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Temudjin

What (new players think) this game needs

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Hello everybody! First of all, I want to praise! After that there will be some spanking and in the end there will be cake. So let's go!

This game is already very good

You made it happen. I've read about 0 A.D. like 10 years ago, as it was in early Alpha stages, and for now and then I had a look on it to see where it goes. Now, 10 years later, the game content seems nearly complete. Everybody can feel that you put a lot of effort in everything (the accurate historical setting, the gorgous environment, the great music theme to name a few). That is quite an achievement, especially for an open source game. You made it happen, respect! \o/

Still..
On the forums I've read a rather harsh complain: "the game is not fun".

What does that mean? Is this the end?

No, that is not the end. Contrarywise, I'm very happy to disclose that you can fix that. This is your lucky day, as I will even precisely suggest how to fix that.

'Oh dear..'
I can imagine what you think. "Oh dear, another smartarse trying to tell us what to do." You are right on this. And I will try to address this by reducing unrealistic demands ("fix pathfinding!!11") to the minimum. I made a new account here just for this post <3

'Wait! Let this man speak, this could be relevant!' – 'How is that?'
I can provide you with an exterior view on 0 A.D., because I am not bound to this community in any way and I really don't know the game very well (one could say what you get is the outsider's view). You all know the mantra "Easy to learn, hard to master". It means that there are little to no barriers for new players while there is enough depth and challenges for experienced players. I do not dare to rate the "hard to master"-part of 0 A.D., but what I can provide is the view of a new player. As new players are very important for any game (old ones will leave, so new players need to stream in), so this can be very relevant for 0 A.D.

How you can improve the game (without taking too much hassle)
Disclaimer: I will only express the things that should change, which is kind of wicked as there are so many good things in the game. But we're talking about improvements, right? List goes from most significant to least significant. I will try to be as concrete and practical as possible.

