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ChronA

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Everything posted by ChronA

  1. Agreed that the banking during the turns looks wrong right now, but otherwise this is incredibly cool. I hope it can make it into a future alpha. Naval gameplay seems like its more of a placeholder right now, so maybe concerns about gameplay implications won't be too much impediment. How do other games handle pathing for units with wide turning radii? Only one that comes to mind for me right now is Zero-K. There I believe rotational and forward movement are disconnected. So if a tank, rover, or ship hits an obstruction it will stop moving along the component normal to the obstruction, while retaining its tangential velocity, and continuing to smoothly turn the whole time. It looks kind of stupid in action but I guess it plays well for them.
  2. Hm... Slings are certainly formidable weapons, but to suggest that they could propel shot of a similar mass to a .45 at comparable velocity to modern firearms does not parse. Even .22 LR with an energy of under 200 J can easily shred all but very high quality reproduction plate armor. If slings could approach those kinds of energies, they would have been MUCH more effective than crossbows or high poundage war bows against mid to late medieval armor. Yet I have never heard of any medieval army fielding slingers as a core part of their infantry complement. I'd want to see some pretty extraordinary evidence before I'll buy that ancient slingers could reproducibly break 75 m/s. Don't take that as me contesting the idea that slings should be effective against elephants though! Even if it was just 50 m/s, slingers with lead shot would still open up wounds that would drive an elephant crazy, and if hit with enough I'm sure would eventually make them bleed to death.
  3. It does. There are a couple of different approaches (off the top of my head) that could be used to change that behavior, not all of which have been discussed yet: Add a preferred target preference against ranged unit to ranged units (or perhaps only to some subset--like archers--so that they become specialized as a ranged superiority unit). Changing the overall damage rate (or directional armor bonuses) of the game such that flanking maneuvers produce a positive increase in damage dealt. Right now if one tries to move ranged units to the enemy flank in order to target the ranged back lines, it appears that the additional damage the suffered + forgone during the maneuver will usually overwhelm the benefit from increased targeting efficiency. Revise the target acquisition algorithm, perhaps to have units first target the lowest HP target already within their attack range. Some sort of attack ground or volley functionality. etc
  4. The elephants as siege weapons trope is definitely ahistorical. However the game engine right now doesn't really simulate the things they were actually used for: breaking enemy morale and stampeding through otherwise immovable infantry blocks.
  5. Some good idea here... just thought I'd point out as an answer to the original question: Targeting the nearest enemy maximizes damage for ranged units because there is less chance of them missing closer targets due to projectile spread and travel time. It is also protective, because for a ranged units focusing on the closes6t units makes it more likely that they will kill melee opponents that are in a position to do damage before they can do too much of it. And for melee, attacking the nearest unit reduces the chance that they will become stuck getting ravaged by the enemy while trying to reach a target that is out of range or behind an obstruction.
  6. The simulation treats the mount and the rider as one unit. (On visual side, the rider is actually just a prop that the mount is "wearing," like an infantryman might wear a helmet.) For the future, I think changing riders and mounts into separate simulation entities could be really interesting, and a way to differentiate 0 AD from other historical RTS franchises that shall go unnamed. (You could have horse archers that can move while focusing fire on a target for example, or horsemen that dismount to fight anti-cavalry.) However, this would require a lot of new simulation code, and probably some new animations. It would take a long time, and would probably require a fork in the project as I don't believe the competitive scene has a stomach for such major gameplay changes.
  7. I don't think anyone doubts that axes or maces were used in ancient combat. The problem is figuring how to systematize them for gameplay in a way that is not superficial AND also relatively faithful to history. Maces were/are more effective than bladed weapons for straight-forwardly defeating body armor. Axes have some utility for hooking shields, weapons, and body parts that swords lack. However there are special techniques for very effectively dealing with armor and shields while using a sword: grappling, pommel strikes, etc. It is all a matter of training. And once you are trained I don't think there was a big difference in the overall effectiveness of these weapons. If there were, don't you think the Romans (for example) would have regularized their adoption? E.g. in each contubernium requiring 3 men be equipped with axes to defeat enemy shields and 2 with maces to dispatch armored opponents. These kinds of mixed arms arrangements with exactly that kind of logic were not uncommon in the late medieval period and renaissance.
