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Thorfinn the Shallow Minded

Pacing in 0 A.D.

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     While pacing is most of the time associated with movies or books, most games have a similar format, but the structure can vary from one to the next.  In many this can be due to artificial barriers.  Are these barriers necessarily bad?  Not really, but the important thing for most games that take longer than five minutes is to have a distinct feel to what could be called the early, mid, and late-game.  The most familiar example to many would be Age of Kings, which had ages serving that purpose.  Assuming that all of you are acquainted with some of the strategies of the game, I will simply point out that it offered diverse options from doing a dark age rush, turtling, and then going fast castle often to do a knight rush or just boom; alternatively one could aim for a faster feudal age, and then do a feudal age rush, which most of the time consist of archers or scout cavalry and then going to castle age at a later point, usually hoping that the map control could pay off.  There were many variations to these, but the point I want to make is the fact that there were fairly diverse options for every civilisation.  
    
    Unfortunately, I do not see the current iteration of the game having these options.  To clarify, I understand that the game is in alpha and such things cannot be expected to existed in any full-fledged state.  Still, I find it disconcerting that no one has been able to better define viable strategies for each civilisation.  A pressing issue is the fact that in its current state, 0 A.D, with unique aesthetics, implies that each civilisation will have extremely unique gameplay mechanics on par with games like Starcraft, but when looking on paper, the spearman of one civilisation, although drastically differing in armament and historical context, is practically identical.  This ultimately makes 0 A.D. seem like false advertising; its visuals are almost as different from one culture to the next as in Age of Mythology, yet the gameplay does not follow this.  

    I am not going to say what each civilisation should be like right here and now.  I don’t know enough about many cultures outside of Persia, Hellas, Italy, and the Hellenistic states.  What I do want to argue is that there should be an intentional way allowing civilisations doing things such as rushing, booming, and turtling to some capacity and also in a way that plays to its historical strengths and weaknesses.  Obviously there could be exceptions; Sparta seems impossible to viably turtle with.  What this can broadly mean though is a better attempt at designing things such as the tech tree and phases to fit to encouraging interesting options for all civilisations and then with a stable foundation like that, refining the ideas behind each one.

    One other note to be made is that there should be a feeling of reward to advancing a phase.  These currently feel like some of the most lack-luster aspects of the game.  First, I would advise making them be named things that are more thematic.  Village, town, and city seem matter-of-fact.  I would recommend basing it around legal reforms such as “Code of Laws” and so on and so forth; there could be other ways of doing this, but the main point is that there should be some theme behind them, not just what seems like a placeholder name.  Also, there should be some fanfare or sound when someone advances to a new phase to signify that something great has taken place.  If at all possible, there could even be variations in the music tracks give them slightly thicker musical textures when possible in the subsequent phases.  Lastly although changing the models each phase might be difficult, there could be as simple of changing the textures to look dirtier and staler in the village phase to more vibrant colours in the later phases.

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Thank you for your post! You managed to amaze me again with your unusual typography. Not only do you type two full spaces between sentences (as you've done earlier), but now you also started to indent your paragraphs (I didn't see you do that earlier) after white lines. Typically people avoid combining the two. And indenting the first paragraph is often considered bad taste in English (but not in French). Of course, everyone is allowed to mark up his messages in any way they like. Unusual typography merely distracts me :)

PS Something I do appreciate is that you use proper “quotation marks” and not programmer's "cat claws".

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17 minutes ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

Lastly although changing the models each phase might be difficult, there could be as simple of changing the textures to look dirtier and staler in the village phase to more vibrant colours in the later phases.

Actually it ought to be the other way around: contrary to popular belief, cities were (and are) a lot dirtier than villages.

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All part of my evil masterplan to confound you [insert evil emoji].  In seriousness, though, I wanted to avoid an unnecessary amount of text crunched together and still like the aesthetics of indentation in paragraphs; I also am fond of the eclectic French tastes concerning that matter.  In regards to sanitation, the point is to make it seem like there is something great occurring with the next phase; it should feel rewarding.  While many games seem to naïvely adhere to the Whig Theory of history (things continue to get more sophisticated and better), the important thing is that phases should not just be another technology you press.  If this was a city-building game in which sanitation was an in game mechanic, I would by all means stand by that position.

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Guest

One thing I would like to see when phasing up is choices. Like AoE3 or AoM(?). It would give players a chance to choose which direction they would like to move forward and make phasing up more than a button that one just “clicks”.

I’m not sure whats the best way to do it though. AoE3 had governors IIRC, AoM had gods. What would 0AD have?

Edited by Guest

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5 minutes ago, (-_-) said:

One thing I would like to see when phasing up is choices. Like AoE3 or AoM(?). It would give players a chance to choose which direction they would like to move forward and make phasing up more than a button that one just “clicks”.

