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WhiteTreePaladin

Lowering Default Population Limit

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I've been playing on both 200 and 150 pop recently. A lower population limit makes it more difficult to defeat another player by using quantity of units alone. A variety of units types and some tactics are required. This makes it easier to survive the computer player's attacks because while the AI's growth is good, its tactics are average. This increase in survivability allows the game to be more accessible to new players. It also increases performance by quite a lot. Because of this, I think we should lower the default population limit from 300 to 150 (or maybe 200).

One caveat with a lower population limit is that wonders become necessities for longer games because of the hardcoded population increase. Perhaps the population provided by a wonder should be a percentage rather than an absolute? (Would be nice if there were some visual indication when the max population limit was reached. This would prevent building additional houses just to see if the limit increases when the max is not readily known. For example, because the Persians have a 10% bonus, their max pop is 165 when the global pop limit is 150.)

I think the AI should be encouraged to build wonders more often when the population is constrained. Even with deathmatch resources, the AI does not tend to build wonders. I found a workaround: wonder victory with a maximum timer forces the AI to include a wonder in its strategy and the long timer provides enough time for the players to be defeated naturally. It would be nice if a workaround were not required so that wonders would be built with other victory conditions.

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I think AoK had 75 for default and 200 max. AoE3 was 200.

Another nice feature in AoE3 was that ships didn't use population. They had build limits instead which worked very well. Considering that our game mostly occurs on land, I think using build limits rather than population for ships would be a good idea also.

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On 16.8.2017 at 3:10 AM, WhiteTreePaladin said:

I think the AI should be encouraged to build wonders more often when the population is constrained. Even with deathmatch resources, the AI does not tend to build wonders. I found a workaround: wonder victory with a maximum timer forces the AI to include a wonder in its strategy and the long timer provides enough time for the players to be defeated naturally. It would be nice if a workaround were not required so that wonders would be built with other victory conditions.

@Sandarac?

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From my personal player pov, 200 would be ok for me and 300 have always appeared like pure spam games. (Also often players just the 8 players without reducing the population limit, which totally doesn't work performance wise if everyone reaches the limit.)

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On 8/16/2017 at 3:10 AM, WhiteTreePaladin said:

Would be nice if there were some visual indication when the max population limit was reached. This would prevent building additional houses just to see if the limit increases when the max is not readily known. For example, because the Persians have a 10% bonus, their max pop is 165 when the global pop limit is 150.

The objectives dialog shows the maximum population set in the match setup. Indeed that excludes the civ and wonder bonus.

The exact number is seen in the tooltip of the population counter. But that doesn't help if anyone knows about it. In fact most people also don't know that there is an obejctives dialog. So I don't really know what to do. Even if we would show a message box on gamestart, people would click on Ok without reading it. xd

On 8/16/2017 at 3:10 AM, WhiteTreePaladin said:

One caveat with a lower population limit is that wonders become necessities for longer games because of the hardcoded population increase.

Is it really a necessity? By default, we play 150 pop without wonders in multiplayer 4v4s for performance reasons. It really depends on how the units are used, which is something we can expect from players, but how does the AI deal with 200 pop? I can't imagine that it only functions reliably with 300 pop.

@mimo has the most experimental data I guess.

Index: binaries/data/mods/public/simulation/data/settings/population_capacities.json
===================================================================
--- binaries/data/mods/public/simulation/data/settings/population_capacities.json	(revision 20009)
+++ binaries/data/mods/public/simulation/data/settings/population_capacities.json	(working copy)
@@ -1,4 +1,4 @@
 {
 	"PopulationCapacities": [50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 10000],
-	"Default": 300
+	"Default": 200
 }
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I was not aware of the max population in a tooltip or the objectives. The objectives could be shown off in a tutorial and the max pop could also be mentioned in a tutorial. You are probably right that many may forget or ignore it.

The AI handles the lower populations fine, but is dramatically easier to beat. This is because the AI cannot overwhelm the enemy with large forces as easily because some have to be reserved for civil duties. This makes skirmishes more defensive which favors newer human players who are not as skilled in the game. (It makes turtling much easier.) Once an adequate defense has been built, a large army can be constructed. The human player can opt to build a wonder and/or make all gatherers into fighters for a significant population advantage over the AI. This works well against the AI because the it will generally not do either of those.

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Currently, the AI has been tuned with 300, and a simple empirical factor (sqrt(maxPop/300) is applied on its objective numbers (for example, it requires a 40 pop before switching to phase 2, and 80 workers for phase 3: such numbers are scaled when maxPop < 300).

This scaling is only a "reasonnable guess" (as i've never played with smaller maxPop), but should be improved by somebody with such experience. If you could tune them, that would be great.  You may see that the code doing that is in ai/petra/config.js

Concerning the wonder, the code to make the ai builds one is simple, but we have to define some conditions (so that it does not try to soon, or too late), and i'd no time to test what would be adequate. Here again, if you are ready to contribute to such tests, that would help.

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Since r16548, a good amount of config numbers already take the maximum population into account. But if brian witnessed that the AI is drastically easier to beat, we should refrain from lowering it until the numbers are optimized.

