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The Big Question

A. How would you call the population limit of a specific player that can be extended during a game?

B. How would you call the population limit of any player that cannot be extended during a game?

Rules:

  • The answer for A and B must be different.
  • Feel free to provide multiple answers.
  • Generally, the fewer and shorter the words, the better.
  • Extra points if your choice for A cannot be misunderstood for B, your choice for B cannot misunderstood for A, and none of your choices can be misunderstood for a different concept (e.g. the sum of the A or B limits of all players during a game, or the maximum B limit of 0 A.D. itself).

Explain! Explain!

I’ve recently started working on an English Style Guide for 0 A.D. The goal is to provide developers with guidelines to follow when writting user-facing texts, so that game texts gain consistency providing a slightly better experience for players and a significantly better experience for translators. So I am reviewing translator reports about English strings, and trying to build the English Style Guide as I improve the affected English strings.

I believe some of the core principles of English style guides for software are:

  • Use unambiguous words to refer to a concept.
  • Always the same words to refer to the same concept.
  • Never use the same words to refer to two different concepts.

And there is one clear case where the current texts of 0 A.D. break all of these rules: the population limit. (Thanks to @GunChleoc for bringing it up on Transifex)

See, 0 A.D. does not have a single population limit. We have two different population limits:

A. The population limit of a specific player during a game, that can be extended by building houses, researching technologies, and so on.

B. The population limit of any player during a specific game, the one that no player can surpass regardless of houses built, technologies researched, and so on.

And the terminology that we use in 0 A.D. to refer to them is often ambiguous, with different words used in different parts of the game, and with the same words use to refer to both types of population limit in different parts of the game. Used words include: population limit, population cap, maximum population, maximum population limit.

So I wish your feedback in finding the right terminology to handle these concepts in the game texts.

I propose to keep this topic open until someone proposes a clear winner or, if there is no clear winner some time from now, to create a poll to choose one. I would rather not rush the choice, but I wish to have this settled by the time I finish dealing with the rest of the issues raised by translators on Transifex (in maybe a few months).

Advice

  • Be creative.
  • Check what other similar games use.
  • Have a thesaurus at hand.
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In a private staff discussion, we had thought of "B. Population Cap"/"A. Housing limit"

However, the issue was that using "Housing limit" would make us change the majority of strings related to population and we would end up with something that is not commonplace in RTS games. I feel like it's the B. word that especially needs an original idea.

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After the game starts, if you forgot to check the maximum population, you would ask "pop?" or "max pop?" or "pop cap?"  (Some players still say this sometimes as a holdover from a21 and earlier when you couldn't just mouseover the pop).

Match setup is where players most often read and talk about the population cap, and there it says "population cap."  So "population cap" is probably most familiar to existing players.

Based on common usage, the answer to B should be "population cap."  "Maximum population" is second, I think.

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Population / population limit / maximum population limit for the three values seems perfectly understandable to me.

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"Maximum population limit" is too verbose.  "Maximum population" says the same thing in fewer words.  Also, "population limit" could be confused with the population cap.  Just "housing" is clearer.  My choice for all three would be:  population / housing / population cap.

Edited by causative

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6 minutes ago, causative said:

"Maximum population limit" is too verbose.  "Maximum population" says the same thing in fewer words.

It is not only verbose, it's also precise and clear, whereas “maximum population” is ambiguous, as it could mean A or B. Besides, people will probably abbreviate them to pop? / limit? / max? anyway :)

To summarize how I view it:

  • “population bonus” is what some structures grant
  • “population cost” is what units typically have
  • “population” is the sum of the population costs of all a player's actors
  • “population limit” is the sum of the population bonuses of all a player's actors
  • “maximum population limit” is the setting, defined before a game is started; nevertheless it can be changed by in-game technologies (e.g. Mauryan civilization bonus) and auras (e.g. Wonder)
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8 hours ago, causative said:

"Maximum population limit" is too verbose.  "Maximum population" says the same thing in fewer words.  Also, "population limit" could be confused with the population cap.  Just "housing" is clearer.  My choice for all three would be:  population / housing / population cap.

I believe "maximum" here can be read as "upper limit", so to me what is the same is "maximum population" (population upper limit) and "population limit", since in that context the direction of the limit is obvious. "Maximum population limit" is the upper limit of the limit, so I think @Nescio's proposal makes sense.

That said, I am hoping for proposals that use much more different terminology, because although the difference between "maximum population limit" and "population limit" may seem obvious when both expessions are considered side by side, it may not be so when they are seen apart, where users may think that "maximum population limit" is just the same as "population limit".

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I see the reasoning that a "maximum population limit" is the maximum value a population limit could be.  The problem is, by the same terminology a "maximum population" is the maximum value a population could be - which just happens to also be the same number as the maximum value the population limit could be.  They mean the same thing.  Furthermore, "maximum" and (upper) "limit" are synonyms; there is no distinction in English in this context.

3 hours ago, Gallaecio said:

That said, I am hoping for proposals that use much more different terminology, because although the difference between "maximum population limit" and "population limit" may seem obvious when both expessions are considered side by side, it may not be so when they are seen apart, where users may think that "maximum population limit" is just the same as "population limit".

Agreed, there is a clear problem here.  If you're hoping for proposals to resolve this problem, what do you think about "housing"?  That means exactly what is intended - the amount of space available to house units.  "Housing" does not mean only houses, by the way.  An apartment complex is also a form of housing.

