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What do we want?

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Okay, myself included, I see a lot of threads talking about units, balancing, and gameplay mechanics.  But I think that we as a community (and the devs) need to think about is what type of game do we want.

 

Do we want a popular game? One that exploded into relative popularity, and has a decent chance of the creation of a competitive, and maybe even professional scene?

 

Or are we looking for the hidden gem of gaming? One that isnt the most well known game, and if it is, there isnt, if at all, a large competitive scene. Just a casual game for those that love history and gaming.

 

This needs to be decided before the engine is finished, because the two options have very different mechanics and balancing.  Our current setup is the latter of the two choices.  To get a really competitive game (look at anything Blizzard has made) the factions need a VERY different feels for each faction. The Carthaginians need not only a different roster or strategy from the Romans, they need to feel and play different. No two factions should be able to play in quite the same way as each other. Look at Starcraft and Warcraft as examples. Its virtually impossible to play the Protoss the same way as the Zerg.

 

This is something that needs to be decided.

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I don't think the two options you are proposing are mutually excluding. I think you can have both. In the way I see things, the popularity of a game, and even the fact it might be attractive for some hardcore gamer and the competitive scene is not necessary an objective, and can be a passive consequence. If the game is very good made with attention and passion, and fun to play it will naturally attract many people. Moreover, if the game is polyvalent enough (I'll explain how in a second point), it can be satisfying for history lovers as well as hardcore competitive gamers.
What is happening with the recent posts of the clan of gamers if the demonstration of this : as you said, the current dev setup is your latter description "Just a casual game for those that love history and gaming", still the game is fun to play in multiplayer and it already attract many hardcore gamers, they see the game as a competitive platform. So the game already provide the both options.

In my opinion you can have both option, and polyvalence by acting on maps and scenarios too. Surely, the factions are of prime importance. But you can design a wonderful RTS with a realistic and sourced history background, develop nice historical campaigns and story modes, satisfying people looking for your option #2 (whose I belong actually). But beside of this, you can provide nice multiplayer maps, and make in sort these map are challenging for multiplayer competition. And even if only a few factions are interesting in the competition (maybe some factions have a bigger impact on the historical side than on any multiplayer playing side), people will only use a few factions for the competition and will have fun this way. Like for the "no wall" rule for multiplayer gamers. Competitive players can set up some more restrictive rules to turn the game in something more competitive (option #1), it won't change its main, current value.

I think this game can satisfy both kind of players. Even if I am player #2 type, I am glad many hardcore gamers like to play this game too. It could be inspiring in term of strategies for me, to help me to simply beat the AI. And maybe they could push the game to its limits, then helping devs to finely tune the factions with subtle balancing, without fully destroying the gameplay.

But if there are some balancing choices to make that could exclude type #1 or type #2 players, surely the core devs and main historical contributors would have to choose. Then there are more chances that option 2 (current, as you said) would overlay option 1. But still, I don't think it won't exclude hardcore gamers.

I believe in the "middle way", and I am sure that the game will naturally take it ;). Don't worry, I'm sure everyone will be pleased.

Edited by AtlasMapper
mixed options stuff
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I think everyone, specially the developers want more people to play this game. Think about it, they spend countless hours on making this game, why would they want only a few people to play it.

As for a competitive scene, yes diversity does help a lot but I think the developers are focusing on other things at the moment, furthermore it is not necessary for having a competitive scene, in fact, neither is it necessary for the game to be out of alpha for a competitive scene to exist. What a competitive scene does is attract the vast amount competitive people that like to train in a game, join a team, and play against others. This is why games such as CS:GO thrives, imagine if the only way to play CS:GO was against bots, not many people would play it.

This is why I agree with you about the game being balanced, an unbalanced game cannot be competitive.

However overall, the developers have done a fantastic job in balancing the game throughout the making of the game, the mechanics, the values, basically the system is very balanced. You can have a 6 player game, all with a different civilisations and you wouldn't know they exact outcome as skill overcomes what each civilisation is. This is partially due to the civilisations being pretty similar, some having the slight edge over others for small features (for example mauryans have an elephant which is great for a fast economy). Nonetheless, overall, the developers have done a magnificent job on making a balanced system.