  1. Reduce the scale of the game by reducing the pop cap range. Don't give players the option the choose a unit limit of 300. Even in Singleplayer, 1on1 vs AI, the game begins to lack horribly as soon as both players have reached the lategame. One could plead the some players have strong hardware components to handle this, but firstly that is not a valid point for multiplayer and secondly this leads to very disappointing game experience for new players who don't know that their hardware cant handle it. They see the game lacking, leave and probably will never come back.
  2. Following the scale reduction by reducing the pop cap, reduce the maximum camera distance. I've read about the complaint that there "is chaos on the screen and that I don't even care about my units". That is better as I could have expressed it. The reason for this is that the distance between the player and his units is too far. The players (especially new ones!) cannot distinguish their own units from each other. New players cannot even distinguish their own units from their enemies' units! One could counter that nobody *has* to zoom out. But honestly, who of you have ever played an RTS game without zooming out to the maximum?
  3. Following the camera distance reduction, change the camera angle to that of Age of Empires 3/AoE3 (it is more top-down). The problem with the current angle is that units at the top area of the screen are standing very far away and thus are way too small. I caught myself trying to control units from the far distance, not realizing why it became so difficult to select them. This is especially a problem on older (19") TFTs which have an aspect ratio of 5:4.
  4. This one is tricky: Change the way player colours are represented on unit meshes. It is difficult to identify a unit's faction, especially when it comes to fights. Again a view on AoE3 (which has a similar engine I guess) shows how to solve it: the player colours are way more dominant in AoE3, they even seem to glow a bit. This makes is easy to distinguish units even in chaotic fights. One could say "Meh, but that is not historically accurate!!" I say: You are right, but this is not reality, this is an RTS game. Precise measures to acquire this from quick and dirty to bigger efforts are: Increase saturation of player colours on unit meshes. Retexture unit shields with player colours. Retexture siege engines.
  5. Now lets step deeper into the game mechanics. If I recall it correctly, by the time you guys started this gorgeous project of creating an own game engine for an own historical RTS game, your point of reference was Age of Empires 2. It is absolutely understandable and refreshing that you developed own ideas and experimented with them to see how things work out. Though experiments are good for innovation, if it turns out that a good idea does not lead to a good player experience, one must desert it. A good idea of that kind is the player zone system. We all know this worked pretty well in Rise of Nations. But Rise of Nations was a RTS of a completely different kind than 0 A.D. (or the Age of Empires series) is. The idea of zones just does not fit very well in 0 A.D. It slows down the game, it reduces the players' strategical options, and it is not very consistent. Beyond that it obstructs player immersion: who made that blue line on the ground? Why is it there? Why does it hinder me from advancing? All in all, it just feels wrong for this type of game. Discard it and advance in happiness!
  6. Let's have a look at the units. Having played just a few games I cannot say if there is something like a working unit counter scheme, probably there is one. The issue is that the counter scheme is not communicated in any visible way to the (new) player, with the only exception being the Spearman/Hoplit-type of units which clearly communicate a bonus vs cavalry. After a few games my impression of the counter scheme is that it is very incomplete, but I may err.
  7. Following the "desert your beloved idea"-conclusion mentioning the zone system there is another darling you should kill: that all unmounted units serve as workers. This is a quirky one. I assume that the reasoning behind this is that all workers are female and that the male fighters shall not laze around all day. Joke aside, this mechanic does not turn out very well. Firstly it is a very atypical mechanic, but that does not necessarily mean it is bad. I cannot judge the overall consequences for the meta game either, although I think it promotes early cheap unit spamming. The issue is that player have to allocate fighters and workers alike to work, and as soon as they get attacked, they have to separate fighters from workers. Furthermore, when fight is over, they have to reallocate them to work again. This back and forth is kind of annoying, and games should be fun, not annoyance.
  8. Somewhat related to that is the fact that military units can construct buildings. This is by itself a good idea if one considers the important role especially the Roman military played in establishing new settlements all over Europe. I myself live in a city that was founded by Roman legionnaires 2000 years ago. The issue is not the feature itself but it's implementation. Currently the military can build most if not all of the available buildings, while the workers can only build basic buildings. This is very unusual, but that does not necessarily mean it does any harm. That said, I see three issues here: The smallest one is that it is very unclear to the player which buildings belongs to which category (worker, fighters, or both?) and on which logic this is based on. You could fix that by just allowing the military units to raise military buildings and keep the overlap of building options to a minimum. Second thing is that players currently can order a military unit's building from all over the map with a single military unit and actually raise that building with workers. Why then even bother separating them? Third issue: if you have to use a military unit to build basic military buildings, this means that if you ran out of fighters (probably because you have sent them attacking and they died) it will be very inconvenient to build any military buildings at home. This will be even worse if you fix the second issue, but that's just how it is. If you want to keep the feature you should take a look on Company of Heroes, which has a similar approach but a different implementation. Company of Heroes' military infantry can raise defensive structures only. This makes a lot of sense, as those structures often need to be constructed at the forefront, where weak workers would be very susceptible to attacks. In addition, new players can easily recognize those structures as one of a type and would get the overall idea behind it.

Now what?
Wow this was a lengthy wall of text, sorry! Thank you for reading. Let's discuss all this! First two answers get a cake.

Edited by Temudjin

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About points 1, 2 and 4, I'd say this is already being adressed. There's a new pathfinder which has been brewing for a few alphas ans should be out soon and solve most of the lag issues. New unit models are also being worked on and those should be nicer, with a more easily recognisable silhouette and slightly bigger compared to the current ones. There will be new textures for them but I don't know if they will be optimised for visibility or not. I've also seen some discussions on the forums about changing the grass textures so objects are easier to spot.

About point 3, you can change the angle of your camera in-game using the relevant keys, and maybe you can also change the default angle via the config file.

Edited by serveurix

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7. Following the "desert your beloved idea"-conclusion mentioning the zone system there is another darling you should kill: that all unmounted units serve as workers. This is a quirky one. I assume that the reasoning behind this is that all workers are female and that the male fighters shall not laze around all day. Joke aside, this mechanic does not turn out very well. Firstly it is a very atypical mechanic, but that does not necessarily mean it is bad. I cannot judge the overall consequences for the meta game either, although I think it promotes early cheap unit spamming. The issue is that player have to allocate fighters and workers alike to work, and as soon as they get attacked, they have to separate fighters from workers. Furthermore, when fight is over, they have to reallocate them to work again. This back and forth is kind of annoying, and games should be fun, not annoyance.

Personally I like having the soldiers be the same as workers. This distinguish 0ad from other RTS, so this makes 0ad more unique.

