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Telastyn

Discussion of population dampening: lifespan vs upkeep

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Yet another thread for discussing my hobby project. This is a good background, or in summary: it is a fantasy 4x game, with the following relevant nuances: - Population is finite. People are born, grow, and die (naturally if not shown the door early). - Food acts as a fuel, and is distributed by the empire's infrastructure. So. I will likely need to have non-population units (hereafter 'constructs'). Having a person get trained into a boat just seems... weird. I don't though want the situation where there is 400 boats for the town of 3 since the people die and the boats don't. The two main mechanisms I thought of to counter this problem while still remaining consistent with the rest of the design was to either give constructs a set lifespan so that they die like people, or require some sort of maintenance 'food'. Death will keep the population down by force, and maintenance is a little more 'soft' in allowing the player to build as many as they can (im)practically support. Death would allow ships to roam as far as they want (ignoring other possibly needed constraints), and puts the onus on the player to judge the range of the ship. Maintenance would tie the ships near the port infrastructure, making them behave similarly to normal population which needs to build infrastructure to expand/attack (akin to settlers). So, what are your opinions? Any I've perhaps overlooked? Which would cause more player annoyance/tedium? Which would be most effective in controlling the construct population? Which do you prefer, and under what conditions, and why?

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Another possibility would be to train people into sailors, who can naturally travel on water, no boats needed. After all, a boat doesn't do you any good if you don't know how to use it. That way you don't have to worry about the construct at all.

I think you'll find that most "objects" can be readily substituted for by trained people, who can be assumed to carry all their needed gear with them. Instead of having a schoolhouse with which to improve the training rate of your population, you have teachers who provide the same service. Instead of chariots, you have chariot-based soldiers (who, when dead, take their horses and chariots with them).

Reading through the thread you linked, though, you explicitly mention wanting to have buildings. These are a bit simpler to deal with since they're non-mobile constructs. I would personally say that buildings are naturally maintained by the people that live and work near them, but that they have a finite capacity to aid those people. If you wanted to have a schoolhouse, for example, then as long as you have at least 5 people in the area, the schoolhouse doesn't decay; however, it can only "service" up to 50 people. Or something like that.

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Give the drones aka people jobs. If you build a granary then it would give employment. Unemployed people would die as they don't have money. A "dock" might have boats or maybe if you have an army you'd be forced to spend more food on them but they'd have a job so they would not die. Oh population is kind of simple, make only certain spots of the ground "fertile." this limits the amount of people you can have since well... yeah. For the distance thing, if you use central towns you may build towns on the tile map around fertile land so you can build granaries and farms. However these maybe be vulnerable places. Then just allow players to build granaries and "fire-bases" far from the main towns and set up a travel system between towns. So at the cost of 1 food every tile path away that selected town can transport 100 food to the other granary.

As for the boat idea if you set 50 of the settlers to be fisherman they'd have boats and pay money to have the up keep. Taxes would be kept on the docks to funnel some of the money back to the player's economy.

Giving armies a point of no return is a good idea too. So maybe if you build a large boat at a dock and load up 20 soldiers (settlers trained in combats) and then just 50 normal settlers you'd only have so much food. It might take less food per turn because the boat is moving the people and they aren't walking, but they would run out if they didn't stop on the shore and build a small town for a while to build up supplies.

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Well with small stuff thats only tied to one person you might argument tying it to that persons job but what about large things used by multiple people( large ships etc) or that usually does not need a specific job to operate?
also how do you conquer something like a catapult or another warmachine when its tied to one person? You usually kill the operator and replace it(if you can not convinve him to cooperate)and if you have no operator you can not use it.
(also if you have several sizes of machines the best machine is usually given the best operator, instead of the catapult itself getting experience)
How about instead constructs get a "death timer",then maintenance means stopping the death timer while in a harbor and when making trips the death timer would decline, until at some time you would need to make repairs, which means buying time for the death timer.

maintenance = stopping death timer
repair = buying time/resetting death timer

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Stuff could take some form of damage from weathering, decay and normal use. Then upkeep and maintenance (a generally un-fun aspect) would be the same thing as healing a unit.

The death timer concept could then become a damage timer, representing the ravages of time.

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You could make the player economy work for you and make it possible to recycle a boat or other object for money (essentially sell it back). Then let anyone jump in an unattended boat and sail it back for salvage. You can then sell dock space so that players can store their boats safely, or leave it up to players to create their own way of enforcing boat ownership.

As soon as there are extra boats just laying around anyone can go around and earn some money by selling them back. Basically the same system I have seen some places use with carts.

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In a game where units require resources to upkeep and where constructs such as buildings and boats can remain after the people inside are dead or leave, then looting and supply lines would have a big effect on combat.

For example, when attacking an enemy nation have some saboteurs enter and damage their infrastructure such as:

1. Mix mad-cow with the herds to taint the beef supply, either making that ranch suddenly useless for making food or maybe infecting units that use that building for food.

2. Light crops on fire, destroying the wheat fields and possibly killing or destroying neighboring buildings and people.

3. Have thieves steal resources to feed your people. If other resources like ammo, wood, or money can also be stolen from buildings then one could conceivably invade a town, steal everything not nailed down, on fire, and complaining then keep invading without having to build rely too much on a supply line.

4. Oh yeah, and always try to steal their cars, boats, and crash in their houses on your way.



also on buildings and constructs:

I personally think it would be nice if most if not all buildings should be more or less "immortal" unless specifically leveled and destroyed.

by that I mean, say a university has 100 hp. if it is properly maintained and operated and stays at 50 - 100% of its max hp then it works perfectly. If the people abandon it then it slowly decreases to 1 - 49% of its total then it becomes 'abandoned'. People can still go inside to live or keep out of the rain, or store stuff in it but its not much of a university anymore... though with some work can get up to its former glory.