Here are my small opinions on some small changes that I would like to see in the game in the future:

  • A larger diversity between champion units, and a smaller diversity between citizen-soldiers. 
  • A larger diversity of upgrades (relevant to historical accuracy of the civilisation at hand).
  • Setting a minimum distance between wall turrets, more on that topic in this thread (I however do not agree with causative, as I think that the screenshot of the base that he provided as an example can be beaten with strategy).
  • Naval movement (I have a passionate hatred for the boats)

As for the historical aspect of the game, its the best part! There is no need to choose between a historical game or a popular game, why can't it be both?

I also want to take this opportunity for thanking the developers for all the work and time spent in making the game what is it now, keep it up guys!

Edited by Mr.Monkey
Forgot to link something
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1 hour ago, SeleucidKing said:

Okay, myself included, I see a lot of threads talking about units, balancing, and gameplay mechanics.  But I think that we as a community (and the devs) need to think about is what type of game do we want.

Both these ways are compatible and difference of mechanics isn't big. And don't need change something in engine to balance game. You could change units/building/etc settings to setup the balance as you want. Perhaps, you need give more detailed suggestions instead of volumetric discussion.

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This question is not relevant to 0 A.D.

 

The important thing is to have a coherent grand vision, and then create it to the best of the ability. Kowtowing to the whim of random players on a forum is not the way to realize grand coherent vision. A scattershoot unpolish game design will not make the game mainstream popular or underground hit.

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Correct me if I'm wrong @SeleucidKing, but I guess your question behind the lines is: Are we (community and/or dev team) prepared for this? My personal answer is: NO WAY!

Before even seriously consider large scale competitions there are still so incredibly much things to do... and competitive focused balancing is probably at the bottom of the list. Moreover, balance cannot be achieved in variety, it's just another marketing strategy from game publisher to sell more titles but truth is no one still has made a true balanced game (I can make a list of games I've played where there are clearly a maximum of 2, maybe 3, dominant weapons/strategies). As for RTS, the only balance is playing with identical factions on a symmetric map, but then again - given same skill level - there would be a dominant strategy --> wait behind walls; unless of course, we introduce some candy micromanagement feature which can be game-changer (for example, flanking damage, formations bonus/malus and cavalry charge).

Back to topic, I'd rather approach new games with exciting features rather than promise of competitive-aware development. For example, I'm sure many Company of Heroes players would enjoy to see another game having dynamic cover or different movement speeds depending on terrain. Maybe we need to brainstorm to bring something original idea and bring even more glory to a game which is already great at this stage of development.

If we still wants to make some sort of competition, why we couldn't start with something simple like 'Release Cup' and/or 'Release Candidate Cup' (epic hah), achieving both stimulating competitions and helping devs with live, instant, first hand feedback and even material for video-changelogs? As an additional suggestion, including winner and runner-up nicknames on the game credits could be enough prize for now :)

 

PS: @Mr.Monkey I'm not a CS fan, but CS:GO was really disappointing in it's release, and there was no competition at all. Competitive scene rise up when Valve started to put money prizes on tournaments, then most pro players from older CS versions switched to GO. If we make a competition with a million dollar pool prizes, be sure you won't need much to get players into your game hah

 

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@Dade CSGO actually didn't do bad in its release, actually it attracted more old CS 1.6 players that barely played CSS because CSS was so bad, and there was competition at the start, just not Professional competition. But there were many people in matchmaking trying to increase their rank, that's competitive play. There is no need to have a huge tournament with professional live-streams, casters and a large price pool, that's absurd.  No one is talking about large scale competitions yet.

I'm just saying that 0.A.D already has a potential to have a small competitive scene because it is already pretty balanced.

