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thk123

2 Resources Enough?

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I was reading "Game Architecture and Design" (as recommended by this site) and I am came across Shadow Costs. Page 51/52 if you have the book, if not allow me to briefly summarise. Shadow costs are the implicit costs. The 200 wood that is required for x unit is the cost. The shadow cost is the money you have spent to get to the point where you can build the unit (ie. the buildings that you had to build). However, the bit that interested me was the case study they gave(Age of Empires). In it, he talks about dynamic costs. The example given is a charioteer, costing 60 wood 40 food and 40 seconds. However, the importance of each of these costs changes. At the start of the game, resources are sparse so 60 wood is quite hefty, but everyone is in this problem, so 40 seconds, not such an issue. Mid game, resources are plentiful but time is of the essence, so the 40 seconds will be the most important statistic. Then, at the end, the wood cost rises in prominence because resources are running out. The game I am currently designing is a real time strategy game so I was wondering how this would fit in to my game. However, in my game there are only two resources: Population and money. The first comes from cities and the second...comes from cities. The way I can envisage the game working is the population will most likely decrease whilst money will increase. However, do just 2 resources offer enough dynamics to be able to recreate the element I mentioned. One resource I was thinking of including was oil, especially given its prominence in today's world (my game is set in the near future). Because this would be limited, the player would have to be very careful with it as many units would be based on it. In conclusion, are 2 resources enough to create a dynamic costing system where resources rise and fall in importance as the game progresses and would an ever decreasing resource be a worthy addition to the game? Sorry about the length of the first paragraph, but without it, the rest of my post wouldn't have made a lot of sense!

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You could definitely get some interesting dynamics with this. Like the case study, your population resource could be very valuable early on since the cities are just starting out. Then, as they increases in size, the population becomes larger making it worth, essentially, less. But, towards the end, the population experiences overcrowding or just caps off, leading to a sense of "wow, this population is finite", making it important once more.

As for money, this could be a very interesting mechanic. Imagine if a city had a surplus or a recession. How could this affect the strategy in the game. Both of these resources are very different, so it'll be interesting to see how they could interact with one another.

Imagine a city nearing its end. The population has stopped growing, but everyone in it is rich. How could that affect the player's ability to expand and build up their forces? Very peculiar concept indeed. I wish you the best of luck.

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How is Time not a resource in your game concept? I fail to see how that is possible unless everything you are creating with these two resources is created instantly. Is this so?

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Well having two physical resources is just perfect in my mind.
Time, while a given, should still be mentioned in the concept even if serious numbers havn't been hammered down.
Also, people, the human resource, is most often handled as an infinate supply as long as you can support them with food. A "how many people can you feed?" scenario, as opposed to a "how many people do you have access to scenario.

So Money, while truely the only real physical resource needed, may not be enough for a good game structure. In reality what does it take to build a tank? Steel, Iron, computer components etc. But in the end it's all bought with money. To have money as the only physical resource, no wood or iron to gather, is a realisitic approach, but something else is needed.
In a situation like this you could introduce something special to the mix, a newly discovered substance or energy that makes your most powerful units possible. And it's only found in pockets near ancient alien crash sites (or whatever). This forces playes to go out and look for this stuff, otherwise a player could just sit back and generate money to build a massive unstoppable army.

An RTS is an excelent challenge in balancing units. Remember to use paper cut-outs and dice to simulate your units fighting, this will help give you a better idea of how they should be structured, stat wise.

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Quote:
Original post by Sulphix
But, towards the end, the population experiences overcrowding


To me this would make them more expendable, rather than more valuable. If over-crowding is occurring, the population become projectiles to hurl at my foes.

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Yarr.. The whole reason behind different resources is to force the player to expand. The more complex the resource hierarchy is, the more complex the player's organization will need to be. The more complex setting up a base is, the more you can delay, for instance, access to the strongest units. This means the best players are those who manage to micro- and macro-manage efficiently.

You'll often want a player's base to be "spider like" rather than "blob like" ; that means force the player to have weak points away from the main core, and have them fighting over common resources. In the case of your oil idea, if the players need oil to get an edge, and 3 oil wells/pockets are located right in the middle of the map, they'll be constantly fighting over them until they manage to overpower the other and rush in.

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Quote:
Original post by NathanRunge
To me this would make them more expendable, rather than more valuable. If over-crowding is occurring, the population become projectiles to hurl at my foes.


I think theres a definition problem, perhaps...

If you view the population in standard RTS terms, the population only consists of active units. There is no "excess" population that would be used for other things. The only other measurement is potential population - the amount you can support with your farms (or similar functioned building). In this case, overcrowding would mean youve reached the limit of units you can produce, and all your units are filling rolls - so you have no ability to use population for other purposes. Which would make them more valuable as you approach the limit.

Or theres the opposing definition which youre thinking of, where all youre concerned with is total population and the limit, without considering how much of the population are active as units and how much population is unused. In which case overcrowding suggests excess that can be directed towards tasks (especially if you think of it in "realistic" terms and say that active units are out in the field and so arent contributing to the city being overcrowded).


Explanation of how exactly the OP is viewing these things and their use might make the semantics a bit easier :)

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Good point caffeine. For some reason I had my mind more set on a definition similar to games such as Black & White or Civilisation. I still think I would do the same regardless though. If you have the capacity to produce the number of units, but have reached a limit, then sacrificing some units may still be beneficial.

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Thanks for the replies!
To clarify, population would be a resource as opposed to, as in hind sight more usually, the number of units you have. Your population would a number based on the number of cities (these cities are outside the actual playing area, difficult to explain without going in to a lot of detail) which you control. Each unit would require a certain number of people to recruit in to the unit.

Also, I admit that time would be relevant, and looking at my example, I see that would give me equal resources. Another problem I came across whilst thinking about this today was in my current design, money is collected from the cities in the form of tax. This would be closely tied to people (as they are the people would be paying it) that they would almost become one single resource. (Although not quite, as the population available for units depends on how well you are doing among other things, whereas taxes are compulsory, however I digress)

One solution to this would be making other things generate money, but I am not quite sure what these could be, so I will have to have a think about that. I quite like the idea of fighting over oil (once again, relevant to today) as it would add a secondary objective that would help, not secure, the main objective. The only problem I can foresee with this is that all provinces start in the control of either one of two sides. Either make the central provinces very ambivalent to their side and under-powered, to encourage battles, have a middle ground or maybe just put the oil in the sea?

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