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[Proposal]: 3 And A Half Possible Foundations For 0 A.D. Gameplay


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Introduction

Realising that confusion on where the gameplay is/should be heading is still going on and inspired by discussion in this thread, I've got a number of different proposals for the game. They are based mostly on old ideas (not necessarily mine), while writen mostly on memory and would have improvements, extra details and better presentation had I used my notes. However I'll try to be as objective as I can about them and explain their pros and cons in hopes that they might inspire something. They also include related games that you might like if you like each Idea or regardless.

1. "4x/Grand Strategy with Tactical/Battalion Combat System"

Features:

  • Battalion/Positional Combat (flanking etc)
  • Battalion-only Recruitment
  • Battalion Leveling & Customization
  • Running/Charging, Morale and/or Stamina, Unit Abilities?
  • Demoralized/Depopulated units (battalions) will flee to a friendly town (or territory) to replentish unless destroyed/rallied
  • Towns are single, customizable/upgradable entities, (could be consisting of additional current building models under a single entity as they upgrade?)
  • Towns have their own manpower pools and tech levels
  • Towns and capturable resources/structures autogenerate income (or grant bonuses), possibly only if occupied by worker "battalions", including captured enemies (slaves)
  • Lootable trade routes between cities and ports. Supply lines?
  • Focus on real world maps?

Pros: 

  • Not overdone, much room for innovation
  • Easy to assign unit roles even without counters
  • Easy to represent large armies
  • Fits great with territory and capturing concepts
  • Easier to design campaigns and sandbox historical scenarios
  • Religion/Culture/Politics could fit in well as techs, choice pairs, auras etc
  • Easier and fitting to introduce new civs

Cons:

  • A quite a lot of work thrown away, and extra work needed
  • Limited/no citybuilding
  • More prone to snowballing due to capturing
  • Hard to balance a competitive multiplayer game in this style

Similar Games: Hegemony Series (Philip of Macedon/Gold/Rome e.t.c.)

Partly Similar Games: Paradox Games (Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, Stellaris e.t.c), Rise Of Nations / Empire Earth, Total War Series , Spartan / Gates Of Troy


2. "Age Of Empires Clone"

Features:

  • Familiar Age Of Kings based gameplay
  • No citizen soldiers, capturing, leveling, territories, heroes
  • Mostly shared unit classes among civs
  • Universal upgrades
  • Focus on Random Maps
  • Mostly Hard Counters

Pros: 

  • Tested formula and desired by many who want the new AOE
  • Kinda easy to balance
  • Relatively little extra work needed in art and coding
  • Scouting is valuable and replayability high due to random maps

Cons:

  • Some work thrown away
  • Very little innovation

Similar Games: AOE Series, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds

 

3. "Starcraft A.D."

Features:

  • Familiar RTS gameplay, somewhat more modern and fast paced than AOE
  • No citizen soldiers, capturing, leveling, territories, heroes
  • Structure Requirements instead of Ages/Phases, Local Structure Upgrades
  • Unique roosters for each civ
  • Focus on Skirmish Maps
  • Mix of Soft and Hard Counters

Pros: 

  • Tested formula, ideal for competitive if done right
  • Relatively little more work needed in art and coding
  • Unique unit roosters
  • Scouting is valuable due to largely visible tech
  • Balanced Skirmish Maps

Cons:

  • Hard to balance and diversify unit roosters due to similarities among historical troops and the number of civs
  • Some work thrown away
  • Not much innovation

Similar Games: Starcraft, Armies Of Exigo
Partly Similar Games: Warcraft Series


3.5. "2 & 3 Mixed With Possible Extras"

Features:

  • Familiar RTS gameplay
  • No universal citizen soldiers, capturing, leveling, (heroes/territories?)
  • Structure Requirements instead of Ages/Phases, Local Structure (and some local tech?) Upgrades
  • Partly unique roosters for each faction  OR "unique feature": Customizable units (chose weapons & armor with preset stats bonuses and cost for each of your unit classes in game)
  • "Unique Civ features" : A civ could upgrade/level units through combat (Romans?), another have a limited form of citizen soldiers (Athenians?), another units that toggle between melee and ranged weapons (Persians?) another have (some) soldiers that can build e.t.c.
  • Focus on Random Maps
  • Mix of Soft and Hard Counters

Pros: 

  • Partly tested formula
  • Relatively little more work needed in art and coding
  • Scouting is very valuable due to largely visible tech and random maps. High replayability.