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This would provide new players with a better experience because it is easier to manage 200 than 300. (The increase in performance would also help with first impressions.)  Itthink it is something we should still do even if we want to wait for some AI work first. Should probably put a ticket in. I'm going to be too busy to add the ticket for awhile, but if no one else does, then I'll try to add it eventually.

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The beautiful thing of 0 A.D. ( opposite AOE3) was that you can build an big army and handle 300 units.

That was the challenge!
If you decrease this number from 300 to 200 many players will return to AOE3 instead of 0 A.D., because AOE3 has an better balancing and less lag than 0 A.D.

The really big thing of 0 A.D. was to handle such much units! Dont remove this unique selling point!

 

Btw, since some alpha versions the playing time has been reduced. This is a pity.

I think its an better idea to increase the playing time instead of decrease the pop cap.

Edited by JuKu96

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Chill, JuKu the proposal was to change the default setting, not remove the ability to play with 300. You can even play with Unlimited (aka 10.000) currently.

(About the other point, I like long games too, preferably with many unexpected turning points that resemble a story being told (rather than being able to predict the entire course of the game in the gamesetup and having a monotonous snowball effect).)

And we won't reduce the default from 300 to 200 because someone gave a good reason not to currently.

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2 minutes ago, elexis said:

...the proposal was to change the default setting, not remove the ability to play with 300. You can even play with Unlimited (aka 10.000) currently.

Right, as mentioned here, I was only proposing to change the default. You'd still be able to play with whatever limit you want. The setting you choose would be saved as it is currently, so you if you like playing with a high population limit (300+), then it would remember those settings from the last match.

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thanks for your answers! :)

 

17 hours ago, elexis said:

Chill, JuKu the proposal was to change the default setting, not remove the ability to play with 300. You can even play with Unlimited (aka 10.000) currently.

Yes, but if you set Unlimited in multiplayer games it will cause lags. :D

Its important, that pop 300 and Unlimited are different options.

 

17 hours ago, elexis said:

(About the other point, I like long games too, preferably with many unexpected turning points that resemble a story being told (rather than being able to predict the entire course of the game in the gamesetup and having a monotonous snowball effect).)

nice! :D

Another thing is, that currently in most games you dont need walls anymore. Since 2 - 3 alphas walls have losed their importance.

In most games you dont have the time to build great walls. That's too bad. Or i am such an bad player, that i do not come to build great walls.

I have startet playing 0 A.D. with alpha 16 / 17 and on this multiplayer games i was building many, great walls. And with walls the playing time increases.

 

Another problem is, that maps doesnt have enough resources anymore.

Much maps doesnt have enough stone / metal anymore to build such great things.

Edited by JuKu96

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Agreed on all counts, particularly the boat one (I remain the opinion that our behaviour of "need to garrison ships so they're useful' is a mistake).

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4 hours ago, JuKu96 said:

Much maps doesnt have enough stone / metal anymore

The resource amounts per map didn't change

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On 29.10.2017 at 3:44 PM, elexis said:

The resource amounts per map didn't change

 

Yes, but maybe the number of stones in a stone mine was decreased in one of last alphas?

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4 hours ago, JuKu96 said:

 

Yes, but maybe the number of stones in a stone mine was decreased in one of last alphas?

Nah that value doesn't change.

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Maybe resources are being spent faster because of buildings, units and techs that are being used more often than in previous alphas? Resource amounts might not have changed, but I also get the feeling that the map is emptied of recourses faster than before.

Edited by Sundiata
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The nr of resources depend on the map (some maps spam resources, others have 1-2 extra mines for 8 players to share) and the mapsize (nr of res quadratically increase with the mapsze on random maps). How fast they are depleted depends on the gathering technologies (notice the last one gives +50% gathering rate). Finally you have more choices to spend resources on, more units. You require siege engines (and champions became more relevant) in comparison to some alphas ago where one could take down buildings with citizen soliders that only cost food and wood.

Setting the nr of mines and trees arbitrarily (low, default, many, very many) in the gamesetup were fun. Also want gaia survival waves and nomad on all maps. Well, going back to the rmgen code now.

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20 hours ago, Sundiata said:

Maybe resources are being spent faster because of buildings, units and techs that are being used more often than in previous alphas? Resource amounts might not have changed, but I also get the feeling that the map is emptied of recourses faster than before.

:thumbup:

This is what i mean.

 

19 hours ago, elexis said:

Finally you have more choices to spend resources on, more units. You require siege engines (and champions became more relevant) in comparison to some alphas ago where one could take down buildings with citizen soliders that only cost food and wood.

Exactly! That's the problem! You need more resources now, but the number of resources in map hasn't changed.

So demand is higher than supply.

And caused by this, you cannot really build big walls anymore, because you dont get enough resources in early game to do this. So walls becomes more and more irrelevant. But we should fix that by increasing the amount of stones in stone mines.

 

19 hours ago, elexis said:

Setting the nr of mines and trees arbitrarily (low, default, many, very many) in the gamesetup were fun. Also want gaia survival waves and nomad on all maps. Well, going back to the rmgen code now.

Maybe this will fix the problem an little bit.

But i think it will be an better idea, if you decrease the costs or increase the number of resources per mine by default.

Edited by JuKu96

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Walls are tough to balance, since we don't want to make early fights impossible and only want siege engines to destroy them. (We thought about wooden rams in age 2 some day)

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