  8. (A little fire wakes the dead around here.) Developmental focus is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it is necessary to prevent feature bloat turning a project into vaporware. However, especially with an open source project, you also need to be able to attract talented developers to contribute. With 0 AD something about that balance feels off kilter to me. A gentle reminder: it is actually possible to publish FOSS games that are both feature-rich and polished. I'd point to Zero-K and The Dark Mod. I'd characterize the former as even more insular against public contributors than 0 AD, and the latter as more welcoming (they have actual up-to-date tutorials for how to build original fan missions, and if you have a cool idea often the community will actively collaborate to build it). So there are multiple equilibria. (Or maybe there are other factors entirely to why these projects have matured so much faster than 0 AD.) Anyway back to @MoLAoS's topic... If your ambition is just to create a gameplay mod that other modders can use as an addon for building their own fantasy/sci-fi projects, I'm not sure how much traction you can expect to get. There is a chicken an egg problem. Your mod would be an additional dependency that any down-stream modders would have to keep track of. Can they trust that you will keep everything up to date and compatible with the ongoing updates to vanilla 0 AD in a timely manner? Can they trust your updates not to break their projects? (Hyrule is having trouble even keeping up with the alpha 25 update.) Conversely, how long are you prepared to maintain assets that no one else seems to be using? That's why I assumed you wanted to hitch your horse to the 0 AD wagon proper, and not just ride along side as another mod in the database. Incorporating these feature into the official release would engender a lot more confidence for any aspiring sci-fi/fantasy modders that they have a solid foundation to build from. As it is, what you are outlining sounds great. I particularly like the idea of more customizable health and stamina fields (and of course multiple weapons), they would be very helpful even in a low-fantasy setting... However, I wouldn't be making any plans to incorporate your addon into any projects I (hypothetically) had on the back burner. There is just too much uncertainty. Sorry to be the wet blanket here. I don't like being a negative Nancy, but I don't think hiding problems from people is a good idea either. If 0 AD and Pyogenesis were more feature-mature, I think I would be more enthusiastic, but for now you are building on quicksand IMHO. I think you might even be better off trying to fantasy-up a Spring engine derivative (like starting with Zero-K). The game systems and assets would require more work to bring into line with fantasy tropes, but the technical side would be more stable and I think you could possibly get some community support for trying something new. With 0 AD... well... it doesn't even do ordinary sword-and-board combat that well right now if we're being honest with ourselves. Maybe we should fix that before trying to introduce support for deep and complicated magic systems.
  9. My personal impression is that the 0 AD development community is extremely apathetic, verging on hostile, to the kind of thing you are proposing. They are not developing a general-purpose game engine, even though that seems to have been the intention at one point. Rather the project is very narrowly focused on supporting its own vision of itself as an extremely conservative historical-ancient-warfare RTS. That's not to say they would try to stop you developing these features, but don't expect any assistance. And be prepared for a cool reception when trying to get your changes into the official code base.
  10. A thought: perhaps priests could be given a harvest-rate boosting aura like female citizens used to have. That would give them a lot more utility distinct from their marginal combat role, which at that point might just be a nice bonus. It would also reinstate an economy optimization minigame I assume some people enjoyed, but without the complication of the aura source also being an obligate harvester.
  11. I agree that it appears to be in a much better place within it's established paradigm. Players are finally acknowledging the necessity of having melee as a meat shield for their ranged DPS. I think it can be pushed further though. Real diversity would be having some compositions (other than Spartans) where the heavy melee can be sustained damage dealers, where horse cavalry can be sustained damage dealers.
  12. 0 AD's Pro-Snowball Features: Lack of strong AOE damage sources that would require tight control to counter Strong ranged units that remain effective with minimal control (Effectively) Frictionless-less pathing, allowing arbitrarily dense unit packing (negating the effect of range differences) Citizen soldiers that remove the need to choose between eco and military growth Veterancy promotions Capturable buildings Loot 0 AD's Anti-Snowball Features: Abundant resources that permit a player to survive falling behind on expansions Very strong static defenses Very durable buildings that can garrison and protect large numbers of units of arbitrary type Limited anti-building counters Soft-counter based balancing Lack of major unit and faction differences You will notice a lot of those anti-snowball features line up with many of the top complaints about 0 AD's design... One idea that might fortify the anti-snowball side a bit more, without sacrificing established features or historical authenticity, is to give cavalry an attack-and/or-defense-debuffing aura against ranged infantry. This would provide something adjacent to catapult AOE as a hard counter for dense ranged infantry, and shift the balance a bit more in favor of melee.