Cons:

  • Could be a bit hard to balance
  • A little work thrown away
  • Not too much innovation

Similar Games: Empires Apart, Ancient Wars Sparta / Fate Of Hellas

 

Conclusion

While I know that none of the ideas above is reinventing the genre, I consider them doable and cohesive enough and I think the game needs something along those lines to reach a complete stage at some point in the not-so-distant future. It might be still on alpha, but how many more alphas will there be? I guess 4 to finish the latin alphabet, or even just 1 to complete it's classical form? Going to Beta usually means a feature-complete game lacking only polish. By going overly-ambitious while changing goals frequentily along the way things get messed up. This should be especially understood by an everchanging team of unpaid volunteers if they are to deliver something good, which would be quite an achievement and is still possible. 

I'll try to rank my proposed ideas in two ways. If going by innovation (and risk) as the desired factor, I'd suggest them in order 1>3.5>3>2. If going by practicality I'd likely say the opposite, though I'm not sure on how to rank 3.5 and 3 in this case. Imo the last 3 could easily trade specific features with each other but not with the first one. Anyway... eveyrone is free to steal from the above for whatever use, also discuss, challenge, add your own.
 

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Introduction Realising that confusion on where the gameplay is/should be heading is still going on and inspired by discussion in this thread, I've got a number of different proposals for the game

The entire capturing mechanic in the game is prone to snowballing. A very... slow... tedious.... snowball, which I am attempting to improve by making it more dramatic and decisive. Sometimes, a turn o

Yes, I agree. 0 A.D.'s heroes are highly unbalanced. Some have global auras which are much better than civilization and team bonuses combined, e.g. Viridomarus' +15% gather rates for all workers or Ma

Obviously though, there are compromises that can be made for the game.  If battalions were introduced, a lot of the existing systems could still be in game but simply with more automation.  Individual trees could be replaced by forest patches you assign a crew of workers to harvest from.  All sources could be infinite, with the limitation primarily being the gather rate.  Resources could be potentially permanently exhausted by assigning additional crews to harvest them at a faster rate, but that practice would have to be used with caution.  Pathfinding could be simplified to make formation travel much simpler just by making the obstructions clear. 

In general though, I think that you have made good analyses of the sub-genres of RTS 0 A.D. could draw on.  

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So in any case no more citizen soldiers ?

I would be tending towards the AOE variant.

Just a question you seem to have some knowledge of these matters and while I have been around for more than six years I don't know much about your background in that area. Is it more like a general knowledge or do you have some work experience behind ?

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39 minutes ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

Obviously though, there are compromises that can be made for the game.  If battalions were introduced, a lot of the existing systems could still be in game but simply with more automation.  Individual trees could be replaced by forest patches you assign a crew of workers to harvest from.  All sources could be infinite, with the limitation primarily being the gather rate.  Resources could be potentially permanently exhausted by assigning additional crews to harvest them at a faster rate, but that practice would have to be used with caution.  Pathfinding could be simplified to make formation travel much simpler just by making the obstructions clear. 

In general though, I think that you have made good analyses of the sub-genres of RTS 0 A.D. could draw on.  

I more or less agree that those are good possibilities, but since my first example went to the extreme with battalion combat, I'd prefer the opposite direction for it's economy. In an intermediate gameplay what you proposed or similar ideas could apply.

21 minutes ago, stanislas69 said:

So in any case no more citizen soldiers ?

I would be tending towards the AOE variant.

Just a question you seem to have some knowledge of these matters and while I have been around for more than six years I don't know much about your background in that area. Is it more like a general knowledge or do you have some work experience behind ?

Yeah I don't like the current concept of citizen soldiers at all from a gameplay perspective. It messes badly with economy and raiding mechanics. Perhaps having just one class of weak citizen soldiers per civ or just for one civ as a unique mechanic (say the hoplite levy of Athens) could work in order not to discard it. 

Something in between. I've been playing strategy games for about 15 years (as a relatively good but lazy player almost always avoiding hotkeys and fixed build orders), modding several of them and reading on game design for several years now. I'm also a history nerd (especially ancient era) since my pre-school years.

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16 minutes ago, stanislas69 said:

For citizen soldiers, I would be for having some civs with them, and some without

I think the main issues with citizen soldiers are:

  • A workforce that can fight raiders on equal terms. Severely messes the risk-reward balance between booming and rushing.
  • The attacker losing resources while the defender still gathers for a while until the attack arives, discouraging rushing.
  • Different movement speeds and costs among citizen soldiers favoring some classes as workers, some civs for their roosters. A nightmare to properly balance with 12 civs and several unit classes.