Another thing: your point of the need to put soldiers back to work manually is untrue. There is a "back to work" button near the minimap (something like a wheel). I hope this would make your annoyance smaller.

Let's have a look at the units. Having played just a few games I cannot say if there is something like a working unit counter scheme, probably there is one. The issue is that the counter scheme is not communicated in any visible way to the (new) player, with the only exception being the Spearman/Hoplit-type of units which clearly communicate a bonus vs cavalry. After a few games my impression of the counter scheme is that it is very incomplete, but I may err.

Agree with this, the counter schema is a bit vague. Some little notes like -spear horse--> ranged infantry --> Spear infantry --> sword horse --> spear horse- or -spear infantry --> horses --> ranged infantry --> mellee infantry- are often made in the forums. But a overall schema might be useful.

Another thing related to this is the fact 0ad uses soft counters from which it is harder to make a proper counter schema, than with using hard counter. (Soft counters do have positive sides too!)

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First of all Hi, and welcome to the forums.

About the new units meshes, no new textures are planned yet, but old look way better on the new topology of the meshes. About the grass textures, it's more or less a question of team artist activity. I plan to do something when the team member come back.

1. Serveurix answered it : with the new pathfinder even 4v4 are playable.

2.

3.

4. The aim is too be as realistic as possible, while keeping some RTS mechanics. Some units could use a texture upgrade for they are 10 years old. But then again no team artist are active lately. This is an open source project, and people have lives to.

5. The Aim of 0ad is not to be a AOE clone, nor an EE clone, not any other clone.

6. Hard counters have been removed in A17 IIRC. This now more a question of damage, though some units keeps having bonus against others.

7. While I totally understand your point I have to disagree as this is a unique feature that defines 0ad.

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[...]

5. Now lets step deeper into the game mechanics. If I recall it correctly, by the time you guys started this gorgeous project of creating an own game engine for an own historical RTS game, your point of reference was Age of Empires 2. It is absolutely understandable and refreshing that you developed own ideas and experimented with them to see how things work out. Though experiments are good for innovation, if it turns out that a good idea does not lead to a good player experience, one must desert it. A good idea of that kind is the player zone system. We all know this worked pretty well in Rise of Nations. But Rise of Nations was a RTS of a completely different kind than 0 A.D. (or the Age of Empires series) is. The idea of zones just does not fit very well in 0 A.D. It slows down the game, it reduces the players' strategical options, and it is not very consistent. Beyond that it obstructs player immersion: who made that blue line on the ground? Why is it there? Why does it hinder me from advancing? All in all, it just feels wrong for this type of game. Discard it and advance in happiness!

It started of as a AoE2 mod but not very long after the start the team decided to develop their own engine.

Regarding that 'blue line on the ground': Rise of Nations would've had the same issue but the game didn't have that problem, right?

Edited by niektb

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Hello everyone, thank you for your answers.

Happy to hear that there is a solution for the population lag incoming. This would definitely improve the player experience alot.

I am also glad to hear you guys are aware of the unit's faction colour issue.

Also thank you for giving me those hints about the counters and the camera angle. But as I am not the only one who is wondering about these things, those informations belong right into the game.

Regarding the more controversial points (zone system and infantry's extensive building ability) I want to point out that I can only portray the beginner's perspective. You folks probably are very deep into this project and probably have spent a lot of hours playing or developing the game. From your perspective these - let's say - "oddities" look completely okay and conventional, even though they are not. While in my view not contributing meaningful to the game (0 A.D. is already unique, with or without them!), these features irritate new players and thus can keep them from playing.

Again, thank you for your hard work!

Edited by Temudjin

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Well you can find the manual online and AFAIK there is one in the game too.

Beginners just deal with the stuff as they arrive. RTS old timers as the opposite basically reject anything that keeps them out of their comfort zone. While you consider them as oddities, we consider them as a challenge, and a new experience. Also with capturing territory fighting makes more sense. You might want to wait one or two alphas before making conclusions. The next one will have many features added. And hopefully A20 will have a redesigned way of playing and again more features.

So if you don't mind waiting a little stay around, else sadly there isn't much we can do for you :(

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Many of that new features ever existed, but never in a claimed soul sucesor of AoE/ AoM.

Citizen soldier is very similar to some Nordic units, that can fight and gathering resoruces.

You can name a feature and probably there is a equivalent.