  13. The promotion system is part of the problem here. In the real world there is a lot more difference in the tactical capabilities between a raw conscript swordsman, a veteran swordsman, and a fully armored, professional swordsman, than there is between a swordsman, an axeman, and a maceman. Without embracing fantasy tropes, It is difficult to conceptualize an axeman type unit that would not just be a reskin of a swordsman.
  14. Charging. If you are ever going to have it as a deliberate feature, now is the time since we have recent experience with its inadvertent implementation via the formation bug. If not now then it's time to definitively nix it from the planned features list. Then those of us who were interested in it can stop holding our breath and either get to work creating our own private forks of find other games to play. Support for multi-weapon units. Same sort of story. I want my pilum throwing, sword swinging hastati. A more fleshed out concept for the core land battle counter-cycles. It seems to me that in terms of tactical application, there are really only 3 meaningful military unit types in 0 AD: melee, ranged, and ram/elephant. Yes there are melee cavalry that ought to support some unique tactics, but they are so efficiently countered by spearmen (or mass infantry in general) that there is not a lot for them to do besides raiding. I would suggest removing the spear attack bonus against cavalry, and instead give cavalry an attack penalty against spears. Also give cav some type of debuffing aura against non spear infantry. I think that would solidify them as an interesting 4th wheel: strong vs ranged and rams but weak to elephants and (spear) melee, without resorting to unhistorical fantasy tropes like Age of Empires' catapults/scorpions, and mind-control monks. The angst about the changes from alpha 23 to 24 shows that there are a lot of people who want prioritize support for 0 A.D. competitive scene going forward. You can't do that while key feature's of the gameplay are in a perpetual threat of flux. The game still feels to me like it is missing some intended pieces. But if those pieces can't be filled in soon, then you ought to start listening to the growing majority who want to knock it off with the fear of commitment and announce an actual beta.
  15. I actually started developing a mod with precisely this theme from alpha 23. I even got pretty far with it. I had several kingdoms well fleshed out and playable in game, however a couple of issues dissuaded me from continuing to work on it after alpha 24 dropped: The copyright status of Howard's work is difficult to assess, at least in my country. Due to being published after his death, I've read that parts of his Hyborian Age lore have not yet entered the public domain here, and thus determining which ideas fall under which legal regime will take a lot more painstaking research than I am willing to commit to. The martial world building of the Hyborian Age is a lot less fleshed out than one would expect (at least in the subset I've read). While there are tidbits of cultural differentiation in the text, like the idea that the Shemites are the best archers in the world, there's not a lot in the text to back up what those characterizations mean in practical terms. Basically every "civilized culture" Conan encounters fight using devastating heavy spear-cavalry, supported by pike infantry (who get talked up a lot but never do anything except die), and superhumanly skillful foot archers. All wear predominately chainmail armor. The barbarians are all unarmored foot infantry with javelins, swords, daggers, and clubs. In any sort of prolonged mundane combat it is always the archers who are described as being decisive, while for shorter skirmishes or when there is supernatural or heroic intervention in the mix, it's the cavalry. In short, the martial world building in Hyborian Age stories is mostly about creating a mood to frame the heroics of the protagonist. If one wants to build a well differentiated and balance strategy game from that foundation, it is obligatory to seek for the preponderance of ones inspiration from outside the actual texts, while discarding a lot of Howard's own characterizations, at which point are you really making a Conan game? Between these two issues, it makes more sense to me to create a derivative original fantasy setting, over trying to actually adapt Robert E. Howard's work. That said, the appeal of the concept is not lost on me, and there were some things in my experiment that definitely worked really well: The promotion system for one really sold the idea of a power curve, where individuals could differentiate themselves by heroic achievements. Auras also really fit the setting.
  16. In terms of historical authenticity, formations should not be maneuverable, durable things. They took tremendous coordination to form and maintain, and that placed strict limitations on the kind of terrains and situations they could be used in, which in turn shaped all the basic tactics and theory of ancient warfare. When I made my last post, I was actually going to suggest that formations should be programmed to just break any time they try to make a turn of more than 30 degrees or so, just to add more tactical complexity the their use. (But I was feeling lazy, and I don't think it would have added much to the discussion compared to the idea of just slowing the turn rate.) I do not dispute that reducing the turn rate or persistence of formations would make them unusable in 0 AD as it currently exists. However that's only because 0 AD fails so miserably at simulating some of the basic dynamics of ancient warfare. Without those simulation improvements there is really no point in having formations. They don't meaningfully interact with any other game systems. (Contrast AoE2, where they are at least used for micro against splash damage sources.) Now that pathfinding is working better, there is no need to keep carrying the crutch of formations just out of habit. Or if you do want to keep it, its time to add new elements to the game that will make it interesting and useful.