Possible solutions:

  • Remove citizen soldiers. Easiest fix.
  • Just one melee citizen soldier per civ (spearman?) representing the citizen levy. Uniformity across civs and relatively balanceable, while not neccesarily fixing all issues.
  • Just one melee citizen soldier for one civ to make it unique while not completely discarding the mechanic. Might lead to some civ balance issues, while not neccesarily fixing all issues.
  • Some factions with citizen soldiers, some without as you suggested. I'd still propose just one per civ. Might lead to some civ balance issues, while not neccesarily fixing all issues.

On the last three solutions we could play with the stats and cost of citizen soldiers to trying and find a happy medium between attackers and defenders in the early game. Also another thing that matters is what unit classes the rushing player will have available in the early game to deal with the citizen defence.

 

 

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Actually I believe the best thing to do would be to consider why they were added in the first place. I'd say historical reasons, but I may be wrong.
If this is the reason, can there be a way to not lose this historical accuracy ?

 

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  • Remove citizen soldiers. Easiest fix.
  • Just one melee citizen soldier per civ (spearman?) representing the citizen levy. Uniformity across civs and relatively balanceable, while not neccesarily fixing all issues.
  • Just one melee citizen soldier for one civ to make it unique while not completely discarding the mechanic. Might lead to some civ balance issues, while not neccesarily fixing all issues.
  • Some factions with citizen soldiers, some without as you suggested. I'd still propose just one per civ. Might lead to some civ balance issues, while not neccesarily fixing all issues.

Yeah, those are the major drawbacks. I don't think there is any bad decision, just decision we feel not comfortable making. From an external point of view, removing the citizen soldiers seem like the best idea. I remember a lot of people getting confused about it.

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  • Just one melee citizen soldier per civ (spearman?) representing the citizen levy. Uniformity across civs and relatively balanceable, while not neccesarily fixing all issues.

I suggested this. the better is train levy or militia level, poor trained  villagers.

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I would personally advocate for historical accuracy being the basis for the continued existence or discontinuation of citizen soldiers.  The truth is that this type of phenomenon did occur in history, but I dislike the way it is found in 0 A.D.  Working while armed is absurd.  If a player wants a citizen changed to a soldier, they should have a "packing" effect like siege weapons in which they change from one role to the other.  This would make raiding much more possible as there would be a window of attack.  Should all civilisations have it?  No.  Cultures such as Carthage, which primarily relied on mercenaries, and ones like the successor states had professional armies, should have a completely different system.  In later stages of the game things could change for these cultures, but the core design should be around them not having these and vice versa for citizen soldier civilisations (*cough* Marian Reforms).  The important thing about having a flexible unit like a citizen soldier is giving the civilisations that have them a trade off so that that feature is not exploited.  

If people think that militia were ineffective, I would remind them that the Roman military machine during the Republic operated that way.  Another point to make is that there could be ways to level up soldiers.  On the topic of Rome, assuming that battalions are used, a group of citizens would first be mobilised as just velites.  By drilling them, they could be hastati, followed by princeps, and lastly triarii.  

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30 minutes ago, Lion.Kanzen said:

------can be nice discuss which things isn't desired for gameplay----

I tested in DE removing citizen soldiers... don't feel easy to balance.

Removing single units can limit some strategy micro.

I wouldn't blame the removal of citizen soldiers if DE is hard to balance (which seems to be the case since it tries to add way too much imo).

Single units and battalions/groups tend to favor different styles of micro, deppending to the rest of game mechanics as well.

4 minutes ago, stanislas69 said:

Actually I believe the best thing to do would be to consider why they were added in the first place. I'd say historical reasons, but I may be wrong.
If this is the reason, can there be a way to not lose this historical accuracy ?

 

Yeah, those are the major drawbacks. I don't think there is any bad decision, just decision we feel not comfortable making. From an external point of view, removing the citizen soldiers seem like the best idea. I remember a lot of people getting confused about it.

They were probably added for historical accuracy and to differentiate early 0 A.D. from AOK. But even taking historical accuracy into account, not every male citizen, non-citizen (person with reduced rights, such as immigrants) or slave was a soldier in war times. In fact a minority in most cases. The classic RTS way of recruitment can be argued to be equally or more historical, representing the ones who went for training or picking up arms in the barracks as soldiers, while the rest as workers.

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Working while armed is absurd.  If a player wants a citizen changed to a soldier, they should have a "packing" effect like siege weapons in which they change from one role to the other.  This

Same as catapult becomes awful. better like an upgrade like our tower.