Also variety does not mean unbalanced, yes that is the case for many games, but dedicated development can lead to a pretty balanced game. A perfect game to show this is SMITE a game with tons of gods, yet there aren't even top 10 gods out of all of them, yeah some gods are underpowered (2-3 of them), but a skilled player with experience on that god can beat any other god. Every time a new god comes out its either overpowered or underpowered, but the SMITE devs are pretty close to the community and listens to the community a lot, so they usually balance things out in the next update. Such large scale of variety is pointless for a game like this, but making all civs identical would make the game extremely boring.

However I agree with you that variety is something for the future, devs should not focus on that right now.

@wowgetoffyourcellphone Devs don't have to do anything that we say, this is just simple player feedback. They can take it however they want.

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15 hours ago, SeleucidKing said:

Okay, myself included, I see a lot of threads talking about units, balancing, and gameplay mechanics.  But I think that we as a community (and the devs) need to think about is what type of game do we want.

 

Do we want a popular game? One that exploded into relative popularity, and has a decent chance of the creation of a competitive, and maybe even professional scene?

 

Or are we looking for the hidden gem of gaming? One that isnt the most well known game, and if it is, there isnt, if at all, a large competitive scene. Just a casual game for those that love history and gaming.

 

This needs to be decided before the engine is finished, because the two options have very different mechanics and balancing.  Our current setup is the latter of the two choices.  To get a really competitive game (look at anything Blizzard has made) the factions need a VERY different feels for each faction. The Carthaginians need not only a different roster or strategy from the Romans, they need to feel and play different. No two factions should be able to play in quite the same way as each other. Look at Starcraft and Warcraft as examples. Its virtually impossible to play the Protoss the same way as the Zerg.

 

This is something that needs to be decided.

There are a lot of games that are both historically accurate and competitive. The entire Age of Empires series, Total Wars after Medieval 2 (but before Rome 2), Europa Barbarorum, the list goes on and on. The ancient world was a balanced place. If Rome had misstepped at the battle of Pydna, we might be speaking Greek today. If Scipio Africanvs died hen we might be speaking Punic. If Alexandros Ho Megas died before his conquests we might be speaking Persian. If he didn't die of malaria, well China might be Greek. My point is that all of the ancient world was balanced at a point.

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@Mr.Monkey With all the respect, wiped guys from 1.6 or Source seeking for their opportunity at GO is not exactly a success to a game which intention was to be again king of FPS competitive scene. Until Valve's Majors almost no professional teams took CS:GO seriously, and I know what I'm talking about because by the release of CS:GO I was competing in BF3 and most of my team mates and their friends were 1.6 professionals too.

About competition size, I think you just explained my point: we can't ask devs for major changes for a minor/niche competition at this moment. We want to make a ladder/tournament/league or whatever? Fine, but keep it low profile until game is stable enough. New players, specially if they come just for competing, will fly away fast as they come if their games starts to lag and/or are not able to play. And those kind of players, hardly comes back.

I didn't play SMITE actually, but MOBA's usually have a single map per game-mode just to try closing the balance gap between characters, which is something I think is not acceptable on any other game genre. Also, I feel like we are talking about different things, we should first agree on what we all interpret as 'balancing'.

7 hours ago, wowgetoffyourcellphone said:

This question is not relevant to 0 A.D.

 

The important thing is to have a coherent grand vision, and then create it to the best of the ability. Kowtowing to the whim of random players on a forum is not the way to realize grand coherent vision. A scattershoot unpolish game design will not make the game mainstream popular or underground hit.

I wish I could give you thousands of likes, and I might add AssaultCube as an example of what you just wrote about kowtowing.


Last I'll re-quote myself: "If we still wants to make some sort of competition, why we couldn't start with something simple like 'Release Cup' and/or 'Release Candidate Cup' (epic hah), achieving both stimulating competitions and helping devs with live, instant, first hand feedback and even material for video-changelogs? As an additional suggestion, including winner and runner-up nicknames on the game credits could be enough prize for now :)"

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@Dade I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say. I was merely pointing out that in my first post I was not talking about professional competitive play, I was talking about just normal competitive play in matchmaking.