  17. To slow down the turn rate you want to set it to smaller numbers. I tried out 0.5 and I think it is a marked improvement.
  18. Edit: After giving it I second thought I've decided I ought to still post this comment, since I think it contains some useful perspectives on this topic. However after rereading my on words, I came to the realization that I don't agree with my own conclusions! While I pointed to the Starcraft 2 Zealot as an example of why this charge ability we are discussing would not work as well if it were player controlled, there are two other examples of mobility enhancing skills in that game that point to the opposite conclusion. Medivac Boost and Stalker Blink both work great while being 100% player controlled. More over in my own eternally unpublished total rebalance mod for the game Achron, I gave every single unit the ability to blink teleport to any location in its vision radius for only a modest resource cost (and only partly because I want compensate for that game's chronic pathfinding screwups). Presumably I did not think that would be impossible to balance! So yeah, I'm a bit of a dunce today... but maybe a useful dunce? You decide... ChronA said: >> In every discussion I've seen on this topic, you (not Thorfinn specifically, but the community in general) keep coming back to this idea that running has to be player controlled, almost like it is some sort of commandment. I really do not understand why. Could someone please explain it to me? The way I see it: APM is a resource. Player attention spent double clicking to make units sprint is time not spent making units at home. APM is also a skill with a high floor and a low ceiling, which means it has a fairly toxic character. Any time you add an active ability to a game you are trying to fit it within a sweet spot inside those two dimensions, plus the additional dimension of whether the mechanic wouldn't work better as an auto-cast. In the context of this proposed sprint ability, it needs to be tactically potent enough that it is worth using at all, but not so potent that you should be using it every instant it becomes available. And it needs some sort of deeper tactical dimension, so players agree any large or small victory won with it feels earned and not just a fluke of luck, timing, or dexterity. It the case of this feature, I really don't see how you thread that needle. I think the sweet spot is very narrow as an active ability, and it's much bigger in both dimensions once you make it an auto-cast. I mean, the closest analog I know of is the SC2 Zealot Charge, and does anyone turns off its auto-cast?
  19. Easiest implementation would be to add a range check to the approaching phase of the individual unit combat state. If the range to the unit's target is less than X, switch to running speed. The only exploit I can immediately see is "grappling" between targets in order run long distances. Like if the enemy had a building out in front of their main army you might order your soldiers to attack the building so your units will sprint most of the way to the army, then immediately switch target to the foremost enemy unit so your guys will sprint the rest of the way... and then switch target to a enemy in the rear of the formation so your units will sprint around to encircle the enemy. And when you want to retreat, just repeat the entire process in reverse! Actually now that I think about it, if the sprint leashing range was the right length (not so long that connecting grapple targets is trivial, nor so short that it is all down to luck) that could make for a really amazing skill mechanic. (0 AD combat could use more skill mechanics--preferably ones not based on exploiting bad unit AI for a change.)
  20. I agree with @LetswaveaBook. I think giving units a battle sprint behavior would be a great way to buff up melee units to a more historically authentic effectiveness against ranged opponents, while also making the game more visually and mechanically distinctive from other offerings in its genre niche. However I do think there is value in simplicity. I don't think it's necessary (or good game design in context of 0 AD's other systems) to make it player controlled. Combat in 0 AD (for better or worse) uses very large unit counts packed together very densely. That makes tracking the resource levels of individual units very difficult and removes a lot of the nuance from micromanagement. Given these conditions, in high level play I don't think there are many situations where you would not want a unit to use its sprint if the ability is available and an enemy target is in relatively close range. So why waste player micro on it? Likewise I don't think it's necessary or desirable to introduce a visible stamina bar, for the same reasons. Most of the time it won't be possible to even read a stamina bar for individual units. But so long as the recharge time on the ability is relatively quick, players can safely assume the ability will always be available for at least a goodly portion of their force.
