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Yves

[Discuss] Food Sources

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I think we currently lack a concept what the advantages and disadvantages of different food resources are meant to be.

It's nice to simply have more variety of food resources but it should also have some impact on gameplay.

In Age of Kings there was basically hunting for a boost in the beginning of the game and the berry-bushes for a fast start. After that these resources were more or less useless.

Fishing was kind of an experiment and it depended on how the game developed if the investment paid back in the end. The main food source were farms. All resources were limited and depleted after a while (you can rebuild farms, but it costs wood).

The only infinite resource income was trade.

In our case I feel like we start mixing and mashing these concepts together without having a plan what it should do to the gameplay.

Making farms, berries and fishes infinite decreases the value of trade. Trade is still useful because currently only food is an infinite resource and the bartering rates will become very bad if only food is used to barter other resources.

Fields now only support a limited amount of gatherers (5) and you get food faster if you use less workers per field. The idea was to increase the value of territory and add a disadvantage to farms (you need a lot of territory to use them). In my opinion this doesn't have enough impact at the moment because you need to expand for other resources anyway and have plenty of space to place your fields.

This is related to the question about the way resources regenerate. In my opinion the sigmoid approach is too complicated for players and doesn't add much value. It could be different if for example you could set a "gathering policy" like "clearing" or "sustainable" and your workers would automatically use the resources according to this policy.

If you have to manually micro-manage your units, that's too much IMO.

Such a policy-approach would be doable, but as long as we don't have the big picture it doesn't make sense. We're at a point now where we should start approaching the final gameplay and therefore we need such a "big picture" before we can tune little aspects like the resource regeneration algorithm.

Some of the advantages/disadvantages of resources we could use:

  • Required space (you need to expand and it's more difficult to defend your workers)
  • Required micro-managing (We should generally avoid micro-managing as much as possible at least for the long-term resources. It could be part of the design for e.g. hunting in the beginning of the game)
  • Available at which stage? (currently all resources are available from the beginning)
  • Required number of workers
  • What kind of workers are required (females are better for fields but they can't be used for fighting)
  • Does it require a special resource or can it be used anywhere? (fish, berries, farm-land etc.)
  • Can the resource be depleted?
  • Is the maximal gather rate limited? (I mean something like regenerative berry bushes compared to fields where you can build as many as you want)
  • How much is the initial cost to enable this kind of gathering (Build a dock + a fishing boat is quite expensive if you don't need the dock anyway)
  • How easily can the enemy damage your economy. (what if, for example we made fields much more expensive and make them vulnerable to fire-arrows?)

We could add some very interesting and strategical aspects if we put some more thoughts into the different sources of food and their pros and cons for the player.

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I think it is important to discuss food sources in a holistic manner, i.e. in a way that looks at the complete picture and how we want each food source to play into the overall gameplay.

So, we have these food sources:

Hunting: Wild Animals.

Ranching: Capturing and then slaughtering domestic animals, like sheep and cattle.

Corralling: Tasking captured animals (sheep, cattle) to the corral for a trickle of food.

Foraging: Berry Bushes and Fruit Trees.

Farming: Farm fields.

Fishing: Fish.

I think it would be good to make a chart and cross reference different attributes, like the ones Yves mentions. Cost, opportunity costs (shuttling distance, for hunting for example, and scouting for the resource), time, when they should be relevant (hunting=early game, farming=late game), etc.

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I agree that we need more separation. Imo one way to do this is to make some stuffs obviously for early-game and some others obviously for late-game.

Another way would be to make some resources work well, but only if you follow a specific path or only if you're really focusing on those.

I'm not too hot on Berry regeneration, to be honest. Berries to me are the hunter-gatherer stuff, really only for a small boost early one. Hunting is similar, it should be fast and worth it if you're dedicated to it. However hunting is kind of broken right now (animals are too fast, too strong, too scattered and rare).

Farming and Herding should be two viable long-term solutions. However right now farming is far better. One way to change that:

-Herding should definitely use the "trickle" effect, by having animals tasked to a farmstead (which can train those). This would take a limited amount of space (currently only the farmstead) thus be easy to defend, but it would be slow-ish (obviously techs would make it better).

-Fields should take way more space (We should make them bigger and perhaps reduce the overlapping possibilities). We also need to find a way to push those away from the CC, but making them like twice bigger might just do that. Perhaps a bonus if around a farmstead.