However, at 0% it becomes a clear lot that can either be 'erased' so that a different building can be put in its place or it can be rebuilt from scratch to essentially 'ressurect' the university. Sort of like the old tower somewhere that was burned down twice and rebuilt as many times but still remains the same building.

I imagine it would be kind of nice, knowing that even if you have to abandon your city. Even if the farms are burned, the houses destroyed, and the walls crumbled to the ground, that later on you can return to rebuild it...

or if you demolish a town you can rebuild it and call it your own.

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Why not instead of maintenence or decay you just set it up so that if you don't have the people you can't use the construct. that way population units themselves are the fuel for your constructs. If you can't use it then it's presence in the game is moot. If you want the enemy to be able to use it if they take it, then they need to have population units to fuel the construct and make it useful. A tool is only as good as the person using it and all that. Why would you have 400 boats in a town of 3 people anyway? And if the town has been decimated by an attack then you might have a lot of empty boats laying around. Recycle as basic resources? Like converting unused or unusable assets to basic resources to be used for something else.

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Thank you everyone for your replies. Let me return the favor.

Quote:

Another possibility would be to train people into sailors, who can naturally travel on water, no boats needed. After all, a boat doesn't do you any good if you don't know how to use it. That way you don't have to worry about the construct at all.


True, hence my comment about training a person into a boat being weird. I was perhaps insufficiently clear. There's also the complication of mobile constructs which are not trained from people (golems for example).

Quote:

Reading through the thread you linked, though, you explicitly mention wanting to have buildings. These are a bit simpler to deal with since they're non-mobile constructs. I would personally say that buildings are naturally maintained by the people that live and work near them, but that they have a finite capacity to aid those people.


Yes, that would generally be the idea for buildings. Most of them I imagine will merely serve as infrastructure pre-requisites for projects.


Quote:

Give the drones aka people jobs. *snip*


I'd like to make killing people difficult. After all, there needs to be some incentive to risk your own people to conquer your neighbor. Otherwise, yes that's rather the idea.


Quote:

How about instead constructs get a "death timer",then maintenance means stopping the death timer while in a harbor and when making trips the death timer would decline, until at some time you would need to make repairs, which means buying time for the death timer.

maintenance = stopping death timer
repair = buying time/resetting death timer


I suppose I did not include the consequences of not paying the maintenance in that idea... Like people, the constructs would gain action points while unmaintained(/fed) but at a painfully slow rate (1:10 or so). This seems to be a slight alternative to that idea, though I don't like the idea of free harbor stays. Will allow undefeatable harbors full of free combat ships.


Quote:

Stuff could take some form of damage from weathering, decay and normal use. Then upkeep and maintenance (a generally un-fun aspect) would be the same thing as healing a unit.


From one into another generally un-fun aspect...? At least in the current design, there's not damage as such. Units are not wounded in battle as much as they're killed, captured, forced to retreat, or flee back into civilian life. Something to keep in mind though.


Quote:

You could make the player economy work for you and make it possible to recycle a boat or other object for money (essentially sell it back). Then let anyone jump in an unattended boat and sail it back for salvage. You can then sell dock space so that players can store their boats safely, or leave it up to players to create their own way of enforcing boat ownership.


This is a 4x game, not an RPG (if I understand you correctly).


Quote:

In a game where units require resources to upkeep and where constructs such as buildings and boats can remain after the people inside are dead or leave, then looting and supply lines would have a big effect on combat.


Yes, that is a key design goal for combat.

Quote:

For example, when attacking an enemy nation have some saboteurs enter and damage their infrastructure such as:


Yes, spies and the such are on the table though likely for a later revision. I'd like them to stick a bit towards info gathering. Destructive spies are annoying and make the player feel as there's nothing they can do against them.

Quote:

I personally think it would be nice if most if not all buildings should be more or less "immortal" unless specifically leveled and destroyed.


Yes, buildings as they're currently designed are immortal (and capturable). My main concern is with stuff that can fight.


Quote:

Why not instead of maintenence or decay you just set it up so that if you don't have the people you can't use the construct. that way population units themselves are the fuel for your constructs. If you can't use it then it's presence in the game is moot. If you want the enemy to be able to use it if they take it, then they need to have population units to fuel the construct and make it useful. A tool is only as good as the person using it and all that. Why would you have 400 boats in a town of 3 people anyway? And if the town has been decimated by an attack then you might have a lot of empty boats laying around. Recycle as basic resources? Like converting unused or unusable assets to basic resources to be used for something else.


Because people are a finite (valuable) resource. Making the player spend them on moving a boat around that they've already paid for seems... annoying. Plus the problem with golems and things that don't really require people. Plus that sort of design would complicate the implementation and UI to handle 'make this guy use this construct'. Still, something I perhaps dismissed too quickly.

Thanks again everyone. Rebuttal or further comments are of course welcomed.

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Why not just add a smith class which maintains buildings, and maybe a color coded system on mouse-overs or on the minimap, which shows u when and where u need more smiths? If your looking to keep it at just Food as the population's limiting factor, this saves you from the hassle of introducing stone/wood/gold/brick/etc.. Perhaps you could have the economy itself determine your employment breakdown: Not enough schools => not enough engineers or architects => cant expand fast, but supply of labor workers like smith's, and a large army.

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