I do agree with you about competitions, in fact I never said that the devs must do the ideas I proposed, I was simply answering the question of the title of this thread, in a forum called General Discussion & Ideas. It is simply feedback that they can take in consideration, or if they want to they cannot. Nonetheless I completely agree with you about tournaments, they should be small and simple, something for just the time being. In fact having tournaments isn't needed for competitive play, having teams/clans is good enough.

As for SMITE I think you misunderstood me as well, I was using the games variety of gods (the characters available in the game) as an example that variety does not necessarily mean unbalanced. By unbalanced, I mean having a civilisation (or in this case a god) that is by far much better than others.

Finally, kowtowing to random players is indeed the worst thing developers should do, but that does not mean that they should completely ignore feedback and ideas. And I don't see how AssaultCube is an example for kowtowing, in fact its the opposite. a large portion of the devs did not listen to feedback and made changes which made a lot of people leave. For example, they reduced the maximum map size by a lot, basically decreasing the mapper community to null. Furthermore in the next update the devs want to get rid of a bug called "hax jumping" which is a collision bug that causes players to jump slightly higher, this basically annihilates the GEMA community, which is like 30% of the user base. 

 

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22 hours ago, vladislavbelov said:

Perhaps, you need give more detailed suggestions instead of volumetric discussion.

Yes sir. It was not well described.

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13 hours ago, wowgetoffyourcellphone said:

This question is not relevant to 0 a.d.

Im sorry. This caused more controversy then I intended. Please feel free to close this thread if you wish.

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12 hours ago, SeleucidKing said:

Im sorry. This caused more controversy then I intended. Please feel free to close this thread if you wish.

Robust discussion is not necessary controversy. Don't feel bad. Even my post is just opinion. All have opinion.

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22 hours ago, Palaiogos said:

There are a lot of games that are both historically accurate and competitive. The entire Age of Empires series, Total Wars after Medieval 2 (but before Rome 2), Europa Barbarorum, the list goes on and on. The ancient world was a balanced place. If Rome had misstepped at the battle of Pydna, we might be speaking Greek today. If Scipio Africanvs died hen we might be speaking Punic. If Alexandros Ho Megas died before his conquests we might be speaking Persian. If he didn't die of malaria, well China might be Greek. My point is that all of the ancient world was balanced at a point.

It's impossible to be 100% historical accurate (you will kil gameplay), but Age of Empires have very big flaws (mamelukes, f.e). Don't know about Total War

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To be really accurate the biggest change would have to be food.  Food would be a resource continually consumed by all units, instead of just buying a unit for a fixed amount of food.  If your food production is interrupted and you run out of food reserves your units would begin to starve, suffering lower stats and losing HP until they die.  95% of people around 0 A.D. were farmers so this is really important.

Why was the starvation method of siege effective?  Because the defenders needed very large fields to get food for themselves, and they couldn't afford to build and defend walls around that large area.  This was an essential part of military strategy.  Fields should be huge, covering large areas of the map, and hard to defend.  Corrals would require large fields too (sheep have to graze).

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5 hours ago, causative said:

To be really accurate the biggest change would have to be food.  Food would be a resource continually consumed by all units, instead of just buying a unit for a fixed amount of food.  If your food production is interrupted and you run out of food reserves your units would begin to starve, suffering lower stats and losing HP until they die.  95% of people around 0 A.D. were farmers so this is really important.

Why was the starvation method of siege effective?  Because the defenders needed very large fields to get food for themselves, and they couldn't afford to build and defend walls around that large area.  This was an essential part of military strategy.  Fields should be huge, covering large areas of the map, and hard to defend.  Corrals would require large fields too (sheep have to graze).

With this idea we would not need the thread of no walls allowed in multi.

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On March 31, 2016 at 8:47 AM, Dade said:

Correct me if I'm wrong @SeleucidKing, but I guess your question behind the lines is: Are we (community and/or dev team) prepared for this? My personal answer is: NO WAY!