Edited by causative

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I do find "housing limit" / "population limit" (or "housing capacity" / "population capacity") a good candidate pair. The shared roots with "house" are a bit of a shame, but the first sense described on the Wiktionary is definitely the closest I've seen to our A concept.

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"Housing limit" logically refers to the limit on the amount of housing you can build, which is the population cap (not what was intended).  "Housing" by itself refers to the current amount of housing you have, and is more concise.  "Housing capacity" (the capacity of your current housing) is an OK alternative, but it's not as concise and the word "capacity" is not needed.  The amount of housing you have built is implicitly measured by its capacity, so you can just say "housing."

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Personally I dislike terms which do not include “population”, for several reasons:

  • including “population” makes it immediately clear all terms are related and deal with the same concept
  • all internal names (template attributes, data files, etc.) include “population” and I'd rather stay as close as possible to those to keep things logical for modders and programmers
  • “housing” I tend to associate with “houses”; and “housing limit” could be interpreted as a limit to the number of houses, which is something different than a limit to the population. Furthermore, you can reach the maximum population limit without building any houses; in fact, a house-less mod is not inconceivable; and it's perfectly possible to assign population bonuses to units and population costs to structures.
  • “growth” or “growth limit” seems too generic

Switching to population size / population capacity / population cap (instead of population / population limit / maximum population limit) is a possibility but I'm unconvinced it would be an improvement, because each of those alternative terms could be applicable to the individual as well as to the total.

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"Housing" in English refers to any form of long-term living space, be it a house, an apartment, a mud hut, a room on a ship, etc.  In fact, I would say "housing" is now more closely associated in the news with apartments than houses.  It's commonly used in the phrase "housing projects," which are not houses.  A government "housing authority" provides low-rent apartments to the needy.

Primarily I object to the needlessly verbose term "maximum population limit."

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On 1/20/2018 at 10:42 AM, Gallaecio said:

B. The population limit of any player during a specific game, the one that no player can surpass regardless of houses built, technologies researched, and so on.

The definition is ambiguous. When you start the game, you can set the pop cap which is a global setting, but only reflects the maximum pop "in normal conditions", that is, if you don't build or capture a wonder or don't use a faction that has special pop bonuses.

For example with a pop cap of 300 you'll be able to go up to 350 with one wonder + the wonder tech, for most factions.

For spartans you'll be limited to 270 until you get a wonder, for persians and mauryas, 330.

I guess that if you capture wonders and get +10 pop each time the effective pop cap is theoretically infinite.

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Perhaps A could be Available Population and B could be Population Cap?

In my experience 'pop cap' is the most commonly used phrase for B, so I think it may as well stay that way.  It's not creative but I think it avoids confusion.

 

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A: "Available Population" sounds good for the amount of population slots available because of the amount of housing built.

B: "Maximum Population" or "Population Limit." What players say in chat will always vary from what the game says. "Rax" instead of "barracks" for instance. So, they can say "pop cap" when they mean "Population Limit."

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I'd be in favor of "Maximum Population" for A and "Population Limit" or "Population Capacity" for the B. I am against "pop cap" as an official term, because it's an abbreviation.

Thanks for building a style guide, that's a great idea! Official terms could also be added to the Transifex glossary with a note explaining what they should be used for.

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“Available population” is typically a subset of a population (all the inhabitants of a particular place), not a superset, therefore it seems a bit odd to use it differently in 0 A.D.

Also, “cap” (3 an upper limit on spending or borrowing) is not an abbreviation for “capacity” (the amount something can contain or produce). As has been pointed out before, cap, limit, and maximum are practically equivalents.

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Housing capacity and Population limit was my first thought. We should pick terms that exactly describe what we mean and noone will have issues comprehending which variant we mean.

On 1/20/2018 at 12:13 PM, causative said:

probably most familiar to existing players.

which doesn't imply that other terms can't improve the situation. Keeping things the way they are just because we have learned it that way is not a good argument to not try to improve  issues.

On 1/20/2018 at 11:10 AM, Itms said:

commonplace in RTS games

Shouldn't matter in theory either if we can do a better game than the common one :-)

1 hour ago, GunChleoc said:

"Maximum Population" for A and "Population Limit" or "Population Capacity"

Those terms are synonymous so uncapable of identifying the difference.

On 1/21/2018 at 2:06 PM, causative said:

needlessly verbose term "maximum population limit."

The two population limits should be well distinguished, I share Gallaecio's view that there is more than potential confusion in the terminology we use. We can keep it shorter than 3 words however.

On 1/21/2018 at 2:06 PM, causative said:

A government "housing authority" provides low-rent apartments to the needy.

Indeed "housing"  implies that someone is housed by someone else (So that term might be correct for romans but not for celts?) On the other hand it's defacto what happens ingame, no?

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1 hour ago, GunChleoc said:

I'd be in favor of "Maximum Population" for A and "Population Limit" or "Population Capacity" for the B. I am against "pop cap" as an official term, because it's an abbreviation.

"Cap" is not an abbreviation for "capacity" - it is its own word:  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cap  It has slightly different connotations from "capacity."  "Cap" is often used to refer to an imposed or legal limit, whereas "capacity" is more often used to refer to physical limits such as the number of seats in an auditorium.  "Population cap" is more appropriate than "population capacity" in this context.

3 minutes ago, elexis said:

Indeed "housing"  implies that someone is housed by someone else (So that term might be correct for romans but not for celts?) On the other hand it's defacto what happens ingame, no?

There is no implication it's owned by someone else.  Any form of long-term living space is housing.

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