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Prodigal Son

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Posts posted by Prodigal Son

  1. @Sundiata Thank you too for the nice words :)

    If the game goes further away from the RTS formula, I'm all for additional resources possibly including a "currency" one. Some resources could even be just tech-tree requirements or stat bonuses to make things simpler. Say you capture a horse herd or pasture on the map, allowing the training of cavalry (or providing a discount or stat bonus to them). But the more you go down that way, the more you have to simplify other things (like micro in combat or economy) to keep the game manageable.

    I don't see how this relates to unit costs in Total War custom battles though or how it would help with balancing. Costs in 0 AD are needlessly confusing atm with up to 3 or 4 different resources per unit/structure/tech. Better definition for resource costs doesn't need more than the current 4 resources.

    Also don't underestimate the number of people that want a modern-classic RTS that is not Starcraft II (me being one of them as well). I believe that isn't out of pure nostalgia either, some like the gameplay but want better graphics and/or historical setting/accuracy. Not every classic RTS is a unit micro hell. Nomad Civs, as much as I'd like them in, would neither be a first in RTS games or a good idea to throw at the moment on top of a relatively poorly balanced game.


    1 hour ago, Genava55 said:

    The best way to solve this problem is to forget the focus on the weaponry to explain the role of a unit. Rock-Paper-Scissor is simple and efficient but it doesn't mean it should be a Spear-Sword-Horse system. Heavy infantry can be used for generic infantryman and we can use something like "Shock infantry" for unit that are better at close-combat. No need to change the damage a lot, heavy infantry can have a mixture of 70% pierce and 30% hack and the opposite for Shock infantry.

    That was just an example to show that you can often have historical accuracy even with less asymmetry, leading to better balance among civs. Combat balance is another (but related) thing, that can be done with stat bonuses or other attributes, some of the possibilities including the one you describe. Though for the shake of clarity I dislike mixed damage types. If you think about it +50% damage to cavalry isn't really different to cavalry taking +50% damage because they have lower pierce armor. But having to calculate the exact effects of mixed damage types across all units is harder for both the player and the balance designer.

    So in your example I'd rather have both my Heavy and Shock Infantry deal "hack"/melee damage with different bonuses vs cavalry. Or alternatively I'd give my cavalry low melee armor so that both melee infantry types are cost-effective against it. Then Heavy infantry would have high melee armor to better absorb the cavalry's attacks compered to Shock Infantry, while the later would have a high enough attack so that in can beat the Heavy Infantry.

    Attack bonuses would be my preferred way to go though, at least in this case. Easier to balance and more clear to the player. I can't see a reason to dump them besides "they're an old idea". Even relatively realistic combat systems like in total war still use them. That's for the spearman vs cavalry duel though, doesn't have to apply to all units or be like the extreme counters in some AOE games.


    • Thanks 1
  2. @Sundiata I think I need to explain myself a little better so that you can see where I'm coming from. We disagree on far less than you seem to think.

    I too consider 0 A.D. a very unique game. Probably not in exactly the same sense as you, but I admire the amount of hard work put in this over the years by unpaid volunteers. Coding, art, research, mostly everything, even where/when I disagree with design decisions or specific interpretations of history. Until a few years ago you'd mostly find me around here talking about accuracy instead of mechanics. But an RTS (I'd say any game) can benefit from both. For example, when I talk about going back to the original vision (the game started as an AoK mod and then become, more or less, a clone gameplay-wise - if I recall correctly) I don't mean tearing down every bit of historical authenticity to reach Age of Empires levels of "cartoon history". I talk about gameplay and Civ (a)ssymetry. For example if you need to replace the starting melee unit for the Romans due to balance reasons (Spearman instead of Swordsman) is historicity necessarily destroyed? You can argue that Rome was famous for it's Swordsmen or that Hastatii/Principes are a more basic unit and should be available earlier than Triarii. On the other hand, you could name the first rank of Triarii "Roman Hoplites/Spearmen/Whatever". Rome had hoplite-like infantry before forming it's legions and within the game's time frame. Is the second option less historical? And is it so important that Rome starts with Swordsmen even if the game ends up with worse balance?