Thus farms would be faster than herding but more dangerous: you'd need to defend your workers, and it would start taking actual space. And farming would occupy many of your workers whereas herding wouldn't.

(btw about the farm diminishing returns, perhaps it should be changed so that 2/3 is optimal rather than 1 to occupy more workers).

I can see two ways to handle fishing, being inherently map-specific:

-make it interesting after some techs (like ~farming, but it would take less space). A bit like it's now.

-make it way more interesting than farming/herding, on par with hunting, and even better after some techs. This will put a huge emphasis on water gameplay. It's a choice.

Note that fish importance is dependent on other factors too: if we make farming take up a lot of space, on very watery maps, it won't really be viable, thus players will have to fish. Limiting other resources availability in general makes fishing more important, thus naval gameplay too.

Technology wise, I think the game should force a choice on you. If you start improving herding, you can only improve herding later on (start with a pair and make any subsquent tech require that first one), except perhaps for a few rare cases.

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-Fields should take way more space (We should make them bigger and perhaps reduce the overlapping possibilities). We also need to find a way to push those away from the CC, but making them like twice bigger might just do that. Perhaps a bonus if around a farmstead.

Thus farms would be faster than herding but more dangerous: you'd need to defend your workers, and it would start taking actual space. And farming would occupy many of your workers whereas herding wouldn't.

Tonight or i don't know when, but asap, i'll try a new thing for fields that could force you to expand. I do the test and i'll tell you all the pro-cons ;)

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wraitii, I really like your ideas. :)

I agree about not having regenerating berry bushes and also making fishing much faster. I think fish were a major food source in the ancient world, so it makes sense for a more reasonable gather rate. We could make elephants (ivory) and maybe whales into a source of gold. I think having larger farms is worth experimenting with - could have a nice affect on gameplay. Corrals are straightforward, I think.

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In real life, we make a distinction between meet and vegetable food.

Vegetable are cheapest than meet.

Meet is often needed as protein sources.

Breeding animals convert a lot of vegetable in a little of meet.

Some civilisations like Indians can live without meet (they adapt by eating some vegetables that contain a lot of proteins like lentils).

So maybe we can also make a difference between the two resources in the game. It could be having -10% attack if vegetarian ration below 90% (and civ bonus for Maurian Indians that would not have to care of it). It could be making them really 2 different resources and buying cost (like female cost 45 veg 5 meet, warrior 50 veg 10 meet 10 wood 30 gold) and possibility to convert veg into meet in corrals.

So instead of using only the most efficient way to have food, we would have to manage at least two ways. Instead of bush => farm, we could have bush => farms & hunt => herding (+ fish).

Edited by lsdh
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Domestic meat animals might be more interesting if they required land as an input, rather than food. This could be fenced or not, but the land surrounding the Stable would be unavailable for buildings or farm fields. The player would then have to consider which terrain might be useful for grazing, but perhaps too rocky or hilly or wet for row crops.

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A few thoughts,

After reading a little http://books.google.com/books?id=Y1DEs7XWir0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=money+in+the+late+roman&hl=en&sa=X&ei=4CVfUtqLJ8LW2AXojYHIBQ&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Should we consider storage life and time-to-consumption in the logistical chain for grains and meats or is that too mico-manage-e?

It would require us to consider rate of consumption of individual actors, weather factors on degradation of the foods (and supply of said food) and also technologies would come into the question(better storage tech, production tech). For example a player could research earthen vessels to store grains. Or research an improved grain (they could for example choose a grain with better storage properties but lower nutrient value). Or perhaps better storage buildings.

Further the timing of a player selling a grain is important, if a neutral or friend doesn't have such good storage (either for poor grain technologies, or poor storage technologies) and are now in the winter with dwindling supply (and assuming crops are affected by season) of grain we could trade out grain for metal(or whatever). The markets could be left to run themselves, and technology levels could dictate how efficient the trading ai is.

Also, what about other important resources (common salt, leather, saltpeter [very important to the storage of meats!], lye etc).

Not to even mention wines... oh the tech trees we could design for the histories of wine and its trade.... :)

just some thoughts

Edited by Jmt2014

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Too much micromanagement. If food cost per units needs to increase for balancing reasons, the better way to do it is to increase the initial cost rather than have a periodic cost.