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The 'Easy to Learn, Hard to Master' sentence is commonly used for simple (mobile) games, the gameplay mechanics are very simple but by means of (extensive) practicing the player can (maybe) really master the game in the end. And often that's the point where players are going to seek another game to have a new challenge.

0 A.D. is obviously not going to that way. It is a game with a relatively complex gameplay mechanics that needs teaching. Of course all these gameplay mechanics should be gently introduced through a tutorial, but the game changes so often that this is nearly impossible.

Edited by niektb
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Hello and thanks for the feedback. For a short answer it's mostly as niektb said, the lack of tutorial or things to explain the everchanging features of 0 A.D.

1. Reduce pop cap

For performance issue there were already some commentaries made above about significant improvements for alpha 19. I will just say we are working on making the game start earlyer, so if you reach 300 pop you're kind of turtling.

2. Reduce max camera distance

Why not. In fact I've never read anything about the camera, thanks for pointing it. In the current state (alpha 18) units are rather fast and have long range. This means that one screen doesn't cover much time. Say if a unit can cross the screen at default camera distance, you only see 1 second ahead. If it requires 3 or 4 seconds, the default distance become more comfortable. There are some works for further alphas to reduce the game pace. In fact I'm even zomming in to handle battles on some of my personal works :)

3. Camera angle.

Could be. I use ctrl + arrows to control the camera, some more obvious way to control it may be good.

4. Player colors

Well, battles are a real mess :) I agree with that. Maybe an option to show the colored silhouettes even when not masked can improve the situation perception at a glance. One other way is making battles clearer, that can be done mostly with formations, with a battle run more left vs right than a pack of units running everywhere.

5. Player zone (territory)

Territory management was a bit different at start, there are some issues to be adressed on it, mostly for early game in my opinion. The general idea is I think that when you cross your borderline is kind of "I'm not at home anymore, should take care", and on the ennemy one is "well, now I'm not welcomed here".

6. Counter scheme

The old and complex (but clear) counterscheme was dropped in alpha 17. Even with the soft counter scheme, it lacks for now some indications in a tutorial or things like that.

7. Citizen soldiers

This one is the core of 0 A.D., your "army" is never idle, and even your cavalry as hunters. I know it's kind of disturbing in the first games but it provides an original gameplay (and interesting if you ask me). I truely appreciated 0 A.D. after watching a video of two advanced players to see how to handle this particular game feature. Again, it's a matter of tutorial lack :)

8. Military builders

Having female citizen not be able to order the build of a military building but still build it anyway after was already pointed out, but it was said it's kind of normal... Don't know. This point is still deeply bound to changing point 7, and it won't :)

So as niektb said just before, there are almost nothing to welcome new players and show them a few tricks to enjoy the original gameplay. The problem is that it takes a lot of time to do it and changes between an alpha and an other can require to rewrite most of it. I try to play some games the players I introduce 0 A.D. to, but I can't do it for all random Internet players :)

Anyway, the point of view of a new player is interesting to have, even if I may have answered things like "it's not how 0 A.D. works", there will be things to do to explain in a way or an other how to enjoy 0 A.D. quickly, with a tutorial, short campaign or anything offline game.

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Hello all,

Since version 14, I regularly check what 0ad has to offer as new features and I'm really impressed to notice the game becomes more and more enjoyable as versions are released. However, just like the author of this topic, I would like to emphasize a point that I think it limits the "fun" of playing 0ad. Precisely, this point pertains to the territory zone which clearly constraints players to a certain type of gameplay. Actually, I have decided to create an account mostly to respond to this "heartfelt" topic.

First of all, I would like to thank the whole 0ad team, I really enjoy the result that you guys have achieved with textures, environment, units, etc. Honestly, I think this game excels in the atmosphere it brings when you take the time of building a realistic village with walls, multi oriented houses, etc. Unfortunately, due to limited area, you are not free to expand without town centers and therefore you end up with "disseminated circular spots", which I think it breaks with the wonderful atmosphere and realism. For instance, you cannot build small villages on isolated island, neither installing remote fortifications on top of hills, etc.

It's understandable that such defined areas prevent opponents of being too intrusive but armies are not exclusively designed to attack, they should also insure defense (or gathering), and hence should be responsible for preventing the territory to be populated by enemies structures.