    I also don't propose copying the entire AoK gameplay or tech-tree layout, just it's mentality in balancing. That's not because I don't like innovation but because I find it a happy medium between starcraft-level competitiveness and the current confused state of the game. Sure many 0 A.D. players prefer experimentation and/or singleplayer, but also many others would like a game that plays in an acceptably balanced way for multiplayer. I'd love both to the extreme, in fact I've been designing two vastly different gameplay proposals, one of which you might possibly like even more than the current state of the game, if I'm understanding you correctly (the other one is heavily inspired by Age of Empires in the vein I described above, but with many differences as well). But I fear both extreme experimentation and extreme multiplayer focus would alienate far more people that a well designed middle solution. Also not everyone is willing to wait 5 years for the complete game. Btw I'm a decent but not really competitive player who despises ladders (and especially "achievements"), I just try to include all sides of the argument and I want a good effort in balancing RTS games for the sake of fairness. If the game turns it's attention towards grand strategy/historical simulation I'll probably be more radical than you in feature requests. But it can't be both that and an RTS. You can't have an immersive Punic or Peloponnesian War in the game's current scale. That would need abstracting several things to make room for detail in other fields.

    The only asymmetrical elements of Total War that carry into multiplayer battles are the differences in unit roosters. But that's far easier to balance compared to RTS unit roosters. Each unit gets a price according to it's combat ability. Then equal money lead to (largely) equal armies in the battlefield. You don't have unit tech tiers, upgrades, economy, infrastructure etc messing with balance like in classic RTS. On the other hand, Total War campaigns are highly unbalanced, with each Civ having (often largely) different starting resources, number of cities, structures, armies, power of neighboring Civs etc. It's not a strong point or much played part of the games' multiplayer.

    Many people will want to play their "ancestors" or their favorite Civ in multiplayer and have similar chances of winning. Many people will want to play several or all factions in that vein. The people who play to win by all means or those who enjoy winning while in disadvantage are not the entire playerbase, so I don't think that's a good argument. I still feel like I haven't explained everything I'd like in detail, but it's just a post that has to end...

    Lastly, bow to no king, in name or not :D


    • Like 2
  3. 37 minutes ago, wowgetoffyourcellphone said:

    I don't think one precludes the other. Sure, if there are a ton of civs then players will figure out which civs are better than the others and use those in multiplayer if all they care about is win:loss ratios, but that will happen regardless of how many civs the game has. It happened in Starcraft with every single new patch that was released where top players bounced back and forth from Zerg and Protoss, and that game had the absolute minimum of civs. This cannot be avoided.  

    As @Sundiata mentioned, you can macro balance with culture groups and then tweak that a little on the civ scale for interest. Cultural groups would be maybe 6? Not hard to balance from that POV.  

    Starcraft indeed has this issue, but it's not as severe as you make it seem. Ofc, since it has a large player base, many complains get out loud. It also has complete asymmetry, the 3 races share nothing at all as of units, techs etc. While I agree you can't have perfect balance, you can have acceptable balance. Two of the major factors that contribute to having it or not, are the number of civs and the degree of asymmetry.

    The Total War example with culture groups including dozens of civs isn't valid to a true RTS. Total war games can be considered acceptably balanced only at a custom battle level, where players purchase units with a set amount of money to fight a tactical battle. Total war campaigns are completely unbalanced. But I think I can partly see what you & @Sundiata mean. If culture groups can function as in Age Of Mythology, where you have each Civ-group (say Norse) with like 90% similar techtree and it's subfactions slightly diversifying off that as the techtree unlocks, it might be doable. Might need even more work than that though, AoM, while not the worst, is not a well balanced game.

    I've actually thought of that in the past, but then this issue arises: How to group Civs without being too arbitrary?

    • Brits & Gauls seems ok, Iberians could fit here but, among other things, their structures/defences are like on the extreme opposite.
    • Athens, Sparta & possible additional city states is ok. But if you throw the successor Civs on top of that, the unit roosters change quite a lot. The same with Rome and Carthage, so should they get one culture group each?
    • Persians, Mauryans & Kushites have advanced archery but again too different roosters and are too culturally different. Again, one for each of them?