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I think we could experiment with a periodic cost. But I think storage capacities are too much micro.

By having a periodical food cost per unit, your army will grow more linear. When you run out of food, I wouldn't kill any units. The fact that you can not create more units is enough of a punishment.

Mercenaries could have a periodic metal cost (as they're paid in gold or silver), but a very low initial cost, so you'll have to use them quickly.

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I think we could experiment with a periodic cost. But I think storage capacities are too much micro.

By having a periodical food cost per unit, your army will grow more linear. When you run out of food, I wouldn't kill any units. The fact that you can not create more units is enough of a punishment.

Mercenaries could have a periodic metal cost (as they're paid in gold or silver), but a very low initial cost, so you'll have to use them quickly.

I think this idea is worth trying out. It could create interesting challenges in the game.

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You mean inflatable cost, right?

If we introduce this into the game then its hard for certain factions to expand their economy or defend themselves and don't forget we have logistics in the future where player have spend a considerable amount of resources on it. Why don't use logistics as a penalty against certain factions or units like hero, champion, mercenaries and other citizen soldiers like cavalry will cost more supplies from logistic convoy instead of introducing inflatable costs?

Edited by Mega Mania

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A baggage train could have a very low initial cost but the cost will increase after a certain period when the army reached a certain size. For example when an army consists of 100 to 200 units, player may need one to two logistic convoy with a low, average or high cost (depends on what type of unit the player have in a military campaign or the population limit in the game) because logistic convoy with the ability to replenish unit 's willingness to fight at a certain rate but not all unit have the same will and cohesion which makes logistics a problem which player cannot ignore thus forcing player to limit the size of the champion unit, mercenaries and other expensive citizen soldier unit.

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I mean a unit could cost 1 food per minute as long as it's alive (exact values need balancing), so when you have a big army, you must also maintain a big food source. That way, it doesn't matter that food sources are infinite, when your army grows, you will need to expand to have more food sources (more room for fields, more berry bushes ...). As a compensation, the initial cost could be made lower.

Mercenaries are a separate case, they don't need food, but they need money, so they could cost 1 metal per minute.

I think it will make the early game faster (while it's a bit too dull now), while it will also provide a penalty for stronger players, so the actual battle might last longer.

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I'd wish to complement Wraitii's, Isdh's and Don's suggestions above.

I understand that 0 A.D. is a RTS between AoE and SC. Given the well known premises of the genre, it doesn't pretend to simulate a whole civilization rise from Stone Age to Iron age, nor a tactical mission that takes a mere few hours or weeks to complete. Its scope is in the between. Alright there are technologies to buy, but it's the premise of the genre, as I said. Also, most of the ideas below don't add much "hated" micro-management, because many could be automated and even "invisible" to the player. And I don't mix micro-management (micro-action) for game-awareness (or meta-play?).

