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Acharis

Population, buildings and land

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Turn based strategy.

There is land (one variable describing number of plots of land) and population (one variable). Each plot of land allows 1 building, unoccupied land is considered farmland. Buildings are the most important things in the game, these produce things. Population is used to generate taxes.

Example: you have 100 acres of land, 10 of it is used up by factories, remaining 90 is farmland, you have also 500 population that pay 1 gold per turn each.

So far so good, but now I have dilemma, should buildings (and farmlands) require workers to operate? Land is obtained irregularly via exploration or conquest while population growth is constant and predictable. On one hand population as workers would be nice as progress flow controller (no point acquiring more land you can chew) on the other it is difficult to balance since mostly you will have too much or not enough population...

Another question is what other uses population can have?

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why are people producing money? Shouldn't the buildings and land produce the money? Then you need people to work them.

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Technically, population produces money through paying taxes, but they can only pay as many taxes and the resources they produce for themselves.
Given that fact, I would say a population that is unemployed really doesn't have anything to give, and population that would be transferred into non-paying population (say, soldiers) should rather get paid for rather than give income.

I'd definitely use the model where workers are required to activate buildings. Not only does it mean you need to keep a decent population base to power up the structures (and turning them all into soldiers at once is certainly going to bankrupt you quickly) but it also explains how they get to produce the money they pay for your income from taxes.

Is your population growth a static value (+25) or based on the current size of population? (idle pop * 5%)
If you use the latter model, I think it emphasized, once again, the importance of not having too much military (aka non-idle population) as it cripples your longterm demographics.

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So far you have farmland and factory land. This suggests at least two uses for people: Farmers and Factory Workers. Farmland could produce food at a rate that feeds more people when more farmers are working the plot (up to a limit).

And of course there's soldiers that go to do battle in order to take over more land, or stationed in currently owned land as defense. They're gonna need food as well.

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If the focus of your game is exploration and conquest, forcing the user to wait for his population to increase just so he can keep advancing would be a drag. If its not, then balancing the rate of population growth would just be a matter of matching it to the rate at which you want players exploring / conquering. You could even give the player some influence over the growth rate, if they want to do more exploring or conquering, they could turn it up, if they want to take it easy, they could turn it down.

>Another question is what other uses population can have?

Maybe give players the choice of allocating their population to income production or to warfare (like Orymus said, soldiers would consume money)?

Or, they could be an indirect means for controlling the rate of tech tree advancement (if you have a tech tree): more people -> faster teching.

Population could also be directly converted into money by selling your people off as slaves (good leadership skills :p) for a quick economy boost.

I would argue the mechanics don't need to make perfect sense, even in the finished product. Besides, you can always rename mechanics or fudge descriptions to make everything make sense once things are fun, right?

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Population growth formula is not decided yet, that was to be my next question :)

Quote:
I would argue the mechanics don't need to make perfect sense, even in the finished product. Besides, you can always rename mechanics or fudge descriptions to make everything make sense once things are fun, right?
Exactly :D


Maybe I will explain the problem in a more broad way.


How population and buildings relate in games

* Buildings produce resources, population is used to pay taxes only (simplest model).

* Buildings produce resources, but the amount of buildings that can operate is limited by populations (the population is auto destributed, no player's choice, but he can give some priorities). Very rare, the only game that used it is probably Utopia: Creation of a nation by Gremlin.

* Buildings determine max production but do not produce anything. The population is distibuted into buildings (but no more than max) and they produce resources (Red Dragon MMO, and probably many more).

* Population produce (usually limited by something like land tiles where they are deployed) and buildings provide percentage bonus to production (Civilization).

* Population produce, buildings provide max number of workers (Colonization). This is very similar to the 3rd model, but the distinction is that workers can have a specialization which affect the efficiency and they can be moved separately (population is not a number, everyone is a distinctive unit). Buildings can be upgraded to provide better efficiency for workers working in them.