Actually, I'm not completely repelled by territory, but I simply hate the fact that it can only growth around roomy town centers. What would be a nice trade off, is a feature that allows you to upgrade your town center on demand , perhaps similarly to what has been achieved in Empire Earth 1.

So we may imagine that you start with a small town center, then if your city is becoming more important, you upgrade it, afterward if your city becomes even bigger, you upgrade it one more time, etc. Each evolution increasing the area's perimeter and altering the building model. Note that changing the town center model would logically imply to consume more space which may be tricky to implemented due to surrounding configuration (e.g. very close buildings).

Concerning population limitation (less than 300), it should only be temporary otherwise I'm afraid it will divert developers from performance enhancements.

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As I say before, we need a version more flexible maybe similar to Justus mod (Delenda est) or a game mode without the territory system ( classic, arcade...) Whatever

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About territory restriction, you may look for Sibyllae Vox in the mod section. You also have outside territory buildings in Delenda Est.

There are a lot of things to say about territory and map covering not to hinder early gameplay but add something enjoyable and a be a relevant part of the strategy. But as for now there are little concrete things about it.

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About territory restriction, you may look for Sibyllae Vox in the mod section. You also have outside territory buildings in Delenda Est.

There are a lot of things to say about territory and map covering not to hinder early gameplay but add something enjoyable and a be a relevant part of the strategy. But as for now there are little concrete things about it.

Karamel we can have a copy of your work in git hub?

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There is no public git repository for this. I have a local one to track the changes and check which files are touched by which tweak. But it's not a linear development with bug fixes. This is more a pile of crap of trial and errors constantly reedited to test a lot of things and keep a small amount of consistent commits (one for HP, one for LOS, one for damages…) instead of spreading them everywhere . Thus having a shared repository will bring more errors than anything (I'm even working directly inside 0 A.D. data to keep updated to the latest version and resolve potential merge errors).

You can still follow what I'm doing there: http://wildfiregames.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=20065 with all the patches composing the latest state (that cannot be applied liearly from a version to an other but applyed from the current master branch of 0 A.D.).

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I do not think one person can be the spokesman of all players, new or old. Opinions differ, although some a-like are more numerous as others.

I came back to this forum partly to defend the game. After playing the newest version for some time I grew fond of the unique features of 0 A.D. Some of which I had other opinions back when I was active here. That being so, I disagree whole-heartly with point number five. I genuinely like the territory mechanic. Not only for being somewhat unique to 0 A.D. (at least compared to Age of Empires). One other reason is that I dislike towers, as example, build closely to other towers as was the case with Age of Empires 1. Personally, I would like this be futher developed so that there must be space between buildings of factions in the same way. So that player 1 can't build towers in front of player 2's (the enemy) buildings, which is now possible. I find it too arcadey (aesthetically) and somewhat annoying or unfair, and I acknowledge that the game will remain more or less an abstraction of reality. The city building itself is such an abstraction, in order to make it more realistic you would have to uncouple it in a similar way total war does it (the building part is decoubled from the battle part). As for this game, I am not advocating for such kind of realism but would welcome the towers not being buildable in front of enemy buildings.

In response to another post, perhaps not in this thread, the second part that I want to defend is the citizen-soldier. It is another unique element. The only issue I can think of is that it is difficult to attack when there's resources such as forests around. I click and the citizen-soldiers start to cut wood instead of attacking soldiers. It seems that the part in which soldiers carry resources to an attack is partly solved. I remember that I suggested to expand the experience to champion units, but I am not sure if that's necessary. Something I never liked about the combat from Age of Empires is that you could attack individual soldiers with a lot of soldiers. I would prefer the system that Knights and Merchants or Total War has in which a group of soldiers is attacked. Perhaps somehow the transformation into a group could be combined with the citizen-soldiers being able to attack - which seems difficult to do by the way. Another nit-pick on combat is that the arrows shoot too straight. Otherwise combat is good for this type of game: I cannot expect Total War type of combat in a game which combines city building, resource gathering and combat.

