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[Gameplay discussion] Phasing out phases


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On 2/14/2016 at 6:38 AM, wraitii said:

Interesting. Limiting the number of building per phase might actually be an idea I'd like to try.

Hrm, I might tyr in Delenda Est. Farm Fields are exempt from tally.


What do you think?

Village Phase

  • Max 20 buildings
  • Build 15 structure to unlock Town Phase

Town Phase

  • Max 40 buildings
  • Build 30 structure to unlock City Phase

City Phase

  • Max 60 buildlings
  • Unlocks more Civic Center to found new cities. Each new city increases max buildings by +30.
  • Build Wonder to unlock Empire Phase.

Empire Phase

  • Unlimited buildings
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Of all the proposals in this thread, the one that strikes me as having the most potential is upgrading individual buildings, and making the upgrades of the civ center very significant, so that they have the feel of advancing to a new phase/age.

One of the main reasons I like this proposal is that it increases strategic diversity. For the game to be strategically interesting, there should never be just one right answer. So we should not think of building upgrades as "leveling up" but rather as choosing a direction for research/development. This would provide for a kind of tech tree for buildings.

Some examples to illustrate the possibilities: Civ center starts as "village center" and can be upgraded to "town center", then "city center". Barracks start as generic "barracks" which can train basic but poor units (spearman, archer, mounted scout), but once the player has at least one "town center", they can upgrade the "barracks" to either an "infantry barracks" or "archery barracks" or "cavalry barracks", each of which can only produce it's particular style of units, but the units are much better quality than units created at a generic "barracks". This is the generalist -> specialist progression. The player of course has the option to not upgrade a barracks, so as to retain the diversity of the original building, but will have to make do with poor units.  Or he can upgrade all his barracks to infantry barracks if he wants to do an infantry-heavy strategy, or he can build several barracks and upgrade some to infantry barracks, some to archery barracks, some to cavalry barracks for a combined-arms approach.

"Farmstead" can be a generalist structure that can serve as dropsite for hunting or gathering (but not farming), but once a player has a "town center", the farmstead can also be upgraded to either a "mill", which can only receive berries and farming, or a "corral", which can produce herds and receive meat of any kind. If the player wants both, they will need to make more than one farmstead and upgrade them individually to different things.

Historically, the market can be thought of a crossroads where both goods and ideas are traded. "Marketplace" can only be built once a player has a "town center" and can do basic goods trading (as currently implemented). But once a player has at least one "city center", the "marketplace" can be upgraded to either an "emporium" (trade center which specializes economically, giving better exchange rates, available techs for traders, etc.) or to a "debate school" (which specializes in academic knowledge, giving research bonuses across the board, allowing cross-cultural advancements like the Carthaginian embassies, etc.).

Building tech tree options can be mutually dependent.  For example, the basic generalist "blacksmith" (which can do a little of everything) can be upgraded to a "forge workshop" (which allows even better armor, etc), but only if a player also has an upgraded barracks.  If they only have an infantry barracks, the forge workshop will only be able to do infantry upgrades.  If they also have an archery barracks, the forge workshop will also be able to do archer upgrades, etc. Or instead of upgrading to a forge workshop, the player can choose to upgrade the "blacksmith" to a "siege workshop" (which can build/upgrade siege weapons), but only if they have at least one "debate school" (the idea being that academic knowledge allows for the math and science knowledge necessary for building siege weapons).

The phase/age idea can also be diversified by forking the upgrade tree of the civ center.  For example, the "town center" can be upgraded to either a "city center" (which focuses economically and academically, allowing buildings like the debate school and giving increased productivity to villagers working within its radius of influence) or to a "citadel" (which focuses militarily, giving defensive bonuses to nearby villagers and soldiers, but not unlocking key economic/academic techs and buildings). Again, this would provide strategic choices for the player.  They can go all military (but their military won't have great diversity and sophistication) or all economic (but with some military disadvantage), or probably develop one town center into a city center and develop forward town centers into citadels, thus benefiting from both sides of the tech tree but at increased cost in time and resources.

Obviously all these ideas are just brainstorms and the names and details need great refinement.  But the examples illustrate the diversity and interest-factor that could be added to the game. It also opens the door for a more interesting economy side to the game, which several people have noted is a bit lacking.

Is this idea worth pursuing? If so, I might work on a basic tech tree proposal.  Feedback?

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5 minutes ago, svott said:

I like your ideas! This reminds me of AOM, where you had the decision between two gods and therefore two different temple units (correct me if my memories are wrong) - just much deeper.

I like that mechanic because in AOM you determine you play still 3 times between 6 gods, each with advantages for a type of developemnt of your faction, you can specialize your army, but you need wise to choice having in count the election is adequate to defeat your enemies. Because a bad decision have the consequences, the bad decision have consequences.

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  • 1 year later...

This discussion highlights everything that is bad about phases.  Look at the posts endorsing phases, they are all about ways to restrict the player, and arbitrary ways to categorize things into phases.