    So from 3 badly chosen culture groups up to 9 well chosen ones just for the current base game Civs.

    I feel like the desire to "throw everything interesting/historically valid in", which I also share to a degree, underestimates the hardship of balancing which I can't properly describe without going to extremely time consuming detail, and even then, possibly fail. I don't believe you can have a game that fully pleases the competitive RTS player, the history nerd and the city builder at the same time.

    The more I think about it the more it comes to me that the most reasonable middle ground solution for the game is to go back to where the game's vision started. Close to Age of Kings, where you can have many civs, big tech trees and an acceptable balance. Decent asymmetry with over 3-4 Civs or Culture Groups (of almost identical Civs each) would doom multiplayer. Experimental gameplay with advanced combat & politics systems, improved city-building, inspiration from real time tactics and grand strategy games etc... would most likely do the same while also increasing development time by a lot.


    • Like 3
  4. @Nescio While I more or less agree with your way of validating historical sources, I think that for the most part they show a preference of melee over ranged combat in the target era (so overall I have to agree with @Thorfinn the Shallow Minded). At least for the majority of the included civs in game and generally most of those around the Mediterranean. Even the Persians probably reduced their reliance on archery over time, in favor of cavalry and mercenary infantry.

    Ranged troops would more often that not be used in fewer numbers than melee infantry and not as the main battle line. There are exceptions that show dominance of missile troops, but most of those are in skirmishes and not large, pitched battles. Unsupported heavy infantry would slowly be decimated by superior numbers of missile troops (easier by peltasts etc, not so easy by archers with their lighter missiles) but normally not when they are supported by faster units and not outnumbered.

    For those reasons, I don't find mass ranged warfare is that realistic in game terms, at least not as the norm.

    There's also the availability of various types of troops to be taken into account, at least in the way I tend to balance my creations. Ranged infantry units are made cheap, with lower damage than melee ones, but the more effective they are the longer they take to train (often with reduced time bonuses, say for Persians or Mauryans). Slingers and Archers have the benefit of long range, but usually lower attack/HP and quite long train times (cheap weapons, hard to master), while Javelinists train faster and have often higher damage (and Hp when protected or drilled). On balancing mostly through accuracy, I'm not so much in favor but that's another discussion.

    • Like 1
  5. Before seriously considering to add any more Civs I'm in favor of settling down on the final gameplay formula. The game already has far too many civs to be acceptably balanced with anything above very minor Civ asymmetry (say AoK levels, which are already surpassed by quite a bit). Do we want a fun game as of "properly competitive" or a fun game as of "large variety in playstyles and cultures represented"? The former option is a golden rule for a successful RTS, while the later is perfectly fine as long as we accept that multiplayer will never have huge potential.

    Anyway it's impossible to please everyone and balance has to do with far more than just the number of Civs. But the main problem as of now (actually for a long while) is a lack of focus.

    Btw, what's the point of having all Civs as separate downloads? I mean from a gameplay/balance perspective.

    • Like 2
  6. 3 minutes ago, av93 said:


    What do you mean by udapting? Erasing scrapped ideas and describing the current gameplay or writing a redesign?

    I mean the first case, erasing scrapped ideas and describing the current gameplay. But that doesn't mean that anything removed for now is necessarily removed for good, it's going to be like a clean start to base further development on.

    • Like 3
  7. On 6/29/2018 at 12:28 AM, stanislas69 said:

    Those are good ideas. Maybe @Prodigal Son could consider some of them for the design document.

    It's missing sockets :P

    I wish you had a coding team working on DE as well. 

    For now I'm just working with @Itms on bringing the DD up to date. I have no clue yet on what will happen after that and if it will involve me.

    I'd consider several of @wowgetoffyourcellphones' ideas, which ones though would depend on target gameplay style and art/coding work needed.

    • Like 1
  8. 17 hours ago, wackyserious said:

    @Prodigal Son It is actually still a linothorax, just dyed in a shade of yellow :) I've seen several illustrations where the linothorax was dyed yellow

    I thought it's some type of bronze armor with small scales, plainted linothorax makes sense though.