Before even seriously consider large scale competitions there are still so incredibly much things to do... and competitive focused balancing is probably at the bottom of the list. Moreover, balance cannot be achieved in variety, it's just another marketing strategy from game publisher to sell more titles but truth is no one still has made a true balanced game (I can make a list of games I've played where there are clearly a maximum of 2, maybe 3, dominant weapons/strategies). As for RTS, the only balance is playing with identical factions on a symmetric map, but then again - given same skill level - there would be a dominant strategy --> wait behind walls; unless of course, we introduce some candy micromanagement feature which can be game-changer (for example, flanking damage, formations bonus/malus and cavalry charge).

Back to topic, I'd rather approach new games with exciting features rather than promise of competitive-aware development. For example, I'm sure many Company of Heroes players would enjoy to see another game having dynamic cover or different movement speeds depending on terrain. Maybe we need to brainstorm to bring something original idea and bring even more glory to a game which is already great at this stage of development.

If we still wants to make some sort of competition, why we couldn't start with something simple like 'Release Cup' and/or 'Release Candidate Cup' (epic hah), achieving both stimulating competitions and helping devs with live, instant, first hand feedback and even material for video-changelogs? As an additional suggestion, including winner and runner-up nicknames on the game credits could be enough prize for now :)

 

PS: @Mr.Monkey I'm not a CS fan, but CS:GO was really disappointing in it's release, and there was no competition at all. Competitive scene rise up when Valve started to put money prizes on tournaments, then most pro players from older CS versions switched to GO. If we make a competition with a million dollar pool prizes, be sure you won't need much to get players into your game hah

 

I think in every RTS game there are three strategies (or at least 6 subways): turtle, Rush, and boom. As long as all factions can do these three strategies, balanced, it can be a good game that might be competitive.

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18 hours ago, causative said:

To be really accurate the biggest change would have to be food.  Food would be a resource continually consumed by all units, instead of just buying a unit for a fixed amount of food.  If your food production is interrupted and you run out of food reserves your units would begin to starve, suffering lower stats and losing HP until they die.  95% of people around 0 A.D. were farmers so this is really important.

Why was the starvation method of siege effective?  Because the defenders needed very large fields to get food for themselves, and they couldn't afford to build and defend walls around that large area.  This was an essential part of military strategy.  Fields should be huge, covering large areas of the map, and hard to defend.  Corrals would require large fields too (sheep have to graze).

These are actually possible with the game, but need some extra code for the starvation part. I know you are only giving example, but it would be cool to explore such things in a mod.

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Regarding the original post. Without a large advertising budget and/or a great plan, games get totally buried. Conversely, bad games can get good exposure (sales) with good advertising. In principle, any half decent game can have good sales with good advertising. It's not all about maximising sales, but sales give money to help improve the game, and do more marketing, so a virtuous circle effect. You have the most chance at 1st release.

I co-authored a passion project game at Uni which we eventually remastered and released on Steam a few years back. 94% positive rated at ~900 reviews, but barely broke even if you costed up the labour.

The other talking point, just for fun:

Agree food is very important. In a siege, water supply was often the issue too. So much so that often castles and settlement locations were selected for the spring/well water supply. I don't think that would add much...

...but I think regarding gameplay , 'to be really accurate the biggest change would be' ...children. Implemented by a short time-lag between spawning people and fighting age.

Then, if you have any sizable army defeat you better have good city defenses or it's game over. So you'd have more Pyrrhic Victory situations, and I guess other real tactics that currently don't work. It might make game tend toward one major decisive battle. 

In code it should be ok to test: Have a Age var for human Units, and say 30 seconds to adulthood, then have a proportional reduction in attack Damage points until that age. Visualisation could just scale the model x,y,z at the same rate (0.85 to 1.0).  It would be subtle, but an experienced player could visually tell his opposing army was majority youth. Increasing the value of spying and game difficultly curve.

Perhaps children could be taken away like Sheep... "The ashes were trampled into the Earth, and the blood became as snow. Who knows what they came for... weapons of steel, or murder? It was never known, for their leader rode to the south, while the children went north with the Vanir."

Edited by John 5

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