I’m not sure whats the best way to do it though. AoE3 had governors IIRC, AoM had gods. What would 0AD have?

Could be something like ethnic orientations. Such as Gauls being more arverni or helveti etc 

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To clarify, I actually like to be surprised. I merely commented because I've not seen you (or anyone else) use paragraph indentation on these forums before. Although I would make different typographic choices, at least you gave time and thought how to mark up your text. Please continue to follow your own style :)

PS English often omits the diaeresis (tréma) on naive, contrary to French.
PPS You can use Shift+Enter to start a new line without a white line in between.
PPPS Your signature has only one ".

Edited by Nescio
No, I don't want my replies to be merged.

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As for your proposal, I agree 0 A.D.'s civilizations are too similar and phases unrewarding. Personally I'd actually prefer to phase out phases and instead allow settlements to promote individually, depending on the number of (different?) structures within its inner radius.

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If I may put my humble opinion here, I believe that despite the vast diffirence of appearance in the units of each faction, they each serve a similiar purpose.

For example, a spearman regardless of it's faction\culture still retains the role of being a slower infantry unit suited for calvary defense and when in force and formation  an effective anti infantry unit. 0 AD is a historical rts, so I would assume a fair amount of it's units attempt to reflect their historical role in a realistic gameplay manner.

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I would say that phases are an unnecessary aspect of the game.  The primary point I wished to make is that if phases exist, there should be a definite difference between the feel of one to the next.  Furthermore, the primary thing that I wished (and still wish) to have is a proper feeling of unique early, middle, and late game.  

The spearman actually is an intriguing element of the game since the roles could differ quite strongly from one civilisation to the next.  For instance, the hoplite was heavily armed and fought in close order.  The Persians deployed their infantry with significantly lighter armour (until they started arming soldiers like hoplites).  In general, the tactics Persians tried to use seemed focussed around the notion of anvil and hammer tactics, with the cavalry playing the decisive role while the infantry mainly just supported.  This can be seen in the Battle of Guagemela, where Darius was deliberate about the chariots being the trump card by even preparing the ground ahead of time.  The point is that these infantry were extremely different in how they were used.  

I decided to do a bit of research, and checking on the Athenian hoplite compared to the Persian spearman, there was absolutely no difference in their stats.  The fundamental idea that they both could be effectively deployed against cavalry in head-to-head situations is valid, but there should be distinctions, which I find the striking visual differences do imply.  

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1 hour ago, Rolf Dew said:

If I may put my humble opinion here, I believe that despite the vast diffirence of appearance in the units of each faction, they each serve a similiar purpose.

For example, a spearman regardless of it's faction\culture still retains the role of being a slower infantry unit suited for calvary defense and when in force and formation  an effective anti infantry unit. 0 AD is a historical rts, so I would assume a fair amount of it's units attempt to reflect their historical role in a realistic gameplay manner.

I agree with you regarding the unit types. A spearman is a spearman, really. But, I could see Hoplite-class spearmen being used differently or having different stats from a standard spearman (heavier armor, less speed, lower cavalry bonus, but greater attack). I can see Persian Sparabaran being used differently by setting up shield walls and swapping to bow. Pikemen, likewise, have different stats and uses from a "standard" spearman. Mauryan spearmen could be more massable and trashy. Roman spearmen (Triarii) could be trained at the Elite rank and be more expensive, but not be accessible until Phase II. 

 

Edited by wowgetoffyourcellphone
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Precisely.  Obviously the spearman is only the tip of the iceberg here; my hope is to shed light on the idea that all unit types can be tailored to general, but the way that they vary from one faction to the next allows enough diversity to make a variety of strategies possible for every civilisation.

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Yes it is true that spearman of different cultures deployed different tactics, I'm wondering how we would incorporate these features and maintain balance. For example roman swordsmen threw javelins before they charged, if we add javelins to a sword unit, then what stops it from becoming basically a javelin unit with better stats? Why would someone use the current javelin unit if the the sword unit with javelins is better in every way. Maybe we could have limited javelins for such units, like as a special ability with a cool down time. Rise of nations made the persian spear units into both spearman and skirmishers and it effectively made javelin units obselete in my opinion. What do you guys think?

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We must remember that certain cultures had armies that were superior in almost every way, in the Roman period their legions defeated the phalanx formation and even the barbarian infantry. What unit for example in the mauryan faction would be able to counter a roman legionarie with javelins? Remember as it is, swordsman are good against most infantry and with javelins they could hold their own against skirmishers and maybe even against archers. I am for variety in strategies and units, but how do we balance it?