I understand that this is a game and things have to be simplified, and I appreciate the efforts of people to try and improve upon existing ideas (this is in fact more important than new ideas!), but I really think phases/epoch/ages have always been a dead duck in RTS games.  A city/civilisation is something that evolves gradually, it does not jump from one age to the next, there is no reason why we cannot have this authentic feeling, there is no real reason to limit the game to distinct phases other than to emulate games that came before.

I edited this part out because I went on a rant about how phases make no sense and seem to be completely detached from the game world, but I have deleted that and instead I will try to provide some alternative ideas.


Knowledge as a Resource

I want technology to be something tangible in the world, not a flowchart disconnected from the rest of the game.  I will start by describing a basic settlement and how knowledge is accrued and used by primitive cultures.

Each working citizen will accrue a trickle of knowledge while they work (this simulates the natural tendency to innovate and find more efficient ways to complete tasks).  For every working citizen, the science score of the civilisation is increased by a small amount; the science score affects the rate at which knowledge is acquired over time.

Advanced buildings and units require knowledge to build, however, knowledge is not spent like other resources, but also unlike other resources it must be maintained.  The population itself is the basic and most vital store of knowledge, if your population collapses then your technology will disappear along with it!  Libraries (as separate buildings or contained within other buildings, e.g. Universities) greatly bolster the civilisation's knowledge base.  Buildings such as the Temple, Library, University and Observatory* are places that provide huge boosts to the science score and thus the rate of knowledge acquisition.

So knowledge is not a static resource, it is not something that can be simply piled up but can change greatly depending on these factors of population size, libraries and science score.  (For the more mathematically-minded amongst us I have attached an image of an equation that produces the desired relationship.)  What this means in terms of gameplay is that knowledge (and thus technology) are bound to tangible objects and people that must be protected.

* The effectiveness of the observatory depends on its elevation, being more effective on higher ground, like in real life.

Technology Buffs & Building Upgrades

Technologies like efficiency boosts would either be unlocked automatically past a certain knowledge threshold, or require a new building to be constructed (which would be unlocked by passing a knowledge threshold).  You would not pay to unlock technologies as before; all technologies must be linked to either a specific building or the overall knowledge score (and ultimately the population of course).  So technologies would be fluid just like knowledge.

My thoughts on building upgrades is that they should be very limited if existing at all.  Why?  From both an aesthetic and gameplay point of view it seems a bit of a spoiler to simply click on a building and upgrade it.  Instead, what is far more natural is to build new buildings alongside the old, or to demolish the old to make way for the new.

In real-life cities, the mixture of architecture styles tells you something about the history of the city.  I would love this to be a part of 0AD, being able to see how a city has evolved over time; you could look at a city and maybe you will see a clear divide between the old city and the new city as it has expanded over time, or perhaps the outskirts are littered with ruins from an ancient war or perhaps the ruins are simply old buildings that were demolished to reclaim building materials.  I am getting carried away with this idea that would require tonnes of new art!

Should Other Resources Be Volatile?

I think so, yes.  So you have 10 000 stone?  What if I need stone, why can I not raid your base and steal your stone?  Why can I not burn down your granaries so that your people starve?  Resources are what most wars are fought over so why is this not the case in 0AD?


I think I will have to learn this level of programming because I always have these grand ideas and then I sit around and wait and hope that somebody else makes them!  :P


Edited by Libervurto
Added "Should All Resources Be Volatile?" section
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While danny's idea does sound interesting, that's going to take a back-breaking amount of artwork for all of those building variations. A good first step I would think to take would be splitting the barracks into three buildings, which of course brings us closer to an AOE clone, but allows for that decision making that makes for interesting strategies.

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Something that Danny and my ideas share is tying technological progress to physical structures on the map that can be destroyed and thus the technological progress lost.  This seems like an avenue worth exploring whether pro-phase or anti-phase.

Edited by Libervurto
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@Libervurto, @Danny very very interesting and more realistic. @wraitii your thread is awesome. I think these 3 people's arguments said it all. Although it's hard to remake the game but there's no point of implementing phases whith no changes in age and structures. 

I maybe shallow but:

You start with settlement with only a couple units. Soldiers and their wives and a scout. They decided to make an empire lets send the scout see whether we can recruit some people while we gather resources. Scout found, a tribe few seconds later some of these people come and go inside the Settlement. Now we can recruit them.  Tribe can be influenced either military or alliance or anything. Population grows need more houses. Need to gather more resources, need to build more economic and other buildings/units like market, temple, school etc. My settlement is growing, we have children, etc let's improve it! Lets improve our efficiency! Lets research, lets build a library, more buildings.

My scout was attacked he survived humnn we need to make armies lets build military buildings, lets recruit soldiers an get back at the attackers! We killed lots of them hurray but we have to pull back, heal wounded  they have good defense. Lets celebrate and prepare more for the next battle. I'm a hero! I want to lead my troops again  

The pattern goes repetitive until more promotions, units, more research, buildings/special buildings. And finally some huge invasion forces with special units.  BUT NO PHASE Advancement. Buildings and units change as the number of improvements couple with the pop strength in terms of civic,economic, science  and military aspects. 

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