, an increased cost.
Difficulty in acquiring a resource is a cost payment. Easily acquired resources are less outlay to acquire.
Time consumption to acquire a resoruce is also an expense paid. Sooner is cheaper, later is more expensive.

 

I don't disagree with most of what you're saying but you might consider a little more broader view to see where I'm coming from.

 

A resource that is expensive to acquire can make that resource scarce if the demand isn't met but a scarce resource isn't always expensive to acquire, it can also simply be in limited quantity.

 

A scarce resource is more valuable since the quantity does not meet the demand. The pressure to hold a scarce resource creates conflict.



#18 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 09:18 PM

A scarce resource is more valuable since the quantity does not meet the demand. The pressure to hold a scarce resource creates conflict.

If there is demand for a scarce resource (more demand than supply), then competition can drive the price up. Traditional Economics suggests that demand will go down  (some people just can't/won't afford the new price) until supply and demand settle on a price somewhere in the middle. Not everyone agrees with the Traditional Economics models though.

 

But price and value are not the same thing. For example, in a game where citizens require food to live, food has value. And yet no price has been assigned.

 

The reverse is also true, a thing with an assigned higher price can have no additional value. In the MMO game Age of Conan, players can buy arrows that range in price from extremely cheap to astonishingly expensive. But the difference in arrows provides no contribution to combat. My guess is if that game had open markets of trade between players, the price arrows would probably gather near the same price for all types of arrows.


Edited by AngleWyrm, 25 September 2013 - 09:57 PM.

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#19 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1494

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 10:05 PM


If there is demand for a scarce resource (more demand than supply), then competition can drive the price up. But price and value are not the same thing.
 
In a game where citizens require food to live, food has value. And yet no price has been assigned.
 
The reverse is also true, a thing with a higher price can have no additional value. In the MMO game Age of Conan, players can buy arrows that range in price from extremely cheap to astonishingly expensive. But the difference in arrows provides no contribution to combat.
 

 

What you're referring to is an intrinsic theory of value. Like I said if you're going to consider my points you might consider a wider view of value. If a resource is limited in quantity in a high pressure market, the other variables involved in extracting that resource take a back seat to what a player is willing to risk or gamble to earn it. Making the value more subjective. 

 

The example you offered is sound except your overlooking one element. You said the difference in arrows provides no contribution to combat, but that isn't entirely true. The difference it provides depends on the perspective of each player, their needs and their means. In the end it's a matter of getting to do combat with arrows or not. The price changes based on what the sellers are willing to part with their arrows for and what buyers are willing to give up to do combat with arrows. Value can be and in this case is subjective since the needs and means of buyers and sellers vary.

 

I'd like to point out that the example you're offering is far from a scarce resource, its clear that if players can sell the arrows at that wide of a range of prices, the market is bloated. 



#20 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 07:42 PM

I'de like to address the two point in reverse order. Second point first, the price of arrows in Age of Conan is not up to players; arrows are sold by vendors at a specific price for a specific type. And they have no combat difference; the damage output of a player is unaffected by the quality of the arrow. First point second, there is an objective difference in wealth between the citizens of the USA and the citizens of most of Africa. It's quite real, not some subjective interpretation, or theoretical hyperbolie. But price is astonishingly flexible, and seems to be run mostly by marketing and PR. Is a 56" TV really worth hundreds more than a 36" TV?

 

On the topic of theories and models, one of the more interesting ones has to do with the explosion of options available to the consumer. The number of things we trade is skyrocketing. We could then measure wealth in Stock Keeping Units (SKU), and say in the general sense, a wealthier nation has more options, more things to exchange, more choices available. The end-game of this line of thinking is that the creation of value is the additional knowledge. For more on this line of inquiry, see Origin of Wealth, by Eric Beinhocker.

 

Speaking of Africa and the Wealth of Nations...Here's an observation: Why is it that the cradle of civilization, the oldest societies ever to exist, are also the most backward of nations? Why are they not the most advanced, having had the most time to develop? I have an inkling of an idea that maybe societies don't develop on an endless timeline of advancement; maybe there is some sort of birth and rise to adulthood, a flowering to maturity, a time capsule stamped with the technology of the time in which they were born.

 

A similie is businesses that rise and replace each other in a similar fashion, with new developments not so much spread across everyone as being brought into play by a newcomer. And this brings us full circle back to video games, because one of my pet peeves has to do with the way 4x space colonization games develop over the course of a single game. They start as a race that is almost immediately decided by whomever takes the initial lead. The remainder of the game is just the biggest fish getting bigger. You never see the fall of IBM from the PC market, when upstarts like Dell and Apple take to the scene. You only see Wal-Mart ruling the galaxy.

 

I'de really like a model that provides a way to generate not only the rise of empires, but the rise of new empires which supplant the old.


Edited by AngleWyrm, 30 September 2013 - 08:53 PM.

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