  • We need reforms, more reforms. this for an factions have certain type kind of warriors. specially auxiliary.
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17 minutes ago, Lion.Kanzen said:

I suggested this. the better is train levy or militia level, poor trained  villagers.

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Depending on the chosen gameplay I might agree, but we need to be carefull not to add too many same class units per civ. Say militia, citizen soldier and champion spearman, doesn't serve gameplay much, especially for classic RTS style.

9 minutes ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

I would personally advocate for historical accuracy being the basis for the continued existence or discontinuation of citizen soldiers.  The truth is that this type of phenomenon did occur in history, but I dislike the way it is found in 0 A.D.  Working while armed is absurd.  If a player wants a citizen changed to a soldier, they should have a "packing" effect like siege weapons in which they change from one role to the other.  This would make raiding much more possible as there would be a window of attack.  Should all civilisations have it?  No.  Cultures such as Carthage, which primarily relied on mercenaries, and ones like the successor states had professional armies, should have a completely different system.  In later stages of the game things could change for these cultures, but the core design should be around them not having these and vice versa for citizen soldier civilisations (*cough* Marian Reforms).  The important thing about having a flexible unit like a citizen soldier is giving the civilisations that have them a trade off so that that feature is not exploited.  

If people think that militia were ineffective, I would remind them that the Roman military machine during the Republic operated that way.  Another point to make is that there could be ways to level up soldiers.  On the topic of Rome, assuming that battalions are used, a group of citizens would first be mobilised as just velites.  By drilling them, they could be hastati, followed by princeps, and lastly triarii.  

That's another issue, immersion breaking weapons and armor appearing out of nowhere. I'd say successor "katoikoi" settlers, fit in the citizen soldier description though. I've also thought of the Roman infantry progressing from velites to triarii but all those class changes might be an issue gameplay-wise. Perhaps it could be fleshed out though.

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Just now, Prodigal Son said:

Depending on the chosen gameplay I might agree, but we need to be carefull not to add too many same class units per civ. Say militia, citizen soldier and champion spearman, doesn't serve gameplay much, especially for classic RTS style.

That's another issue, immersion breaking weapons and armor appearing out of nowhere. I'd say successor "katoikoi" settlers, fit in the citizen soldier description though. I've also thought of the Roman infantry progressing from velites to triarii but all those class changes might be an issue gameplay-wise. Perhaps it could be fleshed out though.

The problem is, break classic style... we need innovation to becomes non-another RTS clone. the militia is an example, is supposly a unit with a basic weapon. like a club or stick or even rusty weapon.

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1 hour ago, Lion.Kanzen said:

Lot of things happens since you were  away.

        Gameplay guideline               

Done reading it as well as a good number of comments. While he has many points on things that don't work well and some interesting suggestions, I disagree on so many things I don't even know where to start. Btw do you also mean that the team has settled on any major gameplay issues in the meanwhile? If so I'd be very interested to know.

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24 minutes ago, Prodigal Son said:

Done reading it as well as a good number of comments. While he has many points on things that don't work well and some interesting suggestions, I disagree on so many things I don't even know where to start. Btw do you also mean that the team has settled on any major gameplay issues in the meanwhile? If so I'd be very interested to know.

The guys is good seeking mechanic gameplay compatibilities.

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10 hours ago, Prodigal Son said:

I wouldn't blame the removal of citizen soldiers if DE is hard to balance (which seems to be the case since it tries to add way too much imo).

 

How much have you played it? lol

Not to mention I haven't even attempted to balance it yet, since it would be stupid to attempt in earnest while still in alpha. So, I don't know how anyone can say DE is "hard to balance" when it hasn't even been attempted.

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38 minutes ago, wowgetoffyourcellphone said:

How much have you played it? lol

Not to mention I haven't even attempted to balance it yet, since it would be stupid to attempt in earnest while still in alpha. So, I don't know how anyone can say DE is "hard to balance" when it hasn't even been attempted.

I haven't played it in a long time. I think last time was a few years back when we played together. I've played at most 10 games in old versions as far as I remember. That said the quantity and mix of features you've added or plan to add make me not very optimistic that it can be reasonably balanced for multiplayer. Prove me wrong when the time to balance it comes, I hope you manage to do so because I'd like to play it in it's full form (that holds true anyway, balanced or not).

On more specific reasonings on why, without re-reading your blueprints for more arguments, the balance between economy/combat micro, the function of some techs (as well as their huge number), the presence of the (heavily prone to snowballing) capturing mechanic, the variety of battalion upgrades and the addition of even more civs come to mind.