    17 hours ago, wackyserious said:

    So here's the final set? @Prodigal Son

    Looks fine :) 

    Not sure exactly what direction to support though. Are we talking battalions or single units in the end? Is the focus multiplayer and readability or maximum realism? Those 4 types are a happy medium to me. 

    @Nescio To further differentiate units, and since this pikeman above is most likely in his civilian outfit, I'd say let's keep the Kausia hat (and any other hat/helmet) to a minimum of unit classes.

    • Like 2
  9. It happened playing as the Kushites. As the game went on with more structures than I mentioned, including CC's and towers. My AI Seleucid ally had a similar issue, with a tower stuck almost halfway done, perhaps cause I assisted with it's construction (but I'm not sure if it stuck at the point I started assisting). I didn't save the replay, but should be my last game played, would it be accessible?

    • Like 1
  10. I just played a bit with the latest SVN build and there seems to be a random bug with construction. A house and a storehouse wouldn't progress past 1 hit point. Re-tasking the builders on the foundation doesn't help, but building new structures works.

    Edit: Seems to happen with more structures as well ( a couple of farmsteads so far).

    • Thanks 1
  11. A campaign would allow for more than just unit names and descriptions, but it's still too much work before reaching that point. I'll also try to make the gameplay of each faction different and inspired by their backstory and ethics.

    Maybe I could split the factions like you suggested but I'd rather keep their number down to four. I'll think about using sub-factions though.

  12. 2 hours ago, Adeimantos said:

    I thought you were just basing it on Europe at 400 AD, it is interesting looking at it as a timeless depiction of the different organizing motives of human societies. Religion, wealth, natural law or the ideals of freedom and equality, and tribalism are all things societies have been organized around. I think a tribal society is more governed by culture and relationship in peaceful times, and by strong leaders in dangerous ones. I would  suggest that these organizing motives are not simply good or bad, that each can be good or bad depending on if it is moderate or extreme and what context it is in. Showing that could give more depth to the concept.

    A campaign could be made to illustrate this, and it could be done in just about any game; I'm not sure it would be worth it to make a major mod for that reason. A fantasy mod would be fun for its own sake though 

    Nothing is set in stone. It started with the four "political" factions idea in a largely fantasy setting, but then I had the idea to make it more influenced by history in some yet to be chosen degree. The steam-punky idea came then, as an alternative means to depict modern tech, inspired by late antiquity advancements in mechanics and steam engines, but taken to the extreme (as if this tech had the right environment to trive for a while).

    I'm still puzzled by the "chaos" faction, not sure if I want to give it a direction like the one you suggested (and make them seen as chaos by outsiders) or make it a satyre of people charmed by complete chaos and/or anarchocapitalism. While I tend to avoid black and white depictions of good vs evil, I do want to criticize and ridicule some aspects of humanity that I consider mostly harmful and/or stupid. This is the same reason for chosing a mod vs a campaign, custom units will give freedom with unit names and unit descriptions, on which I've written down many ideas already. Then a campaign based on the mod is a possibility.

  13. 50 minutes ago, Lion.Kanzen said:

    They are minimalistic (conceptual) the GUI is very polish. better than AoE DE in my opinion. mostly of work its done by icons, easily to recognize because simplicity and universality.

    It's nice and clean but maybe a little too minimal for my taste or 0 AD. Not sure though, haven't played EA so far nor I can exactly imagine it in 0 AD.

  14. 26 minutes ago, stanislas69 said:

    Very nice, I'm just afraid people will confuse red and green team :)

    This and @wackyserious's pic gave me an idea. Perhaps too wild to make real, but maybe we could introduce a "secondary player colors" concept, so that non-metal, non-white-ish parts could be somewhat varied within a unit, but still fitting with primary player color for each unit. For example in the picture above and for the red player, no fully green pants, but perhaps some green/orange/brown/(whatever color or colors prove more suitable) stripes and minor parts. Then for blue player another pallet, etc.

    Edit: Something similar but simpler can be seen in RTW. Brown & black for Dacia (Brown), Blue and White for Britons (Blue), Green and Dark Orange for Gauls (Green).






  15. 1 hour ago, stanislas69 said:

    We should have something that tells the engine it's grass rock or something else. Not necessarily used by the Pathfinder but at least the minimap.

