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

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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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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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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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).

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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. 

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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

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If your idea of wealth is only determined by currency then building an objective difference in wealth is quite simple but a person can be holding a briefcase of millions of dollars in the middle of the desert and his wealth has no value. That value is subjective. The arrows in your example may not have a range of quality but that doesn't mean the arrows would not have subjective value to different players based what those players need and what they can spend to achieve those arrows. Much like the person with briefcase, I bet after a day in the desert with nothing else they'd be happy to give up that entire briefcase for water. A player with lots of gold to spend and not enough arrows will spend the money to get arrows because they feel they need them.

 

Your inkling about societies seems to be pretty historically sound since nothing lasts forever (possibly energy, but black holes muddy that water, as far as my understanding of physics goes).

 

Value exist because people need things (or are made to think they need things). As for purchasing options, a wealthier nation simply needs more options to waste resources on to uphold its ruse of wealth. The true measure of wealth is subjective. Wealth is by definition the abundance of valuable resources or material possessions and as my example pointed out, money has no value unless someone else needs (or thinks they need) it. 

 

When Africa was colonized its potential to increase it's quality of life along side other nations was lost to slavery, civil war and stagnating traditions causing cultural stagnation do to the lack of access to the necessities of life. When you're country is trying to join the global market, it's hard to win any ground when the wealth of your nation belongs to foreign interests. This is the fate of the middle east since its easy to buy a nation that can't afford to fight itself.

 

As for you're tangent. I'd like to see games that explore the fall of corporate empires as well. It'll be refreshing to join Star Citizen since it's story seems to be based during the decline of an empire.

Edited by Mratthew

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I don't subscribe to the idea that Value is the same thing as Price. I don't think that a thing is worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. But I do agree with your point that Value seems highly correlated to need. For example, the human body needs to maintain an internal temperature of 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Fire, Clothing, Shelter and Electricity all have value at least in part for their ability to fulfill that need. And status as a way to attract a mate seems like a valid need in this sense as well.

 

There's also some sort of transitional, layered sense of need; the citizens of the USA need petroleum products, in that we consume them for transportation and heating; and yet we could (and eventually probably will) find substitutes and alternatives. So it seems to me this is some sort of indirection, some method of achieving a more basic need, rather than a need in and of itself.

 

But I'm not so sure that Subjective is the right description for what's going on. Definition of Subjective, from Merriam-Webster Dictionary

philosophy : relating to the way a person experiences things in his or her own mind

: based on feelings or opinions rather than facts

 

Some uses of the word Subjective 

  1. Dreaming is a subjective experience.
  2. a person's subjective perception of the world
  3. Personal taste in clothing is very subjective.
  4. In reviewing applicants, we consider both objective criteria, such as test scores, and subjective criteria, such as leadership ability.
  5. Law can be maddeningly subjective. So much is left up to your own interpretation.

Dying of thirst in the desert isn't subjective; it is objective. It is observable and recordable by anyone, including machine recorders, who happens to witness it. It's not a matter of taste, or opinion.

 

"When Africa was 'colonized'..." By who? Some guys that were originally from Africa, right? Then why were they more advanced? What is this "Lack of necessities of life" and how is it that the colonists no longer seemed to have that problem?

Edited by AngleWyrm

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I didn't say value is the same as price. You inferred scarcity reduces the value of resources, this brought the conversation to the distinction between value theories. I can assure you I understand that price and value are very different things, however price is driven by variables, one of them being subjective value. Whether you subscribe to it or not. It is a part of all markets. So long as interest rates are applied to all loans (including new money put into circulation) the drive of any employed individual will be to obtain profit. The only way to obtain profit is the sale of goods/services above and beyond their intrinsic value. Otherwise money would be dept and nothing more however so long as people can be put into a position to justify to buy high and sell low, money can change hands to pay off certain depts (always at the expense of others).

 

Now if you're saying you wouldn't incorporate a subjective theory of value in a game. That's fine. Not a very honest depiction of a market, but that's the nice thing about video games. The designer gets to build how the world works.

 

I certainly wasn't saying dying of thirst was subjective (that's asinine). I said the person's value of the money they hold as well as their value of water they crave is subjective since I'm sure they would easily trade any money they're holding for water after having spent long enough time in the desert. His opinion, matter of taste and point of view is that his money is worthless compared to water because of his state of thirst. That is a subjective theory of value.

 

As for Africa, where do I start? You'll have to do more self study in this area but a snippet would be. 570-525 BC is a good place to start. Greeks and Phoenicians are your first culprits. Most every colonist that came to Africa since has brought weapons and an understanding of war and economy that put them hundreds of years ahead of native African tribes. In a 2005 IRIN report about 82% of South African arable land is owned by those with European descent (foreign interests) indicating one of the most important resources in the hands of none native interests. Although $500 billion (U.S) has been sent to African nations in the form of direct aid huge sums are spent back to developed nations in the purchase of weapons in civil conflicts, leaving only dept and destruction. The "lack of necessities of life" I spoke of are the social services like education and medical care that developed nations are accustomed to because most newly democratic nations in Africa are left with huge depts. The flaw of most of the nations is spending large sums of money on fruitless mega projects. Lastly and most obviously really is the corruption that exists. Since the wealth gap is so wide many individuals in a position of authority allow high level crime to go unpunished and overlooked with even small bribes.

 

We should probably keep these tangents a little more focused on topic.

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I don't subscribe to the idea that Value is the same thing as Price. I don't think that a thing is worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.

I understand that price and value are very different things, however price is driven by variables, one of them being subjective value. Whether you subscribe to it or not.

This line of conversation isn't producing useful game-design output and therefore ought to be abandoned.

 

On the idea that big business and large social bodies reach a technological plateau, one factor is they become a victim of their own size. For big businesses, life turns into an endless stream of meetings with little being done, and lots being talked about. Which can be represented in-game as a count of the nodes in a graph containing all the primary decision makers/departments. As the number of communicators goes up, the number of connections dramatically escalates. In game terms this could be used as a sort of cooldown, or construction time to get things done. Thus small would have an advantage of nimbleness.

Edited by AngleWyrm

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