My fondest game is still Seven kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries. As such, what I am missing is diplomacy. This is something which not all players would miss, at least in Age of Empires it played a minor role. I understand that diplomacy is still in its infancy. The new trade mechanic that has been added made me happy. Mostly what I'm missing is that I can't start alliances or neutral trade with ai. Another thing I liked about Seven Kingdoms is the resource mechanic which seems incompatable with 0 A.D. In that game, a bigger army, more buildings required maintenance, while in 0 A.D. you can expotentionally grow without any drawbacks. Only the market seems to have a mechanic in which you lose a part of the resources. Of course, Seven Kingdoms has other things that I am found of (loyalty, spies, reputation etc.) but I do not see them as compatible. The charm of Seven Kingdoms for me was its unpredictability and dynamic system. While 0 A.D. is at the moment much more predictable and static, but I know that the majority of players like predictability in games. I also talked about Company of Heroes before, I liked how this game made spamming less desirable and unit preservation more important (but they ruined it with the German veterancy). It does seem that champions are limited because of metal and thus unit preservation becomes important. The citizen-soldiers are however somewhat expandable still. What I liked about Seven Kingdoms also was that the soldiers in barracks gained experience, which required time investment and thus stimilated unit preservation.

Now I think it is important that the developers decide which way they want to go. They are the onces who invest time in the game. I have grown to dislike suggesting, my own especially, because suggesting does not come with much, or any, investment and rarely with the acknowledgement that it costs time and effort to implement these suggestions. So take this as you wish. I also want to apologize for not reading into the vision of the game that much; I might be talking here about things already planned.

Additionally, with this game being so moddable I feel that those who do not like certain elements or want elements added, which includes me, especially me, should instead try to mod the game. Which seems to be happening already. Again, I want to stress that the developers should decide which way to go. We can only provide feedback, it is up to the developers to see what to do with it. I expect them to do that anyway. But, you know, I know that I can be fanatic about my own vision and the suggestions that results form them, and so I make this preach in order to limit myself a bit. This is not directed to other posters as much as it is directed to myself.

Lastly, I want to praise the developers for making such a beautiful and fun game - even when there is still much in development. It is not mere a clone of another strategy game but has an identity of its own. What to say of the attention to detail? The historical accuracy is one thing (though I wouldn't now how historical accurate it is exactly), but what to think of the siege machines? Most games have generic siege machines. Medieval 2: Total War had mostly generic catapults and ballistas for each faction, only a few unique siege engines were added. So keep up the great work!

Edited by Unarmed
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I have finally managed to create a simple mod that disables territory restrictions and... It led me to notice that modding has beeen designed as a masterpiece ! Great job team, it took me less than 5 min to setup what I wanted :-D

Note that, for now, I have removed territory decay, borders and distinctions between enemy, neutral, ally and own areas. I'm going to test the mod in depth, in order to check side behaviors (e.g. with IA).

PS : Once again, thanks for providing such a powerful modding feature !

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I have finally managed to create a simple mod that disables territory restrictions and... It led me to notice that modding has beeen designed as a masterpiece ! Great job team, it took me less than 5 min to setup what I wanted :-D !

you can add a GUI option to enable / disable that option. Edited by Lion.Kanzen

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I have finally managed to create a simple mod that disables territory restrictions and... It led me to notice that modding has beeen designed as a masterpiece ! Great job team, it took me less than 5 min to setup what I wanted :-D

Note that, for now, I have removed territory decay, borders and distinctions between enemy, neutral, ally and own areas. I'm going to test the mod in depth, in order to check side behaviors (e.g. with IA).

PS : Once again, thanks for providing such a powerful modding feature !

Agreed the modding is very easy!

Though, I would keep territory concept for most civ so Nomads (Scythians, Huns, etc.) can have some kind of unrestricted territory bonus.

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mostly points I see in my years in the forum and my spanish group

are:

  • Territory system (very restrictive)
  • Citizen Soldiers: Gestational army vs Economy bonus.
  • Balance the Factions. (as AoM or Blizzard games.)
  • Difference the Factions XD (AoK the difference not was enough)
  • Add more factions/ "my Country Faction"(or Exotic) or following Total war Factions. Example Mayans or Pontus, are the more requested.
  • optimization.
Edited by Lion.Kanzen

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you can add a GUI option to enable / disable that option.

Good idea. It would be nice to expose that feature as an advanced option in the "match" configuration panel. I'm going to give it a try :taz:

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Good idea. It would be nice to expose that feature as an advanced option in the "match" configuration panel. I'm going to give it a try :taz:

I call to this arcade mode.( because AoK and AOM )

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