But let's not lead the thread there, if you want to keep debating on this we could continue in private or link it to a proper DE thread.

 

 

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Anything not possible to balance is not worth to go for, in a multiplayer situation.

A clear example of bad design is Roman civ that has no reason to have no palisades in early game and has no units able to defend from spear cavalry raids. Perhaps it was decided like that because they have Siege Walls available in city phase and it is buildable out of own territory. After the last alpha, walls lose influence and this means that if you don't garrison walls, you may lose control of them ( kinda counterproductive ).

While in single player situations where the focus is into reproducing historically accurate events ( campaigns ) and interesting scenarios, factors like morale and not balanced maps make sense in order to give a more realistic/challenging interesting situation.

Morale in multiplayer RTS economic games is a bad idea as you already have too many things to focus on. Matter of fact, losing morale for a lost battle would result in a snowball effect ( especially if you lose control of your units when you want them to watch an area you consider crucial ).

Imho stamina is a must to make really interesting stuff ( different units use stamina to do different stuff ).

Battallions == Battle == Formations.

As you use rally points to send workers to gather points, you interact with buildings and not with soldiers. If you use battallions it means that you want your soldiers within formation and make military maneuvers. Locking units within formation in a single selectable entity with a flag ( like rally point one ) to identify each formation/battallion ( or whatever ) allow you to reduce micro (actually dance is annoying ) and use real world mixed formations you wouldn't be able to use with single-class battallions. At same time, disrupting formations would help you to focus on your economy micromanaging workers to optimize the resources to gather.

Hard counters are just an easy peasy but very limiting solution that shouldn't be universally used.

More diversifications between civs are needed for sure, still I can't imagine a civ having citizen soldiers and another not. The reason is that while the civ A needs many workers to produce Soldiers to perform an attack/defend, the civ B may raid the civ A with his citizen soldiers or just turtle and gain advantage from his non-stop gathering. Also the civ B would need a non gathering soldier ( like champions ) to perform stronger attacks i suppose, otherwise it would just be an Attack Sooner As Possible Or Lose civ.

Despite the relics auras, some similar abilities could be added to make things more interesting. Some Randomly rolled abilities or malus to give a slightly advantage or disadvantage to players ( this is what morale is supposed to do, right? the difference is that it would be enstabilished since start instead of being a dinamically generated event ) via an "Enable Power Up(or whatever)" setting. Like the Mortal Kombat Test Your Luck feature.

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Actually, when incorporating citizen soldiers, it would just be important to distinguish them.  To argue that every citizen was equal would be wrong, and those that did not have the time to train would be significantly worse than others, being more like citizens who were given weapons at the moment (Take velites or the Athenian slinger.).  As you get to more powerful (from a combat standpoint) citizen soldiers, they would perform all economic tasks much less efficiently.  Obviously too, the trade off of building these units is that they usually cost a lot compared to training women or slave units.  Also, there is the 'packing' attribute I mentioned earlier.  Civilisations with no citizen soldiers could enjoy their own advantages like better economies and generally more powerful military units.

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I understand your point, but having  no citizen soldier for some civs, means that at, let's say minute 5,  the civ A has 20 soldiers and 40 villagers while the civ B has 40-50 citizen soldiers. This means that civ B will have easy life into attacking the other civ A. If civ B can't perform an attack, it means that the citizen-soldier concept doesn't work because the gap between the 2 styles would be too different (there is a population limit).

History and gameplay have to intersect and find a compromise otherwise it is just a "history-fi" or a simulation game. Also, I guess that most of considerations made about history are way far from the history lessions teached in school. I guess someone could lose interest in a game not balanced if everyone in multiplayer pick the same civ ( 1 of 13 lol ), but none won't sleep at night because citizen-soldier class isn't very accurately diversified to reflect real historic socio-military classes.

Also, for the "packaging" system, this seems to produce the contrary effect you stated. Removing the extra-loot for attackers gained from the carried-resources of the killed unit may go in favour of Defender because too much "packaging" time would be unrealistic and probably too penalizing,  while a short "packaging" would kinda be meaningless, resulting into attacker penalty. Having units to drop resources on near dropsites before wield weapons (thing that i usually do before attack in order to give less loot when my units die) is something that may be automated but actually doable by hand.

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Gameplay-wise we could easily differentiate by role:

  • can gather, can not build (females, available at houses)
  • can gather and build (citizen soldiers, available from village phase)
  • can not gather, can build (mercenaries, available from town phase)
  • can neither gather nor build (champions, available from city phase)

Basically all factions should have at least one citizen-soldier, but some can have more than others.

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