Edited by Rolf Dew

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1 hour ago, Rolf Dew said:

We must remember that certain cultures had armies that were superior in almost every way, in the Roman period their legions defeated the phalanx formation and even the barbarian infantry.

That's a common misconception. What the romans defeated was not the fully equipped and well trained Macedonian phalanx under Alexander the Great, but rather a pathetic shadow of it that was barely maintained by corrupt and failing remnants of the empire he founded. If Rome had faced off directly vs Alexander then Alexander would have stomped them into the dirt, quite easily. Rome also had a well trained, well equipped professional military for the majority of its existence as a republic and then later as an empire. Rome also did beat down a lot of lesser states during its reign but it didn't always win against the larger military powers of its day.

Rome's military power during its peak came from good coordination between archers and infantrymen among other things, not because they had superior strength or technology or anything. It was just a plain old well trained, well equipped military with competent generals.

That said I don't think a sidearm mechanic would be appropriate from a balance standpoint.

I've been working on an AoK-style balance mod but the work is pretty slow. A lot of game mechanics either had to be modified or thrown out entirely to make it work well and it's going to be a lot of work to beef up unit rosters sufficiently to get good diversity and balance.

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37 minutes ago, aeonios said:

That's a common misconception. What the romans defeated was not the fully equipped and well trained Macedonian phalanx under Alexander the Great, but rather a pathetic shadow of it that was barely maintained by corrupt and failing remnants of the empire he founded. If Rome had faced off directly vs Alexander then Alexander would have stomped them into the dirt, quite easily. Rome also had a well trained, well equipped professional military for the majority of its existence as a republic and then later as an empire. Rome also did beat down a lot of lesser states during its reign but it didn't always win against the larger military powers of its day.

Rome's military power during its peak came from good coordination between archers and infantrymen among other things, not because they had superior strength or technology or anything. It was just a plain old well trained, well equipped military with competent generals.

That said I don't think a sidearm mechanic would be appropriate from a balance standpoint.

I've been working on an AoK-style balance mod but the work is pretty slow. A lot of game mechanics either had to be modified or thrown out entirely to make it work well and it's going to be a lot of work to beef up unit rosters sufficiently to get good diversity and balance.

Ah okay I see, my bad. Yeah  I agree with the with the sidearm mechanic not appropriate 

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I chose pacing because phasing is only a mechanic that affects the pacing of the game.  What is being aimed for is regardless of whether phases exist, there should be a major effort to ensure that the early, mid, and late game are distinct and are able to keep the game reliably interesting.  

Concerning sidearms, I would say that they are viable in particular cases.  Let's consider the Roman legionnaire.  First of all, if they had a javelin side-arm, it would be logical for it to be a special attack that can only be done every thirty seconds or so.  After all, they only did one or two volleys during a given battle.  Next of all, in comparison to Velites, they should be slower, more expensive to produce, and have lower line-of-sight.  The possibility of legionnaires being able to use pila should probably only be available in the mid-game as well.  Will mechanics like this make balance difficult and more complex?  Yes, but with a dedicated team and community, progress can be made for a competitive multiplayer game.  

One example of a game that really pushed the bounds when it came to a solid multiplayer experience was Empires Apart from a design perspective alone (There are definite issues with the game in other ways, yet that is a different matter).  Of their six civilisations, there were extremely unique aspects to all of them.  From the multiplayer games I saw, these came together is a fun game to play from that standpoint alone.  

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The Roman pilum is an eventual must, being able to throw one pilum per minute or something, only if not already in melee combat and an enemy is at a certain minimum distance. IMO balancing shouldn't be used as an excuse to hoodwink civilizations. Especially not some of their most iconic aspects. Might as well forget about the phalanx because it would be too "op"... Rather, flesh out the civs as completely as possible (within reason of course), and then see where you need to tinker in the stats to balance things. Not remove historical weapons, armour or entire units for the sake of... Especially the Roman civilization is one of the most well-known and well-studies civilizations of all. These guys should feel a little bombastic and completely fleshed out. Every other civ should be benchmarked by the completeness of the Romans, where possible. When secondary attacks are implemented, many units across many civs could have them, for example archers using daggers in melee, instead of trying to shoot arrows at an enemy at 1 meter distance, or mahouts throwing javelins. Obviously secondary attacks should never be as powerful as a similar primary attack. For example an archer in melee with a dagger should always loose to a swordsman, but two or three archers in melee with daggers might stand a chance against a single swordsman.

There are many ways of balancing things without gutting the historicity of the game, like costs, training times, prerequisites like technologies or buildings... Don't be scared to get creative. We have many different civs with widely differing cultures. Lot's of inspiration to draw from. 