* Multiuse buildings in Deadlock is an interesting thing. You move popluation into buildings, but when they are inside building (limit of population in a building) you need to allocate them to a specific task (like: research lab can produce research points or produce electronic components for your army).

* Anno 1XXX series use a very weird (but nice) system where buildings produce on its own and the population is needed to pay taxes and unlocking buildings. On one hand population is completely useless in a production cycle, but on the other you will be spending most of your efforts on caring for them (there are several classes the poplulation can upgrade to) so you have the crucial buildings unlocked.

* Another odd system is in Imperialism where you have one capital and only it produces. The country or colonies provide only raw materials. You have all buildings constructed and you only upgrade them and decide where your workers will be allocated to. It is impossible to understand without playing it (I don't recall any other game that used something similar). It works better in practice than it sounds.

* A complete madness is in Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun, there are plenty of provinces that have population and factories and one resource. You can train/upgrade population to work in factories or to collect local resource or to provide some global function to your empire (soldiers). The odd thing is you can always train the population and redistrubute inside factories, but under a lot of government types you won't be able to build factories or upgrade them! This is done by "capitalists" population automaticly. It is a total crazy system if you ask me, but well, the game is quite famous so it must work.


About my game
The core asset is land. The basic mechanic revolve around it and the amount of land is one of the most important concerns of a player. Prototype here:
http://worldoflords.com/misc/games/industrialrevolution.php (only economic part)

At first I thought about making population assigned to separate buildings. But after talking to other designers the conclusion was that such system could work only if there was less population than buildings (shortage of workers). Otherwise the assignmet of workers would be a tedious and mindless micromanagement. But the introduction of shortage of workers would turn the game into a game about population not about land and that was the price I was unwilling to pay.

The second idea was that there would be groups of workers, population assigned to whole branches of industry (farmers, miners, workers) and deciding the output of that industry. They would also train on their own. But after prototype I immediately thought (as a player) that it would be nice to have an option of automated asiignement of population, since I basicly always wanted to have spread them proportionally to the number of buildings of that industry, so the whole point of assigning workers by players became void. Also the auto training of population didn't give me any thrill.
http://worldoflords.com/misc/games/industrialrevolution.php?m=p (this is not connected to the prototype, just a leftower to see how it worked)

Next I made that buildings require a fixed number of workers (so they act as a resource) and farmlands output depends on farmland to farmers ratio with degressive benefit (similar to AngleWyrm suggestion). But I'm not very happy with that either. Population is just a resource and industry is disconnected with farming (one uses fixed amount the other uses proportional).

So now I'm thinking if I shouldn't just dumb it down to population paying only taxes and do not connect them with production or buildings or farmlands at all. Maybe affecting also army size or providing some bonuses depending on population size, but no production.

I hesitate what to choose... Or maybe there is another way available and compatible with this project?

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Quote:
Original post by Acharis
* Buildings produce resources, population is used to pay taxes only (simplest model).

I think this method is frail. It doesn't seem to tie your two main resource systems together. I'd recommend against it unless you are looking for the simplest game mechanics because you are worried another part of your game's design is heavier (for example, if the game was heavily geared towards warfare, a simpler economy would make sense).

Quote:

* Buildings produce resources, but the amount of buildings that can operate is limited by populations (the population is auto destributed, no player's choice, but he can give some priorities). Very rare, the only game that used it is probably Utopia: Creation of a nation by Gremlin.

* Buildings determine max production but do not produce anything. The population is distibuted into buildings (but no more than max) and they produce resources (Red Dragon MMO, and probably many more).