    That would be nice indeed! Then grass, sand and rock colours could be chosen for the minimap to not mix much with green, yellow and grey player (etc) and make it much cleaner terrain-wise.

    1 hour ago, Sundiata said:

    Permanently turned on health bars would be an assault on the beautiful aesthetics of the game (should be optional though, isn't it? I think it is), but health-bars in player colour seem like a really good idea.

    What I really like about that mini-map is that the unused sides are transparent, which makes it a whole lot less intrusive.

    Why is our mini-map in the middle, as opposed to the lower left corner? There's a really good reason most RTS games go for that corner, because it's perfectly non-intrusive, yet clear.

    I love how little space that GUI takes up.

    I just mentioned the differences, didn't claim they were necessarily better and it's possible that they are optional in EA. An optional inclusion of such a feature and player-coloured bars might be a good idea though. I also agree that a GUI of that philoshopy would be good for 0 A.D., perhaps with some minor ancient-themed details to make it not that plain.

    • Like 1
  16. 51 minutes ago, Sundiata said:

    Just my opinion: I actually love all the variation in colour, and I'm personally not the biggest fan of reducing too much variation for the sake of readability. Historicity is one of the biggest selling points of this game (as well as detail in the art and variation in units). There are many ways of finding out which units belong to who, and I hardly have difficulties differentiating between them. There are 13 civs and 8 player is the max number of players, so you should be differentiating units based on which civilisation they belong to. Alternatively, the mini-map clearly shows colour, and simply clicking a unit will also give you all of the info you need. Also epic battles were often quite chaotic, ending in all out brawls with fighters from all sides running all over the place, which is also a big part of the fun and immersion. You never really know for sure who has the upper hand until the very end, which also adds to the excitement :) 

    I don't really disagree with you, it's all down to perspective. Depending on the game's target priorities, there needs to be a choice on the balance between realism and readability, which is especially valid for (competitive) multiplayer, where it's very helpful to rapidly indentify unit types. Plus I sometimes tend to favor the later for some aspects because not everyone playing such games is a history buff and colours for units are largely guesswork (even if often an educated one). I doubt many people will see the game as ahistorical if it has the most plausible armor/clothing, but not in the most plausible colour palette. But then again I can see this approach as immersion breaking for some people like you said.

    • Like 1
  17. 4 minutes ago, Imarok said:

    Shouldn't there also be some player color?

    And for the remaining color: that could be the different ranks.

    Was talking about their main body armor part (here as red, purple, white, bronze) not their entirety. Actually I think player colour (that's what I meant with teamcolour) is generally lacking on most 0 A.D. units, or mixed with other dominant colours that are often used as possible player colours as well, for example here, red. The unit won't look as good clad in full red and the same is true with various possible colour combinations.

    While it's not the most historical approach, I think units have to be easily readable, with clear shapes and colours. A single dominant colour as the player colour, then mostly metallic, white-ish and possibly other pale colours for the rest of the skin. Things can change with ranks (although I think example unit here has no ranks) but I'd still keep them somewhat similar to the basic unit.


  18. 1 hour ago, stanislas69 said:

    What's up with health bars ?they look like ours except they more in the flat design look.

    Other differences I could spot is that they are team coloured, and permanently turned on as long as a unit has reduced hit points.

    0 A.D. would benefit from a clearer minimap, but if it is to faithfully depict the terrain it can't be that clean, as there's usually loads of ground textures instead of a couple. The dark borders for player units/structures and maybe something similar on (some) resources should be helpful though.

  19. 44 minutes ago, Nescio said:

    Helmets continued to be made from bronze, not iron. Also, the Corinthian helmet is more characteristic of the Archaic period (800-500 B.C.). In 0 A.D's timeframe most Greek hoplites preferred more open helmets such as the Illyrian, Chalcidian, and later Attic types. And Spartans frequently used the simple, conical pilos instead.

    Most helmets would be bronze, but there are also many iron examples as well (I think none of Corinthian type though). Helmet transition to newer types would usually be gradual. During the Persian Wars and soon after (say about 500-450 bc) most (or at least many) hoplites would still use the Corinthian one. So I guess it would be accurate or not depending on which period we want to depict each civ or individual unit.

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