I just wanted to say that I agree with almost everything @Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said. 

About phases, it would be ideal if they have a more clear visual distinction between them. Villages in village phase should feel villagey, towns like towns and cities should feel like bustling centers of culture and civilization. It would require a lot of work from the artists, I know. But it would be an awesome visual reward for phasing. Just as "important" in my opinion is that Civic Centers need to phase up individually, as was originally intended if I'm not mistaken. So, if you create new settlements around the map, they will start out as villages, even if you're "capital" is in city phase. This way you don't end up building city structures in the middle of nowhere (perhaps some military structures could be an exception). Strong core, weak countryside is intuitively stimulated. The strategic importance of you're "capital city" increases. Village phase CC's would cost significantly less, lower the threshold to expansion, but are also weaker and easier to capture. There is the tactical aspect, assessing an enemy's strength, as you can now easily discern what phase an enemy settlement is on, from the style of buildings.    

I would really love to see the above mentioned elements being developed, but the following suggestions are more of nice to have:   

Maybe a simple earlier phase can be added, to replace "nomad" mode. Call it "Settler Phase". You just get some people and a single cart that can be used as a mobile drop site, while you scout for a good location for you're first village. Only when you have enough resources you can research village phase and build your first CC.

A later phase could be "Imperial Phase", for the non-Barbarian civs. Would be great for Single Player fun. Just make it unviable for Multiplayer (through an exorbitant cost) so it doesn't mess with balance in competitive games.

Edited by Sundiata
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This is the topic I was looking for and didn't find before I wrote (though in a less articulated manner) suggesting to diversify the civilizations more on the suggestions topic. I strongly agree with the points raised by @Thorfinn the Shallow Minded. I think in its present form the excellent work put into making each civilization look so amazingly unique is a missed opportunity as bluntly speaking "if you played one you played all of them". There is very little to differentiate them besides look. A few unique buildings, perhaps an extra tech and slightly different unit selection. There is so much more potential in the game.
It should be obvious, based on one's preference or current mood, what civilization should one pick for a given match. Like to play with cavalry? Go with the Persians. Like infantry? Go with the Athenians. Like extremely aggressive gameplay? Go with the Spartans. Like balanced civs? Go with the Seleucids. While most of these choices are already quite obvious it is somewhat disheartening to know that the Romans, well known for not having good cavalry, will be able to field heavy cavalry just as good as your awesome Baktrian Lancers. Similarly it is somewhat mood-ruining to find out that the half-naked Celtic spearman is just as skilled as your hoplites or Triarii (which was an elite veteran unit BTW).

I think each civilization should feel unique in its gameplay too. AoE2 proved to us that for this you don't even need wildly different unit sets and/or base stats, which would be really hard to balance with this many civilizations. Its enough to have a technology tree and make available to each civilization a unique subset of it. This technology tree should encompass everything from economy to military. Some of this is already in place. For example Greek civilizations have the Theatre building which helps them expand. Some civilizations have the Archery Tradition tech which makes their archers stronger. We need more of these. We need such techs for many more aspects of how effective melee/ranged infantry and cavalry, elephants, siege units, mercenaries, etc. is.

An important thing to note is that, although we tend to stereotypically view barbarian civilizations as of lesser ones, this is not true. So I am *not* suggesting at all to make for example the Gauls weaker, contrary to what my example with the hoplite vs. half-naked Celtic spearman above might suggest. The Celts were known highly-skilled blacksmiths just like many of the steppe nomads.

Edited by macemen
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33 minutes ago, macemen said:

. Some civilizations have the Archery Tradition tech which makes their archers stronger. We need more of these. We need such techs for many more aspects of how effective melee/ranged infantry and cavalry, elephants, siege units, mercenaries, etc. is.

 

They aren't  adding technologies, but is planned development make unique tech tree.

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25 minutes ago, Lion.Kanzen said:

They aren't  adding technologies, but is planned development make unique tech tree.

Sorry I'm not sure I follow. Do you mean using only what techs are already in the game? Also who is they? The devs?

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35 minutes ago, macemen said:

Sorry I'm not sure I follow. Do you mean using only what techs are already in the game? Also who is they? The devs?

They planned more unique tech for every faction. 

image.png.9dddf9694dcad86c70ffbbbd5a10e270.png

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@macemen I total agree that each civ should play very different. I made a mod that tries exactly that. Gauls f.e. are now good in farming and have cheap fanatics, sparta has strong infantry which faster promotion, persia has a weak infantry but good cavalry, Rome has legions and officer of commands, macedonia has auxiliary troops and faster promotion to heroes. And almost all special building or Unit is stronger, that way it defines the strategy more.

Dowload at: https://0ad.mod.io/balancing-mod

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