While these two are technically different, they all come down to the same idea. Max production cap is determined by working class. The more population, the more your industry and/or farmland is producing. When your population grows larger, you need more land, and build more (or leave as farms). The reason I think it works nicely is, inherently, increasing population size for more output, will force the player to have more farmlands (to support the working class). Both resource systems enhance the other and it emulated a microeconomy.
Additionally, a player may have to resort to destroying industries to increase their farm output at any given time they have a shortage in population and whatnot.
Quote:




* A complete madness is in Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun, there are plenty of provinces that have population and factories and one resource. You can train/upgrade population to work in factories or to collect local resource or to provide some global function to your empire (soldiers). The odd thing is you can always train the population and redistrubute inside factories, but under a lot of government types you won't be able to build factories or upgrade them! This is done by "capitalists" population automaticly. It is a total crazy system if you ask me, but well, the game is quite famous so it must work.


Have a look at superpower 2 if you are looking for something that crazy. You technically control nothing, only budget allocation. The results of these budget allocations are interesting though. If you invest more in human development (education, and to a lesser degree, health) your population's economy will increase on its own over time, etc etc. All you control is money, no resources whatsoever. But resources are implied in the process.


On a last sidenote, I'd recommend having a look at Hegemony's system. It was simple and neat. I helped redesign a fresher version of the original and it was a clever insight into simple game mechanics. Too many games try to get diehard realistic, but simpler is sometimes better :)

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I played your prototype for a little while (15 turns, about half an hour), it was kinda fun ... you know, for a resource system with no goals or metrics for success. XD. I think that bodes well for your game.

>Next I made that buildings require a fixed number of workers (so they act as a resource)

It's just a prototype, but for the little while I played I was never waiting on population. Had plenty of lumber with just one lumber mill, spent the first few turns pouring all of my resources in brickworks, because they were the limiting resource. Once I ran out of space, the limiting resource was proximally land, but more relevantly, it was gold. Population yields taxes of course, but the only time it really entered my considerations was when I needed to make a new house.

Again, just one try, not a full 30 turns, no end goal, and I'm surely playing in a suboptimal manner, but I tried, and found profitable, these resource loops

first
-----
Bricks -> brickworks -> bricks -> brickworks ...

until brick production is pretty nice and then
-----
gold -> land -> factories -> hammers -> gold -> land ...

Copper mines to go for luxury goods instead of basic goods were good as well.

Population doesn't appear in those loops >.>

What I'm getting at I guess is: if you designed this system with the intention of making population a resource, then your system is failing at that goal.

Maybe if you introduced situations in which population could become a limiting resource, say for instance, randomly timed famines and plaques that would wipe people out and force you to consider not how many materials you have, but how many people you have to put those materials to use. OR, you could give population more uses (that's probably what you'll have with the military and navy; those weren't implemented in the prototype after all).

O, and regarding the prototype itself, producing charcoal doesn't take away wood.

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have you ever played "Archmage"?

it does this idea VERY WELL. and i suggest you look into it.
http://www.the-reincarnation.com/

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* I'm always told that my games are too complex, so I prefer simplier solutions if possible. I can easily make the game more complex later, actually, I always end up cutting down some features becasue players find them too complex and confusing :D

* An important part of the game would be the shift from agrial country to industrialized country with small farming and food import. Therefore things like forcing players to build more farms at the late game won't fit this game.

* Do no get too attached to the prototype, many things are not working there and this is just an example. Maybe give suggestion how would you fix the prototype or which way you would go?

I think there are only 3 mathods to handle population.
1) make shortage of population so the distribution of population is a strategic choice. But I'm not willing to do this since I want land/buildings being the core of the game.
2) make population and land balanced, so you usually have just right proportion of both if you grow properly. Hard to balance, I would like to avoid this.
3) population is not directly connected to land, has some uses not connected with land and is important for some other reasons than land and buildings.


As for military and navy originally I though about making population crew for ships. But the ports already determine number of ships so the population would be still strongly connected with land... Military is easier, before each attack/defence all population is auto drafted into military (there will be also some professional army that makes the population occupied all the time), so the sheer number of population would be benefitial and not connected to land.


Quote:
On a last sidenote, I'd recommend having a look at Hegemony's system.
Never heard, link please? I checked/am aware of all other games posted, thanks.

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