  21. Since this bug fix could have significant balance implications that should be compensated for by (possibly quite pervasive) stat adjustments, it would be better to sit on it until after A25 drops. However it should absolutely be fixed in A26. That sound & animation bug makes the game looks really unpolished.
  22. I know what you mean. The problem (IMO) is spearmen are too efficient at their job of killing melee cavalry (before they can get in contact with the squishy ranged support units). Maybe spearmen should have bonus resistance to melee cavalry attack, instead of doing bonus damage to horses? That would allow cav to be a better counter to ranged units even with spearmen in the area. Ranged units need more counter-play. And it would probably be more accurate too. The whole point of spears against cavalry is that they make infantry masses as intimidating to the horses as the horsemen are to infantry, so they all instinctively avoided each other. The spears didn't magically make the horses die or desert the field of battle, just made them tactically ineffective.
  23. I'd also like some elaboration. (Thanks for clarifying.) AOE3's gameplay was just generally a lesser son of greater sires on every level, so I'm not sure how much stock I put in its specific features as examples of what to avoid. If felt to me more like a game with interesting ideas but a very rushed development, resulting in a haphazard implementation; and no one had the courage (or pull with management) to say that the project either needed more playtesting time to polish the rough edges, or to retreat back to proven design principles from previous games. As you said, the problem with the musketeer is the lack of counter-play. They could have fixed it by leaning into the historical reality that musketeers were like Roman legionaries - heavy melee infantry with a bit of bonus (short) ranged-skirmish ability. So cut their effective ranged attack distance and DPS (or maybe sustain via some ammo or stamina system) so that they are better used as straight melee, and truly countered by dedicated ranged units. Or if they wanted to be ahistorical but perhaps more fun, they could have made ranged their primary damage dealing mode the ranged attack and made their melee mode a trap state, allowing melee cav and infantry to "tie them up." (Dawn of War 2 does a lot with that concept.)
  24. Not necessarily a bad idea to support parallel progressive and conservative development paths. I've seen seen that approach helps keep the peace on other projects. But my concerns would be how far "Empires Extended" could really push things while still being tethered to Empires Ascendant by a shared code base, engine, & art assets; and would the conservatives really be open to integrating substantive developments from Empires Extended into their private sandbox? I'm guessing you would eventually still end up in a situation where the two sides want to fork. The progressive will be tired of having to worry about breaking assets that EA depends on, the conservatives of defending their assets from being broken. When that happens, it will end in each party making a power play for design control over the shared engine and art (which would not be good). This might be a case where Wildfire Games could benefit from the example of the Spring Engine and Zero-K. Zero-K is by far the most popular Spring game (AFAIK) and probably drives a lot of its development. However Spring Engine exists for more than just Zero-K and the two are quite clearly separate entities, with Spring supporting several competing TA clones and other games besides Zero-K. The same does not seem to be true of 0AD/EA/Pyrogenesis, which appear to be functionally all one thing. I think Zero-K could survive a fork over design ideology because everyone would have confidence that Spring would not pick sides. Formalizing the progressive/conservative divide in 0AD's dev scene would be a lot safer if Pyrogenesis (the engine) and 0 AD (the art and code libraries) had similar levels of conceptual independence from the game called Empires Ascendant. (Note: I've deliberately avoided looking too much in on Spring/Zero-K development, because I'm occasionally friendly with some of those guys, and avoiding their drama is one way that I stay friendly with them. So if I am off base in my characterization of the Spring dev ecosystem, please pipe up.)
  25. Sorry but you are objectively wrong about that. There are some extremely simple algorithms that would do the job (see my edit). But I think what you are trying to say is that it would be non trivial to design an algorithm that will switch between weapons competently in every tactical situation. (Which is true.) However you are approaching the problem wrong. It is not the system designer's job to produce a ideal algorithm that will work perfectly in every situation the players and modders can put it in. It is the job of the gameplay designers to design units that play well within the capabilities of the UnitAI, and it is the players job to adapt their micromanagement decisions to the programmed behaviors of their units! And this is not a new philosophy for 0AD, even in the existing design of the UnitAI itself. Units don't optimize their attack targeting to focus down glass cannons, or to avoid overkill. They generally don't even prioritize closer enemies over more distant ones, or units that are actively attacking them over those that are not. They just single mindedly pursue the first enemy that enters their field of vision. No one complains about it because 1) they are used to it and anyone who couldn't deal has left 2) the unit design has adapted so these sub-optimal decision processes don't affect the game much.
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