So,

  • Trees shouldn't regenerate. Not enough time in one game time-frame. Note that Spellforce, a kind of RTS had Elves grow trees to harvest wood and provide cover, but you could say that magic was used.
    • As I suggested elsewhere, you could also quickly destroy trees (for a zero or small income) with citizen soldiers or even mercenaries/champions, to deny the enemy player from using it in the future and force him to buy wood in the market. I called it "scorched land" or "spoiled land" strategy, that was actual warfare.
  • Berry bushes and fruit trees should regenerate. I wouldn't call taking care of that an superfluous micro-management, only a realistic implementation that would grant diversity to the food system. The rest is only a matter of game balance. Lower initial stock and constant slow regenerating rate (one unit at a time)? Periodic blooming (original stock appearing in a few seconds) simulating a harvesting time every several minutes? Needed technology (arboriculture) to simulate the evolution from the early neolithic gatherers?
    • A counter-measure could be the destroying of such bushes/trees. While not productive (when food supply is null), those plants could be harvested to make wood, like normal trees. A security system would prevent the workers AI to harvest them while not micro-managed and ordered to. A second order could even be needed when the worker is on the spot, and the order would be forgotten when the current bush/tree is cut down and harvested.
    • It would be possible to deprive the enemy player from a near future berry harvesting, and to harvest wood without a market when the last normal tree was chopped down and you still need a last batch of wood (what a desperate situation!). It would free space to build as currently.
  • Mines shouldn't regenerate, but maybe, technology could emulate new veins finding or better mining techniques. This would partly refill the mine(s). You could imagine a "once for all" technology buy, or a "building-bound" upgrade buy (like in American Conquest), or both (the technology unlocking the individual upgrades). You could have such refilling technology periodically available (with cool-down) or only used once (or more if historical staggered technologies). Basically, technology and upgrades would cost much wood and some metal, food and time (virtual workers upgrading the mine).
    • You could condition such civ. special like the Laurion Silver (Athenians) to the possession of at least one functional ore mine when the "technology" is bought (or a political decision is voted).
    • Also, the mine object could stay even when depleted, just to add diversity to the landscape. It would be impassable terrain but you could build over it (deleting it).
    • Why not, you could also have a very slow regenerating rate that would be enough for one worker (in upgraded rich mines) in the end game, abit in the same way depleted mines in American Conquest would still provide a small income. Even if good players wouldn't care this micromanagement, it would add some life in the towns...
    • Why not, mines, even non depleted ones, could be permanently razed to deny the enemy player its income, or to build an important building when you lack space. Only workers units (citizen) (and siege units?) could hack it and that would take a lots of time, more than destroying a building anyways (you wouldn't destroy the mine buildings only, you would sap, fill, flood all the galleries (even if some could be open-sky).
  • Corralled animals, while costing food (maybe only diminishing the food amount they provide on slaughter?) or land, should have an advantage over hunting. Granted current living horses decrease current cost of cavalry (or does the total number of corralled horses permanently decrease that cost?), and corralled animals are "stored" food resource you denied the enemy player from using it, you can capture and use at will (as in AoM). Should it have some effects, corralled animal could be used to lower the vegetable/meat ratio when hunting has depleted the area.
    • Both corralled horses and sheep could have a chance to reproduce in the game time-frame. (elephants too?). This is obviously the historical reason why neolithic populations did corral animals.
    • Corralled animals could grow larger/healthier and provide more food than hunting (like in AoM if I recall). This contradicts with the former proposal of a food upkeep but it could be seen as one of protein resources, should it be of value, again.
    • Corralled animals or more precisely corral buildings with animal inside, would produce automatically a small food income (animal proteins as far as the ratio is concerned), simulating dairy products and young cattle meat (with no micro-management). This income could be a fix growing rate (the more animals captured, the larger the rate) or a slowly decreasing rate, regenerated each time a new animal is corralled.
  • Fish: I like the non-linear regeneration, but over-fishing should be a danger. Maybe there is a way to add some diversity here too (granted, fishing is already a particular food resource management per self):
    • Micro-managing could be mandatory, even with a non linear regeneration rate: after some time of over-fishing in a depleted spot (slowly regenerating, then), the spot could suddenly and permanently disappear.
    • This kind of resources could eventually but still seldom appear during a game at random position but usually far from the lands (the coastal areas being first exploited). This could be a boon for a lucky player, and add some (welcomed?) randomness in well known maps.
    • Should the food income from fish diminish the longer the fishing boat has to sail to the port, or do we consider salt as a well known and used food preservative (used on board)? Maybe a technology could (partly) alleviate the preservation problem?
  • Farm fields, as it was said, should be larger proportionally to the other buildings and no overlapping with each other. Also, the number of workers should be limited (to be honest, I don't know whether it is already the case).
    • Maybe a technology could allow to add one or more workers per field.
    • I liked it very much the way time would be spent to "build" a field and wait for the first harvest (as in American Conquest).
    • Most importantly, I'd like to see seasonal harvest, or simply field depletion and regeneration if you prefer, as in American Conquest. I don't see it as an unwanted micro-management, but as a core strategy for some civs. If you consider a game time-frame may exceed one year, then you need workers in the fields until harvest is completed. That's not the case in AoE, and even if AoE is the main source of inspiration for 0 A.D., that don't prevent from making the system better (as in more interesting or subtle). If you don't care about planned harvesting, then go for mercenaries and champions (who live out of the pile of food and the market). That would even make a real difference between them and elite citizen (I play with Alpha 13).
    • Also when you destroy an enemy field, it may be only a minor drawback for a rich opponent, whereas it should cost a year of production in real life. The mere fighting in/on a field should damage it a little (think about those cavalry depredation during the spring and early summer).
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